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Should a Monument to Anthony Wayne be Erected in Defiance, Ohio?

letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

Dear Editor,

Plans are afoot to erect a monument to Anthony Wayne on the original site of Fort Defiance adjacent to the Defiance Public Library or on a donated lot across the street. It seems that almost everyone is in agreement that this monument should be erected — a 6-foot testimony to the greatness of Mad Anthony. Defiance mayor Mike McCann assured locals that his team, along with people associated with the Andrew L. Tuttle Museum, will ensure that the plaque on the monument is historically correct, right down to its punctuation. Of course, the text of the plaque has not been made public.

I wonder if the plaque will mention that Wayne was a slave owner; that he used a scorched earth policy to starve local indigenous people; that he burned their villages; that he was known for, to quote the Philadelphia Aurora, “the uncommon slaughter of Native Americans.” Wayne took by force land that belonged to indigenous people. He did so through violence, cruelty, and horrific bloodshed. Further, at the Treaty of Greenville, Wayne promised indigenous locals that the land of “Indiana” and lands to the west of Ohio would be theirs forever. He lied. Will any of these historical facts be on the plaque?

Further, if people want to erect a monument to commemorate eighteenth-century Defiance history, why not erect a monument memorializing the great indigenous people groups that once walked the shores of the Maumee (Hotaawathiipi), Auglaize (Kathinakithiipi), Tiffin, and St. Joseph (Kociihsasiipi) rivers — something more significant than a memorial about a big apple tree or the name of a park. This project has been talked about on and off in recent years, but seems to be on hold.

Our local history is steeped in the blood of indigenous people. Wayne, under the authority of the U.S. government, was a usurper; a man who believed in manifest destiny. In his mind, indigenous people stood in the way of White Americans achieving their God-given destiny. If they would not willingly give up their houses and lands, he would use violence to take them. Is Anthony Wayne really the kind of man we want to memorialize in 2023?

I hope Mayor McCann and city leaders will refocus their attention on building a monument that memorializes the lives of Native Americans who once lived here, and not a man known for ethnic cleansing and the destruction of indigenous people.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

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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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.

Dear Salesman, Don’t Assume Every Prospective Customer is a Christian

pay attention

Dear Salesman,

You came into our home today to sell us your company’s product. We received a flyer from your company last week, touting its new, low-priced rental program for your equipment. We’ve been wanting to buy or rent your product for some time, so the new rental program was all the motivation necessary for us to call your company and schedule a sales call. What follows in this letter is a mixture of advice and critique. I hope you will learn from what I have written.

You arrived promptly for the sales call — and that’s a good thing. Tardiness — especially without notification — is a sure way to get us to reject out of hand what you are selling. If my wife and I, who are just as busy as you are, set time aside for your sales pitch, we expect you to arrive on time. And if you can’t, we expect a telephone call or text message. Last week, I offered for sale two Amazon Fire TV Sticks on a local buy-and-sell forum. The first person to say he wanted them asked if I could wait until Friday for him to pick them up. I said, sure. Friday came and went without the man picking up the Sticks. So, I offered them to the next person who wanted them. She promptly came and picked up the Sticks. The next day, the man who stood us up sent me a Facebook message, asking if he could come and pick up the Sticks. I told him no; that I had offered them to someone else. The man became upset with me, suggesting that I was a terrible person. I took a few moments to educate him on the value of timeliness and keeping your commitments. All that did was aggravate him further. The man told me that he would never do business with me again. Little did he know that I don’t give people who don’t keep appointments a second chance; even those who use the lame excuse that their grandmother was in the hospital and no one had a cell phone. He and his siblings were Millennials, so there was no chance in hell that one of them didn’t have a cell phone. So as a salesman, you get one point for being on time. Unfortunately, as this letter will detail, our interaction with you cost you quite a few other points.

You parked on the street in front of our home, directly in front of the two-foot by six-foot sign for my business, Defiance County Photo. It’s hard to miss, with its blue frame, but somehow you missed it. That’s why you were surprised when you found out I was photographer, and that I, in particular, did local high school sports photography (you proceeded to then spend way too much time telling me of your own photo prowess, complete with dick pics — also known as your “awesome” sports photos). Years ago, I tried my hand at sales. My dad was a salesman for several decades. He was as smooth as silk when it came to selling people things they didn’t need; things such as Kirby vacuüm cleaners and Combined Insurance Company supplemental medical policies. Unfortunately, I was not like my dad, and I failed miserably at selling stuff. I even tried my hand at selling the product you tried to sell us today.

One lesson I did learn from my foray into sales is that it is very important to pay attention to your prospective customers’ homes. How do they live? What’s hanging on their walls? Years later, I would use this technique in my selling of Jesus to sinners. As someone who’s been in sales for years should know, it is important to make a connection with customers. The easiest way to do that is to talk about them, and not yourself. Unfortunately, you didn’t pay attention to your surroundings as you walked into our home, and as a result you made assumptions about us that were invalid. You are much like the Amway salesman that came to our home years ago thinking that by mentioning his Cadillac sitting in our driveway and showing us his Rolex watch and diamond ring, we would be so impressed that we would immediately want to become salesman for Con-way. Nothing in our home — a mobile home — told this man that we were people who placed a premium on material wealth. He missed all the cues that our home, dress, and demeanor told him. You did the same, by not paying attention to us, and by spending way too much time talking about yourself; building yourself into a larger-than-life master of industry. One thing I have learned over my sixty-six years of life is to spot a bull-shitter from a mile away. Soon as you started regaling us with your exploits, I knew we were talking to a first-class, Grade-A biped manure spreader.

Had you been paying attention, you never would have repeatedly referenced the Evangelical God in your conversation with us. You wouldn’t have told us that God has a plan for everyone’s life or that the Christian God is in control of everything. You also wouldn’t have mentioned how my wife’s employer — for whom she has worked twenty-seven years — has gone downhill since its Evangelical founder died; that the third generation now running the company is only concerned with profits and the bottom line. What was it about how we lived, dressed, or carried ourselves that said to you we are Christians? There’s nothing in our home that even remotely suggests that we are Christian; no Jesus Junk®, no Bibles lying around, no Evangelical books in our bookcase; nothing that suggests that we are Jesus-loving, church-going Christians. I suspect you wrongly assume that everyone in rural northwest Ohio believes in the Christian God, so you thought it safe to use God to warm us up and entice us to say yes. Little did you know we are atheists. I wonder how uncomfortable that fact might have made you feel had you known.

My wife and I are kind and generous to a fault. We said nothing as you blabbered on about your omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent mythical deity. After you left, my wife even complimented me — with a chuckle in her voice — for using the word darn instead of damn in one of my responses to you. You see, I pay attention to my surroundings. I don’t go out of my way to offend Christians. When my wife’s Evangelical parents come to our home to visit, we temper our language, change the TV channel to Hallmark, and play G-rated music. We don’t want to unnecessarily offend them; even though they find plenty to be offended over by our stocked liquor cabinet, their daughter’s worldly apparel, the atheist books on my bookshelves, our children’s lack of faith, and our lack of church attendance and prayer before meals (though we do allow Polly’s dad to say a prayer before meals). You might learn something from our behavior: that unless you know a prospective customer is a member of the Jesus Club®, perhaps it’s better to not assume. You came to our home to sell us your company’s product, not to sell Jesus. Had we known that Jesus was going to be part of the sales presentation, we certainly would not have invited you into our home.

There is much more that I could say about your interaction with us; stuff that should have resulted in us saying no thanks. But, thanks to me researching your company and its product, and thoroughly educating myself about what it does, we decided to buy your product anyway. While we were turned off by your sales presentation, including the part that treated us like aged imbeciles, we had decided beforehand that if the price in your company’s flyer was indeed correct, we were going to rent your product. So then, it was your lucky day, Mister Jesus Freak, that you ran into customers who could ignore your religious drivel, and instead base their decision on whether your product would meet their needs.

Next time you go into someone’s home to sell them your product, pay attention. Your next prospective customer might not be as thoughtful and deferring as we are. Perhaps it would just be better if you left religion out of your sales pitch altogether. There’s something dirty and shallow about trying to hook prospects with Jesus talk. While I suspect my wife and I are in the minority when it comes to not wanting to hear salesmen talk about their love life with Jesus, an increasing number of local residents are choosing to label themselves as NONES — people who are atheists, agnostics, or indifferent towards religion. These prospective customers want to hear about your product, not your God. Keep that in mind the next time you start telling a customer about the God who controls everything. You might find out that the only God who controls something is the customer who has the power to say yes or no to your sales pitch; and for customers who aren’t religious, they are more likely to say no to someone who uses religion in an attempt to reel them in.

Sincerely,

Bruce Gerencser

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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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.

Are Factory Workers Mindless Drones Who Need “Smart People” to Tell Them What to Do?

sauder woodworking

I recently listened to a podcast that featured an interview with a scientist. The scientist extolled the virtue of education, especially science education. Everyone needs to think like a scientist, the thinking went. If not, they will end up working mindless jobs in factories. Such people don’t think for themselves. They want or need overlords to tell them what to do.

The scientist quickly caught himself, saying “not that working in a factory is bad.” In my mind, that was too little, too late. His statement revealed a bias that is common among “educated” people. Such people typically have no real-world experience with factory work. Had they any experience working the line at a factory, they never would have made such an asinine statement.

Instead of demeaning factory workers, how about valuing the work they do? Without them, our country would come to a standstill. If everyone was a scientist doing “cool” stuff, we would all die and our world would become uninhabitable. Look around your home, car, and businesses you frequent. Imagine what things would look like without factory workers (or other workers lacking college educations).

Polly, along with our oldest and youngest sons, works for a large local manufacturing concern. Both Polly and Jason have worked for the company for over twenty-five years. Jason started in groundskeeping and is now a mid-level manager. Polly is a shift manager for auxiliary services. Both are paid well and have good benefits. None of them works “mindless” jobs. Can factory work be monotonous? Sure, but don’t think for a moment that manufacturing jobs require employees to check their brains at the door. If factory work isn’t your cup of tea, fine. But, don’t demean people who play an essential part in the building and progress of our country.

One interesting side note is the fact that way too many people follow the scientist’s advice. They go to college, graduate with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and enter the workforce, thinking they will easily find a job in their chosen profession. And when they don’t, what do they do? They end up working the very jobs the aforementioned scientist disparaged. Scores of people with associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees work factory jobs. Why? They quickly find out that they can make more money working in a factory than they can working in their chosen professions. This is especially true for people with social science or education degrees. Polly went back to college, thinking she might want to work in a different field. She quickly learned that the jobs that would be available to her upon graduation would pay $6-$8 less an hour than what she was making in the factory at the time.

I see this same kind of thinking when society belittles rural people. We are just a bunch of low-life, uneducated hillbillies. Yet without us — and I gladly own my tribe — those deprecating us would starve. By all means, city folks, grow your own crops, raise your own livestock. 🙂 Let me know how that works out for you. You need us even if you don’t like us.

When you feel that people look down on you and view you as less than, what do you do? You look for people and groups that accept and respect you (even if they do so for political reasons as Trump and the Republicans are doing). Yes, rural people tend to vote against their own interests. What is never asked is WHY? Why has the Democratic Party lost rural America? Perhaps one of the reasons is that rural folks have been listening to what Democratic leaders say about them. “Oh they want our votes, but they think we are stupid hicks, deplorables, or dangerous gun owners.” None of us like to be talked down to, to be demeaned for who and what we are. We have now reached a point where rural people are outraged over how the government in general mistreats them. Sure, some of their outrage is misinformed, but much of it is not. Until Democrats shut the hell up and LISTEN, they will continue to suffer election losses.

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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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.

Letter to the Editor: Lifewise Academy, An Evangelical Trojan Horse

letter to the editor

Letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News

Dear Editor,

Evangelicals have now set their sights on taking over and transforming public schools. Not content to homeschool their children or send them to private Christian schools, Evangelicals are increasingly clamoring for school boards to acquiesce to their theocratic demands. Sadly, school boards seem all too willing to bulldoze the wall between church and state, reintroducing sectarian Christianity into our schools.

Take Lifewise Academy. Lifewise, an Ohio-based Evangelical ministry, is a Trojan horse that has been rolled through the front doors of numerous local schools with no pushback from school administrators or the media. Exploiting a quirk in Federal law, Lifewise purports to teach ethics and morality. Who wouldn’t want schoolchildren to learn morals and ethics, right? What is not told to parents is that their children will be taught these things from an Evangelical perspective; and that the goal is to evangelize non-Evangelical children.

Children will be taught that they are “sinners,” inherently broken and in need of fixing. Of course, the “fix” for their brokenness is salvation through Jesus Christ. Children will be taught that they are not inherently good; that their good works will never merit them favor with God. Lifewise makes it clear in its materials that personal transformation through the salvific work of Jesus Christ is the goal for every child. Do local parents really want their children to be targets for proselytization? Lifewise’s program literature states “Our continual appeal to students will be to believe the gospel, repent from sin, trust in Christ, and get connected with a local church.” Is this what you want for your children? If so, take them to church. If not, I implore you to not let your children attend Lifewise’s classes. Their “training” is not benign. As someone who has been investigating and writing about Evangelicalism for decades, I can testify to the incalculable harm caused by such indoctrination.

Further, children will be taught that the mythical stories found in the Protestant Bible are real; that the universe was created by the Christian God; that Adam and Eve were the first humans, and all of this happened a few thousand years ago. These teachings, of course, directly contradict what students are being taught in their science and history classes.

Lifewise’s objective is indoctrination, not truth. The goal is to make new soldiers for Jesus, not well-rounded, well-educated citizens of a diverse, pluralistic society.

Sincerely,

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

For readers who want to investigate Lifewise Academy further, please check out their sample curriculum here. Local Lifewise statements obfuscate what is clearly revealed in their curriculum. The goal is “saving” unsaved children.

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: Mom, Look What I Found

gerencser family 1960's
Gerencser Family, 1960s, Bryan, Ohio. Please note the cap gun sticking out from my suit coat. 🙂

In the early 1960s, my dad packed up his family and moved us from the rural northwest Ohio community of Bryan to the sunny, moderate clime of San Diego, California. I attended kindergarten, first grade, and part of second grade in San Diego. Unable to find the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Dad packed us up again and returned to Bryan. There would be a lot more packing in my life over the next decade. I can’t remember a time when Dad asked me my opinion before moving us to a new home and school. Much like the furniture, I was tossed in a trailer and moved to a new location.

From 1964-1966, I attended Lincoln Elementary School in Bryan and Pulaski Elementary School, just outside of town. During this time, we lived in a farmhouse on County Road F. The house is still standing, but the barn was torn down years ago.

We were a church-going family, attending Bryan Baptist Chapel, a new Southern Baptist church plant on Mulberry Street. I remember very little about the church or its pastor, which is somewhat surprising since we attended church every time the doors were open.

Mom always made sure we wore our best clothes when we went to church. On one particular evening, after my younger brother and I had put on our Sunday best, complete with clip-on ties, we decided to go down to the nearby creek before it was time to leave for church. So off went . . .

The creek was always ripe for exploration. Mom took the “out of sight out of mind” approach to child-rearing. I would spend hours by myself and with my brother walking the banks of the creek and hiking through nearby meadows and woods. I came to love and not fear nature at an early age. This approach to the natural world has served me well over my sixty-six years of life.

My brother and I arrived at the creek, quickly noticing a small brown-furred animal swimming in the water. At the time, I thought it was a beaver. Another time, I came upon a large black snake coiled on the bank, sunning itself. At the time, I was sure it was a cottonmouth. But on this day, my brother and I, pondering our next move for all of .005 seconds, made our way down to the creek bank, hoping to catch the animal in the water. With nary a thought, we jumped into the shallow creek (we both could swim) wearing our clothes and shoes. In short order, we captured the “beaver” and brought it home.

Mom was still getting ready for church. I was excited for my parents to see what we had caught, so I put the animal on the front porch, putting a board over the entryway so it couldn’t escape. I then went to tell Mom about the “beaver.” Of course, all Mom saw were her two sons soaking wet, covered with mud. We had ruined our church clothes and shoes, so much so that we couldn’t go to church that night.

Come to find out, the “beaver” we had caught was actually a young woodchuck (groundhog). Mom ordered its immediate release and sent us inside to take a bath. I don’t remember if we got an ass-whooping, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we had.

This is the same house where one spring day I came upon a female garter snake with her young. I quickly captured the snakes and put them in my red wagon. Certain that my mom would want to see them, I wheeled my wagon to the back porch so she could see my catch. Boy, did I get more than I bargained for! You see, Mom was afraid of snakes. She freaked out when she saw the garter snakes. “Butch, you get rid of those snakes right now,” she told me. So, I did. I dumped out the snakes in the yard, sending Mom into the house fearing for her life. She didn’t go out the back door of the house for a week.

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.

The One Reason I Might Quit Writing

writing a letter

Polly and I have been married for forty-four years. We are blessed to have six children and thirteen grandchildren. In 2004, we moved back to Ohio from Yuma, Arizona so we could be closer to our children. We had moved to Yuma for health reasons. My sister thought the weather would be better for me. She graciously bought a home for us to live in, charging us rent well below the market rate. It was, by far, the biggest and nicest house we have ever lived in.

I started working for Allegro Medical, managing their Yuma office. I also managed the network and serviced the computers for my sister’s husband’s cardiology practice. Additionally, Polly and I cleaned the practice’s offices. By this time, my fibromyalgia had progressed to an ever-present reality, leaving me in pain and frequently tired and fatigued. This would be the last full-time job I would hold.

We lived in Yuma for seven months. We visited scores of churches, never finding a place to call home. While we thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent with my sister and her husband, after seventh months, we decided to move back to Ohio. Why? We missed our children. While I would have been better off physically (and economically) staying in Yuma, the emotional pull of home was too much to overcome. In September of 2004, we moved to Newark, Ohio — the home of Polly’s parents.

After living in Newark for ten months, we packed up our belongings and returned to rural Northwest Ohio. After living in Bryan and Alvordton for a bit, in 2007, we bought a fixer-upper in Ney — where we live today. All of our children and grandchildren live within thirty minutes of our home. All of them are gainfully employed and all of them except one own their own homes. Our grandchildren are enrolled in schools in four different local school districts. Polly and I are both in the sunset years of our lives. We knew when we moved to Ney that this would be our last move. This is home.

I am known locally for my atheism and liberal/socialist politics. I have written numerous letters to the editors of the Defiance Crescent-News and the Bryan Times. I have a unique name, so when locals talk about “Bruce Gerencser,” they are talking about one person: me. Out of eight billion people, I am the only “Bruce Gerencser.”

As my children and wife can attest, I have always been outspoken, a passionate crusader, and defender of others. This was true when I was an Evangelical pastor, and it is true today. Because I am so well-known locally, my children over the years have been accosted by people who disagree with me and want them to defend something I have written or said. This has happened at the local community college and their various places of employment.

I told my children that they are free to say that they don’t know me. I don’t want them to have to carry my burden. When locals accost me in public or flip me off as they drive by my house, I understand that this is the price I must pay for being who and what I am. I just wish that people wouldn’t expect my children to defend me. I am not hard to find. My email address, street address, and blog are but a click or two away. Why not go to the source instead of going after my children? So far, none of my children has disowned me. 🙂

Some of our grandchildren are now high school age. Two of them are in eleventh grade, another in ninth grade, and two of our granddaughters are in middle school. They, too, must now bear the burden of being Bruce Gerencser’s grandchildren. Several of my grandchildren have had teachers and administrators ask if they are related to me — and not in a good way. It seems that my letters to the editor and infrequent blog posts on local issues irritate the hemorrhoids of some teachers and administrators. Instead of talking to me directly, they quiz my grandchildren. To what end? Are they judging my grandchildren based on something I have written, never considering that they might not agree with me? You see, in the Gerencser family, we are freethinkers. Family members hold a variety of opinions, many of which I disagree with. I don’t expect my children or grandchildren to toe some sort of ideological line. I am a passionate, opinionated, educated curmudgeon. I make no apologies for being who I am.

I recognize that my liberal/progressive politics, socialism, pacifism, atheism, and humanism are out of step with the beliefs of most local residents. Evangelicalism and right-wing Republican politics rule the roost. Seven out of ten voting locals voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. Not one Democrat holds a local political office. Often, Republican candidates run unopposed. Why should Democrats bother to run for office, knowing it is impossible for them to win.

When your religion and your political party have dominated the local scene for what seems like forever (I am old enough to remember when union Democrats were major players in local politics) you forget that there might be people who think differently from you. Or maybe you don’t care. This is the case for a history/government teacher at Defiance High School.

Last week, one of my granddaughter’s teachers decided to go after me by name while she was sitting in his class. He has mentioned my letters to the editor to her before, but this time he took class time to personally attack me. What upset him, you ask? My letter to the editor about the feral cat problem in Defiance. (Please see Letter to the Editor: Defiance Has a Feral Cat Problem, Mayor Mike McCann Says Killing Them is the Solution.) This teacher thought my letter was silly, suggesting that I should find better things to do with my time. His behavior was inappropriate, but not surprising.

Evidently, this teacher didn’t read any of my letters on religion, atheism, humanism, politics, war, marijuana legalization, sexual abuse, and other issues. He evidently is also unaware of my blog and my weighty writing on a variety of subjects. For whatever reason, he wanted to publicly take me down a notch or two.

Part of me wants to make an issue of his boorish behavior, but I have my grandchildren to think of. I don’t want them to be judged or harmed for something I have said or written. If that ever becomes the case, then I will stop writing. I don’t think that will ever happen. My older grandchildren are proud of the work I do, even when they don’t always agree with me.

I do want to make an offer to the teacher in question:

  • Invite me to one or more of your classes to talk to them about my political, religious, and social views. I will gladly answer any questions they might have.
  • I will publicly debate you on any issue — even the designated hitter rule for Major League Baseball. Please have your people contact my people and we will set it up.

It’s easy to take cheap swipes at an old man from the safety of your high school classroom. I am more than happy to defend and debate my beliefs anywhere, any time.

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.

Letter to the Editor: Defiance Has a Feral Cat Problem, Mayor Mike McCann Says Killing Them is the Solution

letter to the editor

Letter sent to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

Dear Editor,

Defiance mayor Mike McCann recently shared his solution for the city’s feral cat problem: kill them. When offered other solutions for the problem, McCann dismissed them, saying it was simpler and cheaper to round up the cats and kill them.

Every community in Defiance County has a feral cat problem. Our family has been feeding Ney’s feral cat population for the past fifteen years. Countless cats have come through our yard, stopping to eat and drink. It’s the least we can do. We feel that caring for them is our moral duty. It is not their fault that they have no homes or humans that care for them. Why not go after the owner of these animals and hold them accountable for their behavior?

Years ago, I sat in a Sunday school classroom listening to a local farmer talk about one of his barn cats having kittens. With nary a thought, this aged farmer said, “I just got a hammer out and killed the kittens.” This man could have had his barn cats neutered or spayed or found homes for the kittens. Instead, he followed Mayor McCann’s way of thinking: kill them. It was cheaper, and less time-consuming, for him to brutally kill the kittens, without ever considering whether his actions were moral.

Cat owners should be required to license their animals, just as dogs are annually licensed. Owners should also be required to keep their cats inside or have them spayed. It is against the law for dogs to run free. Why is it any different for cats? People who abandon cats should be criminally prosecuted for animal abuse. If you are going to own an animal, their care is your personal responsibility for the life of the pet. Defiance County and local communities should establish a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Yes, caring for the least of these costs money, but if the goal is to reduce the feral cat population, then it seems right to invest the money necessary to make these things happen.

Saying “kill them” is the lazy way out. Cheap? Sure. But moral? Not a chance. Mayor McCann has done a lot of good things for Defiance. I commend him for his diligence in trying to move Defiance, kicking and screaming, into the twenty-first century. However, when it comes to his comments about feral cats, all I see is a farmer with a hammer.

Bruce Gerencser

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.

Lorraine Schaefer Responds to My Recent Letter to the Editor of The Defiance Crescent-News

abortion
Cartoon by David Fitzsimmons

I recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News:

Dear Editor,

Patrick Holt is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher. Stuck in the 1950s, Holt thinks America would be great again if we just returned to the homophobic, racist, misogynistic 50s; a return to the days when Evangelical Christianity ruled the roost. Holt looks at our culture and sees decline, decay, and godlessness. He blames these failures on the removal of Bible reading, prayer, and the Ten Commandments from public schools. If only our progeny were led in daily prayer and Bible reading by their teachers and taught the Ten Commandments, our culture would magically return to the glory days of the 1950s.

That ship has sailed, never to return. The 1950s were hardly what Holt intimates them to be. Racism. Homophobia. Misogyny. Patriarchalism. McCarthyism. Criminalization of birth control and abortion. Shall I go on? Those of us who value social progress, equality, and equal protection under the law have a very different view of the world. We intend to push back when Evangelicals try to drag us back to the “good old days.” Evangelical Christianity is dying on the vine. Younger Americans are abandoning organized religion in record numbers. The number of atheists, agnostics, and nones continues to grow, now equaling Evangelicals as a voting bloc.

Holt would have us believe that the only thing keeping him from being a thief and murderer is Jesus. Is that not the conclusion we must come to when he says “Godlessness leads to lawlessness?” I don’t know about Holt, but I murder all the people I want to. I burglarize as many of my neighbors as I want to. I just don’t want to. The unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world have moral and ethical values — no God needed.

This Saturday, Defiance will have its first Pride Walk. I have no doubt that Holt will see this event as yet another sign of decay and depravity, a sign of the soon return of the dead Jesus. I plan to be at the Pride Walk. I am sixty-five years old, by all accounts a curmudgeon. Yet, I know that a better tomorrow requires justice and equality for all. I have thirteen grandchildren. I want a better future for them. I understand Holt’s beliefs. I once was an IFB preacher, an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I also know that it is possible to break free from the narrow, bigoted, anti-human beliefs of Evangelical Christianity.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Lorraine Schaefer, a resident of Payne, “responded” to my letter. Here’s what she had to say:

Lesson one about extraction. There are two such procedures, medical with label “embarrassment, inconvenient or choice” using a longer instrument to enter the cavity, the uterus.

The dental procedure entitled “infection uses a small instrument to enter the cavity named “mouth.”

Both procedures may require crushing the crown, ugh and looking at a picture of an extracted molar you sometimes see four roots. Christian “bigots” might equate them to the medical procedure as two legs and two arms. Hands at the end of those teeny weeny arms once were pictured encircling a surgeon’s finger during a pre-natal surgery.

Suction is always necessary during these procedures — no bits of molar left in the gums to cause problems and often the patient feels a thump, thump there, the same feeling holding a medically extracted red thing you see on Feb. 14 cards called Valentine’s stating “I love you.”

Just as dental, medical suction pieces must be counted and accounted for, even that tiny double sack. Remember your first accordion lesson when no music came out, only air? Those pieces counted prevent infection and sometimes death after a medical procedure.

Neither procedure is a happy one, and some memories last forever.

Two years after adding two beautiful babies to our family I was blessed with another beautiful daughter from my womb. Years later I cried at the grave of my fourth beloved child’s biological mother’s grave in undying gratitude that she had the courage to give my son life and to me.

Mr. Gerenscer, your “dead Jesus” is very alive in our family.

Lorraine Schaefer

Schaefer, who is in her nineties, ignores the bulk of my email and focuses, instead, on my brief mention of abortion. Of course, if she is a regular reader of the Crescent-News over the years, she knows that I support women’s bodily autonomy and reproductive rights. She knows that I am no friend of forced birthers.

Most abortions occur in the first trimester, (Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions) at a time when the human tissue growing in a woman’s womb looks like this:

two weeks
Two Weeks
five weeks
Five Weeks
eight weeks
Eight Weeks
thirteen weeks
Thirteen Weeks

Schaefer, as forced birthers are wont to do, ignores the medical abortifacients and goes straight for the procedure that often elicits heightened emotional response from people: Dilation and Curettage (D&C). Oh my God, they are hacking the baby to death! forced birthers such as Schaefer say. I’m surprised she didn’t try to graphically describe late-term abortion. Regardless of Schaefer’s graphic description, the fact remains that no woman should be forced to carry tissue/fetus to term.

Schaefer objects to me suggesting that Jesus is dead, yet she provides no evidence to the contrary except personal faith. Further, she bristles at being called a bigot, but forced birthers, along with anti-LGBTQ crusaders ARE bigots, so I intend to keep labeling them this way until they show that I am wrong. I’m done playing nice with hardcore Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons. I have received countless emails, comments, and social media messages from Christian zealots who object to something I’ve written about abortion and LGBTQ issues. Most of them were nasty, violent, and hateful people uninterested in honest, open, thoughtful dialog. Such people are bigots. If such Christians don’t want to be called bigots, I suggest that they change their tack and humbly LISTEN to people different from them.

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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Anti-Trans Bigotry at Bryan, Ohio City Schools

bryan city schools

“It’s just really, disrespectful. I just want them to call me Jay when I walk across the stage in front of everyone so it’s not really embarrassing.”

“I didn’t really have any friends. The kids would call me slurs and names they would make up themselves.”

“The kids at school would use my deadname to bully me. It would be so embarrassing and disrespectful to go up in front of all those kids and get called it once again.”

Jay Rober

“The consistent practice has always been to utilize the student’s legal name that matches with the legal name on the diploma.”

“If they decide to apply for employment or if they decide to attend higher education, we on the school side are bound to ensure that the legalities are followed with the legal document.”

— Bryan City Schools Superintendent Mark Rairigh

Letter to the editor of the Bryan Times.

Dear Editor,

Graduating from high school is a seminal moment in a student’s life; a time of arrival and entrance into adulthood. Graduation should be a day of happiness and joy as family and friends congratulate a student on a job well done. It is not a day for moralizing or political statements. Unfortunately, Bryan City Schools superintendent Mark Rairigh did just that for one transgender student, Jay Rober. And now Rober won’t be walking with his fellow students on graduation day.

Rober asked school officials to please call him by his preferred name when awarding him his diploma. Rairigh says this can’t happen for “legal” reasons. What “legal” reasons, exactly? I can understand requiring a student’s legal name to be printed on his or her diploma, but that’s not what is going on here. All Rober wants is to be called by his preferred name when his name is announced. Doing so is just a matter of respect for the student. Countless students are daily addressed by their teachers with preferred names. My dad’s name was Robert, but his teachers called him Bob. The same goes for my mother, whose legal name was Barbara, but wanted to be called Barb.

Accommodating preferred names require no effort on the part of Bryan City teachers, administrators, and the superintendent. It’s hard not to conclude, then, that there is either a political or religious agenda behind Rairigh’s refusal to accommodate Rober’s name request. Hiding behind “this is the way we have always done it” is the mantra of people resistant to social progress and change; the same mantra used by southern white supremacists to block school integration.

School officials threw Rober a lifeline, of sorts: legally change your name (in less than two weeks, at a cost of hundreds of dollars). Are Bryan City teachers required to call every student by their legal name? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Shouldn’t students who have preferred nicknames be required to legally change their names? Absurd, right?

At the end of the day, “Jay” is just a name. Out of respect for Jay and his family on the biggest day of his young life, he has earned the right to be called by his preferred name. I can’t think of a rational or logical (or legal) reason why Jay just can’t be “Jay.”

Bruce Gerencser

Ney, Ohio

We Have Lost the Battle, But Have We Lost the War?

abortion
Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News

Dear Editor,

Forty years ago, Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich birthed the Moral Majority. Falwell traveled America holding “I Love America” rallies. In 1981, my wife and I attended one such rally at the steps of the Capitol in Columbus. As a young Evangelical pastor, I was thrilled to hear Falwell speak of reclaiming America for God. Those were heady days, times when Evangelicals envisioned a path to a “Christian” nation. Falwell encouraged Evangelicals to not only win souls, but to also become political activists. Falwell knew the path to a Christian theocracy was political.

Fast forward to 2022. The baby has turned into a monster. Evangelicals, along with conservative Catholics and Mormons, have abandoned all pretense of evangelization. The goal now is raw political power — the establishment of a Christian nation, complete with laws from the Bible. Evangelicals have spent the past forty years incrementally chipping away at social progress, with the goal of returning America to the good old days of the 1950s: a time when abortion and homosexuality were illegal, women were barefoot and pregnant, LGBTQ people were closeted, people of color knew their place, and Bible reading and prayer were part of public school curricula.

Liberals and progressives, of which I am both, wrongly believed the progress of the 1960s and 1970s would continue to march forward. Whether due to naivety or intellectual laziness, liberals and progressives abandoned the field, retiring to institutions of higher learning. This abandonment has yielded the battleground to people who have no allegiance but to Jesus and the Bible.

Recently, a draft of a Supreme Court ruling on abortion was leaked to the public. The Court intends to reverse Roe v. Wade, immediately criminalizing abortion in numerous states. No one should be surprised by this outcome. And Evangelicals aren’t done. Next on the agenda is outlawing same-sex marriage, banning some forms of birth control, and a host of other hot-button culture war issues. One need only look at Evangelical hysteria over critical race theory, sex education, and gender to get a glimpse of the future.

I see no glimmer of hope on the horizon. I can’t and won’t give up, but I am realistic. Evangelicals have won the day. And they will continue to do so until we put an end to the present frontal assault on the separation of church and state.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

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