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How Do You Get the Elephant Out of the Room?

elephant in the room

Those of us who have Christian families often refer to our “unbelief” as the elephant in the room. My wife, Polly, and I last attended church in November 2008. For a time, Polly’s mom would ask Poll to attend church with her when they were here visiting, but after being rebuffed several times, she stopped asking. As long-time readers know, when I decided that I was no longer a Christian, I sent a letter to several hundred of my friends, family, and former parishioners. This letter caused quite a stir, resulting in a personal visit from a pastor friend and emails and letters from colleagues in the ministry and people who once called me pastor. Several churches held prayer meetings specifically to pray for me, hoping their concerted prayer would cause God to bring me back into the fold.  Several pastors took to the pulpit and preached sermons about Bruce Gerencser, the pastor turned atheist (sermon by Ralph Wingate Jr. and sermons by Jose Maldonado).  What’s interesting in all of this is that our family didn’t say a word to either Polly or me. One man, an IFB evangelist, did attempt to talk to me, but he was told to stop doing so by one of the older preachers in the family. While we’ve certainly heard gossip about this or that behind-the-back discussion about us, and we were told that the family patriarch planned to straighten me out, (please see (The Family Patriarch is Dead: My Life With James Dennis) not one family member has sat down and had an honest and open discussion with either of us. Our deconversion and my outspokenness concerning Evangelicalism and atheism is a huge rainbow-colored elephant that everyone can see, but no one acknowledges. While I know that some family members regularly read this blog, no one has engaged in any sort of discussion with us about why we left the ministry, deconverted, and are now happy HBO-watching, wine-drinking unbelievers.

Some seasoned atheists recommend that the recently deconverted shine a bright light on the elephant and force people to see it. That’s what I did with my letter to family, friends, and former parishioners. While this approach worked for our friends and former parishioners, family just went over to the wall switch and turned off the light. To some degree, I understand their reaction. I was their preacher brother, uncle, son-in-law, and father for as long as they could remember. From 1972 to 2008, I was the family preacher, and when Polly and I married in 1978, I married into a family of pastors, missionaries, and evangelists.  Every aspect of our lives was dominated by Christianity, the Bible, and the work of the ministry. And then, BOOM, all that was gone, and Rev. Bruce Gerencser and his wife Polly are now numbered among the godless. I suspect that the cognitive dissonance this causes for some family members is too much for them to handle, so they pretend that there is no elephant in the room. This is why some family members still think we are saved. We are just backslidden, out of the will of God, and they are certain we will one day return to the faith.

Some atheists take a different approach when discussing their deconversion with family and friends. Several years ago, I watched  Chicago PD, a procedural program about an élite force of detectives in the Chicago police department. One of the detectives, Erin Lindsay, played by actress Sophia Bush, is struggling with family and addiction problems. She seeks out the help of a counselor named Dr. Charles, played by actor Oliver Platt.  Dr. Charles asks Detective Lindsay, how do you get the elephant out of the room? Lindsay had no answer to the question. Dr. Charles replied, one piece at a time.  Instead of taking the approach I detailed in the previous paragraph, some atheists take Dr. Charles’s advice and begin dismantling the elephant one piece at a time. While this approach certainly results in less stress, it can take quite some time. Atheists have to be willing to leave some issues on the table to be discussed another day. Not everyone can do this, preferring to get every issue out in the open so it can be discussed. Once this is done, there’s no need for any further discussion.

I’ve had countless new atheists and agnostics write me about how best to handle their Christian spouses, children, parents, extended family, or friends. I never tell them that they should do this or that. Every person must carefully examine his or her life and the connections each has with others before deciding how to proceed. While every atheist certainly wants the elephant out of the room, there are different ways to accomplish it. I wrote about this in the post titled, Count the Cost Before You Say I am an Atheist. Acting rashly or in a fit of anger can have catastrophic consequences. Once a person decides to talk with Christian family and friends about their deconversion, there’s no going back. Once a person utters out loud, I am an atheist, what happens next is out of their control. I know of married people whose spouses divorced them over their deconversion. Some people have had their families excommunicate them, refusing to allow them in their homes until they come to their senses. Others receive emails, phone calls, and social media comments from family and friends about their deconversion. Often these statements are barbed with outrage, anger, and hurt. More than a few atheists have been forced to unfriend Christian family members and friends on Facebook. Sadly, more than a few times, something I’ve written has been posted to an atheist’s Facebook wall, and it has resulted in the newly minted atheist being attacked by offended Christians. 

I’d love to hear from readers about how they handled the elephant in the room. Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

One Reason I Don’t Believe: The Silence of History

bart ehrman quote

The 2019 population of the Jerusalem was 936,000, according to Wikipedia. In 1948, the population of Jerusalem was 87,000. According to Wikipedia, the first-century population of Jerusalem was around 80,000, though this population would swell during Passover and other religious observances. When I lived in Yuma, Arizona, I observed a similar swelling of the population when the snowbirds arrived to spend winter in Yuma. Whatever the population of Jerusalem was during the three-year public ministry of Jesus, there were plenty of people who observed his works. Surely, there were thousands of eyewitnesses who could have written something about Jesus’s miracles, and his death, resurrection, ascension back to Heaven. Surely, there were eyewitnesses who could have written something about the acts of the Apostles and the early church. Why then, is there little or no historical record for the life and work of Jesus or the early followers of Jesus? God striking church members dead or causing the followers of Jesus to speak in unknown tongues surely were notable events, yet there is no record of them outside of the Bible. Why is this?

According to the Bible, the events leading up to the death of Jesus, his crucifixion, and his resurrection from the dead, took place during Passover.  After the post-resurrection ministry of Jesus, Jesus ascended back to Heaven, and on the Day of Pentecost, while the followers of Jesus were gathered in an upper room, they were filled (baptized) with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2)

Acts 2:1-6 states:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

This miracle of speaking with other tongues caused quite a stir and, as a result, on one day:

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)

In fact, according to Acts 2:47:

And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Every day people were being saved, baptized, and added to the church, or so says the author of the book of Acts.

In Acts 3,4 we find Peter and John going to the Temple to preach the gospel. While they faced great adversity from the Sadducees over their preaching that through Jesus people could be resurrected from the dead, Acts 4:4 states:

…many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

So, in a short amount of time, the Acts narrative moves from 120 followers of Jesus being gathered in an upper room to 3,000 people being saved, baptized, and added to the church, to 5,000 men believing the preaching of the gospel. Yet, outside of the New Testament, which was written decades after the events recorded in Acts 1-4, there is no historical mention of a large number of people becoming followers of Jesus. There is no mention of 3,000 people being publicly baptized on one day. There is no mention of a large gathering of Jesus’s followers in the outer court of the Temple.

In fact, there is no non-Biblical historical record for any of the astounding events recorded in the Gospels and Acts. Suppose a well-known man died in the community you live. You saw him die. With your own eyes, you saw his dead, embalmed body. Yet, three days later, this same man came back to life and was sitting with his family and friends at the local Applebee’s. Do you think such a miraculous event would make the front page of the newspaper? Do you think it would be trending on Twitter? Do you think everyone in your community would quickly know about the dead man brought back to life? Yet, when it comes to Jesus the miracle worker, a man who purportedly raised people from the dead, cast demons out of people, gave sight to the blind, restored the hearing of the deaf, walked on water, and walked through walls, there is no non-Biblical historical record of any of his works.

According to the Bible, Jesus was well-known in Jerusalem. When he came riding into Jerusalem on a colt (or an ass, you decide) people lined the streets and cheered him. This same man, a short time later, was arrested, publicly humiliated, nailed to a cross like a common thief, and buried in a borrowed grave. Three days later — however you count three days — (please see  I Wish Christians Would be Honest About Jesus’ Three Day Weekend) this same well-known Jesus resurrected from the grave and appeared to over 500 people. Pretty newsworthy stuff, right? Yet, outside of the Bible, there is no historical record of these events.

Even more astounding, according to Matthew 27, at the moment Jesus died:

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

At the very moment Jesus died, the veil of the Temple, a curtain that was likely 30 feet wide, 60 feet high, and four inches thick, (using 18 inches as the measurement for a cubit) was torn in half. And according to the Gospel of Mark, there was an eclipse at the moment of, or right before Jesus died. Ponder for a moment such astounding events, yet, outside of the Bible, there is no record of them ever occurring.

If that is not astounding enough, consider that the Bible says when Jesus died the graves of the saints were open and out popped resurrected followers of Jesus. These resurrected saints went into Jerusalem and appeared to many people. Yet, not only is there no non-Biblical historical report of this happening, none of the other gospel writers or Paul mention it. Surely, dead relatives and dead fellow believers resurrecting from the dead and walking about the city of Jerusalem would be important to 1st century Christians, yet outside of Matthew, no one mentions it.

Yes, later Christian authors, working from the text of the Bible and stories passed down to them, speak of these events being true, but why are there no Roman or Jewish historical writings that mention these astounding events?

I am well aware of the various arguments that can be made, but I don’t buy them. It seems far more likely that these miraculous, astounding events never happened. Yes, Josephus possibly said:

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

I say possibly because what Josephus actually said is a matter of great debate (the oldest manuscript of Josephus’s writings is dated a thousand years after his death). Regardless of the authenticity of the aforementioned passage, Josephus does not mention, outside of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, any of the miraculous events that occurred at the time of the death of Jesus. Why is this?

