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Evangelical Zealot Tries to Evangelize Us with a Picture of Bloody Jesus

bloody-hands-of-christians

Last Saturday, Polly and I, along with our daughter Bethany, celebrated my sixty-fourth birthday at Club Soda in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We had a delightful time. The food was awesome, as was our sever. I have zero complaints about the restaurant itself. We will certainly visit Club Soda again in the future.

As we were waiting for our entrees, a man came up to our table and complimented Polly and Bethany on their matching red-checked dresses. A little weird, right? And then he proceeded to compliment me on my hat and suspenders. Starting to be really weird now. I smiled, said thanks, and asked, “you are bullshitting us, right?” I thought, this guy is acting like someone who wants to sell us something. Sure enough, he did.

After assuring me he wasn’t bullshitting me, he whipped out his smartphone and showed us a picture of a bloody Jesus, with a caption that said, ” I Paid it All for You.” After putting in a quick word for Jesus, this man changed the subject, telling us about his job as an event planner and parking lot manager (including the parking lot Club Soda uses). We continued to smile outwardly, and once he came up for air, I told him to have a nice day. And with that, he walked away to speak to one of the restaurant managers.

I later talked to one of the managers about this man. He told me that he saw the man make a beeline to our table, thinking it was weird. The manager told me that we were the only people the man talked to. Evidently, I laughingly said to myself, “the Holy Ghost must have led him to talk to us.” I shared a bit of my story with the manager, telling him that I was an atheist, an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. He profusely apologized for the man’s inappropriate behavior. later told him, “Jesus is paying our check tonight.” 🙂 After all, the caption on the bloody Jesus picture said, “I Paid it All for You.” Surely, that included dinner, right? The manager and I had a good laugh.

After the manager left our table, Polly and I shared what we thought of the bloody-Jesus lover’s attempt to evangelize us. Bethany, our daughter with Down Syndrome, said: “I hope that guy doesn’t come back, he’s creepy.” Spot on, Bethany, spot on.

There’s no scenario where this man’s behavior was appropriate. He showed no respect for us nor our personal space. As is common with Evangelical zealots, they have no regard for social boundaries. Recently, an Evangelical commenter on this site told me that it didn’t matter what I thought of his bad behavior, going so far as to tell me that he was my friend regardless of whether I wanted to friends with him. In his mind, the Holy Ghost led him to me, and whatever he said about me personally was straight from the mouth of Jesus himself. If I didn’t like it, tough shit.

My grandfather, John Tieken (please see John), was an in-your-face evangelizer. Never mind the fact that he molested my mother as a child. Never mind that he had a violent temper. Never mind that he beat the shit out of me as a child for dismantling an unused rotary telephone stored in his garage. Never mind that he was a manipulative, judgmental prick (as was his wife) — please see Dear Ann. John was a Jesus-loving Fundamentalist Baptist. He and Ann attended Sunnyvale Chapel in Pontiac, Michigan, but make no mistake about it, Sunnyvale was Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) in everything but its name.

John publicly embarrassed me more times than I could count. One Sunday, he stood up after I had finished preaching and told the congregation what was wrong with my sermon content. At my mother’s funeral (she committed suicide), John decided to give his own sermon after my eulogy (imagine how hard it was for me to even do my mother’s funeral), discrediting much of what I said. John and Ann would take us out for dinner when they visited us in southeast Ohio. We hated going out to eat with them, but did so out of a misguided belief that we should ALWAYS show them respect. That and the fact that we NEVER got to eat out at a restaurant as a family.

We knew that if we went out to eat with my grandparents, John was going to embarrass us with his evangelizing efforts. Typically, John would force our server to “politely” listen to his presentation of his version of Evangelical gospel — a bastardized version of what the Bible actually taught. I, too, was an evangelizer, but I understood social boundaries. Not John. He went after servers like sharks and blood in the water. I am sure John wondered why I never harassed servers when we went out to eat. Had he asked (and he never asked me anything), I would have told him that there was a time and place for everything, including witnessing.

The man who flashed the bloody picture of Jesus (think of how traumatizing that could have been if a young child had been with us) and put in a word for Jesus needs to learn how to respect others. As long as he thinks that all that matters is evangelizing sinners, he will continue to harass people and violate social boundaries. I wonder how he would have felt if the roles were reversed? Suppose he was eating dinner with his wife and family at Club Soda. Suppose I went to his table and started preaching to him about atheism and skepticism. Suppose I showed him a picture of a bloody Jesus with a caption that said, “Ha! Ha! Ha! Jesus Died for Nothing.” Why, he would have been outraged and demanded that I leave him and his family alone. How dare I interrupt their meal! He might even have told the manager I was harassing them and ask that I be told to leave the restaurant.

The cranky curmudgeon (please see I Make No Apologies for Being a Cranky Curmudgeon) in me want to eviscerate this man where he stood. Polly later told me that she was surprised I didn’t do so. He deserved getting what is popularly called the Bruce Gerencser Treatment®. I didn’t do so because I didn’t want to ruin the wonderful time we were having out on the town.

The manager later comped us a dessert. As with the rest of our meal, this dessert was awesome. Once this post is published, I plan to send Club Soda’s owner/general manager a link to the article. I hope that they will call the man’s employer and let them know about his ill-bred behavior. I don’t want the man to lose his job, but someone needs to tell them that there are certain lines you don’t cross.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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

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17 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Emersonian

    Happy belated birthday, Bruce! And thanks for the rec, the next time I’m through Ft. Wayne I’ll have to check out Club Soda. (If a weirdo comes up and shows me pictures of bloody jesus, though, I am not responsible for my actions.)

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    Oh yeah, also a happy belated birthday! I don’t know how we’d act if Bob and I were out and this happened. I’m usually polite to strangers and so is Bob. But that doesn’t mean taking a lot of nonsense. Glad you got an excellent dessert out of it.

  3. Avatar
    Claire

    I’m sitting here sputtering over what that cretin did to you and your family while you were enjoying yourselves at the restaurant. Maybe you should have quietly ordered a cream pie while he was yakking and then flung it into his face. But you said the food at the restaurant was great, so you would have wasted a nice dessert on him.
    Anyway, Happy Birthday to you, Bruce! Like the Italians say, “Cent’anni.” Which means, “May you live 100 years.”

  4. Avatar
    Karuna Gal

    Bruce, I am sitting here sputtering, aghast at what this cretin did to you and your family at the restaurant. While he was yakking you should have quietly ordered a cream pie and then smashed it into his face. But you said that the food at this restaurant is great, so you would have wasted a nice dessert by doing that.
    Anyway, Happy Birthday and Cent’anni, like the Italians say.

  5. Avatar
    missimontana

    I too have been harassed by Jesus fanatics. At work, at the bus stop, walking down the street. These people are oblivious to their rudeness. I used to suffer in silence because I had been taught it was bad manners to tell evangelizers to shut up and leave you alone. After all, they were only exercising their freedom of religion. Never was there a thought of the freedom to not be pestered by unwanted intrusions. I won’t be silent anymore. Fortunately, there haven’t been many Jesus pushers in the last few years. Not sure why. Maybe because I live in a Democratic majority city? I know the Trump years lowered the tolerance level for that kind of crap.

  6. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    It’s no wonder there’s such a problem with abuse in evangelical churches – they have zero concept of consent. I am glad tge restaurant manager was someone classy so you could all enjoy your birthday meal!

  7. Avatar
    Troy

    I saw the truncated version of the story on Facebook. I didn’t know about the bloody Jesus. I’m still trying to think about why he made a bee line to you. (Do the Amish need converting? he he)
    There is no question that such evangelizing can be quite frightening. You feel like a target and the behavior is outside social norms. It’ll make the hair on your neck stand up.
    I’ve mentioned it before, when I was a college student I was up at a (deserted) local elementary school doing some astronomy at evening twilight when a muscle car pulled into the empty parking lot blasting Christian rock (I know my redeemer livessss! it crooned) I could tell the driver had seen me and was coming for me at maniacal speed. He dropped a few tracts through the fence and away he went with only a few words spoken (fortunately). This is small town USA, so I shouldn’t have been scared, but when people act outside social norms you aren’t making any converts…or friends.

  8. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Gah !! What a clodhead that fanatic was !! I’m sorry he messed up your birthday dinner. Gee whiz ! Happy Birthday to you, just the same. Indiana has quite a few people who are just like him. ” Jesus Land,” a fantastic, and heartbreaking memoir, goes into detail about such horrid people. She was sent to an abusive Christian residential school in the Dominican Republic- E- and it was a traumatic ordeal. Julia Scheers is the author. I recommend it as very well written, and evocative. As to this wack job, he must have been preached to about ” friendship evangelism” and took it upon himself to use ham- handed tactics, no doubt he was frightened by his pastor in some way, and went way past his comfort zone. Blundering his way all over the region. I’ve had my encounters with this kind before. Not too many out here in Cali. Usually, they your residential homes for homeless people and gang members.. I have no problem with such places, providing they aren’t abusive and exploring someone.. You handled it well, in any case. Bethany picked right up on that guy’s fear, didn’t she ! I have no doubts that fear drives him. One can always tell. Club Soda sounds like a great place to eat. If I ever travel through there, I’ll have to stop by there before hopping back on the train,lol. You have a great Birthday week ! I always took my friends out for dinner and a movie on their birthdays. Anyway, I’d love to thump that dingdong who pestered. Total lack of manners on HIS part ! you all at dinner !

  9. Avatar
    Ann Lo

    Happy belated birthday Bruce. I sure hate that this nutcase tried to spoil it, but I hope it was a mostly happy day with your family.

  10. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    My phone went nuts again, sorry for that garbled comment. Memo to any Fundies reading here- never bother people while they’re eating !! Don’t interrupt someone, choose your moments wisely . PS. You make Jesus look bad if you act like that person in the restaurant.

  11. Avatar
    ... Zoe ~

    Happy Belated Birthday Bruce. So glad you were able to spend time with your family. <3 I am sorry about the jerk.

    I had a man from our former church approach me last week while I was relaxing and sitting reading on the front porch. “Oh it’s you Zoe. I thought it was Biker Dude.” Let me put it this way. That didn’t impress me much. (Thanks Shania.) Then he makes a comment about my legs. I was wearing capri pants. So my lower legs were showing. He says: Well I didn’t think those were Biker Dude’s legs but …” I just stare at him. He realizes I’m not impressed. He fumbles and makes things worse my saying something about Biker Dude’s legs and I quip back at him: “I guess he must have shapelier legs than me.” Then he fumbles some more and said: “Well, no, I just didn’t realize who it was.” I then said: “Well who did you think it was?” He’s slowly turning to back down the driveway. He then tries to save himself by asking how I am and I say fine and I don’t ask him how he is and he takes leave.

    Just a note to men: Don’t ever say out loud that you think a man’s wife is him. What the h e double hockey sticks are you thinking? Especially when I don’t have a big bunch of bushy greyish whiskers under my nose and a Santa Claus beard!

    sigh

  12. Avatar
    thatotherjean

    I’m glad that your birthday meal was excellent, in good company–except for that creepy weirdo with the bloody picture. At least he left without making a scene. I hope he’s gone the next time you visit Club Soda.

    About bloody pictures. though: why is the man in the photo whose hands are covered in blood wearing latex gloves? Is he a serial killer who doesn’t want to leave fingerprints? It doesn’t look very Biblical.

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Bruce Gerencser