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.
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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