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Category: Evangelicalism

Local Attorney Calls Me a Noted Flaming Liberal and I Feel Warm All Over

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Several years ago, I posted a letter I wrote to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News about black Defiance College football players kneeling for the National Anthem to social media.

Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Editor,

I write to lend my support to the Defiance College football players who have knelt during the playing of the national anthem. I commend them for their courage, knowing that most local residents oppose their actions. Their continued protest has brought calls for discipline, including expulsion from school. I commend college administrators and coaches for not bowing to public pressure to silence protest. These students, along with their counterparts in professional sports, need to be heard. Their protests have nothing to do with respect for the military or flag.

What lies behind their kneeling is inequality, injustice, and racism. While these issues might seem to locals to be the problems of urban areas, the truth is that we denizens of rural Northwest Ohio have our own problems related to these things. I recently participated in a forum discussion on racism in Northwest Ohio. Having lived most of my sixty years of life in this area, I can say with great certainty that we are not immune from charges of racism and injustice. We may hide it better, covering it with white, middle-class Christian respectability, but it exists, nonetheless.

Years ago, my family and I walked into a church towards the end of the adult Sunday school class. Teaching the class was a matronly white woman — a pillar of the church. She was telling the class that her grandson was not getting playing time on the college football team because blacks got all the playing time. She reminded me of a retired white school teacher I knew when I lived in Southeast Ohio. At the time, we had a black foster daughter. I had just started a new church in the area, and we were looking for a house to rent. This school teacher had a house available, so we agreed to rent it. When it came time to pick up the keys, she told us she decided to rent to someone else. We later learned that she said she wasn’t going to have a ni***r living in her house.

These stories are apt reminders of what lies underneath our country respectability. It is time we quit wrapping ourselves in the flag, pretending that racism, inequality, and injustice doesn’t exist. Our flag and anthem represent many things, but for many Americans, they represent oppression and denial of human rights; and it is for these reasons, among others, that players kneel.

Bruce Gerencser

Ney, Ohio

Many white — we’re not racists — locals have been in an uproar over the players not kneeling. In their minds, the players are disrespecting veterans and the flag — regurgitating Donald Trump’s lie. Never mind that the players say their protest is about inequality, injustice, and racism — locals know better. The faux outrage has reached hysterical levels on social media — especially on two local Facebook groups.

As is my custom, not wanting to waste my time trying to change the hearts and minds of people who already think they know everything, I stayed out of the discussions. One discussion, however, was so egregious that I decided to say my piece. Here are several screenshots of my short interaction with a local lawyer. Enjoy!

defiance college players
defiance college players 2
defiance college players 3
defiance college players 4

Just another day in rural, white, Christian, Trumpist northwest Ohio

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

What Do Sexual Predators Look Like?

bob gray jacksonville florida preaching against elvis
IFB Pastor Bob Gray preaching against Elvis, 1956. Gray would later be accused of sexual misconduct. Gray was a serial pedophile.

Evangelicals tend to be submissive and trusting of their pastors, believing these men are specially chosen by God to teach them the Bible and lead them in paths of righteousness. Roman Catholics treat their priests similarly. When these pillars of moral virtue behave in ways not expected, Christians have a hard time believing that Pastor or Father __________ would ever sexually abuse children, take sexual advantage of teenagers, or manipulate congregants for sexual gratification. They just KNOW that their trusted leaders would never do such things, and even after these men of God are convicted and sentenced to prison, some Christians continue to believe that their pastors/priests are innocent.

Part of the problem is that pastors and priests don’t resemble what many people expect sexual predators to look like. The late Bob Gray pastored Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for thirty-eight years. He was, by all accounts, a wonderful example of a Christian man who devotedly and resolutely followed after Jesus. Yet, when Gray died, he was scheduled to be tried on charges of sexually abusing twenty-two children. All told, Gray was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor for fifty years. His predatory ways can be traced all the way back to his days as a student preacher. Gray was, from the get-go, a rotten apple; yet, for many years, he was a revered man of God who pastored one of the largest church in the country. He didn’t “look” like a predator, and neither do most of the men who prey on naive, innocent, defenseless children, teens, and adults.

There are thousands of Bob Grays pastoring churches — from Catholic parishes to IFB congregations. Sometimes these predators spend their lives in one church, grooming entire generations to accept their predatory ways as normal. Other men move from church to church, ever on the prowl for new victims. Those who blindly trust their pastors risk being taken advantage of. Yes, most pastors are decent, thoughtful human beings, but enough of them are abusers that only the naïve among God’s people would blindly trust these men with their children and teenagers. Numerous times a week, Evangelical preachers, mainline pastors, and Catholic priests are arrested and charged with sex crimes. And so are deacons, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, youth ministers, Christian school teachers, and church volunteers. Churches are magnets for predators. These perverts know that Christians tend to be trusting of others — ignorantly believing claims of salvation and transformation. Even people who were convicted of sex crimes before they were “born again” are often trusted to be on their best behavior. After all, Jesus forgave them of their sins, shouldn’t Christians do the same? Evangelicals, in particular, love stories about “God” giving people second chances. Years ago, a pastor whom I know well told me that his church didn’t do background checks on workers because their past, no matter how heinous, was “under the blood.” In his mind, the precious blood of Jesus was some sort of magic potion that cured pedophiles and sexual predators.

blood of jesus

Several years ago, the Toledo Blade ran an editorial that asked the question, What do Predators Looks Like? Here’s what the article had to say (behind paywall):

A third Toledo pastor now stands accused as part of a sex-trafficking ring that abused teenage girls. And while the idea of clergy members colluding to exploit vulnerable girls shocks the community, it is worth remembering that human traffickers rarely look like villains out of central casting.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that the Rev. Kenneth Butler, 37, the self-proclaimed prophet affiliated with Kingdom Encounter Family Worship Center, is part of the same human-trafficking conspiracy that allegedly involved the Revs. Cordell Jenkins and Anthony Haynes. Those men were arrested in April and are behind bars awaiting trial on sex trafficking and child pornography charges.

To the community, these men appear to be honorable, religious leaders. Authorities say that appearance is a façade.

Experts say that sexual predators who target children will often seek trusted positions in the community that will allow them access to young people and give parents a false sense of security. They seek jobs as coaches or teachers, clergy or youth leaders.

Evil-doers in the movies often look evil. Evil-doers in real life often work hard to look harmless. They look ordinary. They look trustworthy. They do not look as if they were cast to play the part of a villain.

In recent years, society’s understanding of human trafficking has drastically changed to reflect the scope and prevalence of the problem. This is largely thanks to the work of pioneering researchers, one of the most prominent of whom is Celia Williamson of the University of Toledo.

The nation is only beginning to come to grips with the nature and extent of human trafficking. And it is another Ohioan who has been the leader on this issue in Congress — Rob Portman.

But none of this changes the depth of the damage trafficking can do to one life or one family. And the trafficker may be hidden in plain, respectable, sight.

The pastors referenced in this editorial are three respected Toledo pastors.

Since March 2017, I have published over 900 stories detailing clerical criminal — most often sexual — misconduct.  The total number of criminal preachers is much higher, of course, since some arrests don’t make the news and many predators aren’t caught. Some critics, thinking I have an ax to grind, say that the only reason I highlight these stories is that I hate God/Jesus/Christianity and I want to embarrass the Church. Emails from such people are laden with Bible verses or personal attacks, both meant to silence me. What I find interesting is that these people rarely mention the victims, and when they do, they often attack them, suggesting that the sex was consensual or, as in the case of convicted felon Pastor Jack Schaap, the teenage victim was the one who seduced the adult offender. I suspect people attack me because to do otherwise would expose their culpability in allowing sexual predators to prey on church congregants in plain sight.

People of authority, be they pastors, doctors, lawyers, counselors, or teachers, are often privy to intimate details about the lives of those they serve. This access to the darkest, deepest, most vulnerable parts of our lives makes us easy targets for “servant” predators. In the 1960s, my Evangelical grandfather suggested that my mother see a Christian therapist in Lima, Ohio. According to my grandfather, this psychiatrist was a committed follower of Jesus; a man who would deliver my mom from her psychological demons. Why Mom trusted her father I will never know. After all, when she was a child, he repeatedly sexually molested her. But, trust him she did, and this doctor proceeded to get Mom hooked on powerful narcotic/psychotropic drugs. This Evangelical servant of the Lord, once his female patients were addicted, demanded they provide him sexual favors in trade for the drugs. My mom complied with his demands. Is it any surprise, then, that my mom repeatedly tried to kill herself?

We will never totally put an end to sexual abuse. There will always be men (and, to a lesser degree, women) who sexually take advantage of others. When caught, these perverts should be punished, and anyone who enables their behavior should be punished too. Those whose lives were marred and ruined by sexual abuse deserve compassion and care — not blame and guilt. For churches, in particular, fundamental changes must be made to how pastors and church workers are vetted. As things now stand, Christian sects and churches are viewed as enablers and protectors of “men of God” who sexually abuse and take advantage of congregants. Church leaders whine and complain about being unfairly tarred with a broad brush, but the fact remains is that many sects/churches/pastors remain deliberately deaf, blind, and dumb when it comes to sexual abuse. Until the matter is taken seriously, church leaders might as well get used to being tarred. The damage caused by predator preachers is such that I simply don’t have the time to listen to or worry about hurting the feelings of “offended” church leaders. (Please read How Should Churches Handle Allegations of Abuse?) When my email inbox is filled with mail from abuse victims, it’s hard to give any attention to butt-hurt preachers who think their reputation and the “testimonies” of their churches are being hurt by sexual abuse allegations. All I have to say is this: do better.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Trauma: 1968-1972: Five Years That Changed My Life

bruce gerencser 1970

It has taken me almost sixty-four years to admit and understand how much trauma I have had in life. In 2009, I saw a counselor for the first time. Over the next twelve years, he helped me understand my past (and present), peeling back the layers of my life one ply at a time. This process was excruciating and painful, but necessary. While we talked about the various traumas I have experienced in my life, no attempt was made to understand them collectively. Left unanswered was how these traumas affected and informed my present, how they affected me psychologically, and how they influenced my decision-making.

Late last year, I started seeing a new counselor. While I talk with her about many of the same things I talked about with my first counselor (both are psychologists), my last session with her showed me how deeply I have been affected by trauma. She recommended I read Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s seminal work, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, which I am currently doing.

As I painfully and honestly reflect on my life, I can now see and try to understand past traumas, especially those during a five-year period in my life: 1968-1972.

During this period of time:

  • I attend five different schools.
  • I lived in eight different houses.
  • My parents divorced and remarried (Mom married her first cousin, a recently paroled robber and drug addict, and Dad married a nineteen-year-old girl with a baby).
  • My mother, who had been repeatedly molested by her father and had battled mental illness most of her life, tried to kill herself numerous times. In one year, Mom overdosed on prescription medications, pulled her car in front of a truck, and slit her wrists. At the age of eleven, I came home from school and found Mom lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. (In 1991, Mom killed herself. She was fifty-four. Please see Barbara.)
  • Dad had an affair with an unknown woman.
  • Dad was investigated by the FBI for robbery and the ATF for illegal gun sales.
  • Dad embezzled $10,000 from Combined Insurance Company.
  • I contracted measles, mumps, and chicken pox in one year, missing thirty-nine days of school.
  • I was treated for muscle and joint problems (wrongly labeled “growing pains” at the time).

During this period of time, Mom and Dad stopped being parents, leaving me and my younger siblings to fend for ourselves. My parents didn’t abuse me, per se, they abandoned me, leaving me to fend for myself. Mom tried, when mentally stable, to support me, but such times were rare. Dad? He was AWOL. (Please see Questions: Bruce Did Your Bad Relationship with Your Father Lead to You Leaving Christianity? and Questions: Bruce, How Was Your Relationship with Your Father?)

I came of age in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. Trauma was not acknowledged or talked about. In fact, such discussions were frowned upon. I was taught that Jesus changes everything, that he was the answer to every question, the solution to every problem. Instead of dwelling on the past, I was told to move on, let go and let God. Pastor after pastor said that not having victory in my life was a “sin,” a lack of faith, trust, and dependence on God. Imagine being a traumatized child sitting in the pews hearing that your problems were insignificant in light of the suffering of Jesus on the cross; that all your “problems” will magically disappear if you get saved and follow Jesus. I would later learn that the very preachers preaching these things had their own traumas, their own secrets, their own “sins.” As an adult and a pastor myself, I learned that these preachers of holiness and godliness were just as fucked up as I was. In fact, I never met a preacher who didn’t have traumas and secrets, things they hid from congregants because church members expected them to be winners.

By not helping me embrace, understand, and deal with my trauma (and by not encouraging me to get professional help), my pastors, youth directors, and teachers unwittingly furthered the trauma in my life. Their words and behavior towards me left deep, lasting scars. How could it be otherwise? Trauma begets trauma. I entered college, marriage, and the ministry with deeply-seated, unresolved trauma. This, of course, caused all sorts of problems in my marriage, relationships with my children, and the churches I pastored. Is it any surprise that a young life of constant upheaval and moving fueled an adult life of upheaval and moving? That even now, I am restless, a wanderlust spirit?

It’s regrettable that I had to wait until I was almost sixty-five years old to fully understand how trauma has shaped and affected my life. Will I finally put these traumas to rest? Maybe. I now know there is a lot of work I must do, with the help of my counselor and family, to find peace and happiness in my life. Maybe it is too late for me. Maybe not. All I know to do is try . . .

My Evangelical critics will see this post as an admission that I was damaged goods, that I had no business being a pastor. Maybe. I am more inclined to think that my trauma helped me to be more kind, loving, and compassionate towards the people I pastored; people who had their own traumas. I don’t know one pastor who doesn’t have baggage. I spent thirty-five years, both as a teen preacher boy and a seasoned pastor, interacting with pastors, youth directors, evangelists, and missionaries. I know their secrets, their traumas, their sins. Trust me, things are not what they seem. I suspect that can be said for all of us.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Media Interviews

bruce gerencser august 2021

What follows is a list of video, audio, and print media interviews I have done over the years. I’ve done others that are no longer available or are behind paywalls. They are not listed here.

Video and Audio Media

Preacher Boys Podcast with Eric Skwarczynski

Atheist Talk Interview with Scott Lohman

The Angry Atheist Podcast with Reap Paden

Interview with Neil the 604 Atheist

The Corpsepaint Interview with Jay

The Freethought Hour Interview with John Richards

Atheists of Florida

Vice News Interview: QAnon Conspiracies Are Tearing Through Evangelical America

Better Late Than Never — Talk Given to Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie

Print Media

VICE News Story on the Intersection of Evangelical Christianity and QAnon

Interview with Manny Otiko

Freedom From Religion Foundation Article

Buzzfeed Article

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Missing Heaven by Eighteen Inches

eighteen inches head heart

Most Evangelical Christians believe humans are tripartite beings comprised of body, soul, and spirit. Some Evangelicals believe humans are bipartite beings — body and soul. According to the doctrines once delivered to the saints by Billy Graham, every human has an eternal soul. No one has ever seen a soul, but that doesn’t stop Evangelicals from asserting that it exists. Evangelicals believe in all sorts of fanciful, mythical things:

  • Jesus’ mother was a virgin whom God impregnated.
  • Jesus died and resurrected from the dead three days later.
  • Jesus healed blindness with dirt and spit.
  • Jesus turned water into wine.
  • Jesus walked through walls and walked undetected through a crowd.
  • Jesus walked on water.
  • Jesus raised people from the dead.

These are just a few of the myths Evangelicals believe are true, so it is not a stretch of their imagination to believe that humans have souls. Ask an Evangelical WHERE their soul resides, he or she will most likely point to their heart. One the favorite church hymns of my youth was the song He Lives! The first verse and chorus go like this:

I serve a risen Saviour, He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living, whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him He’s always near.

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
along life’s narrow way.
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

You ask me [the Christian] how I KNOW He [Jesus] lives? He lives within my heart.

It is the soul, then, that must be saved. It is the soul that goes to Heaven after death, awaiting the day when it is united with a new body. Evangelical preachers implore congregants to be soulwinners. I attended Midwestern Baptist College in the 1970s. Midwestern was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist institution that prided itself in training soulwinners to reach sinners with the gospel. Students were required to attend chapel daily. One song that was frequently sung during chapel went like this:

“Souls for Jesus!” is our battle cry

“Souls for Jesus!” we’ll fight until we die

We never will give in while souls are lost in sin

“Souls for Jesus!” is our battle cry

Students fanned out over the Pontiac-Detroit area looking for souls in need of saving. Each week, students were required to report how many souls they won to Jesus. Many students quickly learned the art of speaking “evangelistically” — inflating the number of notches on the grips of their gospel guns. After graduation from Midwestern, many students started new churches or pastored established churches. Their goal remained the same as it was in college — win souls. I pastored a church in Southeast Ohio that had over six hundred souls saved over an eleven-year period. Children were bused to the church so trained soulwinners could share the gospel with them and pressure them to get saved. While this was going on in the church annex, I was busy preaching the gospel to teens and adults in the church sanctuary. A “good” Sunday was defined by the number of souls saved. A “bad” Sunday was when no one walked the aisle to be saved.

Most Evangelicals think that the soul is separate from the mind. Long-time readers have witnessed countless zealots tell me that I was never a Christian; that I had HEAD knowledge, not HEART knowledge; HEAD salvation, not a HEART salvation. The head (mind) is where the intellect resides. According to these zealots, I had an intellectual understanding of Jesus, but not a heart understanding. When asked how the heart “thinks” apart from the mind, Evangelical eyes glaze over, revealing that they have no idea about how someone can have head knowledge but not heart knowledge of Jesus. They just know it is true because their preachers say it is. Religious faith will do that to people – it results in them believing things that would be considered signs of mental disturbance in any other setting.

People raised in Evangelical churches have likely heard a sermon or two (or five hundred) on people missing Heaven by eighteen inches. Eighteen inches is the distance between the mind (intellect) and the heart (where the soul resides). Paul Empet explains it this way:

Can anyone actually get that close to heaven and yet hear the Lord say, “I never knew you: depart from Me”?

However, this will be the terrible fate of many professing Christians in our churches today. Some of these people are even in responsible positions in the church, but they only have a “head” or intellectual-acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ. Tragically enough, even teachers, preachers, and religious workers are not exempt from the possibility of the chilling indictment above.

The distance between the head and the heart is 18 inches. Unfortunately, a “head” knowledge of Jesus Christ—fully knowing and giving mental assent to the plan of salvation…without a “heart” acceptance that brings the personal relationship that the Bible demands—avails nothing to anyone.

Listen to Paul’s heart cry concerning Israel as he spoke under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” He was speaking about misdirected efforts, energies expended in the strength of the flesh but not under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The lack of power today in many of our churches, as well as the lack of power today in the lives on many professing Christians, can be laid directly to this.

It is only as we see ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word as without excuse and without hope, utterly lost and undone, that the truth of the Scriptures convicts us, for the bible clearly reveals that this is how God sees us.

Then, when the wonderful truth of the Gospel brings us to recognition of our own sinfulness, and in true repentance we cry out to God asking forgiveness and help, asking Him to come into our hearts, not our heads, we experience the new birth.

Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” The Bible also tells us that “He that hath the Son hath [eternal] life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

Also, the Bible promises “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Christ wants your heart, not just your head because “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

It is vitally important that you make sure it is not just head knowledge and mental assent you have given to Jesus Christ. He needs your complete trust so that you can be truly born again.

Eighteen inches can mean eternity with Christ or an eternity without Christ. Are you sure of your personal relationship to Him? Why not settle the question in your heart once for all right now?

Bruce, this is nonsense, nothing more religious gobbledygook. Yes, it is, but millions and millions of Americans believe this to be true. They KNOW in their heart of hearts that Jesus is their Savior and the Holy Ghost lives inside of them — I assume residing in the same place as the soul. These born-again Christians have what is called a “know-so salvation.” The Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:12 ” for I know whom I have believed” Evangelicals are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have souls and that their souls have been “saved” by Jesus. And they have a tape measure to prove it.

Do you remember hearing sermons about head versus heart knowledge/salvation? Please share what’s on your heart — sorry I couldn’t help myself — in the comment section. Perhaps someone can answer this for me: if an Evangelical has a heart transplant, does he or she have to get saved again? And if an atheist receives a transplanted heart from an Evangelical, does this make him or her a Christian?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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: The Day I Stuffed an Atheist in a Trash Can

devil in trash can

I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan in the 1970s. Midwestern was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution noted for its training of preachers. Midwestern was an unaccredited college. As a result, no student loans were available, and students had to work secular jobs to pay for room and board and tuition. During my sophomore year and part of my junior year, I worked full-time for a large grocery company called Felice’s Market. The Felice brothers were great people to work for. They gave Polly and me $200 as a wedding gift, and when I needed to buy a car one of the Felice brothers loaned me the money. I have worked for over fifty companies/businesses in my lifetime. I consider Felice’s Market one of the best places I’ve ever worked.

I worked in the dairy department. Prior to enrolling at Midwestern, I was the dairy manager at Foodland in Bryan, Ohio. It made sense, then, for me to continue in this line of work. I also worked in the meat department at Kroger’s in Rochester Hills and stocked shelves for La Rosa’s Market in Orchard Lake. Next to managing restaurants, working in grocery stores was my favorite job.

As was common among Midwestern preacher boys, I was quite outspoken about my faith. When given an opportunity to do so, I would share the gospel with my fellow employees. I also made sure I read my Bible during breaks and prayed over my lunch. Having a good testimony before the world was very important. I wanted everyone I worked with to be saved. I am sure more than a few of them wanted to be saved too — from me!

One particular evangelistic target was an atheistic high school boy who worked part-time in the frozen food department. This boy was a science geek, knowing far more than I did about biology, geology, and cosmology. I took two science classes in high school — biology and earth science — and one class in college — biology. I was, to put it mildly, quite ignorant about science. As a high school student, I would take tests in biology class, giving the required answers, but then I would add Bible verses and comments meant to show the teacher that what he was teaching was wrong. I was quite proud of myself — taking a stand for God and his inspired, inerrant Word. My college biology class was a joke. Midwestern didn’t have a lab, so class time was devoted to lectures on creationism and why people should only marry their “kind.”

This high school boy and I would go around and around about how the universe came into existence. He would pepper me with science questions I couldn’t answer, and I would trump his questions — or so I thought — with Bible verses. One day, we got into a heated discussion about creationism. The boy, seizing on the weaknesses of my Biblical answers, asked me, if everything has a creator, who created God? We went back and forth for a few more minutes, me quoting the Bible and the boy repeatedly asking, who created God?  I reached a point where I had enough of his impertinent dissing of God. I told him he was ignorant, and he replied, who created God? Suddenly, I grabbed a hold of the boy and stuffed him — butt first — in a nearby trash can. I then walked away, quite proud of myself, thinking I sure showed that atheist!

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Atheists Know There’s a God, Says Elizabeth Prata

romans 1:20

Elizabeth Prata, a “Christian writer and Georgia teacher’s aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children,” recently pontificated on the existence of God; how EVERYONE, including atheists, KNOWS that God exists:

Why does every culture in the world worship something? I’d learned in my twenties that every culture that ever existed worshiped something greater than themselves in some way, from the beginning of recorded time to this moment. Why is that, I’d wonder, and why is it that of all the animals on earth, that none other ever attained that transcendence of self, and looked up to a God?

Could it be…because God designed it that way?

….

The fact of the matter is, whether a person believes in God or not, all of Ecclesiastes reminds us that life without God is empty and vain. Every person ever created has the opportunity to see the world and His invisible attributes within. Every person has the opportunity to seek the fulfillment of that empty place inside us where we groan and discover what it is we groan for. The Lord made us with sinews and blood and DNA and a place in our brains (it seems) where the seat of heavenly longing waits for the Holy Spirit to connect with it and AWAKE our soul unto Jesus. The key is whether a person suppresses the truth in unrighteousness and continue kicking against the goads. There IS a solution for that burden of sin and guilt we all carry.

….

Will you harden your heart to the questions that arise in you? Will you push out of your mind the unanswerable that is before your eyes? Or will you accept the Holy Spirit’s conviction and seek until blessed belief in repentance to Jesus overwhelms you with love and grace?

….

I urge all of us to think these things. If you are speaking with an unbeliever just know that they already believe in God because they can see His invisible attributes through His creation, they suppress it though.

His creation has His signature on it. His formation of humans has in us implanted longing for His Magnificent self. If you have ever looked at the beauty of the world and wondered Who made it, or felt within yourself a longing and unfulfillment, a seeking for something more, it is the Spirit knocking on the door of your heart ready to reveal the kingdom to you. If you only believe, and ask.

Where, oh where, do I begin?

First, let me be clear on Prata’s behalf, when she talks about “God,” she doesn’t mean “choose one from the panoply of deities worshiped by humans.” Prata believes there is only ONE God — her God: the Calvinistic Christian God. Her use of a “generic God” in her post is a smokescreen meant to hide the fact that she believes worshiping other Gods is just a path to the true God — the triune God of Protestant Christianity.

Second, Prata’s contention that EVERY culture “worship something greater than themselves” is patently false. Prata thinks cultures are monoliths, when in fact they are quite diverse. I’m sure she thinks that the United States is a Christian culture. However, there are tens of millions of Americans who are atheists, agnostics, humanists, and nones; people who do NOT “worship something greater than themselves.” For me personally, I only worship one person, my wife! 🙂 She is my partner, equal to me in every way. But worshiping someone or something greater than me? That’s absurd.

Prata refuses to accept the stories (testimonies) of atheists, agnostics, humanists, and nones at face value. According to her, she KNOWS what we really believe and who or what we really worship. How does she know these things? Cuz the Bible says so . . .

According to the Bible and Prata, when non-Christians look at the natural world, they KNOW the Christian God exists. They know there is a divine Creator. Yet, billions of people deny the existence of Prata’s peculiar God. To claim otherwise is a denial of how things really are. Of course, when you believe the Bible is Big T TRUTH, reality can be dismissed with the wave of your hand. “God said” becomes the answer to every question.

Prata tells her followers:

I urge all of us to think these things. If you are speaking with an unbeliever just know that they already believe in God because they can see His invisible attributes through His creation, they suppress it though.

Instead of accepting non-Christians at face value, Prata tells her followers to ignore their stories, knowing that they really, really, really know the Christian God exists, they just suppress that knowledge. This simply is not true. I do not suppress knowledge of God’s existence. First, what a weak God that I have the power to suppress knowledge of him; that I am able to withstand and deny God himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit. What a weak, pathetic God, that a broken down, disabled man can suppress knowledge of him. Second, Prata is a Calvinist, so I am perplexed about the notion that I can actively suppress knowledge of God. Isn’t God the author and finisher of faith? Can anyone save themselves? I thought it is God who draws people to salvation? Since our salvation rests in the hands of God alone, how is it possible that I can suppress knowledge of him? According to orthodox Christian theology, God is the sovereign Lord over all, including salvation. This God predestined who would and wouldn’t be saved from before the foundation of the world. How then, am I, in any way, responsible for not believing. God knows where I live. He even knows my phone number and email address. If he wants to save me, he knows where I am. If he wants me to “know” him, all he has to do is provide persuasive evidence for his existence. Instead, all I get are the Elizabeth Pratas of the world calling me a liar, denying that what I say about my life is true.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Better Late Than Never

better late than never

Last Tuesday, I spoke at the monthly meeting of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie. Polly recorded my talk on my iPhone 13 — her first attempt at recording a video. Who says you can’t teach old, old, old dogs new tricks? 🙂

Let me know what you think in the comment section. If you are so inclined, please LIKE the video on YouTube. Your subscriptions will be appreciated too. In the coming weeks, I plan to post more material to YouTube and Spreaker (podcast). Your support and helpful suggestions are appreciated.

This is my first in-person appearance since COVID-19. I’ve done a number of podcasts during the pandemic, but I really enjoyed speaking publicly. This Friday, I will be interviewed for two podcasts, Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie and Harmonic Atheist. I’ll post the interviews when they are posted on YouTube.

Video Link

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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