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Category: Atheism

Songs of Sacrilege: He Flies by Whitney Avalon

whitney avalon

This is the latest installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is He Flies by Whitney Avalon.

Video Link

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Songs of Sacrilege: Dechristianize by Vital Remains

vital remains

This is the latest installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Dechristianize by Vital Remains.

Video Link

Lyrics

[Intro]
Trembling to its fall
Putting and end to it all
By storm, by force
With might, without remorse
We are here to conquer this world

[Verse 1]
Like cancer, our hate consumes the light of elysium
Unstoppable force of demonic supremacy
All destroying, all devouring
Heaven now ravaged; scarred and empty
Strike the death knell of the pandemonium
Imbrue one’s hands in the blood of christ
Washing away all filth of righteousness
The dimming of the light
Engulfing the trinity

He raped the culture of mankind
He raped the pride of the ancient ways
He raped all thought of freewill
I who will watch you fall into obscurity

Washing away all filth of righteousness
The dimming of the light
Engulfing the fucking trinity

I spit upon your deity
Supposed creator of all things
Idol of irreverence you worship above
Show your true face, the image of prevarication

Unhallowed be our twilight
Thy grace untriumphant
Mourn the crowning of unconquerable profanation

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Sounds of Fundamentalism: Atheists are Stupid Says Evangelical Zealot Logan Joy

logan joy

The Sounds of Fundamentalism is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a six-minute video clip of Evangelical apologist Logan Joy sharing with his supporters why he thinks atheists are stupid.

Video Link

Joy had this to say about atheists on his Facebook page (all spelling and grammar in the original):

Let’s just keep it real, atheism is the belief in nothing, that nothing randomly formed everything for no purpose or reason. A bunch of random people, random events, all living and dying for no reason. No morality, just ignorance and hatred for the one who created it all. Yet Christian’s are stupid? Atheists beg on their deathbed for mercy from a God they claim to not believe in, when in reality, it’s because they hate God. Most people hate God. There’s different forms of hating him. One is to worship the God that fits your lifestyle because the God of the Bible doesn’t cut it for you. Another is to be embarrassed of God and his word. There’s also just unbelief. Not believing and mocking others changes nothing. God has healed me, redeemed me, saved me, change me. If you’ve never felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit, once you do, you’ll never be the same.

We teach evolution as fact in schools when it’s undoubtedly a lie. It’s a lie. Well who knows, right? We’ll see when we die? I can pull up hundreds of testimonies of people declared dead for periods of time who will tell you just how real Heaven and Hell are. Oh but can we trust that? Go ahead, trust in nothing. Or be the Christian that believes God raised the dead but no longer raises the dead. Because He’s somehow changed.. Which is impossible. (Malachi 3:6)

Believe in what you want, God gives you free will but this life is fading fast for all of us. And one day, you may wish you listened to the crazy guy named Logan on Facebook.

Repent. Repent. Repent.

That goes for me as well. Pride kills more souls than any other sin. You’re not already forgiven, repentance is not optional.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Is God Sovereign and Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

sovereignty-of-god

The first verse in the first book of the Christian Bible says, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The verses that follow go on to explain all that God created. His crowning achievement was the creation of Adam and Eve — humans created in the image of God. Adam and Eve would later eat fruit from a tree that God said was off-limits. Their love of fruit brought sin and death into the world. From this point forward, humans come forth from their mother’s wombs at variance with God. According to the Bible, newborns come into the world speaking lies. Humans are, by nature, enemies of God. Wanting to repair the fractured relationship between the Creator and his creation, God cooked up a scheme through which sins could be forgiven. In the Old Testament, the Bible says God required blood sacrifices for the expiation of sin. Animals were ritually slaughtered and their blood was placed upon altars to provide atonement for national and personal sins. In the New Testament, the Bible says that God sent himself to earth in the form of a God-man by the name of Jesus. This Jesus was one hundred percent man and one hundred percent God. After traveling through Palestine for three years, working miracles, and preaching sermons, this Jesus was accused of heresy by the Jews, arrested by the Roman government, and executed. Three days later, this Jesus miraculously came back to life, spent forty days appearing to his followers, after which he ascended to Heaven. According to Christians, for the past 2,000 years, Jesus has been hanging out in heaven doing God things: building rooms (mansions) for Christians to live in, helping Christians score touchdowns, helping grandmas find their car keys, and controlling presidential elections. While Jesus, at least according to those who speak on his behalf, is intimately involved in the minutest details of the lives of his followers, it seems he can’t be bothered with important issues such as war, starvation, global climate change, human trafficking, and the Cincinnati Reds winning the World Series. Why is it that Jesus never seems to be around when you really, really need him?

Most Christian sects can be plotted along the line between Arminianism and Calvinism. While these two systematic theologies are poles apart from one another, both agree that the Christian God is the absolute, authoritative ruler of the universe. While Arminians and Calvinists argue amongst themselves about free will and the order of salvation, both agree that God is sovereign, and that he has the whole world in the palm of his hands. This God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. The Bible says that none of us can escape the presence of this God. He is everywhere — the ultimate voyeur.

If everything is created by God, owned by God, known by God, and nothing escapes his ever-seeing eye, isn’t it logical to say that God is responsible for sin? Isn’t it logical to hold God responsible for everything that happens? If humans are not ultimately in control of their lives or their destiny, how then can they be held responsible? If God alone — either through predestination and election or prevenient grace — saves sinners and gives them keys to their Jesus-built mansions in the sky, how then can any of us be held accountable for not becoming Christians? If it is God, through the Holy Spirit, that gives life to dead sinners so they can believe, how then can any un-quickened sinners be held accountable for their depravity? Billions of people, past and present, live in places where Christianity has no influence. People can go through their entire lives without hearing the Christian gospel, yet when they die God will hold them accountable for not hearing that which they had no opportunity to hear. Does this sound just and fair?

Does any of this make sense to you? Wouldn’t it have been better for the Gods — Yahweh, Jesus, and Holy Spirit — to cut out all the bullshit and create a universe not tainted by sin and depravity? Surely it was in God’s power to create an Adam and Eve who were incapable of sinning. It’s a fair question, then, to ask why God did what he did. If God controls the universe and nothing escapes his sovereign grasp, why all the war, violence, rape, starvation, and terrible contemporary Christian music?

Start asking Christian pastors and laypeople these questions, and you’ll quickly conclude that they really don’t have any answers. Oh, they will spin some sort of elaborate theological answer that will leave you neck-deep in quicksand, but don’t expect them to give direct, succinct answers. Most often, apologists for the Christian God will give contradictory or incoherent answers, and when their nonsense is pointed out they will swiftly run to the house of faith, slamming the door while they scream, GOD’S WAYS ARE NOT OUR WAYS! GOD’S THOUGHTS ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS! HOW DARE YOU CHALLENGE THE CREATOR! HE CAN DO WHAT HE WANTS! This screaming is the equivalent of la-la-la-la, I can’t hear you, now fuck off.

A perfect illustration of this can be found in a post on the Faith-It website by Christine Suhan. Titled, Dear Christians, Stop Saying ‘Everything Happens for a Reason,’ Suhan shows how it is impossible for Christians to develop a coherent understanding of the world while at the same time trying to hold on to Evangelical beliefs. Here’s some of what she had to say:

Have you ever found yourself, in the midst of unimaginable grief, pain, heartache or despair, wondering how you are going to make it through another day? Wondering where your next breath is going to come from? Your world has crumbled beneath you and you are left feeling shattered, empty and hopeless.

And then a well meaning friend or family member comes along and drops the infamous “Everything happens for a reason” bomb. You smile kindly and nod—that’s all you can do to keep yourself from punching them in the face.

….

Sometimes bad things happen for no reason other than we are human beings having a human experience. Pain, heartache, grief, loss, disease and death are inevitable parts of the human experience.

We hear people say “Life dealt me a crappy hand” as if pain and hardships are not the norm. We assume that life is supposed to be easy and when things don’t go our way, we feel like we have been wronged. Human beings seem to have an innate sense of entitlement. We think that we are owed a pain-free existence.

But the truth is that human beings are not exempt from the human experience. And struggle is an innate part of the human experience. None of us are exceptions to this rule. We all struggle. We all suffer. We all experience pain, heartache and loss. And sometimes, there’s just no reason other than we are human and pain is a part of the process.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who was struggling to find peace with “God’s plan” for her life including the recent death of a loved one.

“How could this possibly be God’s will?” she asked.

Here’s what I’ve come to know about God’s will:

God’s will is not the path we walk, but rather how we walk the path.

God’s plan is never for someone to have cancer. God’s will is not for an innocent child to be brutally murdered. God’s will is not for a teenage girl to be raped. God’s will is not chronic pain, illness, disability or death.

God’s will is not an event that happens to us, it’s how we respond to what happens.

God’s will for us is to walk with Him through the cancer. Through the abuse. Through the death. Through the illness. God’s will is for us to draw close to him in the midst of pain. God’s will is for us to use our painful life events to carry his message of hope, grace, forgiveness and mercy.

God’s plan was never for pain to be part of the human experience. His plan was for us to live in peace and harmony with Him. The human experience became painful when sin entered the world. Our own free will weaved threads of tragedy, loss, heartache and pain into the human experience.

God is not responsible for our pain. We are not responsible for our pain. What happened in the Garden of Eden is responsible for the human condition. And the human condition is hard wired for pain and suffering. God is not causing us to hurt. He is hurting with us. What we do with our hurt is what matters. How we handle tragedy is what brings purpose into our pain.

There’s hardly ever a justifiable reason for the bad things that happen in life. Tragic loss is not laced with inherent specs of good. I used to get so mad when people would say, “You can find good in every situation.” That’s just not true. There was nothing good about being raped. There is no good in murder or abuse.

