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Bruce, You are a Very Sad and Bitter Old Man

pastor steve proctor

Steve Proctor is the pastor of Westwood Baptist Church in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Westwood Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church affiliated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship in Springfield, Missouri. I was saved, baptized, and called to preach at a BBF congregation — Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio — in the early 1970s.

Proctor came to this site via Google search. Proctor, as is common among his species, showed no interest in learning anything about me. (Please see the WHY? page.) He read all of two posts:

After spending ten minutes on this site, Proctor deemed himself sufficiently informed to comment on my psychological state and my age, along with throwing in a not-really-sorry for the “hurts” in my life that must have caused “this” — whatever “this” is — and a promise to pray for me.

Proctor’s comment — which he posted twice — patience pastor, patience — was succinct and to the point:

You are a very sad and bitter old man. I’m so sorry for the hurt in your life that must have caused this. I will pray for you.

Proctor uses the word “sad” not in the sense of depressed or discouraged, but to say that I am pathetic or a joke. He then says I am bitter. Knowing that he only read two posts on this site, I have no idea how this IFB Freud determined I was bitter. And for the record, I am not. I have debunked this claim numerous times, so I won’t do it again. I will say, however, that Proctor has zero evidence for his claim. First, he didn’t read enough of my writing to know anything about me. Second, he made no attempt to reasonably and politely interact with me. Instead, he just threw the word bitter out there, hoping to wound me. Sorry, Pastor Proctor, but I’m immune from such juvenile attempts to cause harm.

Proctor goes on to call me an old man. He got that one right, but how is my advanced age relevant? Besides, doesn’t the Bible say that Christians are supposed to treat the elderly with honor and respect? Evidently, God’s commands don’t apply when commenting on an atheist senior citizen’s blog.

Proctor goes on to allege that some sort of hurt in my life caused “this.” Proctor doesn’t say what “this” is, but I assume “this” is my atheism and my opposition to Evangelical Christianity. Had Proctor bothered to have curiosity (please see Curiosity, A Missing Evangelical Trait) about the man, the myth, the legend Bruce Gerencser, he likely would have found that I have addressed the “hurt” allegation numerous times. Sorry, Pastor Proctor, but some sort of “hurt” didn’t cause me to divorce Jesus and walk away from Christianity. I deconverted for intellectual reasons, not emotional ones. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.) I am more than happy to engage you on THOSE issues, if you are so inclined. Warning, I know the Bible well, have spent most of my life reading and studying the Bible, and have preached more than 4,000 sermons.

Evidently, Proctor’s Bible is one of those new-fangled translations that leave words and verses out of the one true and perfect Bible — The King James Version. (That’s sarcasm, by the way. Proctor is King James-only.) The verse that seems to be missing from Proctor’s Bible is Proverbs 18:13:

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

I love how The Living Bible translates this verse:

What a shame—yes, how stupid!—to decide before knowing the facts!

God says that Pastor Proctor is shameful and stupid for judging me before knowing the facts. I agree with God.

Westwood Baptist’s website states:

At Westwood, we want you to feel at home and be part of our family. Westwood is a church with a heart where loving and caring friends will help you and your family grow in God’s grace.

On a page titled, A Word From the Pastor, Proctor says:

Here at Westwood, we are known as “A Church with a Heart.”  God has truly given our church a heart for people.  Our desire is to provide effective ministry to every person of every age from all walks of life.  From the moment you visit for the first time, we hope that you sense the love that fills our hearts.  More importantly, we hope that we are able to show you our Lord’s heart.

Sounds like a church pastored by a loving and caring man, a church with people who are filled with love. How do we square these advertising clichés with Pastor Proctor’s comment on this site? Where’s the love, pastor, where’s the love?

Proctor says he will pray for me. If he is the typical IFB preacher, he won’t do so. You see, “I will pray for you” is meant to convey judgment, that Proctor deems my life insufficient or damaged in some way. It is often an epithet preachers hurl at people they disagree with. They have no intention of seriously storming the throne room of Heaven on your behalf. That would be too much work. There are too many other unbelievers to vanquish and condemn to bother praying for them. That said, thousands of Evangelical Christians have said they are praying for me. Despite thousands and thousands of prayers asking God to save me, kill me, or chastise me, I remain an unrepentant atheist. Why, it is almost as if prayer doesn’t work.

I hope Pastor Proctor will remember this post the next time he leaves a stupid — to quote God’s Word — comment on someone’s blog. I hope he will stop being a Fundamentalist preacher, choosing instead to be kind, decent, thoughtful human being who sincerely tries to get to know people different from him — be they atheists, agnostics, humanists, socialists, liberals, or others.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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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47 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Darcy

    Someone said to listen to people when they tell you who they are because they are probably telling you the truth. But don’t listen when they tell YOU who YOU are. That is wishful thinking on their part.
    You don’t sound anything like a “very sad and bitter old man.” You do sound like you have learned a lot about life through hard-earned experience.

