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Why Many IFB Preachers Don’t Have Peaceful, Contented Lives

for sale sign emmanuel baptist church pontiac
For Sale Sign in Main Entrance Door, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Pontiac, Michigan

The Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement is a subset under the broad banner of Evangelicalism. IFB pastors and congregants tend to be theological, political, and social extremists. While their theological beliefs differ little from garden variety Evangelicals, how they engage and interact with the broader religious and secular cultures sets them apart from other Evangelicals.

Millions of Americans attend IFB churches. Millions more attend IFB-like churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. In the late 1960s through the early 1980s, many of the largest American churches were IFB congregations. As our society moved leftward socially and morally, IFB pastors and institutions dug in their heels and refused to adapt or change. Thinking the methods they used were timeless truths that must be religiously practiced, IFB churches hemorrhaged members, losing them to churches that were not as intolerant or extreme. By the 1990s, once-filled megachurch auditoriums were empty, resulting in more than a few IFB churches filing for bankruptcy or closing their doors.

In the mid-1970s, my wife and I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. Midwestern was started in the 1950s by Alabamian pulpiteer Tom Malone. Malone pastored nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church, which at the time was one of the largest churches in America, boasting thousands each week in attendance. Midwestern was never a large college, but the institution was noted for turning out preachers and church planters. By the late 1980s, Midwestern and Emmanuel Baptist were in serious numerical and financial free fall. Eventually, Emmanuel closed its doors and Midwestern became a ministry of an IFB church in Orion, Michigan.

What happened to Emmanuel Baptist continues to happen to IFB churches today. IFB pastors, with few exceptions, are Biblical literalists who refuse to believe anything that contradicts their Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible. IFB pastors, to the man, believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Some pastors even go far as to say that only the King James Version of the Bible is the Word of God; that other translations are the works of Satan. Literalism and inerrancy are considered cardinal doctrines of the faith. This has resulted in IFB pastors and churches believing in all sorts of absurdities. IFB pastors are, without exception, creationists. Most of them are young earth creationists, believing that God created the universe in six twenty-four-hour days, 6,025 years ago. Bible stories meant to illustrate greater spiritual truths are often taken literally, resulting in IFB adherents believing, among a host of absurdities, that the earth was destroyed by a universal flood 4,000 or so years ago, the sun and moon stood still (Joshua 10:13), and all humans trace their lineage back to two people — Adam and Eve.  Their commitment to literalism forces IFB pastors to defend fantastical things. If the Bible says it, it’s true. End of discussion!

While there is some eschatological diversity within the IFB church movement, literalism demands that pastors believe and teach that the events recorded in the book of Revelation will one day literally take place. Most IFB church members believe that the return of Jesus to earth is imminent. A wide, deep apocalyptic river runs through the IFB church movement, leading to extreme love and devotion to God’s chosen people, Israel. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital excited IFB preachers — yet another “sign” that the return of Jesus is nigh. That this move could ignite the entire region and lead to war, is of little concern to IFB preachers. They believe that things must continue to get worse; that Jesus won’t come back to earth until the world stage is set for his triumphal return. This means that a war of epic proportions must occur, ending in Armageddon. While IFB preachers might not admit it out loud, I am certain many of them would welcome nuclear war, believing that such a war will make the world ready to embrace first the anti-Christ and then later Jesus when he returns to earth on a literal white horse to defeat the anti-Christ and Satan.

IFB pastors and churches are politically right-wing. If a survey were conducted with IFB adherents, I suspect surveyors would find that church members overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump, and are anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-same-sex marriage, and very much in favor of returning prayer and Bible reading to public school classrooms (even though many of them either home school or have their children enrolled in Christian schools). In earlier years, the IFB church movement believed there was a strict separation of church and state. Today, many IFB pastors and churches no longer believe the wall of separation exists, and that the United States is a Christian nation — a country chosen by God. This thinking can be traced back to the late 1970s when IFB megachurch pastor Jerry Falwell, along with Paul Weyrich, started the Moral Majority. Since then, scores of IFB pastors have used their pulpits to advance certain (almost always Republican) political policies and candidates.

