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Questions: Bruce, Did You and Polly Try Other “Gods” Before You Deconverted?


Question from social media:

Bruce, did you and Polly try other “Gods” before you deconverted?

The short answer is no. I have never thought I had to try every flavor and brand of whiskey to decide whether I like whiskey. While the flavors can be distinct and brands can differ from one another, whiskey is whiskey. I have four different brands of whiskey in our liquor cabinet. Each tastes slightly different from the others, but none to such a degree that I can’t tell I am drinking whiskey. Get a dozen whiskey aficionados in one room and ask them which whiskey is “God,” and you will get all sorts of answers. But none of them will say that this or that glass of whiskey is not whiskey. So it is with “God.”

I was born in a Christian nation, a country that prides itself in freedom of religion, yet is dominated by Christianity. I came of age in Evangelical Christianity. Saved and baptized at the age of fifteen in an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church, I later attended a small IFB college, married an IFB pastor’s daughter, and spent twenty-five years pastoring Evangelical (IFB, Southern Baptist, Christian Union, Sovereign Grace, and Non-denominational) churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. It is Christianity — particularly Evangelicalism — that I know well. It is the religion of my tribe and my culture. It is this religion I primarily deconverted from.

I pastored my last church in 2003. Between July 2002 and November 2008, my wife and I and our children personally visited the churches listed below. These are the church names we could remember. There are others we have either forgotten or vaguely remember, so we didn’t put them on the list. Churches in bold we attended more than once. All told, from 2002-2008 we visited about 125 churches.

Churches We Visited 2002-2008Location
Our Father’s HouseWest Unity, Ohio
First Brethren ChurchBryan, Ohio
First Baptist ChurchBryan, Ohio
Grace Community ChurchBryan, Ohio
Lick Creek Church of the BrethrenBryan,Ohio
First Church of ChristBryan, Ohio
Eastland Baptist ChurchBryan, Ohio
Bryan Alliance ChurchBryan, Ohio
Union Chapel Church of GodBryan, Ohio
Celebrate Life Christian FellowshipBryan, Ohio
Faith United Methodist ChurchBryan, Ohio
Trinity Episcopal ChurchBryan, Ohio
Archbold Evangelical ChurchArchbold, Ohio
Sherwood Baptist ChurchSherwood, Ohio
Ney Church of GodNey, Ohio
Ney United Methodist ChurchNey, Ohio
Sonrise Community ChurchNey, Ohio
Farmer United Methodist ChurchFarmer, Ohio
Lost Creek Emmanuel Missionary ChurchFarmer, Ohio
Hicksville Church of the NazareneHicksville, Ohio
Community Christian CenterHicksville, Ohio
Grace Bible ChurchButler, Indiana
St John’s Lutheran ChurchDefiance, Ohio
Harvest Life FellowshipDefiance, Ohio
Community Christian CenterDefiance, Ohio
Second Baptist ChurchDefiance, Ohio
First Baptist ChurchDefiance, Ohio
Grace Episcopal ChurchDefiance, Ohio
First Assembly of GodDefiance, Ohio
Defiance Christian ChurchDefiance, Ohio
First Presbyterian ChurchDefiance, Ohio
St John’s United Church of ChristDefiance, Ohio
Peace Lutheran ChurchDefiance, Ohio
Pine Grove Mennonite ChurchStryker, Ohio
St James Lutheran ChurchBurlington, Ohio
Zion Lutheran ChurchEdgerton, Ohio
Northwest Christian ChurchEdon, Ohio
Restoration FellowshipWilliams Center, Ohio
Pioneer Bible FellowshipPioneer, Ohio
Frontier Baptist ChurchFrontier, Michigan
Salem Mennonite ChurchWaldron, Michigan
Waldron Wesleyan ChurchWaldron, Michigan
Lickley Corners Baptist ChurchWaldron, Michigan
Prattville Community ChurchPrattville, Michigan
Betzer Community ChurchPittsford, Michigan
Fayette Church of the NazareneFayette, Ohio
Fayette Bible ChurchFayette, Ohio
Fayette Christian ChurchFayette, Ohio
Morenci Bible FellowshipMorenci, Michigan
First Baptist ChurchMorenci, Michigan
Demings Lake Reformed Baptist ChurchDemings Lake, Michigan
Medina Federated ChurchMedina, Michigan
Thornhill Baptist ChurchHudson, Michigan
First Baptist ChurchHudson, Michigan
Rollins Friends ChurchAddison, Michigan
Canandaigua Community ChurchCanandaigua. Michigan
Alvordton United BrethrenAlvordton, Ohio
Pettisville Missionary ChurchPettisville, Ohio
Vineyard ChurchToledo, Ohio
Providence Reformed Baptist ChurchToledo, Ohio
Lighthouse Memorial ChurchMillersport, Ohio
Newark Baptist TempleHeath, Ohio
Church of GodHeath, Ohio
30th Street Baptist ChurchHeath, Ohio
St Francis De Sales Catholic ChurchNewark, Ohio
Bible Baptist ChurchNewark, Ohio
Cedar Hill Baptist ChurchNewark, Ohio
Eastland Heights Baptist ChurchNewark, Ohio
Northside Baptist ChurchNewark, Ohio
Newark Brethren ChurchNewark, Ohio
St John’s Lutheran ChurchNewark, Ohio
Vineyard of Licking CountyNewark, Ohio
Vineyard Grace FellowshipNewark, Ohio
Grace FellowshipNewark, Ohio
Faith Bible ChurchJersey, Ohio
Vineyard Christian ChurchPataskala, Ohio
Cornerstone Baptist ChurchNew Lexington, Ohio
St Nicolas Greek Orthodox ChurchFort Wayne, Indiana
Nondenominational ChurchAngola, Indiana
Nondenominational ChurchFremont, Indiana
Victory Baptist ChurchClare, Michigan
First Assembly of GodYuma, Arizona
Desert Grace Community ChurchYuma, Arizona
Calvary Lutheran ChurchYuma, Arizona
Bible Baptist ChurchYuma, Arizona
Calvary ChapelYuma, Arizona
OasisYuma, Arizona
Faith Baptist ChurchYuma, Arizona
Valley Baptist ChurchYuma, Arizona
Calvary Assembly of GodYuma, Arizona
Foothills Assembly of GodYuma, Arizona
Morningside Baptist ChurchYuma, Arizona
Faith Horizons Baptist ChurchYuma, Arizona
Stone Ridge Baptist ChurchYuma, Arizona
Old Order Mennonite ChurchYuma, Arizona
Grace Bible FellowshipYuma, Arizona
Calvary Temple of ChristYuma, Arizona
Maranatha Baptist ChurchYuma, Arizona
Independent Lutheran ChurchYuma, Arizona
Community Christian ChurchYuma, Arizona
Church meeting in funeral chapelYuma, Arizona
Pentecostal ChurchWinterhaven, California
North Holtville Friends ChurchHoltville, California
Sierra Vista Baptist ChurchSierra Vista, Arizona
Hedgesville Baptist ChurchHedgesville, West Virginia
New Life Baptist ChurchWeston, West Virginia

As you can see, we covered our bases when it came to organized Christianity. We didn’t visit any IFB churches, nor did we focus solely on Evangelical congregations. Been there, done that, right? Seen one, seen them all? Go ahead and start whining now. I know, I know, your church is DIFFERENT! Sure it is.

We saw no need to visit Jewish or Muslim congregations. While there are differences between the three Abrahamic religions, not so much so that you can’t determine their veracity without immersing yourself in their writings. All three are text-based monotheistic religions that allegedly worship the same deity.

We understood that we were frail, finite beings, marching one step at a time towards death. Having been taught that non-Christians would spend eternity being tortured by God in a burning Lake of Fire, we were naturally fearful about choosing the wrong religion or worshipping the wrong God. Once we determined that the Bible was not what Evangelicals claimed it was and the central claims of Christianity were false, we lost our fear of Hell. Not right away. It took time to undo five decades of religious indoctrination and conditioning.

Granted, some Christians reject a literal Hell and eternal punishment, crafting all sorts of workarounds meant to not make God look like the monster he most certainly is. I read several books on annihilationism, universalism, etc., and concluded that all of them were intellectually lacking; written by authors who couldn’t bear to let go of God and their chosen religion. (And I am not suggesting their writing was without merit. I just concluded that their views were not intellectually compelling; not enough to sway me to their side.)

I am an agnostic atheist. While I can’t say for certain that no gods exist, I am confident that they don’t. I could be wrong, but I doubt that I am. When it comes to the Christian deity, I am convinced that he is a work of fiction. No amount of reading or study will convince me otherwise. I have studied the lay of land, having spent decades reading the Bible and Christian theology. I can’t imagine a Christian apologist saying something or making an argument that I have not heard before. Thus, I have closed the book on Christianity. Perhaps, in the future, a God not yet known will reveal itself to us. If that happens, I will consider that God’s or its follower’s claims accordingly (if he or she makes any).

Humans worship countless Gods. According to Wikipedia — the one true God — there are approximately 4,200 world religions or denominations. Need I study all of them, attend their worship services, or read their texts before I conclude they are false? No. It would take a lifetime to do so — a waste of time if there ever was one. Remove the religions that threaten judgment and eternal punishment, there is nothing left to fear. Religion then becomes personal and social in nature; that which meets felt needs and gives people meaning and purpose. I have no need of religion to find these things. Secular humanism provides the ethical and moral foundation for my life, and family gives me all the meaning and purpose I need. I have no thoughts about life after death. I don’t want to die, but I know it is inevitable. I don’t fret over that which I cannot control. I choose to live for the moment; to live each day the best I can, surrounded by those who matter to me. Even though my body is wracked with horrible pain, I try to find enjoyment in life. Having six children, sixteen grandchildren, and three cats gives me plenty of opportunities to enjoy life, as does watching wild animals and stray/ferals cats in our backyard, working in the yard, building my model train layout, taking country drives with Polly and Bethany, and writing for this blog. I have much to enjoy in life — all without God.

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

    As an evangelical I was taught to look at every other religion critically and see that they were all false. I would ridicule the outrageous claims of other religions without applying the same critical thinking to my own. So when I finally deconverted I did not need to try out any other religion since I had already concluded they were nonsense.

  2. Avatar
    Karuna Gal

    My main problem when I was searching for a spiritual home was that I continued to believe in God. So, besides trying out various Christian churches, I also went to a Hindu ashram and had a Native American teacher for a while. Once I shook off my God belief (very hard to do) I was able to consider Buddhism, which does have a bit of mythology, but is basically practiced as a non-theistic philosophy. Buddhism talks about rebirth and heaven and hell realms stuff, but I don’t consider those things as literal but metaphorical. I will be snuffed out totally when I die, no worries about being fed molten iron in a hell realm or coming back here as a mangey raccoon. 🦝
    By the way, if I remember correctly, Christianity (via pre-year 70 A.D. Judaism) stole the whole heaven/hell idea from Eastern religions. Zoroastrians (old Persian pagan religion, pre-Christianity) talks about heaven and hell and has a good god versus a bad god mythology.

  3. Avatar
    Revival "I Lie for Jesus" Fires

    I have noticed on more than one post here that you talk about whiskey and beer drinking.

    sadly alot of people raised in church and that have truly accepted Jesus sometimes get it in their head that they “missed out” on partying and drinking from their teens and 20’s and will want to do it in their 50’s and 60’s such is the case wity my mother-in-law.

    Did you betray Jesus because you wanted to drink alcohol and get drunk?

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