This is one of the reasons that I do not believe the central claims of Christianity are true. While this is not proof for there being no God, it does call into question the narrative that many Christians proclaim is pure, unadulterated truth.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

If Jesus Is. . .

jesus is

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

The answer

The solution to life’s problems

The Way

The Truth

The Life

The one who makes life worth living

Redeemer

Deliverer

Savior

If Jesus is the giver of new life

If Jesus cleanses a person from sin

If Jesus gives a person new desires

If Jesus gives a person a new song

If Jesus fills the empty void in a person’s heart

If Jesus gives a person everything he or she needs pertaining to life and godliness

If Jesus heals

If Jesus sets addicts free

If Jesus cleanses sinners from all unrighteousness

If Jesus really is who and what Christians say he is . . .

Why are their lives no different from mine; no different from most agnostics or atheists I know?

It seems the only difference between me and thee, dear Evangelical, is what each of us do on Sundays between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and noon.

I am moral and ethical, as are most atheists, agnostics, humanists, pagans, and Buddhists.

I try to live morally, ethically, honestly, kindly, and justly.

I desire peace, happiness, and prosperity for all, including Christians.

Yet, I do all of this without Jesus.

If Jesus really is who and what Evangelicals say he is . . .

Why are there so many Christian books written to deal with the messy, dysfunctional lives of the followers of Jesus?

I’m trying really hard to understand what benefit there is for following Jesus. 

If I can live morally and ethically without Jesus, then why should I join a club that demands ten percent (and more) of my income to be a member in good standing?

If Jesus is what you need, I say good for you.

I hope you will say the same for people like me who have no need for Jesus.

Jesus may be the answer to your questions, but he is not the answer to mine.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

The Prayer Circle

guest post

Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

Five of us, in a circle, could barely fit into the cinderblock-walled, windowless room. George: earnest, stringy-haired lab assistant. Julie: tall, blonde lithe fresh-faced freshman. Deanna: the petite, attractive brunette whose ambitions in life were to translate the Bible “the right way” and to “bring souls to the Lord.” Thalia, a tall, rawboned Black woman whom, as it turned out, Julie had invited to a prayer meeting but didn’t seem to have talked much with her, or anyone else in that group or on that campus.

And me. It was the middle of October, a few weeks into the semester. At the beginning of it, I knew only Deanna, from the year before. With her smile and friendly manner, she had little trouble meeting people. On the other hand, when I met her, I was almost as socially isolated as I had been the year before, when I first arrived on campus. The one friend—or, more precisely, the friendliest acquaintance—I’d made was with Robert, a young gay man: the first person with whom I’d ever had a real conversation about sexuality—my own, his or anyone else’s. The other male freshmen, it seemed, were performing the same kinds of exaggerated masculine heterosexuality—or, at least their notions of it—I saw in high school.

I am now ashamed to admit that I spent time with Robert when there were no witnesses, save for two friends of his—one, a straight guy, the other a lesbian, both of whom seemed a few years older than either of us. On the other hand, as I became friends with Deanna, I made a point of being seen with her: Nobody would question my sexual orientation or gender identity—in those days, almost everybody conflated the two, as I did—at least, not openly.

Oh, and she was one of the reasons I joined a campus Christian fellowship and was in that room with her, George, Julie, and Thalia. I told her, and she told them, I thought I might be gay, mainly because I couldn’t identify with other males and the only trans women I knew about were Christine Jorgensen and Renee Richards, both of whom seemed as different from me as the frat boys on campus. Turns out, Thalia told Julie she thought she was gay, which didn’t surprise me but, of course, I didn’t voice that.

The ostensible purpose of the gathering was for us to “be filled with the spirit” so that Thalia could “overcome” her “sinful” desires. They probably wanted to pray the gay out of me, too, though no one said as much. Anyway, George began with some soliloquy about gathering in the hope of receiving the Lord’s help and blessings. About all I can remember accurately is a paraphrase of a verse from Ephesians: “For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones.”

Since George was earnest in the way only a young person who believes he has God and truth and justice on his side can be, he wasn’t being ironic when he paraphrased that verse in the presence of me and Thalia, one of the few people I’ve ever met who seemed more alienated and adrift than I was at that time. He intoned, “Lord, we entreat you.”

Then Julie started to drone a bunch of syllables that began and ended with drawn-out vowels sandwiching truncated consonants: aaahbaaah, or something like that, followed by sounds even less coherent or recognizable, at least to me. Before that day, I’d heard from other members of the fellowship that she could “speak in tongues.” I guess that’s what they were talking about, I thought.

