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The Intractability of Christian Fundamentalists

intractable

Originally written in March 2015. Expanded and edited.

If you have not read Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists? please do so. This will help you understand my use of the word Fundamentalist.

Thanks to this blog, social media, and breathing air, I come in contact with Christian Fundamentalists every day. They comment on my blog, send me tweets, leave Facebook comments, send me emails. I’m like a human shit pile on a hot summer day. Fundamentalist flies are drawn to me and there’s little I can do about it. As a former Evangelical, an out-of-the-closet atheist, and a writer, I know that dealing with Christian Fundamentalists is part of my job description.

I’ve been blogging for over ten years. I started and stopped several times, with every stoppage predicated by the behavior of Christian Fundamentalists and how their actions affected my health and mental wellbeing. Over the years, I’ve gotten mentally and emotionally stronger, my skin has thickened, and I am pretty much impervious to the petty, childish, boorish, ignorant behavior of Fundamentalists. When I am up to it, I might engage them a bit, but most of the time I let them piss on my doorstep and ignore them. When they don’t get the desired response from me, they usually head off to another fire hydrant they can whiz on. (Yes, I am full of metaphors today!)

Some Fundamentalists have upped their game and turned to electronic means of bullying. Readers may remember all the problems I had several years ago with spambots sent my way by a Fundamentalist zealot. At one time, I was receiving 1,500 spam comments a day. This was a concerted effort by someone to frustrate me and cause me grief. During this same time period, I had someone repeatedly try to access the blog log-in. Now, this happens routinely a dozen or so times a day, but this time was different. They attempted to log in thousands of times a day. The good news is they failed. My login remained secure and no spam made it to the live site.

Currently, I receive a hundred or so spam comments a day. Quite manageable. In most cases, it’s drive-by spammers wanting to either infect my computer with a virus or make my penis larger. In the case mentioned above, it was a directed attack. Someone deliberately wanted to cause me problems, perhaps even cause me to stop blogging. A great victory for Team God, yes? Yea God!

My Facebook friends may remember someone setting up a fake account in my name. They then gained access to my Friends list (my fault since I had it set to public) and sent them a new friend request. About twenty-five of my friends friended the fake Bruce Gerencser, and after they did, they got a private message from the fake account. The message? A Christian one, meant to witness to them. Fortunately, several dozen friends contacted me about the fake account, and in less than an hour Facebook shut it down. For future reference, I am the only Bruce Almighty Gerencser in the world. If we are already connected through social media, any other Bruce Almighty is a false one.

The one thing I have learned from this is that Christian Fundamentalists, for the most part, are intractable. Intractable is not a word used very often, so let me give you the dictionary definition:

intractable
Definition from TheSage Dictionary and Thesaurus, Published by Sequence Publishing

This word perfectly describes most of the Fundamentalists I come in contact with through this blog and on social media. Certainty has turned them into nasty, arrogant, hateful individuals who have forgotten what their Bible says about the fruit of the spirit and how they are to treat others. Safe behind their digital shields, they violently brandish their word swords, caring little about what damage they might do. Worse yet, they fail to realize or don’t care that they are pushing people away from Christianity. Why would I ever want to be a part of a religion that allows and encourages the maltreatment of others?

As a pastor, I always taught church members that our actions spoke louder than our words. How we treated others determined how our beliefs would be judged. While I may have been a Fundamentalist for many years, I never treated people like I’ve seen Fundamentalists treat me and others. As I mentioned in the comment rules, they are people who haven’t learned to play well with others. They are the schoolyard bullies, demanding that all bow to their God and their interpretation of the Bible.

I know there is no use trying to shame Christian Fundamentalists into acting like they have graduated preschool. If ten years of blogging have taught me anything, it is that I can’t change how Fundamentalists think or act. But, Bruce, you were a Fundamentalist, as were many of the people who read this blog, and you changed! True enough, but I also know how hard it is to change.