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    I don’t think you’re sad or bitter. You have a full life and manage to have happiness in spite of being in chronic pain. (Oh, I know how that is.) But maybe this pastor will leave another comment so I can tell him to fuck off?

  3. Avatar
    dale M

    Preacher Proctor is a sad and bitter old man. Bruce is a fun guy! I would suggest Bruce, invite him to become one of us deliriously happy atheists. We R FREE !!!!!!! FREE from the slavery of religion! FREE !!!! It is so exhilarating to be so FREE !!!!!!

  4. Avatar
    Astreja

    Preacher Proctor is a pretentious, arrogant jerk. Why would I want to follow a belief system that elevates pretentious, arrogant jerks to leadership positions?

    • Avatar
      Charles S. Oaxpatu

      In that regard, could it be honestly said that Preacher Proctor is just like President Trump? I wonder if the preacher is one of the millions of Christian Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals who bow down and submit to the will—not of “The Golden Calf”—-but rather “The Orange Jackass” who has killed close to 200,000 of our fellow Americans, including many thousands of so-called Bible-believing Christians. Does anyone see a pattern here?

  5. Avatar
    Ami

    Yep, following in the footsteps of his lord.
    I’ll bet he’s not really gonna pray for you since what he really likes is to prey on people.
    One more reason to be an atheist… I’ve already spent an eternity with sanctimonious twits like him. Why would I want to do it again?

  6. Avatar
    Sage

    Now BJW, you know what happens when you tell them to fuck off…but i do enjoy how they react.

    Fake love is a major problem in Christianity today. Christians are brilliant because they know my problem as soon as they see me. They make it clear that I have a problem god can fix. But they love me, they just hate the sinful life I obviously lead. But I can be saved and god can change me.

    Of course they don’t want to really know me, because that would require spending time with me, and what would people think if they saw us together?

    So I apply the Michael Mock rule and my rule. No thanks, none of that stuff makes sense. Besides, if god does exist he made me this way, who am I to argue with god?

  7. Avatar
    Julie S.

    Yeah, that is typical IFB behavior. I run into that ALL the time on Twitter. It’s always that I’m “bitter”, “hurt”, “resentful”, etc. They cannot entertain the thought that people can be just fine after leaving their IFB cult!! In fact, BETTER for having left that mess behind.

    Not to diss you, Bruce, but this sort of rhetoric is even worse toward ex-Fundy women. That’s a double whammy to them. Omg, perish the thought! A vocal, ex-Fundy woman is public enemy #1 to them! That gives me all the more joy & all the more reason to express my dissent!! Haha!

    • Avatar
      Charles S. Oaxpatu

      Julie. Your comment was both interesting and fun. I would bet my last nickel that Pastor Proctor and most of his congregation members will feel bitter, hurt, and resentful if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win the presidential election on November 3, 2020. Moreover, an African-American/India woman will be just one heartbeat away from becoming President of the United States. Fundie preachers like Franklin Graham keep telling their people that this is the most consequential election in all of American history——and if Trump loses——so-called Bible-believing Christianity and those who claim it will be doomed. We should check in on Preacher Proctor in the days following the upcoming election, if Biden/Harris wins, and dipstick his level of “bitter, hurt, and resentful.” Then we can ask him how he feels about soon being ruled over by a black woman who is only a whisper away from being President. Fun, fun, fun ’til my daddy takes my T-Bird away!!!!”

  8. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    It’s rude for someone to come to a massive, overarching conclusion about another person without bothering to take the time to find out more about them. This pastor doesn’t care about Bruce – if he had, he would have read more or reached out personally to ask if Bruce would like to converse. This isn’t very Christ-like – there are stories in the gospels (fiction, in my opinion, but fiction can convey important messages) about Jesus trying to get to know people. Be more like that Jesus instead of the heterosexual Caucasian American judgmental culture war GOP Jesus that the evangelical right has fabricated for themselves.

  9. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Pastor Proctor is doing his job. IFB belief is about harming self and others. The great commission has been fulfilled once more by Proctor! (Hey pastor, just because you call it love and will pray for someone, that does not make it magically love.) Look quietly at what you have written and seek forgiveness from the the Father. See how it works? You go off on somebody and then suffer the pain and seek the merry-go-round of free-pass from God!
    Now go look for someone else to harm or, better, quit the ministry of harm and go serve in a soup kitchen. Actually try doing some down-to-earth good…

  10. Avatar
    Dave

    When a Christian says he will pray for you that usually amounts to a quick “please help Bruce” muttered to the ceiling like a magical incantation. How many times did I do that back in my christian days? That’s how you justify saying you will pray for someone. Just more rationalization from a religion that specializes in rationalization

  11. Avatar
    Steven Donald Proctor

    You’re right. I have no right to judge whether or not you are sad and bitter. That was inappropriate. Please accept my sincere apology. However, I will pray for you and I really would like to talk sometime. Please call the church and ask for me. I promise the conversation will be cordial. I actually would like to hear your story. I would like for you to know more about me as well because many of your readers have made assumptions about me just as I did about you.

