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Category: Evangelicalism

Selling Jesus

going steady with jesus

Several years ago, on a cold, wet Ohio winter day, a door-to-door hustler for Erie Construction knocked on our door, asking if we would be interested in receiving a vinyl siding estimate. I said, “sure.” I knew we either had to side or repaint our home, so I thought, here’s my opportunity to get our first estimate.

On the appointed day, two Erie Construction salesmen showed up at 1:20 p.m. for our 1:00 p.m. estimate. STRIKE ONE. Don’t be late. I have plenty of things to do on any given day, and if I set time aside to hear your sales pitch, BE ON TIME!  Neither salesman apologized for being late. I gave them a pass, though it is not uncommon for me to tell tardy salesmen, “sorry, you missed your window of opportunity. Maybe later.” Of course, this usually pisses them off. And I care how much? Not at all. BE ON TIME!

Having spent most of my adult life selling Jesus, I am quite familiar with the techniques used by salesmen to get me to sign on the dotted line. The only difference between selling religion and siding/vacuüm cleaners/automobiles is the product. The goal is the same. Get the customer to buy your product, be it Jesus with an eternal warranty or Erie Construction premium siding with an original owner lifetime warranty.

The salesmen entered our home and sat down at our dining room table. One man carried the props, and the other, the alpha closer, carried a portfolio of “magic” papers with which he would later attempt to WOW us. The alpha closer did ninety-nine percent of the talking. He asked us questions about our backgrounds, family, and employment. It was Sales 101. Get to know the prospective mark. Attempt to befriend them. Use the information given to you to develop a bond. I used this very technique hundreds and hundreds of times as I traveled the highways and hedges of the communities in which I pastored, seeking to sell salvation to people I considered “lost.”

One humorous moment occurred when the salesman asked us what we did for a living. After Polly recited her résumé, the salesman turned to me and asked what I did for a living. I gave my typical answer: “I am retired and I own a photography business.” Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, this answer satisfies salesmen and busybodies alike. Not this time. The salesman asked, “Bruce, what did you do before you retired?” Remember, the word “retired” in my vocabulary means “I left the ministry and Christianity.” The word covers up shit I don’t want to talk about to strangers. I paused for a moment, thinking how best to answer the man’s question. I was already irritated by their tardiness, so I thought, how about a bit of snark?  I said, “I was a pastor for twenty-five years. I pastored churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan.” I then continued, saying, “don’t read anything into that. God and I had a falling out and we are not on speaking terms.”

When salesmen find out I was a pastor, it is common for them to change their behavior. Anything to make a sale, right? As I often do, I made sure I used several swear words during our discussion. This was me saying, “I ain’t one of THOSE preachers, God dammit!” Fortunately, no further questions were asked. Both salesmen asked if they could measure the outside of our home. I said, “sure.” Off they went, returning ten or so minutes later, measurements in hand, ready to present to us the best siding deal on planet earth.

The alpha salesman continued his pitch by telling us the benefits of doing business with a AAA company such as Erie Construction. Evidently, he never thought an old curmudgeon such as I would bother to fact-check his claims. After they were gone, I consulted GOD — the Internet — and found out that Erie Construction was NOT a AAA company. I am sure they have thousands of satisfied customers, but they also have customers who were not satisfied with their work due to missed job start/finish dates, shoddy workmanship, and poor warranty work.

As a seller of Jesus, I too shared with prospects the wonders of the Son of God. Evangelicalism was, in my mind at the time, a AAA company, offering the forgiveness of sin, eternal life after death, and peace, purpose, and direction in this life. Who wouldn’t want to buy what I was selling, right? Most of my evangelizing took place pre-Internet. I didn’t have to worry about negative reviews of Jesus, Evangelicalism, me personally, or the church I was pastoring at the time. I relied on people taking my word for it. Today? Thanks to the world wide web, Evangelicalism has been exposed for what it is: a psychologically harmful con job; a system of belief that robs people of their humanity and their money.

The alpha salesman breathlessly shared with us the wonders of Erie Construction’s premium grade one-hundred percent vinyl siding. He spent significant time dissing his competition and their inferior siding, even though he later admitted Erie sells “inferior” siding too. “Buy cheap siding and it only lasts five to eight years,” he told us. The salesman also discounted the value of repainting our home. Polly and I, along with our younger children, painted it ourselves over two summers — 2007, 2008. I told the salesman that we were thinking about hiring someone to paint our home. Eleven years had passed since we painted our home. The intervening years had been unkind to us physically, so Polly and I painting our home was out of the question.