As Jo droned on, Thalia started to let out long, low sobs that turned into wails, then into near-howls. She lay on her side—I opened my eyes while everyone else’s were shut—in a near-fetal curl, shaking like a child who needs a warm blanket. Her body’s vibrations turned into seemingly-volcanic convulsions, in which she thrust her arms and legs, as if trying to heave them away from her body. Her howls abated into a series of staccato grunts.

Julie continued her incomprehensible “prayer.” Deanna shouted, “Satan, leave her! You have no authority over her!” But Thalia continued to heave, grunt, and thrust her arms and legs. Deanna grasped my left hand, George my right. They said, in unison, something vaguely comprehensible—a prayer? a Bible verse? —that I can’t remember now. Julie finally said something I could understand: “Oh Lord, we pray for our sister, Thalia, that you may heal her. “Amen,” she, George, and Deanna chanted in unison.

The following day, I woke on the worn carpet of that room. Deanna slept in a dorm bed to the left of me; Julie in another bed to the right. I saw George a couple of days later and asked about Thalia. “The Lord is helping her now,” he said. I never heard about her again.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Is the Bible the Answer to Everything?

joshua 1 8

According to Joseph Parker, director of outreach and intercession for the American Family Association and host of the “Hour of Intercession” radio program, the Bible is the answer to E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Not just questions about God, Christianity, or faith, but E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.  Parker, like every Fundamentalist who spouts such nonsense, doesn’t really believe this, but it is a great slogan to rally the troops around. In Parker’s Bible-saturated mind, secularists, atheists, humanists, evolutionists, homosexuals, abortionists, socialists, communists, Democrats, liberals, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden work day and night to destroy Christian America, and the only way to combat this onslaught is to return to a steadfast, ignorant belief that the Bible is some sort of divine answer book. All we need to do is check page 34 or some other page and we will know exactly how the Christian God wants us to live.

Parker writes (link no longer active):

Who decides what is right and what is wrong?  The Government?  Men? Women? White people? Black people?  Hispanic people?  Asian people?  Wise people?  Rich people?  The majority?  The minority?  Who?

Who decides what is true and what is not true?  Would it be any of the above mentioned people?  What do you think?  Well, does truth vary from one person to another?  Does it vary from one group of people to another?  Is it relative to the situation and the group involved?

Truth is not relative.  Truth is God.  Truth is Jesus Christ.  Truth flows from the mind and heart of God.  And truth does not change.  Truth is what it is.  Truth is right and good and fruitful.  Truth is good for us. Truth sets people free.

The Word of God is truth.  It teaches us what is right and what is wrong.  It teaches us what is good and what is evil.  It teaches us about reality.   It teaches us about life, people, and human nature.   The Word  of God teaches us and helps us understand the laws of nature, the laws of the universe, what is correct and what is false.   The Word of God is our instruction manual for life.

When people or governments or societies try to ignore God and the Word of God, they get in trouble.  When men and governments avoid the wisdom of God’s Word and try to make up their own rules, it will lead to disaster one hundred percent of the time.  We as human beings, often think we know what is good for us, what is in our best interest, and what will “make us happy”.   Often, we think that behavior that we want to carry out, though it may go against the Word of God and the wisdom of God, should be okay.  Behavior that goes against and violates God’s Word is sin.    And, the truth is that sin, sooner or later, will lead to death.

The Word of God is good for you.  The Word of God is good for your marriage, and it is good for your family.  It’s good for your children’.   It’s good for you physically, mentally, spiritually, etc.  The Word of God is full of grace and truth.   The Word of God is anointed.  God’s Word is PREGNANT with the ability to bless.

So, because God’s Word is all of this, we must be very serious about reading and meditating on and studying God’s Word.   God’s Word has wisdom, counsel and insight, in direct statement or in principle, about everything, every situation and every matter…

…there are many other topics and issues anyone could look at and find out what the Word of God has to say about them.  But , basically, there is simply a great need for us to read the Word of God and listen to its wisdom and counsel.   Once, again, we should be mindful that in direct statement or principle, God’s Word speaks to every issue, every topic, and every concern in life.

We are wise to make a habit of reading the Word of God daily.  Reading at least three or more chapters a day is a good spiritual “diet” to help us grow in our understanding of God’s Word consistently.    And the fact is, we NEED to be faithful students of God’s Word.  It is a guide book for life and it is a source of spiritual nourishment that we desperately need  every day of our lives.

Equip yourself daily by spending time reading the Word of God.  Parents, help to equip your children daily by having them to read the Word aloud to you every day.   Encourage others you know to make it a habit to spend time reading God’s Word every day.   Nothing will prepare and equip you better for the challenges and issues of life than – the Word of God.

fred flintsone and barney rubble
Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, authors of Genesis and Exodus?

There is absolutely no way to reach people who think like this. Their minds are walled off from reason and reality, in bondage to the ancient ramblings of unknown authors from the era of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. If this belief is taken to its logical conclusion, it can result in emotional and psychological harm, and in some cases child abuse, spousal abuse, rape, and murder. Think I am being hyperbolic? Consider this news report about Rob and Marie Johnson:

21-year-old Indiana woman has accused a couple who she lived with in Port St. Lucie, FL of physically and sexually abusing her for five years and using scripture from the Christian Bible’s Old Testament to justify it.

WPTV News reported that the accuser says that she was sent to live with Rob and Marie Johnson after the death of her mother nine years ago. The then-13-year-old was sexually abused by Rob Johnson virtually from the day she arrived in the home.

Detective Daniel Herrington of the Port St. Lucie Police Department told WPTV that the woman first went to the police in Indiana where she lives now.

“She ended up hearing stories of other women who had come forward, hearing also the stories of women who did not come forward, to tell about their abuse,” said Herrington.

Rob and Marie Johnson reportedly believe in Old Testament law regarding marriage, under which a man can have many wives who are ultimately his property. The girl was ordered to call Jeff “Master” and to submit to his and Marie’s sexual advances whenever they ordered her to.

The Johnsons reportedly preyed on the young girl’s fear of being abandoned by telling her that if she wanted to be part of their family, she had to have sex with them…

While I certainly think the Bible can provide *some* spiritual value and moral instruction, it is filled with behaviors and practices most of us consider barbaric and immoral, and when in the hands of a literalist it can be deadly. While many Christians do their best to perfume the manure pile, a shovel and five minutes quickly reveals God-approved immorality and abuse. From incest to polygamy and from rape to genocide, God’s answer book rightly deserves every bit of the scorn we skeptics heap upon its God-inspired, inerrant pages.

bible literalism
bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

2000 Bryan Times Editorial by Pastor Bruce Gerencser About True Christianity

i am god

Published on August 17, 2000. At the time, I was the pastor of Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. This is a good example of how I  used to think about life, God, the Bible, sin, and culture. This was not a Letter to the Editor. I wrote it for the Community Voice editorial column on the editorial page of The Bryan Times.

It is time that we make some radical changes to our printed money and the pledge of the Allegiance. Both our printed money and the Pledge of Allegiance give testimony to the historical truth that the United States was a country that believed in God. Not just any God, but Jehovah God, the God of the Christian Bible.

Sadly, we as a nation no longer believe in Jehovah. Due to misguided thinking about pluralism and tolerance, we have become a nation of many gods. Those that dare assert that we were founded as a Christian nation (and a Protestant Christian nation at that) are labeled narrow-minded, bigoted, intolerant miscreants.

The God attested to on our printed money and in the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer allowed to be mentioned in our Country. Recently, a young girl wanted to sing the song Kumbya at a camp talent show. She was not permitted to sing this song because it mentioned the word Lord. Government schools have eradicated every vestige of God from the classroom. The very schools that were founded on Christian principles (Just look at a set of  McGuffey Readers) have not only left that foundation, but try to insist such a foundation never existed. School officials are so afraid of God (or is it the god called the ACLU) that children no longer have Easter break. Instead they have spring break. Children are given two weeks off at Christmas, yet they are never told what Christmas is. Attend the average government school Christmas program and you will come away with the conclusion that Christmas is all about snow, Rudolph, Frosty, et al. Pages could be written on the deliberate banishment of Jehovah from every aspect of public life.

What are the reasons for this happening? They are several. First, there is the mythical, so-called “separation of Church and State.”The separation clause is routinely quoted by government and school officials when they want to dismiss the religious requests and activities of others. Truth is, what is really happening is that Jehovah is the only God not welcome. All other gods are quite welcome.The god of humanism is quite welcome.The new age god is welcome.This past school year, in a Williams County elementary class room, a teacher took class time to teach the children about serial killers. Our children can be taught about such perverse things but they can not be taught the solution to serial killing (faith in God)? Schools try to enforce a moral and ethical code yet they fail. Why? You cannot have morals and ethics without a religious foundation. Morals and ethics demand an answer to the question “WHY is this wrong?” Why is it wrong to have sex before marriage? Why is it wrong to steal? Without God and His standard, the Ten Commandments, we have no foundation for morality and ethics.

Another reason is the myth called toleration. Liberals and conservatives alike bandy about the thought of toleration. The foundation of toleration is that all truth is equal and that all viewpoints are valid. Our country has become one big comparative religion class. Truth is, there is no such thing as true toleration, nor can there be. Christians believe the Bible to be their standard of morality and ethics. They believe the Bible to be, not just one truth among many, but THE TRUTH! Christians are called on to love what God loves and hate what God hates. Yes, we are a narrow, intolerant bunch because we dare suggest there is but one God, one way to heaven. We dare suggest there is but one moral and ethical code, the Bible. We dismiss arguments couched in words “well that’s your opinion“ and we reply by saying “Thus saith the Lord.” Matters such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, drunkenness, abortion etc. are not matters for political debate. The Bible is clear on such matters.

