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I’m Thinking About Returning to Christianity

bruce gerencser repents

Did the post title get your attention?

Several years ago, I pondered ways to generate income. I thought, I can’t be a porn actor or stripper, but maybe I could return to what I know — preaching and pastoring churches. What do you think, dear readers? Should I tell Jesus, sorry Dude, I was wrong. I repent of my evil blog posts and reaffirm my membership in the One True Faith®? I know, Lord, that the calling of God can never be taken away, so I plan to start a brand-new church in sinful, dark Defiance, Ohio. There’s lots of Christian churches in Defiance, Lord, but none of them is pastored by a man with a testimony such as mine. Imagine, Lord, what I can do for Y-O-U!

Perhaps the Lord will tell me that there are enough churches in Defiance. While I certainly would be disappointed, I know there are other “opportunities” for me in the Lord’s vineyard. How about a traveling evangelistic ministry, Lord?

A former charismatic pastor by the name of Jim is a dear friend of mine. He and I have a lot in common, including a lifetime spent loving, worshiping, and serving a fictional deity. Jim now lives in Arizona, but I have had thoughts about how he and I might be able to make a lot of money by putting our past ministerial skills to work. I thought, we should get a big tent, a trailer to hold the tent and ministry essentials, and an expensive motor home to pull the trailer and provide creature comforts for Jim and Bruce — two humble, suffering servants of JESUS.  On the side of the motor home we could put life-size pictures of Preachers Jim and Bruce, along with the name of our scam, I mean ministry — (please leave possible ministry names in the comment section).

Off we would go, night after night, telling our stories of deliverance from godlessness. Jim, having the gifts of healing and exorcism, could lay hands on people, delivering them from atheistic demons. I, having the gift of helps, could pray for people, all the while sticking my hand in their purses and back pockets. Oh, sorry sister, I didn’t mean to give you The Donald®! Throw in a hot worship band with a sexy female leader in leather pants — why, I bet we could be rolling in cash in a matter of weeks! After each night’s show, uh I mean mighty move of God, Jim and I could go back to the motor home and talk about what great deeds our God hath done. One for me, one for you. One for me, one for you.

Does anyone doubt that preachers Jim and Bruce could successfully fleece the flock? I know I don’t. I guarantee you that either of us could dust off our Bible, put on our Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, go to an Evangelical church and preach a soul-saving, sin-chasing, bringing-down-the-Shekinah-glory sermon that would leave parishioners praising our anointing and begging us to preach again (in many ways, good preaching is like good sex — always keep them begging for more). We know how to look the part, play the game, and put on our “Christian” veneer. The skills honed over a lifetime didn’t disappear the moment we said we no longer believed. If women can fake orgasms, I am quite certain Jim and Bruce can fake being filled with the Spirit.

Lest a handful of readers miss that this post is Bruce in snark-modeNo, I am not considering a return to Christianity. That ship sailed and fell off the edge of Ken Ham’s flat earth. Christianity, in all of its forms and nuances, is firmly in my rearview mirror. While it saddens me to leave so much cash on the table, I know that integrity, honesty, and truth matter more than money. I will continue to be an itinerant preacher of secularism, humanism, and skepticism, regardless of whether it pays well. In this regard, I am no different from the Evangelical Bruce Gerencser. The message and helping people are far more important than making a buck. Yes, I need more money . . . I’m thinking . . . how about a stripper Santa Claus. What do you think, Polly? Women stuffing twenties in my g-string? Tis the reason for the season, I say. 🙂

Snark-off.

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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24 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Bob Felton

    Years ago, Madelyn Murray O’Hair toured around the country with some evangelist or other on a bus owned by Larry Flynt. An advance man would publicize a debate between the evangelist and O’Hair, “the most hated woman in America,” and make certain there would be a crowd. The event would begin with O’Hair working the audience into an enraged froth, and then the evangelist would soothe the crowd and vanquish her. All theater.

    The schtick ended when some small-town journo caught them counting and divvying-up the money over a few companionable beers in some roadhouse, and then returning to the bus together.

