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Dear Pastor Mark Falls, My Wife’s Mother Doesn’t Have Nine Lives

newark baptist temple heath ohio

Over the past fifteen months, I have written several posts about how the Newark Baptist Temple and its pastor Mark Falls has ignored the Coronavirus, allowed COVID-19 to repeatedly spread through the congregation, leading to infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. (Please see IFB Pastor Mark Falls Tries to Use Bible Verses to Guilt People into Attending Church during Coronavirus Pandemic, No Need to Wear a Face Mask: When it’s My Time to Die, I’m Ready to Go, and An IFB Funeral: Fundamentalist Christianity Poisons Everything.) Pastor Falls refuses to demand church members wear masks and practice social distancing. While family members swear on a stack of Bearing Precious Seed Leather Bound King James Version Bibles that Pastor Falls takes the virus seriously, video evidence suggests otherwise. Sure, Falls wears a mask (he and his family were infected last year), as do other church members, but by and large, the congregation continues to have unprotected sex with COVID-19. As of today, more than a dozen people have currently tested positive for COVID-19, including Polly’s eighty-five-year-old mother. (Please see My Wife’s Mother Has COVID-19 and Her IFB Church is to Blame and Bruce, How Do You Know Your Wife’s Mom Was Infected with COVID-19 at Church?)

On Sunday evenings, Pastor Falls leads the congregation in prayer for people who are sick and dying. The sheer number of people who attend the church and have COVID-19 is astounding. In any other setting, the Ohio Department of Health would step in and shut down the Baptist Temple. Unfortunately, thanks to Governor Mike DeWine’s ignorant and foolish interpretation of the first amendment and the application of the separation of church and state, churches are exempt from state and county health mandates. As a result, Falls, a hardcore Independent Fundamentalist Baptist and Ayn Rand Libertarian has refused to cancel church services, or demand congregants wear masks and practice social distancing (let alone refusing to encourage church members to get vaccinated).

On Sunday, May 2, 2021, speaking of the super spreader event occurring at 81 Lickingview Drive, Pastor Falls said:

Pray, and please consider others, please consider others. I’m not telling you how you need to do that, but be mindful of someone who might not fare as well as you do.

Polly’s Mom is home, under quarantine for eight days. Last Sunday evening, Pastor Falls asked the congregation to lift Polly’s mom up in prayer. Here’s what he had to say:

Bonnie Shope [Polly’s Mom] had a heart attack this week, and she had no symptoms of COVID, but when they tested her at the hospital, they found out she had COVID. So, she is at home recovering. You know Bonnie. Miss Nine Lives. She doesn’t even have a cat, but she seems to have nine lives. But, she is at home recovering. Just pray that she will not have any complications with COVID.

You can listen to the prayer requests here, starting at the 8:33 mark:

Video Link

There’s so much I could say right now, but I want to focus on one thing: the notion that Polly’s mother has nine lives. Mom doesn’t have nine lives — no one does. Mom has one life, twill soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last, scratch that drivel, and then she will be dead. That’s why Pastor Falls is morally obligated to do everything he can to make sure church members are safe. Sure, Mom is culpable too. She has a duty to act responsibly, to act in her own best interest. Instead, she thinks Jesus is going to protect her, and that she won’t die one moment before the date and time God has appointed for her death (Hebrews 9:27). As a result, fatalism drives much of her life (and Evangelicalism, at its core, is fatalistic).

I know that nothing I write will change what is happening at the Newark Baptist Temple. Mom has already violated the quarantine rules, and come a week or two, she will be right back in church praising Jesus (and the powerful prayers of the saints) for her victory over COVID-19. All Polly and I can do is weep. And scream . . .


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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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  1. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    This Falls fellow is a pulpit-generic I have seen a hundred times. What big teeth he has! All the better to smile you down while he tells you to fuck-off…. He does not actually say his heart-truth but allows the bully faith he espouses to condemn you (while he love-grins his ‘fuck-off!’.) I sent him a mail to inform him that he and I are quite similar, both bipeds and that I think he would be happier if he actually spoke the human truth instead of actively supporting insupportable statements. He ‘smiled’ at me in response.
    These suits make me sad, remind me of the childhood hatred I was taught as love. Where would you like to end up, little fella? In a lake of fire or walking on streets of gold…

  2. Avatar
    ... Zoe ~

    Falls said: “Pray, and please consider others, please consider others. I’m not telling you how you need to do that, but be mindful of someone who might not fare as well as you do.”

    He just told them right there to wear a mask without saying wear a mask. He knows it. God forbid he actually say it.

    He’s feeling the heat Bruce from you posts. May his God forgive him.

  3. Avatar

    I am not prone to anger, but Falls’ behavior infuriates me. People like him extend and intensify the pandemic at the greatest of costs.
    You have my sympathy.

      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        Probably. It my (our) story, so it’s mine (ours) to tell. Sometimes, family members get upset with me over something I’ve written about them. As far as Polly is concerned, I clear everything with her.

  4. Avatar

    Paul van Noy out in the state of Idaho is an example of the type of pastor who serves as an example being an Covidiot. I’m sorry for borrowing that phrase.. He was against masking to prevent the spread of Coronavirus because he did not think it was really necessary. Guess who came down with Coronavirus. Paul van Noy. It didn’t kill him or his wife( she also got the Coronavirus) but it did serve as a warning to the members of his church, Candlelight Christian Fellowship. Becaue of Pastor Paul van Noy’s illness one J. B. Hixson served as an substitute pastor at his church one Sunday. Hixson himself has referred to the Coronavirus as being a Controlavirus Luciferian plan, all because some French scientist named some discovery of his Luciferase, and said substance is somehow involved with coronavirus.

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser