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Bruce, Are You Hostile Towards Religion?

proud american christian

I’ve been accused of being hostile toward religion. Am I? Yes and no.

A hostile person is one who is antagonistic in action, thought, or principle. Am I antagonistic in action, thought, or principle toward all religions? No. Am I antagonistic in action, thought, or principle toward some religions? Yes.

I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have all sorts of spiritual and religious beliefs. Do I think some of their beliefs and practices are strange? Sure. But, their beliefs are theirs and they have every right to believe them. I am indifferent towards their beliefs. For these friends and acquaintances, spirituality and religion is personal. They have no desire or need to convert other people or argue about whose religion is the “true” one. For the most part, they live according to the Live and Let Live maxim. I would be an arrogant fool to be hostile toward this kind of religion. I know that, for many people, religion and spirituality serve a purpose. They benefit from their beliefs and practices and many of them find meaning, purpose, and direction through their religions. Each to their own.

However, there IS a kind of religion I am hostile towards:

  • Religions that try to convert.
  • Religions that purport to KNOW the truth.
  • Religions that say they are the ONE TRUE RELIGION.
  • Religions that invade the lives of others and attempt to force others to believe like they do. Religions that divide people into groups: saved/lost, believer/unbeliever, elect/non-elect. 
  • Religions that tout their holy book as a divine, authoritative message to humanity from their God.
  • Religions that kill, rape, steal, and pillage to advance their cause.
  • Religions that try to engender social strife to advance their cause.
  • Religions that engage in culture wars.
  • Religions that try to brainwash children, be it at home or in school.
  • Religions that stir up hatred towards others because of who and what they are.
  • Religions that ignore or are hostile towards the separation of church and state.
  • Religions with theocratic ambitions.

It is these kinds of religions towards which I am hostile. I make no apology for this. I see the hurt and damage done by these religions and I want to strangle the life out of them, liberating those who are ensnared, oppressed, and controlled. How can I, as a sentient, caring being, ignore beliefs that cause such psychological and, at times, physical harm? Perhaps the real question is how can I NOT be hostile towards such religions?

Bruce, which religions are you talking about? You know which ones. They are not hard to spot. You don’t need a lot of schooling to know which religions fit the above description. If you need a little more insight into my hostility, please read Why I Hate Jesus.

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 email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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11 Comments

  1. Avatar
    mikespeir

    I’m more hostile to dogmatism that won’t allow contrary considerations into the discussion. Religion tends to be guilty of that. So, alas, are many of my fellow atheists.

  2. Avatar
    Brian

    We all have something to say in the matter but I have not had the same brutality offered up in Atheism as others talk of…. Religion is structured to show you your fault and the need to repent and so forth. Atheism merely states that God is not. There is no evil plot to capture Christians and bring them into battle for non-belief. That being said, there are indeed assholes all over the place….

  3. Avatar
    Wayne Beamer

    Bruce: When I saw this headline pop up in my RSS feed reader (thanks again!), I was glad to see it.

    Why? Some of the anger you discuss here is palpable to the eyes and emotions. It’s almost as if you’re preaching again, just to a newer, wider audience. But a lot of it feels uniquely and doubly painful, because it seems to be coming from your soul and your body, and you need to release it, someway, somehow.

    So much so, that it’s hard for me to read some of it. But, I keep coming back because, obviously, your perspective is so unique and the stories touch me.

    I’m rambling here… Keep kicking fibro’s ass, sir.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      To some degree, I am preaching. In fact, I pastor a pretty big church. 🙂

      I’m just one guy with a story to tell. Some of what I have posted this year comes from posts I wrote in 2008-2013. I’m reworking, editing, and freshening up these posts, adding them to the mix of new posts. I have roughly 300 or so older posts at my disposal but I’m not sure how many of them I will actually post.

      I appreciate your continued support.

      Bruce

  4. Avatar
    missimontana

    It seems some humans have a strong need to push their beliefs on others. I left the atheist community on Twitter because many of them started to bully me because I said something nice to a Muslim. Dogmatic religion is a serious problem. Unfortunately, dogmatic humans will always be with us, demanding we conform to their viewpoint.

  5. Avatar
    Justin Healey

    Bruce,

    I saw your interview on vice and I was surprised to hear you’re in ohio, I’m in Brunswick…
    Thank you for having the courage to walk away from the Evangelical indoctrination.

    I'm 38 and, as I get older I become more concerned and troubled to see how Evangelical Christianity is used as a tool to justify corporate greed, corrupt elites, political agendas, fake patriotism and racism....

    It has become so obvious and undeniable it is impossible for me to understand why so many people allow themselves to be misled and advocate for politicians and laws that would be detrimental to their own self-interests....

    I think I knew I was an atheist from a very young age. luckily I had parents that did not regularly attend church but let me freely educate myself about many different things….

    I pretty much just consider myself a HUMANIST & FUTURIST…..

    I want to believe how future humans depicted in STAR TREK as an enlightened & compassionate civilization will one day become a reality where everyone works towards a common intellectual and multiplanetary goal….

    I fear as long as a large portion of our civilization still worships imaginary sky deities and gods, it will hold us back….

    I came across this talk between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Larry king. You can search for the longer talk but this is the clip I found really inspiring personally….

    *Sorry for babbling so much…. I just had a lot on my mind…

    **Also, there doesn’t seem to be much along the lines of YouTube or social media for you. do you have a YouTube channel? If not, I think it would be cool for you to share your message on there if you need help video editing Id do it for free if you like. it’s kind of something I enjoy to do myself and enjoy it….

    https://youtu.be/eMK7Wr3oUJM

    Cheers,

    Justin…

  6. Avatar
    Karuna Gal

    Bruce, did you take that photo? It’s great! All of those symbols in the window can be read together as a way to understand what’s wrong in America. There’s the mingling of church and state — the American flag in the belly of the Ichthys (“Jesus Fish.”) Then you have Mickey and Minnie Mouse as the Fish’s attendant angels or maybe devils (Disney/Corporations.) This unholy mess is what the people in the house are pledging allegiance to.

  7. Avatar
    Ben Berwick

    I’ve watched fierce, often angry ‘debates’ between followers of different religions who both absolutely know they are right, and they will not concede an inch of ground to the other. I don’t know why they cannot walk away from each other and leave each other alone. It seems their debates are more about winning than about preaching the Word.

  8. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Bruce, this is great. You really defined what so many of us find so troubling.

    I think that when I first realized that I am an atheist, I was disdainful not only of religion itself, but of religious people. But I have learned, as you say, that for some people belief serves a purpose, and that’s fine as long as they don’t bully or otherwise harm other people with it. My closest friend is a practicing Catholic who probably won’t change–more or less what my mother was. And my recently-departed uncle was raised Catholic, lived for decades without seeming to think much about religion or belief in general, then became a member of an Evangelical church after nearly losing his life. He never tried to convert me, and neither my friend nor my mother ever tried to “bring me back.” During and after my gender-affirmation process, my uncle saw me as his godchild ( I guess that part of one’s Catholicism never dies!), my mother as her child and my friend as, well, my friend (you might say we’ve adopted each other). It’s because of people like them that I have my current attitude about religion–and now realize that what I truly abhor are smugness, self-righteousness, sanctimoniousness and any other form of arrogance.

    That said, no atheist ever tried to disabuse my of my beliefs when I still had them.

  9. Avatar
    Troy

    I’m a bit torn about being an anti-theist. I see how religion is such a boon to someone like my mother. It is a social outlet that would be limited for someone who is retired. We were never fundamentalists, so it seems a net positive. (Though obviously there is some discomfort that we don’t believe the same things.) The real problem isn’t people who benefit from a personal spiritual uplift and social outlet. The church is rapidly getting mired into the political sphere. Look at the Supreme Court, it now has a super majority “Vatican Block”, and we can expect more intrusions as time marches on. Unfortunately, to oppose the Republican-social conservative monster that is wrecking havoc, it would seem we have to at least be hostile to fundamentalism.

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Bruce Gerencser