Evangelicalism

The Real “Crisis” And “Scandal” In the Church

if you tell anyone

Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

It is difficult to confront the past: victims are made to relive their pain; victimizers are forced to face the truth. That, of course, is the reason why histories, whether writ large or in one’s own life, are too often unresolved: the victim’s suffering may just be too much to bear, and the victimizer’s guilt causes him or her to lie, evade, or flee.

The unfinished business, if you will, doesn’t go away. It is carried across generations, through history, and among families and cultures. As an example, many of the difficulties faced by African-Americans today are direct consequences of their countries’ inability or unwillingness to deal honestly with slavery and its aftermath, as well as other aspects of their nation’s history.

There comes a day, however, when there is no choice but to deal with the crimes committed by individuals and institutions that had, and sometimes still have, power. Those crimes are like bubbles that could have been submerged only for so long: eventually, they must rise from the depths to the light of day.

Just as those bubbles rise, whether they are in oceans or puddles, abuses must find expression by the individuals who experienced them or the societies in which they occur. Such expression might be in works of art, organizing communities, or simply in telling one’s story and someone else listening to it, without an agenda. Otherwise, those bubbles explode, and the people, their communities and cultures do not survive—or, at least, are tainted.

I am one of the people who could have been blown apart, if you will. Less than two years ago, I named the abuse I experience and my abuser—a priest who, half a century earlier, took advantage of my availability and vulnerability. I have, on a number of occasions, come close to destroying myself: whether consciously, through what people readily identify as “suicide attempts,” or unconsciously, through addictive and reckless behavior.

What seems odd to me now is that some might see recounting my abuse and remembering my abuser as the most difficult thing I’ve done, just as some people thought my “coming out” as a transgender woman was a “big step” for me. Yes, it took a lot of emotional and mental work to be able to take the reins away from the abuser and to stop the emotional blackmail he generated. But I realize now that the difficulty, the pain, of “coming out” as an abuse survivor is temporal, if not momentary. At least I know that, whether or not that pain has an end, it is at least something that I can use to forge new paths in my life and, possibly, help someone else do something similar.

As difficult as confronting that part of my past was, and is, having to live through, and with, the abuse and the shame I felt for so many years was far more difficult and caused much greater damage. Whatever is ruptured by breaking my silence—including that shame and the self-loathing that it too often became—didn’t deserve to survive intact.

Some might accuse me of “projecting,” but it’s hard for me not to think that, in some way, so many cases of sex abuse by clerics and others connected with organized religion is a greater, wider example of what I experienced in my own life. The “scandal” or “crisis” in religious institutions isn’t that the stories of abuse and exploitation are coming to light, by the thousands. The “crisis” has been going on for centuries, and the “scandal” is that its perpetrators kept their victims silent for so long.

In short, the “crisis” or “scandal” in the Roman Catholic Church (and other religious organizations and communities) is nothing more than an institution and its leaders being forced to confront its past—and present—because we, the victims, have had to deal with our pain, for ourselves and those who couldn’t. And those of us who are living could not keep silent any longer, or else we would explode like the Langston Hughes’ “dream deferred.”

Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Malo “Victor” Monteiro Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

victor monteiro

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.

In July 2018, Malo “Victor” Monteiro, former youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California and former assistant pastor at Menifee Baptist Church in Menifee, California, was accused of sexually abusing numerous children over a twenty year period. The Press-Enterprise reported at the time:

A youth pastor in Wildomar was arrested Friday on suspicion of sexually assaulting children over a nearly 20-year span.

Malo Victor Monteiro, 45, of Colton, was booked into Cois M. Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of intent to commit rape, mayhem or sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts with force on a child under 14, lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, distributing harmful matter and sexual penetration by force, according to the Riverside County jail log.

A woman by the name of April Avila publicly accused Monteiro of sexually abusing her while she attended Faith Baptist. ABC-7 reported:

A woman came forward Monday to describe being sexually abused and how her former youth pastor Victor Monteiro groomed her.