    • Avatar
      clubschadenfreude

      “You’re right. I have no right to judge whether or not you are sad and bitter. That was inappropriate. Please accept my sincere apology. However, I will pray for you and I really would like to talk sometime. Please call the church and ask for me. I promise the conversation will be cordial. I actually would like to hear your story. I would like for you to know more about me as well because many of your readers have made assumptions about me just as I did about you.”

      and here we have Steve being ashamed of what he said, Not because of what he said, but because he got caught and called out for it. Many Christians think they can say anything at all, and in the past, that was indeed the case because people were stupid and assumed that Christians were “good people” by dint of their being “Christians”. They aren’t and never were.

      Now, we have Steve claiming to be praying for Bruce or whomever and again this states that he is just back to his old nonsense, sure that his prayer will “correct” people and make them agree with him.

      I have no assumptions about Steve. His actions are exactly what I expect and predict.

  12. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Rev. Proctor. I do know from past experience that the word ‘ bitter ‘ is a code term for someone who refuses to be mistreated or, is just thought of as rebellious. Bruce doesn’t give off a bitter vibe. Nor is he sad. He’s had more than his share of hard times and tragedies. While he was a pastor himself, he seemed to really enjoy the vocation and his parishioners were pretty much fond of him. Without concrete proof that everything in the Bible IS true, as documents are thought of, returning to the fold is doubtful. It doesn’t help matters that American Christianity is a toxic culture, in general. And so many,many pastors are promoting Trump, a draft- dodging misogynist, a childish fiend. This looks to the rest of the world like America has gone collectively insane. Hillary is a nightmare in her own right. Point being, Medieval European values have turned Christianity into a poisonous way of life. Get rid of that, and people would be way more open.

  13. Avatar
    Steven Donald Proctor

    Thank you for your comments. I was wrong in what I said yesterday and honestly feel badly about it. My apology was sincere. Though I disagree with some of what you are saying, I hear you and understand where you are coming from. Though I don’t get to Ohio very often (I have actually only been there once for a wedding) maybe someday Bruce and I could meet and have a meal together. Unfortunately, my original comment does not reflect who I really am. It was a mistake and I admit it. I used to be exactly the stereotype that Bruce and some of his readers have characterized me as being. That’s fair because that’s what I presented in my original post. I’ve been working to shed those ugly attitudes for the last several years but sometimes they rear their ugly heads. I have been rejected by a lot of IFB preachers because I don’t tow the party line when it comes to majoring on minors. Anyway, I guess we’re all a work in progress. I know I am. Thanks again, Yulya. P.S.Try to get Bruce to change my picture LOL That one is several years old and I’ve lost a lot of weight.

    • Avatar
      Grammar Gramma

      Steven Proctor, you said “Unfortunately, my original comment does not reflect who I really am.” I often see videos of people engaging in racist or other bigoted behavior, and when the video goes viral, the “star” of the video says “That’s not really who I am.” Actually, I think that’s exactly who they are – at their very worst, exposing their true inner core. The same goes for you. Your ugly comments show us exactly who you are. That you would attack the author of a blog without taking the time to learn the first thing about him shows how shallow you are. You think your drive-by prayer should mean something to Bruce, but it actually only means something to you – that you feel superior to Bruce. Then you pout when you get called out. You arrived riding your high horse, spreading your fairy dust around, and you want Bruce to admonish his readers for calling you out? I don’t think so!

  14. Avatar
    Steven Donald Proctor

    Not to go on and on but I think it’s worth mentioning that many of Bruce’s readers did to me exactly what I did to Bruce. Based on one twenty-word comment (a maybe a quick look at our church website) I am a “jerk”, a pedophile, just like “millions” of other fundamental preachers, pro-Trump, a racist, a hypocrite, was told to f*** off, etc. etc. I have admitted my guilt but perhaps a little “curiosity” would have been in order on their part too and perhaps we all need to look in the mirror. What I said was wrong but I find these responses to be much more hateful and vitriolic. I hope that Bruce will rebuke and admonish his readers as he did me and encourage them to practice what he preaches.

    • Avatar
      Astreja

      Mr. Proctor, I agree with Ami. You post an execrably rude comment, and then you act faux-surprised when you get as good as you give.

      You forfeited any pretense to holding the moral high ground when you posted the words “You are a very sad and bitter old man.” I, for one, have no intention whatsoever of apologizing or retracting my comments towards you, and stand by what I said unreservedly. It is only right to call you a jerk if you insist on acting like one.

      Which you are doing right now, with your vain and arrogant hope that Bruce will bring us to rein to assuage your broken, hypocritical sensibilities.

      Quite frankly, sirrah, the thought of you being offended amuses me no end. Don’t want to get insulted? Don’t insult other people. Easy-peasy. Now grow up.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Steve,

      Thank you for commenting. I appreciated your first comment. You should have stopped there. Instead, you have dug yourself one hell of a hole. I suggest you stop digging.

      Let me kindly and forthrightly explain several things to you.

      1.) I don’t have followers, I have readers. I have readers who span the spectrum from IFB pastors/church members to Satanists. There are a number of Evangelicals and mainline Christians who read this blog too. Yes, many of my readers are atheists, agnostics, humanists, pagans, and other non-religious people. In other words, while I may be an agnostic/atheist/humanist/liberal, not everyone who reads this blog holds the same viewpoints.

      2.) The focus of my writing is Evangelical Christianity, with a side interest in covering the IFB church movement.

      3.) I write a series titled, The Black Collar Crime Series. Now reaching 800 posts, this series documents the criminal — mainly sexual — behavior and prosecution of primarily Evangelical pastors and church leaders. I am currently sitting on roughly 200 stories I have not yet had the time to post. Evangelicalism has a huge sex abuse problem, every bit as pervasive as that found in the Catholic Church. The readers of this blog tend to not trust pastors for this reason. No, not all pastors are pedophiles, but more than a few of them are, and Evangelical churches/pastors continue to cover up their crimes. This is especially the case in IFB churches.

      4.) Many of the readers of this blog are former Evangelicals. Some of them were in the ministry. Many of them were abused, misused, and even physically harmed by pastors, evangelists, missionaries, deacons, Sunday School teachers, college professors, bus workers, and others. Their experiences paint pastors in a very bad light. Maybe you are different, but there’s really no way to know that outside of visiting your church, sitting in private meetings, and observing how you treat people — including those who disagree with you.

      5.) Language. Cursing is permitted on this blog. Don’t like being told to fuck off? Behave differently.

      6.) You are not the first pastor who has commented on this site. HUndreds have done so, and to be blunt, most of them proved to be arrogant, judgmental, self-righteous assholes. Like it or not, you must bear the burden of those who have come before you. Had you stopped with your first comment, you might have been received differently.

      7.) Now let me give you a bit of pastoral advice. You may know I was in the Christian church for 50 years. I pastored Evangelical churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas for 25 of those years. Pastors live in echo chambers. They are loved, fawned over, respected, and deferred to by their church members. Sunday after Sunday, people tell their pastors how wonderful they are, how their sermons really spoke to hearts, and how blessed they are to have them as their shepherds. Years of this kind of treatment results in pastors developing a skewed view of how they are viewed outside of their churches. I hope you will read the comments on the blog posts and THINK instead of REACT. Think about why it is that people view pastors and Evangelical churches the way they do? Why are Evangelicals the most hated religion in America? If your answer is Satan, delusion, lack of salvation, etc, you really aren’t paying attention.

      You belong to a sect — Evangelicalism/IFB/BBF — that routinely attacks and eviscerates people different from them. Sage’s comment, in particular, really drives this point home. In 2016, 81% of voting white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. I assume most of your congregation voted for Trump. And it looks like white Evangelicals plan on giving a repeat performance in November. For the thousands of readers of this blog who are ex-Evangelicals, the continued support of Trump is baffling. What happened to Evangelicals being the moral compasses of their communities? What we see now is a religious sect drunk with political power, willing to overlook virtually every sort of immoral behavior as long as it means their cultural agenda is advanced. Forty+ years ago when I entered the ministry, every Baptist believed in the separation of church and state. Today? It’s hard to find a Baptist who still believes this. Right-wing politics have destroyed Evangelical Christianity. I believe its wound is fatal. Knowing all these things, perhaps you can better understand and appreciate how people outside of your bubble view you as an IFB pastor, your church, and Evangelicalism at large.

      Again, thank you for commenting.

      Bruce Gerencser

      • Avatar
        Steven Proctor

        Thank you, Bruce, for taking time to respond, for accepting my apology, and for the advice. I totally agree that I should have quit after the apology. Be well.

      • Avatar
        Charles S. Oaxpatu

        Bruce. Thank you for that list. It better sums up all that I should have said—-and the way that I should have said it—–in my post that you deleted. Have a happy day!!!

        And “yes,” Preacher Proctor. I am one of the many Christians who reads and posts here. I and many other Amercan Christians would agree with most of Bruce’s response to you (above). In my honest opinion, Christian Fundamentalism and Conservative Evangelicalism are digging their own graves in this country—perhaps slowly—but digging them nonetheless. If President Trump loses the coming presidential election, I will be certain of that—and you can be too.

  15. Avatar
    Ami

    “I think it’s worth mentioning that many of Bruce’s readers did to me exactly what I did to Bruce. ”

    How do you like it?
    And what did you expect? Post your snarky self-righteous ‘I will pray for you’ as if your brand of religion is right and appropriate here, then get butthurt.
    Bruce should admonish and rebuke his readers?
    Dude, what the hell are you smoking??

  16. Avatar
    Sage

    Rev Proctor, I spent many decades in Christian churches, my father was a minister who is a good man with a true concern for people. I need no curiosity for Christianity, I know it quite well in its various forms. The simple fact is it just doesn’t make sense and I, as an androgynous, non-binary person am not acceptable to them, unless I change the very person I am. These same people work to enact laws that deny my ability to exist. These same people want to ban me from their stores, restaurants, businesses, schools, hospitals…the list is quite long. Why would I ever want to associate with that??