The majority of Fundamentalists will believe what they believe until they die. Why? Because their entire life is wrapped up in their belief system. They are in a self-contained bubble where, in their minds, everything makes sense. If you have not read, The Danger of Being in a Box and Why it Makes Sense When You Are in It and What I Found When I Left the Box, please do so. I think you will find both posts helpful in explaining the Fundamentalist bubble. Until a person is willing to at least consider that there is life outside of the bubble, there is no hope for them.

I am convinced that inerrancy — the belief that the Bible is without error — keeps people chained to the Fundamentalist God. Armed with an inspired, inerrant, infallible Bible, given to them by the supernatural God who wrote and autographed it, they go into the “world” and wage war against all who disagree with their literalist interpretation of the Bible. If you want to see this belief in action, read the comments on The Bob Jones III Non-Apology Apology, If You Don’t Believe the Bible You Can’t be Saved, and Family Driven Faith Part Two. One commenter was so certain he was right and smarter than the rest of the class, that he had no need to read a book or any of my other blog posts. He was right, end of discussion.

Those of us who were once Christian Fundamentalists understand Fundamentalist pathology. After all, we wuz one of them. We know how certain and arrogant we once were, full of God and shit. We would have remained this way had it not been for an event, life circumstance, book, website, or blog. When one of these things poked a tiny hole in our bubble, we tried our best to patch the hole. But, try as we might, none of the patches would stick, so our bubble deflated. In rushed the “world” with its knowledge. From that day forward, we knew we could no longer stay in the bubble that had been our home for as long as we could remember. Our Fundamentalist Christian friends and family, along with our pastors and colleagues, tried to patch and re-inflate the bubble; but it was too late. Much like a horse escaping its pen, we were free, and once free we were not coming back.

My purpose in life is NOT to debate, fight, or argue with Christian Fundamentalists. It is a waste of time to do so, and since I have so little time left on this earth, I don’t want to waste it casting my pearls before swine. I’d rather spend my time helping those who find themselves outside of the Fundamentalist bubble. Confused, hurt, looking for help and answers, they are looking for someone whom they can turn to for love and support. I want to be that someone. I also want to help and be friends with those who have already transitioned away from religion. They want to know what a post-God life looks like. Through my writing, I try to be a help. A small help, a temporary help; whatever they need from me, I try to provide. I am not a guru, nor do I have all the answers. At best, I am a bartender, willing to spin a yarn, tell my story,  provide entertainment, and listen to the woes, cares, and concerns of others.

Through this interaction, I gain something too. Not another church member or notch on the handle of my gospel six-shooter. I have no church or club, I am just one man with a story to tell. But I do gain support and strength from those who make this blog part of their day-to-day routine. Sometimes this blog is a cheap form of therapy; other times it is a raucous Friday night at the bar with friends. As people ride along with me on the Bruce Gerencser Crazy Train®, they have gone from acquaintances and readers to friends. Perhaps, this has become another bubble for me, but if it is, I do know there is an entrance and exit that allows me the freedom to come and go as I please. Freedom — a word I never really understood until I saw God, the church, the ministry, and the Bible in the rearview mirror.

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About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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37 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Heather

    Maybe just delete every nasty email and only engage the ones who are genuinely searching? We’re the ones who love to read your blog and have learned so much. Screw the nasty indy fundy apologists.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I don’t reply to the nasty emails. At times, I want to, but I don’t want them to have my email address, so refrain from sending them an email filled with colorful words. 🙂

      The blog comments can be instructive and entertaining, but I do let them go on too long. I have deleted half a dozen comments today.

  2. Avatar
    Excom

    Idea: Maybe start another blog with the hateful, stupid comments. Although it is maybe not In your best interests (health etc), I enjoy when you engage them. It reveals, among other things, the emptiness of their faith.
    I am a daily reader. It may be a bad habit or therapy? 🙂 Your blog is one of my favorites as it makes me think.
    After 30 yrs of being in the nonsense, I also found true freedom when I “left.”

