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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: The White House is “Holy” Ground

donald trump and paula white

The church is Christ’s body in which he speaks and acts and by which he fills everything, including the White House, including government halls.

How does he do that? He does that through you. He does that through me. Wherever I go, God rules. When I walk on White House grounds, God walks on White House grounds. When I walked in The River, God walked in The River. When I go in the dry cleaners, that dry cleaning place becomes holy. I have every right and authority to declare the White House as holy ground because I was standing there and where I stand is holy.

— Paula White, Right Wing Watch, Paula White: The White House Is ‘Holy Ground’ Because ‘Where I Stand Is Holy’, July 8, 2019

Thrice married Paula White is chairwoman of the Evangelical Advisory Board to President Donald Trump and pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida. Much like President Trump, White has a checkered past, including accusations of having an affair with Benny Hinn. She is currently married to rock musician Jonathan Cain of Journey fame.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Stephen Morris Accused of Statutory Rape

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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.

Stephen Morris, pastor of Oliver’s Grove Baptist Church in Four Oaks, North Carolina, stands accused of raping a 13-year-old girl. (The church has no web presence.)

ABC-11 reports:

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office arrested 61-year-old Reverend Stephen Morris last Friday on 10 felony counts, including five counts of statutory rape and five counts of taking indecent liberties with a child.
According to court documents, Morris is accused of statutory rape with a 13-year-old between June 2013 and June 2014.

….

Detectives say the victim is now 19 years old and reported what happened to police last month.

Because the incident involves a juvenile victim, authorities would not disclose how the victim and suspect knew one another.

Morris remains in the Johnston County jail under a $2.5 million bond.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Jordan Baird Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Sex Crimes

jordan baird

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, Jordan Baird, director of music and youth pastor (the church disputes the charge that Baird was its youth pastor) at The Life Church in Manassas, Virginia was arrested on charges of “indecent liberties with a child by a custodian” and “sexual offense with a minor by computer.”

The Fauquier Times reported at the time:

A new jury trial date has been set for Jordan Baird, the Warrenton-based pop star and son of Manassas megachurch leaders accused of having an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl in his congregation.

Baird, 27, is facing seven counts of indecent liberties with a child by a custodian and was recently indicted for one count of sexual offense with a minor by computer. The former model was scheduled for trial Sept. 6, but the trial was postponed after someone came forward the night before it was to begin with a recording of the victim reportedly making her first allegation against Baird at a prayer circle, according to court records.

Both the prosecution and the defense agreed they needed time to process the new evidence.

Baird is now schedule to face a jury trial Jan. 8 through Jan. 10 in Prince William County Circuit Court.

All of the charges Baird face relate to one victim who attended The Life Church. The new indictment is based on the same set of facts, but a new legal theory, according to attorneys in the case.

Prosecutors will likely try to introduce testimony from other women who say Baird used his position of power in the church to make sexual advances toward them, according to a motion filed by Fredericksburg Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kevin Gross, who has been appointed special prosecutor in the case. The motion does not stipulate if the women were underage at the time of the alleged encounters.

Baird is accused of touching the victim and asking her to touch his genitals, among other allegations, according to a criminal complaint filed in circuit court

Baird has maintained he is innocent since the allegations went public, according to his attorneys.

Prosecutors say Baird was a youth pastor at The Life Church in Manassas and was in a supervisory role over the girl during several alleged acts of sexual abuse between January and September 2015.

However, his attorneys say Baird was the church’s director of music and was never employed as a youth pastor.

….

A 2016 WTOP report stated:

A second teenage victim has claimed a 25-year-old church employee had inappropriate sexual contact, exposed himself and made inappropriate statements inside a popular Manassas church.

Jordan Baird, of Warrenton was charged Tuesday with one count of indecent liberties by a custodian, in addition to two previous counts of the same charge, after incidents at the Life Church, located on Balls Ford Road in Manassas.

A 17-year-old victim came forward, after media reports of Jordan Baird’s arrest for inappropriately touching a 16-year-old female on more than one occasion between January and September of 2015, according to Prince William County police.

Jordan Baird is the middle son of the church’s senior pastor, David Baird.

“Jordan is the worship director of the church — he oversees the music for all of our services,” his father told WTOP.

The father disagreed with the notion that Jordan Baird is a youth pastor.

“The charge said he was a youth pastor, and that’s what’s been reported by the media,” said David Baird. “We’ve not been able to tell our side of that — Jordan has never been a pastor in our church.”

The senior Baird said the charge facing his son is not appropriate, given his son’s employment in the church.

“He’s not ordained as a pastor,” said David. “He’s an employee of the church, but he’s not a pastor, and he’s not the youth pastor of the church.

“That’s very important because the charge said he was in a custodial oversight of these students,” David said. “He was not in a custodial position over these students.”

David said he first heard of the police investigation into his son in July when Prince William County detectives came to the church asking if he had heard allegations that Jordan had been sending inappropriate text messages.

“The church was made aware by the parents of the first victim that there was improper texting by Jordan to the 16-year-old in 2014,” said David. “Immediately the church put Jordan on a leave of absence, pending its own internal inquiry.”

David said he recused himself from the church’s inquiry into  his son’s activities.

“The outcome of the internal inquiry was that no criminal activity had occurred, but we have kept Jordan on a leave of absence, pending the outcome of the legal investigation,” said David, referring to the criminal charges against his son.

….

