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Bruce, Do You Believe Satan is Real?

Yes and no. Let me explain.

Satan, as a God-created entity who walks on the face of the earth seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), is a religious construct, a Bible character that billions of people believe exists. Evangelicals, in particular, believe in the existence of a literal Devil, along with demons. When asked for evidence for these claims, Evangelicals will often say that Satan and the hosts of Hell move and work in a spiritual dimension we cannot see. Think Frank Peretti’s novels: This Present Darkness and This Piercing Darkness. In this spiritual dimension, Satan and his demons wage war against God’s angels. Supposedly, this warfare affects Christians and unbelievers alike on planet earth.

Evangelicals point to the “evil” in the world: abortion, same-sex marriage, LGBT people, drunkenness, premarital sex, adultery, pornography, illegal drugs, socialism, humanism, atheism, Democrats, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden as proof of Satan’s existence. However, doesn’t this imply that God and the mighty hosts of Heaven are losing this battle big time? If God is omni-this and omni-that, shouldn’t he be able, with one flick of a finger, to defeat Jesus’ brother (according to Mormonism)? The existence of evil, however it is defined, seems, to me, anyway, to say that there is no God.

Now let me answer why I say, yes, Satan is real. Not the Bible Satan. Not the Satan in the minds of billions of Christians. Not the Satan that is promoted by hellfire-and-brimstone preachers on Sundays. Not of the Satan of popular fiction. The Satan –actually Satans — I am speaking of are flesh and blood human beings who do indeed walk on the face of the earth seeking whom they may devour. While most humans are decent people — even if we disagree with one another on all sorts of issues — there are people amongst us who are evil in thought, word, and deed. I don’t think it is a stretch of the imagination to say that Donald Trump is one such person. That Evangelicals were so easily sucked into Trump’s evil leads me to conclude that he is a false prophet, an antichrist. Trump, for political gain, ignored the COVID-19 crisis, allowing millions of people to become infected, and hundreds of thousands of people die. Trump, for political gain, separated immigrant families, putting their children in cages, and ultimately losing track of the ties between more than 500 children and their parents, such that authorities are unable to reunite the families. Trump is by all accounts a psychopath, a man with no empathy for anyone.

We see similar behavior among dictators, war lords, politicians, and even religious leaders. We cannot ignore the obvious: evil people exist, committing atrocious, vile acts against humans and our planet. Evil doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Evil requires human volition. It seems obvious to me that Donald Trump should never, ever be anywhere near the seat of power or the nuclear codes, yet millions and millions of people, including most of the Republicans in Congress, think Trump is a great man — the best president ever. Most voting white Evangelicals voted for Trump in the recent election, slightly less than the 81% of white Evangelicals who voted for him in 2016. Many of these Jesus-loving voters committed acts of sedition and insurrection on January 6, 2021. Who fomented this rebellion? Donald Jesus Trump.

This isn’t a matter of political differences of opinion. Trump and his fellow racists, bigots, and white supremacists want to destroy our Republic. Instead of using the political process to gain their objective as Democrats did, these people plan to use violence, murder, and destruction to achieve their goals. Congresspeople such as Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Jim Jordan, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, to name a few, are intent on overthrowing the U.S. government and establishing a Christian theocracy. Are such people evil? It’s hard not to conclude that they are. While some Republican congresspeople are just political opportunists — looking at you, Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Kevin McCarthy — there is an evil element within the party.

I have no fear of the Satan of the Bible. I fear this Satan as much as I do Voldemort — not at all. I do, however, fear the Satans who are working to destroy our nation. I fear what they will do if they ever truly gain the power of the state. When religion and state become one, freedoms are lost and people die. Some writers, myself included, have been warning anyone who will listen about the dangers of Evangelical theocratic tendencies and sympathies for years. For the most part, our words were ignored. Things are different now (just take a look at the plethora of mainstream news articles about Christian nationalism, as if journalists just stumbled upon this issue). The baby birthed by the Moral Majority over 40 years ago is now grown. Angry, armed to the teeth, and with minds filled with conspiracy theories, these white followers of Jesus are intent on burning America to the ground, building in its ashes a Christian America. Difficult days lie ahead, and we must be willing to call out evil people in our midst. While electing Joe Biden was certainly a welcome course correction, we haven’t won the battle, let alone the war. We must be cognizant of the Satans in our midst, and do everything in our power to send them back to Hell where they belong. And for God’s sake, someone lock the door.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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9 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    I keep looking at Trump and wondering what people see in him. He’s incurious and uncaring of any other human. He’s deeply mentally ill, because his actions show that. I guess it comes down to the fact that he relates to so many people on a primal level, that he can appeal to their fears of others. I also think many evangelical men envy him for his apparent wealth and sexy current and ex-wives AND affairs with numerous women. As long as Trump is willing to pander to evangelicals and fundamentalists, they will worship him. We certainly never need to take anything any of these Christians say seriously. They have proven they are about power.