    • Avatar
      brbr2424

      Micky Weinstein’s wife published a book of the nasty letters they got from fundamentalists. It does make for an entertaining read although I’m sure it gets repetitive. Richard Dawkins reads his hate mail which is fun to watch and listen to.

  3. Avatar
    Troy

    Bruce, I’ve noticed that you do take fundy comments about you to heart. I suppose it is good you’re a sensitive individual but I do think it is unfortunate it bothers you so. Possibly a better way of seeing these attacks for what they are, a badge of honor. They wouldn’t be attacking you if what you’re saying didn’t amplify the little rational voice in their head that every believer has. It also reveals their true colors, with their underhanded dishonest tactics. I suppose it is important, as we engage “the enemy” remember they can potentially be brought to our point of view so try to be kind to them and always remember that you were once like them (in beliefs not tactics).

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Thanks Troy. Deep down, like most people, I want to be liked, respected, and understood. I continue to learn that many people don’t care what I think. My opinion has no value to them.

  4. Avatar
    Byroniac

    Bruce, excellent post. I saw your line about the crazy train and wanted to share this quote which applies to some of these visiting self-appointed hobbyist prophet diarrhea-spurting God-botherers. “Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.” (As Good As It Gets, 1997, so Bing tells me, so I guess I need to watch this movie for the worth of that quote alone to me).

  5. Avatar
    Connie

    Not a bubble Bruce, but a terrarium as your mind is open.

    I concur with others. You are living your life correctly when the noise against you is loudest. I’ve not figured out how to survive the noise yet but I’m getting there.

    Hugs (gentle ones if you are hurting) to you and yours.

  6. Avatar
    Becky Wiren

    Well Bruce, I admire the fact that you even engage with fundies. They have one agenda, to show you that you are wrong. It’s a greater agenda than trying to convert you. Because smug, egotistical people can NOT convert anyone. People are drawn to Christianity because someone shows them love. (It may be conditional love, but it is love.) People have to have some humility to show that kind of love. The fundies aren’t “wasting” humility on you, are they?

    I admire you for engaging them. And if any kindness is shown, it’s on your part. Says a LOT about their beliefs, hmm?

  7. Avatar
    Texas Born & Bred

    I never cease to be amazed at the callous hatred exhibited by so-called “Christians”. But at the same time, I also learn of other people that usually very quiet and unnoticed.

    Many, many years ago, an old man in Houston died. The local paper started getting phone calls about this man from people wanting to know about the funeral. Turns out this man, who had a middle class job in Houston, would gather used clothing, load it in his pickup, and drive it down to the valley (lower Rio Grande). This is a trip of about 350 miles one-way. He did this about 2 weekends every month. Some folks called him the Angel of the Valley.

    I am just wondering why some Christians think in war-like attack mode whereas others are just the opposite. We need more “Angels” in this world and less attack dogs.

    My 2 cents.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I suspect the Internet allows the attack dogs to gather together in packs. This can be said of atheists too.

      Most of the Christians I know are decent people. We should be glad they act better than their God. 🙂 (if the Bible is an accurate record of said God’s behavior) I think, for a lot of Christians, there is a huge disconnect between the person they are and the beliefs of their church/sect. This is a good thing.

    • Avatar
      thatotherjean

      Good news rarely counts as news. We hear very little about the people who go about quietly doing good for others, only about those who loudly proclaim their righteousness, insisting that their way is the only way. I have no idea how to change that, so I try, not always successfully, to follow Teddy Roosevelt’s advice: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

  8. Avatar
    Suzanne

    The difference between Christian fundamentalists and mules/donkeys are that you can usually change a mule/donkey’s mind by applying a twitch and tightening it down hard enough to inflict real pain. Unfortunately it is against the law to twitch a human.