The salesman sensed that we were weighing “siding versus paint,” so he quickly pulled out his “magic” papers and showed us why painting our home was not cost-effective. His statistics were grossly inflated for the area we lived in. I told him, “look, I am not in good health, so I am not going be around twenty years from now.” The salesman quickly rebuffed my mortality claim, saying, “oh you’ll be around for a long time!” STRIKE TWO. I replied, “no, really, I am on the short side of life.” The salesman wouldn’t hear of it, telling me that I had a long life ahead of me. At this point, I almost said, “Look dude. You need to listen to me. I am not long for this life. If I make it to seventy, I’ll be happy.” I said nothing, deciding that I wanted to get their price for siding our home.

As a salesman for Jesus, I reminded prospects that my Jesus was the one true God, and that the salvation I was selling was the only one to promise true forgiveness of sin and eternal life after death. My “siding” was superior to that which other sects and churches were selling. I often told people, “has anyone else ever cared about you enough to knock on your door and share the Good News® with you?” Of course, I knew it was unlikely anyone but the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses had ever tried to evangelize them. Those sects were cults. I was representing the white American Jesus and Christianity. No one had a product like mine.

Finally, it came to time for the salesman to close the deal. He started using heavy-handed sales techniques, hoping that he could entice us into biting. His price? $25,000! Keep in mind, we already have new windows, doors, soffits, and gutters, so his estimate was just for the siding. His estimate, astoundingly, did not cover our small outbuilding. He asked us what we thought of the price, and I replied, “that’s a good bit more than we expected. I had thought the estimate would come in closer to $12,000-$15,000.”  “Quality costs,” the salesman told us. He proceeded to use the fact that we drive a new car as a reason why we should have Erie side our home. “It’s evident you value quality in an automobile. Surely, you want the same for your home!” I thought, “yeah and your siding almost costs as much as our car!” (This summer we finally had our house painted. Cost? seventy-five percent less than Erie’s siding estimate.)

The alpha salesman attempted numerous times to get us to sign on the dotted line. Each time, I told him, we are not prepared to make a decision today. Evidently, he was hard of hearing, because no matter how often I said, “not today,” he came back at us with a slightly different angle, hoping we would say “yes.” Somewhere in this process, I said to myself, “STRIKE THREE!” I wasn’t going to do business with Erie regardless of their price. The salesman even tried to appeal to my vanity, saying I could take photos before and after and Erie would pay me to use them on their website. “What,” I thought, “$500?” I said nothing, and the salesman finally intuited that we weren’t going to buy siding from him. His demeanor was that of the air being let out of a balloon. And with that, he and his sidekick packed up their props and exited stage right.

As a seller of the Evangelical Gospel, I pressured people into praying the sinner’s prayer. I warned them of the dangers of delay. “No one knows what might happen tomorrow,” I said. “Do you really want to risk God’s judgment and eternity in Hell?” I would remind them that this might be the only time they had an opportunity to buy God’s miraculous covers-everything siding, uh I mean salvation. Whether from the pulpit or at their front door, I reminded sinners of the urgency of covering up their sinfulness with Jesus’ premium salvation, complete with an eternal warranty. Most people said, “no thanks,” but over the course of twenty-five years, hundreds and hundreds of people said, “yes!”  Some of them found great value in what I was selling. Most converts, however, found out that the “siding” I was selling was not as good as I said it was. The storms of life came their way and often ripped their “siding” away, exposing the fact that Jesus was NOT the “friend who never will leave you” as I promised he was. What they found, instead, was a religion that demanded their fealty and money. Most of them, eventually, said, as we did to Erie Construction, “no, thanks!”

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.

Can Evangelical Christianity be “Reformed”?

evangelical betrayal of jesus

I was part of the Evangelical church for fifty years. Saved at the age of fifteen, baptized by immersion, and called to preach two weeks later, I set out on a path of loving and serving Jesus. At the age of nineteen, I enrolled at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan to prepare for the work of the ministry. After three years at Midwestern, now married to a beautiful preacher’s daughter, I moved to rural northwest Ohio, beginning a career spanning twenty-five years pastoring Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. I pastored churches that were Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB), Southern Baptist, Christian Union, Sovereign Grace Baptist, General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC), and nondenominational. In addition, I preached for Assembly of God, Reformed Baptist, Free Will Baptist, Baptist Bible Fellowship (BBF), Church of the Nazarene, and sundry other garden variety Evangelical congregations. From 2002-2008, my wife, Polly, and I visited more than one-hundred churches as we sought a church that took the teachings of Christ seriously. Many of these churches self-identified as Evangelical. (Please see But Our Church is DIFFERENT!)

I am almost sixty-six years old. Though I left Christianity fourteen years ago, I have continued to carefully follow the machinations of Evangelical Christianity — the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have been blogging since 2007. I was still a Christian — barely — when I started this blog, but it was not long before Jesus and I had an acrimonious divorce. As a former Evangelical, my goal as a writer has always been to tell my story and help those who have questions and doubts about Christianity. I have no interest in converting people to atheism. That said, I do provide pointed critiques of Evangelical beliefs and practices. While I don’t know everything there is to know about Evangelicalism, I am not an ill-informed, uneducated outsider. And my critics know this. My observations cannot be easily dismissed. So what do Evangelical apologists and zealots do instead? They attack my character, and in some cases, malign my wife, our six adult children, and our thirteen grandchildren. The most hateful people I have ever met are Evangelical Christians — especially Independent Fundamentalist Baptists. Preachers, in particular, are the worst of the worst. Why all the hate? Shit, I am just one man with a blog. Sure, thousands of people read my writing, but I am a nobody. Why not just give me over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh and move on?

I suspect zealots feel threatened or troubled by what I write. I have had several former congregants tell me that they could no longer be friends with me. Why? My writing upset them and made them feel “uneasy” in their skin of faith. Countless other Evangelicals choose a different tack. Unable to refute the message, they attack the messenger. Instead of contemplating the truthfulness of my writing, they attempt to marginalize and discredit me. Over the years, I have highlighted for readers some of the things Evangelicals have said about me. Awful stuff, things I would never, ever say to another human being.

If you are an Evangelical reading my writing for the first time, I said the things above so you would understand that I am not an outsider. I may be an atheist today, but I spent most of my life deeply immersed in the waters of Evangelical Christianity. While I am not a fan of appeals to authority, when it comes to Evangelicalism, I know what I am talking about. This is especially true when it comes to the IFB church movement. Why does my writing resonate with so many people — even Christians? I suspect the main reason is that my experiences match or are similar to theirs. Here I am, an insider, talking out of school, daring to share where the bodies are buried. How dare I, right?

Over the weekend, my friend Clint Heacock posted on Facebook a post by Josiah Meyer about “reforming” Evangelical Christianity. Meyer was asked by a friend, “You seem to be giving up on (Evangelical) Christianity over a few problems. Why not try to reform it?” (I can hear many of you sighing now. 🙂 ) As you will see in a moment, Meyer is an insider; a man with decades of experience with Evangelical Christianity; including academic training in Christian Ministry. Meyer is someone who cannot easily be dismissed. He knows what he knows.

“Why not reform Evangelical Christianity”? Meyer’s friend asked. He replied:

I have tried. And simply, I am done trying. Now, I am speaking my truth and (when necessary) warning people that there are dangers there. Ways in which people can get hurt. Steer clear.

When I was studying for my Doctorate in Christian ministry (yes, I have a shitload of education on religion), one of the courses was on cults. The teacher told us of a phrase he had coined to describe Mormons: “Conservative shift.” ”Every generation,” he warned, “the terminology gets closer to (Evangelical) Christianity. However, the core doctrines do not change.” We learned that one of the characteristics of all sects and cults was deceptive terminology.

Oh, how we missed the opportunity to look in the mirror on that one!

Over the past twenty years or so, I have seen what I thought was a great softening, from the hardline Fundamentalism of the Baby Boomers and before, to a softer, more accepting Evangelicalism of Gen X and Millennials.

But is it better? Is it really?

20 years ago, many people believed in a young earth (everything was created only 6,000 years ago). Today, that number is still on the rise, and I was not able to get a job teaching in Evangelical Canada, in large part because I believed in science on this issue.

20 years ago, it was pretty common to hear that woman is the help-meet, she is created for man, and finds her true place in the home. I used to make a big distinction between “patriarchal” and “complementarian” teaching. But what is the difference? Evangelicals still believe that women are “equal in standing, but have different roles.” In other words, they are born to serve. Nothing has changed.

20 years ago, we didn’t hear much about LGBTQ. We did hear, however, that there was one way to be male, one way to be female. Homosexuality was a taboo and those who practiced it were going to Hell. Today, it is still not talked about, but when it is, it is said that, “practicing homosexuals” will be punished. Aka, it’s still a sin, you’re just not sinning if you stay celibate. In other words, no change.

20 years ago, it was pretty common for churches to be terrified about the end of the world, the “Mark of the Beast,” the rapture, and the antichrist. Things like cell phones and credit cards were identified as potentially being “the mark of the beast” while every political leader from Hitler down to Obama have been called the antichrist by somebody. Nowadays? Do I need to say it? Vaccines are the mark of the beast, and Fauci is (to some at least) the Antichrist. Good lord.

