Evangelicalism

The Voices of Atheism: Christopher Hitchens on Religion

christopher hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

This is the first installment in The Voices of Atheism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. Know of a good video that espouses atheism/agnosticism or challenges the claims of the Abrahamic religions? Please email me the name of the video or a link to it. I believe his series will be an excellent addition to The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Today’s video features the late Christopher Hitchens participating in a panel discussion on religion. Enjoy!

Video Link

Books I Recommend by Christopher Hitchens

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens

Mortality

The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever

Hitch-22: A Memoir

Evangelical Pastor Dean Curry Starts New Church After Being Fired Over Sexual Misconduct

dean curry

Last July, Dean Curry, pastor of Life Center Assembly of God in Tacoma, Washington, was fired over sexual misconduct allegations. You can read my posts on Curry’s firing here, here, and here.  After sixth months on the disgraced pastors shelf, Curry has resurrected himself and started a new church in Tacoma, Washington. Called OURCHURCH, Curry’s new gig purports to be an inclusive congregation:

CHURCH. It’s a word with some baggage. Almost always defined by or linked with a term Jesus never used: “religion.” OURCHURCH isn’t about religion. We’re about Jesus. And Jesus is about truth, love, grace, peace, and life to the full. For everyone.

OUR: belonging to or connected with us; the possessive form of we

By definition, OUR is inclusive. You, me, us, we. OURCHURCH is simply a community of people learning to love Jesus and love people well together. Sound like something you’d like to be part of? Welcome to OUR.

I wonder if “inclusive” means accepting LGBTQ as they are and admitting them into the membership? I doubt. OUR CHURCH’s doctrinal statement is quite Evangelical, so I suspect that Curry will continue to preach against homosexuality, premarital sex, and same-sex marriage. The church’s doctrinal statement doesn’t mention Hell, though I suspect, again, Curry believes such a place exists and all non-Christians will end up there after they die.

Curry in an expert at hiding his real beliefs behind cutesy, evasive words, but make no mistake about it, Dean Curry is a card-Carrying Evangelical; an Evangelical pastor with sexual misconduct allegations in his past. Not that that has ever stopped a disgraced Evangelical preacher from starting a new church. You see, men such as Dean Curry (and Bruce Gerencser) are addicted to the ministry. They love the power, attention, and adulation. The ministry gives them meaning, purpose, and direction. The sum of their life is the ministry.  It is for these reasons, and others, disgraced preachers rarely leave the ministry altogether. Once a preacher, always a preacher, the thinking goes. And if men such as Curry believe God has “called” them, they even have Biblical justification for their continuation in the ministry despite their crimes and/or misconduct:

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (Romans 11:29)

I have no doubt Curry believes he is “called” by Jesus to start OURCHURCH and be its senior pastor. When someone believes God talks to them personally, there’s little anyone can do to change their minds. It will be interesting to see how many people join with Curry at his new gig. Something tells me, he will draw more than a few people from his former church; people who believe the accusations against Curry are false or they believe he is sufficiently repentant for his past ill behavior.

The current leaders of the church are as follows: Dean Curry, Senior Pastor, Brandon Perritte, Lead Pastor, Melanie Grassi Wood, Executive Pastor, and Tait Stocking, Pastor to Kids and Families

OURCHURCH’s Facebook page.

Sacrilegious Humor: The Best of Bill Maher on Islam and Christianity

bill maher

This is the fifty-eighth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit 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 email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s video is a compilation of Bill Maher’s bits on Islam and Christianity.

Video Link

Sacrilegious Humor: Compilation of Comedy Bits on Religion

atheists-go-to-heaven

Comic by Mark Lynch

This is the fifty-seventh installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit 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 email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s video is a compilation of various comedians doing bits on religion.

Video Link

Guest Post: #ExposeChristianSchools Part 2

exposechristianschools

Guest post by by ObstacleChick

In the wake of Karen Pence’s decision to accept a position at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia, which requires parents of admitted students to sign a statement that they do not participate in or condone any sexual immorality, including homosexuality or bisexuality, ex-evangelical Chris Stroop created the social media hashtag #ExposeChristianSchools. Please see Part 1 for some of my experiences in a fundamentalist Christian school from 1981-1988.