Bruce, I thought this post was about why IFB preachers (and many within their congregations) don’t have peaceful, contented lives. It is, but I felt it necessary to show how IFB pastors think and view the world before explaining why so many lack peace and contentment in their lives. If the IFB church movement is anything, it is anti-culture. IFB pastors see themselves as prophets or watchmen on the walls, warning all who will listen that God is real, the Bible is true, and Hell awaits all those who reject the IFB way, truth, and life. IFB preachers think it is their duty to wage war against Satan and the enemies of God. I can only imagine how hysterical IFB preachers are over LGBTQ acceptance, same-sex marriage, and the increasing prominence of atheism. Anything that challenges their beliefs must be refuted and turned back. Add to this the internecine warfare IFB churches are famous for, and it should come as no surprise that pastors find themselves constantly battling the “world”; the “forces of darkness and evil.”  Every dawn brings a new day with new battles that must be fought. Not only must IFB preachers wage war against Satan, cults, false Christianity, liberalism, and secularism, but they must also fight against those in their own movement who want to make IFB churches more “worldly.”

The battles, then, never end. Day in and day out, IFB pastors are in fight mode. And those who are not? They are labeled compromisers and hirelings only concerned with money and prestige. Is it any wonder then that IFB preachers rarely have peaceful, contented lives? Their lives are in a constant state of turmoil. Satan and the world are pushing against their beliefs and values at every turn. Not fighting back is considered cowardly, a betrayal of everything IFB believers hold dear. Go to any town in America with an IFB church and ask mainline pastors how they view the local IFB pastor and church. In most instances, mainline pastors will say that local IFB churches have extreme beliefs and seem to thrive on controversy. IFB pastors are viewed as outliers on the fringe of Christianity — haters and dissemblers who have no tolerance for anyone but those who adhere to their narrow beliefs and practices.

Separation from the world and separation from erring Christians is a fundamental doctrine within IFB churches. This too leads to never-ending angst and stress. Concerned over encroaching “worldliness,” IFB pastors often have long lists of rules (church standards) congregants are expected to follow. (Please read The Official Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Rulebook.) While the rules vary from church to church, they are meant to inoculate church members from becoming infected with “worldly” ideas.  The Apostle Paul, writing to the Church at Corinth, said:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

1 John 2:15-17 states:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Verses such as these fuel IFB separatist beliefs and practices. The world is evil and must be, with few exceptions, avoided at all costs. This is why IFB pastors and institutions are at the forefront of the Christian school and home school movements. What better way to avoid worldliness than to wall off families and children from the influence of “worldly” schools?

I am sure that many, if not most, IFB preachers would disagree with me when I say they don’t have peaceful contented lives. However, I would ask them to consider whether their constant battles against sin, worldliness, liberalism, and compromise have robbed them of the goodness, peace, and contentment life has to offer; that constantly being at odds with not only the “world,” but also fellow Christians, is bound to exact an emotional toll. Thinking you alone stand for God, truth, and righteousness requires constant diligence lest compromise and “worldliness” creep in. Aren’t you tired, preacher, of being constantly at war with everyone and everything around you? Maybe it is time for you lay down your weapons of war and rejoin the human race. Countless former IFB pastors and church members have done just that. Tired of the constant turmoil and unrest, they finally said ENOUGH! and walked away. Most of them found kinder, gentler forms of faith, and a handful of ex-IFB believers have embraced agnosticism or atheism. Scary, I know, but not having to constantly be on guard lest Satan gain the advantage is worth the risk of judgment and Hell. I am sure God will understand. A wild, wonderful world awaits those who dare to lay down their Fundamentalist beliefs and walk away. If you are ready to say ENOUGH! and want help plotting a life of peace and contentment, I would love to help you do so.

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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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Did You Know I am a Traitor, Communist, Marxist, a Danger to America, and an Awful Writer Too?

adam stockford facebook

Last month, I wrote a post titled MAGA Mayor Adam Stockford Says Hillsdale, Michigan is a “Traditional Values” Community. Stockford is the mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan. Over the weekend, Stockford posted my article on his Facebook page. Of course, his MAGA-loving followers were quick to go for my jugular. One such neck-slitter was a retired soldier named Ronald Cook.

Cook made no attempt to interact with what I wrote, choosing instead to hurl invectives my way. I gave his comment and private messages the gravitas they so richly deserved. Enjoy! 🙂

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Here are several other comments left by Stockford’s devotees.

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All told, 90 people from Hillsdale read my post. Only three of them read more than one page. Not one of them clicked on the ABOUT page or the WHY? page. In fact, some of them couldn’t bear to finish reading my article. Yet, by reading one post about Adam Stockford and Hillsdale College, people such as Cook concluded I am a traitor, communist, Marxist, anti-American anti-Christ. And I am a bitter, piss-poor writer too. Let me give these fine folks a bit of the Bible: Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. (Proverbs 18:13)

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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.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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:

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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.

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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.

IFB Pastor John MacFarlane Threatens Liberal Politicians, Overturning Roe v. Wade was Just the Beginning

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Recently, John MacFarlane, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio, warned liberal politicians that he and his fellow Bible thumpers are coming for them; that overturning Roe v. Wade is just the start. MacFarlane wrote:

Now, almost 50 years later, we can see where and how this country is divided.  It’s not about political parties and red v. blue.  We are a nation divided over the Bible and God, the One in whose image we are created.  And this division is getting deeper every day!  To call a ruling that supports life as cruel, outrageous, and heart-wrenching is egregious in and of itself.

Such statements from our national leaders ought to cause every blood-bought born-again believer to stand up and say, “This ruling isn’t the only change that’s happening.  There’s going to be more.  A LOT more!”

Is this devotional political?  Absolutely — and I make no apology for it.  The reason that it’s political is because the politicians have insisted on sticking their noses into issues of values, morality, and truth.  Rather than accepting what God says, they’ve chosen to go against it, forcing the Christians to rise up and to take some stands.  We MUST obey God rather than man.

Dear liberal politician, you have given the Christians no choice.  Edmund Burke’s famous statement is true.  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  It’s time for GOOD men and women – especially GOD’s men and women to arise and do the right thing!

MacFarlane is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher, a Trumpist who supports and defends every plank in the culture war agenda. Along with his fellow forced birthers, MacFarlane had the orgasm of a lifetime when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing states to effectively ban abortion. I suspect MacFarlane makes no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother; that, if he had his way, certain birth control methods and in-vitro fertilization would be outlawed too. MacFarlane’s goal is to facilitate returning the United States to the glory days of the 1950s; the days when abortion and birth control were illegal; the days when women were barefoot and pregnant; the days when blacks knew their place, Mexicans went back to where they belonged after picking our crops, and homosexuals never left their pitch-dark closets; the days when public school teachers led their students in prayer and read the Bible to them; the days when Joseph McCarthy spent his waking hours ferreting out commies; the days when IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the pledge and currency; the days when “Biblical” Christianity ruled supreme.

Based on what MacFarlane has written here, he either rejects or has a faulty understanding of the separation of church and state. The United States has a secular government. No amount of quotes from professional liar David Barton will change this fact. While it is likely MacFarlane opposes the Taliban and other extremist Islamic governments, he seems to be okay with Sharia law in America as long as it follows his interpretation of the Protestant Christian Bible.

MacFarlane says the Federal government should accept what God says in the Bible and govern accordingly. Of course, MacFarlane is quite selective about what laws, precepts, and commands he wants the government to follow. Not one Evangelical zealot wants the government to enforce all 613 Biblical laws. Does MacFarlane want the adulterers, fornicators, child molesters, and disobedient children among his congregation executed? Does he want atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, and all other non-Evangelicals arrested, tried, convicted, and executed? Shall I go on?

The Bible is a dangerous book in the hands of theocrats such as John MacFarlane. They must NOT be trusted with the reins of government. If theocrats are allowed to gain control, freedoms will be lost and people will die. When the MacFarlanes of the world say that overturning Roe v. Wade is just the beginning, we should believe them. If the January 6th insurrection has taught anything, is that MacFarlane and his fellow theocrats are dangerous and will use violence to achieve their goal of a Christian nation.

What, exactly, have Evangelicals been forced to do? I can’t think of one thing. No, what’s going on here is that Evangelicalism is in numerical freefall. NONES are on the rise. Young adults are leaving Evangelical churches in droves. Evangelicals have lost their dominance and control, and they don’t like it. So, instead of loving God and loving their neighbors as themselves — you know, the two great commandments — Evangelicals have turned to raw, naked political power to advance their agenda. How else can we explain so many Evangelicals voting for Donald Trump — twice?

Sixty years ago, Barry Goldwater said:

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

An unattributed quote says:

When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

Make no mistake about it, the Christian nationalist horde is at the gate, and Pastor John MacFarlane is standing there with them. John is a well-respected pastor. By all accounts, he is a friendly, winsome man. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is promoting beliefs and practices that are materially harmful not only to me and my family personally but also to hundreds of millions of non-Evangelical Americans.

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.

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Dr. David Tee Says Abortion is Wrong, Even for a Pregnant Ten-Year-Old

dr david tee


There is no other answer. Abortion is not for young girls or older women. Rape and incest are sins of the father or mother or both not a sin of the unborn child. They should not be punished for sins they have not committed even if the mother is as young as 5.

— Derrick Thomas Thiessen (AKA Dr. David Tee)

Christian Fundamentalism robs its adherents of the ability to think and reason. When a literalistic interpretation of a book that is believed to be inspired, inerrant, and infallible is the driving force of one’s life, out goes love, kindness, and common sense when it conflicts with “thus saith the Lord.”

One such person is Fake Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen. Tee is known for defending rapists, child molesters, and other miscreants. In the past few years, he has defended Bill Cosby, Ravi Zacharias, Bill Gothard, Bill Hybels, and other Evangelical degenerates. I have yet to read a post where Tee resolutely stands with victims of clergy sexual misconduct. I have long believed he defends such men because of his own scandalous past. Tee hides behind the “grace” of God, the “forgiveness” of Jesus, and the “sanctifying” power of the Holy Ghost.

Just when I think I have heard it all from Tee, he swims farther and deeper into the shit-filled cesspool of Bible literalism. Recently, the news reported a story about a pregnant ten-year-old child. (How she got pregnant remains unknown at this time.) Unable to get an abortion in Ohio, the girl planned to travel to Indiana to have her pregnancy terminated. Tee, of course, is outraged over this girl “murdering” her “baby.” Tee, a forced birther, makes no exceptions, even for rape or incest. Once the egg is fertilized by sperm, it is a human life that must be carried to term regardless of how it was conceived or what harm it may cause to its mother. I found myself saying, what kind of man is so loveless and heartless, that a zygote is more important than the life of a child? A Fundamentalist Christian who values his literalistic interpretation of the Bible more than the life and welfare of a young girl, that’s who.

Here’s what Tee had to say:

We are expanding on a conversation we have been having at the Christian Post under the article- What the Church Must Do Post Roe— The topic is not Dr. brown’s content but about a 10-year-old girl getting pregnant. This discussion is related to the content found in this Fox news article that was published earlier in the week or last week- Gov. Kristi Noem asked if South Dakota will force a 10-year-old to have a baby on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’

For some people, this is a real dilemma and also a good excuse to continue abortion practices.

….

This may sock you and this is where the supposed moral dilemma comes in for some people. This is also where those who are pro-abortion use this scenario to promote the idea that abortion needs to be available and legal.

Should young girls who are raped or had sex at this young age be allowed to have abortions? We already know that most unbelievers will disagree with what we will say here but our view is that age is not permission to kill.

The Bible is very clear when it says thou shalt not kill. There is no age limit on that command and no exceptions are made for children. They are not allowed to kill and their parents cannot make that decision for them.

No matter how old the woman or girl is, abortion is wrong and sin.

….

We are and God is in our right minds as biblical instruction is very clear. The problem doe snot come from the age of the child but the sinful behavior of the adults around her.

….

Whether these young girls are ready or not to handle the changes their bodies and lives are going through is also due to the fact of the behavior of their parents.

….

It is also immaterial to the discussion. Why, as crimes and other events happen when people are unprepared for them in all aspects of life. This one does not make it special but may be used to draw more sympathy from the readers of that article. The failure of the family and relatives is exposed in these situations.

This is something that needs Christ and Christians to get involved and change. But that is not part of the moral dilemma. What is part of the moral dilemma is should these child mothers carry to term or have an abortion.

….

The lustful actions of the father, the rape they committed, and other things they did to have sex with the child are what make the father guilty and he should be punished. The child should not. Since people already know the risks of a childhood pregnancy, they also know how to care for the expectant mother and the unborn child.

Abortion is not part of that care. It is the easy out for most people and one they can sweep it under the rug and forget about. But the mother will not forget about the rape nor will they forget about the loss of their child.

This will take years for them to get over the trauma which is much worse than any so-called trauma of carrying the baby to term. With the right help, this ‘trauma’ is not really trauma. But rape and abortion are real trauma with the addition of the guilt or other feelings that they committed sin.

That is something no one in their right mind should put a young child through. The comment we got in response to our point about going after the father was not only that trauma issue but the prospects of death for both the mother and the fetus. Their exact words were “the fetus you seem to worship.”

For the first part, death from pregnancy or birth has been a part of this life since the beginning of time. It is a fact of life that even 20 to 40-year-old women must face. It is not a monopoly held by young girls. Death happens and we must be prepared for it.It is the line that we quoted that bothers us as we and every pro-life person are not worshipping the fetus. Trying to protect them and let them be born is not an act of worship but an act to stop people from sinning and killing innocent children.

But that is how unbelievers or believers in abortion will phrase their arguments. It is a moot point that distracts from the topic. The same person came back with the line ‘spoils her childhood’.

We have run into that term n South Korea as one person we disagreed with through newspaper articles, said he wanted his child to ‘a have a childhood.’ Whatever that means. There is no such thing as a childhood as children are born into different circumstances.

Plus, this concept of ‘having a childhood’ is very subjective and defined by people in different ways. There is a hint of hypocrisy to that attitude. These same people only care about ‘a childhood’ when their preferred method of taking care of a bad situation is excluded.

They do not apply that concept to the children of Bangladesh, Africa, or other countries who lost their childhood due to hunger and a lack of food; war, crimes, and so on. it is only selfishly applied by those who want the child to have an abortion.

There is no thought for the child that has yet to be born. Why are they not allowed a childhood? The reason people have a moral dilemma is that their morals are not rooted in God’s word but in their own concept of morality.

We have run into that many times as atheists, unbelievers and nominal Christians think they are greater than God when it comes to moral thinking. Or they think that dying is a punishment robbing them of life. They dismiss heaven and God’s salvation so they have no reward to look forward to.

Thus aborting an unborn child is not a problem for them as long as those women who are alive get to live a little longer or even pursue the accepted goals those people groups have decided are okay.

Having a 10-year-old carry a pregnancy to term is not wrong nor is it sinful. Nor is it a moral dilemma as technology has made so many advances that the care of these child brides is done properly and protects the life of both the mother and the child (forgoing any complications).

The unbelievers believe in technology and medical advances, they should be applying that belief to this subject as well. Instead of heaping lots of trauma on a little girl by forcing them to have an abortion and having them sin.

What Christians and unbelievers should be doing is going after those fathers and their sinful decisions that put the young girl in this position in the first place. That is the cause of all the problems and it is those men or boys who should be punished not the innocent unborn child.

The Bible supports that last point. To solve this problem we do not commit more sins, we fight to get rid of those sins and let Christ redeem those men and lead them to better moral behavior.

There is no other answer. Abortion is not for young girls or older women. Rape and incest are sins of the father or mother or both not a sin of the unborn child. They should not be punished for sins they have not committed even if the mother is as young as 5.

My friend from over the pond, Ben Berwick, took Tee to task for his forced-birth position for children regardless of how conception took place. Here’s what he had to say:

I’ve refrained from commenting directly on a certain conservative Christian’s posts, however their latest post, on the subject of abortion, more or less demands a response.

David’s post relates to this article from Fox News, which discusses the case of a 10-year-old girl from Ohio, who was raped, and fell pregnant as a result. She cannot get an abortion in Ohio (under draconian new laws), and so is hoping to travel to Indiana, where the law would still currently permit her to get an abortion.

David has quite a few things to say on this subject:

Should young girls who are raped or had sex at this young age be allowed to have abortions? We already know that most unbelievers will disagree with what we will say here but our view is that age is not permission to kill.

The Bible is very clear when it says thou shalt not kill. There is no age limit on that command and no exceptions are made for children. They are not allowed to kill and their parents cannot make that decision for them.

Hang on, is David suggesting what I think he is suggesting? Is there absolutely no room in his heart to consider the impact of a rape-derived pregnancy on a child?

Whether these young girls are ready or not to handle the changes their bodies and lives are going through is also due to the fact of the behavior of their parents.

Wait, what?! The behaviour of their parents won’t magically make it safe for a 10-year-old to carry a baby to term! Pregnancy and childbirth kill adults on a regular basis, much less a child’s body, and there is no level of parental preparation that can physically ready a child for all the physical and hormonal chaos of pregnancy. Even assuming that a child is physically capable of birthing a baby, how does a parent prepare their child for the psychological impact of having a baby, especially one born out of rape and abuse?! There seems to be absolutely zero empathy or sympathy in David’s position for children, which is incredibly ironic for a supposed champion of life. It’s very clear that David cares only about forcing birth, not about quality of life (indeed, some recent allegations lend weight to this attitude of his, if they are true).

David quotes from elsewhere:

The trauma of what has happened to these girls, many too young to understand what was happening to them and some who had never heard of contraception, is etched on the faces of the mothers (Ibid)
In response, he has this to say:

It is also immaterial to the discussion. Why, as crimes and other events happen when people are unprepared for them in all aspects of life. This one does not make it special but may be used to draw more sympathy from the readers of that article. The failure of the family and relatives is exposed in these situations.


See what I mean? David has no room in his heart for kindness, even to victims of serious, horrific crimes. The young girls in these situations appear to be irrelevant to him; their pain, their suffering… it’s as though he’s shrugged his shoulders and said ‘oh well, bad things happen, now get over it, you’re not the real victim here’.

Our next point in our conversation was the person who should be gone after and dealt with is NOT the unborn child but the person who created this problem in the first place. We are not blaming the pregnant child here.

The lustful actions of the father, the rape they committed, and other things they did to have sex with the child are what make the father guilty and he should be punished. The child should not. Since people already know the risks of a childhood pregnancy, they also know how to care for the expectant mother and the unborn child.

Abortion is not part of that care. It is the easy out for most people and one they can sweep it under the rug and forget about. But the mother will not forget about the rape nor will they forget about the loss of their child.

This will take years for them to get over the trauma which is much worse than any so-called trauma of carrying the baby to term. With the right help, this ‘trauma’ is not really trauma. But rape and abortion are real trauma with the addition of the guilt or other feelings that they committed sin.

How can David possibly believe that forcing a child to proceed with a pregnancy they did not want (and that will physically and emotionally destroy them) is less traumatic than getting an abortion? Children — and this might sound shocking to David — should have a childhood. The child in this situation is a victim and already subjected to more anguish than any child should have to go through, but he would inflict more upon her, because her life matters less than the embryo inside her. David says he’s not blaming the child, and that the child should not be punished, but forcing them to go through with the pregnancy (I wonder if David is aware that globally, the leading killers of girls under 17 are pregnancy and childbirth) would be a punishment. David cannot begin to understand what it would be like, he is not a parent (well, allegations notwithstanding, though if they are true, he abandoned those responsibilities long ago), and he cannot get pregnant, so he will never be at risk from all the complications pregnancy can bring, especially for a child. His lack of any form of compassion for the victim of sexual assault is horrifying, and stands at odds with all his claims of being a good Christian.

There is no other answer. Abortion is not for young girls or older women. Rape and incest are sins of the father or mother or both not a sin of the unborn child. They should not be punished for sins they have not committed even if the mother is as young as 5.

I didn’t include this paragraph in my earlier version of this post, as I did not read to the end (why would I?). Upon further reading, I came across this horrific finale to David’s post. To put it bluntly, fuck the notion of sin. It is used to justify inflicting horrible pain on children, and David is so consumed by how important sin is, that he is no longer capable of any expression of sympathy or empathy, even with victims of abuse.

Updated 9th July: David left a comment here (I have no inclination to share his comments anymore), advising he’d left a response on his post. Here is his response in its entirety:

We did a lot of thinking before approving this comment. MM’s post shows zero empathy and sympathy for the unborn child so he has no moral or responsible argument. His words are moot. It also shows that MM believes 2 wrongs make a right

David is a hypocrite. He cares nothing for the ten-year-old. In a hypothetical scenario, where she stood in front of him, frightened, in pain, already traumatised from the assault against her, what would he say? He’s already hinted at this, earlier in his post. ‘Why, as crimes and other events happen when people are unprepared for them in all aspects of life. This one does not make it special but may be used to draw more sympathy from the readers of that article.’

Emphasis mine. Would he say something like that to the scared child if she were stood in front of him? Why does her life not matter?

— end of Ben’s post —

Tee responded to Ben’s article with a post titled Is it a Moral Dilemma? — Part Two.

Ben wrote another response to Tee’s post, forcing Tee, under the direction of the Holy Spirit and his warped sense of “morality” to respond thusly:

They Do Not Choose Right.

Or they just use bad logic. MM made a short response to our last post and underneath it was this comment:

“After thousands of years, the unbelieving way has not produced any solutions to the problems of this world.” – Yet we’re living in the same world, so that would mean the “believing” way hasn’t produced any solutions either.”

The unbeliever does not see the forest for the trees. Yes, we live in the same world but that does not mean we believers do not have solutions. It means that the unbelieving world, like unbelieving scientists, do not want God a part of their world.

They exercise their free choice and choose wrong.. We know this as they want government to be secular. not Christian. There was a recent article where unbelievers were complaining that some of the Supreme Court justices were praying with other Christians.

The unbelieving world does not want God or Christians bringing the solutions that trouble the world. Instead, they rather follow deceived, lost people and complain about the world’s state and create more laws impeding people’s rights.

They continue to choose the wrong paths because they think they are better and know more than God. We can point, as another example, to how unbelievers try to thwart Christian adoption agencies, universities hamper Christian groups, or how different atheist organizations continue to interfere with Christians being a part of government, or using schools for Christian activities.

If anything, the unbeliever gets in the way of Christians implementing the answers the world needs today. They are too arrogant, stubborn, deceived, and blind to see they are the ones responsible for the way the world is as well as too proud to admit they are wrong and ask God humbly for help.

True Christians have been teaching the answers for millennia and the thanks they get is martyrdom, persecution, (See recent stories about Justice Kavanaugh, the Roe v. Wade protests, threats made against pro-life people, and so on), loss of employment, (see the cases against the different bakers, florists, the coach praying at midfield, and more).

Do not blame the Christian blame the unbelieving for the state of the world.

I commend Ben for trying to thoughtfully respond to Tee. Not that there’s any hope of changing Tee’s mind. He believes God lives inside of him; that he has the mind of Christ; that his words are the same as God’s. When someone has a God complex, there’s not much you can do to reach him. While both Ben and I have refrained from responding to Tee’s nonsense since the start of the year, his words in this instance were so egregious that they required a response.

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: Atheist-Socialists Are Trying to Destroy the United States From Within

atheism

“It happened gradually, and then it happened suddenly, as Hemingway would put it,” Pete Hegseth explained.                                                  

Hegseth is a best selling author, and co-host of Fox and Friends Weekend. His co-author, David Goodwin is president of the Association of Classical Christian Schools. They write that educational reformer John Dewey advocated progressive teaching in the 1920’s. And in 1935, after they fled Nazis Germany, Marxists from the Frankfurt School of Social Research introduced their views to students at New York’s Columbia University.

“These were all atheists. These were all socialists, or almost all of them were and their goal was social change, and they knew the schoolroom was the place they could do it. And it started with the removal of God,” Hegseth said.

David Goodwin believes the biggest change sidelining Christian education occurred when the U.S. Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, removed God from the classroom.

“They gradually took prayer out of school, they then took the Bible out of school, and they then forbid really any teaching of Christian instruction in school, ” explained Goodwin. “But that was the kind of the capstone of a long effort. It wasn’t the beginning, it was really the end.”

Also, Goodwin and Hegseth contend that progressives intentionally replaced classical Christian education with American nationalism. 

“We look at our Pledge of Allegiance – at least we do as conservatives and patriots and say, ‘Hey, that’s a great thing under God.’ Well, the original pledge was written in the late 19th century by a socialist who ultimately wrote it without under God, because the pledge was meant to shift kids away comfortably from God at the center of the class, from the cross, at the center to the flag at the center of the classroom, which was an easier sell to parents at the time,” Hegseth explained. “And now, of course, fast forward to today, and they’re happy to get rid of the flag.”

So, do Hegseth and Goodwin believe that America’s elites possess a well-devised spiritual strategy that transcends politics? 

“You see, we fight in terms of politics now and may win incremental battles here or there. What the left understood is they had to go to the heart of what made us who we are. What do we value? What’s our vision of the good life? What do we consider our virtues?” Hegseth explained. “And when they targeted that, they targeted at the foundation of who we really are, really the current underneath the top waters of the stream of cultures, the top waters, the current is paideia underneath, and they targeted that.” 

— Gary Lane, CBN News, ‘It Started with the Removal of God’: How Atheist-Socialists Have Fought America from Within, July 5, 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.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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After Roe v. Wade….Title IX?

title ix

A Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

In a cruel irony, the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade on 24 June 2022; one day after the 50th anniversary of Title IX becoming enshrined in American law.

Roe v Wade, which guaranteed the right to an abortion, and Title IX, which mandated equal funding for male and female students in educational institutions that receive Federal funding (just about all of them, including the priciest private universities) have long been linked in my mind. For one thing, a very different Supreme Court decided Roe v Wade only seven months after then-President Richard M. Nixon signed Title IX into law. But, even more importantly, one helped to make the other, if not possible, then at least practicable.

I am not a legal or constitutional scholar or even, for that matter, particularly knowledgeable about the history of women’s rights or equality. So, take what I am about to say for what it’s worth:  While Title IX opened opportunities for girls and women their mothers could only have imagined, Roe v Wade, if indirectly, made it possible for them to take advantage of—or, at least, not to lose—many of those new-found opportunities.