    It’s so sad you have been put upon and called out for comments YOU made and for the attitudes of others in your belief system who you claim you are not like. It’s so sad your feelings are hurt, but don’t worry, it will all feel better in a few days. Meanwhile, I, and others who are not the right gender, sexual orientation, skin color, or religion, will continue to face the daily reality that today may be another day we encounter someone who can’t accept us as we are, and just might be willing to make that loudly and aggressively clear.

    So by all means, ask Bruce to admonish me. He won’t, but you already have, although more than likely you will deny knowing you did and, if you did offend me, it was not your intention. If you are really working rid yourself of ugly attitudes, then go out and talk to people in your community to understand their problems and the prejudices they face, without trying to change them or covert them or admonish them.

  17. Avatar
    Ami

    Oh dear, let me try to find the point with my little teeny woman brain.
    ::helplessly flapping hands:::

    You apologized for your sanctimonious commentary to Bruce.

    Well, sort of.

    What you really did is the same sort of thing kids do when confronted with something inappropriate they’ve done. They deflect. Instead of saying, “Yeah, I messed up,” they say, “Well he did ____.” Showing how ‘he’ did worse than I did, so it’s not really my fault!!

    You thought your remarks were justified and when you were called out, you still thought so, but you kind of apologized and you think the rest of us should just be nice, now.

    Many of us thought you crossed a line (or three) and let you know what we thought about that. 

    You’re certainly not the first self-righteous person to show up here, something tells me you’re not the last, either.
    :::sigh:::

    A really cool thing about being an atheist is that we don’t have to pretend to be patient and long-suffering and act like we accept everyone. We don’t have to pretend to be Christ-like.

    We’re allowed to be honest both in what we think and in what we say. We don’t have to put up with bullshit from religious people and we don’t automatically respect someone just ’cause they are called pastor by their own flock.

    You are under the impression that Bruce is our leader. That we’re some sort of atheist congregation and he’s in charge. Therefore, you think he should get us all to straighten up our act and accept your apology and play nice.

    Your suggestion that he ‘rebuke’ us is one of the biggest reasons I’m an atheist. The assumption that someone is above me and has the right to decide how I should act and when I should back  down.

    Does that about cover it?

  18. Avatar
    Steven Donald Proctor

    Sage, Please be mindful of the fact that I am not feeling sorry for myself. You have wrongly assumed that I feel “put upon.” I don’t. You have wrongly assumed that my feelings are hurt. They are not. I am willing to overlook your sarcasm when you tell me that I’ll feel better in a few days. I am not licking my wounds. I have taken full responsibility for my words. I am trying not to be the person who cannot admit it when he makes a mistake. I am simply trying to help all of us learn from this. It is a teachable moment. I am simply asking that a double standard not be applied. For example, your comment is an admonishment directed toward me not to admonish people. You do not give me the autonomy to be who I am and to believe what I believe while rebuking me for the same thing. All I’m saying is that the fly paper sticks on both sides. Incidentally, I didn’t say be curious about Christianity but about me as a person without stereotyping just as Bruce encouraged me to do. It may possibly be that most of the Christians that you or Bruce have met are hateful and unwilling to admit it when they are wrong. I can honestly say the same the same thing about the atheists that I have met. That doesn’t make it right for us to stereotype. So, YES. Those who have called me every name in the book based on a 20 word comment that I have apologized for should be admonished if consistency and integrity mean anything at all. Thank you so much for this opportunity to dialogue. It’s the only way to make real progress.

    • Avatar
      Sage

      You are 100% right, I did admonish you. I also assume assume any Christian I meet is here to admonish not change me, because that is my experience in family and daily life with Christians. And don’t even dare to talk to me about the autonomy to be you when people in your world want to legislate and admonish me out of existence. You get up in the morning, go about your business, walk through stores, businesses and life in general and no one notices you..except if you admonish them of course.

      I wake up in the morning and hope it’s a day someone doesn’t make a comment, or, as happened recently, doesn’t come out of their house yelling at me at the top of their lungs, calling me disgusting and a fucking freak, get off their property and never come back. Why was he angry and yelling at me? Because I rang his doorbell to tell him about a problem I saw at his house. Just a neighbor, whom I don’t know, thinks my existence is vile.

      For the record, I am no atheist and do not care if anyone is Christian. I am not here to change you. Don’t try To change me. I can count on one hand the number of Christians who accept me as I am. So I suggest you look at your own house before judging me,

    • Avatar
      Charles S. Oaxpatu

      Real progress towards what? I think you will find that any actions or words you use that are designed to bring about “friendship evangelism” with the crowd here, including my fellow Christians here, will be met with an iron wall and deaf ears.