After reading an article that Ms. Pence had accepted the position, I went to the school’s website to find out more about the school before jumping to conclusions, and I found that it is very similar to the fundamentalist Christian school I attended in the 1980s. While I am not surprised that Ms. Pence would support such a school, and I believe she has a right to teach wherever she wishes, I also believe that she should not act surprised or offended when other people call her out on teaching at a school that promotes bigotry against LGBTQ people.

One of my friends from the fundamentalist Christian school came out as gay after he left the school. Fortunately, his parents were very supportive of him. He and I have stayed in touch through the years because I was one of the few former classmates who did not treat him like a pariah due to admonishments from writings of ancient, ignorant people.

I noticed my friend shared the story of Ms. Pence’s acceptance of the job at Immanuel Christian School on his social media page with the comment, “I went to a private Christian school. I wish I had come out during my time there to shake things up.” It made me sad to read his comment, knowing that he would have either been silenced or expelled. Knowing full well that my post would probably upset former teachers and classmates, I posted my own #ExposeChristianSchools story. I believe it is important that people from my post-evangelical life understand what these schools are and that they may actually know someone who attended one of those schools. Also, I felt it was important for people from my past and present to realize that people can change their views.

Several friends from my post-evangelical days thanked me for posting and sharing the story. None of them knew my background with regard to religious indoctrination. Many commenters were members of my husband’s family or were former coworkers. I am sure they were shocked to find out I was raised that way, especially as I no longer hold the bigoted views espoused by these types of schools. Only one of my former classmates commented, and she thanked me for posting and admitted that she did not think about these things while growing up, is currently sending her children to this type of school, and struggles with the legalism.

My father-in-law, who attended Catholic schools through grade school and undergraduate university, was concerned that I was judging all Christian schools, so we had a telephone conversation and cleared things up. My brother and my former mathematics teacher, however, were not pleased with my assessment. I had already decided that if any of my teachers saw my post, I would not feel bad, as they must be held accountable for their complicity in such a system regardless of whether they were active perpetrators of abuse. While my former mathematics teacher is a nice lady who is in her early 90s, she still holds unapologetically to the abusive fundamentalist evangelical beliefs that I wish to expose. I thanked her for her response, but she did not apologize for being part of the system and I did not offer absolution.

My brother, about whom I have written before, stated unequivocally that he cannot understand how we were brought up in the same system yet have such completely divergent world views. He and my former mathematics teacher then proceeded to orgasm over each other’s conversion stories and how Jesus has saved them from their depravity. I let them have their little orgasmic bonding on my post, hoping that previous commenters would read what sounds to outsiders like ridiculous ranting and raving in order to solidify the points that I was trying to make. I won’t bore you all with the details of their stories, but suffice it to say theirs are typical tales of “I was a sinner and Jesus totally saved me glory hallelujah amen praise Jesus.” Evangelicals really have no idea how ridiculous their “testimonies” sound to those outside the system.

In any case, my husband and I were concerned that my brother would cut us off as we have feared, given my brother’s increasing zealotry. This particular interchange led me to realize that my brother is too far gone to have a rational discussion about religion, and I have determined not to bring it up to him anymore. If he wishes to persist in his beliefs, he will need to follow his own journey. My pointing out scientific and historical flaws in his beliefs has no impact on his desire for faith in ridiculous (and harmful) views. I commented a few days later on one of his few non-religious posts, and we had a nice banter back and forth, so he is not averse to banalities. I think he understands that my children and I are the only blood relatives with whom he has any type of relationship, and if he cuts us off, he will only have his wife’s family. They are definitely more Christian than we are, but even they do not seem to be participating in his hard-core fundamentalist zealotry. I don’t think he has any friends outside his Skype men’s prayer group.

In any case, I accomplished my goal of raising awareness about the abuses in fundamentalist Christian schools. And while I am not ready to be completely public about my atheism for fear of prompting my brother to sever ties, I will say that my name is Laura, and I #ExposeChristianSchools.

Please share your experiences with Christian schools in the comments. We would love to hear your stories.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Phil Robertson Says He Doesn’t Need Medical Insurance

phil robertson aids

We have been given — contrary to what Kamala Harris said — she says, ‘Elect me and everything’s free!’ Look! Everybody can have their own health care, the government is going to finance the whole thing! It’s not going to cost but $30 trillion. I’m offering you the greatest deal you ever had. Elect me and everything will be free!

What I’m saying is that, Kamala, I already have health care. It’s given to me by God. Eternal health care. I’m guaranteed to be raised from the dead. I have life and immortality given to me by God through Jesus.

(“People get sick on Earth,” Cavuto pointed out.)

The temporary reprieve is not worth it. I’m telling her, I have eternal health care and it’s free.

….

(The “Duck Commander” went on to insist that President Donald Trump never lies.)

A man that talks a lot like the president of the United States, he’s going to make some mistakes. I’m just saying the news media, according to Jesus, the evil one is the father of murder — that kind of fills in the blanks on why we’re such a murderous nation all the way down to killing our sons and daughters in our mothers’ wombs. And he’s the father of lies. I’ve never seen the extent of this kind of lying coming out of the news media. I’ve never seen anything like it since I’ve been on the Earth.

(“But you don’t see it out of the president?” Cavuto pressed.)

I would say Donald Trump is not a liar. [And Bruce says, Phil Robertson has dementia.]

— Phil Robertson, Crooks and Liars, Duck Commander Yells About Medicare For All, February 5, 2019

Want to hear more nonsense from Fundamentalist Phil Robertson? Watch the video, but make sure you have a barf bag handy. Trust me, you’ll need it.

Selling Jesus

going steady with jesus

Two weeks 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.” We either have to side or repaint our home this year, so I thought, here’s my opportunity to get our first estimate.

Last Friday, 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 salesman 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 time 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 Internet, 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-salesmen 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 last five to eight years,” he told us.  The salesman also discounted the value of repainting our home. Polly and I 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 have passed since the Mrs. and I painted our home. The past decade has not been kind to us health-wise. We are still able to do some of the painting, but we would have to hire someone to do the ladder work.

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 newer 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!”

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!”

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.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Guest Post: #ExposeChristianSchools Part 1

exposechristianschools

#ExposeChristianSchools, created by ex-evangelical Chris Stroop, has been trending on social media since Second Lady Karen Pence accepted a position at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. Readily available on the school’s website is the agreement which parents of admitted students must sign. Included in the agreement is the paragraph as follows:

I understand the biblical role of Immanuel Christian School is to partner with families to encourage students to be imitators of Christ. This necessarily involves the school’s understanding and belief regarding biblical morality and standards of conduct. I understand that the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches. This includes, but is not limited to, contumacious behavior, divisive conduct, and participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity, or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school. (Lev. 20:13 and Romans 1:27). I acknowledge the importance of a family culture based on biblical principles and embrace biblical family values such as a healthy marriage between one man and one woman. My role as spiritual mentor to my children will be taken seriously.

As a parent of a student, one must sign an agreement that one does not even condone homosexual or bisexual activity upon threat of expulsion. Additionally, the school teaches creation mythology instead of evolution, and of course, the school teaches typical Evangelical doctrines regarding sin and salvation through grace, along with “the rapture” eschatology.

