Menu Close

Category: Atheism

Is Religion a Powerful Narcotic?

getting high on Jesus

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

— Karl Marx

One need only to study world religions to understand that religion is a powerful force in our world — for good and evil. Marx rightly compared religion to opium — a powerful narcotic used to relieve pain, both physically and psychologically. Religion, in all its forms, is used by humans to find purpose, meaning, peace, and happiness. Ultimately, people worship deities because doing so benefits them in some way or another. A good way to look at religion is from an economic perspective. Every religion has a cost attached to it. Sometimes those costs are clear: time, money, and commitment. Other times, religion extracts psychological or emotional costs. Some religions, such as Evangelical Christianity, Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, require an abandonment of self and total commitment to God and the church. I spent fifty years in the Evangelical church. Twenty-five of those years were spent pastoring churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. I can’t even begin to calculate the cost of my devotion to the Evangelical Jesus. Much of my time and money was spent in devotion to a deity whom I believed was the one true God, the creator and ruler over all. I abandoned self as I “followed the Lamb of God.” I willingly sacrificed my marriage and family, living in poverty and doing without for my God’s sake. Why would anyone live as I did?

Serving Jesus was costly, but the benefits far outweighed the costs — or so I thought at the time, anyway. Through my religious beliefs, experiences, and practices, I found happiness, peace, and meaning. I had the privilege of preaching the gospel and teaching others the “truths” of the Christian Bible. I was loved and respected, and there never was a day when I didn’t feel God’s presence in my life. Oh, sometimes it seemed God was distant, but more often than not, the Christian deity was an ever-present reality.

It matters not whether Christianity is true; that its core beliefs are rational and reasonable. All that mattered, as a Christian, is that I thought these beliefs were true. Countless people believe all sorts of things that are untrue, but they believe them to be true, so in their minds, they are. While believing in the Christian God extracted from me a high cost, one I am paying to this day, for most of my life I believed the benefits of religious faith outweighed its costs.

Marx thought religion gave people false happiness. That said, he never underestimated its power, its ability to meet the deep needs of the human psyche. Atheists often wrongly believe that the solution to the ills of the world is for people to abandon their superstitions and embrace rationality rooted in reason, science, and intellectual inquiry. What atheists forget is that what humans want more than anything else is happiness. Until rationalists, freethinkers, and humanists show that their godless way of life leads to purpose, meaning, and happiness, we can’t expect religious people to buy what we are selling. We know that people don’t need to toke religious crack to feel happy and fulfilled, but we will never argue people into understanding this. Like it or not, feelings play a big part in the human experience. Life is short, and then we die. Religion offers a powerful drug that lessens the pain of that reality. We secularists must offer the same if we expect to neuter the effects of religion on our world.


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.

Who is Bruce, Anyways? Asks Not-a-Real Doctor David Tee

bruce gerencser
This is Bruce 🙂

Not-a-Real-Doctor David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, has returned to his previous ways, writing posts about me and using my writing without proper attribution. His latest post titled, The Bible IS What it Claims to Be — 2 is his latest attempt to smear my character. Before I address what Thiessen wrote, I want to point out Thiessen’s post title; particularly his use of the word IS in ALL CAPS. Every time Thiessen does this, I think of this:

jumping man

YES, IT IS! YES, IT IS! YES, IT IS! All caps is how people shout digitally, hoping to make a point. Thiessen has spent his entire life in Christian Fundamentalism; a movement where shouting and pulpit pounding is used to say “BLESS GOD, I AM ABSOLUTELY, 100% RIGHT! CAN I GET AN A-M-E-N? So when Thiessen uses ALL CAPS, he’s just screaming, with index fingers in each ear, I’M RIGHT!

Now to Thiessen’s latest attempt to portray me in a bad light:

To be frank, who is Bruce anyways? What has he accomplished that anyone, including unbelievers, should listen to what he says? he quit on just about everything in his life except his marriage and what does a quitter have to offer anyone?

When Simone Biles quit on her Olympic team you should have read the comments under every article about her. They were not nice and most dismissed her and her opinion, etc. Quitters do not get the brass ring nor do they get any influence.