    Sorry I can’t provide a citation; I trusted the source when I encountered the story, but can no longer recall who it was.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Bob Harrington, the Chaplain of Bourbon Street, was the evangelist. Your recollection is spot on.

      Harrington later “fell” into sin, divorced, “fell” into some more sin, and is now back on the straight and narrow. I heard Harrington preach several times in the early 70s. He was quite the entertainer. I heard him preach his famous sermon, It’s Fun Being Saved. ?

  2. Avatar
    Drew Costen

    The sad thing is, based on what I’ve seen of Trump’s followers, you could leave this blog post up and Christians would still fall for it. All you’d have to do is deny the blog post exists if they brought it up and they’d believe you. 😀

  3. Avatar
    Sirius Bizinus

    Personally, I’d call the speaking tour “Hardcore Ministries: Getting Filled By the Holy Spirit.” Sex sells, right? I think that’s why churches agonize over it so much.

    At any rate, it’s a shame there isn’t more demand for former preachers to talk at atheist/freethought/humanist events. Being a good preacher means being a good public speaker.

  4. Avatar
    Troy

    I have to admit that I’m also a bit worried that Christianity is true. God told Scott Walker, John Kasich , Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, to run so they’d split the evangelical vote and allow Trump to get elected. All this is a part of God’s plan because only Trump would jump start Armageddon by being fast and loose with nuclear weapons. Hear that kid’s?! That’s Gabriel’s trumpet!

  5. Avatar
    Melody

    “delivering them from atheistic demons.”

    So that’s what’s wrong with me! Nice to have a name to put to it 🙂

    Sometimes I feel a little similar. So much knowledge that’s of hardly any use: my mind is full with it. Having read so much Christian books and articles, not to forget the Bible itself. The only thing I can use if for now is writing guest posts and comments and being able to know where to find the Bible text I need for my argument.

    That and it serves as a sort of encyclopedia when reading literature or seeing paintings in a museum, for instance, where some religious symbolism is used. Because our culture (past and present) is soaked with Christianity still.

    But other than that…

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  7. Avatar
    William

    My time in evangelical Christianity took me to places and had me achieve things I never thought I could do. It wasn’t all bad.

  8. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    I have to admit that a part of me would love to be a preacher. I’ve even given sermons to my mirror. “As a Psalm 137 tells us, if you forget the Lord, may your tongue stick to the woof of your mouf!”

  9. Avatar
    dale m.

    WHOOOOAA !!!! STOP THE PRESSES !!!!

    That’s actually not a bad idea. It’s a skill you actually possess in excess. You’re a born street fighter with biblical academia behind you. Preaching is something you love which very few can actually pull off. One of the greatest regrets in life is not using your talents to the fullest. What would happen if Bruce were to go back to actual preaching …. in a church ….. and preach from the Bible …. giving his version of every sermon? What would happen if Bruce went out of his way to turn every church service, in the end to a raucous and fun party? Dancing in the isles!

    Radio stations will either ban Bruce Ministries BUT …. you only need one radio station ready to have you on. They’ll break their own listening records. Ask not what Bruce can do for you, ask what you can do for Bruce. Maybe it has to start out as a tent ministry. The point is, devote evangelicals wont be able to stop their children participating, particularly if their friends had already “sneaked in” and really enjoyed themselves. A few decent volunteer bands just might help you get started.

    Church can be fun, if lead by an atheist. So. Bring back the spirit !!!! No one leaves unhappy! B 4 U burn out on your blog, maybe it truly is time to take that second leap forward. I’M BAAAAACK !!! BY POPULAR DEMAND !!! [just not what they expected.] Lead up to it gradually. Tell them that your return is imminent.

    You’ve got a good platform. Donations, volunteers, late night radio. The collection plate could be devoted to your next big party. Make atheism fun! Show them what a real street fighter is capable of pulling off.

    If there’s anyway I could help you do this, I will come up with something. I’m sure your followers would be 100% behind your imminent return. Good luck! God ….. uh ….. never mind.