“It was little by little, but then he would tell you, ‘You’re really cool. You’re special to me,'” April Avila said. “He would punch you on the shoulder, you know, be the cool youth pastor. Then it became caressing and touching your butt.”

Monteiro was arrested last week on numerous felony charges related to sexual assault on children that spans two decades. Avila said she came to know Montiero when she and her family attended Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar.

“The more involved I was, that’s when things began to escalate at church and away from church,” she said.

Avila is just one suspected victim, and there are others. Another suspected victim of abuse is suing Faith Baptist Church, accusing church administrators of knowing about the allegations and covering up for Monteiro.

In the lawsuit, it claims the church was aware of another youth pastor, who is suspected of having an inappropriate relationship, but the entity ignored it. In doing so, it allowed Monteiro to prey on his victims.

“He knew very well what I had gone through,” Kathy Durbins said.

Durbins is Monteiro’s sister-in-law. She said she was involved in an inappropriate relationship at Faith Baptist when she was a teenager. She said her brother-in-law used his knowledge of the church’s cover up to hide his own crimes.

“I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. There was no law enforcement called. So basically it was a big cover up,” she said.

….

Last November, Monteiro pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting several church teenagers and was sentenced to five years in prison.

The Press-Enterprise reported:

Malo “Victor” Monteiro, 45, pleaded guilty at Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta on Tuesday, Nov. 13, to four counts of lewd acts on a child of 14-15 years of age with the defendant at least 10 years older, two counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object and one count of attempted copulation of a minor, all felonies.

….

Before the sentencing, victims and former Faith Baptist Church congregants Rachel Peach, Lea Ramirez and April Avila — who all had previously told their stories publicly — made victim-impact statements.

Peach, who has sued the church, said in the lawsuit that her relationship with Monteiro started in the fall of 2007, when she was 15, and it advanced to sexual intercourse in the summer of 2008.

Ramirez has said she never had sexual intercourse with Monteiro, but she added that he would make her feel guilty when she refused. Ramirez said she left the church when she was 15 because of him.

Avila had said she was 14 when Monteiro began grooming her for sexual abuse with horseplay that turned intimate. She said Monteiro told her that it would damage her reputation if she reported the abuse.

Monteiro’s victims shared their stories in a Press-Enterprise news story. You can read their accounts here.

Faith Baptist Church is pastored by Bruce Goddard. Menifee Baptist Church is pastored by Pat Cook. Both congregations are Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. I previously wrote a post about Bruce Goddard titled, Pastor Bruce Goddard and His Bait and Switch Tactics.

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Youth Pastor Clinton Brackett Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault

clinton brackett

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.

In October 2017, Clinton Brackett, Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Lindale, Texas, was accused of sexual assault. Prior to his employment at First United Methodist, Brackett spent five years working for First Baptist Church in Ballinger, Texas.

The Tyler Morning Telegraph reported at the time:

The Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Lindale has been arrested for sexual assault.

Clinton Brackett, 32, of Lindale was arrested Thursday on a warrant out of Runnels County and taken to the Smith County Jail.

The arrest was the result of information obtained from a Texas Highway Patrol trooper’s traffic stop in Runnels County, according to a statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

….

First United Methodist Senior Pastor Rick Ivey released a statement saying Clinton Brackett, an employee at the church was arrested Thursday for charges of sexual assault that happened in Runnels County.

Ivey said the incident did not happen at FUMC Lindale or in the Lindale community.

“Clint Bracket’s employment with our church has been terminated,” Ivey said.

Brackett’s social media page indicates he was previously employed as the First Baptist Church in Ballinger. In a social medial post on Dec. 6, 2015, Brackett wrote that he accepted the position of Student Minister at the First United Methodist Church in Lindale and would be leaving the church in Ballinger after four and half years as a minister and member of the First Baptist Church family.

Brackett was held on a $100,000 bond which he posted on Thursday, according to Smith County Judicial records.