      Do you regret living in a time when Christian Fundamentalist and Conservative Evangelical preachers are no longer highly respected men in their towns like the Mayor, City Councilmen, School Superintendent. There was a time in this country when men like you were held in as great esteem as the high priests of the ancient Pharaohs. Wouldn’t you like to be close friends with all the millionaires in town, rub greasy elbows with them on a weekly basis, receive invitations to power banquets (and be asked to sit with the power players at Table No. 1), and receive free tickets for Caribbean vacations disguised as business trips. Many of your fellow pastors seem to think life for nearly all preachers was once like that in the United States—-and they pine and howl like wolves for that long ago time to come back again so they can experience it and soak deeply in their own expensive hot tubs. I work as an American archaeologist and a historian. Maybe this is just a longing for a time that never really existed in American history in the first place—-you know—–like all of that fake American history David Barton lies and deceives about in his books and church lectures.

      Feel free to visit my blog at https://faith17983.wordpress.com/ and when you get there, be sure to click on the Blog Policy and Contact tabs at the top of the blog page. You will find out quickly why I and most other people here strongly dislike Christian Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals—-and it has nothing to do with “hating Jesus first.before they hated you.” It has everything to do with how fundie preachers and congregation members treat their fellow human beings on the American stage—human beings outside the fundie churches, and it is not just a few isolated fundie people here and there that are doing this. It is an enormous number of people. I agree with the religious pundits and nonfundie pastors who have concluded that Christian Fundamentalist and Conservative Evangelical churches have left Jesus behind and turned into Hate Groups—and please—-no gaslighting and no defense of the indefensible. We have been watching you people for decades, and we know what you are all about when it gets down to brass tacks.

  19. Avatar
    Steven Donald Proctor

    Ami, Please don’t take what I said to be an insult. I simply meant that you may have misunderstood. I misunderstand people all the time. I am honestly not deflecting. I’m only asking that there not be a double standard when it comes to comments. I think that whether we are a Christian, an atheist, or any other religion we should strive to be better people. Whereas Christians may call it becoming Christlike, others may call it growing in integrity. Part of that is learning to admit it when we make a mistake and also learning to forgive when forgiveness is asked for. We are all in this thing called “life” and we can all learn from each other. I have noticed that the only people who never get better are those who refuse to be held accountable to anybody. Integrity says that there should not be a double standard. I know that this is not an atheist congregation with Bruce in charge as you say, but since it is Bruce’s website I simply meant that he has a right to hold people accountable for what they say, just as he did me. You said that the the really cool thing about being a Christian is that you don’t have to be patient and longsuffering. Well, I would say that the really cool thing about being a Christian is that we know how short we have fallen from the perfect standard and we don’t have to pretend that we have arrived. I know I haven’t. Patience and longsuffering are not just Christian virtues. They are human virtues. I don’t know you personally but I’m sure you make mistakes too. I hope that the people in your life will be patient and longsuffering with you and that when you ask for forgiveness it is freely given. Thank you for your time and thank-you, Bruce, for this opportunity.

  20. Avatar
    Steven Donald Proctor

    Astreja, I understand that no one is “obligated” and I can certainly deal with it. Besides, my comment was made about Bruce and it was Bruce that I apologized to. However, this really is a teachable moment. Just as some may feel that I have given all Christians a bad name with my comment, I think sometimes atheists do the same thing. Forgiveness, mercy, and grace are not just Christian virtues. They are human virtues.

    • Avatar
      clubschadenfreude

      “Forgiveness, mercy, and grace are not just Christian virtues. They are human virtues.”

      If one reads the bible., forgiveness, mercy and grace aren’t Christian virtues at all. We have Steve’s god throwing a tantrum in Eden, where he could have forgiven Adam and Eve right then, and started again. But no, this poor god needs to take a fit that A&E did exactly what this god made them to do, and this god was either too stupid to keep Satan out or intentionally allowed it in. Poor ol’ god just can’t quite figure out that if he didn’t put the tree of good and evil and the tree of life in Eden, then no problem would have occured.

      We also have no idea of mercy since this god of Steven’s kills David’s son for the actions of his parents. And when this poor god blasts Uzzah, he could have used mercy but chose not to. As for grace, well that means, in this context, that this god allows some people to accept it and then damns the rest for no reason, so grace is just bullshit.

      Steve wants respect and he has yet to earn it. He has shown he has no more interest in his god’s commands than we do. So much for Christianity making a difference.

    • Avatar
      Astreja

      Forgiveness is not something that can be evoked at will. It either happens or it doesn’t, and everyone is different in that regard. To force oneself into such a state out of a sense of obligation is to betray oneself.

  21. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    Proctor, you keep digging yourself in deeper. You’ve decided you have the right to call us to being better people, which seems to mean treating you kindly. Um, no. You established yourself to Bruce with very unkind words. People then speculated on your character based on those words and on what we’ve learned about IFB pastors in general. You have to deal with the fact that you are somewhat defined to others by the company that you keep. (For example, there is a Republican challenger to the very progressive congresscritter in my district. He sounds pretty moderate, and he might have some good ideas. But right now, I refuse to vote for anyone stupid enough to align themselves with the Republican party, ‘stupid’ being the kindly assumption. If he isn’t stupid he’s evil.)

