Regular readers of this blog likely remember that VICE News came to my home in August to film a story on the intersection of Evangelical Christianity and QAnon (which should be released soon). Earlier today, David Gilbert, a journalist for VICE News published a print story titled Meet the Pastors Fighting Back Against QAnon. I was one of the pastors interviewed for this article:
Bruce Gerencser was raised in an evangelical household, was educated in an evangelical school, married the daughter of an evangelical Baptist minister, and soon became a fundamentalist Baptist preacher himself.
He freely admits that the gospel he preached, at times, was extreme.
“Our beliefs were quite fundamentalist. We were young Earth creationists—you know, the Earth was 6,000 years old,” Gerencser told VICE News. “We had a long list of rules and standards that govern human behavior, everything from premarital sex and adultery. We were certainly homophobic, or at least I was personally homophobic. Everything was strictly controlled.”
But in 2005, after 25 years as a pastor, Gerencser gave it all up. Three years later, he renounced Christianity and became an atheist and a humanist, after becoming disillusioned with the church’s lurch to the right.
Now in his mid-70s [actually, I’m 64], Bruce lives with his wife of 43 years just outside the small town of Bryan, Ohio, and he spends his time fighting back against the ills he sees within the church. Most recently that fight has seen him highlight and take on those spreading the gospel of QAnon.
What he didn’t expect was that one of the people he’d be up against was his own son.
Gerencser describes his adult son, whom he didn’t want to name, as a “good kid, polite kid” and an “awesome son,” but he recalls that in January 2020 something changed, and soon he was having discussions about apocalyptic forces of evil and a coming storm.
“Next thing I know, he’s buying a large number of firearms and ammunition and a bulletproof vest and warning that he’s preparing for what’s coming next,” Gerencser said. “And, you know, and I would say that what’s coming next, what we’re going to have open warfare in the middle of Bryan, Ohio.”
Like many who’ve fallen into QAnon conspiracy theories, Gerencser’s son has also embraced even more violent extremist groups, joining the Three Percenters militia group and espousing support for the leader of the Proud Boys.
But aside from the guns and militias, what shocked Gerencser the most was when his son one day turned around and said he’d returned to the church, joining a local Southern Baptist congregation.
When Gerencser asked his son why he’d rejoined the church, his son told him: “Because that pastor believes the same things I do.”
Gerencser is part of a small but dedicated group of current and former pastors attempting to counter the threat posed by the spread of QAnon within the evangelical community, something that’s happening from the pulpit and in congregations. While the number of pastors and churches openly embracing QAnon is limited, the conspiracy is spreading silently and quickly within the community, taking hold at a time when the church is hemorrhaging parishioners. Despite the dangers posed by QAnon within the church, very few are speaking up about the threat, preferring to bury their heads in the sand and hope the danger passes.
You can read the entire article here. Please do so, and then let me know what you think.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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