It is amazing how we have redefined that which God calls sin. Homosexuality is called an alternative lifestyle. Drunkenness is called a disease. The adulterous partner is now called the significant other. On and on and on it goes. God said “Be not deceived…For whatever a man sows that he will also reap.” We are reaping our harvest in America. The foundations are crumbling. Is anyone paying attention?

It’s time we either admit that Jehovah is dead and remove His name from our money and the pledge of allegiance or perhaps it is time we reassert the kingdom rights of the true and living God. God’s people need to stand up and be counted. Not in Marches for Jesus, but in the workplace, the school. the government and in every public arena of life. We need to sound forth that name which is above every name. That name, and only that name, by which men shall be saved.

Notes

This article might shed some light on why local Christians don’t know what to do with my defection from Christianity. I was a leader, a spokesman for the faithful. I wrote what they wished they could say. And now? An atheist? How can such things be?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Dear Neighbor, A Letter From An Evangelical Who Lives Near You

flags near Fort Wayne Indiana
I saw these flags near Fort Wayne, Indiana. I wonder how many people driving by will notice the Christian flag flying above the American flag?

Dear Neighbor,

I live two houses down from you, the red house with blue shutters and white trim. Though we have never met, I want to “share” a few things with you that will hopefully make us closer as neighbors. I really want to have a personal relationship with you, your wife, and those two darling kids I see playing in your yard, but there are some things you need to understand first.

I am a born-again Christian. This means that I have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior. In humble obedience to the call of Jesus, after I was saved I was scripturally baptized by immersion. Through my baptism, I told the world (well, I really only told the two hundred Christians who were there that day) that I am a follower of Jesus. I am a member of  EXCITE® Church. We meet every Sunday at 11 A.M. over at Secular Nation High School.  We are really a Southern Baptist church, but we don’t use the word Baptist in our name because non-Christians have negative opinions of Baptists.

I am a church deacon, and my wife, Betty Lou is part of the worship team. Both of us also help with EXCITE® for Kids, a program meant to coerce little children into making salvation decisions. Our pastor told us that the younger a person is saved the more likely it is they will stay in church once they become an adult. We take him at his word and do all we can to make sure every child says the sinner’s prayer and asks Jesus into their heart before the age of ten.

Betty Lou and I, along with everyone in our church, believe that the Holy Christian Bible is a supernatural book inspired by God. There are no mistakes, errors, or contradictions in the Bible. Our pastor told us that the Bible is different from any other book ever written. God wrote the Bible, humans wrote every other book. It’s important you understand and believe this. If you don’t, the rest of my letter won’t make any sense to you.

The Bible says that every person must accept Jesus as their personal savior. If they do so they will go to Heaven when they die, and if they don’t they will go to Hell. Every human must make a choice to accept or reject Jesus Christ. So, I ask you dear neighbor, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?

I don’t know what your religious beliefs are. Are you a born-again Christian? You need to understand that there is one true God and religion — my God and my religion. And I don’t really have a religion like Catholics, Mormons, Buddhists, and Atheists do. I have a relationship. Me and Jesus are tight. We’re brothers, yet he is also my father. It’s complicated and I really don’t understand it, but it is in the Bible and if it’s in the Bible that means it is 100% God-certified true.

If you are not a born-again Christian then I hope you will fall on your knees right now and pray the following prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.  Amen.

Did you pray this prayer? Did you really, really, really, really, really mean it?

If so, congratulations!! You are now a born-again Christian and will go to Heaven when you die. Isn’t that awesome?

Now that we have that out of the way, you need to know some other things that will help you as a new Christian:

  • Be baptized by immersion as soon as possible (hint, hint at EXCITE® Church)
  • Join a Bible believing, Bible preaching church (hint, hint EXCITE® Church) and attend services every time the doors are open
  • Start reading the Bible every day (start with the book of John)
  • Pray every day — morning, noon, and night, and every time you eat (except when eating ice cream at Dairy Queen)

I probably shouldn’t be telling you this next one since Pastor Billy Bob likes to spring it on new members, but I just know you’ll be excited about this, so I thought I’d tell you. Jesus gave his all so you could be saved and the least you can do is give back to him a portion of your income as proof that you really, really love Jesus. Now, Jesus really doesn’t need this money, but our church and pastor do, so when you come to EXCITE® Church on Sunday, please drop at least 10% of your gross income into the offering plate. I promise if you do this God will open up the windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing. And if you want an even bigger blessing, give more money. Pastor Billy Bob likes to say, you can’t out-give God!

