I have been dealing with some serious health problems of late — primarily a respiratory infection and problems stemming from that infection. I spent part of yesterday in the emergency room. Currently, I am unable to do any meaningful writing. Hopefully, things will improve in the days ahead and I can return to writing.
Thank you for your understanding and support. If you are sitting (or standing) on a guest post, this would be a good week to send it my way.
One of the regular commenters on this blog, Karen the Rock Whisperer, is currently hospitalized in California. Over the past month or so, she has had a plethora of health problems that have repeatedly landed her in the hospital. Sometimes, in the digital world, we forget that real flesh-and-blood people are attached to an online username. Even though I have never met Karen face to face, I consider her a friend. I wish her well as she battles the various afflictions that have laid her low. I can’t offer up prayers or even karmic good thoughts, but I can say, Karen, I hope you get better soon!
Let me leave you with several comments Karen made in 2015:
I was at least moderately depressed all my life, and finally getting treatment for that illness was my start on the road away from religion. The story: I was raised Catholic in the liberal West Coast church of the 1960s and 1970s. I attended Catholic schools through 12th grade, and was taught my religion by a bunch of wonderful nuns who were determined to raise up a student body of social justice warriors. They tended to slide over the parts of the theology that were disconcerting; the important things in life were to take joy in the gifts of God, be properly grateful for them, and put them to the uses he intended. In college I made friends with Evangelical Christians, and discovered there was a whole other Christian religion out there. They seemed to have a more evidence-based faith, one based on the bible and not the pronouncements of the church hierarchy. I explored that for a few years. Meanwhile I met and married a man who was raised in an Evangelical tradition but was not religious.
I got into serious trouble with the Evangelical message. I couldn’t get my mind around the notion that one could take the entire bible literally. And the constant emphasis on sin, and my worthlessness, fed my depression fiercely. We were attending church regularly, but my husband finally insisted we quit, because the sermon would leave me in tears of despair; not even God could love someone as worthless as I. So I stopped going to church, but the damage was done, and it ate and ate at me for several years. Finally, in my mid-thirties, I reached a point of not being able to function beyond doing simple household tasks (I had been a very successful engineer). The doctor put me on Prozac. The effect was amazing. I discovered I was not worthless. I discovered that my every action was not somehow based in sin. I was thinking somewhat clearly about myself for the first time!
The process of healing was very long, and to some extent continues to this day. But very early on, I started questioning everything I knew about what was really right and wrong, true and false, including religious beliefs. That led me on a long and winding path, but eventually I was able to chuck it all as lacking in evidence. And also, along the way, I had to re-learn that the purpose of life is to take joy in what I’m given, be grateful for it, and put it to good use in a way consistent with secular humanism and social justice.
So while my life doesn’t involve any deities, in the end the nuns got the last word.
I appreciate your writing. Though I gave up on Christianity many years ago, it is learning about experiences like yours that have really made me comfortable in my atheist/humanist skin. While I don’t rage against the faith, I also no longer tiptoe around family and friends who are Christians. I’m no longer shy about objecting when they advocate bad ideas under cover of faith. This has made me much happier, but also enabled me to spread what I think are important messages about how we humans treat one another — and occasionally, I can make the faith-bound think.
As a geologist, I don’t have much knowledge of biology. I have played a bit with invertebrate fossils, and the changes we see through time in those fossils have made evolution real to me in a way that no amount of reading and lectures and presentations possibly could. But I have to leave in-depth understanding of all the different lines of evidence to my colleagues in the biological sciences. And I’m quite happy with that, because I trust that they do science the same way I do and have properly put together the story that these lines of evidence tell.
And that’s the fundamental problem in debating with creationists: they don’t trust the process of science. They don’t participate in it (for the most part), at best pretending to play at it. They can’t honestly do it, because their faith requires fitting the evidence to the conclusion. Dealing with them is just tiresome. But the ones who annoy me the most are big on arguing “XYZ disproves [evolution/age of the universe/big bang/etc.], therefore Christ!” Um, no. even if they’re right about XYZ (and they never are), that doesn’t say a damn thing about what really is true. Disproving evolution would definitely win you the Nobel prize, but implies nothing about the truth of Christianity or any other faith.
It is not uncommon for Evangelicals to question my motivations for blogging. I have the audacity to share club secrets; to point to where the bodies are buried. Worse yet, I call into question club beliefs and practices, daring to suggest they are irrational, mythical, or harmful. I am viewed as an enemy of Jesus and a hater of Christianity. Some Evangelicals even say that I hate Christians themselves — a Trumpian falsehood if there ever was one.
I have been called a liar, a man filled with pride who wants, needs, desires, and craves the approbation of my fellow atheists, non-Christians, and liberal Christians. On a few occasions, I have been accused of “being in it for the money.” I snarkily addressed this accusation recently in a post titled, Christian Man Attacks Me Because I Ask Readers to Monetarily Support My Work. Some Evangelicals have said over the years that my life story is fabricated; that they know people who know people who know people who say I never pastored ____________ church or lived in ______________ community. These conspiracy theorists — all Trump supporters, I suppose — ignore all evidence to the contrary and unjustifiably label me a liar.
Then there are the Evangelicals such as my former pastor friend Bill Beard, who oh, so politely ask me to not to share my story. Why? It’s harmful to people of faith, especially those who were once congregants in the churches I pastored. This concern is indeed valid, but if me telling my story causes loss of faith, what does that say about the staying power of their faith? Many Evangelicals find my unbelief disconcerting. One former congregant — who told me that he couldn’t be friends with me any longer because my deconversion caused him too much angst — said to me, Bruce, if YOU can lose your faith, anyone can. This congregant knew I was a mature follower of Jesus; a man who studied and knew the Bible; a man who lived out his faith day by day; a man whose family was governed by the complementarian, disciplinarian teachings of the Bible; a man who wasn’t afraid to stand for truth. Yet, I walked away from Christianity and I am now an outspoken atheist. My loss of faith causes doubt and questions, and the typical Evangelical answer for such things is to close your eyes, plug your ears, and repeatedly sing Jesus Loves Me.
I have been blogging for ten years now. I was a Christian when I started blogging, and readers who have been with me from the beginning have watched me journey from Progressive Christianity to atheism. They have watched me start and stop blogging several times, aware of how painful for me deconversion has been. They have watched as Evangelicals savaged me in their churches, on their blogs, and former iterations of this blog; watching as this savagery cut me so deeply that I bled out before their eyes. In time I would arise as a phoenix from the ashes, only to abandon my blog twelve or eighteen months later. Long-time readers will remember blogs such as Bruce Droppings and The Way Forward.
In the fall of 2014, I had yet again another meltdown and stopped blogging. Close friends waited to see if I would rise from the dead. In December 2014, I indeed — unlike Jesus who remains buried in a forgotten grave in Palestine — arose from the dead, ready once again to tell my story. In December 2018, this blog will be four years old. Imagine that, long time readers, FOUR YEARS OLD! Evangelicals haven’t stopped attempting to silence me, so why no classic Bruce meltdowns, why no running from the battle bruised and bleeding?
There are five reasons why this blog has survived:
I finally stopped giving a shit about what Evangelicals said or thought of me.
I finally understood that a lot of people really do love and support me and enjoy and appreciate my writing.
I finally stopped giving Evangelical zealots a platform in the comment section. The one comment rule for Evangelicals dramatically reduced stress levels. (See Comment Rules) Want to take Bruce Gerencser to the woodshed? Want to expose him as a liar, a fraud, or a servant of Satan? Get your own blog. (See Dear Evangelicals.) Keeping the comment section relatively free of Evangelical excrement has allowed a community to develop. Yes, this policy reduced the number of comments, but it allowed thoughtful unbelievers and doubters to comment without being savaged by Evangelicals. it also allowed me to focus on being a help instead of battling intransigent Fundamentalists.
A woman by the name of Carolyn came into my life. Almost three years ago, I received an email that basically said, I love your writing, but it needs some help; “help” being editing. From that point forward, Carolyn has edited most of the posts on this site, including old posts (if you see a post with a date — say 081615 — on the bottom, that means you are reading an old post Carolyn has edited. Not only has her editing improved my grammar and overall writing, she has encouraged me to keep at it even when I feel like throwing in the towel. I will likely never meet her face to face, but she has become a dear friend. By the way, she edits my writing free of charge, a true act of friendship and kindness.
Several readers decided to take an active role in dealing with Evangelical comments. Their willingness to respond to these commenters has dramatically reduced my need to do so. Often, I just reply *sigh* — which means in the Greek “not this shit again!” — and leave it to them to challenge and engage Evangelical commenters.
Fundamentally, this blog remains a place for me to tell my story. I am one man with a story to tell, and I intend to keep telling it as long as I am physically able to do so. For Evangelicals who wish I would shut up and go the hell away, I say, sorry, it ain’t gonna happen. Evangelical churches frequently feature testimony segments, or they have big-name preachers and con-artists come to their churches to tell how God led them out of atheism and saved their souls. Some of these exaggerators-for-Jesus recount their lives as witches, new agers, mobsters, porn addicts, or homosexuals, and describe how Jesus delivered them from their sin and gave them eternal life. Some Evangelicals write books or start blogs with the express purpose of testifying to what Jesus has done for them. Other Evangelicals take to the streets, their places of employment, or go door-to-door, telling all who will listen about the wonderful, matchless grace of God. All of these people are doing what, exactly? Telling their story. And that is all I am doing.