20 years ago, it was common to pull away from society, and educate kids in private Christian schools. The main reason was to “protect us from evolution and other sinful ideas.” Today, this has blossomed into a multi-million dollar homeschooling industry, where kids can be sheltered not only from contemporary science, but also from “woke” ideas like gender equality, racial reconciliation, environmentalism, and social justice.

A product of such an education, it was not until I was 38 that I really heard, really understood the concept of “consent.” One of many things somehow missed in my privileged education.

20 years ago, it was starting to get somewhat common for Christians to create a subculture of herbal remedies, favorite recipes, and cooking groups. It was cheerful, charming, yummy, and harmless. Then it became the MLM empires that burned through our social groups. And with Covid? Sigh. Many went off the deep end into Qanon conspiracy theories, or (laughably, but not funny) herbal remedies to cure Covid.

20 years ago, it was pretty common to be concerned about outlawing abortion. But this was before the Evangelical vote became (in my memory, at least) completely fused with the conservative/republican vote. These things have changed, but not for the better, with Christians voting for the likes of Trump, and staging riots and coup attempts at our capitals.

Try to change it? Good God, I have tried. And I have failed.

The problems were too big for me or maybe, they were never mine to carry at all. Will others take up the call? Will change happen? Is it possible?

Here’s another question. Has anything changed? Really changed?

Or has only the terminology changed; becoming more friendly; more diplomatic; deceitful; “seeker sensitive?”

This burden is, at any rate, no longer mine to carry.

Meyer hits the proverbial nail on the head. Has Evangelical Christianity “changed”? If you only look at the periphery of Evangelicalism, then, sure, they have changed. I am a Baby Boomer. The Evangelical church of my youth is very different from what I see today. However, it’s the window dressing, the facade that has changed, and not the core Evangelical beliefs and practices. And that’s Meyer’s point. Look beyond the worship teams, overhead projectors, and hip preachers. What do you find? The same dogma and extremism that’s always been central to Evangelical faith and practice. And as Meyer poignantly makes clear, these things have actually become more shrill and extreme. Evangelicals have largely embraced anti-culture ideology, viewing their unsaved, non-Republican neighbors as enemies. How else do we explain the fact that almost eighty percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump — not once, but twice? How else do we explain the fact that many Evangelicals plan to vote for Trump again in 2024, and those who don’t plan to vote for Ron DeSantis — a man arguably more dangerous than the twice-impeached ex-president. How else do we explain the fact that Evangelicals were the dominant religious force behind the January 6th Insurrection? Evangelicals (and conservative Catholics) are behind the uptick in book bans and attempts to ban teaching critical race theory in public schools. These same people want to reintroduce teacher-led prayer and Bible reading in public schools, ban any support for LGBTQ students, and teach creationism in science classrooms. Politically, Evangelicals are anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-premarital sex, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and anti-separation of church and state. Is it any wonder that Evangelical Christianity is one of the most hated sects in America?

I am sure some Evangelical readers are screaming at their computer or smartphone screens: NOT ME! MY CHURCH IS DIFFERENT! MY PASTOR IS DIFFERENT! It goes without saying that this post does not describe ALL Evangelicals. I am sure Meyer would say the same. Evangelicalism is a big tent, giving space to everyone from Evangelicals-in-name-only to hardcore Fundamentalists. That said, much like a man who always seems to date blondes, Evangelicalism has a type. The late Fred Phelps and Albert Mohler are Baptist preachers. The former was known for his vitriol and homophobia. The latter is a smooth-talking Southern Baptist; a well-spoken media darling. Yet, when you peel back their outward appearance, what you find is that both men have similar beliefs. The only difference between the two is style and presentation.

Many Evangelicals distance themselves from the extremists within the sect, thinking that they can somehow rescue Evangelicalism from itself. However, when pressed about their beliefs, you will often find the same theology as that of ardent Fundamentalists. When someone tells me that they are not like the Evangelicals I critique, I typically ask them if they believe in the exclusivity of the Christian gospel; that all people are saved or lost; that unsaved people will go to Hell when they die? Their answers to these questions will tell me everything I need to know about their flavor of Evangelicalism. If believers don’t believe in the exclusivity of the gospel, the necessity of personal salvation, and the eternal punishment (and reward) of the lost, are they, in any meaningful way, Evangelical?

Those on the progressive end of the Evangelical spectrum often think that Evangelicalism can be reformed; that if Evangelicals will abandon their social Fundamentalist beliefs, reinterpret the Bible to fit modern sensibilities, and not be dicks Evangelicalism can be “saved.” However, it is fair to ask that once Christianity is made more palatable and friendly, is it still Evangelical? I think not. If someone like me ends up in Hell after death, the rest of your theology doesn’t matter. But, Bruce. I believe in annihilation. God will punish you for a time and then turn you into a pile of ashes. Surely, that’s better than eternal punishment! Ain’t God awesome? Uh, no.