I should probably also tell you that true Christians, also known as the people who are members of EXCITE® Church, love what God loves and hate what God hates. At EXCITE® Church, Pastor Billy lets us know every Sunday who is on the Official Hate List. Currently, the Top Ten spots on the hate list are held by:

  1. Joe Biden
  2. Barack Hussein Obama
  3. LGBTQ people
  4. Abortionists
  5. Socialism
  6. Atheists
  7. Hollywood, except when they make a movie starring Kirk Cameron or Stephen Baldwin
  8. Aliens — the brown-skinned kind
  9. Demoncrats (Did ya catch that DEMON-crats? Ha! Ha!)
  10. Those who engage in any form of sex except monogamous heterosexual intercourse between a man and woman who are married to each other

If by some small chance you decided to NOT pray the sinner’s prayer, then I need to tell you that you are the enemy of God and are headed for Hell. If you refuse this wonderful offer of salvation and die, then God will have no recourse but to equip you with a fireproof body and torture you in Hell for all eternity. Surely, you don’t want to spend eternity being burned by fire and having worms infest your body?

And if you don’t pray the sinner’s prayer and become an awesome Christian just like me, then we can’t be friends and our children can’t play with each other. The Bible commands us to avoid people like you, lest you rub off on us and we commit sin. I really want to be friends with you and your family, but you must become a Christian first. If you don’t, then I will have to shun and look down on you like I do Atheists, Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Buddhists, Liberal Protestants, Humanists, Secularists, Democrats and . . . well everyone who doesn’t believe as I do.

Perhaps you drove by my house the other day and saw my flag pole, you know the one with the American flag and Christian flag. Now, I know that no flag should fly above the Stars and Stripes, but since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Sodomites can legally be married, I thought it important to remind everyone about who this Country REALLY belongs to.

I hope you prayed the sinner’s prayer. I just know that you want your sins forgiven and you want a home in Heaven where you can spend eternity with people who think just like me. Would that be awesome? No one in their right mind would refuse such an awesome soul-saving, sin-forgiving deal, right?

Saved by the precious blood of Jesus,

Archie S. Sanctimonious

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Updated: Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Lee Wiegand Pleads Guilty to Sexually Abusing Teen Girl

pastor lee wiegand

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In 2017, Lee Wiegand, pastor of First Baptist Church in Canby, Oregon, was charged with sexually abusing a minor.

KOIN-6 reported at the time:

A Canby pastor is out of jail on bail after being arrested on charges of sex abuse involving a minor.

Lee Philip Wiegand is charged with 9 counts of 2nd-degree sex abuse for alleged crimes that happened in 2011-2012 involving a minor that he knew, according to Canby police.

Police said Wiegand was a pastor at First Baptist Church, which is affiliated with a school, but the alleged sex abuse is not related to the church or school.

In July 2018. Wiegand pleaded guilty to four of the original nine counts of sexual abuse as the result of a plea agreement. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail. That’s right . . . 30 days in jail. Wiegand should have served real jail time for his crimes, especially after it became clear that he likely abused several girls.

The Canby Herald reported:

On July 3, 2018, six years after the abuse of a minor female, Judge Michael Wetzel found Lee Wiegand guilty of four counts of sexual abuse in the second degree and dismissed the other five counts as agreed upon by District Attorney Scott Healy and Wiegand’s attorney Michael Clancy. Per the indictment, two of the counts were for sexual intercourse and the other two were for differing methods of sexual intercourse.

“This was a significantly negotiated case,” Healy said at the hearing.

Each of the counts carry a maximum penalty of five years’ incarceration, according to Wetzel, but Wiegand was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 36 months of formal probation, during which he must complete a sexual abuse package. The package dictates that Wiegand must not have contact with the victim or with any persons under the age of 18, he must complete sexual abuse treatment and register as a sex offender.

….

“He can’t be a part of working with children in any capacity—Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, at the zoo, things like that,” Healy said. “It includes Sunday School, your honor, too. I realize the defendant has been involved in the church significantly in his life, but I don’t think church is going to be part of his life anymore because there are kids there at the church, so certainly the probation officer will have conversations with him about that.”

The agreement comes after Wiegand received a psychosexual evaluation, deeming him “amenable to treatment.”

Following sentencing, Healy commented on the penalty.

“He is going to be now a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life, with four Class C felonies on his record that can never be expunged and, as a registered sex offender, his life will significantly change from this point forward,” Healy said. “If he does not do exactly what the probation officer asks throughout his three-year formal probation, certainly the probation can be extended. But if he violates for some reason, and his probation is revoked, he has as much as 86 months in prison hanging over his head…So, hopefully that will be a significant incentive for him to engage in offense-free behavior in the community once he is out of jail.”

During the hearing, Healy outlined the details of the abuse that occurred between January 2012 and June 2012 when the victim was 17 years old and Wiegand was 57-58 years old.

During her senior year, the victim was staying at Wiegand’s home and attending the small Christian school where Wiegand was the principal. Wiegand’s wife had just passed away and he was caring for his child, who has mental health issues. The victim had also recently lost a grandparent, so the relationship grew out of the two comforting one another.

“The victim described how touching started out as kind of just long hugs between the defendant and she,” Healy said, “and then fist bumps, to kind of holding hands and touching thighs, to then ultimately laying on top of her bed, to getting under the covers and then to full-blown sexual intercourse.”

The victim, who moved to Florida for college after her senior year, revealed in a statement to the court via phone that she remained quiet about the abuse because Wiegand had told her to not to tell.

“I spent my senior year being convinced that a sexual relationship with my principal and pastor, who I was living with as a boarding student, was a good thing,” the victim said. “Rather than finishing high school with great memories as I prepared to go to school in Florida, my senior year ended up being full of terrible memories that haunted me as I was manipulated and lied to by the defendant.

“I spent the last few months of my senior year having the defendant tell me, ‘Don’t tell anyone. They won’t understand our relationship,'” the victim continued. “I was told over and over again in words and in actions that this relationship was a good thing, but I was always told to not talk about it. As I graduated and moved on with my life and tried to adjust into my new normal, in the back of my head, all I could hear was the defendant saying, ‘Don’t tell anyone. They won’t understand.'”

….

Then in 2015, after Wiegand had remarried, he came to visit the victim when she was in the hospital; he sat on the end of her bed and put his hand on her foot, and that’s when she began to see how much his abuse had impacted her.

“That single touch flooded my mind with all of the traumatizing memories from my senior year of high school,” the victim said in her statement. “I felt so violated by that one single touch because it carried such a powerful reminder of what happened.”

Around that time, she told Bob Yoder that Wiegand had done things that made him unfit for the pulpit, but didn’t disclose any details.

Then in 2017, when Wiegand was accused by a separate victim, Yoder put two and two together, and he called the victim.

….

Healy told the court that he continued to pursue the case because he received letters from the community indicating that Wiegand was controlling, “handsy” with other members of the church and emotionally abusive. He also found that there may be a third victim of abuse occurring in the late 1980s to early 1990s. He said his detective has not been able to locate the victim in this case.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

My Story — A Guest Post By David

guest post

My story is somewhat different from others I read on Bruce’s blog.

I was born in England, and raised in the Church of England, where it has been jokingly said that
“belief in God is optional.” My father died when I was young and was, I understand, quite active in the church. My Mother was fairly active but never imposed her views on us.

I went to boarding school, where church attendance was mandatory or you were punished; a quick way to turn one against attendance.

I married into a Catholic family, so I had to be indoctrinated before I was deemed fit to marry a Catholic. At some time, I must have mentioned something about the evil in the world and was then provided with much discussion about God giving mankind freedom of thought and action.

I married a girl who attended a convent school. She was indoctrinated in the one true faith (sarcasm) and we agreed to raise the children as Catholics, though subsequently the children have very little interest in Catholicism. In the words of George Carlin “they were raised as Catholics until they learnt to think for themselves.”

I have always had a great interest in European history, particularly the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Reading about the horrors of the twentieth century, I started to have doubts about my beliefs. I started to question, how much horrific behaviour god would allow before saying okay people, that’s enough.

English history is full of the most appalling Catholic versus Protestant behavior. I read with interest the pieces about the Northern Ireland nitwit (Susan-Ann White), she is quite mild, (sane?) compared to some in that country.

My shift away from religious belief has been very gradual, probably over 30 years. I live in a part
of Wisconsin that is mostly Catholic or Lutheran, with very few extremists, though I am aware of several Creationist and anti-evolutionists. I see them as just people to avoid. I have a very good friend who is a Baha’i. She knows my views and doesn’t really accept them, but we don’t discuss them in detail; now as a single man, I really value her friendship.

I follow Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. I don’t agree with everything they say,
and quite by chance stumbled onto Bruce’s website. I think I was searching for Atheist Pig cartoons. I have read and appreciate many items on the website, and many of the comments.

So I’m an Englishman, a great believer in science, and I just cannot accept much of the biblical nonsense: virgin birth, original sin, the resurrection, the vile vindictive god of the old testament. Come on, people!

I don’t believe in Heaven and Hell, but if there were such places, I would choose the latter — far more interesting people there. I sometimes feel that, having attended a 1950s English boarding school, I have already been to hell.

Although I am an atheist, I’m somewhat reluctant to call myself one; it seems pointless to give a name to something that occupies so little of my thoughts.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce Gerencser