According to a January 12, 2018 news report, Baird was found guilty. InsideNoVa reports:

The Prince William County Circuit Court jury found 26-year-old Jordan David Baird guilty on five counts of indecent liberties with a minor by a custodian, delivering the verdict Jan. 11 after two days of deliberations. The jury declined to convict Baird on two other counts of the same crime, in addition to a charge of electronic solicitation of a minor.

Prosecutors described Baird as a “deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator” over the course of a three-day trial, accusing him of repeatedly groping and propositioning a 16-year-old girl who worshipped with him at the Life Church in Manassas. Baird’s father, David, is the lead pastor of the large church, while Jordan Baird helped coordinate music services and mentor young people.

Fredericksburg Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kevin Gross, who was tabbed as a special prosecutor in the case, told the jury that Baird “exploited” his relationship with the girl to abuse her, and “thought he could get away with it” because he was the son of a powerful church leader.

The teen, who is now 19, testified that Baird repeatedly groped her at the church over the course of 2015, including two incidents where he rubbed his genitals against her body. She also detailed his history of propositioning her for sex through messages in a trivia app.

InsideNoVa is not identifying the girl because she is a victim of sexual assault.

Baird’s attorney, Todd Sanders, argued that those messages “did cross an emotional line,” but didn’t amount to a crime. He also suggested to the jury that the girl’s story was unreliable, as she initially told church leaders that Baird touched her leg, and only later provided more graphic details to police.

In particular, Sanders argued that the girl’s family likely pressured her into embellishing her story, considering the rift that these accusations prompted with the Baird family. He also claimed there was “absolutely no corroboration” for the teen’s claims.

But Gross pushed back forcefully against Sanders’ claims in his closing argument, noting that the girl had “everything to lose” by accusing Baird of misconduct. He noted that she had attended the church since she was 7, and considered the Bairds a “second family.”

“She knew the defendant for years; this was not some random guy groping her,” Gross said. “This is where she grew up. She spent the formative years of her life at the church. You can understand why she didn’t want to come forward immediately.”

Gross also pointed to Baird’s long history of sexually suggestive messages to the teen as evidence of his intent. He convinced the girl to download the “Trivia Crack” app, then used it to frequently ask her if he could be her “first kiss” or “first time,” urging her to meet him in a hotel room so as to avoid suspicion from his wife.

….

On February 21, 2018, Baird was sentenced to eight months in prison. Prince Williams Times reported:

A former youth leader of a Manassas megachurch who was convicted of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl in his congregation was sentenced to spend eight months in jail today.

Prosecutors allege Jordan Baird, 26, of Warrenton, used his position as the son of the leader of the Life Church and as a Christian pop singer to manipulate young girls and women into having inappropriate relationships with him. Baird was found guilty of five counts of indecent liberties with a minor by a custodian, all of which were related to one victim, after a four-day jury trial in Prince William County Circuit Court. Jurors recommended Baird serve five months in jail for those convictions.

The jury couldn’t reach a verdict on one charge—using electronic means to commit a sex crime with a minor. As part of a plea deal, the charge was amended to electronic solicitation of a minor and Baird pleaded no contest to it today.

“You kept me silent for a year-and-a-half and I want you to know you no longer have control over me,” the victim said during Baird’s sentencing hearing. “This is not your story. This is my story and I will use it to help other victims. You picked the wrong girl to mess with. Thank you for empowering me to stand up and fight for what is worth fighting for.”

Prosecutors said Baird is a “deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator” who groomed the girl for abuse, sent her sexually-suggestive messages and groped her multiple times at the Life Church between January and September 2015. The teen testified during the trial she refused Baird’s unwanted sexual advances and told him what he was doing was wrong on more than one occasion.

Judge Burke F. McCahill sentenced Baird to five years in jail, with all but three months suspended for the solicitation charge and five months for all of the indecent liberties charges. McCahill said the law did not allow him to impose a higher sentence than the one the jury recommended, even though the state sentencing guidelines were between one and five years in prison for each indecent liberties charge.

….

During the trial, Special Prosecutor David Gross tried to introduce the testimonies of three other women who say Baird used his power in the church and his notoriety as a Christian pop singer to manipulate them into having inappropriate relationships and performing sex acts in the church. One of the girls was underage at the time of the alleged misconduct, the prosecutor said. But the judge wouldn’t allow the women’s testimonies because he said the information would be highly prejudicial in the criminal trial, citing case law.

….

According to testimony presented at trial, the girl’s family initially asked the church to bring in a third-party to investigate what took place. But the church selected Steve Dawson, a close friend of the Bairds’ who was once a co-pastor at the church who does not have a background in law enforcement or investigations.

Gross suggested Dawson left out key details he learned during his internal investigation when he was interviewed by police and refused to hand his notes over to law-enforcement officials. Gross also suggested the Life Church’s law firm instructed Dawson through his investigation.

The teen’s father said he recorded a meeting with Dawson in which he told the pastor Baird touched his daughter. On the stand, Dawson said he didn’t “recall” the father saying this.

The girl and her family said they have been “shunned” by the church since they came forward. They said the teen’s childhood friends were “stolen” from her and she was mocked and ridiculed by people she once considered family.

“Many people have abandoned them to align with you,” said McCahill as he handed down his sentence. “They were victimized a second time by this.”

….

In February 2019, Baird pleaded guilty to new charges of taking indecent liberties with a minor while in a supervisory position. He was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison.

InsideNoVa reports:

Kevin Gross, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, argued that Baird used his position in the church, including having family in leadership positions, to prey on his victim and her family.  Baird’s father was a pastor and founder of the church and his family continues to serve in leadership roles at Life Church.