The moment former Christians quit the faith, they lose access to the truth and help from the only person who can get them to the truth and explain it correctly to them Also, when people quit the faith, they are not moving from an inferior god to a superior one.

Nor are they moving to a better religious faith that actually stops people from committing crimes or sinning, and they are not moving to a greater moral code. What they have done is moved from a faith that has all of those elements and moved to NOTHING.


We do not care what the owner of that website says nor do we care what any atheist or unbeliever says. They have nothing to offer anyone because they either reject something and stay in nothing or moved from something to nothing.

They are not correct and never will be. Plus, they have no hidden information that shows that God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the Christian faith, and so on is a hoax. They have nothing.

Thiessen “frankly” asks, “Who is Bruce, anyways?” Who I am can easily be ascertained by reading my autobiographical writing. Thiessen’s question is rhetorical. What he is really saying is that Bruce Gerencser is a nobody. Why would anyone listen to a “nobody”? I am sixty-six years old, yet he dismisses my entire life. Why? Well, in Thiessen’s mind, I am a “quitter.” I have “quit” everything in my life, except my marriage. This is rich coming from a man who is no longer a pastor; a man who divorced or left his wife; a man who abandoned his baby. Talk about a quitter. Of course, I would never disparagingly call him a quitter. Shit happens. Things change. Jobs, ministries, and marriages come and go.

Thiessen, of course, knows these things. Why he beats the “quitter” drum over and over and over again is beyond me. I have tried through this blog to give an honest account of my life. Thiessen has made no attempt to do the same. He hides in a foreign country, using several aliases over the years. His readers, all ten of them, know little to nothing about him. He parades around proud as a peacock as a “Dr.” yet refuses to say where he earned his degree or make his doctoral thesis available to the public. He is free, of course, to do these things, but personal attacks on me and my honest telling of my life carry no weight. I really wish he would stop with the quitter” schtick. He won’t because he knows it bothers me. Color me human, but I don’t like it when people lie about me.

Thiessen uses the horrible abuse Simon Biles received after dropping out of the Olympics as justification for attacking my character. As a quitter, I shouldn’t expect to be treated nicely by others. According to Thiessen, quitters such as Simon Biles and I shouldn’t have any influence over others, nor should we get the brass ring — whatever the Hell that means. In other words, leaving Christianity undoes everything I have done in my life. Nothing I do going forward will have meaning and value. Since Thiessen delusionally thinks his words = God’s words, all I can say is this: Derrick Thiessen worships a horrible God.

According to Thiessen, on the last Sunday of November in 2008 — almost fifteen years ago — every bit of knowledge and truth in my brain disappeared. From that day forward, I could no longer know and understand “truth.” Why? Because all “truth” comes from Jesus, an uneducated traveling preacher who died 2,000 years ago. It is Jesus alone who can explain truth to us.

Thiessen says he doesn’t care what I say, yet he has written almost one hundred posts about me or in response to something I have written. I’d say based on this fact that Thiessen has an unhealthy obsession with me. I’ve repeatedly offered to send him my Stripper Santa Pole Dancing® photo, but so far he refuses to provide me with his mailing address. His loss. 🙂

Thiessen ends his harangue about me with a number of personal attacks, all meant to belittle and demean me.

Perhaps Thiessen has forgotten that Jesus told him how to treat the atheist Bruce Gerencser and others like him:

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:27-38)

Jesus said it, Derrick, I didn’t.


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.

Dear Evangelical, Just Because You Quote the Bible Doesn’t Make Your Comment True

abraham and isaac
Cartoon by Idan

Several years ago, I followed and participated in a Facebook forum discussion about the move by Xperience Church (please see “We Accept Anyone No Matter What,” Local Evangelical Says) to an anchor store at the Northtowne Mall in Defiance, Ohio. The discussion was lively, to say the least. One common theme throughout the discussion was the need for Evangelical Christians to quote the Bible, either by itself or as proof for their assertions. This led, of course, to Evangelicals arguing amongst themselves about what this or that verse “really” meant. Just another day on Facebook, right?

Evangelicals enter public forums with several presuppositions:

  • The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God
  • The Bible is THE book above all other books
  • Every word in the Bible is true
  • The Bible is NEVER wrong
  • Doubting the Bible’s truthfulness is sin
  • The words attributed to Jesus in the gospels were actually spoken by him
  • The Bible presents a blueprint, manual, guideline for living

Armed with these “truths” about the Bible, Evangelicals wage war against anyone and everyone who disagrees with them. I am sure virtually every non-Evangelical reader of this blog has had a social media interaction with an Evangelical, and more likely than not, the discussion included the believer quoting the Bible. During the discussion about Xperience Church, one Evangelical took to preaching, complete with quoted Bible verses. When she said she was just engaging in friendly discussion, I replied, no, you are preaching. She responded, I only quoted one passage of Scripture. I replied, actually you quoted five Bible verses. She retorted, well most of them were paraphrases. While that was indeed true, for someone like me, it was easy to see that she was referencing specific Bible verses. In other words, she was preaching.

Evangelicals are encouraged to read, study, and memorize the Bible. Through Sunday services and various weekly meetings, Evangelical minds quickly become saturated with Bible verses. This saturation is so deep that Evangelicals often parrot Bible quotations without even knowing it. Taught that the Bible is the divine answer book for life, Evangelicals will often offer up this or that passage of Scriptures as THE answer to whatever is being discussed. No issue is beyond proof-texting. Sadly, Evangelicals think that by posting a “thus saith the Lord,” they are engaging in discussion, when in fact, they are little more than a parrot at the local pet store who repeats a handful of learned phrases.

Most Evangelicals fail to question or challenge the presuppositions their proof-texts are based upon. To quote my favorite Bible character, Lucifer, “Yea hath God said?” Is the Bible really the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God? Is the Bible really THE book above all other books? How can you be certain the Bible is NEVER wrong? How can you be certain the words attributed to Jesus are actually his? It is not enough to believe the Bible is a God-given supernatural book. Beliefs are not the same as facts or evidence. “Well, I believe these things by faith,” Evangelicals say. Fine, but why should I or anyone else accept what you are saying is true? If you cannot show that the Bible is what you say it is, why should any of us listen to a word you have to say? Personally, I am not willing to faith-it. I want facts, evidence, truth. Surely, Evangelicals “should” want the same.

I have been accused of being a Bart Ehrman fanboy. Maybe I am, or maybe, just maybe, his books are the single best way to disabuse Evangelicals of their beliefs about the Bible. If I can get an Evangelical to honestly and openly read several of Dr. Ehrman’s books, I know that it is likely that their sincerely-held beliefs about the Bible will crumble and crash to the ground. If Evangelicals truly seek “truth,” then they must be willing to lose their faith; or at the very least radically change their beliefs.

The Bible is not what Evangelicals claim it is. Educated Evangelical preachers know this, yet on Sundays they play make-believe, leading congregants to think that the Bible is the very words of God/Jesus. These preachers know this is a lie, but their identity and economic wellbeing are tied up in perpetuating this untruth Sunday after Sunday. They must not tell congregants the truth lest they find out the emperor has no clothes. Evangelical preachers know that if their charges question the purity and veracity of the Holy Bible, why, what’s next? Questions are the slippery slope that leads to liberalism and apostasy. For these preachers, better to lie than to cause people to lose their faith.

Years ago, I wrote a post about a dear friend and ministerial colleague coming to see me after he received Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners. Titled, Dear Friend, I wrote:

I was also troubled by your suggestion that I not share my beliefs with anyone. You told me my beliefs could cause others to lose their faith! Is the Christian faith so tenuous that one man can cause others to lose their faith? Surely, the Holy Spirit is far more powerful than Bruce (even if I am Bruce Almighty).

I am aware of the fact that my apostasy has troubled some people. If Bruce can walk away from the faith…how can any of us stand? I have no answer for this line of thinking. I am but one man . . . shall I live in denial of what I believe, of what I know to be true? Shall I say nothing when I am asked about the hope that lies within me? Christians are implored to share their faith at all times. Are agnostics and atheists not allowed to have the same freedom?