    So why is it something you need to engage with at all? Surely our opinion of you doesn’t matter. We are reprobates in your version of Christianity.

    You have no right to call us to anything. We don’t recognize your authority. You are simply a fellow human. Certainly fellow humans are due basic respect, and perhaps some of us have failed in that regard, but that failure belongs to the individuals involved on their own life paths. You also imply that we don’t realize that we are not perfect, we are works in progress. I assure you that most of the people here are quite well aware of that. You Christians don’t have a corner on that market either.

    You sent a message to a blogger, an incendiary message, commenting on his state of mind based on a tiny bit of reading. He blogged about it, producing comments that you didn’t like, and you’re trying to do some sort of damage control for reasons I don’t understand. Going forward, I suggest you not send incendiary blog-related messages to bloggers, thereby avoiding another such debacle.

    Finally, I find your offer to Bruce of a cordial phone call amusing. Why should Bruce want to spend those precious minutes of his life talking to yet another Fundagelical?

  22. Avatar
    Steven Donald Proctor

    Thank you, Karen. That was a very well-thought out response. Though I disagree with most of it, I appreciate you taking the time. It’s not that your opinion of me matters and it’s not about damage control. I have nothing to be protected from by these comments or by Bruce’s post about me. Neither my job nor my reputation are at stake. I’ve served in the same place for 32 years and the people who know me best recognize the fact that I sometimes make mistakes and they recognize the hateful comments for what they are. I just want a clean conscience before God and man and I was simply hoping (apparently in vain) that we might all learn from this and become better people. I guess if this entire exchange has done anything productive at all it has provided a perfect example of human nature. We have shown that no particular group has cornered the market on hate, intolerance, or being judgmental. Nobody has cornered the market on stereotyping large groups of people. Not Christians, not atheists, nobody. While it is true that I started it, the comments have proven that we really have “all sinned and come short of the glory of God” and that the heart of the human problem really is the problem of the human heart. We have demonstrated how easy it is to be blinded to the fact that we ourselves possess the very qualities that we despise in others. By the way, I suggested the phone call because it was Bruce who challenged me to get to know him better. I was extending an olive branch and the offer stands .

    • Avatar
      ... Zoe ~

      I highly recommend the book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Jeff VanVonderen and David Johnson if it is still in print.

      There are a number of people who come and go from Bruce’s blog from different religions, spiritual practices and non-theistic beliefs. As you continue your dialogue you get closer and closer to your evangelistic message, . . . your heart it desperately wicked . . . all have sinned. Jesus saves.

      Many of us were abused by those who brought us the gospel message and I suppose those of us who were once in ministry could qualify as abusers ourselves though we knew not what we were doing when we taught the youth that they had deceitful hearts and were sinners in their mother’s womb, while at the same time being fearfully and wonderfully made.

    • Avatar
      clubschadenfreude

      Unsurprisingly, steve finds it necessary to lie. He has no interest in learning from anything as we can see from his attempts to pretend he wasn’tn bearing false witness against Bruce and the rest of us with his ignorance about atheists and atheism.

      He does provide a great example of human nature, showing that he as a Christian ignores what he wants from the bible as it is convenient for him. He has indeed shown that Christianity does nothing at all. Christians aren’t any better than anyone else, and that they are as judgmental and ignorant as anyone else might be. They have no magical knowledge or magical “goodness”.

      Unsurprisingly, Steve has no problem stereotyping atheists and then sheds copious crocodile tears about how anyone dare stereotype conservative Christians. His insistence that everyone “sins” is no more than a poor Christian trying to excuse how Christians fail when they should not do so at all. That Christians can’t agree on what sin is, is enough to show that Steve just makes up his god in his own image. Everything Steve doesn’t like, not so strangely his “god” agrees with him.

      The offer of a phone call is nothing new from conservative Christians. It’s hilarious when it become obvious that they think magic will happen at the sound of their voice. I’ve been offered that opportunity and when I accept and require that the conversation be recorded, suddenly the Christian is not so nearly interested. They don’t want to be shown to have failed. I did get a great chance to actually have a conversation recorded with me and Ray Comfort, yes, Mr. Banana Man himself. It’s great to report that he tries to pretend that conversation never happened, despite how much he loves to show such conversations on his youtube channel. You can see my results here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR87qM_xVAM&t=1710s

      So, Steve, you up for a chat?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Steve,

      I don’t do phone calls. Outside of doing interviews with reporters about Evangelicalism and the IFB church movement, I don’t talk on the phone unless I have to. Again, taking the time to get to know me better would informed you on this matter.

      Why I Hate Talking on the Telephone

      You have my email address. Feel free to email me. I do most of my communication via email and text.

      There’s no need to extend an olive branch. I am not offended, angry, or upset. I’ve been an atheist for twelve years, a public writer for thirteen years. I have been assaulted in word and text more times than I can count. I’ve been used as a sermon illustration, had sermons preached about me, had Evangelical bloggers attempt to deconstruct my life, and have generally been shit upon by God’s chosen ones. One Evangelical man threatened to slit my throat, and others have attacked my wife, children, and grandchildren. I’ve been ridiculed by Evangelicals for being overweight, including an entry in Conservapedia about “fat atheists.” I’ve been told repeatedly by Evangelicals that they are praying for my sudden death, and they hope my death is extremely painful. Yet, despite the abuse, I continue to write? Why? I have a story to tell. I am in a unique position as a former Evangelical/IFB insider to offer educated critiques of Evangelicalism and the IFB church movement. I know where the dead bodies are buried. 🙂

      So, your words did not offend or anger me, though I can’t say the same for my wife. She’s tired of all the negative/hateful comments from Evangelicals about her husband. I used your words as a teachable moment, not only for the readers of this blog, but for you. My goal as a writer is to help those who are thinking about leaving Christianity or those who have already left Christianity. I have zero interest in making converts for atheism. That scores of people have been helped by writing and many people have testified that my words were instrumental in their deconversion is true. What else shall I do, Steve? Stop telling my story? Stop critiquing Evangelicalism and the IFB church movement? Can’t and won’t do that. We both have a message to preach, and I plan on preaching for as long as I can.

      You originally commented on my post about Shelton Smith. I find it interesting that you were more concerned with my psychological/emotional state than you were the ugly, vile behavior of Smith. You chose to shoot the messenger and ignore the message. Why is that?

      Be well.

      Bruce Gerencser

      • Avatar
        ... Zoe ~

        I just re-read this again this morning. Yesterday I felt such a heaviness and today tears came to my eyes thinking of the threats, Polly and your family.

        It is because you do know where the dead bodies are that they shoot the messenger.

    • Avatar
      Brian Vanderlip

      Proctor has decided to pile on the bullshit now! The problem is the human heart! The problem, Mr. Preach-it is not the human heart and your vain attempts to homogenize all of us betrays your single goal which is not to share and somehow grow together as a human among humans. Your goal is to evangelize.
      Why not simply admit the truth instead of manipulating. As for the glory of God, God is a vicious and ugly thing that would be responsible for the most horrid crimes if it was real. So talk of falling short of THAT is truly a big guffaw. Let us prey.

  23. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    “I’m so sorry for the hurt in your life that must have caused this. I will pray for you.”

    poor steve. I’ve had more than a few TrueChristians(tm) say the exact same thing. As the sadists that they are, they have to pretend that only harm would cause someone to reject their claims. That is usually not the case; it is the complete lack of evidence for the christian nonsense that drives people to become atheists.

    We have to ask what Steve is praying for. One can safely guess that Steve wants his god to force everyone to agree with Steve. Steve needs that external validation, so he can pretend that he has some magical secret. The problem for Steve is that prayer that requests someone to be forced to do something that they don’t want to do is showing that Christians aren’t nearly as interested in free will as they claim they are. If this god answers their prayer, then free will goes poof!

    We only have a few possibilities why Steve’s prayers fail. 1. His god hates him. 2. His god loves an honest atheist. 3. His god doesn’t exist. None work out well for Steve.

  24. Avatar
    Steven Donald Proctor

    Thank you,Bruce,for taking the time to respond, for accepting my apology, and for the advice. I totally agree that I should have quit after the apology. Be well.

    • Avatar
      Michael Mock

      Perhaps I’m being too charitable, but if you are actually interested in some observations on how people get from belief to disbelief and how/why someone might not believe, I would also be happy to explain as best I can, with the understanding that some of it will be very new and parts of it may not make any sense to you at all. (If it helps, I moderate a Facebook group for Christian parents of atheist/agnostic children along with a Christian friend of mine, and a corresponding — though largely inactive — group for unbelieving children of Christian parents. While my background is very different from Bruce’s, I do have some idea whereof I speak.) I think the discussion here is better left alone, but you can find me on my blog (click on my username) or email me at my firstname.lastname@mockwriting.com (I’ve left the actual names out to avoid the spam-bots.)

  25. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Rev. Proctor, if Bruce needed to call someone out for say,telling you off, he is more than capable. Thanks to the antics of so many hard core Fundies, Christians are often rejected out of hand. Especially in these polarizing times. Shelton Smith is adding to above. It would make a huge difference if you could confront the likes of this Smith, who mocks the poor, while voting for those policies and leaders sending this country into this downward trajectory. I’m old enough to remember when homeless people were extremely rare. Just runaway kids,hippies avoiding the draft. Our rotten economy, of the last 40 – plus years, is why there are so many,many homeless. Fellow citizens. Not cartoons to be laughed at. Challenging Smith and his cronies will be a good start in the right direction.

  26. Avatar
    Yulya. Sevelova

    Bruce, I’m shocked to hear that some Fundie threatened to knife you– this Evangelical creep broke the law doing that. I’d love to get my hands on him myself. This is the first I heard of that incident. It sounds like he is from the Southern backwoods.

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