Suhan takes the shit happens approach. Thanks to Adam and Eve and their progeny’s sin nature, pain, suffering, and death are part of the human (Westworld) experience. According to Suhan, there is no reason or purpose for these things to happen. The problem, however, is that Suhan’s worldview runs contrary to orthodox Christian doctrine. This often happens when Christians try to thoughtfully ponder about human existence. How can rape or murder be good or have some sort of higher purpose? If God is the sovereign of the universe, why does he permit, either passively or by decree, such things to happen? Surely, an all-powerful God can keep people from being raped or murdered. Why does he idly stand by and do nothing?

According to Suhan, God does do s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g. When a teenage girl is being ritually raped by her pastor or an altar boy is being repeatedly sodomized by his priest, Jesus is right there holding the victim’s hand. That’s right, the God who could stop sexual assault does little more than send victims a BFF text that says, I am with you in spirit. Love, Jesus. Millions of people will go to bed tonight hungry, and the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and sends sunshine and rain for crops to grow will do nothing to feed them, choosing instead to smile and hold their empty plates. While the risk of nuclear war between the United States and Russia continues to increase, Jesus wants everyone to know that he will be right there with them if they are turned into an ash heap. Is this the best that God can do for us — hold our hand?

If God is the supreme ruler of the universe, the creator of all things, the giver of life and death, and he who sees and knows everything, it is impossible to absolve him of culpability for pain, suffering, violence, and death. God could intervene, but he does nothing. Try as they might, Christian apologists have no suitable answer for their sovereign God’s inaction. The best these defenders of the faith can come up with is that Adam and Eve ate an apple, pissed off God in the process, and for thousands of years now he is been standing by while Evangelical pastors rape church children, serial killers murder innocents, and warring nations rain death down on the heads of innocent civilians.

And if this isn’t bad enough, Christian pastors and theologians remind us that there is coming a day when God will end his hand-holding ways, resurrecting everyone from the dead so he can judge them and fit those who don’t measure up with some sort of supernatural body that will survive an eternity of torture in a lake filled with fire and brimstone. This God, who couldn’t be bothered with stopping Hitler’s horrendous slaughter of six million Jews, will definitely be hands-on when the time comes to make his “chosen” people pay for their rejection and execution of Jesus Christ. Billions of Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and wrong-flavor-of-ice-cream Christians will be awakened from their slumber, only to be cast into Hell with the Devil, his angels, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Anthony Fauci, Nancy Pelosi, and Bruce Gerencser.

Who in their right mind would want anything to do with Evangelical Christianity?

It is for these reasons (and others) that many people turn to agnosticism, atheism, universalism, and other non-theistic religions. The only way to understand what goes on in the world is to realize that we humans are responsible for what does and does not happen. It is up to humans, not fictional deities, to put an end to violence and suffering. We are the masters of our universe, and if we want things to be different, then it is up to us to change them. A humanistic view of the world requires us to acknowledge that randomness and luck often affect our lives. Sometimes, we are at the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time. Slight variations in decisions or movements can drastically change outcomes. It is highly unlikely that a jet flying overhead will crash into my home. It’s possible, but the probability of it happening is minuscule. And when that unlikely event happens to some unlucky individuals, we must accept it as just that – an unfortunate incident that took lives, but not an act of God. Instead of attempting to develop some elaborate and often contradictory religious explanation of the world that supposedly matches the dictates of ancient religious texts, it is far better for us to just live in the moment and do what we can to improve life for not only ourselves and our progeny, but also for animals and other humans. Interjecting God into the discussion just complicates things. We humanists hope that Suhan and her fellow Christians leave off holding hands with their fictional best friend, and instead join hands with us as we try to combat violence, pain, suffering, disease, climate change, starvation, inequality, and death. Surely God is not so jealous that he can’t put off the handholding until Christians make it to the other side.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Prayer: Explaining the Unexplainable

unaswered prayer

Over the course of 50 years in the Christian church, I prayed many prayers — tens of thousands of prayers, to be exact. I publicly testified before fellow Christians that God had answered my prayers. I had experiences that, at the time, defied explanation. Everywhere I looked, I saw God. When I deconverted, one of the first things I did was give a careful accounting of the prayers I uttered and God’s response to them. (Please see  A Few Thoughts on a Lifetime of Praying to the Christian God) I concluded:

  • The overwhelming majority of my prayers went unanswered.
  • Those few prayers that I considered answered by God were, in fact, answered, not by God, but by and through human instrumentation.

I was left with a few experiences that I couldn’t rationally explain. One story comes to mind and I will share it here. One night, Harold Miller, a member of the church I was pastoring at the time, and I were driving down Route 22 east of Sego, Ohio on our way to touch base with a family who recently visited the church. As we neared Fultonham, a small community which sat on a ridge above Route 22, I noticed a car barreling down the hill toward the highway. Having no time to stop or change direction, I screamed at Harold, warning him of the impending crash, and prepared to be broadsided. Yet, at the moment the crash should have occurred nothing happened. Both of us thought God had lifted the car above ours, safely protecting us from serious injury or death.