Can Evangelical Christianity be “reformed”? The obvious answer is no. To paraphrase an old gospel song, “Evangelicals have gone too far to turn back now.” I see no path of reformation or redemption. Once Evangelicals traded their souls for a bowl of pottage; abandoning personal piety and salvation for raw political power, there’s no going back. Does anyone seriously believe that Evangelicals will return to the privacy of their houses of worship to await the second coming of Jesus? Not a chance.

Evangelicals will eventually destroy themselves from within. The problem, of course, is that they could take the rest of us with them. Have you been paying attention to what is going on in the House of Representatives or what Republican supermajorities are doing at the state level, including in my home state of Ohio? Scary stuff. What is the common connection between these extremists? Drum roll, please. Evangelical Christianity; men and women with theocratic objectives. We truly live in dangerous times.

Instead of talking about reforming Evangelical Christianity, the American people would be better served if we discuss ways to limit Evangelical control of the levers of power. Whether this can be accomplished remains to be seen. I live in rural Ohio. Evangelicals rule the roost, both at the state and local levels. There’s little non-Evangelicals can do to stop them. Seventy percent of locals vote Republican; Democrats have no chance of unseating Evangelical officeholders. I do what I can, but I often feel I am pissing into a hurricane.

Meyer encourages people to steer clear of Evangelicalism. I take it one step further. I say RUN! FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE! Evangelical beliefs and practices can and do cause psychological harm, and, at times, physical harm. Evangelical Christianity is not a benign religion, and it is time for the media and bloggers to say so. For people inclined to believe in God, I suggest you seek out kinder, gentler forms of Christianity.

Thanks to Josiah Meyer for provoking me unto good works. 🙂 Meyer blogs at Josiah Meyer: Spirituality, Philosophy, History, and the occasional Profanity.

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.

The Tiring, Wearisome Lives of Evangelicals

god's army

I follow and read more than 125 Evangelical blogs and websites. Using an RSS reader, I receive every new post or article these sites publish. While I don’t read every post, I do read the headlines, looking for things suited for this site. Every day, I am presented with posts filled with hostility and rage, not only against atheists, secularists, humanists, and liberals, but Christians themselves. It seems that Evangelicals are not only at war with the “world,” but they are at war with anyone that doesn’t hew to their peculiar interpretations of the Bible.

Posts about LGBTQ people, abortion, atheism, deconstruction, liberalism, Democrats, vaccines, COVID-19, critical race theory, racism, and pornography are common. The farther to the right you move within the Evangelical bubble, the more extreme the positions become. Posts on what people do in the privacy of their homes, what clothing they wear, and what they watch on TV are frequent flyers. No human behavior is out of bounds.

The Bible says that Christians believe in One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. Evidently, the writer of this never envisioned the Internet, with blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos. It is clear to anyone who is paying attention that Evangelicalism is hopelessly fractured; a sect where metaphorically bloody internecine warfare is the norm, not the exception to the rule.

Evangelicals also fight wars amongst themselves, questioning who is and isn’t a True Christian®. Doctrinal spats over minutiae are common. Of course, some Evangelical say that there’s no such thing as minutiae. Everything matters to God, so everything should matter to his followers. Back and forth the battles go, with each side striving for purity.

Imagine living in a world where everything matters; that being “right” is the grand objective; that every i must be dotted and every t crossed. From rising in the morning to going to bed at night, you devote every waking hour to being absolutely right, knowing that your eternal destiny rests on your rightness. Imagine parsing every thought, word, and deed according to the teachings of the Bible and a voice in your head you believe is God himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Having had first-hand experience living this way, I can tell you that doing so is wearisome and tiring. Everything is secondary to Jesus and the church. Evangelicals are familiar with the acronym J-O-Y: Jesus First, Others Second, Yourself Last. Truth be told, the Y stands for “you don’t matter.” The sum of Evangelical existence is J-E-S-U-S. This life of ours, according to Evangelicals, is preparation to meet God face to face. Nothing else matters.

Of course, most Evangelicals can’t live up to this impossible standard. Oh, they try, but fail miserably. And this failure brings depression, fear, and worry. Their pastors — who don’t live up to this impossible standard themselves — warn them that failure to conform and perform will bring chastisement from God. Remember, God disciplines those he loves! preacher’s say.

This is no way to live. Is it any wonder that Evangelical beliefs and practices cause psychological, and, at times, physical harm? Every day, countless ex-Evangelicals talk to therapists about the damage caused by their former religious beliefs. Undoing the harm often takes years. I know it has for me. I don’t know of one former Evangelical Christian who was in the sect for years that didn’t come away with some sort of psychological harm. This is especially true for people who were longtime Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church members.

Some forms of religion are benign, but that can’t be said for Evangelicalism. We are a nation of people who have been traumatized by a religious sect that has as one of its foundational principles the denial of “self”; the denial of our humanity. This is not, in any shape or form, healthy.

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.

From the sites I follow , plus trumpism, recycling a religion, vegetarian, guns,

Don’t Thank God, Thank Me

tnt good behaviorMy wife and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the TNT show, Good Behavior, starring Michelle Dockery as Letty Raines and Juan Diego Botto as Javier Pereira. It took us awhile to get used to Dockery’s drug-using, booze-swilling, criminal character. Dockery played the prim and proper Lady Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey, so playing Letty Raines was a huge departure from her previous role. As far as Botto is concerned, Polly would like to run off with him to the Bahamas. 🙂

During one episode of Good Behavior, Letty helps a recently separated woman break into her estranged husband’s home so she could reclaim her belongings. Letty used her criminal lock-picking skills to easily gain access to the home. The woman, amazed by Letty’s “skills,” thanked God for the opened door. Letty replied, Don’t thank God, thank me!

Millions of Americans go through life thanking the Christian God for every good thing that comes their way. In their minds, goodness flows from God’s hands — not man’s — and all the praise, honor, and glory belong to him. Have you ever spent significant time helping someone, only to have them dismiss your labor with a big THANK YOU, GOD? As a Christian, I knew that I mustn’t ever take credit for my good works. Doing so was prideful. According to the Bible, I was a loathsome, vile, worthless human being, and without God in my life, I lacked meaning, purpose, and direction. The Bible also told me that even after I was saved/born-again/redeemed, the only reason for the good in my life was Jesus. If it weren’t for the precious, awesome blood of Jesus, my life would have no value. Jesus was my go-between, standing between an angry, vengeful God and the saved sinner Bruce Gerencser. If Jesus ever stood aside, his Father would crush me and throw my sorry ass in Hell.

praise god good weather

Sunday after Sunday, Evangelicals gather together to prostrate themselves before a narcissistic God and thank him for his awesomeness. Worship songs are sung in a masturbatory fashion, repeatedly praising God for his goodness. Testimonies by the faithful praise and thank Jesus for every good thing that has happened in their lives, right down to them f-i-n-a-l-l-y having a bowel movement. Think I am kidding? You need to spend time listening to praise and testimony time at the local Baptist church. The minutest details of goodness are ascribed to God. Never mind that you drank two glasses of fiber drink and swallowed four Dulcolax tablets. It was God, not the drink and tablets that caused your BM. Silly? Sure, but this illustrates the absurdity of the notion that every good thing comes from the Christian God.

Former Christians often were brought to unbelief by daring to question whether God really was materially involved in their lives. I know for me personally, one of the reasons for my deconversion was the fact that almost all the answered prayers I attributed to God were explainable by purely human means. And the handful of events that couldn’t be explained this way? These were not enough to keep me believing. As I scanned the history of my life, I concluded that virtually every event and circumstance — good, bad, and indifferent — could be traced back to myself or some other human.

Christians often thank God when their health problems are made better. Praise Jesus! God healed me, countless Evangelicals have said, never considering whether such claims are true. Most of the physical healing in the world today doesn’t come from the hands of the Evangelical deity. It is doctors, nurses, medical technicians, medications, and life-saving procedures which should be thanked. Think about your last surgery. Is there any reason to give God credit for its success? What did God do to warrant such praise?

atheist-thanksgiving

I am a big proponent of giving credit to whom credit is due. That’s the point Letty Raines was making when she said, “Don’t thank God, thank me!” While it is certainly proper for all of us to have humility, there’s nothing wrong with us expecting to be thanked when we help others. Polly loves to cook. She will spend hours preparing scrumptious family meals. Imagine if no one ever thanked her for her labors. Imagine if we thanked Jesus for the meal instead of Polly. Why I suspect that the next Thanksgiving meal will feature Banquet turkey dinners and no pie.

Think, for a moment, about all the good that has come your way this past week. Was it God who did these things for you? Of course not. It was your spouse, children, friends, or other human beings. Everything that happens in our lives can be traced to hands that can be easily seen.  There’s no need for any of us to say, Thank you, God. Instead, thank those who did well by you. Be grateful for the labor and kindness. As we traverse the plain of life, let’s give credit to whom credit is due. Thank you to everyone who helped this week to make my life better. And God, if you are reading this post, please know if you ever really do something good, something that alone can be attributed to you, you can bet your last dollar that I will say, to you, THANKS!

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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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Daniel Owens Pleads Guilty to Medicare Fraud

pastor daniel owens

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.

Daniel Owens, pastor of Life Springs Dream Center in Sanford, North Carolina, and the director of the Dream Center, an affiliate of the church that combats human trafficking, addiction, and homelessness, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to medicare fraud. Owens is expected to be sentenced next week.

WRAL reports:

Court documents state Pastor Daniel Owens netted more than $10,000 in kickbacks and bribes as part of a Medicare fraud scheme.

Owens is a pastor at Life Springs Dream Center in Sanford. He is also the director of the Dream Center, an affiliate of the church that combats human trafficking, addiction and homelessness.

In November 2021, Owens pleaded guilty to federal Medicare fraud charges.

Owens is set to be sentenced federally on Jan. 23. The maximum penalty for the crime is 10 years in prison.

….

Court documents show between January 2020 and April 2020, Owens is accused of conspiring “to offer, pay, solicit and receive illegal heath care kickback payments in exchange for the referral of patients for cancer tests that were submitted to Medicare for reimbursement.”

“We’ve known about that for two years,” Sauls said of Owens. “He’s walked. He’s cooperating with authorities. He’s admitted what he did. He didn’t know he was doing anything wrong.”

Federal documents detail a scheme to recruit people to undergo unnecessary cancer screening tests.

The Rant adds:

The Life Springs Dream Center posted a Facebook video Thursday acknowledging the organization’s leadership had been aware that pastor Daniel Owens – who has been central in Life Springs Church’s effort to obtain $500,000 in county funding for the center – pleaded guilty to federal Medicare fraud charges in 2021 and will be sentenced later this month.

Owens appeared in the video with lead Pastor Dale Sauls, who did most of the speaking. Sauls said the situation was “not fortunate” and “bad.”

“We found out that on social media, has surfaced some information about my twin brother Pastor Daniel that has been less than flattering to say the least. So we felt like that we needed to give some sort of explanation about that,” Sauls said. “In this particular situation, we knew about this situation before it happened, during it happened, and after it happened.”

Neither Sauls nor Owens responded Wednesday to multiple attempts by phone and email to reach them for comment about Owens’ November 2021 guilty plea in a Philadelphia federal court. Questions posed by email included “if you or the church in general were aware of the guilty plea, why was the information that a leader of your efforts had recently pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges not disclosed at the time of LSAT’s application for funding?” and “do you feel like the taxpayers and commissioners from whom your organization was soliciting money deserved to know that you’ve pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges?”

Those questions were not addressed in the video.

Instead, Sauls explained that Owens was deceived by a previous employer and that it was “too late” to avoid charges by the time he learned he’d broken the law.

Explaining that Owens was working part time with Life Springs because “we were not in a position in those days to pay him full time,” and that he eventually found employment through the website Indeed.com, Sauls said “the job involved helping people get pre-cancer screening. So he began to work for the company, they said you do this and we’ll pay you this. Didn’t make a lot of money but, nevertheless, that was his job. Come to find out later on that the company he was a part of, while he was very well intended, his idea was ‘I’m helping people,’ they were not so well intended. And they were doing things illegal, and when he found out about it, it was too late. He immediately said ‘yes I work for the company, yes I did what they said, and they said ‘okay well if you will cooperate with us during this, then we’re gonna take care.’”

The charging document in the case doesn’t mention what company Owens was working for at the time of his fraud – which prosecutors say involved recruiting people to undergo unnecessary cancer screening tests, sending them to a lab out of state and then receiving a kickback after the testing was billed to Medicare – but it does say that Owens is “the owner of People Loving People, a corporation located in Sanford, North Carolina that purportedly provided marketing and consulting services.” Owens is listed on the North Carolina Secretary of State website as the registered agent for People Loving People.

The November vote to award funding to the Life Springs Dream Center has since come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons – first, its speed (the grant was approved the night it was introduced, even after County Manager Dr. John Crumpton recommended further study), and later because it was determined that LSAT did not have necessary IRS approval as a nonprofit entity. That means the county is unable to enter into a contract on the Dream Center proposal until nonprofit status is approved.

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.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Dustin Spillers Accused of Child Molestation

dustin spillers

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.

Dustin Spillers, a former youth pastor at Abba’s House in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and president of the PTA at Wolftever Elementary School in Ooltewah, Tennessee, stands accused of child molestation and aggravated sexual battery. Based on scant news reports, the alleged crimes did not take place at the church or school. Spillers was extradited to Georgia to answer the charges against him.

WJAC-6 reports:

A former youth pastor at the Abba’s House church in Chattanooga, Tennessee who was also a former PTA president at an elementary school in Hamilton County is facing child molestation charges and aggravated sexual battery charges, according to court documents.

