I have often been accused of having a cynical, jaded view of Evangelical Christianity; that I am the former Evangelical equivalent of Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; that I was hurt by the church; that I hate God, and by extension, I hate God’s chosen people — Evangelicals. Thus, Evangelicals smugly, arrogantly, and self-righteously ignore my critiques of Evangelicalism. Yet, in spite of their seeming dismissal of my writing and my story, these same people sure spend a lot of time attacking my character, trying to save me, and gossiping about me on their blogs, on social media, and in private forums (I have spies everywhere). I suspect this post will bring the same worn-out objections from the same people. In their minds, I simply have it out for Evangelicals. Instead of considering whether what I say is true, Evangelical zealots choose, instead, to go after me as a person. Such is the nature of the Internet.
Over the past fifteen years, I have interacted with thousands of Evangelical Christians. From emails to blog comments and social media messages to snail mail, Evangelicals have made their opinions known to me. I’ve even had Evangelicals call me or stop by my house.
On occasion — well, lots of occasions — I’ve had Evangelicals try to befriend me. Numerous Evangelicals preachers have told me that they would like to take me out to lunch or dinner. Why would these people want to befriend Bruce Gerencser, an outspoken atheist and critic of Evangelicalism? Do they really just want to be friends with me? Of course not. Hiding behind their feigned offers of friendship are ulterior motives.
I have written on this subject numerous times:
- Just Remember, Evangelicals Always Have an Agenda
- Bruce, I Want to be Your Friend — Part One
- Bruce, I Want to be Your Friend — Part Two
- Do Evangelicals Love and Accept People as They Are?
- Beware of Evangelicals Coming in the Name of “Friendship”
- Why Ex-Christians Don’t Trust Evangelicals
- Is it Possible for an Unbeliever to Have Christian Family and Friends?
- Dear Evangelical, Here’s The Number One Reason We Can’t be Friends
- Pastor Rusty George’s Five-Step Friendship Evangelism Plan
- We Love People and Are the Friendliest Church in Town
- Beware of Evangelicals Who Ask You Questions About Your Tattoos
- Nice-to-Your-Face Christians
- Beware of Evangelicals Who Come Bearing Offers of “Free” Coffee
- How to Turn Your Evangelical Teens Into Annoying Fake Friends
- My Response to Larry Dixon’s Starbucks Story
I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for Evangelicals not to have ulterior motives when attempting to form relationships with non-Christians. This statement is justified by Evangelical apologists saying that Evangelicals are commanded by God to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature; that Hell is real; death and eternal punishment are certain for unbelievers unless they repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Jesus; that Paul said Christians should use any means possible to save people. Such Evangelicals believe that the end always justifies the means when it comes to evangelizing the “lost.” Thus subterfuge and lies are justified as long as they lead to people getting saved.
Yesterday was Easter, or what Evangelicals love to call Resurrection Sunday. Easter, along with Mother’s Day and Christmas, is the highest attendance day of the year. Church members are encouraged to pull out the stops to entice their friends, family, and neighbors to attend their church’s Easter service. Churches often use all sorts of gimmicks — what we called “promotions” in my Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) days — to draw people to church.
7 Hills Church, a congregation with locations in Florence, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio, provides a good illustration of what I am talking about in this post. 7 Hills Church held multiple egg drops after services on Good Friday, Holy (huh?) Saturday, and Easter Sunday. 200,000 eggs were dropped for 3,000 children to put in their baskets and bags. According to Kyle Waid, an associate pastor at 7 Hills Church, “Every year, 7 Hills Church tries to make fun Easter memories for families. Over the years, we’ve dropped eggs out of hot air balloons, had professional skydivers, fireworks, and even shot people out of cannons.”
Waid knows Easter egg hunts are thoroughly, completely, and absolutely secular, yet justifies having one:
[Paul said] To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. Our church carries that same mission. We have become all things to all people with the same goal as Paul: that someone would receive the message of Jesus. The egg hunt is an afterthought. The goal is to reach people.
The goal, Waid stated, is to “reach [save, evangelize] people.” Not just doing something nice and fun for local children. The goal is what the goal always is for Evangelicals: saving sinners, adding members to the church, and increasing offerings.
Much like Evangelical rescue missions who require homeless people to sit through a sermon and an altar call before getting a meal or a bed for the night, 7 Hills Church required children and their families to attend church before the Easter egg drop.
Following every Easter service, we hand out admission tickets to the egg hunt. It’s our hope that through the 10 minutes of hunting eggs, families can create a fun memory together. It’s our prayer that through the hour and 15-minute service, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sisters, and brothers can find a forever friend in Jesus.
According to Waid, almost five hundred people were “saved” during the Easter weekend churches. Waid added that 7 Hills pastor Marcus Mecum “has always invested heavily in the next generation, including making church for children fun and engaging.” Dropping plastic Easter eggs from the sky, a stunt that cost thousands of dollars, is “investing heavily in the next generation’? Really? Fun? Sure. But, I would love to know how much money 7 Hills has invested in the local community with no strings attached. My bet is on “not much.” How much money was spent on people outside of the church, on paying rent, utilities, car repairs, and providing food to the least of these? Again, based on their multi-million-dollar budget, I’d say “not much.”
I’m sure there are Evangelical churches that do minister to their communities with no strings attached, I just don’t know of any. Exant evidence suggests that when you see Evangelicals coming your way, they want something from you; that their promises of friendship are just a means to an end, the salvation of your soul and the liberation of your wallet. My advice? Run.
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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