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Category: Evangelicalism

Why Evangelical Culture Warriors Don’t Really Believe in Freedom of Religion

the bible rock of gibraltar

Uncritically listen to Evangelical culture warriors and you will wrongly think they are strong supporters of religious freedom. They talk a good line when it comes to the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. They may grudgingly admit that Article VI of the U.S. Constitution: no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States, forbids a religious test for political office. However, they also say that the United States is a Christian Nation; that its laws are based on the Bible. Their theological and political beliefs put them in direct opposition to the Constitution. Their goal is nothing short of anarchy; the overthrow of the established political and social order. Abandoning evangelization and piety as the means of social transformation, these culture warriors have turned to politics to “save” America, and in the twice-impeached Donald Trump, they found the Lord and Savior. In 2016 and 2020, the overwhelming majority of white Evangelical voters voted for Trump. And if he runs in 2024, they will most certainly vote for him again.

On January 6, 2021, a violent mob tried to overthrow the U.S. government. Many of these treasonous “patriots” were Evangelical Christians. Their failed attempt does not mean Evangelicals have stopped trying to bring down the government and establish Jesus as King and Ruler and the Bible as the law of the land. Trump has become a useful idiot. If he is indicted and imprisoned — and he most certainly should be — other MAGA candidates such as Ron DeSantis and Ted Cruz will arise as antichrists, hoping to reclaim America for the glory of God, and destroy what’s left of our democracy. Once they gain a firm grip on federal, state, and local governments, they will use their newfound power to advance their theocratic agenda. Once this happens, freedoms will be lost and people will die.

Reversing Roe v. Wade was never the end game. Next up is banning birth control and in vitro fertilization (IVF), abolishing same-sex marriage, criminalizing homosexuality, and legalizing teacher-led prayer and Bible reading in public schools. One need only to look at what’s going on in Texas with the allowing of donated “In God We Trust” posters to be hung in school classrooms to see what Evangelical culture warriors have in mind. Next it will be posters of the Ten Commandments. And then the Gideons will be let back in the doors to hand out Christian propaganda. From there, creationism will be taught in science classrooms, Biblical morality taught in health classes, and Christian rules of conduct required of all students. Currently, local schools here in rural northwest Ohio have given Lifewise Academy — an Evangelical “ministry” — unfettered access to elementary-aged students so they can indoctrinate them. Someone affiliated with Defiance City Schools said only seven students refused to attend the “voluntary” release-time classes.

Culture warriors are making noise about Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in schools — a bald-faced lie. They are calling for LGBTQ-friendly books to be removed from school libraries. Transgender people are also in their sights. No longer content to homeschool their children or send them to private schools, Evangelicals want to reclaim public schools for their God. How do they plan to do this? By electing like-minded candidates to school boards; by becoming missionary teachers and aides; by infecting every aspect of school life with their pernicious beliefs.

If people don’t wake up to their agenda, it will be too late. One need only look at the reversal of Roe v. Wade to see what can happen when Evangelical culture warriors get their way. Or look at what is going on in Florida where Governor Ron DeSantis is requiring teachers to teach alternative American History and civics. What’s next, a real-life portrayal of the Man in the High Castle or The Handmaid’s Tale?

The next time an Evangelical culture warrior tells you that they believe in “religious freedom,” don’t believe them. Their version of “freedom” is much like their idea of “love”; one rooted in the belief that the United States is a Christian nation; that Jesus is the sovereign Lord of all things; that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God and is the moral, ethical standard for everyone; that the world would be a better place if everyone worshipped their peculiar version of God.

Evangelical culture warriors may smile at you and be the friendliest people in town, but behind their “I Love Jesus” facade lurk dangerous fascist beliefs. Atheists, agnostics, liberal Christians, pagans, and other non-religious people are enemies of God. LGBTQ people are deviants, as are fornicators and adulterers. For the love of reason and freedom, read the Bible! Evangelical culture warriors really believe what it teaches. We should treat them as the threats they really are.

Unlike Evangelicals, I happen to actually believe in religious freedom. I also believe in a strict separation of church and state. People are free to worship whomsoever they want. Personally, I worship reason, skepticism, and Polly. However, when it comes to government, God and the Bible have no place. Certainly, people are free to have religious beliefs and hold political offices, but what they “believe” theologically and morally should play no part in governance. I mean none. I live in a small town of 356 people. The local council and mayor hold strong religious beliefs. I went to church with some of them back in the day. A medical marijuana dispensary enquired about establishing a business in town. The council and mayor quickly said no. Why? While no official statement was issued, I have no doubt their personal religious and moral beliefs played a big part in them saying no thanks. All that should have mattered is whether it was a legal business and how much tax revenue it would provide. Instead, the business was tentatively established down the road in a different community.

My eyes are wide open to what Evangelical culture warriors are doing. Are yours? They are hiding in plain sight, and I fear that many liberals and progressives are not paying attention or think Evangelical culture warriors are just a nuisance that will soon pass. They are not, they will not and our future depends on us identifying our enemy and fighting back.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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MAGA Mayor Adam Stockford Says Hillsdale, Michigan is a “Traditional Values” Community

maga

I have put what I learned at Hillsdale College into practice. I very much look to my education there when it comes to passing policy and in my interactions with the state and federal government.

I’m not gonna take the vaccine. They’ll have to shoot me or drag me to the hospital.

Hillsdale, Michigan mayor Adam Stockford

Last Saturday, my wife, Polly, and I took a steam train trip from Edon, Ohio to Hillsdale, Michigan. Operated by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society using the rails of the Indiana Northeastern Railroad, the train traveled west from Edon to Steubenville, Indiana before turning northeast. We traveled through the Indiana communities of Pleasant Lake, Angola, Fremont, and Ray, and then the Michigan communities of Montgomery, Reading, and Hillsdale. We spent six hours on the train, with a three-hour layover in Hillsdale. Most of the people sitting near us had never been to Hillsdale. Polly and I have been to Hillsdale numerous times over the past fifty years.

Hillsdale, a town of 8,000 people is home to Hillsdale College, an unapologetically Fundamentalist Christian school. According to Wikipedia, Hillsdale has 1,486 undergraduate students. Hillsdale College is known for its anti-government theocratic beliefs. In 1984, Hillsdale withdrew from the Federal Student Aid program, and in 2007 it stopped accepting Michigan state assistance. Hillsdale’s budget is funded through tuition, private funding, and endowments.

David Jesse, a journalist for the Detroit Free Press, recently had this to say about Hillsdale College:

Hillsdale, to the delight of conservatives and the consternation of liberals, has continued to burnish its conservative credentials. It has worked closely on education matters with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee

“The college’s belief in genuine classical education and its deep admiration for the principles of the American Founding, as espoused in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, has made it a target for those who oppose such challenges to the status quo of what is now taught in most American institutions of higher education,” Hillsdale spokeswoman Emily Davis told the Free Press, adding that Hillsdale wants all students, not just those in Michigan, to have a quality education. “Hillsdale College has been dedicated to pursuing truth and defending liberty since 1844 and has no plans of retreating from that noble effort.”  

….

The most liberal of liberals and the most conservative of conservatives could agree on this: Hillsdale College is conservative with a capital C.

….

Take the reaction to news media reports of Hillsdale President Larry Arnn’s comments attacking teachers, education, diversity administrators and others at a private event with Tennessee’s Republican governor. Hillsdale is helping to set up a chain of charter schools in the state. Liberals attacked the comments, raising alarm about what they say is the rise of uber-conservative forces. Conservatives defended Arnn, saying he was simply speaking the truth. Hillsdale has also become heavily involved in Florida politics, partnering with GOP leaders there in a major push to change what is taught — and how.

Founded in 1844, Hillsdale has a long history of traditional conservative values. One of its earliest presidents was among the founders of the Republican Party in nearby Jackson. In the 1980s, after the Grove City College court case, Hillsdale completely withdrew from accepting any federal funds. After controversy and scandal in the late 1990s, the college has rebounded. 

“In an age when most institutions change as rapidly as the highly volatile spirit of the moment, we remain true to our founding principles and mission. People recognize the difference,” said David Whalen, the former provost and current associate vice president for curriculum and a professor of English. “Students and families want college, not pseudo-education.”

….

“Hillsdale keeps its values the same because they are embedded in the mission — a treasured mission that is not ours to alter or ignore,” Whalen said. “Hillsdale College faculty, students, and staff are here in service of the mission, not to bend it on a whim nor according to the idol of the day.

“I know we have students who applied or transferred here because they are worried about other colleges and universities — they became disillusioned about institutions that simply go through the motions.”

Hillsdale’s goal is to prepare, indoctrinate, and produce the next generation of Evangelical culture warriors. Hilldale may be small attendance-wise, but they have an outsized, dangerous influence on the Republican Party. Their goal is to take the United States back for God. Of late, Hillsdale’s focus is on public/charter schools.

Earlier this month, Phil Williams, a reporter for Channel 5 in Nashville, Tennessee reported:

The people trying to get taxpayer funding for those privately-operated schools endorsed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee are now trying to convince the public they’re separate from Hillsdale College.

That’s the conservative Michigan college at the center of controversy over its president’s view of public school teachers.

But NewsChannel 5 Investigates has discovered new evidence that reveals the true Hillsdale connection, including more hidden-camera video from the reception hosted by Hillsdale president Larry Arnn for Lee.

That’s the same video where Arnn famously declared that public school teachers come from “the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges.”

Following the release of that controversial video, three Tennessee school boards voted down applications from the Hillsdale-affiliated American Classical Education to open charter schools in their districts.

American Classical has now appealed to the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission.

Facing a firestorm of criticism across the state, the charter management organization tried to distance itself from Hillsdale.

“They distanced themselves and reassured me that they were not part of Hillsdale, that there was no association or affiliation,” Rutherford County school board chair Tiffany Johnson told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

And when the Jackson-Madison County school board in West Tennessee rejected the group’s application, American Classical filed an appeal with the state claiming “ACE is a separate organization from Hillsdale College” and “none of those individuals” who appeared before the board “is or ever has been employed by Hillsdale College.”

….

But go back to the hidden camera video, where Arnn had appeared with Gov. Bill Lee.

“We started a charter management organization because we don’t take any money from the government,” Arnn told the audience.

….

Here, the Hillsdale president boasted about how, when the charter management organization needed a CEO, he had personally recruited Hillsdale graduate Joel Schellhammer, who had plans for the business world.

“I said, you’re going to have to put that off,” Arnn recounted.

“He said, why? I said you are going to start a charter management organization. And he said, what’s that? And I replied, you’ll figure it out.”

NewsChannel 5 Investigates also obtained a contract that Hillsdale signed with another charter school operator, showing that the college expects to be “the first and primary source of models, resources and guidance” for school operations; that, in the search for a principal, Hillsdale would take the lead and notify the school of the names and contact information for potential candidates; and that Hillsdale would provide teacher education “of a duration, scope and location to be determined by Hillsdale.”

While the contract says the final decisions would rest with the charter school operator, Hillsdale would retain the right to revoke its relationship with the charter school if it did not like those decisions.

….

In fact, the nine people listed in the appeal as board members included the Hillsdale chief of staff, the Hillsdale vice president of finance, the Hillsdale vice president of admissions, a member of the Hillsdale board of directors, the former superintendent of the college’s own private Hillsdale Academy and two Hillsdale graduates.

….

“There is support for curriculum, professional developments, operations, who’s going to be doing the oversight, who is going to be providing the resources, who’s the financial backer. It’s all directly tied to Hillsdale,” said Kelly Chastain, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

The deputy superintendent for Jackson-Madison County said that, when American Classical Academy was asked how they would deal with teacher shortages, their answer revealed even greater ties.

“They talked about that they typically have about 80% of their teaching at charter schools would come directly from Hillsdale,” Williams said.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, “Their teachers would come from Hillsdale?”

“They said about 80 percent would come from Hillsdale College where they are graduates. That was one of the ways they were able to retain teachers a lot better than most places.”

In addition, an article in the Hillsdale college newspaper noted that the new CEO “wants ACE’s schools to be places where Hillsdale graduates apply for jobs.”

….

He also called the group’s work “an extension of the mission of the college.”

As for the controversy surrounding Hillsdale, school officials insist that was not a driving force as they followed state guidelines for reviewing charter school applications.

“Their affiliation with Hillsdale is not important to us,” Jackson-Madison County’s Vivian Williams said.

“It’s important to us that we follow the state of Tennessee scoring rubric and that we are, in reviewing that, providing the best possible education for our students.”

NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted, “But for them to deny a close relationship with Hillsdale, it’s just not honest.”

“That’s correct,” Williams answered. “It’s not honest.”

Adam Stockford, the mayor of Hillsdale is a graduate of Hillsdale College, and MAGA proud. Thus, it is somewhat surprising that the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society did not vet Stockford before putting a letter from him, speaking on behalf of the city of Hillsdale, in the materials it handed to train riders.

Stockford wrote:

We like to think Hillsdale is a special place where we are more concerned with heritage and history than the next big thing. We take great pains to teach our children traditional values, and we guard the historical integrity of our downtown with vigor. We look to the future by protecting the past.

Stockford’s dog whistle was loud and clear. I wonder what LGBTQ, atheist, agnostic, pagan, and liberal Christian residents think about Stockford’s “traditional” values? “Traditional” is Greek for white, Christian, Bible-based morality. “Traditional” is Greek for culture war values such as anti-LGBTQ, anti-transgender, anti-abortion, and a host of other right-wing red meat issues.