  2. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Donald ‘Collective Trauma’ Trump:
    (whose nickname is Satan)
    From wikipedia- “A collective trauma is a traumatic psychological effect shared by a group of people of any size, up to and including an entire society. Traumatic events witnessed by an entire society can stir up collective sentiment, often resulting in a shift in that society’s culture and mass actions.”

    Fundamentalist evangelical Christianity is the creation of humankind, a collective that displays the long, deep trauma in human existence and that has monetized fear and loathing in life to garner power, one over another. Christianity uses the term ‘saved’ to refer to people who believe in it. In fact, one must be the exact opposite of saved to become part of this systematic disposal of human beings. Christianity insists that all are born in evil and are fallen creatures, helpless without God-Jesus. The same bullshit is fed to those born into Islam,albeit certain names are changed for that carnival of destruction.
    Donald Jesus Trump is the latest travesty collectively donated to humankind by woo believers everywhere. Plus 70 million Republicans (not all of them professing Christians) share with us the collective trauma that allows blind denial, slavery, gender hatred, untold greed and disrespect for the earth. ‘America First!’ is a not loving patriotism at work. It is a battle cry for more bombs bursting in air.

  3. Avatar
    Steve Ruis

    If God is, indeed, all-powerful, it could erase Satan including our memories and it would be as if it had never existed. But that is not what is claimed to happen in these stories. There is to be this final battle, see? (. . . and on this side–an all-powerful, all-knowing god who knows your plans before you do and can thwart them with mere thoughts.)

    The real reason Satan is not done away with is monotheism. Back when Judaism was polytheistic, there was no problem. There were good gods and bad gods. But one they converted to monotheism, there was a problem. There was only one god responsible for everything! Yahweh even admits this in the book of Isaiah (45:7). But when it was decided that the Christian god (Jesus, not Yahweh) was to be the “god of love” instead of being a “vengeful god,” it just wouldn’t do have Jesus as the source of all evil. So, Satan was elevated from a loyal servant of Yahweh (read the book of Job carefully) to the “devil” of the NT. Satan is Jesus’s fall guy. The guy that can be blamed for anything the priests don’t want to take credit for Jesus.

    That this is built out of human psychology couldn’t be more obvious.

  4. Avatar
    Dave

    The strength of evangelical Christianity in this country can be clearly seen by the hesitation of the media, even the most anti Trump, to call out their support of this vile and corrupt narcissist. He would never have come close to the White House without the support of this group. You will know them by their fruits indeed. What further proof is needed to demonstrate the emptiness of this belief system?

  5. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Sounds like the forces of dictatorship wanted Trump in. They want to dismantle America. A strange fusion of Roman Catholics, Dominionists, corporate hacks and intelligence agencies installed him. The damage from the last four years are incredible. And the agenda they decided is not over, according to those die-hards. We must keep track and stay vigilant.

  6. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    I read Elain Pagels’ book on the myth of Satan and found it quite fun. I like the idea of an accuser, a questioner, someone who doesn’t take everything at face value. As Steve Ruis mentioned, it was a lot easier to have all these gods and demigods before the Jews settled into monotheism. (The whole Trinity crap seems like a lame way to deify Jesus while trying to remain monotheistic).

    I like some of the literary/entertainment versions of Satan. South Park’s Satan is fun. I respect Milton’s rendition who would rather rule in he than be a servant in heaven. It is sad how Christians go around scared of invisible demons and a Satan, and how they use them as excuses instead of taking responsibility for their own actions.

  7. Avatar
    dale m.

    Lock the door? There’s only one way to slowly close and lock this door. Its putting up private schools run by humanists. It requires building our own temples to sere our communities. Temples to feed, clothe and administer to the poor. No gov’t support. No corporate sponsorship. Run them as private enterprises. Then we’ll be able to do what no religion can do. Stand on our own 2 feet. Religion takes money from the community and tax-payer. I we simply did the opposite, it is they who would be in the embarrassing position of being seen as true socialists, not us.

    Charles Darwin was a true “social capitalist”. He invested money, had a mansion, was a wealthy land owner, fed, clothed, educated and got the best medical care [such as it was] for his 10 children. He still had time to help and aid other families who were destitute. His theory of Natural Selection by Free Enterprise Competition is not the reason Evangelicals hate him so much. It’s because he showed that humanists could do as much for the down trodden as Christians.

  8. Avatar
    anynameleft

    Think of Laura Nyro song -And When I Die-
    “I can swear there ain’t no heaven but I pray there ain’t no hell.
    Swear there ain’t no heaven and pray there ain’t no hell,”.
    Or Sarte No Exit “hell is other people”

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Bruce Gerencser