Yesterday, Brackett pleaded guilty to child sexual assault and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Southern Gospel Singer Kenny Bishop is Now a Gay United Church of Christ Pastor

kenny bishop

Kenny Bishop grew up in an Evangelical home in Waco, Kentucky. As a teen, Kenny joined with his father and brother Mark to form the southern gospel group The Bishops. For the next eighteen years, The Bishops traveled the country singing at churches, concert venues, and conventions. I had the privilege of hearing The Bishops sing on several occasions, first at the Gospel Barn in Hillsdale, Michigan and then at an outdoor concert near Berea, Kentucky.

Music by The Bishops frequently wafted from our home during the 1980s and 1990s. My wife and I were raised in churches that loved southern gospel music. We’ve attended numerous southern gospel concerts, and while students at Midwestern Baptist College we attended concerts at nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church that featured The Happy Goodman Family and The Cathedral Quartet. In the late 1990s, our music tastes moved away from southern gospel as we began listening to contemporary Christian music, Christian rock, and praise and worship music. Today, I will, on occasion, listen to southern gospel music on Spotify, even though I don’t believe a word of the lyrics. There is something about the music that reaches me at an emotional level. Polly, on the other hand, prefers that the only time Christian music of any kind is played in our home is when she isn’t there. I find it interesting how each of us has a very different response to music from our past. For me, it’s not that the songs “speak” to me. I find many of songs lacking theologically and intellectually. But, there’s something about the harmonies that appeal to me. Polly? She’s definitely a secular rock aficionado. I love rock music too, but I am not willing to throw all the music away from my past. Does this mean that I am still hanging on to God and Christianity? Not at all. Music affects all of us deeply, often in ways we don’t fully understand. Southern gospel music was a part of our Christian life for over forty years. It should not surprise anyone that this music still appeals to me at some level.

Several days ago, I had a hankering for music from The Bishops. As I was listening, I thought, “I wonder where Kenny Bishop is today?” I knew he left the family group in 2001, began working for several politicians, and went through a divorce from his wife of fifteen years, but I had no idea what he was up to today. I suspected that he was still singing southern gospel music. Little did I know that Kenny had strayed far from his Fundamentalist Christian roots and was now a married gay man and a bivocational pastor at Bluegrass United Church of Christ in Lexington, Kentucky!

Talk about finding the unexpected — a liberal, gay Kenny Bishop. I definitely didn’t see that one coming. That said, I am happy for Kenny and his husband Mason. While I am no longer a Christian, I know that Christianity needs more Kenny Bishops. I have no doubt Kenny was eviscerated for his repudiation of Evangelical orthodoxy and their hatred of LGBTQ people. I know first-hand how it feels to be cut a thousand times by people who once loved you, people who were your family, friends, and colleagues in the ministry. Kenny, it seems, has risen above the anger and judgment and made a new life for himself.  I wish him nothing but the best. He will remain my all-time favorite southern gospel tenor singer. And better yet, he is an example for people who still believe in God, but want to free themselves from Evangelical bondage. For people of faith, there are kinder, gentler expressions of Christianity. As Kenny Bishop’s life shows, one can still meaningfully believe in the Christian God without being Evangelical. While I can’t follow such a path, I don’t condemn others who do.

Let me conclude this post with several videos of Kenny Bishop. Enjoy!

Video Link

Video Link

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.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Time For Women to Return to Their God Ordained Places says Larry Solomon

vintage pyrex ad

It is absolutely true that our modern world is trying very hard to make God’s design of masculinity obsolete in every way they can.  As Bible believing Christians though we need to realize this is part of a much larger insidious plan.  The secular humanists have been using scientific and technological advancements as well as cultural changes to try and make God obsolete.

The attack on what we call “traditional masculinity” which really is just God’s design of masculinity is an attack on God himself.

….

Men are not “emotionally incompetent” for strongly desiring and needing marriage nor for placing their value in being providers and protectors.  Men cannot fulfill the purpose for which God designed them without being husbands, fathers, providers and protectors.  So, it makes perfect sense that some men would feel suicidal and without a sense of purpose if they cannot do these things.

Our modern world hates this truth.  And that is why we are seeing a cultural war over the gender roles God created in the form of transgenderism and homosexuality being forced into cultural acceptance.  Secular humanists are literally trying to annihilate the distinction between men and women as God created it.

….

The answer then for us as Christians is to fight back by refusing to conform to this wicked agenda which seeks to make God’s design of masculinity (and femininity for that matter) obsolete.

But how do we fight this cultural war? The simple answer is that we need to reverse the cultural decisions that have brought us to the point we now find ourselves at where we are actually debating if traditional masculinity should be tossed to the dustbin of history.

Work supplies man with a great amount of his purpose.  And a service economy does not provide the vast majority of men with an income that can support a family.  Only a production economy can supply men with jobs that can support a family.  Some say people just need to be educated more for the future.  That is false for two reasons.

First it assumes all men have the intelligence and aptitude for high tech jobs and learning.  That is untrue. Second as things become more and more automated, we will need even less and less techs because the machines will fix themselves.

….

So, Christians need to raise their voices about the threat of continued automation and AI advances.  We need to pass laws that outlaw further AI advances and also outlaw robotic automation in all manufacturing.  We also need to outlaw driverless cars as this will put truck drivers and man others out of work.

But we must also work to undo feminism.  We must take away the rights America has granted to women since the mid-1800s.   This means taking away women’s right to own property and limiting the ability of women to work and earn money.  It means placing restrictions on how many women may enter higher education.   In other words, it means making women completely dependent on men for their economic provision.

And it absolutely means taking away women’s right to vote.

It also means removing no fault divorce laws and restricting the allowance for divorce to only the gravest of circumstances such as physical abuse, adultery or abandonment.

When we once again secure the institution of marriage and protect the ability of all men to be able to work and earn a living and we restrict women from being independent from men then true masculinity can be restored to its rightful honored position it once held.

But then the question comes – how do we do all the things I just mentioned? They seem impossible in our current culture and political climate.  The answer is it starts with Christian fathers and mothers sitting their young people down and showing them what God’s Word says about the different reasons he designed men and women. It means teaching our sons to seek out only Christian women who want to be keepers of their homes and depend on their husbands for their provision as the church depends on Christ for its provision.

It means raising our daughters to be women whose goal in life is not education and career, but instead bringing glory to God by bringing glory to their future husbands.  It means raising daughters who want to fully dedicate their lives to serving their husbands, their children and their homes.

Here is another way to look at this.  Godly young men need to shut out feminist women.  Even if a feminist woman wants to stay at home, she will still bring great sorrow to her future husband with her daily contentions.  That means staying away from women who want college and university educations and or careers.

— Larry Solomon, Biblical Gender Roles, Are Men Becoming Obsolete?, April 24, 2019

It Only Works If You Believe

just believe

Of late, I have been watching the drama The Path on Hulu. Starring Aaron PaulMichelle Monaghan, and Hugh DancyThe Path portrays the lives of people involved with a religion called Meyerism.  While Meyerism is fictional, many of its core tenets and practices mirror those found in Evangelicalism. I found myself thinking, the only difference between Meyerism — a cult — and Evangelicalism is a matter of degree. This is especially true when Meyerism is compared to the extreme Fundamentalist corner of the Evangelical tent. I am not suggesting that Meyerism is the equivalent of Evangelicalism. It’s not. As Wikipedia makes clear,  Meyerism combines aspects of:

New Age philosophy, shamanism, Scientology, Christian mysticism and Utopianism with a few elements from the Shakers, Sufism, Tibetan Buddhism and Freemasonry ritual.

However, Meyeristic practices such as fidelity to a rigid set of commands and beliefs, obedience to leaders, progressive enlightenment, separation from the world, and the shunning of ex-Meyerists find expression in the practices of countless Evangelical churches.

Eddie Lane (Aaron Paul) and Sarah Lane (Michelle Monaghan) are devoted followers of Stephen Meyer, the founder of Meyerism. Born into a Meyerist family, Sarah is what you would call a “true believer.” Eddie, on the other hand, has questions and doubts about the religious aspects of Meyerism. While Eddie embraces Meyerism’s commitment to family, environmentalism, and helping the poor and suffering, he comes to believe the rest of Meyerism is, in his words, bullshit. He has come to see that what he once considered “truth” was a lie. Eventually, Eddie’s crisis of faith leads to conflict with his wife, family, and Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy), the leader of Meyerist community in New York. Eddie is banished from the Meyerist community. Labeled a “denier,” Eddie tries to help his teenage son Hawk who recently took Meyerist vows. In episode three of season two, Hawk tells Eddie that he can no longer see him. Eddie desperately tries to reason with his son, but to no avail.

During his passionate plea to Hawk, Eddie tells his son, “it [Meyerism] only works if you believe.” Eddie goes on to explain that if you pull on that string, everything unravels crumbles into nothing. I can’t think of a better illustration of what many of us have gone through as we walked away from Christianity. Christianity, and in particular Evangelical Christianity, only works IF you believe. Dare to pull the string, logically, rationally, and skeptically evaluating sincere beliefs and practice, and everything unravels crumbles into nothing.

Evangelicalism requires the suspension of reason. No matter how vociferously apologists and zealots argue otherwise, Evangelical faith requires belief over truth and dogma over fact. Doubt and questioning the teachings of the Bible/church/pastor is viewed as a lack of faith, a sure sign that Satan is influencing someone’s thinking. Congregants are discouraged from reading books/blogs that will cause doubt. Dr. Bart Ehrman is pilloried as an “enemy of the faith,” and pastors routinely warn church members to stay away from his books. Claiming that they are only watching out for their souls, these men of God know that the facts and educated conclusions found in Ehrman’s books are kryptonite to Evangelical faith. These gatekeepers know that the only way to keep asses in the pews and money in the offering plates is to wall congregants off from exposure to the “world.”

Few Evangelical leaders promote unfettered intellectual inquiry. They know that such inquiries always lead away from what Evangelicals believe is the “faith once delivered to the saints.” Pastors know that once devotees question the inerrancy of the Bible, creationism, the virgin birth, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and other cardinal beliefs, it is only a matter of time before they will lose their faith. While this loss of faith may not lead to atheism, it certainly leads to an exodus out the back doors of Evangelical churches. When truth — not religious dogma masquerading as truth —  becomes the object of intellectual inquiry, it’s only a matter of time before the Evangelical house built on myth and supernatural nonsense comes tumbling down. Either science is right, or creationism is. Both can’t be right. Either virgins can have babies or they can’t. Either three-day old dead people can come back to life and eat dinner at Taco Bell or they can’t. Take every supernatural claim in the Bible and measure it by what you know to be empirically and experientially true. Both can’t be true. Knowledge-informed thinking and not cognitive dissonance should always be the goal.

Eddie is right: It only works if you believe. Once you stop believing and demand facts and evidence, it’s game over. Once you stop granting the Bible/churches/pastors authority over your life, you are on your way to true freedom. A recent letter writer asked me what was the biggest change in my life after deconverting. I told her that the biggest change was having freedom to follow the path of life wherever it leads. Evangelicalism, with its teachings on Heaven/Hell, eternal punishment, sin, and judgment, leads to bondage. Pastors go to great lengths to convince congregants that this bondage is actually freedom; that is, if you believe the central tenets of the faith. Evangelicalism becomes a bubble of sorts where everything makes perfect sense as long as you are in the bubble. That’s why many of us were committed followers of Jesus for so many years. It all made sense to us; that is until one day we dared to pull on the string, and then we realized that what we had really been believing was an elaborate construct of myths and lies. And in that moment, everything we believed crumbled away to nothing.