Stockford, who is running for reelection, hilariously had this to say on his Facebook page:

adam stockford

Stockford should be honest about his motivations and agenda. “Traditional” values are all about “social issues.” If “social issues” are a distraction, why are Hillsdale College and Evangelicals in general obsessed with them?

Hillsdale College continues to turn out Evangelical culture warriors. As these warriors fan out across our nation, their goal is to reclaim America for their God; to promote Christian morality; to advance Biblical “truth” claims; to restore the United States to the glory days of the 1950s. Denying the fact that the United States is a secular nation with a strict wall of separation of church and state, these culture warriors are intent on establishing Jesus, who is a strict constitutionalist, as king and ruler.

Their political-religious agenda, an unholy, ugly conjoined twin if there ever was one, is a direct threat to the future of our country. One need only look at the reversal of Roe v. Wade to see the harm these people can cause. And they are not done. As someone who intimately follows and writes about the machinations of Evangelical churches, preachers, and institutions, it is clear to me that they have turned their focus to local, county, and state politics. Largely successful in their attempts to win local and state elections, these culture warriors, crying FREEDOM!, will not stop until they have obliterated our democracy.

Stockford may object to my portrayal of him, but any time someone talks about “traditional values,” I hear them loud and clear.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Short Stories: No Fun without Jesus and the Bible

bowling jesus

One evening years ago, Polly and I were having dinner at the home of my best friend, a fellow Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher. Somehow, our conversation turned to the music we listened to when making love. I told him that Polly and I had one secular CD, The Carpenters, and we listened to it when rolling in the hay. My friend became quite alarmed over our choice of music. I asked him, “what do you listen to?” he piously responded, “we ONLY listen to hymns!”

Over the years, Polly and I have returned to this conversation, making fun of getting some afternoon delight or shagging to songs such as Victory in Jesus, Amazing Grace, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and a host of other IFB-approved hymns.

I am sure to people outside of the IFB church movement that this kind of thinking seems insane. However, there is a principle behind it: you can’t have fun without Jesus and the Bible. IFB Christians live and breathe Jesus and the Bible. For them, Christianity is what you live twenty-four hours a day, eight days a week, including when you are having sex. Thus, Jesus is with you everywhere you go. Sex becomes a threesome, and Jesus is in the next lane to you at the bowling alley and using the locker next to you at the YMCA.

From 1983 to 1994, I pastored Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. During my tenure there, I helped start a multi-church youth fellowship. At its height, the youth group had fifteen churches participating in its activities. Every few months, we would get together and have “fun” activities for church teenagers. Our church rented out a bowling alley, a roller skating rink, or held a lock-in at the Y. We wanted teens to know that, to quote Southern Baptist Evangelist Bob Harrington, “It’s FUN Being Saved!” (Please see Evangelist Bob Harrington: It’s Fun Being Saved.) This meant, of course, at every activity, we had to take break so one of the preachers attending could preach AT the attendees and then give an invitation. That was always the goal: saving sinners. The activity was always just a means to an end.

I remember the looks church teens would give me when we stopped their fun so they could hear yet another sermon. They already heard a sermon Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Thursday night. They heard even more sermons during the week while attending our Christian school. And then they heard me preach on Tuesdays and Thursdays while “helping” with street ministry. On youth fellowship nights they gave me that disappointed look that said, “preacher, can’t we have just one night without Jesus and the Bible?” Of course, they knew without asking that the answer was no. So they dutifully gathered in the corner of the bowling alley and skating rink and pretended to care about what the blathering preacher in front of them was saying.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Dr. David Tee Finds My Writing “Disturbing”

disturbing

Fake Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, didn’t write about me yesterday — a blessing for which I give all praise, honor, and glory to my god, Loki — but he’s back with a vengeance today, writing two posts about me.

Theissen, who has been devouring my writing for the past two years, said today that I wrote something that he finds “disturbing.” What disturbed him, you ask? A Black Collar Crime story? Surely, you jest. Tee is a well-known defender of rapists, child molesters, and sexual predators. In fact, he has told me that I should stop writing this series; that the actions of these criminal preachers are none of my business. (In Tee’s mind, nothing is my business. I’m an atheist. I have nothing to offer to the human race.) What he found disturbing was this:

I get a lot of emails from Evangelical Christians who are struggling with their faith. Pastors, evangelists, missionaries, college professors, and devout church members will contact me about their existential struggles. Some of them have questions, others just want someone to listen to them.

According to Tee:

One reason this [his] blog exists is to help Christian pastors, missionaries, and church leaders. Unfortunately, they are not stopping by and talking to us. So we can only guess and follow God’s leading as to our content.

We can only trust God that the right people read what is written here and either it helps them or they use it to help someone in ministry who is struggling in their faith. We do not mind this method as it keeps us from being prideful,  arrogant, and other negative characteristics. God gets the glory as he uses it freely according to his will.

Tee says no one is stopping by and talking to him. Instead of wondering why that is, he appeals to providence. He’s just doing God’s work, and he’s leaving the results to him. Sure. Perhaps Tee needs to think really hard about his content. Imagine complete stranger stumbling upon Tee’s blog. What would be their first impression? If they looked at Tee’s 2022 writing, what would they find? Dozens and dozens of posts about BG and MM. They wouldn’t know who these people are. Tee is too lazy to write out their names. He also refuses to link to their sites. They would likely conclude that Tee has a burr in his saddle over BG (Bruce Gerencser) and MM (Meerkat Musings/Ben Berwick). Thousands and thousands of words written attacking not only their beliefs, but their persons. Would they conclude that the triune God of Christianity, the Great I Am, the Way, Truth, and the Life, approve of Tee’s verbiage? Or would they conclude that Tee is just another rabid Fundamentalist crank with an ax to grind; a man who will not rest until BG and MM are burned at the stake?

Notice what Tee says next:

Yes, we talk about different content from BG’s and MM’s websites but those posts are efforts to help pastors, etc. remain on the straight and narrow. We do not lie, distort, or attack those people for whom we take examples from. Our purpose is to help those struggling remain in Christianity and not be destroyed by evil through people like BG & MM.

Am I the only one who thinks Tee is trying to appropriate the purpose statement of this blog? Damn, Derrick, how about a bit of originality on your part? To quote the line from the Waterboy, “you can do it!”

In my aforementioned post, I wrote:

My goal as a writer has always been the same: to help people who have doubts and questions about Christianity and to help people who have left Christianity altogether. My objective has never been evangelization. While scores of people have deconverted after interacting with me, that’s never been my goal. I genuinely want to help people.

That has been my purpose and goal for fifteen years. I remain one man with a story to tell. If by telling my story I can help others, fine. I am eternally 🙂 grateful that scores of people have found my writing helpful. What writer doesn’t want to have his work well received? But, make no mistake about it, if no one read this blog, I would still tell my story. I personally benefit from telling my story. That thousands of people read it is affirming (and more expensive) and encouraging. When I wake up every afternoon, one of the first things I do is read the comments that came through overnight. Thoughtful words from people I have come to love and respect — with a bit of bullshit and Christian hate mixed in.

Tee asserts, without evidence, that I have nefarious motivations:

Herein lies the problem. It sounds attractive yet this is just pure deception at work. The type of ‘help’ BG is referring to is to help believers lose their faith and reject God. He is not helping them keep their faith and remain with God so BG and people like him are helping evil destroy God’s people.

We need to stop that from happening and get to those struggling believers before they make a fatal eternal mistake.

….

No Christian should listen to BG or those men. They are as deceived as any unbeliever. We have read Erhman, Dawkins, Hitchins, Harris, and Loftus and there is not one word of truth in their content.

If BG wanted to help these people, he would lead them to Christian authors who do have the truth and who do understand what those struggling Christian men and women are going through. All BG is doing is planting seeds of destruction and watering them so that evil can finally destroy those people.

Tee thinks I am “destroying” Christian people. I ask you, how can a lowly Evangelical-turned-atheist man destroy people who have the Holy Spirit living inside of them? Is Tee saying that I am more powerful than God? All I do is write. People are free to read or not read. People are free to contact me or not contact me. You will search in vain for one person who will testify that I tried to evangelize them or shove atheism down their throats. That’s just not how I do things. Five decades in the Evangelical church showed me how wrong and harmful it is to push your beliefs on others. As an Evangelical pastor, I believed that life was all about its destination (Heaven or Hell). Today, I believe that life is all about the journey. I’m content to kindly interact with people, helping in any way I can. How they respond to my help is up to them. I have had Evangelicals contact me with questions I patiently answered. They go their way, never to be heard from again. That is, until 5-7 years later when they write to tell what’s new in their lives. I often hear that my honest interaction with them planted seeds that later spouted. Is it my fault that through reason, skepticism, and common sense, these people concluded that what they had been taught as Christians was a lie?

People come to me because they have found the standard answers from preachers wanting. When Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, CS Lewis, Ray Comfort, Frank Turek, Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, and Josh McDowell are the best you got, what do you expect? (And that’s not saying the sophisticated theologians are much better.) Until apologists can provide compelling arguments for the problems of evil and suffering or the hiddenness of God, I suspect more and more Christians will exit stage left. Until apologists can provide compelling arguments for the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible — good luck with that — more and more Christians are going to conclude that what their preachers have been saying about the Bible and its teaching are lies.

The Internet has pulled back the curtain and exposed the lies behind Christianity. Tee longs for the day when sheep sat in church and hung on their shepherd’s every word. Preachers were viewed as infallible authority figures who would never, ever lead them astray. Now, thanks to the one and true God — Google — Christians know better. All I am is just one small point of light for those who stop by to read my writing. I suspect the fact that lots of Evangelicals find my writing resonates with them terrifies Tee. OMG, Satan is winning! No, reason and rationality are.

According to Tee, I am “evil.” That’s pretty rich coming from a guy with such a sordid past. Regardless, it is clear, at least to me, that “evil” is winning. I am quite happy that I am on team “evil.” 🙂 When I look at Tee’s past behavior and how he presently lives his Christian life, I find myself asking, “why would I ever want to be like him?” The single greatest reason people are walking (and running) away from Christianity is the behavior of God’s elect. Mahatma Gandhi famously said:

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

Bad Christian behavior remains an indictment of Christianity. Rare is a Christian who evidences the fruit of the Spirit in his life — without which a person is not saved, according to the Bible — and practices the teachings of Christ. If faith in Jesus doesn’t transform people, why should the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world care one whit or shit about Christianity? If David Tee is the best Christianity has to offer, no thanks! People such as he continue to lead people away from faith. And all the atheists, agnostics, and progressive Christians said AMEN!

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Derrick Thomas Thiessen Outraged Over Allegations I Have Made Against Him

dr david tee

Fake Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, is outraged over allegations made about him by a (somewhat) anonymous person who has knowledge about Thiessen’s past. Thiessen fled the United States years ago, and reinvented himself as a preacher, teacher, and professional shit-thrower. He first moved to South Korea and currently resides with his wife in the Phillipines.

Today, Thiessen took to his blog to say that both the anonymous person and I are liars. Worse, he claims I “hate” him:

That is the only explanation we can come up with to explain why BG says so many outrageous things about us in his different articles. Why else would he be saying those things? It is obvious that he hates us for exposing his false thinking and using his blog as a teaching source.

Thiessen operates a blog that virtually no one reads. That doesn’t mean that he might not have things to say to a particular demographic worth reading. I’m sure he does. However, until Thiessen shares his traffic numbers, I will stand by my claim that no one reads his blog except God — and he never comments. I suspect that a lot of his traffic actually consists of the readers of this blog. Unlike what Thiessen does with me, I mention him by his full name (fake and real) and link to his site. This, of course, gives his site credibility with search engines. I know some of you have gone to his site and read his writing. You even tried to leave comments which Thiessen promptly deleted.

If you do a search for “Bruce Gerencser” on Google, you won’t find one link to TheologyArcheology: A Site for the Glory of God. This tells me that Thiessen either has indexing turned off for his site or his low traffic numbers tell Google that his site is not authoritative. Maybe God can help him with his SEO (search engine optimization), or I can, for a fee, help him with it. I’d go with the latter since God doesn’t seem all that interested in TheologyArcheology. Thus, when Thiessen says I “hate” him because he exposes my false thinking, I wonder to whom, exactly, he is “exposing” me? It seems to me that Thiessen is an exhibitionist standing on the berm of a country road late at night, exposing himself to three of the cars that drive by during the night. 🙂 The rest of the cars speeding down the interstate never see him in all his glory.

I have no problem with people responding to my writing, even if they, as Thiessen does, lie about me or grossly distort my words. That’s the nature of the Internet. People can say what they want about me, and if warranted, I will respond. Thiessen is free to use my writing as a teaching source, however, I wish he would do so ethically by using proper attribution and linking to the appropriate post. Why he chooses not to is beyond me.

Thiessen goes on to say:

When we were sent some derogatory information about him by one of the people he has permanently banned, we went to BG privately and let him know what was going on. BG does not return the favor as he has published comments made about us that were far from the truth.

He has done no such thing. The person in question was actually me posting derogatory information about “Bruce Gerencser” in his comment section. He jumped on that like a fly on a pile of shit on a sweltering hot summer day. While he did email me about the accusation of “Bruce Gerencser” having a sexual relationship with a man in one of the churches he pastored, I eventually told him I was pulling his leg. That hasn’t stopped Thiessen from combing the Internet looking for dirt on me. He won’t find any, but it’s amusing watching him try. My life is pretty much an open book. Can Thiessen say the same?

In a previous post, Evangelical Trolls, Stalkers, and Zealots, I wrote:

Thiessen fled the United States years ago, escaping a warrant for his arrest. Thiessen left behind a trail of heartache, abandonment, fraud, and violence. His past reveals a sordid life, all while he was an Evangelical Christian. He reinvented himself, first in South Korea, and now in the Philippines. Remarried, Thiessen passes himself off as a Bible teacher and an author.

Thiessen objects, saying:

We talked to the person who was spreading those false pieces of information and did it privately. We also told him that we are expecting a public apology for his false words and actions. So far, that person has not done so.

We know the truth and we are not going to get involved in a he said she said discussion. Suffice it to say the above information is mostly lies and distorted reality. But we cannot expect anything better from either BG or MM.

The person who spread what Thiessen is calling “false pieces of information” had this to say:

In a recent e-mail exchange with Derrick (I have no information that this is not his legal name, so will continue to use it) I informed him that I had been asked to obtain medical-history information from him for benefit of his child. (To clarify this point, I have no direct connection to his child; oversimplifying a bit, they are friends of friends of friends.) In exchange, I told him I would cease and desist further public comment about him.

To his credit, he did respond to that request.

He also demanded that I publicly apologize for comments I have made that are “rife with errors” but informed me that he would no longer speak to me privately and would block my e-mail.

To reiterate, I am posting publicly at his insistence, so I am not reneging on the terms of my offer to him that I would, in effect, “shut up and go away.” I’m here right now because he asked me to be.

In either event, he did not, and still has not, clarified exactly what among my public comments is “rife with errors.” Our private conversations did identify one or two disputed pieces of information relating to the aforementioned medical history. As Derrick does have a right to privacy on that point, and those items were never made available for public consumption, I will not elaborate further.

While I expect Derrick is monitoring this comment section for the retraction/apology he expects from me, I cannot apologize, publicly or otherwise, for providing incorrect information if I do not know what was incorrect, particularly since I have supporting evidence for everything I’ve said publicly, and therefore have no reason to believe it is incorrect.

Derrick, since you insist that I must address this publicly and you have blocked my e-mail address, there is no way to present this other than in a public forum, and I must therefore also insist that you respond in a public forum.

If you will specifically identify what information I have posted publicly about your marital history, work history, criminal history, etc., that is incorrect, and you provide the correct information for everyone’s benefit, I will retract the erroneous comments.

Neither this commenter (whom I have talked with privately) nor I are spreading false information. There is a sworn deposition at the heart of our allegations; one in which Thiessen extensively testified. These allegations are based on his actual words, not hearsay or an attempt to silence him. In fact, there’s a lot more to the Thiessen saga than has been made public. I seriously doubt Thiessen wants all of this evidence made public for all to see. While I cannot and will not speak for the aforementioned anonymous person, my take is that he wants personal health information from Thiessen for the sake of a child that Thiessen fathered and abandoned years ago. I suspect Thiessen honestly owning his past behavior would be appreciated too. Based on the limited information I have read, Thiessen has spent much of his life running from accountability for his behavior — both legally and personally.

Thiessen concludes his post by saying:

No matter how many times we have said it, we have not created a post attacking BG. We have always focused on his content, the same for MM, pointing out their errors so believers will not be duped by BG’s and MM’s non-truth.

But atheists and unbelievers lie as they construct their own moral code, one without God’s influence. We should expect more of these attacks as we disagree with almost everything he writes. BG is wrong as is atheist and that comes from God not us personally.

All of our posts on his content are based on the evidence that BG has written himself. Not one word was made up nor taken out of context. Yet, in almost every post he makes, he tries to smear our name and do harm to us.

We think he wants us to pay attention to him as he misses our company and the opportunity to distort our words. We do understand him quite well and feel sad that he gave up on Christ for lies and hatred.

Not all atheists are beyond the point of no return but BG is and maybe he is trying to take us down with him. It is sad behavior to see take place as he has wasted 25 years of work for Christ for nothing in return.

I will leave it to you the reader to judge the veracity of his words.

Thiessen has spent years attacking atheists and Christians he disagrees with. Ben Berwick and I are just his latest obsessions. Maybe, in time — hopefully soon — he will move on to other subjects of his affection. When I first started responding to his posts and comments, I did so because I felt it was important to defend myself. Early on, I searched in vain for information about “Dr. David Tee.” It was not until a few months ago that I learned his real name was Derrick Thomas Thiessen, not David Tee, David Thiessen, John Ford, or other fake names he has used. I hope by responding to him that I have built up a body of work that others when searching for “Dr. David Tee” will learn who and what this man really is. That said, I do not respond to every post Thiessen writes about me. He has written over twenty posts about me since July 1. Responding to every lie and attack on my character would distract me from real work: helping people who have doubts and questions about Christianity and people who have left Christianity altogether. Thiessen is just a distraction, a gnat buzzing around my head on a lazy late summer day. Annoying to me, sure, but outside of his delusions, his writing is of little significance. Readers of this blog see the man for who and what he is.

Derrick, I know you will read this post, so I will make you a one-time offer. I will gladly give you space on this site — a blog read by thousands of people — to refute the allegations made against you. Not a rant, not a sermon, not yet another attack on me, but an actual defense of your behavior while you lived in the United States. If I am “lying” about you, here’s your opportunity to set the record straight. If you are unwilling to do so, I will let your “silence” speak for itself. This offer expires on September 1, 2022.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Short Stories: The Most Shocking Thing I Ever Learned About My Wife!

bruce and polly gerencser 1978
Bruce and Polly Gerencser, May 1978

Note: My wife gave me permission to publish this article.

Polly and I met at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan in the fall of 1976. She was seventeen and I was nineteen. Both of us came from Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) backgrounds. While I came from a dysfunctional home, Polly grew up in a stable, solidly middle-class home: home ownership, vacations every year, and new cars every few years. Polly’s dad worked for the railroad. In 1972, at the age of thirty-five, he believed God was telling him to go to Midwestern and study for the ministry. In fact, he believed God was going to kill him if he didn’t. So the Shope family left Bay City and moved to Pontiac. Polly started high school at Oakland Christian School, graduating second in her class. Polly’s dad graduated in May 1976 and moved to Newark, Ohio to become the assistant pastor of the Newark Baptist Temple (pastored by Polly’s uncle, Jim Dennis). Polly went home for the summer and returned to Pontiac in August to enroll in classes.

Both of us briefly dated someone else before acting on the mutual infatuation we had with each other. We quickly fell in love, and on Valentine’s Day, 1977, I proposed and Polly said yes. Two years later, we stood before God and man at the Baptist Temple and said our vows. Forty-four years later we are still (mostly) happily married.

Polly and I are best friends. I genuinely enjoy spending time with her. As most senior couples can attest, we know each other quite well. We’ve spent countless hours talking about our lives before and after marriage. You would think by now that we would know everything about each other. Yet, several weeks ago, I was reminded of the fact that Polly is still holding on to a few secrets.

One weekend evening we were talking about living in the Midwestern dorm. Somehow, we got on the subject of masturbation. I told Polly that masturbation was common among men living on the three dormitory wings. Least favorite job? Cleaning the showers. 🙂 Yuck.

I asked Polly if any of the girls on the women’s floor masturbated. She replied, uh huh. I then asked, did you ever masturbate? thinking my shy, backward, pure-as-the-driven snow Polly would say no. Imagine my surprise when she said yes! At that moment, I gained a fresh appreciation for my wife. First, even admitting that out loud was a big deal, and second, her willingness to do so shows we are finally free from the Puritanical shackles of our Fundamentalist past. What’s next, finally admitting that she really wanted to taste the champagne I dumped down the drain during our honeymoon at the French Lick Hotel — a “sin” she denies to this day, one we playfully “argue” about. 🙂

For all their moralizing, Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Christians are quite normal, and that includes sexual self-gratification. Too bad most of them won’t admit it.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

The Stupid and Silly Things Evangelicals Bicker and Fight Over

ifb preacher phil kidd
IFB Preacher Phil Kidd

I came of age in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement in the 1960s and 1970s. IFB churches are known for fighting amongst themselves, often over trivial matters. These internecine wars are fueled by pastors who are certain their beliefs and practices are not only right but also straight from the Bible — God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word. Prooftexts abound. Every point of contention is justified by one or more King James Bible verses. No issue is insignificant. If it’s in the Bible, IFB preachers say, how dare we trivialize God’s Word! Thus, churches split, pastors resign, and fellowship groups dissolve over issues trivial and insignificant.

I’ve seen or heard of open warfare between followers of the Prince of “Peace” over things such as:

  • Long hair on men
  • Short hair on women
  • Pants on women
  • Wearing blue jeans
  • Wearing jewelry
  • Wearing wire-rimmed glasses
  • Wearing shorts
  • Wearing culottes (Baptist shorts)
  • Playing cards
  • Going to movies
  • Eating at places that sold alcohol
  • Beard and mustaches (on men) 🙂
  • Bible translations
  • Rock music
  • Contemporary Christian music (CCM)
  • Mixed swimming
  • Physical contact between unmarried teens, young adults
  • Sending your child to a secular college
  • Sending your child to the wrong Christian college

These things are just a taste of the conflicts that go on in IFB churches. Sometimes, church members leave and go to another church over points of disagreement. Other times, they stay and work behind the scenes to foment disunity. After all, God cares about these things; shouldn’t they? Or so the thinking goes, anyway. More than a few churches have split over such issues.

From 1995-2002, I pastored Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. This church was a delight to pastor, but we did have conflict one time over a monumental, life-changing matter: using contemporary Christian music in our worship services. 🙂

church split

I started the church as a traditional Independent Baptist church. We sang hymns and choruses. I decided to introduce contemporary Christian music into our worship services using what is called blended worship — a mix of hymns, choruses, and contemporary music. Our three oldest children started taking music lessons. Our oldest played the bass, and the other two played electric/acoustic guitars. We bought an expensive electronic keyboard — a Clavinova. A woman in our church, classically trained, played the piano and led worship, and Polly and another woman sang too. I was quite proud of what we had put together. The music was phenomenal — relevant and inspiring. Every week we sang a mix of classic Baptist hymns, contemporary music, and choruses. Everyone loved the music except for three families, aged 50s to 70s. They demanded change, I said no, and out the door they went, never to be heard from again. (This story is a bit more complicated than this, but I will leave its telling to another day.)

I pastored seven churches over the course of twenty-five years. In every church, I had people get upset, raise a ruckus, and leave. The issues that upset them were almost always trivial in nature, often little more than differences of opinion over how to interpret this or that verse or how to properly live out the teachings of the Bible. And sometimes I was the problem. I remember one dear couple, Terry and Wendy Broceus, leaving the church because I insisted Wendy only wear dresses/skirts. Terry drove one of the church buses and Wendy sang specials during worship services. They were (and still are) devoted followers of Jesus. They regularly attended church, tithed, and participated in various church ministries. Yet, because I had a strict code of conduct for ministry participants, I expected them to play by the rules. So, the Broceuses left. My unwillingness to bend on the pants issue cost the church a good family. Several years ago, I apologized to Wendy for what happened. (Please see A Letter to a Former Parishioner: Dear Wendy.) Such skirmishes and conflicts were/are common in IFB churches. At pastor’s fellowships, preachers would get together and share war stories, gossip, and complain about contrarian church members. Rare was a preacher who didn’t have one or more stories to share. Quite frankly, without conflict, most IFB preachers wouldn’t know what to do.

Other Evangelical sects have similar problems too. Take the recent skirmish over whether men should paint their fingernails. Worship singer Corey Asbury recently said that he didn’t have a problem with men painting their nails. He called opposition to the practice a “social construct” that needs to change:

That is cultural, it has zero to do with the Bible, Jesus, Christianity, moral code at all in general.

Asbury’s pro-colored fingernails stance caused several Evangelicals to get their panties in a twist. Marcus Rogers said that Asbury was promoting something that could lead people astray:

Say it’s just a culture thing that men can’t wear lipstick, you know, or men can wear hoop earrings, men can wear dresses and things like that. You go down that rabbit hole and things don’t stop.

I am a sixty-five-year-old curmudgeon. I don’t get the nail painting thing. One of my sons occasionally paints his nails. My youngest daughter will paint my youngest grandsons’ nails now and again. This practice is quite foreign to my boomer brain, but that’s okay. I don’t have to “get” it. I might laugh, sigh, and go “hmm,” when I see certain things, but I’m not going to get in a fight with people over how they dress, cut their hair, or paint their fingernails. To put it bluntly, who gives a shit? Think for a moment about all the serious issues facing the human race, yet Evangelicals spend time fussing and fighting over non-important, trivial matters. Want to paint your nails? Go ahead. Don’t want to? That’s fine too. This approach could be applied to 99% of the things Evangelicals fight over. Each to their own. Of course, religious Fundamentalism demands conformity. They fight because EVERY issue matters. Diversity of thought is never welcome. One IFB evangelist said, “fellowship is a bunch of people in a boat rowing in the same direction.” God forbid if a church member thinks differently, dresses differently, or paints his or her nails red, white, and blue. Does anyone really believe that when they stand before God (I’m speaking as an Evangelical) that he is going to care about what color they painted their nails? “Only clear coat was approved by Me! You shall be banished to a cheap cabin on Trump Drive for wearing turquoise polish!” Will “This Was Your Life” Judgment Day really be all about the trivial, superficiality of life? I suspect that most of the things IFB preachers spent an inordinate amount of time preaching about will not even be on God’s radar on Judgment Day. If the Bible is true, as Evangelicals say it is, we do know what will actually be on God’s mind when they stand before him:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

As an atheist, I don’t think the Bible is true. However, I do support caring for the least of these; those who are sick, hungry, and dying. Jesus and I seem to agree on this matter. 🙂 Haha — an atheist taking the Word of God more seriously than Evangelicals. What’s up with that? 🙂

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Evangelical Trolls, Stalkers, and Zealots

christian troll

I’ve been blogging for fifteen years. I was still a Christian — barely — when I started my first blog in 2007. Over the years, I would start, stop, start, stop, start, stop writing — deleting my site, domain, and email address, and starting over. I did this because I was unable to handle Evangelical trolls, stalkers, and zealots. Their incessant attacks on me personally greatly wounded me. Why are Christians so cruel? My goal then as it is now was to tell my story, yet doing this evidently induces vicious rage from some bought-by-the-blood, filled-with-the-Holy-Ghost Fundamentalist Christians. Why the outrage?

In early 2014, my therapist at the time decided he would try to help me overcome the trauma caused by these people. He knew that writing was essential to my well-being. He also appreciated my work, especially my critiques of Evangelical Christianity. He recognized I had a unique story. Most preachers who leave Evangelicalism do so when they are younger. Here I was, a man who spent fifty years in Evangelicalism and pastored Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan for twenty-five years. Such people typically don’t abandon their faith. Sunk costs keep them from acting on what they know to be true. So, as those in the Clergy Project can attest, they “fake it until they make it.” I was never very good at subterfuge, so faking it was not an option for me. So when I concluded that the central claims of Christianity weren’t true, I was unwilling to “pretend” that they were. And let me be clear, I don’t judge people who choose a different path. There are too many variables in the deconversion process for me to judge others.

By December 2014, I was ready to resurrect my writing career. Believing I finally had the tools necessary for me to successfully handle Evangelical trolls, stalkers, and zealots, I started blogging again. This December, it will be eight years since I started telling my story again and critiquing Christianity. Over the years, I’ve made several additions to this site: Black Collar Crime Series, Songs of Sacrilege, and Sounds of Fundamentalism. These broadened the scope of my exposure of the ugly underbelly of Evangelical Christianity (and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement).

Kluver lives in California, not Dubai. I reported his profile, but Facebook rarely does anything. His claims are absurd, his passive-aggressive way of causing me problems.

I continue to have a problem with trolls, stalkers, and zealots. Daniel Kluver, blocked and banned from contacting me, now contacts friends of mine and family members. A few days ago, he contacted an ex-daughter-in-law of mine. Revival Fires continues to create sock accounts and harass me. Just today, using the name Charles Kelly, he sent me a YouTube video about the judgment of God. And then there’s Fake Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen. Thiessen fled the United States years ago, escaping a warrant for his arrest. Thiessen left behind a trail of heartache, abandonment, fraud, and violence. His past reveals a sordid life, all while he was an Evangelical Christian. He reinvented himself, first in South Korea, and now in the Philippines. Remarried, Thiessen passes himself off as a Bible teacher and an author. Go to his blog, TheologyArcheology: A Site for the Glory of God, and you will find dozens and dozens and dozens of posts about me personally and to a lesser degree, my friend across the pond, Ben Berwick. Thiessen routinely lies about us, distorting our beliefs. His methodology is always the same: the Bible is right, we are wrong; Evangelicalism is right, atheism is wrong; he’s an authority on Christianity, we are not. He makes no attempt to engage those he disagrees with. Instead, at least in my case, he attacks my character, along with assaulting the good names of my wife and children.

These three piss ants are just the latest in a long line of Evangelicals who believe it is their mission to attack, discredit, and marginalize me. Whether they do so because they think God is commanding them to do so or out of a perverse sense of glee they get from harassing people, I do not know. I tend to think that Christian Fundamentalism rots the mind. Kluver, Revival Fires, and Thiessen are all men in their late 50s and 60s. Their minds have been floating in the pickling juice of Evangelicalism most of their lives. I see no possible way of trying to help these men. I have quoted to them Bible verses that clearly show their behavior is counter to the teachings of Christ and could be a sign that they are not Christian. This approach has zero effect on them. In their minds, atheists don’t know anything about the Bible. Evidently, the moment I deconverted, all my knowledge about the Bible and Christianity magically disappeared. Of course, this is fanciful thinking on their part. The Bible is clear: their abhorrent behavior reveals that none of them is a Christian. Is it any wonder that all three of them believe in what Deitrich Bonhoeffer called cheap grace; that salvation is little more than mentally assenting to a list of theological propositions and praying the sinner’s prayer? They believe that no sin can separate them from the love of Christ. How else do we explain Thiessen’s defense and support of rapists, child molesters, and other criminals?

As Carolyn my editor can attest, I receive a lot of emails from Evangelical trolls, stalkers, and zealots. I receive fewer now than I received years ago, but enough email to lead me to conclude that I am dealing with more than a few bad apples. Check out the Evangelical Email and Comments Tag to get a better look at how many Evangelicals behave when interacting with me.

Competent secular counseling has helped me learn how to deal with trolls, stalkers, and zealots. I’ve developed ways to limit the harm they cause, not only to me, but to the readers of this blog.

First, I have a warning for Evangelicals on my Contact Page. The fact that their email and name could be shared with thousands of people stops some Evangelicals from being the asses they could be. Of course, some people don’t care that I will make their email/name public. They want, need, and crave the attention.

Second, I turn some of their emails and comments into blog posts, giving them what regular readers call the “Bruce Gerencser Treatment.” Typically, when I do this, I never hear a peep from them again. I have had IFB pastors and two Evangelical counselors email me or leave comments using fake names and, sometimes, bogus email addresses. Their words were designed to cause me physiological harm. Instead of letting them have their way with me, I tracked down who they were and linked their names and or businesses to their hateful email/comments. This got their attention quickly. When people search for their names, what do people find? A link to this site is often, thanks to the size of this site, ahead of their church, business, or blog listing. I must admit that I smile when I see this — a bit of poetic justice. On occasion, these so-called men of God will beg me to delete my post. I always decline, reminding them that they should have considered what might happen as a result of their attacks. IFB preachers, in particular, tend to be authoritarians. Bullying people into silence is part of their MO. In me, however, they ran into someone who pushes back when bullied.

derrick thomas thiessen
This site is number one and number two when people search for Derrick Thomas Thiessen

Third, I have compartmentalized the work I do for this blog. I treat writing as my job. It’s what I do X number of hours every day. The rest of my time is spent with family, watching TV, reading, listening to the Cincinnati Reds on the radio, going out on the town with my beautiful wife, going to doctor’s appointments, attending my grandchildren’s ballgames and concerts, working in the yard or around the house, and watching the raccoons, possums, squirrels, birds, and feral cats from the living room window. Outside of approving comments, I don’t bother with my blog after I’m done writing for the day. I typically write from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm, four to five days a week. By the time I have sent my last post to my second wife (inside joke 🙂 ), I am exhausted, ready to fade into the late-night hours.

Fourth, I have had to learn to not give a shit. People such as Kluver, Revival Fires, Thiessen, and others are mere gnats flying around my head on a warm summer day; annoying to be sure, but nothing a quick swat of the hand can’t fix. Simply said, such people do not matter. They thrive on causing harm to other people. I just so happen to be their latest target. In time, these bloodsuckers, unable to inflict further harm on me, will move on to other targets.

Fifth, I have tools that help me limit their access to me. I ban and block them from accessing this site, and on social media, I do the same. Unfortunately, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if they are hell-bent on harassing and attacking me, they will do so. Revival Fires just reinvents himself every few weeks. Kluver turns to other people associated with me, knowing that this will upset me. In the case of Thiessen, he uses his blog to harm me. There’s nothing I can do about this unless he violates WordPress’ terms of service. People in this day and hour are free to be assholes. I’ve been tempted to start a new blog titled “The Life and Times of David Tee,” but doing so would distract from my work here. And if I did this for every Derrick Thiessen I come in contact with, I’d own lots and lots of websites.

Currently, three people are blocked from accessing this site:

ip blocks

The first person is Revival Fires. The second person is John, and the third person is Elliot. These men can’t take the hints that they are not welcome — ever. Of course, this approach only works as long as they have static IP addresses. That’s why with Revival Fires I have to block a range of IP addresses.

There are times when the psychological assaults get to me. I used to just quit blogging, but I have learned that it is okay to take a few days or weeks off to get away from the Revival Fires/Kluvers/Thiessens of the world. Such people will always frequent this site, so all I can do is develop coping mechanisms to deal with them. Eight years in, I think I finally have this blogging thing figured out.

The bigger question is why? Why do trolls, stalkers, and zealots behave this way? What do they hope to accomplish? Are they mentally ill? Has Evangelicalism certainty and dogma turned them into vicious, hateful people? Are they sociopaths or psychopaths who secretly love trying to harm other people? If preaching the gospel and evangelizing sinners is the goal, how in God’s name does their behavior advance this cause? Such people cause untold harm to Christianity. Do they not fear standing before their God and giving account for how they treated atheist Bruce Gerencser and the readers of this blog? Or do they think that God will just slap them on the hand and then say, “enter into the joy of the Lord”?

I don’t expect Evangelicals to be perfect. None of is perfect. However, at the very minimum, I expect them to be decent, thoughtful human beings. Surely, with the Holy Ghost living inside of them, they should be able to evidence the fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is [present tense] love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23

Hopefully, this explains how I deal with trolls, stalkers, and zealots. Such people will always be with me, so I must continue developing ways to deal with them. Your help with this endeavor is always appreciated.

Saved by Reason,

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bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Real Christian Men Have Beards

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The connection between manhood and unmown cheeks today has flowed down through church history, like oil running down the beard of Aaron (Psalm 133:2).

Augustine, commenting on Psalm 133, writes, “The beard signifies the courageous; the beard distinguishes the grown men, the earnest, the active, the vigorous. So that when we describe such, we say, he is a bearded man” (Augustine’s Commentary on Psalms, John, and 1 John). Or take Charles Spurgeon, who told his students that “growing a beard is a habit most natural, scriptural, manly and beneficial” (Lectures to My Students, 99). Or take ministers during the Reformation who grew manhood’s symbol to defy the celibate, clean-shaven faces of the Catholic priesthood.

Or overhear our day questioned by C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters as the senior demon writes his nephew, “Thus we have now for many centuries triumphed over nature to the extent of making certain secondary characteristics of the male (such as the beard) disagreeable to nearly all the females — and there is more in that than you might suppose” (118).

So, what of the beardless?

Rome’s men were clean-shaven in biblical times (as were the Egyptians). When these beardless came to the bearded Christ, they did not need to grow one to enter the kingdom of God. They, like we, are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone — apart from any strands of good works, lest the hairier among us boast. Of course, on the face of it, beards hold no salvific design, nor are they commanded. Even the shaved can be saved. Nor do beards make us men. Some boys living in basements, addicted to video games and porn, grow beards. But here we walk a fine line. Does this then relegate the beard, that ancient landmark, to a matter of obsolete decoration, of mere preference?

I know more than a few godly men who testify that though they try, the fig tree does not blossom, nor is fruit found on the vine. Little islands of hair sprout, but the lands never form the continent. They are more Jacob than Esau — whose mother glued “the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck” (Genesis 27:16) to pass as his hairy brother (and the older did come to serve the younger, Genesis 25:23; 27:15, 42). Chin wigs, my brother, are no solution.

The solution is to be the man God made you to be. Many today, if not most, will not have beards and are not the lesser for it. This article, with all its bearded banter, has nothing negative to say to you. We agree with Shakespeare that “he that hath a beard is more than a youth,” but not when he continues, “and he that hath no beard is less than a man” (Much Ado about Nothing, 2.1). For if you walk according to your God-given and God-matured masculinity, you are a bearded man, whether you have hair on your face or not. To understand that statement, consider the wonder of why God made beards.

Why did God make men with the capacity to grow beards? Why grow beards at all, or why not give them to children and women, like some speculate of the dwarves of Middle-earth?

Is it not because God delights in the distinctions he made? The day and the night, the land and the water, the heavens and the earth, the man and the woman — “Good.” For centuries, he hid the chromosomal signatures in every cell in our bodies, where only he could delight in them, but he did not leave himself without a witness, even to the unscientific. He shaded the man’s face with his pencil from the very beginning. What ecstasy of Adam observing the beautiful and smooth face of Eve — like me, yet not.

This appreciation is under assault in many places today. Figuratively speaking, our culture dislikes everything about beards. We paste false beards on women and shave the beards of men, catechizing the children that there isn’t any difference. Hair is just hair. With enough hormones, anyone can grow them. Claiming to be wise, we have become fools, exchanging the glory of God for images — and now we barter away our own.

That makes literal beards, in my opinion, worth having. Beards protest against a world gone mad. In other words, beards beard. They testify, in their own bristly way, that sex distinctions matter, that manhood will not be so easily shaven, shorn, or chopped by the Hanuns of this world. Its itchy and cheeky voice bears witness, “Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

Greg Morse, Desiring God, O Beard, Where Art Thou? August 22, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser