Evangelicalism

Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?

steamy romance
Pastor Bob shows Church Member Felicia How Much Jesus Loves Her

Repost from 2015. Edited, rewritten, and corrected.

In October 2013, Doug Phillips, president of the now-defunct Vision Forum Ministries, confessed to church leaders that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman who is not his wife. Defenders of Phillips took to their blogs, websites, Twitter, and Facebook accounts to do damage control on the behalf of Phillips and the patriarchal movement. One such defender was Independent Baptist pastor Voddie Baucham, a man who is widely viewed as the African-American version of Doug Phillips.

A Christian woman by the name of Julie Anne posted an article on the Spiritual Sounding Board blog about the Doug Phillips scandal. Her post mentioned the following quote by Voddie Baucham:

Dennis, You ask, “How many times do we see this in Christian leadership?” The answer may surprise you, but it is actually quite rare. There are hundreds of thousands of churches in America. We hear of these types of things on a national basis when they happen to high profile people. However, considering the number of people in Christian leadership, the numbers are quite small. As to your other point, most men who go through something like this never recover. Of course, there are exceptions. Moreover, there are some circles wherein things like this, and much worse, are merely swept under the rug. However, in circles where leadership is taken seriously, it is very difficult for a man to come back from things like this. People have long memories, and tend to be rather unforgiving. (emphasis mine)

Baucham repeats the oft-told lie that clergy sexual misconduct is quite rare. I have heard this line more times than I can count. It is an attempt to prop up the notion that clergy are more moral and ethical than most people; that they are pillars of virtue and morality. Such claims are patently false.

In 2007, Dr. R.J. Krejcir of the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute, wrote a post detailing his study of clergy infidelity. Krejcir stated:

  • Of the one thousand fifty (1,050 or 100%) pastors we surveyed, every one of them had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure.
  • Three hundred ninety-nine (399 or 38%) of pastors said they were divorced or currently in a divorce process.
  • Three hundred fifteen (315 or 30%) said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.

So much for clergy sexual infidelity being rare.

Numerous studies have been conducted concerning sexual infidelity among married people. The percentage varies widely, but it is safe to say that between ten and twenty percent of married people have been sexually unfaithful to their spouses. The percentage is higher for men than it is women.

We know that men of the cloth are not morally or ethically superior. In the United States and Canada, there are approximately 600,000 clerics. According to the Hartford Institute for Religion and Research, this total includes active clergy and “retired clergy, chaplains in hospitals, prisons and the military, denominational executives, and ordained faculty at divinity schools and seminaries.” This number does not include clergy who are affiliated with independent churches. If between ten and twenty percent of married people commit adultery, and clergy are no different morally from non-clergy, then this means that between 60,000 and 120,000 clerics have committed adultery.  Again, so much for clergy sexual infidelity being rare.

Keep in mind, this is only the number of CONSENSUAL sexual relationships. Each month, the Freedom from Religion Foundation newsletter publishes dozens of reports of clergy misconduct on their Black Collar Crime Blotter page. I also publish for this site the Black Collar Crime series, featuring preachers who have been accused, arrested, charged, convicted, sued, or imprisoned for criminal acts, many of which are sexual in nature.  As we know from cases such as Bill Wininger, Bob Gray, and David Hyles, predatory clerics can and do prey on children, teens, and women for decades before they are caught.

Voddie Baucham’s suggestion that there is not a problem with clergy infidelity is a denial of the facts on the matter. As with the Catholic church, Protestant and Evangelical churches have their own sex scandals. Evangelicals love to point to the Catholic church’s sex scandals, all the while ignoring their own increasing problems with sexual infidelity, sexual abuse, and predatory clergy.

Most clerics are faithful to their spouses, and most of them are not sexual abusers or predators. That said, there are tens of thousands of preachers who can’t keep their pants zipped up, and there are thousands of pastors who use their position of authority to abuse and prey on those who trust them. No amount of deflection or misdirection will change this fact.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Marriage is a Threesome, Says Evangelical Doug Weiss

threesome

According to Charisma News, Doug Weiss is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I never heard of Weiss until today.

Weiss wrote a post for Charisma titled, 7 Dangerous Myths That Can Kill Your Marriage. Standard Evangelical drivel intermixed with common sense advice. However, what I found interesting was Weiss’s claim that every Evangelical heterosexual marriage is a threesome.

Weiss writes:

Marriage is between a man and a woman. This is by far the most dangerous paradigm for a Christian marriage. This is 100% a secular idea and will ruin the foundation of your marriage. Marriage is between God, man and woman. God made marriage, and He is an integral person in a Christian marriage. If He is not actually enjoyed in your marriage, you have bought into a secular paradigm.

…..

My gender entitles me to … In Christ there is no male or female (Gal. 3:28). Using your gender for hierarchy or control is not only sad, it’s dangerous. Marriage is between three people—the King of kings, God, is the only king in your marriage. All others are servants of Him and each other.

According to Weiss, “most dangerous paradigm for a Christian marriage” is the secular notion that marriage is between a man and a woman. Wait, isn’t that exactly what Evangelical culture warriors have been clamoring for since the 1980s; that marriage is between one man, one woman for life? Now, it seems, that “Biblical” marriage is a threesome among a man, woman, and the voyeuristic Evangelical God. That’s right, Evangelicals. God is now your fuck buddy.

Weiss spectacularly fails in his understanding of the secular (humanist) view of marriage. Secularists don’t, in the main, believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Secularists were front and center in the battle for justice and equal protection under the law for LGBTQ people. We resolutely supported same-sex marriage, and we continue to support the right of men and women to enter into consenting sexual relationships with whomever they wish. Heterosexual marriage between a man and a woman is but one type of relationship secularists approve of. Why, we even approve of real threesomes between likeminded people.

Weiss, much like Michelle Lesley. about whom, I wrote earlier, preaches the gospel of self-denial. What YOU want, need, or desire doesn’t matter. The standard for all relationships is the Bible, or better put, the interpretation of the Bible by men and women who feel duty-bound to control the relationships of others.

Years ago, my best friend and I — a fellow preacher — were talking about sex. I let him know that when Polly and I had sex we liked to listen to the Carpenters — the old secular CD we owned. My friend was troubled by my “liberal” approach to fucking. He and his wife only listened to hymns while having sex. I thought, at the time, I can’t imagine listening to “What a Friend we Have in Jesus” or “Victory in Jesus” while having sex. It’s not that I didn’t have a Christian ethos when it came to sex, I did. However, I didn’t think it was necessary to turn our bedroom romps into praise and worship services.

My former friend would likely agree with Weiss’ contention that Biblical marriage is a threesome among a married man, woman, and God. According to Evangelicals, “God” is a triune being: Father, Son (Jesus), and the Holy Ghost. I wonder which part of the Godhead is in charge of threesomes?

this was your life

According to Weiss, God is the KING of heterosexual Evangelical marriages. Dammit, can’t Evangelicals even fuck in private without their God sticking his nose in their business? Weiss, says no. While Weiss believes secularist beliefs turn marriages into twosomes, this runs contrary to Evangelical orthodoxy. God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere at one time. Allegedly, we can’t escape God. He is on the job, 24/7, watching every sex act, and writing down for future reference who fucked whom, when, where, and how. Come judgment day, God will replay our lives — ala Jack Chick’s, This Was Your Life — and call us into account for every sex act that wasn’t according to the strictures and rules of the Bible. Boy, some of you have a lot to answer for. 🙂 Not me. Not my wife. Well, outside of listening to Karen and Richard Carpenter while we had sex in our Christian days and listening to rock groups such as Halestorm when we are in the mood for a raucous romp. And then there’s . . . well, shit, I guess our This Was Your Life video will be quite risque, dare I say, pornographic.

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If forced to choose between the music of Fanny Crosby or Lzzy Hale, I am going to play Hale and Halestorm every time. Maybe that’s just me, but something tells me I am not alone. Even Evangelicals prefer twosomes to God creepily peering over their shoulder while they go down on their lover.

Weiss believes that if you are not “enjoying” God in your marriage — and I assume that means “enjoying” God while having sex — that you have “bought into a secular paradigm.” A secular paradigm is what, exactly? Do Evangelicals have different biologies from unbelievers? Are Evangelical sex and marriage really any different from that of the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world? Or is the Bible just a facade of sorts meant to cover up the fact that Evangelicals live lives no different from their counterparts in the world?

Weiss, Lesley, and countless other cultural warriors want to control human behavior — especially sexual behavior. Think, for a moment, about all the “sins” in the Bible or the behaviors Evangelicals deem sinful. How many of them are sexual in nature? Why do Evangelical preachers and leaders have such an obsession with sex? One word: control. What three base desires do we all have? Hunger, thirst, and sexual intimacy. Evangelical gatekeepers have given up on trying to control eating and drinking habits, so they focus on sexual habits. Think about all the sermons you heard over the years about sex. Yet, despite all the pro-hetero, God-she-and-thee-make-a-threesome preaching, Evangelicals continue to do their own thing sexually. The only difference between Evangelicals and secularists is the former have a lot more guilt after acting on their natural, healthy wants, needs, and desires. In fact, this guilt leads to all sorts of dysfunction within Evangelical marriages, It seems to me that couples would be a lot better off if God and the Bible were checked at the bedroom door. I know for Polly and me, our sex life became richer and fuller once we abandoned Christianity and embraced the evils of humanism. Desire and mutual satisfaction were what mattered, not what God, Jesus, Paul, Moses, or John said in the Bible. Freed from the chains of Evangelical bondage, we enjoy one another sexually without concern over whether God approves.

Did you have a threesome marriage? How did your sex life change post-Jesus. Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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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.

Inquiring Evangelical Minds Want to Know: Do Women “Lust” After Men?

michelle-lesley-vile-sinner

Building on her atrocious post titled, You’re Not Awesome…and You Know It, Evangelical Michelle Lesley released a screed yesterday that purported to answer the question, “do women ‘lust’ after men?” As a former Evangelical pastor, I always assumed that Christians believed that women lusted just as much as their male counterparts. However, I learned that some Evangelicals don’t believe women can lust. Take the question that precipitated Lesley’s sermon to “dirty, stinking, rotten, rebellious [Evangelical] sinner [s]”:

In the past, I’ve had lots of trouble wondering about my desire and tendency to look at, and get excited by, physically attractive men, especially men who reveal a lot of themselves in underwear modeling and soft-core porn. I think this is a sin, but I’m not sure.

I’ve gotten mixed reactions when I’ve mentioned this to people. There are some who say that, yes, this is the sin of lust. Yet there are others who have told me that women cannot possibly struggle with lust, only men do. I once dealt with one particular man who was very dogmatic that God created men and women to be tempted differently, and that lust is not a temptation women deal with, so he dismissed my struggles with this subject.

When I tried to search Scripture, using Matthew 5:28, it would also seem that this is a male-only sin. So is it OK for me to keep looking at male models, including underwear modeling and soft-core porn?

According to this woman, only men can “lust.” In fact, Jesus made that very point in Matthew 5:28:

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Evidently, the male pronoun in this verse means that Jesus is only talking to men, not women. It’s MEN who lust and commit adultery in their hearts, not women. This, of course, is an irrational hermeneutic, making much of the Bible irrelevant for women.

Lesley spends an inordinate amount of time building up to her answer, telling the questioner:

This is an awesome question for three reasons. First, you’re concerned about whether or not you’re sinning with the aim of mortifying this behavior if it is a sin. Second, you’re not relying on your own feelings, opinions, or experiences to determine whether or not this is a sin, you’re turning to Scripture to find out. Those are both very encouraging things. They demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is working in your heart to sanctify you and make you more like Christ.

Lesley then goes on to say that while men certainly lust more than women do — it’s their nature — women can and do lust after men. And why do women lust? Here’s Lesley’s answer:

A hundred years ago, it would have been unthinkable to see advertisements featuring nearly naked men, or strip clubs with male dancers, or pornography aimed at women, so readily available and with so little shame attached. And at that time there were probably far fewer women who struggled with the sin of lust.

These days, it’s right there on your phone or computer or TV or at the bachelorette party for your friend. Lust, lewd behavior, and lurid talk by women are actually encouraged by the feminist movement. (If men are going to objectify women with lust and porn, we’re going to objectify them right back. Really? This is equality? The right to sink to the same depth of degradation as the scuzziest of men? No thanks.) Watch any sitcom or drama on TV. You’ll see it soon enough. And, of course, there’s money to be made by making women into consumers of porn and other sexual material, so the businesses that peddle these things encourage women to lust as well. All of which means that today, just a hundred years later, far more women are struggling with the sin of lust.

So we can see that the reality is that lust is a temptation experienced by some women, even though men are more prone to it.

According to Lesley, women lust more now than yesteryear because of — drum roll, please — FEMINISM. That’s right, dirty, filthy feminists are leading Evangelical paragons of moral virtue astray. When it comes to men lusting, the typical subject of blame is women. If women only dressed a certain away, Christian men would refrain from wanting to fuck them in the pews during the singing of Just as I Am. Teen Evangelical boys would maintain their virginity — technically, since all Evangelical boys and men masturbate — until their wedding days if girls would hide their sexuality and feminine shape with Little House on the Prairie dresses. Women are viewed as gatekeepers, and it is up to them to protect the moral virtue of weak, pathetic horn dog Evangelical men.

Evangelical women, on the other hand, are ravaged not by men, but by secularism and feminism. Television, in particular, is to blame for Evangelical women lusting after men who are not their husbands.

Lesley concludes:

Jesus came to die on a cruel rugged cross to pay for the sins of the flesh. He would never have thought of using another person to gratify His own selfish desires. How could we?

Is lust a sin for women too? Absolutely. Stop it. Repent. Receive the merciful grace and forgiveness Christ offers.

When Evangelicals talk about sexual lust what do they mean? Lust is desiring someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse for sexual gratification. It’s looking at someone and saying, “nice, I would like to fuck you.” Thanks to 2,000 years of anti-human, anti-sex teaching, Christianity has caused countless Evangelicals to spend their lives wallowing in guilt, fearing that God will judge or chastise them for looking at someone’s ass and saying, “nice.” Taught that they are hopeless, helpless, powerless sinners, Evangelicals cast themselves on the supposed mighty power of Jesus — a Jewish preacher who never lusted, never had sex with a woman (or a man). As ex-Evangelicals know, Jesus is powerless when it comes to stemming human want, need, or desire. Ask yourself, who wins? Jesus or an erect penis? Jesus or a body flush with sexual desire? Sorry, but Jesus is no match for raging hormones.

Instead of causing all sorts of psychologically harmful guilt and fear, perhaps it is better to consider whether sexual want, need, and desire are normal and healthy? Is it normal for me to see an attractive woman (or man) and appreciate their beauty? As someone who believes in the importance of owning one’s sexuality, I am capable of sexually desiring someone without acting on that desire. That’s what grown-ups do. Forty-two years ago, I made a commitment to my wife to be sexually faithful to her. She made the same commitment to me. This commitment guides how I behave sexually. This doesn’t mean I can’t look, view porn, or watch TV with provocative sexual content. One of the interesting aspects of our post-Jesus marriage is that Polly and I are free to express ourselves sexually. In fact, I find it interesting to see the type of men whom Polly finds attractive. She really has a thing for gay guys. Having conversations about these things is no threat to our relationship. We are comfortable in our own skins sexually.

People marry for all sorts of different reasons. Not every couple marries for sex. I pastored several Christian couples over the years who married for companionship and financial security. One woman had no interest in sex. She was fine with her husband meeting his “needs” outside of their marriage. Since marriage is a contract between two people, it’s up to them to determine the sexual parameters of their relationship. What goes on between consenting adults is no one’s business but theirs.

Human biology tells us that it is normal and healthy for men and women to want, need, and desire sexual intimacy. This intimacy can take all sorts of shapes and forms. As long as it between consenting adults, why should anyone care about what goes on behind closed doors? Evangelical preachers, including female preachers such as Lesley, rage against premarital, extramarital, and LGBTQ sexual activity. Teens and young adults are commanded to keep themselves “pure” until their wedding days. No sex, no masturbation — just lots of praying and cold, cold, cold showers. As former Evangelicals know, the prohibitions against premarital sex failed spectacularly. Why? Sex is what humans do. Allegedly GOD made us this way. Why would God make us this way if he didn’t want us to act on our sexual needs and desires? If having sex is as natural as eating and drinking, why all the religious prohibitions against sex? One word: control. Lesley rages against secularists and feminists because both refuse to be controlled.

And therein is the essence of Lesley’s writing. Evangelical women are vile sinners, and if left to themselves they would fuck their way through the church. The only way to stop this from happening is to control them through fear and guilt. Imagine what Evangelical churches and marriages might look like if women were free to express themselves sexually? Talk about fun times at First Baptist Church! Of course, this is will never happen. The only way for women (and men) to be their authentic sexual selves is for them to exit their churches and the strictures of Evangelical dogma.

matt bomer

Lust isn’t the problem, religion is. Sure, some men and women can and do have inordinate sexual desires. And how such desires affect people personally and the relationships they have with others matters. However, this is not what Lesley and her fellow prohibitionists are focused upon. Oh no, they are worried about women ringing their doorbells while having thoughts of Matt Bomer. They are worried about normal, healthy sexual behavior. Why? The answer is always the same: The BIBLE says . . . For Evangelicals, the Bible is the equivalent of Master’s and Johnson’s books on human sexuality. Think about it for a moment: Evangelicals are governed sexually by an ancient Bronze age religious text; governed by the supposed pronouncements of a God no one has ever seen; governed by the words of an unmarried man who lived and died 2,000 years ago and was never seen again; governed by a man named Paul who, by all accounts, was a misogynist; governed by the sermons of men who don’t practice what they preach. Instead of “thinking” about their own sexuality, Evangelicals conform — at least outwardly — to their churches’ and pastors’ peculiar interpretation of the Bible. The goal? Obedience. Without said obedience, Evangelical churches would empty out overnight.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Why does Michelle Lesley Try so Hard to Demean Other Women?

michelle-lesley-vile-sinner
Michelle Lesley

Some atheists and other non-Evangelicals are indifferent towards the beliefs and practices of Evangelical Christians. Who cares? such people say. However, as someone who swims in the Evangelical swamp daily, I can tell you that Evangelical beliefs and practices can and do materially harm others.

Evangelicalism is inherently Fundamentalist. (Please see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?) As with all forms of religious Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, at the very least, causes psychological harm to its practitioners. And in some cases, Evangelical beliefs lead to physical harm — spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, self-abuse to name a few.

Central to the psychological harm caused by Evangelicalism is the belief that all humans are vile sinners. According to Evangelicals, every human is born into this world a sinner at variance with God. Every person is the enemy of God, a hater of all that is good. Even after salvation/conversion/new birth, Christians are still affected and marred by sin. This is why Evangelical Christians are told repeatedly that they must deny self and submit to the arcane, anti-human teachings of the Bible (as interpreted by Evangelical sects and clerics).

An apt example of this thinking can be found in the writing of Michelle Lesley, a homeschooling Evangelical mother of six children. Today, Lesley shot a double-barrel load of “God wants you to know you are shit” at her readers, reminding them of how the thrice-holy God really views them. Titled, You’re Not Awesome…and You Know It, Lesley piously stated:

You’re not awesome or great or imbued with some radical purpose or potential that will magically make your life phenomenal and give you oodles of self esteem once you discover it.

You’re a dirty, stinking, rotten, rebellious sinner. You yell at your kids. You don’t submit to your husband. You act out of selfishness. You lie. You gossip. You covet. You bow down to your idols instead of to Christ. You sin against a holy and righteous God in a thousand ways every day in thought, word, and deed. Just like I do. Let’s put on our big girl panties and just admit it. (1 John 1:8,10)

….

Ladies, stop listening to this hearts and flowers, cotton candy, pump up your ego so you’ll feel better about yourself dreck, and put your faith and hope in the One who will never let you down. The One who looked at all your nasty thoughts and evil deeds and said, “I’m going to the cross for her anyway.” The One who sees all your daily faults and failures and is still willing to forgive when you repent. The One who’s faithful to you even when you’re not faithful to Him.

Stop focusing on how great you are – because you’re not – and put your focus on Christ and how great, and awesome, and superfantastic, and terrific He is. Because if you’re feeling bad about yourself, it’s not because you don’t have a high enough self esteem. It’s because you don’t have a high enough Christ esteem.

Got that? Lesley wants EVANGELICAL women to know, “You’re a dirty, stinking, rotten, rebellious sinner. . . Let’s put on our big girl panties and just admit it.” If Lesley thinks this way about her fellow tribe members, imagine what she thinks about the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. Lesley calls on her readers to abandon and deny self and put their focus on “Christ and how great, and awesome, and superfantastic, and terrific He is.” Does anyone doubt that Lesley has a life-sized photo of Jesus H. Christ above her bed and on her bedroom ceiling? Great, awesome, superfantasic, and terrific Jesus. He always hits the G spot. God spot . . . 🙂

While I am tempted to dismantle Lesley’s claims about the dead man named Jesus, I want to stay focused on the harm caused by Evangelical beliefs and practices. Imagine spending your teen years, married years, and every moment of every day hearing words similar to those written by Lesley. Remember, Lesley is not saying anything new here. Decades ago, a young Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor named Bruce Gerencser regularly pummeled congregants with similar dogma. How could I have done otherwise? I heard similar things my whole life, including at Bible college. The books that I read and the conferences I attended all reinforced the awfulness of the human condition. The only difference between the saved and lost was Jesus. 1 Peter 4:18 says:

And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

Evangelicals believe that True Christians® are “scarcely” saved, with just enough salvation to make it through the pearly gates after death. In fact, point out bad behavior by Evangelicals, and you will be reminded that Christians aren’t perfect, they are works in progress. That’s why believers needed to be reminded of their wretchedness and propensity towards sinful behavior. Exactly, then, what good is Jesus? If this is the best Jesus has to offer sinners, what good is he? If the new birth leaves Evangelicals no different from their atheist neighbors save their room reservation in God’s Trump Hotel after they die, pray tell what good is Christianity? If faith is not truly transformative, why bother? If Evangelicals are as vile as Lesley says they are, why would I want to be a member of their club?

Is it any wonder, then, that many Evangelicals — especially women — go through life psychologically marred and wounded? Spending your life being told you are a worthless piece of shit will do that to you. That’s why many ex-Evangelicals need extensive professional counseling. Personally, I had no sense of self. Bruce Gerencser had been swallowed up by God, Jesus, the church, and the ministry. I had no idea who I really was. In fact, I still battle these things to this day. And so does my wife. How could it be otherwise? A lifetime of anti-human conditioning will do that to you.

The good news is that both Polly and I are learning day by day to embrace self. We have learned that many of the behaviors that Evangelicals call sins and affronts to God, are anything but. We used to have extensive sin lists. Today, our “sin” lists fit on a post-it note. Progress, to be sure, but wounds from our Evangelical pasts run deep. Will we ever be whole again? I doubt it.

I continue to work towards the marginalization and death of Evangelicalism because I know firsthand the harm it causes. I suspect many of the readers of this blog have similar testimonies. If you do, please share them in the comment section.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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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.

Does God Hate?

god hates me

Repost from 2015. Edited, rewritten, and corrected.

Warning! Snark ahead!

THUS SAITH THE LORD:

Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee. Neither shalt thou set thee up any image; which the LORD thy God hateth. Deuteronomy 16:21,22

For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. Psalm 5:4-6

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Psalm 45:6.7

Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy. These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19

Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it? I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Amos 5:20-22

The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein. Amos 6:8

I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.  Malachi 1:2,3

And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. Malachi 2:15,16

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Revelation 2:5-7

God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. Psalm 7:11

When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: Psalm 78:59

Does God hate? The Bible is clear: God hates.

But, but, but, the Bible says God is a God of love! Yep, and it also says he is a God of hate. Deal with it, or as many Christians do, explain it away.

But, but, but, these verses are in the Old Testament! Is the Old Testament no longer a part of the canon of Scripture? Christian could only hope. Either the Old Testament accurately describes God as a hater or it doesn’t. Your choice. Besides, isn’t God the same yesterday, today, and forever? Didn’t God say, I am the Lord, I change not? 

But, but, but, God hates the sin, but loves the sinner!  Still trying to use that lame, worn out, unsupportable cliché?  Sin is what sinners do, right? When Jesus died on the cross, did he die for sin or sinners? Cue “When He was on the Cross I was on His Mind.” (YouTube video of song)  Sinners sin, and God is angry with all the workers of iniquity. According to Psalm 7:11: God is angry with the wicked every day.

Christians have several choices:

  • Own what the Bible says.
  • Explain it away using big important-sounding theological terms.
  • Make some Old Covenant/New Covenant defense for God.
  • Argue that God went to rehab, took an anger management class, and he is much nicer now.
  • Ignore what the Bible says and just keep living for Jesus.
  • Use Hebrew, Greek and Latin, along with West Virginian and Calvinese, to explain that the word hate doesn’t meant hate.
  • Use the same scissors that Thomas Jefferson used to cut up the Bible and make it palatable. Just get rid of all those pesky hate verses.
every word of god is pure

I am a Bible believer. When the Bible says God hates, who am I to suggest otherwise?The God hates verses make me wonder if the Christian God exists at all. If God really exists, he would have blown up this whole planet by now. We ARE a vile, nasty, wicked, sinful, depraved, dead in trespasses and sin, Barack Obama-supporting, gay-loving people. We deserve God’s hate. Ex-preachers like me really deserve God’s hate. We know better, yet with great impunity, we trample under the blood of Jesus anyway. Here we are, untouched by the hand of the Almighty. Perhaps when NASCAR is over God will have more time to take care of us sinners. That is unless Tim Tebow miraculously makes a comeback and becomes a starting NFL quarterback. Then God will be tied up all winter guiding Tebow’s errant passes into the hands of speedy receivers. God’s going to get you, Bruce. You just wait and see. I am waiting . . .

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Why Evangelical Beliefs and Practices are Psychologically Harmful — Part One

born in sin
Cartoon by David Hayward

Repost from 2016. Edited, rewritten, and corrected.

In light of comments on the post Do Evangelical Beliefs Lead to Psychological Damage?, I thought I would give several reasons why I think Evangelical beliefs and practices are psychologically harmful.

Evangelical Christianity teaches that everyone is born with a sinful nature. People do not become sinners, they are, by nature, sinners. From the moment people come into this world they are sinners who are at variance with God. This is the lot of the human race, according to Evangelicals. No one, except Jesus, is exempt. We have no choice in the matter.

What is sin? Sin is, according to Evangelicals, transgression of the law of God. (1 John 3:4) God is Holy. He hates sin and those who do it. Yes, God HATES sinners! (Please see Does God Hate? and God Hates the Sin but Love the Sinner.) All of us deserve to be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire for our sins. We deserve, because of Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden, to be tortured in the flame of Hell for eternity. Or so Evangelicals say, anyway.

Jesus came to earth to redeem people from their sins. According to Evangelicals, God demands human sin be atoned for through a blood sacrifice. When Jesus was on the cross, the wrath of God the Father was poured out on Him — wrath that Jesus did not deserve. Taking our sins and punishments upon himself, Jesus died on the cross to satisfy our sin debt.

Justification by faith is central to Evangelical soteriology. Simply put, the term means that God looks at a saved (born again) sinner “just as if they never sinned.” How is this possible? God hasn’t changed! He still hates sin and those who do it. He still throws people in the Lake of Fire to be tormented for eternity. God is God and this is what God does. It is only through the merit and work of Jesus that born-again sinners are saved from the fury of a wrathful God. Jesus stands between the saved sinner and God, taking on the violence that rightfully belongs to saved and unsaved sinners alike. When God looks at saved sinners all he sees is his son Jesus.

What I have written above is Evangelicalism 101. It is classic substitutionary atonement, justified-by-faith, Protestant theology. Understanding this will be key to what follows.

How do Evangelicals view themselves?

  • I am a sinner. I sin daily in thought, word, and deed.
  • Even now, I deserve punishment from God.
  • The only difference between me and the worst of sinners is that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. The blood of Jesus covers my sin and I am, by faith, justified before God through the merit and work of Jesus.
  • No matter what suffering and pain comes in my life, I should be grateful that I am saved and that I have escaped eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire.

Most Evangelical pastors spend significant amounts of time preaching about sin. These self-described men of God really can’t be faulted for doing this. As People of the Book, they must preach what the Bible says — and the Good Book certainly has a lot to say about sin, judgment, and chastisement.

In the Old Testament alone there are 635 laws. Then there is the New Testament with all the new laws added by Jesus, Paul, John, and Peter.  Add to these the personal interpretation of these laws, commands, and precepts by Evangelical preachers . . . well, there’s plenty of sin to preach about.

Needless to say, there is a lot of guilt and fear among Evangelical believers. For all their talk about grace, Evangelical preachers spent inordinate amounts of time preaching sermons meant to cause listeners to feel guilty and fearful. Despite being “miraculously” saved, Evangelicals still sin —often more so than the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. No matter how often pastors preach about this or that sin, preachers and congregants alike continue to sin. Evangelicals commit sexual sins, divorce, felonies, misdemeanors, and have abortions, all at levels similar to those who never darken the doors of Christian churches. And thanks to the Internet, we now know that Evangelical pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, youth directors, and run-of-the-mill congregants abuse and sexually assault children and prey on vulnerable teenagers and adults. (Please see the Black Collar Crime series.)

Despite knowing all of this, Evangelicals preachers — ignoring their own secret sins — continue to berate and badger congregants over their sinful behaviors. How DARE you sin!, Evangelicals preachers proclaim. Look at what Jesus did for you! The Bible says, how dare they, who have been freed from sin, continue any longer therein?

Evangelicals believe that the third person of the Trinity — the Holy Spirit — lives inside of them and is their teacher and guide. The Holy Spirit is a sin-o-meter of sorts. When temptation comes, the sin meter starts saying, NO! NO! Don’t do this! Turn! Run! Leave! Stop!

Yet, even with Jesus saving them, the Holy Spirit living inside of them, the Bible as the Words of God, and thundering preachers reminding them of the dangers of sins, Evangelicals still sin like just like the rest of us. Try as they might, Evangelicals can’t kick their sin habit. This ever-present reality results in a lifetime of guilt and fear.

Evangelical church altars are routinely lined with people “getting right with God.” Churches hold revival services so congregants can wipe their sin slates clean and return to walking the straight and narrow way. Pastors weekly spend hours counseling church members who find themselves ensnared by Satan — caught up in temptation and sin. Preachers themselves are routinely caught up in this or that sin. If a preacher can’t walk the talk, is it realistic to expect lesser Christians to do so?

For all their talk about forgiveness and deliverance, sin is still the number one problem Evangelicals daily face. No matter how much they pray, asking for forgiveness, sin keeps returning, spoiling their attempts to live Godly lives. A lifetime of this kind of living makes people emotional train wrecks. Over time, Evangelicals learn how to “hide” their sin. They learn the right things to say when asked about how things are in their lives. They learn how to play the “I am right with God” game. These bought-by-the-blood Evangelicals learn to erect a façade that masks the reality of their lives.

Sinning Evangelicals know they are frauds and hypocrites, yet they dare not admit this to anyone. Little do they know that EVERYONE, including the pastor, is just like they are. Some Evangelicals, after decades of being on the sin roller coaster, decide to get off. They crave an opportunity to live authentic lives, lives that are free from the emotional weight of guilt, fear, and condemnation.

Getting off the roller coaster is not easy. The emotional baggage weighs people down. Isn’t their walking away the BIGGEST sin of them all? Doesn’t this prove that they never were real followers of Jesus? Their churches, pastors, and fellow Evangelicals will condemn them for throwing in the towel. Their defection will be viewed in light of what the Bible says about them: they went out from us because they were not of us. For if they were of us, they would have continued with us.” (1 John 2:19) Leaving is PROOF that they never were the real deal. No matter how many years they faithfully walked the straight and narrow, the singular act of leaving undoes all the good they did in the name of Jesus.

Once free, an interesting thing happens: guilt and fear begins to recede. Psychological stress starts to fade. For the first times in years, they experience peace. For them, it took leaving the Prince of Peace to experience inner peace.

Instead of lives dominated by thoughts of their sinfulness, these former Evangelicals learn that many (most) of the actions the Bible, along with what their pastors and churches called sin, are not sin at all. As time goes on their “sin” list becomes smaller and smaller. Perhaps they learn that there isn’t really any such thing as sin. People do good and bad things, and should be judged, not by a moral standard found in an antiquated book, but by a basic humanistic, common morality —  morality that respects the private acts of consenting adults; a morality that recognizes that many of the acts of other human beings are none of their business.

These former Evangelicals now have the freedom to live their lives on their own terms. Evangelical zealots from their past will warn them that they have made themselves their own God and that if they are not careful, they will become reprobates — those whom God has given over to the list of sins recorded in Romans 1 and 2. These types of threats no longer have the desired effect. Why? Because their minds have been freed from the chains of Evangelical Christianity. They now know what it is to have true freedom. Once free, having experienced the peace that passeth all Evangelicalism, they will never return to the garlic and leeks of Evangelical Christianity. To quote an old Southern Gospel song…They have gone too far to turn back now!

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Do Evangelical Beliefs Lead to Mental Illness?

lisa haven
Charismatic Evangelical and Conspiracy theorist Lisa Haven

Repost from 2015. Edited, rewritten, and corrected. 

Do Evangelical beliefs lead to mental illness? Yes and no. Certainly, Evangelicals, thanks to their religious beliefs, are, to some degree, deluded. They believe things that aren’t true, but I am not inclined to think that this means they all have some sort of mental illness.  All of us are capable of self-delusion. That said, I do think some Evangelicals are mentally ill, and thanks to their beliefs, they see their illness as God giving them some sort of inside information about the world. These Evangelicals are the religious version of Mel Gibson in the movie Conspiracy Theory. Let me illustrate this with a YouTube video put out by a Charismatic Evangelical named Lisa Haven.

The following video details Haven’s belief that the United Nations is a secret front group for the nefarious New World Order. This video has already been viewed almost 270, 000 times (434,000 people subscribe to Haven’s YouTube channel). The video is 11 minutes long, but I do hope you will watch all of it. Doing so will allow you to understand what follows. Be prepared to see lots of air quotes.

Video Link  (Sorry, for some reason embedding this video causes my RSS feed to break, so you will have to view it on YouTube)

As I watched this video, I was, at first, amused, and then quite sad. I told Polly, here’s a young woman whose mind has already been ruined. Imagine, for a moment, where Lisa Haven will be 25 years from now. Will she still be, to use her words, “digging deep and finding truth . . . spread (ing) truth no matter where it lies?” Or will she be taking psychotropic drugs, wondering what went wrong? I’m sure some Evangelicals will object to me categorizing Haven, a mother of four children, as mentally ill, but any non-religious interpreter of her video would come to the same conclusion.  Remove the religious context, and Haven’s rant sounds eerily like the rantings of a crazy person.

In a video titled 18 Unsettling Predictions For 2016: Warning You May Get More Then You Bargained For!, Haven makes 18 predictions (all grammatical errors in the original):

  1. Increased crime and more terrorist threats (due to mass immigration and influx of Refugees, he [Obama] wants to bring in 10,000 alone in 2016)
  2. Rise of Islam and anti-semitism. Christianity will either stay stagnant or decrease.
  3. Economy will continue to falter, maybe even a “Global Recession.”
  4. America will becomes more third world in nature.
  5. More gun laws and restrictions will be enforced.
  6. An Increased amount of race riots and civil riots.
  7. More movement into the New World Order, Pope Francis will continue his push in this direction, likely embolden it.
  8. Increased earthquakes, tsunamis, weather activity as predicted in the Bible and the warning letter sent to FEMA by prior presidential advisor John L. Casey.
  9. More fusion centers, NSA surveillance and more suppression of truth over the Internet (things like Facebook, twitter, Google, will all work together to oust truths and suppress reality).
  10. A move in the direction of policed streets in the name of “safety.” Increased activity of military helicopters, drone activity, domestic military drills, etc. More laws will be passed promoting this.
  11. Possible World War III due to numerous rumors now transpiring with Russia, who is currently preparing for war against the United States and they want the battlefield to be Syria.
  12. Patriots, Christians, Conservatives, Libertarians, Gun Owners and Veterans will become more of a target.
  13. Activity in the Middle East will embolden! More war activity in Jerusalem, more attacks on Israel as the Bible predicts.
  14. If Obama has his way, due his clean power plan, our energy prices will increase.
  15. Increased demoralization done under the banner of “political correctness.”
  16. More technological advancements, including more movement in the direction of a global ID, Mark of the Beast style (however their goal is not to have this fully in place until 2030)
  17. World governments will become bolder in their tyrannical moves.
  18. America will either have a revival or be apathetic.

While there is a minute element of truth in some of Haven’s “predictions,” it should be clear to readers that her conspiratorial thinking is being driven by her Evangelical beliefs concerning the Bible and eschatology (future events). Over the years, I have met numerous people such as Lisa Haven. Every one of them had one thing in common: Evangelical Christianity.

In a 2015 News2morrow interview, Haven shared how she views the world:

Another one – and I just put this story out yesterday, don’t know if you saw it – we could be having a repeat of what had happened in the Soviet Union here in America. And what I mean by that, in order to silence political opposition the Soviets started labeling political dissidents as a psychiatric disorder. The official label was sluggish schizophrenia.

They started labeling people with these titles, basically silencing any opposition that they had.  When I dive through some of the information I see in America, I see some of that being mimicked here. However they’re labeling it as conspiracy theorists and that could open a whole realm. I mean, you can say bible prophecy is a conspiracy theory. You can say a certain realm of patriotism is a conspiracy theory. The term is so broadly used.

There are various reports of research being done at colleges basically studying the minds of conspiracy theorists and labeling them with personality disorders. Again, when something like that happens, I’m like “Ahh!  What is the game here?”

….

I think, what could happen, is that they’re targeting political dissidents, basically the ones that are in opposition to what they want to play out – which would be your patriots, constitutionalists, veterans, Christians. They’ve been specifically targeted on numerous documents. We were targeted on Project Megiddo. There’s the right wing extremist documentation that we have today, and the presentations that they’re giving to our military. These are some of the, quote unquote, “right wing extremists” that are being labeled and targeted.

I think the reason why they’re doing that is, when something happens with the economy and we go into chaos, they’ll have reasons to go round up those dissidents – right wing extremists, as they label a lot of us. They could say that they’re rounding them up to prevent riots, and would send them to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) camps that they’ve set up. And they don’t call them FEMA camps – the official government term is internment camps.

….

Persecution can come in many forms. Right now there is a huge push of persecution against the reality of Christ. Right here in America! — that’s what we’re seeing starting. And that’s being turned into the lunatics that believe a lie. And part of that psychiatric diagnosis is that they are bringing in religion. So you can see what we might be headed in the future with something like that. They’re even claiming in some studies that I’ve read that it could be a medical diagnosis.

….

It’s hard to say, but I think we can push it back. We can delay it definitely. We’ve also seen the leaking of possible false flags that were planned by the government but were diverted because people in media have gotten it out. Sometimes people will say, “Oh but it never happened!” No, it didn’t – thankfully! Because it got diverted through media outlets, especially the alternative media.

The mainstream media seems to be government run. They can’t regulate the alternative media and that’s why they’re pushing that net neutrality (legislation) to put it on the lap of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).  Now if they can silence alternative media, they can implement their plans. But it can be diverted by waking up the masses.

What is it that drives Haven’s thinking? What leads a bright young woman to think that chem trails are poisoning all of us and that drinking tea will cleanse us of its deleterious effects?  What causes Haven to abandon her youth and devote her life to chasing after black helicopters, the New World Order, and Jesus? Two things: her belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Words of God and her literalistic interpretation of these words.

Haven is the poster child for what happens when someone really, really, really believes the Bible. Haven attends a Charismatic church which, week in and week out, reinforces her end-times, conspiratorial beliefs. According to Haven’s website, she is taking classes through the International School of Ministry (ISOM), an online Charismatic Bible college. ISOM is operated by Berin Gilfillan and his wife Lisa. Both have secular degrees (University of Michigan, Michigan State), proving yet again that educated people can be quite deluded.

According to a previous version of ISOM’s website:

Each Trimester of ISOM study consists of 32 teaching sessions of training. You can click on each of the blue buttons below to explore the wonderful content of those five Trimesters. They contain a total of 160 sessions of teaching from 30 renowned instructors such as Jack Hayford, John Bevere, Joyce Meyer, A.R. Bernard, Reinhard Bonnke, Marilyn Hickey, Brian Houston, T.L. Osborn and Bill Winston to name a few.

This ISOM program is tried and tested and has been used around the world by over 330,000 students with wonderful results. Now that ISOM has make-up and review classes online, it is even more friendly for use by pastors and churches. Please note, however, that ISOM is NOT focused on high theology, but on practical training and impartation.

….

Many people who previously graduated with doctoral degrees from another institution have commented on how ISOM was so impartational and so different to their previous studies. It is possible for people to start ISOM at a higher level, but not recommended as ISOM core really contains some classic content. We allow students of any age to participate in ISOM. I have graduated two 11 year old students and one 91 year old.

The Gilfillans also give pastors an opportunity to have an ISOM in their church. According to a previous iteration of the ISOM website, “ISOM is the world’s largest video Bible School and is being used in more than 15,000 locations, in 142 nations and in more than 70 languages.” The skeptic in me says, I would love to see ISOM’s and the Gilfillan’s financials. I suspect a lot of money is being made through “training” gullible Evangelical Christians for ministry. One such person is Lisa Haven.

Will Haven’s ISOM training encourage her to think critically? Of course not. The Gilfillans readily admit that ISOM ” is NOT focused on high theology, but on practical training and impartation.” In other words, all that ISOM training will do for Haven is reinforce her belief that she is called by God to expose the evil New World Order and all its attending conspiracies. Here is a list of some the classes Haven will have to take to get a degree from ISOM:

  • Foundations of the Faith
  • Supernatural Living
  • Praise & Worship
  • Fear of the Lord
  • Old Testament/New Testament Survey
  • Living by Faith
  • Jesus Our Healer, Today
  • Church-based training (or how you can start your own ISOM franchise)
  • Altar Call
  • Spiritual Breakthrough
  • Wilderness Mentalities
  • Spiritual Warfare

I have no doubt that the training provided by ISOM will only increase Haven’s conspiratorial delusions. While it would be tempting to put all the blame on Haven for her craziness, the truth is her church, pastor, parents, husband, ISOM, and hundreds of thousands of adoring YouTube followers have made Haven into the person she is today.

Is Lisa Haven mentally ill? I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, so I am not qualified to make such a diagnosis. I can say, based on the videos I have viewed, Haven does exhibit the signs of someone who is mentally disturbed. Sadly, as many former Charismatics will attest, mental illness is just a typical Sunday night worship service at the local Charismatic Evangelical church.

Unless Lisa Haven has some sort of rational epiphany, there’s little that can be done to help her. Sadly, being deluded is not a crime (even though Haven thinks she will one day be imprisoned for her beliefs). She has been taken captive by her Bible and literalistic Evangelical beliefs. She will remain imprisoned until she sees the light and comes to realize that her entire worldview is based on lies.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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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 Peter Alatake Accused of Raping Teen Girl

court gavel

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.

Peter Alatake, pastor of Holy Ghost Mission Church in Owo, Ondo state, Nigeria stands accused of raping a sixteen-year-old epileptic girl.

The Guardian reports:

The General Overseer of the Holy Ghost Mission Church, Pastor Peter Alatake, has been arraigned before an Owo Magistrate court, Ondo State for raping a 16-year old epileptic secondary school student.

The victim was said to have been taken to his church for deliverance but Alatake ended up raping the girl severally. Alatake was alleged to have raped the girl between the 15 and 20th of April, leading to the victim developing complications in her vaginal and anus.

A medical test conducted at Medical Centre, Owo confirmed the complications before the suspect was arrested. Alatake was arraigned on a one count charge of unlawfully having carnal knowledge of a minor, an offence punishable under section 357 of the criminal laws of Ondo state.

….

Presiding Magistrate, Olubumi Dosumu, granted bail in the sum of N500,000 and two sureties in like sum. The sureties, according to Dosumu, must be a general overseer of a reputable church in Owo and a Director in the civil service with national identity card, evidence of one year tax clearance and landed property in the magisterial district.

More Bad Marital Advice from the Transformed Wife

the burning bed

Rarely does a week go by that Lori Alexander, the operator of the Transformed Wife blog, doesn’t dispense bad marital advice to her devoted patriarchal followers. Sometimes, Alexander tasks one of her supporters to give the sermon, as was the case yesterday when Celina Eve vomited up her advice for new wives.

Here’s what she had to say:

1. Never say no to sex. It’s the glue that will bond you together through thick and thin. Even on the days where you’re not into it, put your husband’s needs above your own. You’ll be glad you did in the long run.

2. Take a humble place in your marriage and submit to your husband’s headship. Discuss things once and then then let him have the final say. Respect him. Build him up to others. Never tear him down. Be sweet towards him and hold your tongue. Pray daily for him and don’t argue with him.

3. Keep a clean and tidy home and stay on top of your housework daily. Even after little ones come, make it your habit that when you go to bed that the dishwasher is running, the floors are mopped, the counters are cleaned and the washer and dryer are running. Load your coffee maker the night before. (I have six children and four of them are under the age of six and I still do this daily. It feels wonderful to wake up to a sparkling clean home every morning!)

4. Keep a vegetable garden. Plant fruit trees if you can. Keep backups of everything in your home for your family’s needs; look and think ahead. Look well to the ways of your household.

5. Be loving and kind to your parents and in laws but don’t let them dictate anything regarding your marriage or your family. Never run to them when you have marriage troubles. Never vent to anyone about your marriage, ever.

6. Find an older godly woman who has a biblically healthy marriage and has raised a family. You’ll need a living example as a young wife yourself.

Certainly, many of us would agree with some of the advice dished out by Celina Eve. However, mixed within the good we find anti-woman patriarchal ideology. Celina Eve, as does Lori Alexander, believes women are weaker vessels, in need of protection by men — be it their fathers, pastors, or husbands. Unmarried women are expected to learn to be housekeepers, seamstresses, cooks, and baby breeders. Attending college or working outside of the home is NEVER an option. Wives are to set their sights on pleasing their husbands in every way possible. That’s why virtually every one of these kinds of posts begins by reminding women that they are to give their husbands sex whenever, wherever, and however HE wants it. Day or night, sick or not, wives are expected to lie back, spread their legs, and let their husbands plow them for five minutes or drop to their knees and suck their dicks. Mission Accomplished! Praise Jesus!

Celina Eve reminds wives to be sweet as fresh cherry pie on a summer day. Always be sweet to your husband. Never argue with him. Let him have his way — always. Why? Because he is the head of the home. He has God-given authority over his wife and children. End of ALL discussions.

Are you married to an asshole or a judgmental prick? Show him respect, even if he doesn’t deserve it. Why? Because he’s the boss. God put him in charge, and disagreeing with the boss is a sin.

Celina Eve wants wives to know that she has six children — four under the age of six — and that she has all the time she needs to keep her home sparkling clean. Why, if she can do it, you can too! Notice that there is no division of household labor. None. Wives are expected to have sex on demand and have quiverfulls of children. Six children? No big deal. Momma Celina can handle it all. (I suspect she home schools too.)

What, exactly, in this way of life, do husbands do? Glad you asked. Husbands fuck, go to work, eat, take baths, shit, and sleep. Maybe, if they aren’t too busy serving God at the church, these patriarchs might mow the yard, do some home repairs, and more fucking. Always more fucking. Why? Because in the sex act, the man shows that he is dominant over and in control of his wife. He’s the arrow and she’s the target.

somerset baptist church 1983-1994 2
Our hillbilly mansion. We lived in this 720 square foot mobile home for five years, all eight of us.

It’s hard to argue with number four, except for the fact that rarely is it the patriarchal mom alone who is caring for the garden, doing all the domestic work, babysitting, etc. My wife and I had six children. At one time, we lived in a 12×60 foot hillbilly mansion with children aged newborn, two, four, nine, twelve, and fourteen. Not only did Polly take care of ALL the domestic chores in our home, she taught in our Christian school (grades K-3), daily washed bucket loads of shitty cloth diapers (for a time using a wringer washer), attended church three times a week, went out on street ministry, helped at the weekly nursing home service, and helped plant/weed a truck- farm-sized garden. And there’s more. We heated our mansion with a Warm Morning stove that required stoking with wood and coal. What did I do? I worked eighty hours a week at the church.

The order of importance in our marriage fell out something like this: God, the ministry, winning souls, teaching children, and then, maybe, just maybe, Polly. She never complained, but truth be told, if she had divorced me and left me with the kids, I wouldn’t have blamed her.

Of course, our three oldest children had a lot of responsibility in our home. From babysitting to splitting wood and from being gophers for their father to spending hours tilling and weeding our garden, our older boys learned at an early age to w-o-r-k. Granted, they have a great work ethic today, but earning it came at the cost of their childhood. It’s impossible to operate a large patriarchal household without children taking on duties that should have fallen to their parents. (And I am not against children learning to work, having domestic chores, etc.) While our children would say that they had happy, enjoyable childhoods, I suspect their perspectives are skewed. If we had it to do all over again, things would have been different. Alas, there are no do-overs, so what our children are left with are lots of s-t-o-r-i-e-s; stories about slave labor, working in the coal mine — their word for slaving for their preacher father — endless church services, and poverty.

Celina Eve tells wives to never, ever criticize their husbands or their marriages. Never, ever talk to anyone about how your husband treats you. Is he an insufferable prick who treats you like a prostitute? Pray for him. Is he verbally or physically abusive? Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there. No matter what he says or does, smile and offer him a slice of pie — or sex.

This way of thinking traps many wives in prisons from which there is no escape. Divorce is a sin against the thrice-holy God, they are told. Patriarchal wives who separate from their husbands or divorce them are almost always viewed in a negative light by family and their fellow church members. Churches and pastors tend to side with husbands. In their eyes, wives who dare to escape or do basic things such as seeking employment outside of the home or getting an education are viewed as unsubmissive or rebellious. Ask former patriarchal wives how many times they heard their husbands or pastors warn them about their ungodly rebellion against God’s divine order for the home. I guarantee you they heard such rebukes more times than they can count.

Some women, conditioned by years of patriarchal instruction by their parents and pastors, come into marriage quite submissive already. Taught that this was God’s ordained way for them, rarely did they rock the boat. Other women, however, lacked years and decades of conditioning. It was left to their husbands and pastors to break their spirits, to push and mash them into conformity to the Biblical standard. As long as these devoted wives saw no way out, the patriarchy was safe. However, if they ever got a glimpse of what freedom and self-worth looked like, husbands better be prepared to sleep with one eye open lest their enlightened wives reenact the movie, The Burning Bed.

Here’s to burning Sealy Posturepedic mattresses . . .

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Women, the Doormat of the Church

women doormat

Repost from 2015. Edited, rewritten, and corrected.

Many years ago, I was watching the Old Time Gospel Hour on TV. At the time, the Old Time Gospel Hour was the flagship program of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Jerry Falwell.

Falwell was preaching about women and the Equal Rights Amendment.

I have never forgotten what he said:

We don’t believe in equal rights for women. We believe in superior rights for women. We believe in putting women on a pedestal.

I remember thinking, at the time, that makes a lot of sense. The Equal Rights Amendment was viewed as an attempt to blur the lines between the sexes; to make our culture unisex, which was considered by Evangelicals to be a grievous, damning sin.

The Evangelical pastors of my youth and college years taught me:

  • Women are to submit to men.
  • Women are best suited to be mothers and keepers of the home.
  • Women are emotional and men are logical.
  • Women should be discouraged from going to college because graduating from college makes it less likely that a woman will be a good mother and keeper of the home.
  • If a woman is insistent on going to college and refuses to marry the nice boy who sits behind her in church, then she should go to a Christian college. Her career choices? Pastor’s wife, single missionary, or Christian school teacher.
  • Women are not suited for intellectual endeavors.
  • Women should not be involved in making major decisions. The decision-maker in the home is the husband. The decision-makers in the church are men, and political office is reserved for men.
  • Women are to conjugally perform whenever their husbands demand it. Being tired from feeding the children, changing diapers, cleaning the house, homeschooling the children, and making sure the king of the home’s every need and whim is met, is no excuse for not joyfully having sex for three minutes before her God-fearing husband falls off to sleep. If she doesn’t put out, she is risking her husband having an adulterous affair and it will be HER fault.

The above social strictures showed up in countless sermons. Is it any wonder so many Evangelical marriages are dysfunctional; that women schooled in such an environment have difficultly functioning in the real world?

Even in my marriage, I was a typical “I am the boss, chief decision-maker, you submit to me” husband. I made ALL the decisions. For twenty years this is how we “did” marriage. Gradually, as I became more liberal in my understanding of life, I realized how hurtful this was to women in general and to my dear wife in particular.

For many years, Polly found it hard to make decisions. She told me one time that she was “afraid to make decisions because she might make a wrong decision and then you’ll be mad at me.” I said “Yep. That’s the price of admission. Making decisions means you might piss someone off.” As a supervisor where she works, she is required to make decisions that inevitably leave one or more parties unhappy. When she comes home discouraged by the response of this or that person, I remind her of what Colin Powell said about leadership:

Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.

Bit by bit, I see Polly throwing off the bondage of yesteryear, but I do wonder if she’ll ever be totally free from teachings of the past — I know I’m not.  Submit. Obey. Do what your husband says. He is the head of the home. It is hard to shake such indoctrination.

Is marriage really a partnership when only one partner decides everything? Certainly, we each have strengths and weaknesses. I am not about to enter my wife’s kitchen. First, we will all starve. Second, she is a far better cook than I will ever be in ten lifetimes. On the other hand, I pay the bills, write the checks, and manage the money.  Thanks to my business background, I am good at handling money, bills, and debt, and I am able to analyze numbers on the fly. I do what I am good at and so does Polly. Our marriage is now a partnership of equals, each doing those things that best serve the partnership. (On a funnier note, she’d rather mow the grass and I’d rather clean the house.)

There is ONE area where I refuse to relinquish control: the remote control! It’s mine, dammit. Don’t touch it. If I died today, Polly would never watch TV again because she has no clue and little interest in how the remote works. She can run a sewing machine and do all sorts of intricate stitches, but ask her to change a TV program or set up a recording and suddenly she’s the young woman wooing her man, hoping he’ll do what she wants him to.

I digress…

How did Jerry Falwell’s superior rights for women work out practically in the church?

You be the judge. Does what follows seem superior to you?

  • Women sang in the choir and did special music numbers
  • Women played the piano and organ
  • Women cleaned the church
  • Women worked in the nursery
  • Women taught children in Sunday school and Junior church
  • Women cooked food for potlucks and church meals
  • Women cleaned the church
  • Women took meals to shut-ins
  • Women did any menial work at the church that needed done

This list looks very similar to what was expected of women at home.

Women were not permitted to be pastors, deacons, elders, or teach older children. They were not allowed to teach any group of people that had adult men in it. Doing so would violate the Biblical command for a woman to never usurp the place/authority of a man. After all, God/Jesus is a man, as were the apostles.  End of discussion.

Granted, there is great improvement in some sectors of the Christian church when it comes to how women are treated.  Women can now be pastors, elders, deacons, worship leaders, etc. Women teach theology at some Christian colleges. Thanks to feminism, women have a lot more opportunities than they did years ago. But the church still has a long way to go. Vast swaths of the Evangelical church still actively practice the repression of women. They sincerely believe they are following the teachings of the Bible when they do so. If God said it . . . end of discussion. As a result, thousands of churches continue to be man-only institutions.

One church I co-pastored wouldn’t even allow women to speak in a public congregational business meeting. If they had a question, they were required to whisper the question to a man and he would ask the question. I visited a Mennonite church years ago where the women sat on one side and the men on the other. Keeping to the mantra that women should never lead, when the congregation sang, the women always started singing one note after the men. That said, the singing was spectacular.

In the early 1970s, my mother gave me an important lesson in equal rights for all. She worked as a nurse’s aide for Winebrenner Nursing Home (now Birchaven Village), a Church of God-owned facility in Findlay Ohio. Female aides were paid less than male aides because the male aides did more of the “heavy” work. However, as my mom found out, both sexes did the “heavy” work.

So my Mom, ever the crusader, sued Winebrenner in federal court. At the time, to a fifteen-year-old Evangelical teenager, her behavior seemed silly and embarrassing. There were only a few coins difference in the wages, why bother? I thought at the time. I was so embarrassed when the lawsuit story hit the front page of the newspaper, complete with my mom holding a picket sign. But she was right. Winebrenner was discriminatory in their treatment of women. My mother filed a federal lawsuit under the Title 7 provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The court agreed, and my mother won her lawsuit. While I was embarrassed while this was being aired out in public, I now see how brave my mother was; to stand up for what was right; to dare demand that women be treated equally.We still have a long way to go on the issue of equality. Women are still treated as inferior to men. The glass ceiling exists, regardless of whether troglodytes like Phyllis Schlafly can see it. Yes, things are BETTER, but we should not rest until we are a society that is blind to gender, sexual orientation, race, and religion. Utopian? Perhaps. Justice and fairness require that we press forward even when it seems failure is certain. That’s one lesson my mom taught me, one that I will never forget.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Brian Mahiques Accused of Sex Crimes

pastor-brian-mahiques

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.

Brian Mahiques, pastor of Encounter Church in Concord, North Carolina and a teacher at The Daniel Academy of Concord, stands accused of sexually assaulting several minors while working as a youth pastor at The Refuge Church in Concord from 2005-2006.

WBTV-3 reports:

In 2019, investigators received a report from the Cabarrus County Department of Social Services in regards to a sexual assault involving a minor.

The report indicated the victim had told their parents they had been sexually assaulted on numerous occasions from 2005-2006 by Mahiques, who was the youth pastor at The Refuge Church.

During the course of the initial investigation, a second victim came forward and said they too had been sexually assaulted by Mahiques during this time period and was also a part of the youth group at The Refuge Church.

Both victims were under the age of 16 when these incidents occurred and both have specified some of the incidents occurred during youth events and on the property of The Refuge Church.

Mahiques remains in jail under a $1 million bond.

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: IFB Preacher Nathan Rager Rages Against the Prom

nathan rager

The Sounds of Fundamentalism is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher Nathan Rager raging against the prom. Rager is the pastor of Independent Baptist Church in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Video Link

You can view the entire video below. It’s a doozy. Get some popcorn, put up a chair, and prepare to be regaled by the preaching of Nathan Rager.

Video Link

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 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.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

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