My ex-friend viewed my story as a threat to the faith of others. To protect them, he asked me to keep quiet about my loss of faith. In other words, he asked me to lie or deceive people. In his mind, protecting the flock was far more important than “truth.” So it is with the nature and history of the Bible. Evangelical preachers, out of fear of burning everything to the ground, shelter their congregants from “truth.” Better for them to go to Heaven blissfully unaware of the truth about the Bible than to risk them turning into Bruce Gerencser. In their minds, the end (Heaven) justifies the means.

Sadly, most Evangelical preachers act like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. Remember the dialog between Nicholson and Tom Cruise? Nicholson said, “you can’t handle the truth!” Is this not what Evangelical pastors say when they withhold the truth about the Bible from their congregations? Perhaps it is time for full disclosure, letting the chips fall where they may. Surely, the Christian God is able to protect his sheep from the wiles of an ex-Evangelical-preacher-turned-atheist or a book-writing professor. If he can’t, then perhaps it is time to question whether God is the all-powerful, all-knowing deity millions of American Evangelicals say he is. Perhaps, in the end, this God is just a character in a work of fiction.


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.

If Jesus is the “Peace” That Passes All Understanding . . .

peace of god

Evangelicals believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. It’s not A BOOK, it is THE BOOK, a book above all others. All other books, except the Bible, are the words of fallible men. The Bible, on the other hand, is the WORD OF GOD. Written by men as they were moved (led/directed) by the Holy Ghost, (2 Peter 1:21) every word of the Bible is true. Evangelicals confidently (and arrogantly) believe that when they quote the Bible they are quoting the very words of God. (2 Timothy 3:16) Thus saith the Lord, right? I have engaged countless Evangelicals on this blog over the past ten years. More than a few of them have told me, “Bruce, your argument is with God, not me! I just told you what God said!” In the minds of Evangelicals, quoting the Bible to me (or readers of this blog) is akin to God speaking directly to me. God said it, end of discussion.

Evangelicals believe that the Bible gives them everything they need pertaining to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) The Bible, then, is a roadmap, a divine blueprint for life. The truths of the Bible are unchanging and eternal, relevant and true for every generation. Just as Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so is the Bible. (Hebrews 13:8) Thinking this way, of course, forces Evangelicals to defend all sorts of antiquated, immoral beliefs. If God said it, that settles it, right? And therein is the problem. If the Bible is “God speaking” then we humans better pay attention. However, if the Bible is the words of men, then we are free to accept or reject what is written. If the Bible is just a bunch of contradictory books written by mostly unknown ancient writers, it’s just bad literature. It’s time for a rewrite or perhaps a new Bible altogether. I would be glad to help write a new one. God saith to Evangelicals, “don’t be judgmental pricks and assholes. 🙂

Of course, Evangelicals are never going to admit that the Bible is anything but the timeless, precious words of God. Since that’s the case, I try to engage Evangelicals within the pages of the Bible; to challenge their interpretations; to call into question their application of the Bible.

Take the subject “peace.” The Bible says:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. . . Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:1,27)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)

 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14)

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psalm 119:165)

These verses, and others, explicitly teach that Evangelicals should be the most peaceful people on the planet. Psalm 34:14 says the followers of Jesus should “seek peace and pursue it.” If Jesus is the “peace” that passes all understanding; if the Holy Ghost lives inside of every Evangelical, giving them peace and comfort no matter what comes their way, then why are so many Evangelicals anything but calm, cool, and collected? Eighty-one percent of white voting Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. Are they a peaceful lot? Picture January 6th, if you need your memory refreshed. Ponder, for a moment, the lives of Evangelical culture warriors, and how they rage against the “world.” Do they strike you as people who have “peace that passes all understanding?” Everywhere I look, I see hateful, angry Evangelicals. Evidently, they don’t love God’s law. If Evangelicals loved the law of God, Psalm 119:165 says that they would have peace and NOTHING would offend them. Tell me, do Evangelicals seem “offended” by virtually e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g these days? What happened to the peace of God which is to rule and reign in their hearts?

Nineteen years ago, Polly’s sister was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. (Please see If One Soul Gets Saved It’s Worth It All.) Our family gathered at the hospital, hoping to find out about her husband, who survived the crash. I couldn’t help but notice the family patriarch (please see The Family Patriarch is Dead: My Life With James Dennis) pacing back and forth, praying and quoting Bible verses. In any other setting, such behavior might land you in the psych ward. This man was a well-known Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher, with, at the time, 40 years in the ministry. I was a Christian, at the time — having just left the ministry — and I remember thinking how odd his behavior seemed. What happened to God’s peace? What happened to nothing happening apart from God’s perfect, sovereign will? Shouldn’t the family patriarch, along with every Christian in that room, accept that Kathy’s death was all part of God’s wonderful plan for her life? After all, as a child, she asked Jesus to save her. She was now in Heaven, praising Jesus for his love, mercy, and grace. Shouldn’t this “fact” have given all of us “peace”?

I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I watched scores of Christians suffer and die. I watched others bear the death of loved ones, loss of livelihood, divorce, and numerous other tragedies. I can’t remember anyone who had “peace” like the Bible talks about. Instead, I saw a range of emotions, normal human expressions of pain, loss, and grief. Were these people bad Christians? Of course not. They were human. And if there’s one thing I know for certain, it is this: when life turns to shit and the walls crumble and collapse, atheists and Evangelicals alike respond the same way. The difference being, of course, that Evangelicals, thanks to their commitment to the Bible, are expected to rise above the struggles of life and have “peace.” That they don’t is not a reflection on them as much as it is on their beliefs.

Bruce, what’s your point? Damn, do I always have to have a point? 🙂 Yes, I have point. Evangelicals often come off as people who think they are above the fray; people who, thanks to Jesus, are immune to the struggles faced by the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. When “life” dumps a load of shit on their doorstep, Evangelicals are expected to smile and claim VICTORY IN J-E-S-U-S! However, that’s not what we see. Instead, we observe people who are just like the rest of us. And THAT’S my point. The Bible says in Galatians 5:22,23, that the fruit (evidence) of the Holy Spirit (who purportedly lives inside every Christian) is (present tense) love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Based on the inviolate Word of God just quoted, how many Christians do you know who have the fruit of the Spirit? That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is NONE. Certainly, the fruit of the Spirit is desirable for believers and unbelievers alike. However, all of us are feeble, frail human beings. Whether we are atheist, agnostic, pagan, Satanist, Buddhist, Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Evangelical, or liberal Christian, it matters not. All of us are one and the same. Thoughtful humanists understand this. It is our shared humanity that binds us together. While “peace” is a desirable behavior, at least for me anyway, none of us should feel we have failed when life overwhelms us like a tsunami and we lose our shit.

Make sense? I hope so. Please share your sage advice and thoughts in the comment section.


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.

How to Break Free From “Sin”

go and sin no more

Note: I am well-schooled in all the various Christian beliefs on sin and salvation. The statements that follow generally reflect what Evangelicals believe. I know that not all Evangelicals believe these things without exception. Please don’t bitch, moan, and complain about my generalizations. I get it, you are special. You, and your denomination and church, are True Christians.®

Sin. According to Evangelicals, sin is transgressing against God; breaking the law of God. We daily sin in thought, word, and deed, preachers say. We commit sins of omission (neglecting to do something we should) and commission (doing things we shouldn’t). Evangelicals believe that all humans are sinners; that we were born with sin natures; that we don’t become sinners, we are sinners. The first human beings, Adam and Eve were created perfect, without sin. However, they ate the forbidden fruit from a tree and plunged the entire human race into sin. We have no choice in whether to be sinners. The first Adam sinned, and as his progeny, we are, by nature, sinners too.

According to Evangelicals, The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Moses, the prophets, Jesus, the apostles, and Paul had a lot to say about sin; what human behaviors are sins against the God of the Bible. And for the past 2,000 years, preachers, evangelists, youth pastors, missionaries, and Sunday school teachers have been hitting believers over the head with the sin stick, reminding them this or that behavior will harm their relationship with God, bring his judgment upon their heads, and cost them loss of rewards in Heaven after they died. Preachers and their fellow congregants go out into the highways and hedges, reminding the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world that they too are sinners. And unless they repent of their sins and become Evangelical Christians, they will go to Hell/Lake of Fire after they die, facing eternal punishment and torture for their sins.

