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Questions: Bruce, Why Can’t You Let Evangelicals Make Their Own Decisions?

questions

I put out the call to readers, asking them for questions they would like me to answer. If you have a question, please leave it here or email me. All questions will be answered in the order in which they are received.

Theologyarcheology/“Dr.” David Tee/David Thiessen asked:

Since it is your decision to walk away from the faith, why can you not let evangelicals make their own decisions?

I did not know that I was such a powerful person; that I have it within my power to keep Evangelicals from making their own decisions. I have no ability to force someone to change their opinion about Jesus/Christianity/Bible. Nor would I want to.

I am just one man with a story to tell. Yes, thousands of people read this blog, including many Evangelicals. That’s not my fault. Evidently, there’s something in my writing that resonates with people. That said, compared to the countless Evangelical blogs, websites, and social media accounts, this blog is but a gnat on the proverbial elephant’s ass.

I have never attempted to evangelize or convert one Evangelical to atheism or agnosticism. Have people deconverted as a result of reading my writing? Sure. Pastors, evangelists, missionaries, professors, worship leaders, and church members have told me that my writing played a part in their deconversion from Christianity. I spent many years in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. People from an IFB background, in particular, find my work helpful. You see, I dare to talk about what goes on behind closed doors. I know the secret handshake, and I know where the bodies are buried. People appreciate me telling the truth.

If the telling of my story results in people leaving Christianity, that’s not my fault. I have a passive relationship with readers: I write, they read and respond accordingly. If readers email me or comment on social media, I respond to them. I am friendly and available. However, I make no effort to evangelize. Sure, I will answer their questions, offer advice, or befriend them. But, evangelize? Absolutely not. I despise proselytization — be it atheist, Christian, Muslim, new age, or Cleveland Browns fans.

Do I find a sense of personal satisfaction when readers deconvert or move away from Fundamentalist Christianity? Sure. Every writer wants his work to be read and appreciated. If my writing results in a transformation in the lives of people, that’s awesome. If not, I am fine with that too. I was going through old blog comments, emails, and Facebook friendships over the weekend. I couldn’t help but notice that more than a few people no longer comment on this blog. Some of them have died — five in the last three years. Others have likely moved or don’t feel a need to comment anymore. I am sure some readers became bored with my writing. And I suspect other readers were offended by something I wrote. Whatever the reason, I am grateful that I could help them for a time. I know that not everyone will be with me until the end — though I expect some of you to be my virtual pallbearers. 🙂 I am content to play whatever part readers allow me to play in their lives.

I am not the Wizard of Oz; I am just Bruce. Bruce Almighty, that is. 🙂

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

14 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    Apparently, you just telling your story is so powerful it could topple fundamentalism. Fundies don’t see that they have been the ones digging their grave. Before Trump, we could think they had morals and were sincere. Now? I think they are power mad andwill accept atrocities, and have accepted atrocities, while pretending to be moral. They are fine with women being raped, they are fine with underage girls being taken advantage of…while claiming that LGBTQ people are bad and evil. Well, I know better, kind, more loving people in the gay community than I do fundies. And since they were perfectly happy with Trump, a man who has broken all the commandments and doesn’t regret anything, it shows who and what they really are.

  2. Avatar
    Kel

    I strongly disagree with Dr. David Tee (if he can read my answer). I don’t think Bruce is trying to “convert” anyone out of Evangelicalism, he’s just telling his story. Anyone who doesn’t agree can just move along and ignore him.
    Nobody forces Evangelicals to read this blog.

    Some Evangelicals, on the other hand, can’t leave other people alone. A pastor from my home church suggested to my parents that I should attend a local Baptist church while I’m away from home. He used to be my youth pastor who was never that interested in me or my struggles, but now suddenly he wants to have a say in which type of church I go to. And when I visited my parents a while back, he wanted to meet me for what turned out to be a benign inquisition-like session.

    At least he said that I am one of those people “who are more suited to hold a non-literal interpretation of Genesis” 😂. That alone would make my poor pastor a heretic according to Ken Ham. Thankfully, my parents seem to have come into terms now that they can’t control where I go to church. As long as I don’t turn into an atheist (immoral people) or a Roman Catholic (Mary worshippers) or a Muslim (gasp) – their own word. I assume I can be a slightly liberal Protestant.

    • Avatar
      MJ Lisbeth

      Bruce, you are an influence, not a force. While my decision to leave Christianity, and religion in general, was mine alone, you might have hastened that process had I encountered your work earlier in my life.

      I think now of Socrates’ trial and death. He (at least according to Plato’s account) never told his students what to think; he merely taught them to ask question. For that, he was charged with “impiety” and corrupting the minds of young people.

      Funny story: When I was still living as a man,
      I taught a night class at a university extension in one of New York’s poorest neighborhoods. In addition to being the only male, I was the only white—and the youngest (even though I was in my 30s)) person in that room.