Some Evangelicals don’t like how I have portrayed them in my writing. How dare you say that about me! How dare you say that about my pastor! How dare you say that about my church! How dare you air our past interactions! Why, Bruce, you make me look bad! Well, you should have treated me better, then. If you weren’t such a bully or an ass, the story I tell would be different. To the degree that you play a part in my life story, I am going to share that with readers. Instead of bitching, moaning, and complaining, either pray and ask Jesus to silence me or admit that you, much like yours truly, said and did things that were harmful to our congregants and families. I have found it cathartic to admit and own past bad behavior, and I challenge you to do the same. Your mileage may vary, but I plan to keep on writing. Consider my writing about you akin to you using me as a sermon illustration or a cautionary warning. Me writing about you is a cautionary tale of what happens when a man becomes a Fundamentalist sot; when one’s ability to reason and think critically is smothered by religious dogma, arrogance, and certainty. What’s good for the atheist is good for the Baptist preacher, yes?
I know it infuriates some preachers that this blog ranks first page for their name or the name of their church/ministry. (Polly’s family HATES that this site is prominently featured when people search for them or their church/ministry.) Sometimes, this site is first on the first Google page. That’s what four years of blogging have given me — increased readership, page views, email subscriptions, social media sharing, and high search ranking. I appreciate that people are willing to support and publicize my writing. As with all writers, I write to be read. All writers (and public speakers such as preachers) have a bit of narcissism in them. I want people to read my writing, even if they are raising Holy Heaven about what I have written.
The name of this blog is The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser: One Man’s Journey From Eternity to Here. I plan to keep telling my story until either Jesus comes again or I lose the ability to reason and write. My money is on dementia claiming me before Jesus does.
Thank you for being a reader of my writing. I find it humbling that anyone except Polly would want to read what I write. I will do my best in the days ahead to put out writing that is worthy of your support.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
Camerius Mills, pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church in Abbeville, Alabama, was sentenced last Friday to twenty years in prison for having sex with a fifteen-year-old church member.
A repentant Alabama pastor who confessed to luring a 15-year-old member of his church into sexual acts with the promise of teaching her how to play the piano was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday.
Pastor Camerius Mills was the 29-year-old leader of St. Paul’s Baptist Church when he was arrested in 2015 and charged with rape, sodomy, and traveling to meet a child for the purpose of unlawful sex. He had served in the position for about three years.
“He was a pastor and he had befriended this young lady in his congregation,” Sheriff’s Investigator Keith Cauthen, who arrested Mills, told the Dothan Eagle in the summer of 2016. “He picked her up under the pretenses on teaching her the piano.”
Cauthen said Mills first met the teenager when she started attending his church in November 2014. It wasn’t until February 2015 that Mills initiated unlawful contact.
“He knew better, he was a pastor. He befriended her and he took advantage of her,” Cauthen added. “With the Henry County Sheriff’s Office our goal is to protect the citizens, and we’re going to make sure he does not prey on anyone else again.”
Mills, who is a married father with two young children, admitted to having sex with the teenager and even showed remorse, officials said.
“I just want to say that I apologize and I hope God can forgive me,” Mills had publicly confessed after his arraignment.
Investigators say at least one instance of the unlawful sex between the pastor and the minor occurred at The Hardridge Creek Campground in Henry County. Federal investigators were brought in to investigate the case because the campground is government property.
I want to take a few moments to thank those who have financially supported me during 2017. I appreciate each donation. Donations are used to pay for server, software, and general site costs. Any excess donations are used to take Polly out on the town.
PayPal donations (monthly and one-time) in 2017
Patreon Monthly Donations in 2017
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Another year has passed and God still hasn’t taken me out or stopped me from blogging. I am starting to think that maybe God doesn’t exist or perhaps he approves of my writing. Either way, I plan to continue writing in 2018, health-willing. I make no promises, but I do hope to have the strength necessary to continue critiquing Evangelical Christianity, along with exposing to the light of day stories about predator preachers through the Black Collar Crime Series. If there is a specific subject you would like me to cover, please let me know and I will see what I can do. Questions are always welcome, as are guest posts.
If I can ever be of help, please let me know. You can contact me via the contact page. If you would like to text me, please let me know and I will gladly give you my text number.
I am always interested in having people write guest posts for this site. If you are interested in writing a guest post, please use the contact form to email me. You can choose any subject. If you are a Christian, you can even write a post telling me how wrong I am about God, Christianity, and the Bible.
Have a story to tell about your life as Christian and subsequent deconversion? Testimonies are always welcome. I have found that readers really appreciate and enjoy reading posts about the journey of others away from Evangelicalism. Perhaps you are someone who has left Evangelicalism, but still believes in the existence of a deity/energy/higher power. Your story is welcome too.
If you worried about grammar or spelling, don’t be. Carolyn, my ever-watchful editor, edits every guest post before it is published. If she can turn my writing into coherent prose, trust me, she can do the same for yours.
Anonymous posts are okay.
Several readers have emailed me in the past about writing guest posts. I am w-a-i-t-i-n-g. Seriously, if you have something you would like to say, I am more than happy to post it here. The ball is in your court.
I have been asked to consider producing podcasts of some of my posts. I’ve also had readers ask me if I would consider doing a Question and Answer Podcast. I am interested in doing so if there is sufficient interest. Please use the polls below to express your infinite wisdom and opinion. If you have extended comments you would like to leave, please leave use the comment section to do so. You can also send me a private e-mail via the contact form.
I have been sick with some sort of stomach flu since Sunday. I feel a bit better today, but it will likely be Thursday before I return to my regular writing schedule. I wanted to let readers know this just in case they took the lack of posts as a sign that Jesus had raptured me away or the judgment of God had finally fallen on my sinful, wretched soul.
I took a month off from writing, and now it is time for me to resume my regular writing schedule. Thank you for hanging around until I returned. My mind is filled with blog posts ready to come to life. Now, if I wasn’t so damned tired from my month-long vacation.
All 26 men swept up in a five-day Tri-City operation to combat online child predators have now been charged, with five more appearing Wednesday in court.
William J. Barrett and Andrew L. Sanders both face Sept. 5 trials in Benton County Superior Court, while John M. Scheline, Darren J. Kerbyson and Gabriel Saenz have Oct. 2 dates.
Four of them are charged with attempted second-degree rape of a child and have been released from jail after posting $10,000 bond each.
Barrett is locked up on $25,000 bail because he has additional charges, including bringing methamphetamine and a glass smoking device to the meet-up.
They were arrested as part of a multi-agency effort, dubbed “Tri-Cities Net Nanny Operation,” between July 5 and 9.
Undercover detectives answered postings on various websites and placed their own ads claiming to be kids as young as 11 or parents who were offering their children for sex. Some of the suspects showed up to the predetermined location with condoms and sex toys.
The first three men arrested when authorities were still setting up the operation had Tuesday court hearings. The remaining 18 men are scheduled to appear Thursday.
Scheline, 40, was fired from his job as executive director of Ignite Youth Mentoring after the allegations surfaced. The Pasco father previously served as a pastor at Faith Assembly in Pasco and lead pastor of Bozeman Christian Center in Montana.
Investigators found an advertisement Scheline placed June 13 on Craigslist suggesting that a married dad was looking for a young boy, court documents said.
When a detective responded July 5 as a father offering up his 13-year-old son for sex acts, Scheline allegedly discussed in explicit detail what he would do with the boy.
Scheline eventually was given the address of an apartment. When “the (undercover) son” answered the door, Scheline turned and left and was taken into custody as he tried to get out of the complex, documents said.
I have decided to take a month-long break from blogging. I plan to start writing again on August 1st; that is if Donald Trump hasn’t caused a nuclear war by then. If he has, it has been good knowing you. It’s been two and a half years since I have taken a break, so I am due. Physically and psychologically I am worn out. Throw in a recent car accident — Bambi’s Dad ran into the left front of our 2015 Ford Escape — a fall that broke my relatively new iPad Pro — which Apple will replace for a mere $600 — a mounting financial problem due to medical debt, and one of my sons inexplicably and stupidly walking out on his wife and four children, well, I am ready to go over the rainbow with Dorothy and Toto. Since my wife prefers that I remain among the living, I thought it best to take a break, not only from blogging, but also social media.
Polly and I have a short trip planned for July 14-17 — our thirty-ninth wedding anniversary. We plan to stay at the historic Boone Tavern Hotel in Berea, Kentucky. While there, we plan to travel nearby back roads looking for trouble and suitable photography subjects. On the 16th, we plan to visit the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, and on the 17th we have tickets for the Cincinnati Reds vs.Washington Nationals baseball game. Our youngest son and his girlfriend will be house-sitting for us, along with babysitting Bethany, our dog, and our cat.
I also plan to do some seriously needed work to my photography site, Defiance County Photo. I have been trying to get a photography business up and running, but so far the gods are working against me. I need to invest some time in doing some promotional work, along with expanding my portfolio. I also plan to morph into Santa Claus come November and December, hoping that between this and my photography business to make some much-needed cash. I just received the pattern for my Santa suit. Polly and my youngest daughter, both of whom are excellent seamstresses, have agreed to make the suit for me. I have the beard and the build, now all I need is the suit. I have some thoughts about merging the Santa gig and my photography business during the Christmas season, offering area residents personal access to the man from up North — and no I don’t mean Michigan.
I hope to come back from my sabbatical reinvigorated, ready to take on the Evangelical horde and the Trump administration. I do plan to re-post several posts every few days from 2015 and 2016 while I am gone. Hopefully, these posts will keep readers engaged until I return August 1st.