I attended a fundamentalist Christian school much like this in grades 5-12 (1981-1988). My mom and grandparents heard a rumor that students living in my district would be bused to a mostly-minority community, so they acted fast to enroll me in the private (almost completely white) Christian school. Entering the school, all students were subject to a gender-based dress code and a comprehensive code of conduct. Girls were to “appear as God made them — feminine” (yes, I distinctly remember that description from the student handbook). There were strict guidelines for skirt length and sleeve length, and when we entered 6th grade the female teachers taught us how to go through physical contortions in front of a mirror to determine whether our clothing would properly cover us if we bent over or reached over our heads. Girls’ dress code also allowed for pants/slacks/culottes to be worn to extracurricular activities such as ballgames (but we were never to wear jeans – somehow denim is fine in the form of skirt, dress, jumper, or jacket, but it transforms into pure evil if it is cut into the form of women’s pants). Boys’ dress code included strict guidelines for hair length including a diagram in the handbook and the requirement for a belt to be worn and shirt tucked in at all times. No one was allowed to wear anything with obscenities, racial slurs, or the American flag.

We had a strict code of conduct that allowed the school to suspend or expel students for activities outside the school. Students could be suspended or expelled for having sex, for smoking, for drinking alcohol, for profane language, and for playing rock music on school grounds. There was a year when anyone caught going to the roller-skating rink would be suspended. During my tenure at the school, three boys were expelled for attending a party that served alcohol. A girl overheard the boys talking about it and turned them in. Naturally, we were in a culture that encouraged us to report behavior of other students to the administrators. Additionally, two girls were expelled for getting pregnant. One would think that pro-lifers would commend the girls for giving birth to their babies, but for some reason the administration thought that the correct course of action was to expel the girls. I suppose they wanted to remove the quite-visible reminder that the girls had participated in sexual activity.

To be fair, I was never told that I could not excel academically or take a class because I was female. It was clear that females were not allowed to preach, but we had a female high school principal. However, there were other things that we learned about being female. First, of course, was the emphasis on the dress code as described previously. Girls were sent home from school if their skirts were too short, too tight, or if their shirt was “too revealing” in some way. When I was in 6th grade, our health and physical education teacher taught us that the “perfect female form” had the dimensions of equal measurements of bust and hips with waist measuring ten inches less. Homework required that we take our measurements, and the next day she asked girls to raise their hands who had the “perfect female form” measurements. Three girls raised their hands — we all knew they were liars, but I remember feeling like a loser because at age twelve I had nowhere near the “perfect female form.” My entire life, I never had those measurements, though I have always been fit and active except while pregnant and postpartum. Those measurement parameters and their association with the “perfect female form” have stuck in my mind my entire life though.

Another traumatizing moment at school was in preparation for our senior class trip to Florida. Girls were allowed to bring one-piece swimwear on the trip, but we were only allowed to bring pieces approved by female faculty. I will never forget having to put on my two one-piece swimsuits while my female teachers examined them to determine if they were modest enough. They approved both suits, wrote down their descriptions which would be available to the female chaperones, and they told me I looked good. There are few incidents in my life that were as mortifying as this. I do not know what the requirements were for boys’ swimwear.

Our school had a culture of pointing out misbehavior/sin. Among students, people would comment upon other students’ failings “in a spirit of love” but really, we all knew it was just an opportunity for people to judge others and to highlight things they didn’t like to other students. As teachers were the authorities and in charge of correcting misbehavior, they were allowed to point out misbehavior at any time. There was a lot of watching, observing, and judging going on. Faculty sometimes even tried to prevent dating situations from occurring. One of my friends was a PK — preacher’s kid — whose father was friends with the headmaster of the school. The headmaster did not approve of my friend’s boyfriend (also a student at the school), so he approached my friend’s father who broke up the relationship.

Yet there was, of course, rampant hypocrisy. Teachers as part of their employment contract were not allowed to attend movie theaters. It was explained that observing students would not know whether a teacher was entering or exiting a rated-R movie, so in order to protect the testimony of the teacher, the teacher could not attend the movie theater. However, all the young teachers had memberships to the local video store, and they openly discussed movies with students. I never understood how it was acceptable for the teacher to rent movies from the video store, as by the same reasoning that students would not know whether a teacher was attending a rated-R movie, how could we know whether the teacher was renting a pornographic film? Additionally, I always found it odd that two female students married teachers from the school and wondered if any dating was going on while the girls were students.

Students were told that we received the best academic education available, but I learned when I went to a top ranked secular university that this was not necessarily the case. (One could argue that my education was good enough to gain admission to a top ranked secular school.) Of course, as a fundamentalist Christian school whose statement of beliefs included inerrant, inspired, and literalist view of the Bible, evolution was not taught in science courses. Our science textbooks were from Bob Jones University Press, and they included some odd rebuttals of evolution. One of the main rebuttals was that radiocarbon dating was contaminated and inaccurate on the magnitude of millions of degrees of error. The curriculum taught that the earth was only 6,000-10,000 years old and that God had created the earth with the appearance of age. Fossils existed due to upheavals that occurred during (the story of) Noah’s Worldwide Flood. I remember the explanation that spontaneous generation of life does not occur because rotten meat that produced maggots and flies meant that flies laid eggs in the meat, not that the rotting meat generated flies; therefore, evolution is false. It’s a fair analysis that flies lay eggs in rotting meat, but it has nothing to do with spontaneous generation of life – it just means that ignorant people who thought that rotting meat gave rise to maggots and flies had no understanding of the reproduction and gestation of flies. As for mathematics, our course path was a year behind the honors track at public or private secular schools, so those of us who were “advanced” students were a year behind other top students. History courses were taught from a Christian inclination, and I do not remember much mention of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or of the civil rights movement. Our foreign language curriculum was not very rigorous, and I was required to repeat basic French in college in order to fulfill the foreign language requirement. What the school considered Advanced Placement courses were not the true Advanced Placement courses one finds in other schools in which an AP exam is administered for which one can earn college credit. On the positive side, our writing skills were impeccable as the school focused on constructing proper paragraphs and essays. My college literature professor pulled me aside after our first composition and asked me if I was sandbagging his course because my writing skills were beyond the level of other students in the class. I told him I was not offered another option and explained I had attended a private Christian school. I think he felt sorry for me as he allowed me to take a leadership role in the class.

Many of my teachers were kind, compassionate people who were dedicated to educating students. However, most newer, younger teachers did not last long at the school due to the low pay and the heavy course load — each middle school and high school teacher was required to teach a minimum of four individual classes, each with a separate course prep. The shortest tenure I recall is 5 weeks; a couple of teachers lasted through the first half of the year; the majority quit after the first year. The teachers who made it past the first two years generally stayed for a long time. Male teachers were required to prepare and preach sermons on chapel days (Tuesdays and Thursdays) in addition to teaching courses. A few teachers coached sports or drove school buses in order to make a little extra money, and all had summer jobs. The teachers chose life in a Christian school whereas most of the students did not — our parents and guardians chose for us.

Stay tuned for more about #ExposeChristianSchools.

#ExposeChristianSchools Guest Posts Wanted

exposechristianschools

Chris Stroop, an ex-evangelical, recently launched the #ExposeChristianSchools hashtag on Twitter in response to “Vice President Mike Pence and conservative commentators like David French lambasting liberals over legitimate criticism of Second Lady Karen Pence for choosing to teach art at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia—a K-8 school that explicitly discriminates against members of the LGBTQ community.” Needless to say, Stroop’s effort has caused a tornado-level shit-storm. You can read Stoop’s article on the fallout from #ExposeChristianSchools here.

ObstacleChick sent me a two-part guest post detailing her experiences attending an Evangelical Christian school. As I read her submission, I thought, maybe there are other readers who would like to share their Christian school experiences. If you would like to do so, please email me via the contact form. Anonymous submissions are fine, as are pseudonyms. I hope some of you will consider adding your voice to the discussion. I plan to write a series of posts detailing my experiences as a pastor who started an Evangelical Christian school. Several months ago, the local school superintendent and I were chit-chatting and he asked me, “so where did your children go to school?” I chuckled and responded, “well, that’s a long, convoluted story I will have to share with you some day when we have time.” I hope this series will provide a vehicle by which I can share my past experiences and readers can understand why I, today, oppose the anti-culture, anti-human beliefs and practices used by many, if not most, Evangelical Christian schools and home schoolers.

Stay tuned. I have lots to share, and I hope other readers of this blog will too. Your voice is important. I look forward to hearing from you.