To be sure, there is still nothing like gender equality in most areas of American society.  Most educational institutions aren’t even in compliance with Title IX. Still, today’s young women can—at least, they have been able—to not only aspire to what their elder sisters, mothers, and aunts have achieved, but so much more. In the most visible manifestation of Title IX, ten times as many girls and women participate in school and college athletics as participated at the time the law passed. That, of course, has led to more women, pursuing careers, not only in sports, but also in other previously male-only or male-dominated fields: as a result of Title IX, medical, law, and other graduate schools, and undergraduate programs like engineering, could not continue their quotas or bans on female students—which were imposed with the rationale that women would “get married and drop out of the workforce” and the education and training were therefore “wasted.”

But many women would not have been able to take advantage of those new opportunities if they could not regulate when they became pregnant and gave birth—or, for that matter, choose whether they wanted to become mothers at all. Before Title IX, schools and colleges often dismissed students who became pregnant. Even after the law passed, many employers fired pregnant employees or shunted them to “mommy tracks.” While Title IX could not affect this practice, it probably led, if indirectly, to laws against it. And access to safe and legal abortions—a legacy of Roe v Wade—made it possible for many women, not only to stay in school and jobs, but also to determine the trajectory of their careers.

Just as Title IX has had secondary effects, so did Roe v Wade. You’ve probably seen the slogan, “Abortion is women’s health care.” It’s true in more ways than one. Of course, an abortion is sometimes necessary to save the life of the woman or to prevent disabling or destabilizing conditions from worsening. But not for nothing are Planned Parenthood centers the go-to places for other kinds of women’s health care. In some areas, it is the only provider of such services for several counties. More to the point, though, is a reason why PP centers perform procedures and treatments that are now routine for girls and women but were rarities or privileges, if they were available at all, to their mothers and grandmothers. 

While there is still much room for improvement in women’s health care, and it’s still nowhere near the standards of care for men, it can be argued that the availability—and, in some circles, acceptability—of abortion has led to vast improvements. Much of that has to do with an attitude engendered by the availability and acceptance of abortion.  Until the modern feminist movement, which sparked the fight that led to Roe v Wade, women’s bodies were seen mainly as incubators. In other words, a woman’s health was seen mainly in terms of her fitness for bearing and rearing children. (That meant, of course, that women’s mental health care was all but non-existent or women were actively pathologized.) In part because women could now choose when or whether they would become pregnant, they could exercise other choices—and insist that they were, as sentient individuals, as worthy of high-quality health care, for their own needs and their own quality of life, as men. As women could get better care and take better care of themselves, they were better able to pursue their dreams and goals. To me, this change was analogous to, and as revolutionary as, the Renaissance idea that the human body is beautiful and intrinsically worthy of aesthetic or scientific study.

Such an ethos is anathema to religious conservatives, who led the fight to seat the judges who voted to overturn Roe v Wade. So is the freedom to make choices, whether in one’s career or life. If the history of slavery has taught us anything, it’s that if laws or decrees limit people’s agency over their own bodies and their freedom of movement, it doesn’t matter whether or not they have any other rights. The Taliban have certainly learned that lesson well: They didn’t have to bar girls and women from school or jobs; they only had to mandate cumbersome clothing and forbid them from going any place they might want to go without the permission or accompaniment of a male relative in order to reverse the gains in education and work they made in the previous two decades. Likewise, passing similar laws in Saudi Arabia, and forbidding women from riding bicycles or driving cars, left that country’s females at the mercy of their fathers’, brothers’, and other male relatives’ caprices. Such restrictions also make it more difficult, if impossible, for women and girls to get the healthcare they need: Sometimes men think women don’t really need such care, or they are unwilling to bring their sisters and wives to male doctors, the absence of female doctors notwithstanding.

One particularly disturbing aspect of the reversal of Roe v Wade is that some states, if they haven’t done so, will ban abortions even in cases of incest and rape. Why do I, as a transgender woman (who will never become pregnant), care about that or, for that matter, about abortion law in general? I was sexually abused as a child, by a priest and a family friend. I can’t help but to wonder how my life might be different if the nine-year-old boy who experienced the abuse had been a thirteen-year-old girl. Imagine how that could have constricted her choices, and how it could have affected her life in other ways, if such an experience could shatter the reality—not to mention the career and family—of a thirty-year-old woman.

Because, as I said previously, I am not a legal or constitutional scholar, I can’t say whether overturning Roe v. Wade will lead to the evisceration or repeal of Title IX. But it’s hard not to imagine that the repeal of Roe v Wade could lead to many girls and young women not taking advantage of, and furthering, the opportunities Title IX afforded their mothers. White Evangelical Christians—who are to the Republican Party as African Americans have been to the Democratic Party —could hardly have hoped for more.

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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Bruce Gerencser