Online records show Hamilton County deputies arrested 34-year-old Dustin Spillers.

Spillers was extradited to Troup County, Georgia, where he faces the charges.

Abba’s House Lead Pastor Dr. Ronnie Phillips, Jr. confirmed Spillers was once associated with the church as a volunteer youth pastor and left the church in 2015.

“Dustin Spillers moved to Chattanooga from Louisiana in 2008 following a former youth pastor, Chris Brooks,” Phillips told WTVC in an email. “He was never on staff nor received any financial compensation from Abba’s House. He left the church in 2015. There were no inappropriate actions by Dustin Spillers known by Abba’s House while he attended here. We are praying for the Spillers family, any alleged victims, and all other churches, individuals, and families that may be affected by the alleged actions.”

Several posts on the Abba’s House Students Facebook page from 2012 share events that list Spillers’ involvement.

Spillers was also the president of the PTA at Wolftever Creek Elementary School.

In a Facebook post on January 2, Principal Gail Huffstutler told parents that Spillers “stepped down from his role on the PTA.”

Hamilton County Schools said Spillers resigned as PTA president during the holiday break.

Sydney Moore, a friend of the Spillers family, told WTVC she met Spillers during his time at Abba’s House and knew him for several years.

This has been a complete shock to us,” Moore said. “He has been living a double life his entire life.”

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.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor John Kim Accused of Sexual Assault

pastor john kim

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.

John Kim, the Korean church youth pastor at Salvation Army Mayfair Community Church in Chicago, Illinois, stands accused of sexually assaulting someone under the age of eighteen.

The Korea Daily reports:

47-year-old Korean pastor in Chicago has been indicted on three counts of sexual assault against minors, local broadcaster CBS 2 News reported on the 15th.

According to the police, Pastor John Kim, who served at the Salvation Army Mayfair Community Church in Chicago, was indicted on three counts of felony sexual assault on minors under the age of 18.

Based on the video posted by the church, Pastor Kim worked at the church for a long time.

A police official also explained that Pastor Kim does not currently work at the church and that it was an incident that occurred while he was in office in the past. The arrest was reported to have been made on the 11th.

CBS 2 News apparently reached out to the church to hear their position, but did not get a response.

Instead, the Salvation Army confirmed in a statement sent to CBS 2 News that “the Salvation Army is now aware that local police are investigating.” “The allegations of employees who worked in the past directly contradict with our beliefs and values, which also aligns with our efforts to immediately respond, detect, and prevent reports of misconduct.”

According to local Korean media, Pastor Kim has been in charge of youth English-speaking worship for more than 10 years since 2005 at the Mayfair Community Church of the Salvation Army.

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: 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.

Songs of Sacrilege: Atheists Don’t Have No Songs by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

steve martin and steep canyon rangers

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 Atheists Don’t Have No Songs by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

Video Link

Lyrics

You know, religious people have such beautiful music and art
And atheists really have nothing…

Until now!

A little tune called “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs”

Christians have their hymns and pages.
(Hymns and pages)
Hava Nagila’s for the Jews.
(For the Jews)
Baptists have the rock of ages.
(Rock of ages)
Atheists just sing the blues.

Romantics play Claire de Lune.
(Claire de Lune)
Born agains sing He is risen.
But no one ever wrote a tune.
(Wrote a tune)
For godless existentialism.
(For godless existentialism)

For Atheists,
There’s no good news.
They’ll never sing,
A song of faith.

In their songs,
They have a rule.
The “he” is always lowercase.
The “he” is always lowercase.

Some folks sing a Bach cantata.
(Bach cantata)
Lutherans get Christmas trees.
Atheist songs add up to nada.
(Up to nada)
But they do have Sundays free.
(Have Sundays free)

Pentecostals sing, sing to heaven,
(Sing to heaven)
Gothics had the books of scrolls,
(Numerologists count)
Numerologists count, count to seven,
(Count to seven)
Atheists have rock and roll.

For atheists,
There’s no good news.
They’ll never sing,
A song of faith.

In their songs,
They have a rule.
The “he” is always lowercase.
The “he” is always lowercase.

Atheists
Atheists
Atheists
Don’t have no songs!

Christians have their hymns and pages.
(Hymns and pages)
Hava Nagila’s for the Jews.
(For the Jews)
Baptists have the rock of ages.
(Rock of ages)
Atheists just sing the blues.

Catholics,
Dress up for mass.
And listen to,
Gregorian chants.

Atheists,
Just take a pass.
Watch football in their underpants.
Watch football in their underpants.

Atheists
Atheists
Atheists
Don’t have no songs!
(Don’t have no songs)

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