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.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Shush, Evil Spirits Might be Listening

satan

Familiar spirits and generational spirits target our families and situations that are familiar to us. These spirits have been assigned to our genealogy and know our families’ past mistakes and weaknesses. We also need to be aware of the word curses and generational curses in our family members’ lives so that we don’t repeat the past and bring what is dead, buried, and gone into the future. We need to make sure that we are speaking life and freedom and not cursing and bondage. By the words we speak, we can replant and build what the enemy has stolen of our past.

What curses are you putting on yourself? What generational curses are you putting on your children? Statements such as the following should not be spoken:

  • “She can’t read.”
  • “She sings off key.”
  • “He always drops something.”
  • “My kids are loud and obnoxious.”
  • “Her middle name is Troublemaker.”

Don’t curse your children and spouse with your words. If it doesn’t edify, encourage, or exhort, don’t say it. Find a way to speak about a condition or happening that is not going to speak against anyone. Better yet, don’t speak it at all if you aren’t trying to find a solution to the problem.

How many times do we speak over ourselves and aren’t even aware of it?

  • Never say, “That makes me sick,” when someone tells you something. It can open a doorway to sickness. You are speaking or claiming that something makes you sick!
  • Never say, “She’s driving me crazy” or “I can’t take it anymore.” Such statements can lead to emotional doors being opened. Do you really want to lose your mind and go crazy? How many times have you spoken that out over the years? Remember the law of sowing and reaping.
  • Never say, “My daughter has the flu, and I’ll catch it next.” We are redeemed! We don’t have to get the flu or a virus. Don’t claim that it’s going to attack you. Expectation is the breeding ground for miracles. Expect not to get sick; don’t expect to get sick!
  • Never say, “I can’t afford to tithe!” Change your poverty mentality; you can’t afford not to tithe.
  • Never say, “Over my dead body,” “I’m going to kill you for that,” or “You’re going to kill me for this.” Such statements open a door for spirits of death to come in.
  • Never say, “They irritate me.” That statement leads to a spirit of irritation. When you say that you are irritated or frustrated, you can’t get rid of it in a few days because you opened the door to those spirits by speaking it. Now you need to cast out a spirit of irritation or frustration.
  • — Kathy DeGraw, Charisma News, Are You Cursing Your Family With Generational Spirits Without Realizing It, February 2, 2019
  • Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Strick Strickland Accused of Sex Crimes

    pastor strick strickland

    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.

    Strickjavvar “Strick” Strickland, pastor of Second Baptist Church (church’s website is down) in Kalamazoo, Michigan stands accused of paying teenagers for sex acts.

    TV-8 reports:

    Reverend Strick Strickland, 36, is pastor at Kalamazoo’s Second Baptist Church on North Rose Street. His wife Jazmonique Strickland, 25, was a paraprofessional at Phoenix High School in Kalamazoo until she resigned last fall, one day before police executed a search warrant at the family’s home.

    After a four-month investigation by Michigan State Police, several sources confirmed to Target 8 that detectives found Strickland had paid teenagers to engage in sexual acts at his family’s home on Prairie Avenue in Kalamazoo.

    That property is owned by Second Baptist Church, where Strickland has been pastor since 2012.

    Of the four alleged victims police have identified, one was 14 years old at the time. All were under 17.

    “At this point, with everything we have done, we believe that it occurred over a period of time on more than one occasion,” MSP Detective 1st Lt. Chuck Christensen told Target 8 in an interview Thursday.

    Strickland called the allegations against him and his wife “absolutely 100 percent false” when reached by phone Thursday.

    “Wow,” Strickland responded when a Target 8 investigator detailed the accusations against him and his wife.

    ….

    The investigation isn’t the pastor’s first negative publicity. In an unrelated case last summer, murder suspect Donnovan Lewis told police he killed his girlfriend Aniya Mack, a Western Michigan University student, over her growing relationship with Strickland, her pastor.