Did God actually pick the car up so it would avoid hitting us? Of course not. Is this really a beyond rational explanation event? Not really. Perhaps my perception was wrong. Perhaps the car wasn’t traveling as fast as I thought it was. While this story is difficult to explain, like some of the contradictions in the Bible, there are reasonable explanations for what happened.

As a Christian, I was taught that God answering prayer was a simple matter of me praying and God hearing and answering my petition. I believed that God answered every prayer one of three ways. God said:

  • Yes, and what I was praying for came to pass
  • No, and what I was praying for did not come to pass
  • Not now, and what I was praying for was added to my long-term begging-God list

But Bruce, the Evangelical says, I have prayed prayers that I KNOW God answered! How do you KNOW God answered your prayers? Just because Christians utter petitions that subsequently come to pass doesn’t mean that it is God answering them. If Christians could ever divorce themselves from faith and look at things from a skeptical and rational perspective, I think they would find out that most God-answered prayers are anything but.

Virtually every answered prayer can be attributed to human instrumentality or luck (right place, right time). Years ago, I often prayed for God to bless me financially. As a young father with two children, money was always tight. One night, my father-in-law and I  were traveling on a rural Licking County road to visit a church member. While driving down the road we came upon a box. I immediately stopped and got out of the car to investigate. In the box were numerous recently skinned fur pelts. I quickly scooped up the box and we took the pelts to a nearby taxidermist. While I do not remember the exact amount of money we received, it was substantial. See? God answered my prayer!

Polly is a manager for a local manufacturing concern. She has worked there for twenty-six years. During her tenure, she had never missed a day of work until her surgery for ulcerative colitis two years ago. Not one. Polly is a diligent worker, a great example of the Puritan work ethic. Her work reviews are always at the top of the scale, reflecting Polly’s value to the company. In the years that the company has given raises, Polly has always received the maximum allowable raise.

When we were Christians, we both would pray that she would receive a good raise, and sure enough “God” answered our prayers. But, was it really God who answered our prayers and orchestrated Polly’s raises? Or were her raises attributable to Polly’s perfect attendance and work ethic? Shouldn’t credit be given to whom credit is due? It was Polly, not God, who did the work necessary to warrant a raise. How about now? Neither of us prays, and even if we did it is likely that God’s prayer hotline to our house has been disconnected. Since Polly’s deconversion in 2008, the monetary amount of her raises has increased significantly. Couldn’t it just as easily be argued that becoming a nonbeliever and not praying resulted in these raises?

Christians will often point to the testimonies of those who were saved as proof of God answering prayer. You know the drill. Sister Lena is a member of Frozen Chosen Baptist Church in Godland, Ohio. She’s been a member of the church for fifty years. Lena’s husband Bob is not a Christian. Every week, Lena and the church pray for Bob’s salvation. Week in, week out, the church prays that the bloodhound of Heaven, the Holy Spirit, will track down Bob and save his wretched soul. And sure enough, one day, after forty years of praying, Bob is gloriously saved. God answered Lena’s prayer, right? (Lost in the discussion will be the question of WHY God waited so long to save Bob.)

Years ago (everything is years ago now), when I was the pastor of Somerset Baptist Church in Mt Perry, Ohio, the church took to praying for the father of one of the church members. This man was a violent, oft-cursing heathen. We prayed, prayed, and prayed for this man, to no avail. Several times I went to his home and shared the gospel with him. Every time, he said, no thanks preacher, I have no need of God.

The man was eventually diagnosed with throat cancer. Surgeons removed parts of his esophagus, mouth glands, and vocal cords. He was unable to speak. A short time later he had a small stroke. The church continued to pray for this man, and one night I decided to share the gospel with him one more time. And this time, the man started crying, and when I asked him if he would like to be saved, he gutturally said YES! I led him to Jesus, and from that time forward he would occasionally attend church with his wife and grown children. I vividly remember him crying every time he heard me preach (no jokes about my preaching bringing people to tears). I attributed his tears to his thankfulness for God saving him. Was his conversion the answer to our prayers?

Not likely. I am more inclined to think that his conversion was the result of him facing, for the first time, his mortality. Having been raised in a culture where God is frequently called on in times of trouble, this man, having had radical cancer surgery and a stroke, likely wanted to make sure his house was in order before he died. But, what about the tears? Perhaps they were tears of regret. There’s nothing like a brush with death to focus our attention on how we have lived our lives. Perhaps he regretted his meanness. Perhaps he regretted treating his wife and children like slaves. Who hasn’t shed tears over past regrets, right? Further, his tears could have had no connection to anything other than his stroke — the pseudobulbar affect.

After his “glorious” new birth, this man started displaying bizarre behavior. He began spending exorbitant amounts of money at auctions and yard sales, often bringing home junk of little value. When I couple this behavior with his getting saved, I am more inclined to think that his stroke altered his mind. Anyone who has been around stroke patients knows that behavioral changes are not uncommon.