The victim testified that she has known Baird since she was 13 years old, and he would inappropriately give her back rubs and whisper to her. InsideNoVa is not identifying the victim.

In late 2014, Baird was teaching music to the girl at the church. He was 23 at the time, and she was 16.  The victim said Baird was waiting for his wife to leave.

“Once he saw his wife leave he closed the blinds,” the victim said.

The victim said Baird exposed himself and forced her to touch his penis.

Later, he asked her in messages if she wanted to do that again and she said no. He replied, “me neither.”

Gross argued that Baird’s messages were manipulative, because he believes Baird’s intent was to solicit further contact with the victim.

Prosecutors called 13 witnesses to speak about how Baird’s actions affected their lives, including the victim, her family members and a psychologist who evaluated Baird.

The victim told the court she didn’t have a normal high school experience due to Baird’s actions, and she thinks his abuse prevented her from having good grades in high school and attending college.

“I will not be the same person,” she said. “I can’t get the feeling of being scared to go away.”

The victim’s mother said “nothing will change the damage that’s been done.”

“It’s been five years and my daughter has been suffering nonstop,” the mother said, noting her daughter had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to Baird’s abuse.

Another woman, now 22, testified that Baird sent her a message when she was 17 that said he was home alone from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. At the time, the girl said she would not go to his home and said it was an inappropriate thing to ask. Jordan Baird apologized and asked her to delete the messages.

Gross asked the woman why she didn’t report the incident. She said it was because her family attended the church and she didn’t want them to stop attending.

Susan Frank, a licensed clinical psychologist who evaluated Baird, testified that Baird had an abnormal sexual attraction to late adolescents. He needs treatment and has an average to above average risk of reoffending, Frank said.

Frank said Baird groomed his victims to get them alone and take advantage of their trust.

“He was their teacher, pastor and paying them special attention,” Frank said

Baird told the court, “I am trying to change,I sincerely apologize to [the victim]. I was irresponsible and selfish. I hope this doesn’t affect your faith. It’s not the Lord’s fault, not other people’s fault, it’s my fault.”

I find it interesting that Evangelicals tell unbelievers that Jesus is the cure for what ails them, yet Jesus was unable to help Jordan Baird. What is that, I wonder?

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Joseph “Jack” Baker Accused of Sexual Assault

joseph jack baker

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.

Joseph “Jack” Baker, pastor of St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford, Michigan, stands accused sexually assaulting a child.

The Oakland Press reports:

Father Joseph “Jack” Baker, 57, is on an electronic tether following his arraignment July 8 in 29th District Court, according to the Wayne County Jail website. Judge Laura Redmond Mack assigned a $500,000 personal bond at arraignment, which doesn’t require bail to be posted.

Baker, pastor of St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford since 2008, is one of six metro Detroit priests facing sexual abuse charges as part of an ongoing investigation by the state’s attorney general’s office. He was arrested July 8 in Wayne County and is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct – sexual penetration with a person under 13 years old, multiple variables. Court records list the offense date as Feb. 1, 2004.

Baker is also a former associate pastor at St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills and Sacred Heart Parish in Dearborn, and former pastor at St. Mary Parish in Wayne. He also was administrator at St. Benedict in Waterford in 2011, campus minister at Wayne State Medical School Campus Ministry and administrator at three churches in Inkster. He was ordained in 1993.

Attorney General Dana Nessel is calling the case “just the tip of the iceberg,” and said her office is reviewing “hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and files” seized last fall from Michigan’s seven diocese.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Liberal Elites Want to Ban the Bible

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“The Bible is a book of hate speech. It is bigoted, racist, intolerant and reactionary. It brings about division, hatred and exclusion. In our modern progressive society, we simply cannot allow this hate speech to be freely available. In the interests of a loving, harmonious and peaceful society, it must be banned now.”

No one actually said that — I just wrote it now. But a lot of people are thinking exactly this way, including many of our bigwigs, opinion makers, and elites. They really do hate the Bible – because they really do hate the God of the Bible – and if some of them had their way, they certainly would have it banned.

— Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch, It Is Time To Ban the Bible!, July 9, 2019

Evangelical Twitterer Says God is Losing Patience with Me

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Warning! Bucket loads of snark ahead.

Recently, I engaged in a short-lived Twitter discussion with an Evangelical man going by the handle atheismbut. His goal, I believe, was to sling lies, half-truths, and religious clichés at atheists. I am not sure what he hoped to accomplish by doing so, but I decided to play his game for a bit. After failing to drag me into a mud-fight, this man unfollowed me. He then refollowed me, and a day or so later unfollowed me again. He has now blocked me, so I am unable to see his tweets, respond to him, or notify him of this post.

This man doesn’t use his real name on Twitter, choosing instead to list his name as Atheism Be Damned. Catchy, right? *sigh* After unfollowing me the first time, this man sent me a direct message (DM). I had in our Twitter conversations called the man an apologist and a zealot, both of which offended him. His DM, however, only proved that my assessment of him was spot-on. Here’s what he had to say:

I’ll take this offline. I say what God directs. See, I absolutely do not care what people think of me, say about me or say to me. What I truly care about is what My Lord sees of me. His good and perfect will is what I care about. Here’s His word to you: (I have given you the time you sought. I have been patient. I have stood near all this time. I have not abandoned you. My patience wears thin son. The time has come to choose. Return to the anointing I have placed on you and fulfill the call or forfeit your inheritance. I wait no more.)