Sin is a religious construct used by Evangelical clerics and churches to induce guilt and fear in people. These same clerics tell fearful sinners that they have the solution for their sin problem: Jesus. If sinners will repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Jesus, he will save them from their sins and give them eternal life in Heaven. In other words, sects, churches, and preachers invented a problem (sin) and invented a solution for their problem (salvation, new birth).

Salvation supposedly breaks sin’s hold on Evangelicals. No longer are they in bondage; no longer are they controlled by Satan and demons. Week after week, Evangelicals hear sermons about sin, grace, and victory in Jesus. Yet, despite all of this, most Evangelicals still feel fearful and guilty. They often wonder, “Am I right with God?” I spent my entire Christian life, as did my wife, feeling that we never measured up; that God was not pleased with us; that no matter what we did for Jesus and the church, it was never enough; that we fell short. So we did what all Evangelicals do: we tried harder. We read the Bible more; we prayed more; we gave more; we witnessed more; we devoted more and more time to loving and serving Jesus and faithfully, and selflessly working in God’s vineyard — the church.

I don’t remember a day when I didn’t feel less than. I certainly believed in and cherished the grace of God, yet I continually struggled with thinking God wanted more from me; that if I just committed more of my time, energy, talent, and money to God’s kingdom that I would one day arrive. Alas, there was always more to do. So many sinners who needed Christ. So many church members who lacked spiritual maturity. Why were they so lazy? Why didn’t they care about the things of God? With evil all around me, I believed I had to do everything possible to protect not only my wife and children, but also the church — the people who looked to me to teach them, shepherd them, and provide them with a shining example of a successful Christian.

Of course, I wasn’t a successful Christian. No Evangelical is. For all their talk about Jesus and deliverance from sin, Evangelicals sin just like the rest of us. Spend enough time in an Evangelical church, and you learn how to play the game. You learn the lingo. You learn that perception matters, so you present yourself as one who has found victory in Jesus, knowing that away from the church and behind closed doors, reality is much different. The Apostle Paul said that the Christian life was one of struggle with sin; not doing what we should; and doing what we shouldn’t. Evangelicals believe the Holy Spirit lives inside of them. He is their teacher and guide, giving them everything they need that pertains to life and godliness. Yet, Evangelicals also believe that they have a sin nature; that life is a constant struggle between the spiritual and the flesh. Jesus may have saved them, but sin remains.

Unfortunately, when Evangelicals deconvert, they leave the faith with minds filled with harmful beliefs. There is no Men in Black mind wipe when you deconvert. That’s why it often takes years to reprogram ourselves; to flush our minds of damaging beliefs and practices. I was part of the Evangelical church for fifty years. I may have left Christianity in November 2008, but a lifetime of indoctrination and conditioning remained. My counselor told me years ago that my life was like an onion that had to be peeled one layer at a time. I am where I am today because of that peeling process. This process has been painful, with many tears and self-reflection. I suspect many readers know exactly what I am talking about.

Five decades of being hit with the sin stick caused a lot of harm. Just because I became an atheist doesn’t mean that a lifetime of being told this or that human behavior was a sin went away. Every aspect of my thinking had been corrupted by Evangelical Christianity. After leaving Christianity, I knew that I had to rebuild my life and thinking from the foundation up. This was not an easy process, and it continues to this day.

The first thing I did was get rid of all my Bibles, except for my leather-bound Oxford King James Version preaching Bible. Second, I stopped reading the Bible. It was part of the problem, containing many verses that were immoral and anti-human. As secular humanism took root in my life, I came to see how harmful to not only myself but to other people were many of the things I once believed. I already knew the central claims of Christianity could not be rationally sustained (please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense). My struggle was with morality and ethics. While certainly, the Bible contains some wisdom and moral teachings, most of it was irrelevant and contrary to modern sensibilities, so I shelved it, where it remains to this day.