A changed life is not proof of the existence of God or God answering prayer. A careful examination of salvation testimonies always reveals some sort of human influence. Transformed lives can always be traced back, to some degree or the other, to the work of the individual or others. While these transformations make for great stories of the supernatural power of God, they are, in every way, quite earthy.

I readily admit that there are mysteries that are beyond explanation at this moment. However, is God the answer to every unexplained mystery? Or is it better for us to admit that we don’t know and to continue probing, prodding, and asking questions until we do? Regardless, these mysteries are so few that suggesting that they are evidence for the Christian God is laughable. From my perspective, there is no evidence for the existence of the personal, hands-on God of the Christian Bible.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

There’s No Such Thing as a Former Christian

saved or lost

Like Hotel California, once you are in, you can’t get out.

Once you are saved, you can never be lost.

Once God’s hound dog, the Holy Spirit, tracks you down, you belong to God forever.

Or so says Charles Smith:

If you scour the world-wild-web for any amount of time using atheism as your search term, you will undoubtedly find pages and pages of sites laced with the famous proclamation, “I used to be a Christian.” While this may be intriguing to the seeker, desiring a glimpse at the testimony of a formerly professing believer turned cynic in hopes of discovering reasons to remain religiously repulsed by Christendom, or possibly the opposite – looking to see if their retroversion experience is sensible – one thing is certain…there’s no such thing as a former Christian.

Cultural Christianity is quite the phenomenon of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries…

After “leaving the faith,” these misguided, false-converts then find their voices in the blogosphere, social sites, chat rooms, discussion boards and every other form of digital media outlet known to man – exhaustively expatriating as many “cardboard Christians” as they can sink their flaw-full claws into. Ironically, if they would spend as much time truly investigating and begging with a contrite heart, “God, please show yourself to me!” they would discover that He is absolutely faithful to do so – and the door the Lord has once opened, can be closed by no man.

These poor misinformed “ex-Christians” were never truly reborn of the Holy Spirit of God. They followed the crowd in church, were dunked under water, consumed crackers and gulped grape juice, sang songs, talked the talk, looked the part, memorized verses and so many other religious acts, but never came to a saving faith found in a relationship with the only begotten Son of God. Like so many of their contemporaries who weren’t led to the foot of the blood-stained cross of Calvary, they never saw their sins in the mirror of the ten commandments and consequently, never realized the magnitude of their debt – owed to a God who, because of His perfect love and justice, must punish sin – and they never saw the spotless Lamb for who He was and is, the ransom payment – the sacrificial substitute – who carried their sins before the Father and said “I will take their punishment.” Their prideful hearts of stone never crumbled under the weight of such a love and therefore, they simply socialized and enjoyed the music and learned to get along. But, of course, anyone who goes through a “phase” knows, it wore off and they moved on and Jesus wept…

Let the reader understand, just as you can’t become unborn once you have evacuated the womb, you also cannot become un-born-again. It is impossible to un-ring a bell, un-cook an egg or un-kill the living. If you are a spiritual seeker, please know that there is no such thing as an ex-Christian and if you want the truth, please look in a good Bible teaching church for assistance. If after reading this you still claim to be a “former believer,” you just do not understand…

While Smith’s argument certainly might apply to cultural or nominal Christians, it falls flat on its face when it comes to people like me; those who were sincere, committed, devoted, sold-out, on fire, consecrated, dedicated, sanctified followers of Jesus. While it is quite easy to dismiss those who never really took Christianity seriously, what about those of us who did? Did I really spend most of my adult life deceived, never having come to faith in Jesus Christ? Only in the echo chamber of Smith’s mind is such a claim possible. The only way he can square his theology with the life of someone like me is to say I never was a Christian, and since theology always trumps reason, Bruce Gerencser never was a Christian.

Look, I understand. I really do. Christians such as Smith cannot fathom anyone walking away from their Jesus. Why would anyone want to walk away from J-E-S-U-S, the most awesome God-man in the world, the biggest, baddest God in the entire universe? Why would anyone walk away from a golden ticket to God’s Motel 6? No more pain, no more suffering, no more death . . . who in their right mind would turn down such an offer?

But I did, others have, and more will continue to do so. Evidently, God didn’t want us bad enough to keep us.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Understanding the Difference Between Private and Public

ideas dont have rights

Evangelical Christians, among others, have private (personal) beliefs that people such as I consider uninteresting, intellectually lacking, or irrational. As long as they do not try to force their beliefs on me, codify their beliefs into law, or demand special treatment, I am quite indifferent toward their beliefs. I have no interest in regulating what people believe about God, Jesus, the Bible, or anything else for that matter.