Bruce…as your brother created in His image…please stop what you are doing. Repent of your apostasy and declare your faith in Him for all to witness. Your 25 years of faithful service only counts if you reclaim it. Do not allow the enemy to steal what God has given to and through you. Sto [sic] listening to the lies of the world. There is no true wisdom in the fallen ones [sic] domain. Anyhow, that’s it. It’s on you sir. Your call. I pray and hope you make the right decision.

As is common among zealots, they believe that God speaks directly to them. This man certainly did, telling me that he just says what God tells him to say. And how can any of us know this to be? ‘Cuz he says so. He says that he doesn’t care what people think or say about him, yet for no good reason, he unfollowed me twice and blocked me. Evidently, he DOES care about what people say about him.

Supposedly, this man’s God gave him a message he wanted to be delivered to me. Here’s what it said:

I have given you the time you sought. I have been patient. I have stood near all this time. I have not abandoned you. My patience wears thin son. The time has come to choose. Return to the anointing I have placed on you and fulfill the call or forfeit your inheritance. I wait no more.

First, why didn’t God deliver this message herself, instead of using a middleman? Have you noticed that God always uses middlemen to deliver his missives; that he never, ever speaks directly to the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world? Come on God, just send me an email or a text message.

Second, I didn’t ask God for time to consider my past/present/future life. God and I have not spoken to one another since November 2008. Since then, I have concluded that the God I thought I was speaking to for fifty years was just a voice in my head; that I was the God I was speaking to.

Third, if God was standing nearby, I never saw him. This leads me to believe that Atheism Be Damned is seeing things — a common Evangelical malady. The only place this man’s God can be found is within the pages of the Bible — a bestselling storybook. Jesus said, seek and ye shall find. Sorry, Jesus, but everywhere I look you, are nowhere to be found. Perhaps Jesus is much like Baal in 1 Kings 18: 25-29:

And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

The prophet Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal saying: Cry aloud: for he [Baal] is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. In modern English, Elijah mocked Baal’s non-appearance, saying” perhaps Baal is busy talking to someone else, taking a shit, on vacation, or sleeping. Elijah, of course, was right about Baal, but these same words aptly describe the non-existence of the Christian God too.

Fourth, Atheism Be Damned warns me that God is running out of patience with me; that he’s tired of me not listening to the Baalam’s donkeys he has sent my way. (Numbers 22:21-39) Again, if God is upset with me, he knows where I live. No need for Atheism Be Damned to deliver a message that God is supposedly capable of delivering himself.

Fifth, according to Atheism be Damned, God wants me to return to Christianity; to return to the “anointing” and “call” he has placed on my life. In other words, God wants me to return to peddling the Evangelical gospel — or else! Or else what?

Sixth, Atheism Be Damned claims some sort of familial connection with me — spiritually, I suspect. Sorry, but I have no interest in having such a relationship. I am quite content being a part of the fallen one’s family. That’s Satan/the Devil/Lucifer/Beelzebub for you unaware of Evangelicalese. If given a choice of spending eternity with the Atheism be Damneds of the world or spending eternity in Hell with Christopher Hitchens and my dear friend Steve Gupton, along with my wife, children, and the fine folks who frequent this blog, give me HELL every time. Sorry, but there’s nothing appealing about kneeling as if giving a blow job before God and worshiping for all eternity. Imagine how much fun Hell will be compared to the Evangelical Heaven. Who in their right mind, save those who have been scared with fear and threats of judgment, would want to spend every day and night for a million years singing praises to a narcissistic deity? No thanks. Bring on the whiskey, beer, and cigars, and let’s have a rip-roaring time fishing the Lake of Fire.

Finally, Atheism Be Damned says, he has said all that God intended for him to say, and now, it’s up to me to choose between the Evangelical God and reality. He signs off by saying, “I pray and hope you make the right decision.” I thought it was God who saved sinners? I thought that salvation depended on God giving sinners ears to hear and eyes to see. I tried to tell Atheism Be Damned that I was an apostate and a reprobate. I even quoted Bible verses from Romans 1 and Hebrews 6, proving that I am beyond hope; beyond the saving grace of God. Hebrews 6:4-6 says:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

I was once enlightened, having tasted of the heavenly gift and having been made a partaker of the Holy Ghost for over thirty-five years. I had tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, yet in November 2008, I fell away, renouncing Jesus and Christianity. Thus, according to the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, it is IMPOSSIBLE to renew me again unto repentance.

Hebrews 10:29 says of apostates like me:

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Evidently, I believe the Bible more than Atheism Be Damned does. I am sure zealots shudder at my impudent treatment of their God and the Bible. However, I am not a believer, nor shall I ever be. The believing, preaching days are long gone. I have no intention of returning to slavery, to the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic of Egypt (Numbers 11) . I have found the Promised Land. Its streets are paved with reason and freedom, and an endless buffet feeds my every intellectual want and need. Why in the world would I ever want to become a Christian again?

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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The Danger of IFB Summer Youth Camps

youth camp

Many former Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church members can remember attending summer youth camps during their teenage years. (Please see Camp Chautauqua, Miamisburg, Ohio.) I attended camp every summer between my seventh and tenth grade school years. The summer after seventh grade, I attended an Ohio-based Bible church youth camp. The next year, I attended Camp Patmos — a General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC) camp. The following two years, I attended Camp Chautauqua in Miamisburg, Ohio — a camp facility owned and operated by the Ohio Baptist Bible Fellowship.

