Updated and corrected, July 24, 2022
I’m sixty-five years old, and there has never been a moment when you were not in my life.
Mom and Dad talked about you before I was born, deciding to have me baptized by an Episcopal priest. They wanted me to grow up with good morals and love you, so they decided putting water on my forehead and having a priest recite religious words over me was the way to ensure my moral Christian future.
A few weeks after my birth, Mom and Dad gathered with family members to have me baptized. I was later told it was quite an affair, but I don’t remember anything about the day. Years later, I found my baptismal certificate. Signed by the priest, it declared I was a Christian.
Jesus, how could I have been a Christian at age four weeks? How did putting water on my head make me a follower of you? I don’t understand, but according to the certificate, I was now part of my tribe’s religion: Protestant Christianity.
I turned five in 1962. Mom and Dad decided to move 2,300 miles to San Diego, California, believing that success and prosperity awaited them.
After getting settled, Mom and Dad said we need to find a new church to attend. Their shopping took them to a growing Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation, Scott Memorial Baptist Church, pastored by Tim LaHaye. It was here that I learned that my tribe had a new religion: Fundamentalist Baptist Christianity.
I quickly learned that our previous religion worshiped a false God, and my baptism didn’t make me a Christian at all. If I wanted to be a True Christian®, I had to come forward to the front of the church, kneel at the altar, and pray a certain prayer. If I did these things, I would then be a Christian — forever. And so I did. This sure pleased Mom and Dad.
Later, I was baptized again, but the preacher didn’t sprinkle water on my forehead. That would not do, I was told. True Baptism® required me to be submerged in a tank of water. And so, one Sunday, I joined a line of people waiting to be baptized. I was excited, yet scared. Soon, it came time for me to be dunked. The preacher put his left hand behind my head and raised his right hand towards Heaven. He asked, “Bruce, do you confess before God and man that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?” With a halting child’s voice, I replied, “Yes.” And with that, the preacher, with a hanky in his right hand, put his hand over my nose, dunked me in the water, and quickly lifted me up. I heard both the preacher and the congregation say, “Amen!”
Jesus, the Bible says that the angels in Heaven rejoice when a sinner gets saved. Do you remember the day I got saved? Do you remember hearing the angels in Heaven say, “Praise to the Lamb that was slain! Bruce Gerencser is now a child of God. Glory be, another soul snatched from the hands of Satan?”
After a few years in California, Mom and Dad discovered that there was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and our family was just as poor in the Golden State as they were in dreary, flat rural northwest Ohio. And so we moved, a process that happened over and over to me throughout the next decade — eight different schools.
As I became more aware and observant of my environment, I noticed that Mom and Dad had changed. Mom, in particular, was quite animated and agitated over American social unrest and the war in Vietnam. Mom and Dad took us to a new church, First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio — an IFB church pastored by Jack Bennett. We attended church twice on Sunday and Wednesday evening.
I attended Bryan schools for two years. Not long after I started fourth grade, Mom and Dad decided it was time to move yet again. This time, we moved to a brand-new tri-level home on Route 30 outside of Lima, Ohio. It was there that I started playing basketball and baseball — sports I would continue to play competitively for the next twenty years. It was also there that I began to see that something was very wrong with Mom. At the time, I didn’t understand what was going on with her. All I knew is that she could be “Mom” one day and a raging lunatic the next.
I was told by my pastors, Jesus, that you know and see everything. Just in case you were busy one day and missed what went on or were on vacation, let me share a few stories about what happened while we lived in Lima.
One night, Mom was upstairs, and I heard her screaming. She was having one of her “fits.” I decided to see if there was anything I could do to help her — that’s what the oldest child does. As I walked towards Mom’s bedroom, I saw her grabbing shoes and other things and violently throwing them down the hallway. This was the first time I remember being afraid . . .
One day, I got off the school bus and quickly ran to our home. I always had to be the first one in the door. As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed that Mom was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. She had slit her wrists. I quickly ran to the next-door neighbor’s house and asked her to help. She summoned an ambulance, and Mom’s life was saved.
Mom would try again, and again to kill herself: slitting her wrists, overdosing on medication, driving in front of a truck. At the age of fifty-four, she succeeded. One Sunday morning, Mom went into the bathroom, pointed a Ruger .357 at her heart, and pulled the trigger. She quickly slumped to the floor and was dead in minutes. Yet, she never stopped believing in you, Jesus. No matter what happened, Mom held on to her tribe’s God.
Halfway through my fifth-grade year, Mom and Dad moved to Farmer, Ohio. I attended Farmer Elementary School for the fifth and sixth grades. One day, I was home from school sick, and Mom’s brother-in-law stopped by. He didn’t know I was in my bedroom. After he left, Mom came to my room crying, saying, “I have been raped. I need you to call the police.” I was twelve. Do you remember this day, Jesus? Where were you? I thought you were all-powerful? Why didn’t you do anything?
From Farmer, we moved to Deshler, Ohio for my seventh-grade year of school. Then Mom and Dad moved us to Findlay, Ohio. By then, my parent’s marriage was in shambles. Dad never seemed to be home, and Mom continued to have wild, manic mood swings. Shortly before the end of ninth grade, Dad matter-of-factly informed me that they were getting a divorce. “We don’t love each other anymore,” Dad said. And with that, he turned and walked away, leaving me to wallow in my pain. That’s how Dad always treated me. I can’t remember a time when he embraced me or said, “I love you.” I would learn years later that “Dad” was not my biological father. I wonder, Jesus, was this why he kept me at arm’s length emotionally?
After moving to Findlay, Mom and Dad joined Trinity Baptist Church — a fast-growing IFB congregation pastored by Gene Millioni. After Mom and Dad divorced, they stopped attending church. Both of them quickly remarried. Dad married a nineteen-year-old girl with a baby, and Mom married her first cousin — a recent prison parolee. So much upheaval and turmoil, Jesus. Where were you when all of this was going on? I know, I know, you were there in spirit.
Mom and Dad may have stopped going to church, but I didn’t. By then, I had a lot of friends and started dating, so there was no way I would miss church. Besides, attending church got me away from home, a place where Dad’s new and improved wife made it clear I wasn’t welcome.
One fall weeknight, I sat in church with my friends listening to Evangelist Al Lacy. I was fifteen. As is the custom in IFB churches, Lacy prayed at the end of his sermon, asking, “with every head bowed, and every eye closed, is there anyone here who is not saved and would like me to pray for them?” I had been feeling under “conviction” during the sermon. I thought, “maybe I’m not saved?” So, I raised my hand. Lacy prayed for those of us who had raised our hands and then had everyone stand. As the congregation sang Just as I am, Lacy said, “if you raised your hand, I want you to step out of your seat and come to the altar. Someone will meet you there and show you how you can know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.” Much to the surprise of my friends, I haltingly stepped out from my seat and walked to the front. I was met by Ray Salisbury — a church deacon. Ray had me kneel as he took me through a set of Bible verses called the Roman’s Road. After quizzing me on what I had read, Ray asked me if I wanted to be saved. I said, “yes,” and then Ray said, “pray this prayer after me: Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I know you died on the cross for my sins. Right now, I ask you to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart and save me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” After I prayed the prayer, Ray said, “AMEN!” “Did you really believe what you prayed?” I replied, “yes.” “Then you are now a child of God, a born-again Christian.”
The next Sunday, I was baptized, and the Sunday after that, I went forward again, letting the church know that you, Jesus, were calling me to preach. I was all in after that. For the next thirty-five years, Jesus, I lived and breathed you. You were my life, the sum of my existence.
At the age of nineteen, I enrolled in classes at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. It was here I received training to become a proper IFB pastor, and it was here I met the love of my life, a beautiful dark-haired preacher’s daughter named Polly. We married during the summer between our sophomore and junior years. We were so excited about our new life, thrilled to be preparing to work in God’s vineyard. We planned to graduate, go to a small community to start a new IFB church, buy a white two-story house with a white picket fence, and have two children: Jason and Bethany, and live happily ever after. However, Jesus, you had different plans for us. Do you remember what happened to us? Surely you do, right? Friends and teachers told us that you were testing us! Polly was six months pregnant by early spring, and I was laid off from my machine shop job. We were destitute, yet, the college dean told us, “Jesus wants you to trust him and stay in college.” No offer of financial help was forthcoming, and we finally had to move out of our apartment. With my tail between my legs, I packed up our meager belongings and returned to Bryan, Ohio. I had failed your test, Jesus. I still remember what one of my friends told me, “If you leave now, God will NEVER use you!”
What did he know, right? After moving, I quickly secured secular employment and began working at a local IFB church. For the next twenty-five years, I pastored Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Jesus, you were my constant companion, my lover, friend, and confidante. I sure loved you, and I believed you loved me too. We were BFFs, right? Sometimes, I wondered if you really loved me as much as I loved you. Our love affair was virtual in nature. We never met face-to-face, but I believed in my heart of hearts you were the very reason for my existence. When I doubted this, I attributed my doubts to Satan or me not praying hard enough or reading the Bible enough. I never thought for one moment, Jesus, that you might be a figment of my imagination, a lie taught to me by my parents and pastors. I was a true believer. That is, until I wasn’t.
At age fifty, I finally realized, Jesus, that you were a myth, the main character of a 2,000-year-old fictional story. I finally concluded that all those times when I wondered where you were, were in fact, true. I couldn’t find you because you were dead. You had died almost 2,000 years before. The Bible told me about your death, but I really believed that you were resurrected from the dead. I feel so silly now. Dead people don’t come back to life. Your resurrection from the dead was just a campfire story, and I had foolishly believed it. I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Everyone I knew believed the same story. All of us believed that the miracles attributed to you, Jesus, really happened; that you were a virgin-born God-man; that you ascended to Heaven to prepare a mansion for us to live in after we die.
It all seems so silly now, Jesus, but I really did believe in you. Fifty years, Jesus. The prime of my life, I gave to you, only to find out that you were a lie. Yet, here I am today, and you are still “with” me. My parents, pastors, and professors did a good job of indoctrinating me. You are very much “real” to me, even though you lie buried somewhere on a Judean hillside. Try as I might, I can’t get you out of my mind. I have come to accept that you will never leave me.
You should know, Jesus — well, you can’t know, you are dead — that I spend my days helping people get away from you. What did you say, Jesus? I can’t hear you. I can hear the voices of Christians condemning me as a heretic, blasphemer, and hater of God. I can hear them praying for my death or threatening me with eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire. Their voices are loud and clear, but your voice, Jesus? Silence.
Always silent, Jesus. Why is that?
If you ever want to talk to me, you know where I live. Show up at my door, Jesus, and that will be a miracle I can believe in. Better yet, if you can help the Cincinnati Bengals win the Super Bowl, that would be awesome!
If you can’t help my football team win a few games, Jesus, what good are you? It’s not like I am asking you to feed the hungry, heal the sick, or put an end to violence and war. That would require you to give a shit, Jesus, and if there’s one thing I have learned over the past sixty-five years, it is this: you don’t give a shit about what happens on earth. We, humans, are on our own, and that’s fine with me.
A Sinner Saved by Reason,
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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Somehow, some way, people survive horrendously brutal reality. They not only do that but they also help others day by day. They don’t require obedience, subservience, or even that we agree with them: They just give, knowing as a loving parent knows, that giving is natural living, human. Thankful today, for your writing, Bruce. In Monterey for a few days and have no keyboard but this phone to comment. This heartfelt truth post has deeply touched me.
This was beautiful, Bruce. Sad, touching, vulnerable. I wish Jesus had been an actual powerful being who could have helped you.
I feel like a born-again atheist. We are all born without religion. Then many of us are indoctrinated by the tribe into a religion they were taught, to praise a god they were taught surely exists, who was righteous and good and will watch over and guide us.
If we are lucky enough, our critical thinking reveals that the story is highly unlikely. that the evidence against such a “truth” is evident all around us every day, that the path to righteousness is to treat others as we would like to be treated. It seems so simple, and yet so perfect. If everyone did so, we would have a perfect world.
Indeed, if god existed as all knowing, all powerful, and all benevolent, he would surely bless us all with that one wisdom. But he did not, and will not, and therefore the invention os his existence is revealed to be a fraud. I am born again – the atheist I was originally.
Powerful and creative way to tell your story. I might borrow a version of your idea someday (don’t sue me). You have a gift for writing, because I felt a hint of your boyhood pain, fear, and anxiety–a major accomplishment considering decades have passed since much of it happened. It struck me that so many of us reach out to what ends up being an unreal and messed up concept of God to alleviate our pain and to dispel uncertainty. About midway through your story, a spontaneous thought came to mind: Bruce is trying to inflict on God what he experienced. After finishing the story, I decided to send this reply, in the remote chance it speaks to you.
Oh it “spoke” to me, Sean, but not in the way you imagined. What I hear you saying is that I had a messed up concept of God — but you don’t , you have a “right” God — and I inflicting my past experiences on God. So which is it ?Do I have a messed up concept of God or do I have a right concept of God, and I’m just pissed, trying to inflict the pain I’ve experienced on God.
You do know I’m an atheist, right, so this post, much like the Why I Hate Jesus post, should be taken allegorically, metaphorically, poetically, mixed in with real life experiences.
Jesus wasn’t there, of course, because he couldn’t be — he is d-e-a-d.
Hoping this reaches you before my previous message. I read the posting/commenting rules after sending the message and hope my thoughts did not sound preachy or implied that I felt “led” to message you. Well, I guess I did feel led, though! Anyway, I meant it respectfully and hope it came across that way. I enjoyed reading your story and plan to check back again sometime. And if you decide against posting the comment, I respect that. In fact, I wrote it to you, not for the sake of commenting. In Chris . . . oops. God ble . . . oops. Peace out, Sean
You said what you wanted to say, end of discussion.
Bruce, Are you familiar with the song “AND WHEN I DIE” by BLOOD, SWEAT,and TEARS? Some of the lyrics;
“Troubles are many,there as deep as a well
I swear there ain’t no heaven,but I pray there ain’t no hell
Swear there ain’t no heaven, but I pray there ain’t no hell
But I’ll never know by living,
Only my dying will tell.”
You sure have had, and continue to have, you’re share of troubles in life.
I have followed your blogs since around 2011. I love to read. Your writing of your experiences in life have been helpful to me in sorting out my own experience within the IFB church. I very well may have been in a church service with you during one of Jack Hyles Monday/Tuesday appearances at one of the Washington County Ohio IFB churches in the early/ mid 1980’s. You address events and issues that are pretty much off limits in the churches I’ve been a part of. For that I thank you. Many things have troubled me in the IFB church. I am unable to discuss those troubles with IFB pastors or my “brothers & sisters” in Christ due to the IFB Church sub culture ( gossip,rebellious attitude,influenced by the devil,been selfish or not reading the Bible enough and not praying enough, I think you know how it goes), but I can read your blog posts.
So again, Thank You, Bruce, for being open and honest.
As the song lyrics go, “Troubles are many…” . We all have our troubles . You’ve been a help to me with some of my troubles. Best wishes to you and your family.
*I’m also a Cincinnati Bengals fan. I really don’t believe Jesus cares one way or the other about the Bengals won/loss record. I’ve been watching that franchise self destruct since 1970.:-) There’s always next year.
Thanks, Mike.. I’m not familiar with this song.
And you are a Bengals fan. “Watching the franchise self-destruct” pretty well explains all things Bengals. At least the Reds give me hope from time to time?
Bruce, this is a testament to the damage indoctrination into a fairy tale does to us. But it also reveals what true
“redemption” is: Freedom from lies, freedom to the truth. Thank you!
So sad, and it brought back so many memories of my childhood. Thanks for sharing, Bruce.
Bruce, I meant I often have a messed up image of God, let alone anyone else. In your story, you had walked the aisle, repeated prayer for salvation, etc., and years later concluded Jesus was dead. So, you had been reaching out to what you now consider nothing, or praying to a dead man you honestly thought was alive.
If you read my writing (and based on the logs this is the only post you read), you know that I had many versions of God as a Christian. You seized on one version of God and judged accordingly. The bigger picture you should have seen in this post is the fact that Christians say/the Bible says/preachers preach that Jesus is always present; a friend who sticks closer than a brother; promises to never leave or forsake us, when, in fact, Jesus is no different from Baal in 1 Kings 18 — AWOL.
This post is the musings of an old man; a man who has experienced a bit of life; a man who has see known pain, suffering, and loss. This man concluded that God was nowhere to be found when it mattered. And therein is the question that Christian apologists have failed to answer (at least to my satisfaction): why is there evil in the world and why is there pain and suffering.
Humanist Bruce looks back at his life and says, “shit happens.” All any of us can do is learn from our experiences. Suffering and heartache should makes us more loving and compassionate. Jesus may be AWOL, but I don’t have to be.
Bruce: ” Jesus may be AWOL, but I don’t have to be.”
Zoe: So true Bruce. So true.
This is the only article of yours I’ve read, but I intend to read many more. You express yourself clearly and powerfully, and I truly respect that. If nothing else, I hope, selfishly, to benefit from learning how you think, reflect, and relate. Thank you for responding and letting me visit.
I rejected my religious training when I was 13, sixty years ago, and I find your letter above heart wrenching. I also laud your bravery in posting your story so others can read it and realize that they are not alone.
thanks so much for this, I relate to all of it. Do you ever think about how trauma may bring people into religion especially fundamentalism? Is this a topic you ever have written on? Trauma especially early and extreme stressors can make people more vulnerable to religion. I deconverted at 10 years old from the Catholic church, never believed it, out and with the UUs by 17. I have examined my life and asked how in the hell did those fundies get a hold of me in my early 30s? Moving to a rural area, being so sick with one medical problem that took over 17 years to get diagnosed , seeing too much, my life in shambles, I fell for the biggest trick in the book, believing God would help me. What a joke that was.
My conversion in, was definitely trauma driven as I converted in three weeks after almost dying in the hospital and losing my most of my hearing. I too like you thought Jesus would help, comfort and guide me. Christians always get nasty here to deconverts and tell us things like “Oh you think you can make demands of God!”, like I expected God to give me a suitcase full of 50s and 100s, instead of just showing up to offer some of those biblical promises like “caring” or even giving a damn. If I die and find out I was ‘wrong’ and some celestial monster wants to cast me into hell, I will say to it’s face, “Well where the hell were you before?” “Always Silent” sums things up well.
Very moving and powerful. Thank you
Hi Bruce 🙂
I tripped onto your site via a post you wrote about something I was researching.
You should know that I am a believer– though completely unfamiliar with the Fundamentalist-something-or-other (seems like that’s a good thing)– even after reading a few of your sincere, very well-written and funny posts. 🙂
Your honest story is touching and heart-breaking, and I can CERTAINLY appreciate how and why you’ve come to the place where you are. Although my story isn’t as devastating as yours, I can actually relate.
I too left Christianity/”Churchianity” (it, tragically, can be pretty hard to find Him there)– but NOT Him.
Untethered from all nonsense, I’m freer than I’d been previously to live like the Savior. (not throwing out the proverbial baby with the astoundingly stinky bathwater)
Before I go on, please know that I have NO intention of discounting you, your experience, your heart or present vantage point by … telling you you’re wrong; preaching to you; quoting Bible verses to you; evangelizing you (whatever that means); charging you with Biblical ignorance; or even telling you that God still loves you.
Why? Because you don’t want to hear it— and I truly respect that.
I’m not going to pray for you– not here anyway 😉
I’m not going to tell you that you were never a “Christian” (nor that you should even aspire to be, by our Western understanding of the term) and that you’re going to hell; neither will I tell you that you’re “saved” and can never be “un-saved” (So, you’ve really gotten that?)
Similarly, telling you that you’re a false prophet, a wolf in sheep’s clothing … that you’re angry, bitter, hurt, fat, have a meaningless life, etc. would be quite the exercise in futility, for if you are these things, it’s my humble opinion you know it, and yet you stand where you stand. If you are not these things, my self-assured declarations to the contrary would accomplish what exactly?
Finally, I am deeply sorry that people have wished for you to burn in hell (whether you believe in it or not is of no consequence) or that God would kill you.
I do happen to know you’ll die, lol, but when and what you’ll find then, I do not know. And, of course, I know nothing about you beyond what you’ve chosen to share.
It is my hope that YHVH will come to you directly. The heart He touches personally is the heart that abides.
But I will say no more, nor will I write again, only because, like I said, my landing on your site was unintentional in the first place.
You will find my email address is real, lol, but should you decide to write back, I only ask that you please show me the same courtesy I’ve shown you, which is to say … respecting your path and unbelief while holding fast to my belief.
Edwidge Sejour-Gonzalez January 27, 2020 at 9:04 pm
“Before I go on, please know that I have NO intention of . . . ”
Zoe: And then Edwidge goes on quite intentionally hitting all the marks like a pro. Nope. Edwidge is not one of those Christians. Nope. He’s a better Christian.
Edwidge: “It is my hope that YHVH will come to you directly.”
Zoe: But remember,
Edwidge: “I have NO intention of . . . Why? Because you don’t want to hear it— and I truly respect that.”
Zoe: Yet you made sure he heard it Edwidge. Respect? Hardly.
When all is said and done you still lay out your own brand of believer evangelism. Not any different than any other Christian believer including those fundamentalists you’re unfamiliar with that comes along hoping they’ll lay down their sincerity and Bruce will take the bait.
Why you can even email me Bruce like he hasn’t had that offer a kazillion times before.
Edwidge: “You will find my email address is real, lol, but should you decide to write back, I only ask that you please show me the same courtesy I’ve shown you, which is to say … respecting your path and unbelief while holding fast to my belief.”
Oh and by the way Bruce, if you do chose to take up my cross and email me, please try and respect me like I’ve respected you.
Edwidge you show no sign of respect at all. You don’t even seem to realize it.
Thank you, thank you , thank you, for saying exactly what I wanted to say, but had no energy to do so. ??
You are most welcome. 🙂
your life, your story very much affected me. but i need to tell you something. Jesus is real. I know Him personally. I have spoken to Him. And you will meet Him one day soon. The gospel that “if you know Christ, you will be safe, healthy, and rich” is a false gospel. Its a prosperity gospel. To know Christ is to suffer. I have suffered, I will suffer. Millions around the world suffer and die. This world is broken and fallen and sinful. Jesus is the answer to that. And I want you to know that I love you Bruce. I am going to pray for you and pray that Jesus does come knocking on your door, and soon. And when He does, you need to tell everyone, OK? Your words don’t scare me away or make me hate you or want you to go to hell. I have doubted God too. But its because I wanted not to believe. I didn’t want God to be in control. I thought I could be my god. But you are no more of a sinner than I. I have done and said and thought horrible things. Jesus didn’t come to save the healthy perfect ones, he came for you and me.
Kay, I don’t know how you managed to do it, but after reading your post Christianity is even less appealing to me than it was five minutes ago.
You hit a lot of spots on my Believer BINGO card: Telling a total stranger that you love him; seeing this gorgeous little blue world as broken; claiming you know a real-life Jesus.
Oh, and Buddhism set the gold standard regarding the problem of suffering, nearly 500 years before the first Christian-sighting. Here’s the funny thing: It provided an elegant, non-superstitious solution to the problem, one that doesn’t involve long-weekend human sacrifices and knock-down-drag-out wars between good and evil. Hint: It’s a “path” of specific behaviours to rein in one’s desires and gain mastery over one’s own thinking processes.
The Stoics came up with an even more elegant solution: Focus your energies only on things you can control.
Christianity is a complicated, convoluted “cure” that has to create bogus problems like “sin” so that it can pretend to solve them.
So you talk to an invisible person that you call Jesus. Which of the over 40,000 versions of Jesus do you talk to? If you say the bible Jesus, then there are over 40,000 different interpretations of the bible Jesus. So what makes you think that your version of Jesus is the correct one?
If Jesus is dead then it won’t matter how much you pray for people, Jesus won’t be able to hear you.
You say that you don’t hate Bruce or want him to go to hell, but you seem to believe in the concept of hell. Only a barbaric savage would torture people by putting them in flames forever to suffer unspeakable torture for finite “sins” committed in finite time by finite persons.
The concept of “sin” is a religious construct. We are all fallible human beings so forget the rubbish that is often called sin and practice compassion, tender mercy and loving-kindness. Don’t hate yourself, or cause others to hate themselves, by talking about “sin”, Dead people can’t “save” anyone but human kindness can inspire, uplift and ennoble human persons and heal broken relations, not rabbiting on about “sin”.
I felt the same way when I turned about 45, woke up one day and thought what was I thinking? That day I went out with a friend and ended up going to a little book store, the owner opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking. Thank you for writing this and for your web site!
If I had that life you had, I would not be a Christian also. Thank you for telling your story.
Incredible story! I feel for you! I’m not being sarcastic but it’s hard to say I’ll pray for you. But I will pray for you!
You don’t need to pray for any of us, Bobby. It does absolutely no good, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead. We’re good without gods here – any gods.
You do realize telling me that you are “praying” for me is, at every level, offensive. Imagine if I worshiped the Cat God and you didn’t. Imagine if I decided to offer up kittens in your name as a sacrifice to the Cat God. Would you be offended? Want to pray for me, have at it. No need to comment on my blog to tell me. Just make your prayer sacrifice without telling me. Your God will know and so will you. Isn’t that all that matters? You know this, yet you feel the “need” to try me that you are praying for me. Look, everyone masturbates, but I don’t want to know about it. Keep your “pleasure” to yourself.
I always wonder what comfort the Christians think they are bestowing when they tell me they are praying for me. Not asking, let alone following through, what they might give or do to help ease our distress. It’s like listening to a politician make another empty pledge; it sounds like brass. Or the opposite of the admonition to not make a show of prayer. Don’t get the logic…
The stories all add up the same and deconversion is tough!!! I started doubting 9 years ago while in the middle of major missionary work in the slums of Jamaica. Unfortunately/fortunately, however, I saw so much suffering and tragedy where a simple God intervention would have made things right and NOTHING happened!!! The indoctrination is powerful. Here I am, 67 years old, and still going back and forth on this topic. Ultimately, however, practical advice and actions are what count. I continue along those lines. My wife is still an ardent believer and I am still well-known in ministry circles so I cannot just come out and shout my agnosticism and secular humanism. So I still have to walk a fine line while, however, listening to the platitudes that don’t work!!! Believers shouting about the Jesus Covid Vaccine!!! Are you kidding me!!! When is the last time we heard of somebody with heart trouble, just praying it away!!! They go to the cardio-thoracic surgeon but they congregate without a mask because Jesus is going to protect them from the virus based on Psalm 91. Enough of that foolishness and the other foolish theological points that simply don’t add up. Keep up the good work.
I feel sad for you Bruce, sad for the things you endured, and sad for the path you chosen. Your story of lost faith sounds as familiar as many others I’ve read such as Charles Templeton. I understand and agree with many of your criticisms of the American evangelical movement and the professional church, but what I don’t understand is the decision to become an atheist. As others I’ve read it usually revolves around the theme of “If God is good why does he allow evil?”. I can see the move to the left in a way, though politically they are no better than the right, as there is a growing leftist “evangelical movement. You said you served God from a leftist perspective for a time and I see others who maintain a sense of fulfillment in that place without rejecting God. Is it just as simple as God allowed bad things to happen in your life?
Ward, apparently you didn’t read much of Bruce’s blog before your god compelled you to feel sorry for Bruce. If you had checked out the posts on the “Why” page – particularly the one entitled “Why I Stopped Believing” – you would have found the answer to your questions. You would have learned that one of the foundational beliefs of Bruce’s Evangelical Christianity was that the bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, and he preached the same for many years. For health reasons, he left the ministry after about 25 years. At some point, he began to read Bart Ehrman and other authors, who challenged his Evangelical understanding of Christianity and its teachings. He began to realize that the bible is NOT the inspired, inerrant and infallible book he had believed it was. Once he shed his belief on infallibility, the rest of his beliefs about Christianity followed. It was a slow 3-year slide, during which time he studied the bible yet again, looking to solidify his beliefs. But the more he read, looking for answers, the more he realized that his faith was gone.
You asked if his loss of faith is just as “simple” as some god allowing bad things to happen in his life. I would suggest to you that no one’s loss of faith can be called “simple,” and it is dismissive and disparaging of you to suggest otherwise. Plenty of regular readers of this blog will tell you they fought tooth and nail to hang onto their faith, once they started questioning it. But ultimately, they were unable to escape the truth that there is no god.
Go away, Ward, and don’t come back until you have read all the posts on Bruce’s “Why” page. Oh, and a word to the wise (of which I suspect you are not one): don’t comment on a blogger’s life until you have explored the blog enough to understand where the blogger is coming from. The answers are usually right there.
Atheism isn’t a choice, Ward. It’s an observation. It’s a shift in perspective, largely involuntary, driven by an inability to reconcile religious concepts with the real world.
Some people deconvert because they read the bible through thoroughly. Some of it seems to be written by very bloodthirsty, violent, and very ignorant savages who created god in their own likeness. e.g. The command of Yahweh, through the so-called prophet Samuel, for Saul and the Israelite army to kill all the Amalekites (including little children and babies for something the Amalekites are supposed to have done to Israel about 400 years beforehand. This is a command that is a command to murder defenseless children and babies who had absolutely no responsibility for what is alleged to have happened previously.
As an Evangelical, how do you, Ward, square this with Jesus’ alleged statement “Let the little children come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven? How do you square it with Jesus’ word that we are to love our enemies and that God is kind (compassionate) to those who are considered to be ungrateful and wicked? How can it be ever kind to kill little children and babies?
Wow gramma you are exactly the type of person I would expect to encounter when engaging atheists, arrogant, rude, dismissive. I read all of Bruce’s story and that was why I asked him some questions because I interested in his transformation. I did not quote scripture or preach, I just asked questions because I didn’t find his story complete for my understanding. If you wish to continue hurling invectives be my guest I will not engage back. If Bruce chooses not to engage I will move on. For all you know I could be one of the persons on a three year path as you say, and you have chosen to represent atheists in the same manner as some Christians did Bruce. Not a good look.
You do know you leave a record of the pages you view on a website? So, you saying “I read all of Bruce’s story” is not quite accurate. The WHY page has a number of posts that should answer every question you might have. That said, I plan to answer your original comment in an upcoming blog post.
You started your first comment with “I feel sad (sorry) for you.” For future reference, this is not a good way to engage former Christians.
“Wow gramma you are exactly the type of person I would expect to encounter when engaging atheists, arrogant, rude, dismissive.”
WARD W KELLY, when you realize that you have unrealistic expectations like the one above, perhaps it would be more useful to understand that they are YOUR preconceived feelings. It is not uncommon for Christians to have been drilled by ignorant believers to view those who do not believe as arrogant, rude and dismissive. Remember that this is how Christians ‘love’ others in America, by pointedly dismissing those not in the Bible-camp as interpreted by the local preacher. (Your query to Bruce is one that comes passing through this blog fairly often and quite often in sheep’s garb. It is your choice to read through the blog and see for yourself but you don’t do that because you are maybe interested in something else than what it is that you state outright…. Perhaps the engagement you seek is in reading Bruce’s extensive writing rather than reacting in truly generic mission form.
Yes you are correct I did not read every post but I did read your story and it was interesting. I look forward to your blog post. As far as feelibg sorry for you, I can’t help that it was my true emotion. Thanks for responding will check back on your post.
WARD, we cannot help what we feel as human beings but we do have a choice to examine our own hearts and minds, to reflect a little and perhaps read further to garner more understanding. The big Belief does not encourage this kind of deepening. It is harsh and committed to harming self and others. You are born useless, and have a choice to give up the bag of shit you are by coming to Christ. Many of us here on this blog did exactly that, WARD and then realized later what a crock it all was and is… read some more and feel as sorry as you like but read.
-old man son of a Baptist preacher
There is volumes of writing on this site, what would you suggest?
Start here: https://brucegerencser.net/why/
I understand your defensiveness as no doubt you have had trolls. I am not here to disrespect anyone unless they disrespect me. My story is not like Bruce’s, and I’d be happy to share if anyone is interested, yet I have had an interest over tbe years in people’s perspectives who have abandoned the faith. I am not interested in the stories of those who were baptised as a child, but I’m interested in someone like Bruce who served in the church for years. Again I have not quoted scripture, nor preached just inquired. I read Bruce’s story and was intrigued. I left the site as I didn’t want to happen what is happening. But as I pondered what I read I felt compelled to come back. If you folks don’t want me here just say so I’ll leave.
Got it Bruce I did not read all those links I will check those out. Thanks
Like most commenters (probably), I came here randomly, but when a blogger is such a good writer, telling the unique story of his life–and we all have one–one keeps reading. At least I do…plus all the comments! I’ll be back to read more later. In the meantime, I will be thinking about you and your story, but I won’t be praying for you. 🙂 I hope you don’t mind if I say how sad it was to read about your mom and your dad. Your mom especially. I can’t imagine anything worse for a child to experience, related to his mother, than the things you had to see and feel.
Why do we readers feel compelled to comment? (Actually, I think most don’t, but…whatever.) I think it’s just what makes us human. If someone opens up to express such deep things in their heart, it’s a very cold listener or reader who doesn’t want to acknowledge it with some kind of response. Thank you for writing, and for being patient even with the responses you don’t like. I know the frustration of trying to explain myself to people who don’t understand and probably never will, and it makes me mostly stop trying. I admire you for “putting yourself out there.” 🙂
OK you were right. I did not bother to read the WHY? Just because I didn’t ; I wish you had not become so hostile in your response. I really wasn’t trying to upset you though I definitely did. I also read your Dear Jesus which took me back to some of my earlier questions. Too bad you feel you need to justify why you don’t believe in Jesus because of your past hurts. To say you don’t believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God is one thing but to not believe in the Resurrection of Christ has sealed our discussions. Since you definitely gave your opinion on what you thought I wanted to hear, meaning you had already judged me, I will only say that I don’t sense this free happy life in your words. If your “Evangelical” walk was so miserable I’m surprised you made it as long as you did. Seems like something was missing between you and Jesus all those years. Anyway I wish you well but if the Resurrection did not happen then our preaching is useless and so is our faith. I hate that you have reached this point.
Again, you assume to “know” things about me you cannot possibly know. You still don’t get it. Oh well, I tried.
Roger, I think that believing in the Resurrection is childish and gullible in the extreme — and that your preaching (especially here, of all places!) is useless.
And if you can play mind-reader games, so can I. “Seems like” you’re protesting to stave off your fear that your own faith isn’t doubt-proof.
Finally, you came here to Bruce’s site and implied that he was lying about his own experiences. You earned the hostility, fair and square. Own it.
One thing I take away from your comments, Roger Smoak, is how they confirm just how useless, detrimental, and–increasingly in my opinion–disgusting faith is. Instead of seeking truth, you just try to assert your faith on reality, whether that faith is about gods or something less grandiose such as your faith about why someone might have become an atheist, or the nature and extent of their past beliefs (eg: “something missing”). Faith just seems to lead one astray, further and further away from truth about the world, other people, God, or anything else for that matter.
I stumbled onto you via Twitter, yesterday or the day before, I think. Great post, I replied on Twitter – without any reference LOL. And you said “Thank you Martin”
I’ve caught up now, read your Why, Hate Jesus, Dear Jesus, the letters, and the 4-post story of unbecoming – I had to swallow at your age being 5 when you did that thing. You never could have won, or done anything else. I never had a chance to not be raised Roman Catholic, and with the benefit of hindsight that has been one of the lesser evils really. I’m really glad I wasn’t in your shoes, I fear I would have gone in the same direction – we’re all made and maintained by our environment
It’s amusing to see that you still want to do the right thing, even though you’re fully aware that such is something fairly to completely different, perhaps even opposite at points, to what you considered the right thing years or even decades ago.
But that’s the thing, the bait: in the core, religions and spirituality are alike, and about doing the right thing – with all your heart, and mind. It’s only when you dig deeper where you find “other stuff”
Thank you, and well done, you’re beautiful. I’m quite sure you won’t go to heaven, but it looks like you’re having a fine one around you right now
Hi Bruce, I’m so happy I stumbled upon your blog! It happened when I did a google search of the child preacher you link a video too. What was his name? Duffy? Doofy? Something or other. Anyway…
Your story really resonated with me. I come from a similar fundamentalist background except we were one of those “cults” that even the fundies think are a little weird. Anyhow, I can’t even begin to describe the psychological and emotional damage it inflicted on me and my family. My dad essentially killed himself in that he refused to seek medical treatment for a very treatable disease all because the church preached against doctors and believed that God would heal you if you just had enough faith.
I have gone through a lot of ups and downs in my life. I have wholeheartedly sought Jesus and God time and again during those tough times, only to be met with complete silence. There were cracks in my faith as early as age seven, when things that I witnessed didn’t square with things I was being taught. Over the years I asked questions and never got satisfactory answers, but I continued to believe because that’s what I was told I had to do in order to avoid punishment.
A pivotal moment for me came when I was a senior in high school and my brother’s best friend’s dad got cancer. He and his family attended our church, which of course we all believed was the true church, whose righteous, well-intentioned, unselfish prayers were sure to be answered because Jesus promised to give us whatever we ask in his name. When his illness was announced, the entire congregation immediately began praying for him. I had grown really fond of this man because he, more than anyone else in that organization, had showed me real kindness on a few occasions — nothing super significant, but enough to make a lasting impression. He was the sole breadwinner of the family, too, since the women rarely worked, and they were quite poor as it was, so my heart went out to them and I just knew that God would heal him. I still remember bowing down on the floor of my room, or huddling under the pillow on my bed, crying out to God through tears of genuine faith for him to heal this man.
He died a few months later. To say it was a huge blow to my faith would be an understatement. I had never before questioned the existence of God, or certain doctrines or why this or that had to happen. For the first time, I was actually entertaining the idea that there might not be a God after all, at least not a loving one.
When I look back on that time in my life, that man’s death no longer seems as significant as it seemed to me then. For, in the subsequent years, I have witnessed far more horrific things that make that incident pale in comparison. Despite all the promises from the Bible, and from the faithful among us, I have never seen even the slightest hint that there is someone or something “up there” or “out there” that gives a damn about anything that goes on down here on planet Earth. The truth is, there is simply no tangible, demonstrable difference between Jesus and an imaginary friend. You must do all the work — you must be the one to have the faith, to hang on in the tough times despite the silence, to continue to work toward building a “relationship” that is entirely one-sided. I think it is perfectly reasonable to conclude, therefore, that Jesus is nothing other than just that: an imaginary friend.
Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. Sorry for the delay in approving your comment. I found it in my site’s spam folder.
Christian believer here, I wasn’t going to comment but after reading some of these, I feel obligated to throw my opinion in the hat. What in the blue hell is wrong with people? Specifically christians? These responses remind me of the types of christians I never get a long with. I use to go to church all the time but realised some of the people were very toxic there so I stopped but I’m still a believer, I just believe in my own way. Why do people feel the need to shove their views down people’s throats as if they will be the guiding light to bring you back to salvation?!? To me, you made it clear you don’t want to here it. End of story! But it’s a bunch of coyotes smelling blood and wanting to scavange, reletlessly chasing you hell bent on proving you wrong. THAT IS THE EXACT SORT OF THING THAT PEOPLE HATE ABOUT CHRISTIANS. Get a freaking clue guys. People view things differently and believe differently. That’s life.
Anyways, sound like you have a hell of a rough life and I’m glad to see that you came out of the chaos and found peace. Whether we disagree on ideas or not I wouldn’t wish harm on you for anything. And those that due are the true disease of the world.
I may have already visited you. If I did and used up my one preachy shot I still would like to talk with you about the Tigers, Mud Hens, Louisville Bats (?)……oh and Bryan. And Pontiac.
Maybe I’m wrong but, are you talking about the Tim Lahaye who wrote “like a thief in the night” series? The movie was one of my child traumas, only overcome when I realised hell didn’t exist (thank god – pun intended).
Yes, the Tim LaHaye who wrote the “Left Behind” series. He was the pastor of Scott Memorial Baptist Church in San Diego. The church later changed its name to Shadow Mountain Community Church.
I’m 36 year old male, and was raised WELS Lutheran. I guess I would consider myself agnostic now, and I doubt Jesus was ever actually a real person but it doesn’t matter. I will say this after finally leaving Christianity; being raised in it from birth is a huge mind game that requires gobs of confusion, guilt, fear, trial and error, and much more to finally get off the crazy train. I heard someone comment recently that getting out of Christianity is like leaving a bad, abusive relationship, and I would completely agree. I’m so glad to not be apart of them and never again.
What did it for me was dealing with years of suicidal thoughts/action with no help from the ‘sky daddy’, and absolutely no answer. That’s a great way to confuse, anger and isolate someone. It’s also caused me to be outcast from all but two of my family members, something I find disappointing but don’t regret. It takes courage to do what you’ve said/done, and I thank you for being a strong male role model. I’m not sure about a ‘heaven’, but I know hell is real because I’m in it; I see it/live it everyday with much of this continued torturing going on from these religious nuts putting these things into helpless young children’s brains, but we won’t go into that now.
The last thing I will say is that what really makes this ‘hell’, is the android-like people who seem to make no effort in doing the right thing or saying so WHEN IT MATTERS MOST, not just when it’s convenient to do so. We have each other on this planet, that’s all from what I can see. And if we can’t help, understand, or care for one another, than what good is our species? I think suicide, the typical Christian view of it, and all those who are hung out to dry is one of the sickest things I have seen/encountered in my life. Example? The local ‘christian’ suicide director told me I was a ‘bad investment’ and that I ‘wasn’t going to make it’. Nice. My ‘born again’ uncle said all suicides go to hell, along with anyone/anything associated with rock music. BTW I can’t get into pro sports because many of these extremely dumb athletes claim to be so ‘christian’, and their thuggish/greedy behavior is also something I can’t condone. I was really into sports as a kid, but I can’t in good conscience support something like that anymore. It’s everywhere now, and humans are at fault for that. Not a ‘spooky’ vengeful god, not an evil spirit or other celestial being, it’s us.
Anyway thank you again for promoting some cense in this world, I wish I’d met you earlier in my life.
I was raised in the Free Will Baptist Church. I was watching an episode of Star Trek Voyager in 1996 — the one where Neelix dies and discovers there is no after-life. My faith was shattered in that moment. I spent the next 22 years praying for restoration of my faith. About two years ago I started reading up on quantum mechanics (including quantum entanglement aka spooky action at a distance, wave duality/collapse of the wave function, the double slit experiment including the variation showing retroactive correlation, Everett’s Many Worlds Theory), fractals in nature, mathematical correcting functions in nature (like in quantum computers), minimum units of time (Planck’s time) and space (Planck length), near death experiences, simulation theory, a number of theories of everything, consciousness, remote viewing, astral projection, and the like. After that, like many physicists, I am convinced that there is intelligent design outside of time and space. When you read the Bible where it talks about light and darkness, it starts sounding like some of the stuff I have read about. I do not believe that it is our place to understand God. I do believe that we are called to love God and love one another. In the end, I think we are all somehow part of the same fabric. NDE survivor’s talk about experiencing the pain that they have caused others, as if they were feeling the pain. The Bible was written for a pre-literate society. I honestly do not know what to think about parts of the Bible. But I constantly pray for discernment.
I can tell you the closer I walk with Christ, and the more I try not to sin, the more I feel a spiritual warfare leading me into temptation and sin. It is palpable. I have read about Satanists who pray to the Satan for the fall of men of God. I am convinced that is how priests in New Orleans end up having sex on the alter of their church with whores and/or Satanists. As you know from your Bible studies, the world is Satan’s domain. Our society is running headlong into immorality proudly. Shame is a thing of the past. Our children can log onto the internet and see every manner of pornography. That is not God’s doing. I am not sure what happened to you a few years back, but it is clear you are more than mad at God. I get it. But you have asked God to show you evidence of his being. You might consider reading up on the topics I outline above and perhaps you might see the shadows of things unseen. You can also listen to some of Chuck Missler’s works, who I have recently discovered had reached some of the same conclusions of me regarding the intersection of Christianity and physics prior to his death. But I know that your advocacy against God is the ultimate win for the Adversary.
You do not have to be fundamentalist to be a Christian. You do not need to understand the manner of being or modality of God’s existence to believe in him. I am not even sure if you have to believe that the men who developed the canonization of books that we know as the Bible were infallible. But I do believe that the central tenant of the Bible, that God become flesh, suffered for our sins so that he could within his own strictures show us grace and mercy notwithstanding our sins. And besides our relationship with him, his greatest command is for us to love one another and all the other rules derive from that.
I have as many reasons as to you strike out at God. I watched my church-going father beat my mother and us kids. I have seen my loved ones die when they shouldn’t have. None of that is for me to question. That is above our pay grade. You choose to presume to treat God as your peer when you chastise him for the world’s suffering. That is not your place.
We all have to answer for the harm that we do on this earth. That could very well include being a beacon for the Adversary to those who find themselves in a faith crisis.
Just yesterday, I was just thinking of Sam Kineson, the former preacher who had become the antithesis of his earlier self after becoming a comedian. I was wondering as he sat on the side of the road in 1992 after he was in that car accident, and realized he was dying and cried out that he did not want to die, what he thought to himself about his relationship with God and what was next.
I know you will sigh at my comments and think I am some rube. But I will still pray for the restoration of your faith. And in the dark of night, as you lie in the state between wakefulness and sleep, I hope you might as well.
Thank you for ignoring the comment rules, Steve. You said your piece. I hope you know that you have accomplished nothing by your masturbatory screed. When I lie awake at night, I will think about how glad I am to be free of your religion and people like you.
Steve Combs: “I get it.”
Zoe: No you don’t.
He really doesn’t get it.
The quantum physics babble was particularly pathetic. God-botherers pretending to be science-savvy invariably make a total botch of the actual science, and Steve is no exception.
Jesus Christ lives and loves. My faith in His existence does not rest in “proof,” but if yours does, then I urge you to look at all the miracles and science that clearly attest to the reality of God and the Son.
I’m sorry that the church has broken people and I am sorry that you were hurt by your experience with Christianity. Unfortunately, this happens to too many people because humans are imperfect. The church is imperfect. But that’s the entire point of Christianity: we are imperfect and need Jesus, who died to forgive us for our imperfections.
I don’t care much of anything except this one thing: I beg you to open your heart one more time to accepting a relationship with Jesus Christ. His love is perfect and it cannot be earned by any of us, but it is freely given if you just tell Him you accept it.
Heaven and hell are so very real. The war is daily. God will win. The devil is real and he is always at work, too. I rebuke Satan in the name of Jesus Christ and urge you to, as well. Please stand guard. I am willing to talk to you if you want. The day of revelation is coming and I want you to be in heaven with us. Jesus Christ loves you dearly and His heart is breaking that you don’t believe that.
“But that’s the entire point of Christianity: we are imperfect and need Jesus, who died to forgive us for our imperfections.”
E. then that means your god created us imperfect and then required a blood sacrifice to make itself happy.
E, why are -you- here talking about Jesus? Can’t he speak for himself?
Oh, that’s right; he can’t. He’s either stone-dead in a Roman mass grave, or he was just a figment of the Gospel writers’ imaginations.
And imaginary or dead people can’t have broken hearts either.
Stop pretending that you’re in any way qualified to speak on behalf of gods. You’re very, very bad at it, and 100% unconvincing.
After 2,000 years I would have thought that the church would have had time for improvement, E. I bet you that the church today give or take the decoration is just the same then as now.
To be fair when I read this post I still feel some evangelical stirrings in me. I feel like telling you about the prodigal son and that it was he who had to come back to the father rather than the father come back to him. Perhaps evangelicalism never really leaves a person, like you say about Jesus. Sigh 🙂
I am not evangelising you 🙂 But we have to admit there is some powerful stuff there. Like an old flame, perhaps it’s OK from a distance.
Couple of questions arise. You didn’t mention whether you believe in God, you know, as an entity in himself and if not, why?
I’m your age and maturity does make you realize in the gifts of plants, trees, miraculous medicines developed from ecology that some kind of supreme being has a hand in the cycles in life. Or do you think these things just happen. I don’t think I could make a donation from that kind of viewpoint. Also, I’m interested in reading some of your site’s content (I AM a Christian). The biggest disagreement is that you really don’t provide a reason for your new found disbelief. I assume it’s all-the-above. I’m also a psychologist by trade and can tell you – that’s the dumbest reason in not believing in anything. You’ve had a tough time growing up. Join the list, friend. And as far as the Bengals are concerned, I’ve been a sports psychologist for many years and I can tell you with complete assuredness that there are several teams in sports who purposely lose (until the odds for these athletic teams get odds of 500 to 1 against their winning a Super Bowl in Vegas). Their owners acquire collegiate players who are notorious for willingly selling out their performances to wealthy owners like Robert Kraft of the Patriot’s who can buy off these cheating players and can make big extra money in betting in Las Vegas. You think these multi-million dollar salaries come from fans and TV? Look-up in the stands. You see anyone there totaling the 200-500 million dollar contracts? When they get three or four cornerbacks willing to make it look like they’re slipping and sliding while covering the opposition’s receivers the games are pretty well lost, wouldn’t you say? In the meantime – owners put down money bets you yourself couldn’t imagine. Or do you think that a genius like Joe Namath could really give a guarantee his team would win the Super Bowl years ago.
There is a lot more involved in this than I told you but I don’t have the time.
I stumbled on to your website and man, I would have lost my faith ten times over!!. I lost my faith for many years (for lesser things) suffered violence and poverty, had nothing, lost everything. I was bitter with God for his failures , the hypocrisy of the pastors, the immorality of church leaders, the molesters and the thieves, but now I believe again. He reached out to me and brought me back. You see, we cannot run away, we will eventually go back, there is nothing else in this world that is better than Him, no matter how we see and rationalize the failures. I know he will call you back, you don’t have to go, He will come. As you, you will believe when He comes, I am sure he will. You are a man of truth and God will honour you.
Richard, Bruce isn’t interested in what you’re selling. If you believe in a mighty God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, pray to them that he is (re)convicted, and don’t post anything about it. You see, telling Bruce all of this is only tiresome, and he has expressly asked for NO ONE to do so. And none of Bruce’s regular readers (a mixed bag of atheists, agnostics, non-believers, and even some Christians) will be impressed either. Just give it a rest.
Bugging anyone to ” return ” never works. People have to come to their own conclusions, nagging only irritates others and has the opposite effect that believers claim they’re looking for. What part of this fact are you( any Fundies out there)not getting ? The more you harp about Jesus and faith, defend church behavior, the less likely you’d have the response you SAY you’re hoping for. Now STHU !
Great Story Mr. G!
It took me 50 years. Started with anger towards God until I realized the anger was directed toward something that doesn’t exist. There is nothing quite like realizing how foolish one has behaved. The tough part is watching others defend the indefensible. It’s sad how easily people are manipulated. “All we like sheep” or something like that.
Your stories have been a great help and I hope writing them is as cathartic as reading your posts has been to me.
Beautiful. If a loving and powerful Jesus were around to read this, he should be crying and doing all he can to heal you (physically and emotionally). That tells you something.
To E. Sand Steve ., I hope by now you got the message loud and clear : pray if you want to( no imprecatory prayers please ) but quit with the nagging. As to Jesus’ presence, what planted a bitter seed of doubt for me was my first church attending experience. During services in this small, mountain town Pentacostal sects I was forced to go to, I began noting how the parents in the congregation were treating babies and children. Taking fussy babies to the front of the church to spank them until they started crying, or you’d hear a whipping going on somewhere. Life in urban ghettoes has plenty of abuse, so I knew what I was seeing. My point being, I can see this happening, why aren’t you stopping this nasty stuff,Jesus ?! Defenceless children being mistreated– where’s the conviction of these parents, who think it’s open season on children ?? His silence on these touchy subjects always made me upset. And I may as well ask, when reading the Black Collar series, how come there’s outrage directed against the column, but no outrage on behalf of the children victmized ?? For the three of you ardent churchgoers who commented here, instead of just yelling that Jesus/ God are real, do you see these things going on where you attend church ? If so, does it bother you and make you uneasy ? Have asked God to put a stop to it, as well as calling authorities ? Because this is where doubt begins, with indifference to children( but not fetuses).
Oy, Bruce! It sounds as though you grew up in Hell. It’s hard to believe that you could internalize all that and survive, much less grow into the man your blog reflects, whom I admire very much. I wish your parents had stuck with the Episcopal Church, though; it might have spared you much angst. All good wishes to you and Polly and your family.
What’s interesting to me is that anyone with a fully functioning brain would never (ever) sit and watch a person get abused, tortured, raped, massacred/murdered, robbed, violated and have all sorts of violence or harm directed at them. Be it emotional or physical harm, I would dare to venture that 99.999% of people would try to stop abuse or violence from happening, especially to a loved one.
But yet, this supposed all knowing, all seeing, omniscient, omnipotent deity that these so-called “believers” follow, will sit and watch all sorts of violence be enacted on people. From all of the things that I mentioned to worse things, such as genocide, that so-called deity will sit there and watch. Doing nothing. A person has to literally die before they can be “punished”. What a complete crock of BS.
If I could be a deity, I would be. And I would exact vengeance on the evil people on this world. I’m better than any religious deity. Why? I would stop the violence, murder, rapes and abuse. It would all end and if it happened, I wouldn’t let an abuser live out their days only to punish them after they die. How gullible are people?
Wow, Bruce. This is a powerful writing. When I was a Christian, I didn’t like the hard questions that people would sometimes ask me. No Christian does! Where was God/Jesus when…? That was always a hard one. I remember “witnessing” to this lady. She patiently listened to my sales pitch. Then she told me about her first husband. He seemed like a great dude, but shortly after they married he became abusive and violent. She asked, “Where was God when I was repeatedly choked and beaten unconscious? Where was God when I was thrown down a flight of stairs?” You get the idea. And I had no real answers for her. Over the next several years I had people ask several hard questions like these. Eventually, I started asking myself hard questions. When enough questions went unanswered, or the answers just didn’t add up, I was able to leave all that bullshit behind. Now I find myself asking Christians hard questions. Who knows? Maybe someone will look back some day and be thankful for my hard questions? 🙂
Thanks for the great post!
I am sorry about what happened to you and the bad experiences that you had and that you have been mislead by the expectations you might have been promised for being a Christian.
Fact is NOWHERE in the Bible is prosperity, wealth, health guaranteed or that you will not get raped, or that your 2 year old baby won’t get cancer or that your baseball team will win the super league or a promise to Abel that he won’t be murdered by his brother Cain.
Whatever happens on earth happens in a minute little dot on the infinity line of eternity. What Jesus (who is alive FOREVER ) does promise, is to be with you and comfort you and all the bad or good that you experience, is NOTHING in comparison with what you will receive in His Kingdom should you be faithful through it all.
NS…..No heathen or sinner is going to be tortured for eternity. Hell / lake of fire is the 2nd death!!!! Rev. 20:14 and Rev 21:8 . It is only Satan and the false prophets who will be tortured for eternity
Reading Bart Erhman’s books could not have been conducive to really understanding Christianity and the Biblical authenticity and history and it is a pity that your faith was compromised.
Have a good day
Another know it all.How many is that now Bruce?
Fuck off, asshole. I’ve politely given you space to say your piece and this is the approach you want to take? Your’e done.
The more Christians speak, the more glad I become to be away from it. Regardless of the fact that the bible is contradicted by actual evidence, the people professing to be Christians consistently demonstrate themselves to be people who do not care and therefore will let you down.
Well, at least you’re not rejoicing over an infinite hell. But I don’t think capitalizing FOREVER makes any difference to known facts. Oh, and BTW I may have mentioned that I’m not atheist or agnostic. I’m a former Christian and I give no fucks over your expressing the phrase “Biblical authenticity and history.” Using big phrases doesn’t mean that there is a shred of proof that much in the Bible happened. Personally, I do actually have faith in people and things and institutions that have actually functioned and worked. The Bible isn’t one of those things.
Etienne, you are permanently banned. Congratulations, 8 billion people in the world,and you are one of only three who have been permanently banned from this site. Outraged? Start your own blog and rage away.
For readers who might want to know, a permanent ban is done at the server level based on IP address. People permanently banned are unable to access this site. Currently, three people are permanently banned. Other people are temporarily banned/put on comment moderation. Five people are currently on this list. Every year, I remove everyone on this list. As Bruce Almighty, the God of this blog, I give them “new life in Bruce.” 😂 They are, once again, free to comment without moderation — that is until they violate the commenting rules or attack me personally. And they almost always do.
It’s hard to get permanently/temporarily banned. Don’t be an asshole (or a troll) and you will be fine.
I read your post. My heart hurt for the difficult things you have been through, especially those you witnessed as a child. What we experience as a children shapes our lives. Children see and experience everything, yet have no power to chance a situation and are not capable of dealing with the mental injury they experience. I know you are angry because you believed Jesus should have stepped in. I ask this question too, and will waite on Christ for an answer. I hope that some day, you will find the healing you seek and be able to forgive.
I do not judge you. I wish you peace and joy.
First, I am not angry. Well, I take that back. I’m increasingly irritated by Christians telling me I’m angry, when I am, in fact, NOT angry.
Second, since I’m NOT angry, your conclusion that I need to find healing so I will be able to forgive is false.
Third, I wrote this post looking backward as a 60+ year old man. My conclusion? God/Jesus was nowhere to be found. That’s what the evidence (my life and experiences) tells me. God has had 64 years to reveal himself to me, to show that he “cares” for me (or anyone else, for that matter). I am no longer willing to wait on Jesus to explain himself.
Fourth, I am not powerless. Sure, as a child I had little control over my life. I would never say I had “no power” to change my circumstances. In fact, as a teenager, I moved away from my parents and lived with other people. I was a ward of the court. Ten years ago, I sought out a secular counselor to talk about my past. And I have spent the last fourteen years telling my story on my blog. Where you see powerlessness, I see a kid just trying to get by in life, and a man who owns his past and uses it to help others.
You see a broken man who needs Jesus. I see a man who has battered and bruised many times in his life, yet he continues to find ways to move forward (upward, downward, backward, and sideways, too) — all without God.
Thanks for commenting.
Bruce: “You see a broken man who needs Jesus. I see a man who has battered and bruised many times in his life, yet he continues to find ways to move forward (upward, downward, backward, and sideways, too) — all without God.”
Zoe: No Jesus = Broken
It just doesn’t seem to matter does it Bruce? They just keep on piling it on.
Renee: “I do not judge you.”
Zoe: Sure you do.
Renee: “I know you are angry . . . ”
Zoe: You judged him here.
Renee: “I hope that some day, you will find the healing you seek and be able to forgive.”
Zoe: And again here. You know nothing of his journey of healing and you completely implicate/judge him for unforgiveness.
Renee: “I wish you peace and joy.”
Zoe: Where? In hell Renee? Is that where you wish him peace and joy?
Maaaaan…. same (as the kids say). Yeah, same. Just muddling through after admitting to myself that it was tribal mythology, and I’m roughly the same age you were when you reached the same conclusion. Sometimes, lately, I feel like an idiot for falling for it and staying in it for so long, but they really do the emotional indoctrination and manipulation to keep you clinging to hope that magic is real. All those times I was frightened about real circumstances and just wanted Jesus to be real, and he was, on paper and imagination.
Our life on earth is not a promised paradise. There is evil in the world committed by people not God. Eternity is forever and your life on earth is a mere blip. Trust in the Lord and he will remove all your pain and sorrow and you can live with him in Eternity. Am I preaching to the choir here? Vengeance is mine says the Lord. Pray for the lost. Hell is so bad you don’t even want your worst enemy to go there. If you think you’ve seen hell, you haven’t seen nothing yet.
Cheryl, if your god actually existed and actually cared about people suffering, it would not allow such a place as hell to exist. This is not rocket science. If even one sentient being is allowed to suffer for eternity, your god would automatically be infinitely evil for refusing to rescue that individual.
Why do you worship an evil god?
And why do you believe that you can even trust such a god? A deity as deranged as the god of the Bible could at any moment throw you into the flames at any point in your eternal life, just for shits and giggles.
I believe she’s a MAGA supporter. Tells us all we need to know. 🤬🤬
Did you bother to read the commenting rules?
By all means pray, if you must. But do it elsewhere. Surely, your God can “hear” your prayers in secret without you blabbering in public.
I’ve seen Hell —- that which humans do to each other. You, on the other hand, believe a myth, one found in an ancient, irrelevant religious text. The only Hell I fear is that which comes from humans.
You’re nicer than I am Bruce. Cheryl is just another evangelical or fundamentalist who wants to control non-believers and non-Christians, and force us to follow her god…while her leaders are grasping for wealth and committing all kinds of sexual sin. And her mentioning hell is such a nice passive-aggressive touch, to try to make us scared. sigh
Cheryl Dalayde: ” There is evil in the world committed by people not God.”
Zoe: Actually Cheryl, you need to take it up with your God, after all he’s responsible for all of it.
What if Jesus is alive and well? I thank you for sharing your life so openly. I too have no faith in the many western religions yet I still find myself contemplating Jesus. In particular if he was who he claimed to be. While I’m not yet decided but it sure seems like the world would be worse off without him.
Look at the world as it is. If Jesus/God is whom the Bible says he is, he’s been an abject failure. I suppose you could explain this failure by appealing to Bible verses that talk about how things will be at the end of the world, but I’m more inclined to think differently. 2,000 years . . . Thousands of sects, internecine warfare, American Evangelical support for Donald Trump, the culture war, and widespread Christian support for war tell me that Christ’s message of love and peace isn’t making an appreciable difference in the world.
Most of the world is non-Christian. It seems earth is doing just fine without Jesus (in a general sense). Where we do see violence, degradation, and death, we always find religion. Why is that?
Thanks for commenting.
I am a Christian who does not stand in judgment of you. As I read your story, I was drawn to sadness with what happened in your life. Who could read what you wrote without empathy? I cannot explain why your many prayers were not answered, I can only tell you that I understand how that experience would have discouraged you as it would have me.
God has answered prayers of mine, some He has not. I’ve prayed for decades for a child of mine, one who is most giving and sacrificial to all. Yet, my many prayers go unanswered.
I share in your discouragement but not in your rejection of God. I do believe in Him though don’t fully understand God’s nature sometimes.
In any case, I just want to tell you that there are likely Christians who would not criticize you but, rather, would feel like I do. Christ teaches me, and I know it to be true in my heart and in my humanity, to treat others with love and compassion. So that’s what I have to offer, simple understanding…not proselytizing. It is God’s doing to call you back to Him. I hope you do. For now, know that I, a Christian who will not judge you, and was moved by what you wrote. I sincerely hope your remaining life is one of peace and joy.
Please read the posts found here:
You will find that my story is more complex and nuanced than mere disappointment with God.
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”
I wish Evangelicals would make up their minds about me:
I’m a backslidden Christian who needs to repent and return to Jesus
I’ve fallen from grace, but I still can be saved
I’ve fallen from grace, and I can never be saved again
I never was a Christian
Shall I go on? Every zealot has a Bible verse or three they use to justify his or her judgment of my life. Evidently, the only person who doesn’t matter in this story is me. What I say about my life is immaterial.The Bible says ____________. About that . . . every opinion of me mentioned above is justified with the Bible. If God Has spoken, why is he so schizophrenic?
I don’t listen to God’s self-appointed spokesmen. God knows where I live. He has my email address and cellphone number. Yet, I’ve not heard one word from God. Evidently, God’s on vacation, sleeping, or taking a shit. Or, maybe, just maybe, there is no God, and the only thing I need saved from is the delusional self-appointed spokesmen of a dead man who lies buried in a potter’s field in Palestine.
And why should we give a rat’s patootie what Paul the Antichrist had to say about anything, Mr. or Ms. Beef?
I believe that the Holy Spirit is a figment of the human imagination, and that no one in the history of the entire universe has ever “shared” in such a thing. All the phenomena associated with allegedly being “touched” by the Magic Ghost Thing are, in my opinion, totally natural neurological and social phenomena with 0% supernatural content.
Amen! Just kidding, I don’t pray, and haven’t since 1991! 🤗
Thanks 🙏 for commenting.
I’ve come and gone from the church, much like yourself. Except for me, my journey was nowhere near as long. I had become a Christian in my 20’s shortly after my father died when I was 21. At the time, I felt alone, my friend invited me to church, and it felt like the right thing to do. It took me a few weeks of going but I eventually gave my life to God and Jesus. I also met my wife there, we were married for 5 years at which point my wife decided that she did not love me anymore and had been cheating on me with a man I thought was my best friend (not Jesus), that was all nigh-on 10 years ago. I stopped going to church a couple of years prior to that.
During that time, my mum got cancer, breast cancer to be specific. She went through all the things that women need to go through with breast cancer, the treatments, chemo, had a masectomy too, it went away.
A couple years later it came back, this time it was her liver. She was given 3 months and on 3 January 2014 my mum died. My mum had been a devout believer in God, had even started going back to church in the years since my dad had died. We prayed many times especially with the cancer. Those prayers remain unanswered.
It was shortly after this time I came to the same conclusion as you did, that God does not exist. That Jesus, for me at least, was just a made-up character akin to Snoopy for his relevance.
I could not understand how my mum had turned things around for herself and started to go to church to be more closer to God and amongst all the followers that he “healed” my mum was one he decided to ignore. I could no longer understand how a loving God would be so quiet to my mum, who needed his divine healing, I could not think of a single person at the time who needed it more and yet, was ignored.
I am an atheist. I do not believe there is a God, the Devil, Heaven or Hell or any other deity, real or imagined. I am not a spiritual person in any way, shape or form. And I am happier for it.
Thank you, Bruce, because finding your blog has been helpful. I’ve seen many posts on the absence of God but not so much from people explaining how they got to this point, what straw finally broke the camel’s back. This has been a great read and so, again, I say thank you for this.
Thank you for your kind words. ❤️ I appreciate you sharing a bit of your story. ❤️💕
Hey, Bruce. Sorry about your Mom.