  9. Avatar
    carmen

    Now, Bruce, just think of all the colourful characters you now associate with – you KNOW some of us old heathens luv ya!! (and send you postcards from remote corners of the planet!)
    Keep on keeping on, my friend!

  10. Avatar
    gimpi1

    Well, I, for one, am glad that the fundamentalist that you were in the past was able to learn and change. It just goes to show what a rare individual you are.

    Your willingness to leave behind beliefs you found to be untenable is still an inspiration. That sort of integrity shows your character, just as the mean-spirited attacks aimed at you show the character of those attacking.

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  12. Avatar
    Linn

    I’ve already expressed in other comments that I’m a Christian, and I don’t come to argue, but to learn. However, I am appalled at the way many Christians engage with others on the internet, and I avoid such sites as much as possible. I’m sorry you’ve been subjected to so much hatred by so many who name Christ as Savior and Lord. It’s shameful to those of us who don’t engage with people in that way. Why do I come to learn? I have many “former” Christian friends, and i am attempting to understand what is going on with them.

  13. Avatar
    Charles Johnson

    “Why do I come to learn? I have many “former” Christian friends, and I am attempting to understand what is going on with them.”

    I can tell you what is going on with them.
    The credibility of Christianity, Islam, or any other religious belief system depends upon a false understanding of the universe that we all live in.
    Religious indoctrination includes false information and it also carefully excludes the empirical information and logical thinking that makes us capable of seeing the universe logically and rationally the way that a scientist would see it.

    More and more people are coming to understand that there is no God who thinks.
    Humans do all the thinking and then they project their thoughts onto their God.
    God is a human invention and a fictional character.

    If what I have just told you seems fantastic and utterly impossible, then as long as it seems that way to you, your attempts to understand what is going on with them will fail.

    The reasons and insights that your former Christian friends have will remain a closed book to you.
    My own words will remain a closed book to you.
    And you will continue to believe that your own Christian philosophy is the complete and true way to perceive the universe, and that my atheist way of seeing the world is the ignorant and incomplete philosophy.
    Because you have been indoctrinated to see the world that way.
    And you remain obedient to that indoctrination.

  14. Avatar
    Dave

    “Once free we were not coming back.” That makes deconverted christians like us so threatening to the flock. We have escaped the brainwashing and reasoned our way out of religion and none of the old tactics of persuasion and threats can work on us any more.

  15. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    I remember it being painful whenever the One Truth of my religion conflicted with what I encountered in reality. I had to choose, do I adhere to what my church and Christian school taught me, which of course was proscribed by God, or do I believe what I encounter in life? Science was a big one for me – I started working in a biochemistry lab in high school, and i saw all the tedious ways the scientific method was carried out, with testing and retesting to compare the results. It is a LOT OF WORK. So if multitudes of scientists are showing evidence that the world is more than 6000 years old and that signs of evolution are everywhere, who are pastors to say no, those are lies? But the cardiology treatment isn’t a lie, or the diabetes treatment isn’t a lie…..

    • Avatar
      dover1952

      Hi ObstacleChick. More specifically, what was the One Truth of your religion, and how did it conflict with your encountered reality? Was there one particular bit of cognitive dissonance that screamed out to you much louder than all of the others? Thanks!!!

      • Avatar
        plain eng

        Hey dover1952, I’ll never be the athlete ObstacleChick is but your question made me blink and remember that the one truth for me was our Baptist exclusivity, that Jesus chose us to be the true Christians and that my RC frriend Earl and his church were going to hell even though they believed! And then the dissonance compounded itself in Communion. For us it was a thumbnail square of white bread passed on a plate and a half-shot of Welch’s grape juice. That this was flesh and blood just confirmed for me that I was truly not quite onboard. When I got older and attempted to reconcile transubstantiation by speaking of metaphors and respresentations, I was quickly CORRECTED! Crazy-making…
        And what about you? I am curious to hear ObstacleChick’s response and the responses of others too, if you are inclined to share.

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