I always looked forward to attending camp. It was one week out of the summer when I could get away from home and meet up with friends from other churches, meet new acquaintances and, most of all, fall in love. While there were plenty of girls to date at my home church, camp afforded me the opportunity to meet and pursue new loves. At the end of every camp, my new girlfriend and I traded addresses, promising to write one another. Surely, our “love” would survive until next year’s camp, right? Alas, such relationships died by the time the church bus turned out of the camp’s driveway headed for home. Forty-five years later, I am still waiting for that beautiful black-haired girl from Elyria to write me. Something tells me that she won’t be writing, and much like her redheaded flame, she found that absence does not make the heart grow fonder, and a nice-looking boy at church is a lot more appealing than the promise of letters to come.

In 2016, I wrote a post detailing my experiences at Camp Chautauqua:

I have many fond memories of the two summers I spent at Camp Chautauqua. The spiritual emphasis was intense and played an instrumental part in my call to the ministry. A number of the big-gun Baptist preachers preached at the evening chapel services. I can still remember Peter Ruckman’s sermons, complete with his famous chalk drawings. I also remember John Rawlings, then pastor of Landmark Baptist Temple (now Landmark Church) in Cincinnati, preaching one night, and during his sermon he told an illustration about cleaning shit out of the barn when he was young. He actually said the word SHIT!! Needless to say, I was stunned. Later in life, I learned that some Christians didn’t think shit was a curse word, especially when used to describe animal manure.

Camp brought upwards of a thousand youth together for one week. Camp Chautauqua had a lot of real estate for meandering teens to get lost in. Follow me for a moment…It’s the 70s. A thousand teenagers, ninth through twelfth grades. Lots of real estate in which hormone-raging teens could get lost. Well, use your imagination. The highlight of youth camp for me was the girls.

….

The first year I went to Camp Chautauqua, Gene Milioni, the pastor of Trinity Baptist, was our cabin counselor. He was pretty easy to outwit. The next year, the youth pastor, Bruce Turner, was the cabin counselor, (please see Dear Bruce Turner) and he proved to be every bit our match. He was not so far removed from his own youth that he had forgotten the dangers of putting a bunch of teenage boys and girls in proximity to one another.

Practical jokes were an everyday occurrence. The jokes were fun to pull on others, but payback could be brutal. From stolen bedding and purloined light bulbs to shaving cream in sleeping bags, practical jokes were a part of what made camp a great experience. And besides, I was a pretty good joke perpetrator.

The music was another highlight of camp. Most of the churches that brought their teens to camp were mid-size to large churches, so the music talent level was superb. Wonderful music. To this day, I think some of the best singing I have ever heard was at Camp Chautauqua.

If I had a negative experience at camp, I don’t remember it. Perhaps, this is the wistful remembering of an old man trying to recall what happened 45 years ago during the glory days of his youth. Perhaps my fond memories are a reflection of the fact that camp, for me and for many others, was a respite from our fundamentalist churches and family dysfunction. Camp was the one week out the year that I got to hang out with my friends and meet new people without having adults watching my every move.

This summer, thousands of IFB teenagers will go to camp. Some teens will attend camps at the facilities mentioned above. Others will attend camps such as the Bill Rice Ranch or The Wilds. My wife’s family is deeply ensconced in the IFB church movement. Many of her relatives send their teens to the Bill Rice Ranch — an uber-fundamentalist camping program. Some IFB churches, wanting to preserve their INDEPENDENT status, hold their own camps. I did this for several years in southeast Ohio. We would rent a camp for a week, and then invite like-minded churches to attend. The last camp I participated in featured a preacher from Fort Wayne who believed Christians could be demon-possessed. He spent the week excusing all sorts of bad behavior as demon possession. By the time the week was over, I wanted to strangle the man. Come the next Sunday, I made sure the teens and adults from my church who attended the camp knew that I totally disagreed with the notion of Christian demon possession.

Over the weekend, I pondered my experiences attending IFB youth camps, and whether my feel-good camp experiences covered up something insidious; that these camps, regardless of how much fun campers have, are tools used by IFB churches and pastors to indoctrinate children and teenagers. IFB church leaders know that they must draw in children and teens before they can be indoctrinated. Thus, camp advertising materials focus on all the fun campers will have, and not the fact that there will be hours-long Bible studies, devotionals, church services, and afterglows (highly emotional after-service campfires). High-powered IFB evangelists, youth pastors, and conference speakers are brought in to evangelize the lost and indoctrinate the saved. Most camp attendees will return to their home churches “on-fire” for God. Perhaps former IFB church members will remember the Sundays after camp when attendees were paraded in front of their churches and asked to give testimonies about what God had done for them over the past week. Passionate testimonies of conversion or getting right with God, complete with tears, are often heard. Adults shout “AMEN!”, praising God for the work he has done in the lives of church teenagers. Yet, in a matter of weeks or months, life for these “changed” teenagers returns to normal, just in time for the church’s annual youth revival or other event meant to stir religious passions.

Many IFB teenagers become immune to indoctrination, enjoying the fun and enduring the Jesus stuff. Others, such as myself, become caught up in a constant cycle of sinning and getting right with God; a continual striving for holiness and perfection. The ultimate goal of camps, youth revivals, youth rallies, and youth conferences is to thoroughly indoctrinate teenagers so they will actually “feel” God calling them to full-time service as pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and Christian school teachers. Those feeling “called” will be further indoctrinated, hopefully leading them to “feel” God calling them to attend an IFB college. (Many IFB preachers see teens called into the ministry as the highwater mark of their ministries, the passing on of the Fundamentalist Baptist torch.) Countless IFB preachers felt the “call” of God at youth camp. While I felt the “call” during a service preached by IFB evangelist Al Lacy, there’s no doubt summer youth camp played an instrumental part in my decisions to become a preacher, attend Midwestern Baptist College, and pastor Evangelical churches for twenty-five years.

How about you? Did you attend IFB summer youth camp? Please share your experiences in the comment section. Non-IFB church camp stories are welcome too!

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Pastor Jack Graham Lies About Modern Socialism

pastor-jack-graham

What follows is an excerpt from a sermon by Trump-supporting Fundamentalist Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Jack Graham. Graham deliberately lies about the history and nature of socialism. In particular, he attempts to paint modern Democratic Socialism with the brush of Soviet-style socialism/communism. Evidently, Graham views getting Trump re-elected more important than accurately representing beliefs and systems he opposes. Democrats should expect this tactic to be repeated time and again as we head toward the November 2020 general election. 

Socialism is fundamentally at odds with the Christian worldview and seeks to suppress all peoples in support of the state. No one serious about their Christian faith can be serious about supporting socialism.

Some young people see capitalism, corporate America, as being greedy, without compassion, without concern, and we have to admit that there is a lot of greed in people’s lives. But here’s the thing, young people under 30 have not seen in their lifetime the devastating effects of Soviet-style repression and oppression through socialism and its big bad brother communism.

Socialism is totally secular and is predicated on atheism. Our faith in Jesus Christ is built on the word of God, the revelation of God, that God exists, that we believe in the resurrection of Christ, and with that faith comes freedom to live an abundant life with liberty, but Karl Marx, the father of scientific socialism, considered religion of all kinds, and specifically Christianity, as the opiate of the masses. You’re on drugs if you believe in God.

It would be a catastrophic miscalculation to think that socialist hostility towards religion, and Christianity specifically, has changed in any way since the days of Karl Marx. Socialist countries today are secular in nature, often repressing and oppressing people of faith, all faiths, and particularly are determined to root out Christianity.

Name me one socialist-style country, communist or otherwise, that is open to faith without oppression and suppression of that faith. It is at the very root of this thing called socialism.

In America, socialism has produced a welfare state of sorts, and that will not work for the future of America. It’s not working now.

Every healthy person should work, and that includes senior adults in so-called retirement. The goal of your life is not to get to the beach and better your tan or lower your golf score when you quit working. The goal of your life is to honor God, glorify God, by working hard your entire life and serving with him with what he has given you to use for his glory. That’s the goal of your work life, and it never stops.

Jack Graham, sermon at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, July 7, 2019

Quote of the Day: Jewish Woman Wants Sixty-Seventh Book Added to the Bible — Book of Trump

evangelical support for donald trump

In nuptial terms, our countries [Israel and the United States] celebrated their “golden anniversary” more than 20 years ago. We are now at platinum – a miracle of preciousness, radiance, and endurance. And the man who most deserves credit for this is President Donald Trump.

Under his watch, America has finally made good on its decades-old pledge to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy there. In another service to historical justice, Trump declared the Golan Heights to be Israeli territory, and in service to the security of Israel and the whole world, he withdrew the United States from a nuclear deal with Iran that was a contemporary echo of the Munich Agreement.

Trump and his senior staff have also dispensed with the useless mold of the so-called peace process, which had been bunged up by dishonesty and hypocrisy. Their administration has made clear that the Middle East must come to terms with an Israel that is proudly permanent in the land of Zion – an Israel whose Jewish roots run deepest and whose ancestral, sovereign claims are without equal.

Trump is a man of his word. On the campaign trail, he promised to protect Israel, to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, to quit the Iran nuclear deal. And he has kept each and every one of those promises – unlike previous presidents who traded principle for political expediency.

Trump is a businessman and a statesman with an instinct for justice. He sees an Israel that does whatever is necessary for its security and defense, against the odds and sweeping international consensus. These are the kind of nations and people that he likes to deal with.

Trump is also a patriot who wants to make America great again. He is constantly aware of that cost that the United States risks paying should it lose credibility. An America the projects strength and credibility rallies most world powers to it; these, in turn, respect and value its steadfast loyalty to its allies, chief among them Israel.

By rights, Trump should enjoy sweeping support among US Jews, just as he does among Israelis. That this has not been the case (so far; the 2020 election still beckons) is an oddity that will long be pondered by historians. Scholars of the Bible will no doubt note the heroes, sages, and prophets of antiquity who were similarly spurned by the very people they came to raise up.

Would it be too much to pray for a day when the Bible gets a “Book of Trump,” much like it has a “Book of Esther” celebrating the deliverance of the Jews from ancient Persia?

— Dr. Miriam Adelson, Israel Hayom, A Time of Miracles, June 27, 2019

Typical Example of Racism in Rural Northwest Ohio

 

trump im not a racist

Please see Does Racism Exist in Rural Northwest Ohio? and Ignoring Any History Before White People)

Yesterday, I posted an excellent guest post by my editor, Grammar Gramma. I appreciate her willingness to respond to a drive-by reader’s racist comment on The Curse of Cain: Why Blacks Have Dark Skin.

