I’ve been blogging for fifteen years. I was still a Christian — barely — when I started my first blog in 2007. Over the years, I would start, stop, start, stop, start, stop writing — deleting my site, domain, and email address, and starting over. I did this because I was unable to handle Evangelical trolls, stalkers, and zealots. Their incessant attacks on me personally greatly wounded me. Why are Christians so cruel? My goal then as it is now was to tell my story, yet doing this evidently induces vicious rage from some bought-by-the-blood, filled-with-the-Holy-Ghost Fundamentalist Christians. Why the outrage?
In early 2014, my therapist at the time decided he would try to help me overcome the trauma caused by these people. He knew that writing was essential to my well-being. He also appreciated my work, especially my critiques of Evangelical Christianity. He recognized I had a unique story. Most preachers who leave Evangelicalism do so when they are younger. Here I was, a man who spent fifty years in Evangelicalism and pastored Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan for twenty-five years. Such people typically don’t abandon their faith. Sunk costs keep them from acting on what they know to be true. So, as those in the Clergy Project can attest, they “fake it until they make it.” I was never very good at subterfuge, so faking it was not an option for me. So when I concluded that the central claims of Christianity weren’t true, I was unwilling to “pretend” that they were. And let me be clear, I don’t judge people who choose a different path. There are too many variables in the deconversion process for me to judge others.
By December 2014, I was ready to resurrect my writing career. Believing I finally had the tools necessary for me to successfully handle Evangelical trolls, stalkers, and zealots, I started blogging again. This December, it will be eight years since I started telling my story again and critiquing Christianity. Over the years, I’ve made several additions to this site: Black Collar Crime Series, Songs of Sacrilege, and Sounds of Fundamentalism. These broadened the scope of my exposure of the ugly underbelly of Evangelical Christianity (and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement).
I continue to have a problem with trolls, stalkers, and zealots. Daniel Kluver, blocked and banned from contacting me, now contacts friends of mine and family members. A few days ago, he contacted an ex-daughter-in-law of mine. Revival Fires continues to create sock accounts and harass me. Just today, using the name Charles Kelly, he sent me a YouTube video about the judgment of God. And then there’s Fake Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen. Thiessen fled the United States years ago, escaping a warrant for his arrest. Thiessen left behind a trail of heartache, abandonment, fraud, and violence. His past reveals a sordid life, all while he was an Evangelical Christian. He reinvented himself, first in South Korea, and now in the Philippines. Remarried, Thiessen passes himself off as a Bible teacher and an author. Go to his blog, TheologyArcheology: A Site for the Glory of God, and you will find dozens and dozens and dozens of posts about me personally and to a lesser degree, my friend across the pond, Ben Berwick. Thiessen routinely lies about us, distorting our beliefs. His methodology is always the same: the Bible is right, we are wrong; Evangelicalism is right, atheism is wrong; he’s an authority on Christianity, we are not. He makes no attempt to engage those he disagrees with. Instead, at least in my case, he attacks my character, along with assaulting the good names of my wife and children.
These three piss ants are just the latest in a long line of Evangelicals who believe it is their mission to attack, discredit, and marginalize me. Whether they do so because they think God is commanding them to do so or out of a perverse sense of glee they get from harassing people, I do not know. I tend to think that Christian Fundamentalism rots the mind. Kluver, Revival Fires, and Thiessen are all men in their late 50s and 60s. Their minds have been floating in the pickling juice of Evangelicalism most of their lives. I see no possible way of trying to help these men. I have quoted to them Bible verses that clearly show their behavior is counter to the teachings of Christ and could be a sign that they are not Christian. This approach has zero effect on them. In their minds, atheists don’t know anything about the Bible. Evidently, the moment I deconverted, all my knowledge about the Bible and Christianity magically disappeared. Of course, this is fanciful thinking on their part. The Bible is clear: their abhorrent behavior reveals that none of them is a Christian. Is it any wonder that all three of them believe in what Deitrich Bonhoeffer called cheap grace; that salvation is little more than mentally assenting to a list of theological propositions and praying the sinner’s prayer? They believe that no sin can separate them from the love of Christ. How else do we explain Thiessen’s defense and support of rapists, child molesters, and other criminals?
As Carolyn my editor can attest, I receive a lot of emails from Evangelical trolls, stalkers, and zealots. I receive fewer now than I received years ago, but enough email to lead me to conclude that I am dealing with more than a few bad apples. Check out the Evangelical Email and Comments Tag to get a better look at how many Evangelicals behave when interacting with me.
Competent secular counseling has helped me learn how to deal with trolls, stalkers, and zealots. I’ve developed ways to limit the harm they cause, not only to me, but to the readers of this blog.
First, I have a warning for Evangelicals on my Contact Page. The fact that their email and name could be shared with thousands of people stops some Evangelicals from being the asses they could be. Of course, some people don’t care that I will make their email/name public. They want, need, and crave the attention.
Second, I turn some of their emails and comments into blog posts, giving them what regular readers call the “Bruce Gerencser Treatment.” Typically, when I do this, I never hear a peep from them again. I have had IFB pastors and two Evangelical counselors email me or leave comments using fake names and, sometimes, bogus email addresses. Their words were designed to cause me physiological harm. Instead of letting them have their way with me, I tracked down who they were and linked their names and or businesses to their hateful email/comments. This got their attention quickly. When people search for their names, what do people find? A link to this site is often, thanks to the size of this site, ahead of their church, business, or blog listing. I must admit that I smile when I see this — a bit of poetic justice. On occasion, these so-called men of God will beg me to delete my post. I always decline, reminding them that they should have considered what might happen as a result of their attacks. IFB preachers, in particular, tend to be authoritarians. Bullying people into silence is part of their MO. In me, however, they ran into someone who pushes back when bullied.
Third, I have compartmentalized the work I do for this blog. I treat writing as my job. It’s what I do X number of hours every day. The rest of my time is spent with family, watching TV, reading, listening to the Cincinnati Reds on the radio, going out on the town with my beautiful wife, going to doctor’s appointments, attending my grandchildren’s ballgames and concerts, working in the yard or around the house, and watching the raccoons, possums, squirrels, birds, and feral cats from the living room window. Outside of approving comments, I don’t bother with my blog after I’m done writing for the day. I typically write from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm, four to five days a week. By the time I have sent my last post to my second wife (inside joke 🙂 ), I am exhausted, ready to fade into the late-night hours.
Fourth, I have had to learn to not give a shit. People such as Kluver, Revival Fires, Thiessen, and others are mere gnats flying around my head on a warm summer day; annoying to be sure, but nothing a quick swat of the hand can’t fix. Simply said, such people do not matter. They thrive on causing harm to other people. I just so happen to be their latest target. In time, these bloodsuckers, unable to inflict further harm on me, will move on to other targets.
Fifth, I have tools that help me limit their access to me. I ban and block them from accessing this site, and on social media, I do the same. Unfortunately, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if they are hell-bent on harassing and attacking me, they will do so. Revival Fires just reinvents himself every few weeks. Kluver turns to other people associated with me, knowing that this will upset me. In the case of Thiessen, he uses his blog to harm me. There’s nothing I can do about this unless he violates WordPress’ terms of service. People in this day and hour are free to be assholes. I’ve been tempted to start a new blog titled “The Life and Times of David Tee,” but doing so would distract from my work here. And if I did this for every Derrick Thiessen I come in contact with, I’d own lots and lots of websites.
Currently, three people are blocked from accessing this site:
The first person is Revival Fires. The second person is John, and the third person is Elliot. These men can’t take the hints that they are not welcome — ever. Of course, this approach only works as long as they have static IP addresses. That’s why with Revival Fires I have to block a range of IP addresses.
There are times when the psychological assaults get to me. I used to just quit blogging, but I have learned that it is okay to take a few days or weeks off to get away from the Revival Fires/Kluvers/Thiessens of the world. Such people will always frequent this site, so all I can do is develop coping mechanisms to deal with them. Eight years in, I think I finally have this blogging thing figured out.
The bigger question is why? Why do trolls, stalkers, and zealots behave this way? What do they hope to accomplish? Are they mentally ill? Has Evangelicalism certainty and dogma turned them into vicious, hateful people? Are they sociopaths or psychopaths who secretly love trying to harm other people? If preaching the gospel and evangelizing sinners is the goal, how in God’s name does their behavior advance this cause? Such people cause untold harm to Christianity. Do they not fear standing before their God and giving account for how they treated atheist Bruce Gerencser and the readers of this blog? Or do they think that God will just slap them on the hand and then say, “enter into the joy of the Lord”?
I don’t expect Evangelicals to be perfect. None of is perfect. However, at the very minimum, I expect them to be decent, thoughtful human beings. Surely, with the Holy Ghost living inside of them, they should be able to evidence the fruit of the Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is [present tense] love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23
Hopefully, this explains how I deal with trolls, stalkers, and zealots. Such people will always be with me, so I must continue developing ways to deal with them. Your help with this endeavor is always appreciated.
Saved by Reason,
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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