  10. Avatar
    thatotherjean

    I have no doubt that the Atheists Returned Tent Revival Meeting would be a hit with Evangelicals for as long as you and Jim could keep it up. Preaching is a bit like riding a bike, isn’t it? You might get a bit rusty, but you never quite forget how it’s done. You two could polish that up in no time! Nothing but integrity is holding you back. Oh, well, at least the Stripper Santa gig would be honest. . . .

  11. Avatar
    Heber

    Okay Bruce.
    I can bet my eternal soul that there is plenty, and I mean PLENTY of fake pastors and preachers who are living (and living good) by preaching and teaching something that THEY KNOW IS A DARN LIE AND A PERFECT SCAM (as long as the people they cheat don’t use their reason and intelligence). They don’t give a crap about morality or integrity, and they gladly take as much money as they can, tax free of course. I wouldn’t blame you for doing something like that if your debts started to become a matter of concern. So in that sense, I really admire you and your iron principles for not using it as a means to become rich and getting a “thanks and god bless you” in return.
    By the way, after the pandemics I’m thinking very seriously about increasing my salary by online preaching because my economy has been seriously affected …

    • Avatar
      Dale M.

      Above all, preach the truth! Keep your integrity intact. You would be preaching about events and characters from that religion, but giving your interpretation. No harm in that. U will become more infamous down there. And U hope so because evangelicals are your main pep rally folk. They will make sure you are not forgotten. No TV or radio show will be able to resist you. I still think U would B very, very popular! Don’t let fear hold U back. I really do think you could become wealthy and be known as a man of integrity. Your family may ultimately even join you on this (if it looks promising).

  12. Avatar
    tenosce52

    I think Harrington died a couple years back. Someone that worked for me years ago had worked for him as an advance man. Heard some interesting stories but don’t put much stock in hearsay.

    I would suggest “Brother Love’s Travelin’ Salvation Show”. All you need is to get Neil Diamond to open.

  13. Avatar
    Michael Quinn

    🙂 “That ship sailed and fell off the edge of Ken Ham’s flat earth.” Good one!
    Yes, Bruce, you could pull it off. There’s a market for the celebrity in the American Religions Industrial Complex.
    But I’d be surprised if you actually took on such a enterprise. We don’t know one another. I’ve read your blogs for almost 10 years. Your story has been helpful to me. My Take on your life is that you are a man with INTEGRITY. As a Christian, you were a sincere believer/follower of Jesus Christ. As an Atheist, you no longer hold beliefs in a Christian God/faith. You write about who you are, what you’ve experienced, and what you actually believe. You’re not a con man/ scam artist. I Take it that you’re telling the truth. Even though you could capitalize with “Christian Pastor turned Atheist repents and returned to Jesus’ venue, I don’t think you could stick with it. You’re not a fake. I get the idea you only put your life into what you really believe. In a way, you are still in the ministry, but you’re not a showman.
    Whether you ever return to the Christian faith or not, please continue to be the man you are. A honest man with integrity.
    Genius song “Jesus He Knows Me”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NhdnJEJDbJc

  14. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    Heck, Bruce, you would be a great prosperity gospel preacher! “I was totally for real a real live apostate ATHEIST and now the HOLY SPIRIT has changed my heart so that I serve the LORD! PRAISE JESUS! And don’t forget to drop off an offering so Pastor Bruce can continue the LORD’S WORK!”

  15. Avatar
    apostatedaughter

    Superb idea. Would gladly provide the speaking in tongues to go with. Willing to come up with the daily prophetic word to keep the faithful addicted. Also–adept at marketing from all those years writing the newsletters in the church office. There’s no end to the skills we honed making it all work. A shame to have it going to waste.

    Heard this week that one of our former pastors is now zooming his way into the congregation of the younger pastor who took his place. He wanted a warmer climate and is now living poolside while he operates a for-profit ‘compassionate’ missions project. Even that wasn’t bringing in enough. Enter the discontents in the church, now attending his on-line alternate congregation (complete with on-line tithing, of course.) Psst, Bruce, with this model you wouldn’t even have to put up a tent.

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Bruce Gerencser