      One night, one of my students exclaimed, “You’re destroying my marriage!”

      “Really? When did I become a divorce lawyer?”

      “When my husband talks, I can answer him back, and he doesn’t like that!”

      I don’t know what became of their union. Whatever the outcome, I didn’t cause it, though I may have had some small influence on that woman.

  3. Avatar
    Sage

    Evangelicals make their own decisions all the time. They decide to call for the death of LGBTQ people, push laws to eliminate non-binary and trans people, reduce women to tokens and household servants, support immoral demagogues for their own power gain, keep BIPOC people in their proper roles, force religious control into government, Indoctrinate children, prey on people when they are weak, support abusive practices like conversion therapy, ignore and condone sexual abuse by predatory pastors, spread hateful bigotry while calling it love, constantly harass, judge, and troll nonchristians to “save” them, use fear and guilt as weapons to control people….the list is quite long, shall I go on?

    I would prefer Christians just go to their weekly back patting country club chat sessions and leave the rest of us alone. Just live their life in their own little bubble and quit trying to force everyone else to believe like them. If they would do that, then they would not need to worry what Bruce or anyone else is doing.

    And maybe then I could go the the bathroom without looking over my shoulder.

    • Avatar
      Barbara L. Jackson

      I was never Christian. I think I was baptized as a baby. Later in my preteens to early teens my Mom took me to a church that was not pushing but accepting of other views. You help me by telling your story and letting others comment. I do not like any religion or political view which cannot let other people be who they are.

  4. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    Poor dear T, he finds he must lie as always and ignores his own whine “Since it is your decision to walk away from the faith, why can you not let evangelicals make their own decisions?”

    oh dear, T, why can’t you not let every non-christian make their own decisions?

  5. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Sage—Folks like David remind me of those people (including a few relatives of mine) who thought in “choosing “ my “lifestyle “ (I.e., transitioning from male to female), I would commit all manner of perversions and “convert” their kids.

    • Avatar
      Karen the rock whisperer

      I met too many of those people. I used to get email screeds passed around by family members who believed such garbage. There was always lots of misinformation, mixed in with hellfire and damnation stuff.

      I responded, correcting the misinformation with references…to the entire mailing list. That got me taken off it, but probably didn’t change a single mind of the Faux News crowd.

      • Avatar
        Astreja

        I did something like that too – a friend had forwarded to me some screed forwarded to her by her evangelical sisters, with a “What do I do with this crap?” plea.

        I linked to a Scopes page debunking the message, added a snide comment or two about the original sender’s dearth of critical thinking skills, and gleefully pressed “Reply all.” After the fireworks between friend and sisters settled down, they stopped forwarding junk like that to her.

    • Avatar
      Kel

      That’s the worst reaction you could ever get.

      Unfortunately, the best you can get (at least from what I read in books and blogs) is “That’s your cross to bear, I’ll be praying for you”. Very often, this is pious Christianese for “Not my problem, just don’t do the icky stuff and don’t get near my children.” So the bottom line is the same.

  6. Avatar
    Troy

    I suppose this could be the, “why not let the kids have Santa” argument. Well the kids have grown up and they’re “making their own decision” to read the blog. Little old church ladies, some who might get a lot out of having church as a social club aren’t going to delve here anyway. No need to proselytize, but give people this rather unique perspective.

  7. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    I doubt if anyone is turning on the computer or phone, pulling up Bruce’s blog, and forcing evangelicals to read it. Anyone who comes across Bruce’s blog has the choice to read it or not. So it sounds to me like Mr. T doesn’t like what Bruce writes and wants to silence Bruce.

  8. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Tee Hee, your fake query,”Why can’t you let Evangelicals make their own decisions,” is just a red herring,and no more than an excuse to type out another complaint about Bruce’s blog. You know very well,that if someone is going to decide to go Evangelical, then that’s what they’ll do. Bruce isn’t addressing that. He talk about the failures and faults in it. If someone decided they don’t want to be the above, it’s an individual decision, not like Bruce is somehow meddling in their lives,and you know that already !

  9. Avatar
    BJW

    Sage and MJ, I can’t imagine how hard it is for you. I have a younger friend who is a trans woman. When she came out to me, I didn’t feel upset but glad, as I had watched her experimenting with being feminine. She’s happier as a woman. And I can’t understand why people are so freaked by a possible trans woman in a bathroom. People come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I’ve met very large people whose gender was indeterminate to me, and I didn’t freak out in the restroom. Instead I assumed they were women and went about my business. These fundies like Dr T are the most obnoxious and sociopathic types of people, wishing harm on everyone who isn’t part of their in-group (white, Christian, cisgender, heterosexual nationalist). The world would be a better place without them.

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Bruce Gerencser