Racism is in the air thanks to Donald Trump. What was once said in secret behind closed doors is now publicly vomited on social media, blogs, and news sites. I live in an overwhelmingly white area. Confederate flag-waving knuckle-draggers are common, as are make Make America White Again® Trump supporters. In 2016, Trump overwhelmingly won in the Ohio counties of Williams, Defiance, Henry, and Fulton — rural northwest Ohio. Blacks make up less than one percent of the population, Hispanics/Latinos, seven percent. The Hispanic/Latino population is a reflection of the fact that farmers once used large numbers of migrant workers to pick crops. Some migrants who made the trek from Mexico to Ohio stayed after completing their work. They quietly go about their lives, increasingly worried that ICE might show up at their doors, destroying everything they have built and worked for. As a teenager, I knew a number of people who were in the United States “illegally.” To the person, they were productive members of society.

Rural northwest Ohio is my home, even though politically, religiously, and socially I have little in common with most locals. I have been surrounded by overtly racist people most of my life, including in the churches I pastored in this area. If you think Jesus is an antidote for racism, think again. Some of the most racist people I know, both here in rural northwest Ohio and in my extended family, love the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the man, the myth, the legend, Jesus H. Christ. As a pastor, I did what I could to combat racist attitudes and behaviors. Sometimes, it was just small rebukes, such as when one congregant would talk about “colored” people. I would respond, “what “color” were they, exactly?” “Oh preacher, you know.” “No, I don’t, tell me.” Or when one woman would incessantly talk about all those lazy “blacks” on welfare who won’t work for a living. I told her several times, “You do know most of the people who are on welfare and receive food stamps are white, right?” Sadly, my soft admonishments did little to correct deep-seated multi-generational racism.

Recently, a young woman (Erin) who attended a nearby church I pastored for seven years, engaged in an overtly racist discussion with a friend of hers (Tobias) from South Africa:

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racism 2racism 3

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These comments reveal that racism is often passed on from parents to children, and until someone in the family tree sees the light, racist beliefs and practices will continue to flourish in my part of rural northwest Ohio. If you met this young woman, you would think that she is a wonderful person — and she is. But in her heart lie bigotry and hate, both birthed and  nurtured by her parents, friends, church, and community.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Many Faces of Racism in the U.S.

race

Guest post by Grammar Gramma

Recently, a woman who styled herself Terra Blanche left a comment on Bruce’s post entitled “The Curse of Cain: Why Blacks Have Dark Skin.” She stated:

And what if these so-called ‘racists’ had a point? You were right in objecting to their conditioned views but what if they were right about Negroes ‘not having souls’? Anyone can put on a do-gooder act.

Most crime in the US is within Colored communities. Are they the sons of Cain; cursed this way?

A long-time reader of Bruce’s blog posts, I was incensed by the implications of her comment, and thought I would write a reply.

Terra, let’s suppose just for a moment that you are right, that most crime in the U.S. is within black communities. I’m not granting that you are correct, but I’m supposing it for the purpose of this response.

Do you suppose it might be because of their childhood exposure to violence? That they saw their fathers hanged and their mothers raped? That they saw police violence used against their parents and brothers and sisters and thought there was no other way?

Do you suppose that it might be because they suffered (and continue to suffer) discrimination by law enforcement and the judicial system? You are naïve indeed if you believe that police haven’t targeted blacks for centuries for casual stop-and-frisk when they were doing nothing wrong, for the planting of drugs, guns and other “evidence” on blacks to cover up white crime, and for a plethora of other misdeeds against blacks. You are equally naïve if you believe that the killing of unarmed black men by police hasn’t taken place since forever. It is only now, when the citizenry has easy access to video cameras, that we are beginning to see this insidious, outright legalized murder of some of our citizenry. If you believe that discrimination in the judicial system is a thing of the past, then please consider the Supreme Court decision decided on June 21, 2019, that found that the prosecutor over the course of four trials used numerous dishonest methods to keep African-Americans off the jury at the trial of a black man. Flowers v. Mississippi, No. 17–9572.

Do you suppose that systematic discrimination in employment might be a factor in a higher crime rate among blacks? Do you suppose that government-sanctioned discrimination in housing and other economic deprivation might be a factor in a higher crime rate among blacks? Have you ever heard of redlining, whereby blacks were prevented from buying houses in certain neighborhoods? A great many U.S. citizens accumulate wealth in the form of real estate, making monthly mortgage payments that build up personal wealth. They then pass this wealth on to their children, making the lives of said children just a little bit easier. Redlining prevented blacks from buying real estate in wealthier communities, where the real estate values rose the quickest, thereby enriching the owners – but not black ones!

Do you suppose that family disorganization might be a factor in a higher crime rate among blacks? Perhaps black people are discriminated against in employment – not a far stretch of the imagination. Perhaps the scarcity of employed black men increases the prevalence of families headed by females in black communities, and this, in turn, results in family disruption that significantly increases black murder and robbery rates.

Do you suppose that the inability to post bail by many blacks might lead to a higher crime rate among blacks? When a black man is in jail, his family loses a source of income. Do you not suppose that the children of these black men might see crime as the only way to bring some source of income into the household?

You stated that Anyone can put on a do-gooder act, suggesting that Blacks might not have souls, but that they are acting as if they do. Tell me, Terra Blanche, how does one with no soul put on an act that might lead others to believe he has a soul? How do people with souls act? And how do people without souls act? And how do you tell the difference?