If you happen to be an Evangelical, let me encourage you to pull on the string. Dare to value truth over belief. Dare to question and doubt. Dare, to quote the Bible, to seek. I guarantee that if you will intellectually and passionately “seek,” you most certainly will “find.” Come join countless other freethinkers as they walk the path of life. Evangelicalism taught you that life is all about your destination: Heaven or Hell. I’m here to tell you that life is all about your journey, not where you’ll end up after you die. Embrace every day as if it is your last and humbly walk the path that is before you. If you will do that, I promise that you will end up exactly where you need to be.

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.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jose Aboytes Pleads Guilty to Sexually Assaulting a Child

pastor jose aboytes

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.

In March 2017, Jose Aboytes, assistant pastor of Palabra Miel Hispanic Church in Decatur, Illinois was charged with “seven felony counts for allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulting and abusing a girl younger than 13 during a period of seven months.”

The Herald & Review reported at the time:

Jose Luis Aboytes, a former pastor of a church on the city’s east side, was charged Thursday in Macon County Circuit Court with seven felony counts for allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulting and abusing a girl younger than 13 during a period of seven months.

Aboytes, 58, who is being held in the Macon County Jail on $250,000 bond, is facing one count of predatory criminal sexual assault, punishable by six to 60 years in prison, two counts of criminal sexual assault and four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The victim told police she attended the Palabra Miel Hispanic Church, 3434 E. Wabash Ave., where Aboytes “began to sexually abuse her in an office in the church” about Sept. 16, 2015, said a request for an arrest warrant by Decatur Police detective Erik Ethell.
….
The victim said the abuse “began with Jose touching her leg and progressed to sexual intercourse,” said the court document. The victim said that during choir practice “Jose would call her into his office,” where he would fondle and abuse her. She reported that the abusive conduct occurred during a period of several months. The adolescent girl told police she “took numerous cellphone photographs of her naked body and sent them to Jose’s phone.”

Detectives received more than 10 letters from the girl, in which Aboytes “expressed his love” for the victim, “in addition to knowing her age,” Ethell wrote in the court document. Aboytes “frequently asked (the victim) to destroy the letters after reading them.”

An intellectually disabled teen girl also reported to police that she had been abused by Aboytes, said the warrant request. She said that Aboytes would call her into his office, hug her and fondle her on top of her clothes. She told detectives that “Jose told her not to tell her parents about the conduct.”

Today, Aboytes pleaded guilty to one Class X felony count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. The Herald & Review reports:

Aboytes, 60, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one Class X felony count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, ending his trial on charges he raped and sexually abused a girl younger than 13 from his congregation.

The sentencing hearing is set for July 11 in Macon County Circuit Court. He faces between six and 60 years in prison, of which he would have to serve at least 85 percent.

….

The plea deal came on the third day of what was anticipated to be a four-day trial. As part of the deal, four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and two counts of criminal sexual assault were dismissed, according to court records.

Opening the trial Tuesday, [Assistant State’s Attorney] Kurtz described Aboytes, who served as an assistant pastor at the church, as using the friendly nature of the congregation to prey on the child.

Kurtz described a pattern of sexual assault that started with touching and escalated to groping and, after Aboytes had picked up the child once from her home on the pretense of taking her to the park, ended with rape.

She said Aboytes wrote intimate letters to the child and persuaded her to send him erotic pictures of herself — pictures the girl’s parents eventually discovered that prompted them to call police.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Brandon Hughes Charged With Sex Crimes

brandon hughes

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.

Brandon Hughes, a youth pastor at First Christian Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, stands accused of exposing his genitals to children and having them do the same.  KTRE-9 reports:

According to the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office, 27-year-old Brandon Hughes turned himself at the Nacogdoches County Jail on April 22.
He was indicted following an investigation conducted by the sheriff’s office. The investigation came after a complaint was made about Hughes, alleging he sending sexual images to minors.

The findings from the investigation were turned over to the district attorney’s office and the case was presented to a grand jury.
The grand jury indicted Hughes on five counts of indecency with a child by exposure, which is a third degree felony.

Hughes was employed as an assistant youth pastor at the First Christian Church of Nacogdoches from Sept. 2015 to June 2018. The church reported he was placed on administrative leave in 2018 following the allegations.

They released a statement on April 24 regarding the Hughes:

Brandon Hughes was employed by First Christian Church as the Assistant Youth Pastor from September 2015 to June 2018. In June 2018, when allegations were first made about Brandon, he was immediately placed on administrative leave. Soon thereafter, Brandon resigned his position. We have been fully cooperating with law enforcement officials from the day allegations were first made. We are saddened and shocked by the allegations made against Brandon. We are praying for everyone involved.

Quote of the Day: The “Abortion Reversal” Myth by Dr. Meera Shah

abortion reversal

There is no scientific or medical evidence that proves “reversing” a medication abortion is possible: There are no clinical trials and no objective or credible data. It is only a theory that has been introduced by anti-abortion activists and politicians to further attack access. When misinformation spreads, it affects the patients who seek care in my exam room.

Medication abortion involves using an FDA-approved regimen of pills to end a pregnancy prior to 10 weeks. Two medications are included: mifepristone and misoprostol. Used first, mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone and prevents the pregnancy from growing. If taken alone, mifepristone will end the pregnancy in about half the patients who take it. Misoprostol is used six to 72 hours later to soften and dilate the cervix as well as cause uterine contractions to remove the pregnancy. Together, the medication abortion regimen is 98-99 percent effective.

In theory, it could be possible to stop the effect of mifepristone with high doses of progesterone, but this has never been proven. In medicine, we do not expose people to potential risks for no medical benefit, so we would never recommend this as an option for patients. In the unlikely event someone did not want to take the misoprostol, what healthcare providers would suggest is that there is a significant chance that the pregnancy could continue. If the patient wanted to continue the pregnancy after taking the mifepristone, we could advise to not take the misoprostol, and we would support a patient with that decision as well. Anti-abortion lawmakers have used very unethical and flawed research conducted by one anti-abortion doctor to push laws that require doctors to mislead their patients by telling them of this so-called option.

This series of cases studies from 2012 that was completed at a Catholic university where a few women who had taken mifepristone, changed their mind about the abortion and then continued their pregnancy after receiving progesterone. The report was not supervised by an Institutional Review Board (a committee which protects the rights of human subjects) which would have raised ethical concerns. Second, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG) found that there is not enough evidence from this report to say that the pregnancies continued due to the progesterone. The ACOG called abortion reversal “unproven and unethical.”

The same researcher did another study in the same year with more participants and claimed that he confirmed that progesterone can reverse the effects of mifepristone. But again, his research methods were found to be flawed and there is rigorous systematic review to show that pregnancy continuation was not more likely with progesterone administration. The ACOG, the National Abortion Federation, and Planned Parenthood do not recommend administering progesterone if a patient tries to continue their pregnancy after using mifepristone. There just isn’t enough data to support this.

Dr. Mitchell Creinin, an OB/GYN at the University of California, Davis, who has done significant research in family planning, decided to put this issue to rest. He is currently enrolling patients in a study to determine if progesterone can block the effects of mifepristone and increase the chance of pregnancy continuation. He doesn’t believe that that it will and he’s hoping that his findings will be used to prevent lawmakers from mandating physicians from providing patients with misinformation about medication abortion reversal.

— Dr. Meera Shah, Jezebel, Shattering the ‘Abortion Reversal’ Myth, April 22, 2019

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Women Are Emotionally Weaker Than Men Says Ken Alexander

lori and ken alexander

Now, pastor, I have to call you out here as you try not to offend your audience. You know full well that most women are weaker emotionally than their Christian husbands, but you just can’t say it out of fear. You make no reference to anything that the Greek text or context may have to defend this assertion that emotional weakness is not part of the context.

Here, let me help you out and give you some empirical evidence, even as you know from your experience that men and women process emotions differently and women struggle more with their emotional nature than men do in general. God forbid that your audience find out what they already know and have known almost all of their lives. It’s not by accident that 70 percent or more of divorces are sought by unhappy women who allow their emotions to rule over their once godly values for family, children, and most of all their Lord Jesus.

— Ken Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Pastors, Please Teach Wifely Submission Biblically, April 22, 2019

Songs of Sacrilege: Sin Wagon by the Dixie Chicks

dixie chicks

This is the two hundredth and fifth 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 Sin Wagon by the Dixie Chicks.

Video Link

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
He pushed me ’round
Now I’m drawin’ the line
He lived his life
Now I’m gonna go live mine
I’m sick of wastin’ my time
Well now I’ve been good for way too long
Found my red dress and I’m gonna throw it on
‘Bout to get too far gone

[Chorus]
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
Need a little bit more of my twelve ounce nutrition
One more helpin’ of what I’ve been havin’
I’m takin’ my turn on the sin wagon

[Verse 2]
On a mission to make something happen
Feel like Delilah lookin’ for Samson
Do a little mattress dancin’
That’s right I said mattress dancin’

[Chorus]
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
Need a little bit more
Of what I’ve been missin’
I don’t know where I’ll be crashin’
But I’m arrivin’ on a sin wagon

[Bridge]
When it’s my turn to march up to old glory
I’m gonna have one hell of a story
That’s if he forgives me
Oh, lord please forgive me

[Chorus]
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
Need a little bit more of that sweet salvation
They may take me
With my feet draggin’
But I’ll fly away on a sin wagon
I’ll fly away on a sin wagon

If Jesus’ Mother Had a Paternity Test, What Would it Say?

joseph mary pregnancy

According to Evangelicals, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was impregnated by the Holy Ghost and nine months later gave birth to a God-man named Jesus Christ. In any other setting, believing such things would, at the very least, result in you being labeled a nutjob. But because it’s a religious belief, everyone is supposed to accept it without question. Or, at the very least, not criticize or ridicule said belief.

The Bible says:

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:26-35)

….

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:19-25)

According to the Bible, Mary was engaged to a man by the name of Joseph. Prior to their marriage, Mary found out that she was pregnant. If we take the Bible at face value, Joseph hadn’t had sex with Mary. Wanting to make an honest woman out of Mary, Joseph married her. If he had not done so, Mary could have been stoned for committing adultery.

The aforementioned texts mention one of the most absurd things in the Bible: a virgin having a child. Human birth requires a fertilized egg, and the fertilization process requires sperm from a man. No sperm, no Jesus. Yet, Evangelicals ask us to suspend reason and believe that Mary was in some way impregnated by a non-human — the third part of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost. Wouldn’t this make for an awesome story on the SyFy Channel? Woman Becomes Pregnant Without Having Sex! There is no evidence for this claim outside of the Bible. We are expected to believe that Mary, a virgin, became pregnant through some sort conjugal union between her and the Spirit of God. How did this happen? Was Mary a willing participant? If not, does this mean the Holy Ghost raped Mary?

Of course, when you believe your God works miracles, anything is possible. Nothing is too hard for God, including inseminating a young virgin without the benefit of male sperm and DNA. Anyone with a modicum of scientific understanding knows Jesus’ birth story is preposterous. The logical explanation is that Mary had sex with a man and became pregnant. That’s how it has worked from Day One. Either Joseph was Jesus’ biological father or some other man was. It’s either that or you believe God had sex with Mary and impregnated her.

Imagine if Mary asked for a paternity test. What would the test say? Who would it name as the father of Jesus? Joseph? Or maybe Bob? One thing is for certain, the test would not list the Holy Ghost as Jesus’ father.

This story, along with numerous others, was partially instrumental in my defection from Christianity. Either I believe what science tells me about where babies come from, or I suspend all reason, skepticism, and intellectual inquiry and believe God is the lime, Mary is the coconut, and when shaken, out comes Jesus. I’m sorry, but I simply cannot and will not believe such nonsense.

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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