A Christian man named Andy Miller sent me a short, succinct email today. Here’s what Miller had to say:
If you have left all tenants [sic] of faith, why do you care, except to build up yourself?
I know, I know. Sigh. (Please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh.”) Child, please. Just another email from someone who has made no effort to understand my story. But, it’s a cold, rainy fall day in O-h-i-o. Why not give Miller the answer he so richly deserves? Evidence suggests Miller is affiliated with the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement.
The key to you understanding me is to actually read my writing. Based on what I can tell from this site’s server logs, you read all of one post before emailing me, The Scandalous Life of Jack Hyles and Why it Still Matters. You spent all of two minutes reading this article. You didn’t read the About page or any of my autobiographical material. No one, of course, is obligated to read anything before contacting me, but if you want to be taken as a thoughtful, honest interlocutor, it pays to do your homework.
I have not left all tenets of “faith.” What I have left is organized religion in general, and Christianity in particular. I have carefully weighed the central claims of Christianity in the balance and found them wanting. I am still a person of “faith.” By faith, I trust that science is the best tool for understanding our natural world. By faith, based on forty-five years of evidence and awesome rolls in the hay, I believe my partner, Polly, loves me. I live in a technologically advanced world; one which requires expertise beyond my abilities. By faith, I trust experts to tell me the truth about things I lack sufficient knowledge to understand. Son #3 is a certified mechanic. While I used to do ALL of my own repair work, I can no longer do so. My knowledge of automobile repair stopped growing in the early 2000s. When I have a car problem, I call my son. Why? He’s the expert, so I put my faith in him to tell me the truth.
Here’s my point, all of us are people of “faith,” to some degree or another. Most of us try to have what I call “reasoned faith.” None of us is a limitless dispenser of knowledge — though I try to convince my grandchildren that I am. 🙂 We rely on others, especially experts, to help us navigate our world.
While I no longer have the requisite faith necessary to believe the claims of Christianity are true, my ongoing objections have little to do with “faith.” If the Andy Millers of the world want to gather together on Sundays to worship a dead Jewish man with blood cult rituals, have at it. If they want to plaster their homes, yards, and autos with Christian signs, bumper stickers, creches, and Jesus Junk®, have at it. If they want to home-school their children or send them to private Christian schools, have at it. If they want to evangelize sinners on public sidewalks, have it. I have no problem with personal acts of piety. Each to their own, right?
However, when it comes to trying to overthrow the U.S. government, establish a theocracy, subvert the Constitution, take over public schools, indoctrinate children, or force others to live by your interpretations of an ancient religious text, I care — and I care a lot. Polly and I are parents to six adult children and grandparents to thirteen munchkins. I am sixty-six years old. I doubt I will make it to seventy. So, my focus is on what world I will leave behind for those that I love. I care a lot about their future. I care about what they are taught in school. I oppose any and all attempts to passive-aggressively force them to participate in release programs such as Lifewise Academy. I oppose any and all attempts to mandate school prayer, Bible reading, and posting the Ten Commandments. I want my grandchildren taught science, and not religion — creationism and intelligent design — masquerading as science. I want them taught the birds and the bees, and not here’s-an-aspirin-put-it-between-your-knees-and-just-say-no. I demand LGBTQ people receive equal protection under the law, receiving the same freedom, liberty, and justice as everyone else. I oppose book bans, music bans, play bans, beer bans, clothing bans, and countless other issues that seem to rile Evangelicals these days.
So you see, Andy, I care because these things matter — at least to me, anyway. You seem to think that I no longer have a right to protest these egregious affronts to our democracy and social order; that once I left Christianity I no longer had a right to say anything. I may have left Christianity, but Christianity sure hasn’t left me. Frankly, I can’t get away from it. And as long as Evangelicalism is hellbent on damaging and controlling my life and that of my family and friends, I intend to publicly push back.
Andy, you made no effort to know the man, the myth, the legend, Bruce Almighty, yet you felt qualified to judge my motives; that the reason I write is to build myself up — whatever the hell that means. “Build up” implies gain. What, exactly, have I gained by telling my story and critiquing Evangelical Christianity over the past sixteen years? I make no money to speak of from my writing. I receive donations via Patreon and Paypal, but these pay costs, and may, if I have a good donation year, allow Polly and me to eat a meal at a fancy restaurant and spend the night in a hotel. By the time I pay taxes on my blog donations — yep, donations are taxable — most years are a wash.
While I have an ever-increasing readership and loyal support from a number of readers — both of which are metaphorical jolts of adrenaline for me — I also attract a lot of negative attention. Hate mail. Death threats. Attacks on my spouse and our family. I am routinely battered and abused by people who allege follow the Prince of Peace. I would shutter this blog today if it wasn’t for the fact that the things mentioned above matter to me.
The only thing I have built up since I deconverted is my credit card balances and the number of shoes, fedoras, and Charles Tyrwhitt shirts I wear. I am sure you meant something else by your attack on my character, but I will leave it to you to explain yourself.
Do better, Andy, do better.
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.
Connect with me on social media:
Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.
You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.