However, when Evangelicals state/argue/debate their beliefs in the public space — newspapers, TV, books, magazines, Facebook, Twitter, the Internet, public meetings, etc. — then the rules of engagement change. Once these beliefs are uttered publicly they are no longer considered private and are open to criticism, investigation, debate, ridicule, mockery, and attack. People deciding to utter their beliefs in public should know this, and if they don’t, they are in for a rude awakening the first time they “share” their beliefs publicly.

As a writer, hopeful author, essayist of letters to the local newspaper, and the public face of atheism where I live, I am considered a public figure. As such, I open myself up to criticism, investigation, debate, ridicule, mockery, and attack. While I would hope people would treat me fairly and with respect, I have no right to expect such treatment and I have no recourse if someone lies about me, distorts my beliefs, or attacks me personally.

I can’t do anything about what someone may say about me or my writing on their own blog or in an internet forum. I can’t control the sermons Evangelical preachers preach about me. They can take something I have written and twist and distort it, and there is nothing I can do about it. This is the wild, woolly nature of the public space.

I wish Evangelical Christians would understand the difference between private and public. When they drag their beliefs into the public space, they have no right to whine, moan, or complain that I am attacking them and their beliefs. If they don’t want their beliefs assaulted or challenged, then they need to keep them out of the public space. As Tristan Vick said in a comment:

Someone needs to tell this caterwauling Christian that it’s people who have rights, not ideas.

Evangelicals often think that this blog is public; that they have a right to say whatever they want in the comment section. However, this blog is actually private; a site that the public can read and if they follow the rules comment on. As the owner of a private site, I have the absolute right to decide who may comment and what comments are approved. This site is no different from the churches Evangelicals attend.

If Evangelicals want to take me to task, critique my writing, or attack my character, they are free to do so on their own blogs, from the pulpits of their churches, on their podcasts, or any other medium of their choosing. But not on my blog.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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The Banality of Evil in America

guest post

Guest Post by Larry

There are truly evil individuals in this world, people whose crimes cannot be explained as anything but the workings of an evil person. The mass shooter, the greedy financial criminal, and the sex abuser are just a few of the innumerable examples. However, these people and their acts tend to be visible and infrequent. Far less visible, but far more common, are the “ordinary” people who commit evil acts every day. Today we have a phrase for this: the “banality of evil.”

The phrase “banality of evil” was coined by philosopher Hanna Arendt. She was referring to the absolute indifference shown by Adolph Eichmann to the horror in which he was complicit when he organized the transport of tens of thousands of human beings to their deaths in the concentration camps. His only concern was being a good civil servant, getting ahead in the Nazi party, and pleasing his boss. Eichmann committed these acts of evil without the slightest thought or concern that he was doing something terrible. To him, it was just a civil service job and he was just following orders. To all outside appearances, he was an ordinary person, not a sadist or deranged monster and he did these horrible things with no apparent evil intention. The utter ordinariness of the man was astounding. This is the most frightening aspect of all. He seemed just like everyone else. And yet, he and thousands of other ordinary people committed these horrible acts without a second thought. Viewed in this context, the Banality of Evil may simply mean that evil occurs when ordinary individuals are put into corrupt situations that encourage their conformity. Is this all it is? Probably not.

We then say “wait a minute. This happens everywhere, all the time.” We see the same banality of evil in America, not just in individuals but in the institutions that are supposed to take care of us. America is becoming an uncaring and brutal bureaucracy that is more intent on keeping the wheels of the “machine” running than the welfare of the people that are caught and crushed in its gears. For the sake of expediency and maintaining the status quo people are sacrificed. We see it everywhere we look.
The current immigration policy at the southern border is broken and has become a symbol of the horrors of a mindless and evil bureaucracy. This is a bureaucracy more concerned with upholding a policy intended to “deter” immigration than minimizing the pain and suffering that it inflicts on its victims. This is evil of the worst kind, the evil of utter uncaring and stunning indifference. This evil allows children to die in custody awaiting medical attention. This system allows children as young as one year old to be separated from their families and put in cages where they have to sleep on foam mats with only aluminum emergency blankets. This system allows hundreds of children to be “lost” in the system, unable to be located or reunited with their parents. And finally, yes, this is the immigration system that, today, allowed children to be held in vans for up to 36 hours waiting to be reunited with their parents. This is the system that allowed 900 people to be crammed into a space intended to hold 125 people in an El Paso detention center. This is clearly a concentration camp mentality in present-day America.

There are three justice systems in this country. One if you are White, one if you are Black, one if you are rich and powerful. Examples of the third are everywhere: Jeffery Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, and, of course, Donald Trump. All these men got more than just the benefit of the doubt from our legal system. With armies of lawyers, they got special deals and preferential treatment at every turn. These lawyers are adept at gaming the system so that nothing gets done and their client walks. The regular guy gets jailed. About 1,000 people are killed by police in America every year. A disproportionately large portion of them are Black. Rarely, if ever, are police held to account for these deaths. The George Floyd killers are the rare exceptions. Most of the time, they go uninvestigated by any independent third party. The word of the cop is taken as the gospel truth, and the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card, qualified immunity, is used to get away with murder. Injustice is everywhere.

Religion is supposed to save our souls and enrich our lives by teaching us a better way of living. Religion has given us many good things. It has given us a moral code from which our laws are derived. It is also the source of a huge amount of pain and suffering. Our Puritan history has left us with a legacy of guilt and shame that is perpetuated to this day in so many ways. Organized religion is at the center of all of it. Catholic, Protestant, and to an extent, some Jewish sects, all fill our lives with rules and demands that are impossible to meet. When they are not met, we are labeled as shameful, lazy, lewd, evil, sinful, and we are punished. All the while the real evil of the people running the “house” goes unchecked. They sweep their excesses under the rug and play the “I am more virtuous than you” game. When caught, they sing the “forgive me, I am a sinner” song. So we do as they have taught us and forgive. And they go back to doing it again because they know that the system they run will protect them. They force religion down our throats and behind closed doors they commit the worst evils while quoting Scripture. It continues to boggle my mind how these people can see “demonic/satanic” evil under every bed, around every corner, but at the same time be totally blind to their own everyday evil. They are willfully blind to the evil of their actions, decisions, and beliefs and will justify horrendous things in the name of God, religion, and protecting the church. Thus, the church becomes the center of much human evil.

These examples are, sadly, only three among many. The conservative Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which will fill our country with unwanted children that they will be the last to support and protect. They block any and all gun legislation, and in effect value guns before the lives of children. They endanger the future of the planet itself and all of us by denying climate change, all for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry that funds their elections. They are more interested in keeping their jobs than saving the planet.

No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good that he seeks. – Mary Shelley

The most terrifying aspect of this is the fact that, once again, all of this is being implemented by ordinary people, not monsters. Evil need not exist only in evil individuals. No one wakes up in the morning and says “it’s a great day. I think that I’ll be extra evil today.” They are intelligent, educated, rational people with families and children of their own. You have to ask, “How does this happen? How can they do this?” They do this because they are part of a draconian system that, little by little, robs them of empathy, humanity, and capacity to feel. It robs them of the capacity to see their own evil. For the sake of conformity, the paycheck, and advancement, they repress and compartmentalize their basic goodness (whatever basic goodness they have left), normalize the atrocities, and become mindless bureaucrats. All compassion and sympathy are erased. They implement the worst horrors without apparent remorse or a second thought. Like Eichmann, they are civil servants just following orders. They are just doing their jobs. They are ordinary people committing atrocities in an evil broken system, doing horrible things in our name, not because it is patriotic or right, but because it is expedient and they are just following orders. Their worst crime is they are unthinking drones unable or unwilling to see their complicity in this evil, unthinking in that they are incapable of seeing past the superficial, seeing the true nature of their acts. Bestselling author, M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled), wrote a book on personal evil titled “People of the Lie” where he shows that one of the hallmark characteristics of these people is their inability to see their own evil. They have completely rationalized any awareness out of consciousness. They have become blind, deaf, and dumb to the consequences of their own actions. They have, in short, become blinded by their beliefs, by their ideology. This is the lie they tell themselves.

Very few monsters exist – “More dangerous are the common man, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions,” – Primo Levi

One must remember above all that evil can and does exist in normal individuals when they buy into and are captive to evil ideologies. Christian nationalism is one such ideology. Militant Islam is another. Racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and homophobia are all evil beliefs bought into by ordinary people. As a cautionary note, we have to remember that the Holocaust was implemented by tens of thousands of ordinary Germans just “doing their job,” following the Fuhrer and being good Nazis. They believed they were right. They believed they were serving the greater good. False as it was, this was their ideology and they firmly believed it. This was their lie.

Americans are arrogant to think that we are somehow fundamentally different from or better than the Germans of the Nazi era. We are not. We are ordinary people just like they were. We are captives of our own “evil’ ideologies just as they were. Trickledown economics, Deep State conspiracies. Blacks are inferior. Jews control the world’s finances. America was founded as a Christian nation. Socialism is taking over America. All lies. All bought into by ordinary Americans.

The mob that stormed the Capital on January 6th was largely ordinary people who bought into the lie that the election was stolen and they were defending freedom in America. This was their belief, their ideology. It was a lie for sure, but a lie so deeply rooted that the truth was rendered irrelevant.

The consequences of this are catastrophic. We are a country of ordinary people spiraling down to some dark evil place, blinded by the lies we are told, and the ideologies being fed to us by our trusted messengers. The harm that we are inflicting on ourselves will last for generations. We are all ensnared by these lies, and at this moment, there is no way out of the trap. These lies are turning all of us into unthinking drones, trapped in partisan tribes, unwilling and unable to see the larger picture, unable to see our own evil. If anyone thinks that we are incapable of committing atrocities, they are wrong.