I am aghast that anyone today does not understand that, if any human has a “soul,” then all humans do, whether they are black or white or pink or purple or some other color. There is nothing inherent in one color of people which would grant them anything greater or lesser than any other color. To believe otherwise is truly racist. Let’s suppose for just a moment that you are right, and that blacks have no soul. Suppose an interracial couple gets married and produces children. Do these children have souls? Now suppose these children marry whites, and produce children of their own. Do these children have souls? Now, carry it on. When do these children attain souls? Or do they never? Do you subscribe to the “one drop of blood” theory? If so, SHAME ON YOU! There is no difference between black blood and white blood and any other type of blood. If you are injured and need a blood transfusion, would you demand that you only receive white blood? And if you receive black blood, are you tainted forever? Suppose for a moment that you have your DNA analyzed, and you learn that there is African-American blood in your genetic makeup. Does this mean you don’t have a soul, even though you thought you did? Terra, this line of thinking will destroy you! We are all the sons of Cain, or no one is. Bruce is right, you know. None of us has a soul. Whatever life force we have dies when we do, and we stop being. Our souls don’t go to heaven or hell. You have been lied to, Terra Blanche. There is no heaven or hell. There is only death at the end of life.

You seem to value white skin. I do hope you realize that the Jesus you worship and adore was not white-skinned. He was a brown-skinned Jew of Middle-Eastern descent. How do we know he was brown-skinned? Because all Middle-Eastern Jews were brown-skinned. I realize that this likely creates a cognitive disconnect, because you probably feel deep affection for Jesus but little empathy for a Middle Eastern person. But it is the truth.

Your vision of a white earth will never happen. Millennials are accepting of people of all colors, races and gender stripes, and find discrimination against their friends and neighbors on the basis of gender or race appalling. They will be the salvation of our nation, and of the world. One day we will live in a world where people are accepted for who they are, not the color of their skin. And you and your kind will be a few tiny voices, crying in the wilderness because you have been cast out for your racist views.

“Old-Fashioned” Preaching: Calling Sin Sin, Stepping on Toes, And Naming Names

old-fashioned preaching jack hyles

“Old-fashioned” is a word used by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers and churches to describe their ministries and preaching. It is not uncommon to hear of IFB churches labeling themselves as “old-fashioned” churches. When asked what they mean by the word “old-fashioned,” IFB preachers will say “our churches are like the first-century churches in the Bible.” Never mind the fact that their churches don’t remotely resemble early Christian churches. IFB preachers see themselves as the keepers of the “faith once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) They believe that their Baptist theology is the same as that which Jesus, the 12 disciples, and the Apostle Paul preached almost 2,000 years ago. Sound like something straight out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? It is. As anyone who has spent time in “old-fashioned” IFB churches knows, such churches pattern themselves after 1950s Evangelical churches, and not the churches founded by  Peter, Timothy, and Paul. There’s nothing in IFB belief and practice that resembles early church practices. N-o-t-h-i-n-g.

IFB pastors frequently say that they are “old-fashioned” preachers, preaching the “old-fashioned” faith. What, exactly, is “old-fashioned” preaching? In what way does it differ from modern preaching? “Old-fashioned” IFB pastors think that “old-fashioned” preaching requires stepping on toes, calling sin sin, and naming names. “Old-fashioned” preaching is also called “hard” preaching. As opposed to what — “soft preaching”; on viagra preaching as opposed to erectile dysfunction preaching?

billy sunday preaching

Evangelist Billy Sunday, an IFB Idol

“Old-fashioned” preaching usually includes theatrics by preachers: loud preaching, shouting, pacing the platform, standing on the pews, pounding the pulpit, running the aisles with Bible raised high, to name a few. Such preaching is quite entertaining, but “old-fashioned?” Hardly. Such preaching styles find their roots in southern revivalism. People attend “old-fashioned” churches because they want to emotionally “feel” God. Thinking that they are “feeling” the Holy Ghost, well-intentioned congregants are blind to the fact that they are being psychologically manipulated by purveyors of “old-fashioned” preaching.

If I stopped writing at this point, most readers would laugh and dismiss “old-fashioned” preaching as a harmless cultural artifact of Christian Fundamentalism. However, many IFB preachers use “old-fashioned” preaching to abuse, manipulate, and control congregants. Imagine sitting in church on Sunday and hearing your pastor preach on the very “sins” you confessed to him during counseling? Or imagine being called out by name from the pulpit? Imagine having to sit in church and silently endure belittling sermons that are used by expert manipulators to control your behavior and that of your fellow church members? I spent decades of my adult life attending IFB churches. Such sermons are common. As an IFB pastor, I preached similar “old-fashioned” sermons. Imagine the poor school teachers who had to endure my sermon on the evil of unions. Or pants-wearing women who had to silently suffer as I lambasted them for their slutty dress. There was no “sin” that couldn’t be turned into a forty-minute, better-wear-steel-toed-boots, “old-fashioned” hellfire and brimstone sermon. I look back on that period of my ministerial career, and all I can say is this: “Bruce, you were a raving lunatic.” And so were my colleagues in the ministry, and the preachers I heard at preacher’s meetings and conferences.

Fortunately, I didn’t remain an “old-fashioned” preacher. In the late 1980s, I realized that what I was supposed to do as a pastor was teach the Bible to congregants and help them in their day-to-day lives. Of course, some of my colleagues thought I had abandoned “old-fashioned” Christianity or had lost my “fire.” Perhaps, but I came to a place in my life where I was content to just teach the Bible and let God do his work as he saw fit. I stopped the pulpit theatrics and abandoned the use of psychologically manipulative sermon illustrations. I also stopped giving altar calls. Granted, my new-found Calvinistic theology drove some of these changes, but the bigger issue for me is that I was tired of beating congregants over the head with the proverbial “sin” stick.

Did you attend an “old-fashioned” church? Did your pastor preach “old-fashioned” sermons? Please leave your “old-fashioned” thoughts in the comment section. 🙂

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.