    Christensen of MSP said while the investigation is ongoing, detectives have turned over their findings to Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting, who will make a charging decision. Getting declined to comment on the case Thursday.

    An August 2018 WWMT-3 news report alleges that Strickland had a sexual relationship Aniya Mack. Mack was later murdered by her boyfriend, Donnovan Lewis. Strickland released the following statement, denying the allegations against him:

    All of the things that I am being Accused of are ministry related!

    1. Second Baptist under my leadership has helped more than 30 families with transportation barriers Aniya’s situation was no different.

    2. We have shared thousands of dollars of resources to help members with rent, utilities, food…

    3. The All Expenses Paid trip was a choir trip with 50 other people. This trip was also all expenses paid for all College Students of which there was 6-8 more! Who all shared rooms together. My family wife and kids where with us…

    lastly, this is an attempt to discredit the church, the NAACP, and the black leader. However, I’m not running from this story. I am rather trying to be sensitive to the source of your information (A young man I don’t know at all. Who has killed his ex-girlfriend and is declaring himself insane!) his family deserves peace and my response to the propaganda will only disrupt their peace!

    Ultimately and finally, I have no control over people’s dreams and feel that it is extremely unfair that I be held accountable for was a person thinks or imagines is happening!

    In this particular case we have a young man who has confessed to murder and I’m sure that had I been a white leader here in Kalamazoo that would be no story especially based solely upon the word of a confessed killer and self-proclaimed insane suspect.

    Aniya Mack’s memory deserves to be left in tack! Here is a young lady that has already lost her life and future and now she is being denigrated to nothing more than her pastor’s mistress! That’s the biggest injustice of all!

    Stickland’s church bio page (a cached copy) says:

    Pastor Strick Strickland succeeds Rev. Matthew W. Wright as pastor of Second Baptist Church and was elected January 22, 2012. Strickland has been preaching since age 19, a year after he got saved. He says that although he grew up in the church in Warren Hill, Mississippi, he didn’t really accept Christ until age 18. Apart of what helped him make his decision in the end was seeing his peers struggle on the streets where he grew up. In fact, he mentions that he had strayed away from church for a while. He got into trouble and landed in an alternative school. However, even there he excelled academically and tested in the top 5 percentile of students across the nation. He was in a gang and was labeled “Expected to fail”. Thus, Pastor Strickland’s story is one of how God is still a God of miracles, even today.

    When asked how he knew he was called to preach, he replied, “Because it was the last thing I wanted to do”. He says that it was not only that he didn’t want to preach, but it was also that he didn’t relish the lifestyle of a preacher.

    Prior to accepting the position as Pastor at Second Baptist Church, Pastor Strickland pastored at Pen Oak Missionary Baptist Church from 2005-2008, then went on to lead Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Collins, Mississippi. Second Baptist Church and the city of Kalamazoo hopes this is the beginning of a long stay at Second Baptist. Prior to accepting the position as Pastor at Second Baptist Church, Pastor Strickland pastored at Pen Oak Missionary Baptist Church from 2005-2008, then went on to lead Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Collins, Mississippi. Second Baptist Church and the city of Kalamazoo hopes this is the beginning of a long stay at Second Baptist.

    Pastor Strickland is also a national recording artist and the lead singer for a group called the True Believers. We hope that through his preaching and singing many souls will be won for the Kingdom of God. Since his election at Second Baptist Church, he has been involved in the Spiritual Awakening Services at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the Jump Start Revival at his church, and spoke on 95.5 FM radio. As a young pastor, this is an example other young people that want to become pastors, ministers, singers or entrepreneurs can learn from.

    Pastor Strickland relocated to Michigan, while most of his family lives in Mississippi where he was raised by his grandmother as an only child. His grandmother was a spiritually-oriented woman who helped him with his homework every night. He was in junior high school when he found out that his grandmother could not read or write. The way Strickland learned, however was heeding her advice to “sound out the words”. His mother Ida M. Turner resides in Joliet, Illinois along with his uncle, aunt, and a host of other relatives. Strickland says he is excited to be closer to his mother as he is her only child and she is his biggest fan.