This is the “banality of evil” in America just as Hanna Arendt intended the phrase. This is what America really is.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

The Lies Evangelicals Tell Themselves About Atheists

liar liar pants on fire

It is common for Evangelicals to lie to themselves when confronted with facts and evidence that does not fit their worldview. One need only look at their theological beliefs to see how lies are routinely used to prop up beliefs that can no longer be intellectually and rationally supported. It’s the twenty-first century, not the sixteenth, yet Evangelicals continue to use past justifications to support their outdated, irrational, anti-human beliefs. In other words, they lie to themselves.

So it is for Evangelicals when it comes atheists. Let me illustrate how Evangelicals see atheists with a screen capture from an Evangelical discussion forum. I can’t remember which forum I found this, but it was either the Fundamental Forums, the Baptist Board, or the Puritan Board — three peas in a pod:

how evangelicals view atheistsA

According to this Evangelical dullard, atheism makes people angry, hopeless, and self-destructive. Sound familiar? This statement, of course, has no grounding in reality. This is a lie the man tells himself; a necessary lie in order for his worldview to make sense. In his worldview, the world is neatly divided into two categories: saved/lost, in/out, black/white, Heaven/Hell. Atheists, then, are lost and headed for Hell. Their refusal to believe in the Evangelical God is a sign of a reprobate mind; people who have been turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (Romans 1,2).  Fair enough, I suppose. That’s what the Bible says, right? I can’t fault Evangelicals for believing the Bible; even though they conveniently not-believe-it when it suits them. What people such as myself find irritating is the attacks on our character. Oh, you are an A-T-H-E-I-S-T?  Well, that means you live a life without meaning, purpose, and direction. You love to sin. No matter how often atheists correct this false notion, Evangelicals remain steadfast in their beliefs about atheists. No matter how much evidence is presented to the contrary, Evangelicals continue to lie to themselves about atheists. Why?

Evangelicals are convinced that they are, in God’s eyes, special; that Jesus has chosen to save them by his grace; that everything that happens in their lives is according to their God’s purpose and plan for them; that Heaven awaits them after they die — God’s reward for their faith and obedience. In order for these things to be true, atheists must be viewed as their enemies; people who hate God; people who follow Satan; people who have hopeless, empty lives; people who love to sin against the thrice holy God of the Bible. Of course, none of these things is true. The evidence at hand suggests that atheists on the whole live lives filled with purpose and meaning. Atheists don’t hate God or follow Satan, because they do not believe either exists.

For Evangelicals, atheists are evil personified. It’s been that way, in particular, ever since avowed atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair successfully challenged the constitutionality of prayer and Bible reading in public schools. From the 1960s forward, atheists have become more vocal about their godlessness, and are far more willing to publicly and legally challenge the theocratic tendencies of Evangelicals. Groups such as American AtheistsFreedom From Religion Foundation, and the American Humanist Association have increasingly challenged Evangelical church and state violations in the courts — and have won. Things are so bad now for Evangelicals that even Satanists — who are atheists — are challenging the preferential treatment Evangelicals receive from the local, state, and federal government.

In reaction to what Evangelicals believe is a frontal assault on Christianity, they go out of their way to paint their atheistic enemies as bad, even evil, people. Atheists are called all sorts of names and tagged with all sorts of reprehensible behavior. Sure, there ARE atheists who are awful people, but talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Evangelicals have plenty of bad behavior going on in their own ranks, right? Evangelicalism is roiling with sexual abuse scandals and other sex crimes perpetrated by so-called men of God. (Please see the Black Collar Crimes Series.) Evangelicals have lost any sense of high moral ground, and are now considered the most hated religion in America. Many younger Americans believe Evangelicals are a hate group — people who despise LGBTQ people. Yet, despite all of this, Evangelicals continue to lie to themselves about atheists (and other non-Evangelicals). After all, if atheists have lives just as good and as meaningful as Evangelicals, why be a Christian? If atheists demonstrate the “fruit of the Spirit” without believing in said Spirit, what does that say about Christianity? If atheists love their spouses, love their children, hold down jobs, and contribute to their communities, what does that say about the claims Evangelicals make for their lives being “transformed” by the power of God? It seems to this atheist that Evangelical Christianity doesn’t offer anything that can’t be found outside of religion. Once the Bible with its Bronze Age foolishness loses its authority and power, people are free to craft meaningful, purposeful lives on their own terms. This scares the shit out of Evangelicals. And instead of accepting the fact that atheists are every bit as good, moral, and ethical as Evangelicals are, they lie to themselves as the man did in the above quotation.

There was a time when I would try to correct such false notions about atheists. I have, however, come to the place where I realize that until Evangelicals are willing to stop lying to themselves and are willing to see things as they are, there’s no hope of changing their minds. As long as their pastors preach thundering sermons and write scathing blog posts about the “evil” atheists, their lies will be reinforced. Who are they going to believe? Atheists, in their own words, or their pastors? Until Evangelicals come to the place where they rationally and skeptically weigh what their pastors say, they will continue to believe the lies that are told about atheists. There’s nothing we atheists can do about this except to continue living our lives in ways that give atheism a good name.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser