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The Midwestern Baptist College Preacher Who Became an Atheist

polly shope bruce gerencser 1977
Polly Shope and Bruce Gerencser, February 1977, Midwestern Baptist College Sweetheart Banquet, the only time we were allowed to be closer than six inches apart.

Originally posted in 2015, edited and expanded.

From 1976-1979, I attended Midwestern Baptist College — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution in Pontiac, Michigan. Polly also attended the college, as did her father and uncle before her. While not as large or as prestigious as institutions such as Bob Jones University, Hyles-Anderson College, Tennessee Temple, or Pensacola Christian College, Midwestern is known for turning out men who are church planters and fierce defenders of the Word of God. Started in 1953 by Dr. Tom Malone, Midwestern once had an enrollment of over 400 students. These days, the enrollment is less than a fifty, and in 2010 the college moved its location to Shalom Baptist Church in Orion, Michigan.

At one time, Midwestern advertised itself as a character-building factory. Over the past seventy years, this factory has graduated hundreds of men and women, each devoted to the IFB faith. While some of the students who attended Midwestern no longer wear the Fundamentalist label, I do not know of one Midwestern attendee who is a liberal. As best I can tell, there is only one man who became a liberal, and that is yours truly. Certainly, many churches pastored by Midwestern-trained men are Evangelical and to the left of the Fundamentalism taught by the college, but none of them, as far as I know, are liberals theologically. Even more amazing, as far as atheism is concerned, I am the only person who attended Midwestern and entered the ministry as a Midwestern-trained preacher who is now an atheist.

i am special

I am soooo special.  From time to time, I see in the logs search strings such as “the Midwestern Baptist College preacher who became an atheist.” Google? This site is number one, the top of the page. Same with Bing.  Even when generically searching for “Midwestern Baptist College Pontiac” this site is listed twice on the first page, fifth and sixth, respectively. I am quite sure that the prominence of my writing in search engine results for Midwestern irritates the hell out of those who still profess fealty to the IFB religion and who still view the late Tom Malone as a demigod.

I am as rare as a real science exhibit at Ken “Hambo” Ham’s Creationist Museum. I am sure there are others who attended Midwestern who no longer believe, but I am the only person who has dared to poke his head above the proverbial ground and say so.

Are you a former Midwestern attendee or graduate who is no longer a Christian? I would love to hear from you. Please use the Contact Form to send me an email. Much like the search for extraterrestrial life, surely, somewhere there’s another former Midwestern student who no longer believes. I’m listening. . .

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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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.


      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        Why? I’m happy, but sick. I have six wonderful children, thirteen awesome grandchildren, and I’ve been married to the same beautiful woman for 43 years. We own our home, and drive a 2020 Ford Edge. My wife went back to college and got a degree. She’s a supervisor at a large manufacturing concern. I love writing for this blog. I collect Lionel Trains. The Reds are contending for the Central Division pennant this year. I’m hopeful the Bengals will be better this year. Oh, and we have an Eden-like yard, albeit it with more weeds. So, Deanna, what is “sad” about my life? We are in a much better place than we ever were in the ministry. Sure, I have gastroparesis, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis. Sure I’m in lots of pain every day of my life. But, these things are not sad as much as they are just my lot in life. It sucks, but it is what it is.

        Life is good, Deanna, without God/Jesus/Church.

        If you really want to understand my story, please read the posts on the WHY? page.



  1. Avatar

    Suzanne up there ^^^ said, “Better watch yourself my friend before Ken Ham tries to round you up, stuff you and mount you in one of his exhibits at the Creation Museum.”

    She’s right. I’ll bet he would.
    But not necessarily in that order.

  2. Avatar
    Brady Flinn

    Bruce I really enjoy reading your posts about Midwestern. My dad attended there from approximately 1981 to 1983, which is why I was born in the Pontiac area. He gave up and went home to farm in northeast Ohio, which is where my parents still are today. I shudder to think about how my life would have been growing up if he’d become a full-fledged evangelical preacher but thankfully that didn’t pan out. Love your page and your articles.

  3. Avatar

    Bruce, let us know if any Midwestern grads get back to you on your question!

    I graduated from the now-defunct K-12 Pioneer Christian Academy, and I have found just one other atheist who used to attend there. Quite a few of my friends became liberal, progressive Christians, and a few are still believers in God but don’t do church anymore. And, of course, there are plenty of bigoted MAGAs who graduated from the school.

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