gluttony is a sin

The next thing I did was abandon the concept of sin. Sin was a religious construct, not a humanistic one, so I stopped using the word. Instead of judging myself and others through a sin paradigm, I looked at myself and fellow humans from a good and bad behavior perspective. I made lists on paper and in my mind of behaviors that I thought were good and bad. I also made a list of behaviors that are indifferent or situational. Life became much harder for me. I actually had to reason and think instead of just saying, “The Bible says . . . end of discussion.” Over time, I noticed my bad behavior list becoming smaller and smaller; that some behaviors could be wrong for me, but right for someone else. I concluded that I had been a judgmental prick most of my life; that the way forward for me was one of non-judgmentalism. I still struggle with being judgmental. Damn, if I don’t have an opinion about everything. 🙂

I certainly think certain human behaviors are bad. I subscribe to the notion that my goal should be love, kindness, and goodness; that human flourishing and care for other animals and the world we share is best. My focus is on what I can do to make the world a better place. A cheap cliche? Perhaps, but imagine if all of us focused on making the world a better place; on loving our neighbors as ourselves; on promoting love, kindness, and prosperity for everyone, and not just our tribe or country. Imagine if we stopped calling countless human behaviors sins punishable by death and eternal punishment. Imagine if we kept our noses out of the private lives of others; that who people love, marry, and fuck is none of our business.

homosexuality is a sin

The concept of sin and redemption categorizes and divides us; in and out, us vs. them; saved or lost; Heaven or Hell. Religion, especially Evangelical Christianity, is antithetical to unity and peace. Jesus himself was divisive:

Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Luke 12:51-53)

How did you deal with the concept of sin, post-Jesus? Do you still struggle with “sin?” Please share your “sinful” thoughts in the comment section.


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.

Should Every Possible Effort be Made to Preserve and Save Human Life?

calvin and hobbes death

Fundamentalist Christian Jeff Maples believes ALL life matters, and it should be protected at ALL costs. Here’s what Maples said on The Dissenter website in 2019:

Critics have argued that reimplanting a fetus from an ectopic pregnancy is a procedure “not known to medical science” and would place obstetricians and gynecologists in a dire situation for not performing an “impossible procedure.” However, the bill does not require doctors to be successful in the procedure, rather take all measures at attempting to do so. This would, in effect, advance the science behind the practice making it more likely to save lives in the future. When dealing with human life, it is imperative that all measures be taken to preserve it — an unborn child deserves no less than a two-year-old child or an adult. That’s the whole point of the measure.

I wonder if Maples really believes all life matters. I wonder if he is a pacifist or anti-capital punishment? I wonder if Maples opposed President Trump’s barbaric immigration policies; policies that led to the deaths of adults and children alike? Something tells me he is not as pro-life as he says he is. Most Evangelicals are schizophrenic when it comes to matters of life and death. Typically, Evangelicals, and their counterparts in the Roman Catholic church, only think all life matters before birth. After birth, humans are on their own. Well, that is until it comes time to die. Then Evangelicals show up to protest and criminalize end-of-life attempts to lessen suffering and pain. Humans must suffer to the bitter end. According to Evangelicals and Catholics, euthanasia is humans playing God, and that must never happen. In their eyes, physician-assisted suicide is murder.

Maples believes that every effort should be made to preserve life. No matter the cost or the outcome, life must be preserved. I am sure that Maples believes his anti-death viewpoint is noble. It’s not. Maples and others like him see no qualitative difference between a fertilized egg and a thirteen-year-old; no difference between a thirteen-week-old fetus and its mother; no difference between a teenager with a full life ahead of her and a ninety-year-old man who is nearing death. Such thinking, of course, is absurd.

I do my best to have a consistent life ethic. That said, all life is not equal, nor should every effort be made to preserve life. There is a qualitative difference between a fertilized egg and its mother. The fertilized egg represents potential life. It cannot live outside of the womb. That’s why I support the unrestricted right to an abortion until viability. Once a fetus is viable, then the mother and medical professionals must consider its interests along with that of the mother. When it comes to choosing between the fetus and the mother, the choice, to me anyway, is clear: the mother. Granted, if the mother is gravely ill with cancer or some other terminal disease, then consideration should be given to saving the fetus. Such decisions are never easy, but one thing is for certain: we don’t need Evangelicals and Catholics, their God, or Republican politicians deciding what should be done.

As someone who knows that he is on the short side of life, I don’t want the Jeff Maples of the world butting their noses into my end-of-life decisions or those of my family. I know how I want the end of my life to play out, as do my wife and children. I don’t want Christian Fundamentalists getting between me and my God. “Huh? Bruce, you don’t have a God.” Well, I do when it comes to this discussion. If Christians want to wallow in needless pain and suffering at the end of their lives — all so their mythical God will give them an “attaboy” — that’s fine by me. However, my triune God — humanism, science, and reason — doesn’t demand that I suffer unnecessarily; when it is my time to die it is okay for me to say, “No más.” I expect my doctors, Polly, and my six children to honor my wishes. I have seen far too many people endlessly and needlessly suffer, all so Jesus would be honored and their families would know that they fought to the end. I have watched countless dying people go through unnecessary, painful procedures and treatments, all so their spouses and children could rest easy knowing that every possible thing was done to preserve their life.

Sadly, many people ignorantly think that longevity of life is all that matters; that enduring surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation is worth it if it adds a few weeks or months at the end of their lives. Evangelicals speak of being ready to meet God. They sing songs about Heaven and preach sermons that suggest True Christians® yearn and long for eternal life in the sweet by and by. Yet, when it comes time to die, they are in no hurry to catch the next train to Glory.

Instead of focusing on the longevity of life, the focus should be on the quality of life.  Sure, it is human nature to want to live as long as possible. But some things are worse than death. Often, the treatment is worse than a terminal disease. Personally, I would choose to live three months and then die, than to suffer the horrible side effects of end-of-life treatments that would often only add weeks or a few months to my life.

When it comes to dying, God is an unnecessary middleman. He and his Bible-sotted disciples get in the way of what is best for the sick and dying. Demanding that life be preserved at all costs only causes unnecessary pain and suffering. I know of Evangelical families who refused to let their dying loved ones die with dignity. You see, in their minds, all that matters is playing by God’s rules. All that matters is pleasing God. If their loved one has to suffer, so be it. God comes first. God mustn’t be offended, even if he prolongs the misery of the dying. Quite frankly, when it comes time for me to die, I don’t want religious zealots anywhere near me. I don’t need or want their prayers or admonitions. I want to be surrounded by my family. I want to hear them say, “Dad, it’s okay to let go.”

I have made my wishes known to my wife and children. Polly and I have spent a considerable amount of time talking about the various end-of-life scenarios; about what we want or don’t want to be done in the various circumstances we might face in the future. Both of us believe that quality of life is more important than extending life. We reject Jeff Maples’ notion that our lives should be preserved at all costs. We know that one day we will physically reach the end of the line. Hopefully, not anytime soon, but who knows (certainly not God), right? Better to have these discussions now than to have them under pressure or when one or both of us might not have the mental acuity to make rational choices.

I have specifically made plans to end my life when the quality of my life is such that I no longer want to live. I have talked to my counselor extensively about this. She is aware of my end-of-life plan. Of course, she encourages me to live, but she always knows that I am in decline physically; that it’s becoming harder for me to rise above my physical challenges. Most days, I am not suicidal, but I am acutely aware of what is happening to me physically. No cure or magical procedure is on the horizon, so I am “content” to face the limitations of mortality.

Not talking about death is not an option. Pretending we will live forever only leads to heartache when the lie is exposed. The moment we are born, we begin marching toward the finish line. While I would love to live to threescore and ten or fourscore, (Psalm 90:10) I know that’s unlikely. Probabilities come into play. All the positive thinking in the world won’t change the odds. I am grateful to have lived longer than my mom and dad. But it would be foolish of me to ignore the realities staring me in the face. Pretending that I am going to live to be a hundred helps whom, exactly?  The Bible is right when it says, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1) Solomon was spot on when he wrote:

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

I give the following advice on the ABOUT page:

You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.

Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you best get to living it. Someday, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.

Do you think life should be preserved at all costs; that every effort should be made to preserve life? How do you come to terms with your mortality? Do you prefer longevity of life over quality of life? Please share your astute thoughts in the comment section. If you are so inclined, please share approximately how old you are. I am interested in how age affects our end-of-life viewpoints.


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