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“I Don’t Hate the Skunk, I Hate Its Smell,” Evangelicals Say

Tim Conway, Calvinistic Pastor in San Antonio, Texas

William “BJ” Volkert, a youth pastor at Bible Baptist Church in York, Pennsylvania, recently resigned from his position as a school board member for the Northeastern School District in Manchester.

Volkert told Baptist Press:

I said that sexuality should not have a place in our schools. Celebrate culture, ethnicity, etc., but leave sexual orientation out of the celebration of diversity as it is very sensitive in nature.

It was brought to my attention that if we educate students on the suicide rates of certain lifestyles, if we educate them on diseases that only come from certain activities, and if we introduce them to open biblical principles, that we as individuals of the board could be sued for violating legislation that had been passed. I cannot remove myself from the Bible. It is everything to me; it’s everything I stand on. I will, I believe by the grace of God, go the grave believing everything that it says.


Jesus Christ is the remedy to the public school situation we are in. I did not have liberty to say this as a member of the board.


With that in mind, I’ve been called many things. I’ve been called a male chauvinist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic and racist, just to name a few. I wanted to clear the air. I don’t hate any individual. I don’t hate any group of individuals. I don’t hate any way that people identify. … I just want to make that clear to the students, faculty and community, that I do not have one ounce of hate towards any people group, nor do I prefer any people group over the other.

Volkert is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Christian. He wants people to know that he doesn’t hate anyone or any group of people. He hates the “sin,” but not the “sinner.” This is his way of turning back criticisms from people who say he is a hateful bigot; a transphobe. “I don’t hate the faggot, err, I mean the LGBTQ person, I just hate their abominable, wicked, vile sexual behavior,” Evangelicals say.

I have long argued that you cannot separate a skunk from its smell. Skunks spray people and animals with a pungent, sulfur-smelling spray when threatened. I doubt that anyone who has been sprayed by a skunk or owned a dog who has been sprayed ever says “I hate the smell, but I sure do love the skunk.” No, the skunk and its smell are inseparable. So it is with Evangelicals such as Volkert. These followers of Jesus not only hate sin, but they also hate those who commit the sins. And that’s okay in God’s eyes. God hates sin and those who do it too:

  • God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. (Psalm 7:11)
  • The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth (Psalm 11:5)
  • Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows (Psalm 45:6,7)
  • Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy. These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (Proverbs 6:15-17)
  • I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. (Amos 5:2)
  • And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD. (Zechariah 8:17)
  • I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. (Malachi 1:2,3)
  • As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (Romans 9:13)
  • For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: (divorce) for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. (Malachi 2:16)
  • Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. (Revelation 2:5,6)

I wish Evangelicals would be honest and own their behavior. Instead, much like the rest of us, they want to be respected and well-thought-of by others. Their problem, of course, is that they are joined at the hip with the Bible and their peculiar theological/social beliefs. Their religion demands they condemn “sin.” So they do, as Volkert clearly did as a board member of a secular public school district. (By the way, Volkert’s children do not attend the district’s school. Instead, he sends his children to Bible Baptist Christian Academy in York. Volkert is an administrator at the school.)

I live in rural northwest Ohio. Evangelicalism and right-wing politics dominate the local landscape. The local newspaper regularly publishes letters to the editor from local Evangelicals who rail against behaviors they deem sinful. Typically their hemorrhoids are inflamed over abortion, Satanic Democrats, and anything LGBTQ. Increasingly, they show up at local school board meetings to protest Critical Race Theory (CRT), socialism, and books they think are “sinful.” Their hate for certain behaviors is palpable, yet these God-fearing folks bristle when accused of hating individuals or groups of people. They want everyone to believe that they really do love everyone. However, when asked if LGBTQ people can join their church or whether their high school daughter can date a lesbian, it becomes crystal clear that not only do they hate (some) sin, but they also hate (some) sinners. Not all sins, or all sinners, just those they personally find icky or offensive. One need only look at their response to transgender people or drag queens to see how much they really do hate some people.

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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  1. Avatar

    i wrote a piece of “mash-up” music, a few years ago, that uses, as sound sources, a bunch of recordings of “christian” “preachers” saying things like “i can’t wait to see you burn in hell!” and “jeezis is gonna get you!”… it has always struck me that this is definitely NOT the way to get people to “convert” to your religion, or even listen to what you might have to say… i wonder why they think it will work?

  2. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    Actually, I appreciate skunks from a distance. I’ve been told that they eat snails, and the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, is heaven for those garden pests. But yeah, summer nights when the windows are open, I can tell by the smell when “Sammy” is making their evening rounds of the property, even though they aren’t actually spraying anything.

    One of my issues with the “hate the sin, love the sinner” concept is that Evangelicals seem to throw around the words “hate” and “love” with abandon. They are both very energy-charged words. They imply a serious level of emotional engagement, either negative or positive. (And yes, I know the Bible uses them.) Someone who truly hates a sin but loves the sinner is supposedly feeling two very strong, very opposite emotions at the same time. I don’t think human brains work that way. I also think that for most people, hate is a whole lot easier than love, because it builds them up in their minds in relation to the target of hate. We like being the heroes of our own narratives.

  3. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Espousing the “love the sinner hate the sin” mantra may have damaged me more, emotionally, than anything else I did: It magnified the self-hate I already had as a transgender woman.

    Probably the only good outcome is that it taught me it’s not possible to “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

  4. Avatar

    It disturbs me that this man ran for school board for a district where he pays money for his children NOT to attend. And his goal fir doing so is to shape the lives and curriculum of other people’s children to conform to his own personal religion. It’s a good sign that he resigned instead of being allowed to continue his quest.

    “Hate the sin love the sinner” puts people on unequal footing. It lowers the person being judged to a lower status.

    • Avatar
      Karuna Gal

      Speaking of lower status of a different type: I read this interesting passage about the city of York, via Wikipedia: “Throughout the middle 20th Century, the black residents of the city were subject to hostile racial prejudice and social injustices. Between 1955 and 1970, the people of York experienced racial discrimination leading to riots, most notably the 1969 York Race Riot, which resulted in the death of Lillie Belle Allen and Henry C. Schaad. These murders were largely left ignored until 31 years later, when allegations of murder and racial prejudice were raised against the mayor at the time, Charlie Robertson. Additionally, throughout the entire century, the city commonly held unopposed Ku Klux Klan rallies and public meetings, despite continuous racial tensions. Though the murders of Allen and Schaad were solved and the perpetrators were apprehended, the actions, which originate back to the beginnings of the hate group, continue to present day.”
      Hmm. 😑 The city itself is historic and beautiful, but its history also reminds me of that passage in Matthew about the whitewashed sepulchers, full of dead men’s bones.

      • Avatar

        That’s horrifying. I wonder how many other quaint or beautiful towns and cities harbor similar stories. But mope, can’t teach kids any of that!

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