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The Man With No Butt

Bruce Gerencser, early Spring 2015

Bruce Gerencser, early Spring 2015

Originally written in 2015. Edited, corrected, and expanded.

Recently, I asked readers for questions. Ed asked:

As a person of similar age and girth as Bruce Almighty…… belt AND suspenders or suspenders/belt alone?

Some things are far more relevant to our daily life than institutionalized fantasies.

I thought the following post would more than answer Ed’s belt and suspenders question. Enjoy!

I’m a big guy. 6 feet tall, just north of 360 pounds. Thanks to my recurrent battle with only Loki knows what, I have lost 25 pounds since last September. No one who knows me has asked if I’ve lost weight. I have an odd body shape for a man my size, and unfortunately, weight loss or gain goes unnoticed. Unlike most men my size, I don’t have what is commonly called a beer gut. Instead, from my size 8 head to my size 10 feet, I am shaped like a fire hydrant. I do have some belly fat, but I am pretty much a cylindrical mass of human flesh. I have ruddy complexion and beard color to play Santa, so in recent years I have finally embraced my inner Claus. Come Thanksgiving, it will be impossible for me to go in public without multiple people calling attention to Santa-like looks.

Most men my height have a 32-35-inch inseam. Not me. I have a 29-inch inseam. Even worse, I have no butt. No woman has ever complimented me for having a nice ass, mainly because my shirt is usually hanging out the back. I have spent much of my life tucking in shirts that are not long enough. Buying XXXL shirts is a challenge because clothing makers assume that every XXXL man has a big gut. The shirts are long enough, but often they are way too big in the chest. I finally found a t-shirt that fits me well. Made by Key Industries, I can buy them for less than $14 on Amazon. (Short Sleeve, Long Sleeve) The t-shirts are well made, don’t feel cheap, and have a pocket on the front. This pocket works well when I need someplace to put my lens cap or cellphone.

Last year, my oldest son introduced me to Van Heusen no-iron Traveller (Flex) shirts. Nice shirts that never need to be ironed provided they are removed from the dryer on time. Polly wishes I had “discovered” these shirts back in the day when I was wearing white pinpoint cotton oxford shirts. Those shirts ALWAYS needed to be starched and ironed — another of the many reasons my wife is a saint. These shirts have longer tails, but I’ve found that I have to order one size larger than I normally do.

polly mom and dad 2018 (2)

Bruce and Polly Gerencser 2018

Even when I get shirts that fit, I still have a problem keeping my pants up. Most people have hips and a butt they can hang their pants on. Not me. Since I don’t want to make the local news, Atheist Moons Shoppers at Meijer, I not only wear a belt but I also wear suspenders. Wearing only a belt is an invitation for embarrassment, especially now that I have lost weight. I put two new holes in my belt so I can cinch it up tighter, but even then, my pants tend to work their way down. If you are a local reader and have seen me at Meijer with my hands in my pockets, it’s not because my hands are cold. When I feel my pants following the path of least resistance, I pull them up Grandpa-style and put my hands in my pockets to keep them from sliding back down.

perry suspenders

Perry Suspenders

A few years back, I found the perfect suspenders for a guy like me. Most suspenders have a clasp that is snapped on the pants. Over time, these snaps get weak, tend to come unsnapped, and smack the wearer in the face. Thankfully, I found Perry Suspenders. Perry Suspenders, which come in 2 widths and 2 lengths, hook on your belt, providing a second layer of butt exposure security. You can buy a pair of Perry Suspenders for $13-18 on Amazon. Since wearing Perry Suspenders, I no longer fear being the subject of a YouTube video shot by a local resident at Meijer. Nothing like fame for having your pants drop down to your knees in the middle of the store. It’s never happened to me, but I have caught them well on their way to embarrassing me.

I buy most of my clothing and shoes on Amazon. I am not a big fan of Amazon, but their selection of big and tall clothing is second to none. When it comes to jeans, I typically buy Levi 550s or 560s. When I find something that “fits,” I tend to stick with that brand. When it comes to shoes, I buy them either through Amazon or its affiliate Zappos. My snowboard feet take a 10-EEEE shoe. I buy two brands: Skechers and New Balance. Again, I buy what I know, what has fit me in the past. At my age, I have no interest in redesigning the clothing wheel. (I did learn several years ago, that I was washing my jeans way too often; that as long as they aren’t dirty or smelly, jeans can be worn for weeks at a time between washes. It took me a long time to buy into this idea. I was used to washing my jeans after every wearing. Now they last a lot longer.)

I buy well-made leather belts made by YourTack in nearby LaGrange, Indiana. So far, I have bought my belts online, but I do hope to visit their store someday. Last year, I discovered how much I love wearing fedoras. Depending on whom you ask, I either look like an Amish man or a mobster. We have Amish communities nearby, so I tend to get second looks from people trying to match my Amish-looking hat and beard with my English-looking clothing. After buying several inferior hats on Amazon, I decided to look elsewhere. My search took me to the Village Hat Shop in San Diego, California. When it comes to wool/felt hats, you get what you pay for. The Village Hat Shop carries a large selection of hats, in a variety of sizes. Shipping is free, and most orders are delivered in 5-8 days.

So there ya have it. All you ever wanted to know about the man with no butt.

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.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Songs of Sacrilege: Raising Hell by Kesha

 

kesha

This is the latest installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Raising Hell by Kesha.

Video Link

Lyrics

[Intro]
Ooh, oh, oh, oh
Let’s go

[Verse 1]
Hallelujah
I’m still here, still bringin’ it to ya
Ohm, like Buddha
Good girls know how to get hard too, ya (Uh huh)

[Pre-Chorus]
I’m all fucked up in my Sunday best
No walk of shame ’cause I love this dress
Hungover, heart of gold, holy mess
Doin’ my best (Ah), bitch, I’m blessed

[Chorus]
Oh, if you couldn’t tell
We can always find the trouble, we don’t need no help
Singing oh, mama raised me well
But I don’t wanna go to Heaven without raisin’ hell (Get it)

[Post-Chorus]
Get it
Drop it down low, hit it, hit the floor with it
Drop it down low, drop it down low
Drop, dr-drop it down low, drop it down low (Get it)
Drop it, drop it, drop it, drop-drop-drop it down, down low
Bounce it up and down where the good Lord split it

[Verse 2]
Hands up, witness
Solo cup full of holy spirits
Somethin’ wicked (Ooh)
Speakin’ in tongues in my blood-red lipstick (Brrah)

[Pre-Chorus]
I’m all fucked up in my Sunday best
No walk of shame ’cause I love this dress (Ooh)
Only God can judge this holy mess (Ah, ah)
Bitch, I’m blessed

[Chorus]
Oh, if you couldn’t tell (Oh well)
We can always find the trouble, we don’t need no help
Singing oh, mama raised me well (Uh huh)
But I don’t wanna go to Heaven without raisin’ hell (Ah!)

[Post-Chorus]
Get it
Brrah
Drop it down low, hit it, hit the floor with it
Drop it down low, drop it down low
Drop, dr-drop it down low, drop it down low (Get it)
Drop it, drop it, drop it, drop-drop-drop it down, down low
Bounce it up and down where the good Lord split it

[Interlude]
Ladies and gentlemen (Oh, shit)
Let’s shake what the good Lord gave us (Oh yes, baby)
Come on, let’s go

[Bridge]
Aw, dang, this that shit (Uh huh)
Beat like this, wanna shake my ooh
Oh, dang, this that shit (Ah, ah)
Beat like this, wanna shake my ooh
Aw, dang, this that shit (Ah)
Beat like this, haters, suck my ooh
Woo, Lord, feelin’ it
Beat like this, make me feel that power

[Chorus]
Oh, if you couldn’t tell
We can always find the trouble, we don’t need no help
Singing oh, mama raised me well
But I don’t wanna go to Heaven without raisin’ hell

[Outro]
Can I get an amen? (Ah)
This is for the misfits of creation (You’re welcome, ah)
Take this as your holy validation (Come on)
You don’t need to hide your celebratin’ (Sing it, Kesha, bitch)
This is our salvation

 

Evangelical Man Says Christopher Hitchens is in Hell and All Atheists Hate God

peanut gallery

Email From the Peanut Gallery

Warning! Buckets of snark ahead.

An Evangelical man by the name of Stephen left the following comment on a post titled, Christopher Hitchens is in Hell. It’s the only post Stephen read, so I assume he was searching for a writer who told the “truth” about Hitchens’ eternal destiny. I am sure he was disappointed to find out that I, too, am an atheist. Rather than approve Stephen’s comment, I thought I would turn it into a post. My comments are indented and italicized. All grammar in the original.

Hitchens is short for hell’s kitchen

I just love it when a Christian zealot starts his screed with an attempt to be humorous or cute. Sorry, Stephen — epic fail! That said, I do suppose that Christopher Hitchens would enjoy hanging out in Hell’s Kitchen. I hear the food is awesome.

…and he [Hitchens] put himself there out of sheer desire too since he could not be honest and man enough to admit he just hates God and the concept of Him, just like all atheists do

Evangelicals believe that Hitchens died in his sins and is currently residing in Hell — a place where the Christian God tortures non-Christians for eternity. Hitch didn’t have much good to say about Christianity. My God, he even eviscerated Mother Theresa in his book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.

Wikipedia describes Hitchens this way:

“As an anti-theist, he regarded all religions as false, harmful, and authoritarian. He argued in favour of free expression and scientific discovery, and that it was superior to religion as an ethical code of conduct for human civilization. He also advocated for the separation of church and state. The dictum “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” has become known as Hitchens’s razor.”

It’s not enough for Stephen to attack Hitchens’ atheistic beliefs. Stephen goes after his character, saying Hichens is not man enough, not honest enough to admit that the real issue he has with Christianity is that he hates God.

Atheists hate God. Where oh where have I heard that before. *sigh* Instead of thinking about why someone might not believe in the existence of deities, Stephen says ALL atheists hate God. Note that he doesn’t say, atheists hate all deities. For Stephen there is one true God, his, and it is that God Hitchens and all atheists hate.

I wonder if Stephen hates Allah, Buddha, or the plethora of other deities humans worship? I doubt it. He would likely say that hating such deities would be stupid. “Who hates imaginary beings?” Exactly, Stephen. Atheists don’t hate your God any more than they do any of other Gods in the panoply of deities. It’s silly to hate imaginary beings, and that’s why most atheists do not hate God — whatever name he may go by. Now, asking if atheists hate Evangelicalism, Christianity, or other organized religions is another question altogether. Many atheists hate religion in general. However, many atheists do not hate religion as a social, cultural, tribal construct. What they do hate are the harmful behaviors committed in the name of this or that God. As a humanist, my concern is with the effect of religious faith and not religion itself. Many atheists agree with this sentiment.

Of course, Stephen will likely reject what I have written here, saying that atheists, deep in their heart of hearts, hate God. No matter what atheists say to the contrary, for the Stephens of the world, atheists hate God.

– imagine up as many logical fallacies you can think of to justify themselves…the human heart is desperately sick, who can understand it?…,

I am not sure what to make of what Stephen says here. He says “the human heart is desperately sick, who can understand it?” This is a loose rendering of Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Evangelicals believe humans, by nature, have been ruined by the Fall; that everyone is born into this world a sinner; that without the salvation offered through the merit and work of Jesus, all of us will spend eternity in Hell (Lake of Fire).  As a Christian, Stephen believes he has a golden ticket. His heavenly reservation is secure. When Stephen dies, he will live on in Heaven with Jesus and his fellow Christians. I wonder if the food in Heaven’s Kitchen is better than that in Hell? I doubt it.

Perhaps Stephen might enlighten readers as to what these “many logical fallacies” are. Most atheists value rationalism, skepticism, and intellectual inquiry. Our goal is to construct a logical, consistent worldview. Evangelicals, on the other hand, are required to follow a God-ordained, Bible-based worldview, regardless of whether it squares with science or history. No Christian comes out a winner when arguing worldviews with an atheist/humanist. There’s too much craziness in the Bible for an Evangelical to hold a logical, consistent view of the world. Viewing the world through Bible-colored glasses will always lead to a warped, anti-human viewpoint.

Most unbelievers as atheists themselves might even forget that at one time they had to have chosen to and that must have been out if a high magnitude of shear ignorance if they knew what they were missing..it’s like refusing to believe Gravity exists then jumping of the Empire State building to prove it but never being able to because at the time you find out you were wrong you’re dead.

Most unbelievers (non-Christians) are not atheists. This is a common misconception. Unbelief is not the same as atheism. Most unbelievers are indifferent towards religion or know nothing about it. An atheist is someone who has made a positive affirmation of his denial of the existence of deities. While an argument can be made for all humans being born atheist, it’s preferable, at least from my perspective, to limit the term “atheist” to those who intellectually, rationally deny the existence of gods.

Stephen says that atheists are ignorant. How else can one explain all that atheists give up by not being Christians? Here’s the thing: eternity in Heaven does not sound that attractive to me. What will Evangelicals be doing in Heaven for all eternity? The inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God gives us a good idea. The triune God expects Heaven’s inhabitants to spend their days in worship and praise. Imagine how sore your back will get prostrating yourself before Jesus day and night! Compare what’s going on in Heaven to the atmosphere in Hell. Party Time! Sure, Hell will be a bit warm for my liking, but I sure prefer Hitchens and his crowd to Stephen’s group. Who in their right mind wants to spend eternity in church? No thanks!

Stephen tries to use a variation of Pascal’s Wager to warn atheists of the danger of unbelief. As usual, its use is an epic fail. I would ask Stephen, have you applied Pascal’s Wager to all other deities? Surely, that’s the prudent thing to do right? Stephen can deny Allah exists, but when he jumps off the proverbial Empire State Building, he will quickly know — albeit too late — that Allah exists. The only safe thing for Stephen to do is to believe in every God, covering all of his bases. Better safe than sorry, right? “No, no, no,” Stephen says, “there is only one true God — mine!” And there goes Pascal’s Wager up in smoke.

one thing we know, there’s no atheists in hell.

Finally, Stephen says something I agree with. There are no atheists in Hell! Of course, Stephen means something different when he says this. He means every atheist in Hell is now a believer; that burning in Hell f-o-r-e-v-e-r will teach those awful atheists the TRUTH about God. Regardless, the reason there are no atheists in Hell is this: There is no Hell, no Heaven, no afterlife, and no God. Atheists aren’t worried in the least about going to Hell. Hell, with its eternal punishment, is a religious construct cooked up by clerics and theologians to keep congregants in line and keep money flowing into church coffers. Remove the fear of Hell and judgment from the equation and most people will  trade sitting on hard pews for sleeping in on Sunday mornings. The salvation game only works when humans are viewed as broken and in need of fixing — or as Stephen said, “desperately sick.” Once humans figure out the concepts of sin, salvation, and eternal life are myths, the game is over.

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.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

What Andy Savage, Mark Driscoll, and Ted Haggard Have in Common

bruce gerencser 2002

Bruce Gerencser, 2002

Andy Savage, Mark Driscoll, and Ted Haggard are all Evangelical pastors who have checkered pasts. Twenty years ago, Andy Savage sexually assaulted a church teenager. While pastor of Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee, Savage admitted his crime. Unfortunately, he was never punished due to the statute of limitations expiring. Savage later left Highpoint. (Please see Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Andy Savage Gets Standing Ovation for Admitting He Sexually Assaulted a Teenager and Black Collar Crime: Dominoes Continue to Fall Over Andy Savage Scandal.) Mark Driscoll was the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. Accused of having an autocratic management style, verbally/emotionally abusing congregants, plagiarism, and “squishy book-promotion ethics,” Driscoll resigned. Three months later, Mars Hill closed its doors. Ted Haggard was the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Haggard, a closeted bisexual, used crystal meth, cavorted with a male prostitute, and had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a male congregant. In late 2006, Haggard was fired from New Life and resigned his position with the NAE.

All of these men were married, had children, and pastored multi-million-dollar churches running thousands in attendance. All of these men were Evangelical in doctrine and well respected by congregants and colleagues alike. All of these men traveled the Evangelical conference circuit, speaking to thousands of people. These men were widely considered to be preachers God was mightily using to advance his kingdom. Yet, Savage, Driscoll, and Haggard fell from their lofty perches and were drummed out of their churches.

End of story? Surely you jest! Evangelicals are quite forgiving and love a good comeback story. In 2010, Ted Haggard started a new church, St. James Church, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 2016, Driscoll birthed a new congregation, The Trinity Church, in Scottsdale, Arizona. And Savage? He is ramping up a new church plant, Grace Valley Church in Eads, Tennessee.

“Bruce, how can these guys do what they did and still be pastors?” Simple. Savage, Driscoll, and Haggard are independent contractors, free to do what they want, including starting new churches. There are no federal or state laws that forbid these men from setting up new non-profit churches (businesses). (Please see How to Start an Independent Baptist Church.) Anyone, including you, can gather a handful of people together and start a church. It’s really that easy. In 2015, comedian John Oliver proved just how easy it is to start a new church, by setting up a non-profit religious organization called Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption. Oliver later closed the church and donated the “offerings” to “Doctors Without Borders.”

Why didn’t Savage, Driscoll, and Haggard admit that they were no longer Biblically qualified to be pastors? 1 Timothy 3 gives the qualifications for pastors, and none of these “men of God” met the Biblical standard. Truth be told, I don’t know of any man who meets the qualifications. The Bible says:

This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

And let’s not forget about Galatians 5:19-21:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

And finally, pastors should be expected to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, yes? Galatians 5:22,23 says:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Taking these three passages of Scripture together, it’s clear that Savage, Driscoll, and Haggard have no business being pastors. In fact, no man is qualified to be a pastor. What about you, Bruce? Were you qualified? Absolutely not. At best, I was a “two out of three ain’t bad” kind of preacher. I really, really, really wanted to be a pastor, so just like every other man to ever pastor a church, I rationalized my shortcomings, telling myself that I would work hard to become a better man and preacher. All in all, I was a feeble, frail, fallible man who hopefully did more good than harm.

In the fall of 1995, I left the pastorate of Olive Branch Christian Union Church in Fayette, Ohio. I was at Olive Branch for seven months. A quick overview of my ministerial career reveals that I either stayed at churches for a long time or left after a few months — seven months to be exact. That’s right. I left three of the churches I pastored after being there for only seven months — started in the spring, left in the fall. I am sure there is some Freudian shit in there somewhere to unpack.

After leaving Olive Branch, I moved five miles down the road and started Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. I pastored this church for seven years. One day, I received a letter from a ministerial colleague of mine. He and I met when I was pastoring Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. Dick, at the time, was the pastor of an IFB church in nearby New Lexington. The previous pastor had left due to allegations of misconduct. This was Dick’s first and only church. The church had a lot of internal problems. I thought of Dick — a kind, decent man — as a sacrificial lamb. His congregation ripped him to shreds. After a year or so, Dick resigned and returned home to southwest Ohio, never to pastor again.

Dick’s letter was quite pointed. Due to my recent moves from church to church to church, Dick questioned my emotional stability and suggested I reconsider starting a new church. I remember how offended I was by his words. I thought, “Didn’t he know I was a divinely called man of God? Didn’t he know I was just following God’s will?” I never spoke to Dick again, but years later after a size sixty bit of hindsight, I concluded that he was absolutely right. I should have hit the pause button and reevaluated my life. It would be another decade before I stopped thinking that being a pastor was the sum of my life; that not pastoring a church was a betrayal of Jesus and all I held dear. It took me years after that to regain any sense of self. Jesus and the ministry had swallowed up Bruce Gerencser. I lost any sense of personal identity and self-worth. To this day, I see a secular counselor on a regular basis. Therapy is essential to me recovering any sense of mental wellness.

The title of this post is “What Andy Savage, Mark Driscoll, and Ted Haggard Have in Common.” Let me add my name to theirs, and the names of every Evangelical preacher. I am going to admit something here that most preachers will NEVER admit: preachers love the adulation they receive from congregants. They love being the center of attention. They love being the hub around which everything turns. And it is for these reasons fallen, disgraced preachers have a hard time quitting the ministry. Think of all the preachers you know who were drummed out of the ministry, only to start a new church or assume the pastorate of an established church months or years later. I could spend weeks detailing the stories of such men.

“Bruce, why can’t these men quit the ministry?” They are addicts. Standing before fawning congregants on Sundays and being thought of as THE MAN is like crack cocaine. Once you feel the rush, you want more, regardless of what you have to do to get the drug. Preachers need the thrill they feel when doing the work of the ministry. I am not suggesting that all pastors are bad men — they are not. But preachers need to be honest about the emotional and psychological “bump” they get from preaching and ministering to others. It is okay to admit this, preachers. You are human. 

I started blogging in 2007. Come December, this current iteration of my blog will celebrate its fifth anniversary. In many ways, this blog is my “church.” Thousands of people read my writing. I reach far more people now than I ever did as a pastor. When my work is well-received, it pleases me and spurs me on to continue writing. My counselor tells me that I am still a preacher; that I have just changed teams. Perhaps. I will leave it to others to make such judgments. I do know that I find writing emotionally gratifying. Whether one hundred people are reading it or five thousand, I am driven to continue to tell my story. That some people find my writing helpful is all the more reason to keep on preaching the humanist gospel.

That said, there are differences between the twenty-five years I spent in the ministry and being a writer. The Evangelical churches I pastored were captive audiences. I was an authority figure, someone given the power to guide, direct, and correct their lives. Today, I pastor a “church” of thousands, yet I have no authority over anyone. Readers are free to come and go; love me or hate me; praise me or ridicule me. Church members were required to tithe and give offerings. Readers are under no such compulsion. They are free to donate, or not. Either way, the “church” remains open for “whosoever will.”

I hope my honesty has not caused you to think any less of me. I know this post will give my critics more ammunition. There’s nothing I can do about that. It is far more important for me to give an open, honest, pointed accounting of my life. I trust you found my words insightful and helpful.

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.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Elizandro Montoya-Salazar Accused of Sexual Assault

pastor elizandro montoya-salazar

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.

Elizandro Montoya-Salazar, pastor of Lalgesia Apostolica of the Faith in Jesus Christ Church (no website) in Elgin, Illinois, stands accused of sexually assaulting a minor girl.

The Daily Herald reports:

An Elgin pastor sexually assaulted and abused a teenage girl while giving her a ride home from a church event in November 2018, according to a police affidavit used to obtain a search warrant.

The attack happened some three months after Elizandro Montoya-Salazar, 46, of 0-99 block of North Lord Avenue, Carpentersville, asked the girl if she “liked liked him,” according to the affidavit. Montoya-Salazar was charged recently with criminal sexual assault of a victim 13 to 17 years old and four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a person in a position of trust and authority, all felonies.

….

He appeared in court Wednesday, where his bond conditions were changed to allow him to have supervised telephone contact and video visits with his children. He is being held at the Kane County jail on $300,000 bail, meaning he must post $30,000 to be released while the case is pending.

According to a police affidavit used to secure a search warrant for Montoya-Salazar’s cellphone and documents at the Lalgesia Apostolica of the Faith in Jesus Christ Church, 37W080 Hopps Road, the victim reached out to a female volunteer at the church in August 2019 regarding the attack.

The girl was upset and didn’t want to say what happened or who did it, but she texted the church volunteer Oct. 5, saying she had told her parents that Montoya-Salazar assaulted her and her parents were filing a report with Elgin police, according to the affidavit.

The volunteer reported to two other pastors at the church that the victim said, via text, that Montoya-Salazar had assaulted her. The volunteer said Montoya-Salazar preached at the church the next day, according to the affidavit.

“He preached at the church the next day.” Need I say more?

Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Daniel Heath Pleads Guilty to Sexting

pastor daniel heath

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.

Earlier this year, Daniel Heath, the associate pastor of First Baptist Church — affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship — in Wilson, North Carolina, was charged with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and coercion and enticement of a minor. The Wilson Times reported at the time (behind paywall):

A Wilson pastor and a volunteer youth baseball coach accused of sexual exploitation of a minor now faces a federal charge in connection to the case.

A Texas grand jury indicted 33-year-old Daniel Franklin Heath on one count of coercion and enticement of a minor, according to a unsealed federal indictment obtained by The Wilson Times. That indictment was handed down Wednesday. Heath, a former associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilson, was arrested a day earlier on the charge of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

According to the Texas federal indictment, Heath used an LG model cellphone to “persuade, induce, entice and coerce,” a minor to “engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of creating a visual depiction of such conduct, knowing that such depiction would transmitted in interstate and foreign commerce.”

Federal authorities say activity occurred from December of 2017 until April 11 of this year, according to the indictment out of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division. Heath could face 10 years to life in prison if convicted on the federal charge.

….

Heath’s arrest warrant in Wilson alleges that he did “encourage” a 16-year-old girl to “engage in sexual activity, perform sexual activities to herself for the purpose of producing material containing a visual representation depicting this activity, the defendant knowing the character and content of the performance and material.”

Church members were also seated inside the courtroom Friday.

Heath is currently being held on a $500,000 secured bond in the Wilson County Detention Center.

….

The Federal Bureau of Investigation contacted the Wilson Police Department in April regarding Heath, who was the subject of an ongoing investigation, officials have said.

On Tuesday, the police department’s FBI Task Force detective assisted FBI agents in executing a search warrant at Heath’s home in Wilson, according to officials. Based upon evidence gathered at the scene, authorities arrested and charged Heath on that same day.

Several weeks ago, Heath pleaded guilty to enticing and coercing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Baptist News Global reports:

Heath, who stepped down in May after 10 years on staff at First Baptist Church in Wilson, North Carolina, admitted to a federal court in Texas that he knew the unnamed minor was under 18 and living with her parents in Texas when he asked her to take photos and videos of herself engaging in sexually explicit conduct on her cellular phone and send the images to him.

Heath, 33, admitted his communications with the victim were romantic in nature, with both parties declaring themselves to be “in love.” Prosecutors said Heath required the girl to “submit” to him in matters including what to wear and to obtain his consent before touching her own body, but he did not agree with that part of a statement of stipulated facts.

….

According to the Wilson Times, the sentencing phase of Heath’s case is expected within the next few months. He could face from 10 years to life in prison.

Authorities say a third party introduced Heath to the victim through an Internet-based social media application in or about December 2017.

The two remained in “almost constant contact” until this April, court documents said, including his traveling to Texas to visit her in February.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Gregory Lucy Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime

bishop gregory lucy

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.

Gregory Lucy, director and bishop of El Shaddai A.O.H. Church of God in Dixon Mills, Alabama, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing an underage girl. (A.O.H. stands for Apostolic Overcoming Holy [Church of God])

AL.com reports:

Lucy was arrested in 2016 after being indicted on four counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of attempted rape. Lucy is a bishop at church.

According to court records, Lucy was accused of fondling the girl’s breasts and genitals in March of that year. Authorities didn’t say whether the victim was a member of Lucy’s congregation.

Lucy this week pleaded guilty in a Marengo County courtroom to one count of first-degree sex abuse. As part of his plea agreement, the other charges against him were dismissed.

District Attorney Greg Griggers is recommending a 10-year prison sentence for the Class C felony conviction, records show. Griggers said in court documents the state will be opposed to any probation or any type of split sentence for Lucy.

According to 2015 bio on the AOH Church of God website:

Bishop Gregory Lucy, is know [sic] to some as “Overseer,” others as an intellectual, community leader, visionary, educator, counselor, and still others as a devoted husband, beloved father, and loyal friend. No matter your point of reference, there are few places you will travel in this area without hearing the name Overseer Gregory Lucy. A native of Dixons Mills, Alabama Overseer Lucy was one of seventeen children born to the late John and Alma Lucy. Gregory Lucy was raised alongside a diverse array of siblings. Many of his childhood experiences nurtured his unique call to the ministry and helped honed his distinct ability to deliver the gospel to reach diverse people of many backgrounds and denominations. As a scholar, Overseer Lucy graduated from Marengo High School and went on to attend Bishop State Community College in Mobile, AL. It is noteworthy to mention that the years Overseer Lucy attended Bishop State, helped distinguish and contributed to his greater accomplishments later in life.

….

In 1986, at the age of thirty, the late Senior Bishop Jasper Roby ordained Overseer Lucy an Elder. After serving as assistant Pastor for two-years under the leadership of Elder Willie Jones, Overseer Lucy accepted his first pastorate at Dixons Mills A.O.H. Church of God appointed by Bishop G. W. Ayers. During this tenure, many changes were made, from many building restorations to significantly increasing the membership of the church. Because of his consistent dedication to God’s work, Overseer Lucy was promoted from an Elder to Assistant Overseer of the 6th District. In 2000 God gave Overseer Lucy a vision to move the church to a new location and build it debt free, which at the time seemed to be a huge task to accomplish. He continually encouraged the members that the new church and location would come to pass without fail stating, “When God gives a vision, he will provide.” On September 29, 2002, the new debt-free church with a seating capacity of six hundred was dedicated and given the new name El Shaddai A.O.H. Church of God.

….

In March 2006 Overseer Lucy was appointed Overseer of the 22nd District. In June 2011 Overseer Lucy was appointed Bishop-Elect in this great Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God. Bishop Lucy continues in the promises that God has given him as he endeavors to nurture a church that goes “beyond the walls,” pursuing an ongoing effort to touch lives with the love of God. It is also his desire that El Shaddai A.O.H Church have a positive and powerful impact on its community bringing hope and uplift in every way possible. “The Lord is truly blessing this church, and HE continues to bless me and I can assure you that if you live for God, He will take care of you.” – Bishop Lucy is the proud husband of 30 years to Lady Phyllis Lucy, a devoted father to Gabriel and Adrienne Lucy and loving grandfather to Brendon L. Lucy. Bishop Lucy was consecrated bishop in 2013.

And now he can add child molester to his resume.

Do Evangelical Christians “Know” the Mind of God?

indwelling of the holy spirit

According to the Bible, God, in the person of the Holy Ghost, lives inside of every Christian. How the Holy Ghost pulls off being in millions and billions of places at the same time is unknown, but the Bible says that God is omnipresent, so it must be true, right? The Bible also teaches that the indwelling Spirit is the teacher, guide, and restrainer of every believer. Ponder that statement for a moment. Think of the Christians you know, and ask yourself, do they live in ways that are consistent with God living inside of them? Do their choices, decisions, and behaviors reflect that the God who promised never to leave or forsake them is an ever-present, active presence in their lives? Or, are your Christian friends and acquaintances pretty much like you and the other unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the “world?” That’s a rhetorical question.

People are people. On any given day, each of us has the potential to do good and bad things; each of us can bless others or cause great harm. Regardless of our religious beliefs, we are frail, feeble mortals. Getting Evangelicals to understand these facts, however, is a tall task. Everything they read in the Bible, hear from the pulpit, and read in Christian books tells them a completely different story; that they are special, unique people, who have been gloriously saved from “sin” by a virgin-born, resurrected-from-the-dead man named Jesus. It’s hard, then, for Evangelicals to see themselves as mere equals to non-Christians. Oh, they will tell you that they are just lowly, humble “sinners saved by grace,” but when you believe that the Creator of the universe is your BFF, lover, and closest confidant, it’s hard not to think you are superior to people you consider hell-bound sinners, followers of Satan, and enemies of Jesus.

Not only do Evangelicals have the Holy Ghost living inside of them, they also have the mind of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 2:14-16, the Apostle Paul wrote:

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

Paul tells the Church at Corinth, that the natural man (unbelievers) does not receive, know, or understand the things of the Spirit of God. In fact, they can’t understand them because they don’t have the Holy Ghost living inside of them. Paul goes on to ask, “who has known the mind of the Lord?”  Answer? We (followers of Jesus) have. Why? We have the mind of Christ.

Nineteenth-century Presbyterian theologian Albert Barnes writes:

There is a difference between Christians and other people. One is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the other is not; one sees a  beauty in religion, to the other it is folly; the one has the mind of Christ, the other has the spirit of the world; the one discerns the excellency of the plan of salvation, to the other all is darkness and folly. How could beings differ more in their moral feelings and views than do Christians and the people of this world? (E-Sword Bible, iOS Version)

Methodist theologian Adam Clarke writes:

[God] has endowed [Christians] with the same dispositions [as Christ], being born again by his Spirit; therefore we are capable of knowing his mind and receiving the teachings of the Spirit. These teachings we do receive, and therefore are well qualified to convey them to others. (E-Sword Bible, iOS Version)

“Well qualified to convey [the things of God] to others.” Doesn’t this describe many Evangelicals; those who frequent this blog and social media; those who believe it is their duty to spread their peculiar version of the Christian gospel wherever they go; those who believe it is their responsibility to expose heresy and promote sound doctrine; those who believe Christianity = truth and the Bible and its teachings should not only be taught in churches, but in public schools?

Currently, I follow and read almost two hundred Evangelical blogs and websites. Not all of them publish every day, but many of them do. And without fail, day after day, dozens of these sites write posts detailing what the will of God is for believers and unbelievers alike. You see, when you believe that you have an intimate relationship with the one, true God and you talk to him daily, it’s not surprising that you begin to think you are God’s mouthpiece, that your words and God’s words are one and the same. Evangelical pastors believe that they uniquely chosen, qualified, and empowered “men of God.” In some Evangelical circles, you have people who believe they are “prayer warriors” or have been given a special “anointing” from God. As a pastor, I pleaded with God to endue me with “power from on high.” I begged him to use me as did the great men of God from days of old. I wanted a life that literally oozed God and his Word. Alas, I never achieved such greatness. That did not keep me, however, from telling people what God wanted them to do. How could I do otherwise? I had a God-given duty to lead, shepherd, teach, challenge, and rebuke congregants.

If Evangelicals are saved by and through Jesus, indwelt by the Holy Ghost, have the mind of Christ, daily converse with God in prayer, and have at their fingertips the very words of God — the Bible, why is there dissension and internecine warfare among God’s chosen ones? Based on my daily reading of Evangelical blogs, websites, and social media posts, I can safely conclude that the elect are a contentious lot, willing to go to war over the silliest and slightest of disagreements. If Evangelicals have the “mind of Christ,” Jesus sure is an argumentative, judgmental, violent asshole (which, shouldn’t shock us, knowing the kind of Father he had — read the Old Testament).

Perhaps, there is another way to look at Evangelicals; that all their talk about God living inside of them and having the mind of Christ is poppycock. Maybe, just maybe, despite all their God-talk, Evangelicals are just like the rest of us. I know, my Christian friend, it’s humbling to think that you are just like me and billions of other people; that you are not chosen, anointed, or special; that your supposed superiority is a myth.

Reality can be a bitch.

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.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Some Dogs, Cats, and Hamsters Go to Heaven After They Die

dogs reading the bible

I am sixty-two years old. I spent fifty years in the Christian church. I pastored Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan for twenty-five years. I have spent the last decade writing about Evangelicalism. You would think, by now, that there is nothing Evangelicals could say or do that I have not heard or seen before. Surely, Solomon was right when he said, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” Well, Solly boy, you are wrong.

Recently, Evangelical author and preacher Randy Alcorn decided to answer a question about animals in Heaven. Evidently, more than a few Evangelicals are stressed out over whether Rover or Fido will go to God’s Heavenly Trump Hotel® when they die. Here’s what Alcorn had to say:

Look at Genesis 1 and 2, and the highlight of all creation built up to is people. But right before people came animals. Those living beings, the first living beings that God made, animals. And it’s magnificent and wondrous that the first responsibility God gave to human beings along with to be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth was to manage and care for animals. Adam named the animals. With the Flood, God makes a covenant not only with people but with animals. This is stated again and again in Genesis 6 through 9 and the Flood account. What we find in Isaiah 65 is the wolf and the lamb—and he specifically calls this the New Earth, so this is not just the Millennium. This is the New Earth. In verse 25 of Isaiah 65, ‘the wolf and the lamb shall graze together, the lion will eat straw like the ox,’ and then in Isaiah 11, it’s got leopard, goat, calf, cow, bear, ox, lion, cobra. When God remakes the earth, why would he not remake it with animals? Well, we know He will for sure because of these passages that have animals on the new earth, but also because Romans 8 says the entire creation has fallen. Creation fell on the coattails of human beings. So animals suffer death because humans sinned, and humans suffer death. But it says in that passage that not just human beings but the entire creation—well then, who does that leave that has suffered on this earth? Animals will experience the resurrection of the sons of God. So since some animals who have suffered [and who are] alive in this lifetime on this fallen earth will … be raised, which animals will those be? I think the most logical answer to that would be—and wouldn’t it be just like a loving God to do this for His children—that He will bring back those precious pets that He has entrusted to our care. We have a golden retriever named Maggie, we had a dalmatian named Moses, [and] we had a springer spaniel before that named Champ. Those dogs are very real to me and I anticipate actual reunion with them in heaven. By the way, I didn’t use to believe that, until I spent those two or three [years] studying Scripture intently every day on that subject. The Bible changed my mind on that subject.

NOW I have heard everything!

First, Alcorn spent two or three years studying this issue? Really? Surely, he using hyperbole (or lying). How long can it take to read and study the relevant passages of Scripture? Not long, surely no longer than an afternoon in the study with a Bible and a good bottle of scotch. I suspect that Alcorn wants people to know that he really, really, really studied this issue before he opened his mouth and added to the canon of nonsense for which Evangelicals are known.

Second, one of the biggest weapons atheists have in their arsenal is the fact that the Christian God allows innocent animals to suffer. Unlike humans who are sinners, animals stand blameless before God — except when they pee on God’s white shag carpet. The sheer violence and brutality in the animal kingdom are sure signs of that either the Christian God is a psychopath who gets off on suffering, is indifferent towards suffering, or doesn’t exist. I will take door number three.

Alcorn likely thinks that he is somewhat answering this challenge by saying that “some” animals will go to Heaven after they die. Animals aren’t sinners, nor can they repent and ask Jesus into their heart, so why does Alcorn assert that only “some” animals” will make it through the Pearly Gates? Simply put, Alcorn believes that only animals (pets) owned by Christians will inherit the Kingdom of God. In Alcorn’s mind, God is an awesome dude. He loves his bleating sheep so much that he would never eternally separate them from their pets. Alcorn leaves unsaid the flip-side of his argument: that the pets of unsaved people will go to Hell when they die. You can’t have Heaven without Hell, right? Or so Evangelicals have been saying f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

Imagine being a dog or cat at the local animal shelter. You so want to go to a good home, to be adopted by a loving, caring family. But now you have to worry about your prospective family’s religious beliefs. Choose wrong and you will be an eternal hotdog on a stick. Choose right and you will never have poop in an uncleaned cat box again.

Third, Alcorn doesn’t mention non-dog pets. Will Christian-owned snakes, pot-belly pigs, hamsters, gerbils, cats, horses, raccoons, squirrels, birds, lizards, and fish go to Heaven when they die? Or do Calvin’s doctrines of election and predestination apply to pets too; that only dogs chosen from before the foundation of the world will be saved from the wrath to come?

So many questions . . .

I can imagine Evangelical churches starting pet-centric evangelistic ministries.

Deacon Bob and Preacher Billy are out and about in the community knocking on doors. They come upon the home of an atheist who just so happens to own 666 dogs and cats.

Knock Knock

The atheist cracks the door open, holding back with his foot numerous dogs who want to escape or hump Preacher Billy’s leg.

Atheist: Can I help you?

Preacher Billy: Hello, my name is Billy, and this is Bob. We are in your neighborhood today knocking on doors. We would like to share the good news of the gospel with you and your dogs.

Atheist: My dogs? (saying to himself, these nutters are crazier than the Jehovah’s Witnesses)

Deacon Bob: Yes, after three years of intensive Bible study, we have learned that dogs too can go to Heaven when they die!

Atheist: Really? (saying to himself, these two guys have brain damage)

Preacher Billy: Yep. According to God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word, some dogs go to Heaven when they die!

Atheist: Some?

Preacher Billy: Yes. Their salvation is contingent on their owner being a Christian. If their owner is, uh, you know, an atheist like you, they will go to Hell when they die. Surely, you want your dogs to run the golden streets of the New Jerusalem for eternity, right? Please, Mr. Atheist, ask Jesus to save you.

Just pray this prayer: Dear Baby Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I know you died on the cross to save me and my dogs. I ask you to come into my heart right now and save me, and take me and my dogs to Heaven when we die! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Atheist: Sorry, Dude, but there’s no God, no Heaven, no Hell.  When my dogs die, I put them in a hole in my backyard. End of story.

Deacon Bob: Blasphemy! (Holding up an oversized rawhide bone) Come out from him, Satan!

The atheist derisively laughs, opens the door, and turns 666 dogs on Preacher Billy and Deacon Bob. These men of God flee into the night, shouting, “someday you’ll be burning in Hell with all your dogs! And then you will know we were right!”

The next day Preacher Billy and Deacon Bob are nowhere to be found. Late that day, the local newspaper reported that the two were chased by a horde of demon-possessed dogs, plunging over a cliff to their deaths (much like the Bible story about the Maniac of Gadera).

Moral of the story: beware of atheists and their dogs.

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.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Beware of Evangelical Haunted Houses

halloween

I grew up in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches that believed Halloween was a Satanic holiday. I heard my pastors tell countless stories about the evils of Halloween. This was in the days when Mike Warnke traveled the land passing himself off as a former Satanist. In 1972, Warnke wrote a bestselling book titled, The Satan Seller. Warnke’s writing would lay the groundwork for later writers such as Lauren Stratford (Laurel Wilson), who wrote Satan’s Underground, and Johanna Michaelsen, who wrote The Beautiful Side of Evil. These three authors, along with radio shock-jock Bob Larson, helped fuel the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. While their shticks varied, one thing they all had in common — well, besides being exposed as frauds — is their opposition to Halloween.

Many Evangelical churches believe it is important to replace evil things with good things. (Please see The Evangelical Replacement Doctrine and The Replacement Doctrine: How Evangelicals Attempt to Co-opt the “World”) In their minds, Christianity shouldn’t be all about what Christians can’t do or what they are against. As a teenager, I saw this put into practice at Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio. Instead of having Halloween parties or letting families decide for themselves whether Halloween was evil, the church-sponsored replacement events focused on fall or harvest. I really don’t remember much about these parties, but two highlights come to mind. One year, the event was held in the country, complete with a hayride, apple-bobbing, and trying to make-out without being caught by the youth director. Several of us decided to wrap the youth director’s car with crepe paper. Cool right? Well, he didn’t take his car home that night. The automobile sat all night, and come morning, a heavy dew caused the color to leach out of the paper, ruining the car’s paint job. To this day, they are looking for the boys who committed this vandalous act. By God, I will take their names to my grave! I’m no snitch. Another year, the church held a fall event in the church’s annex. The highlight of the night was a blindfolded trip through what was billed as Joe’s Body. We were led down lines that displayed various things that were meant to represent the various parts of Joe’s body. It was quite gross, more funny than scary.

Having come of age in an anti-Halloween environment, I refused to let my children practice Halloween – a fact which should surprise none of my readers. Not one of my six children went trick-or-treating — ever. Every year, I would remind congregants about the evils of Halloween, and every year, without fail, church members would quietly and secretly ignore my admonitions. Unlike the pastors of my youth, I wasn’t a big proponent of replacing worldly things with Christianized versions. I took the approach that Christians were called by God to holiness; that we had a duty to stand against Satan and the world, even if it meant we did without.

chick tract halloween

Jack Chick Tract on Halloween

Some Evangelical churches have decided to reclaim Halloween for Jesus. Instead of preaching against Halloween, these churches and pastors repurpose the holiday, sponsoring hell houses, haunted houses, and other “scary” events. Some of the events have turned into huge money makers for their sponsors. On such church is Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Texas. Trinity describes Hell House this way:

Hell House was first opened in October of 1991 and is a creative alternative to the traditional haunted house. It is a theatrical dramatization of real life situations. Each year over 10,000 [at $13 a pop] people walk through its doors with an ambiguous expectation.

With Hell House now entering its 29th year, we attempt to keep that ambiguity going by offering new, fresh, in-your-face scenes and ideas. This year there are 11 scenes, with the walk-through taking an estimated 45 minutes (not including waiting in line). The maze-like walk will take your group through the scenes. Each scene will give you a look into the real life “hellish” issues that some deal with everyday.

Hell House is not meant for children under the age of 13. There are guns, blood, violence, intense scenes, and disturbing images.

What this blurb doesn’t say is that Trinity uses their Hell House as a means to evangelize teenagers and adults. Scare attendees, cause them to be fearful, and then swoop in and tell them that the answer to their fears is THE GREAT PUMPKIN — also known as Jesus.  As the following one-minute videos show, Hell House is all about evangelizing impressionable, vulnerable teenagers.

Video

Video

Evangelical-operated haunted houses and similar events exist for one purpose alone: to manipulate teenagers into making a decision to ask Jesus to save them. I have long argued that Evangelical churches and pastors almost always have ulterior motives; that their friendly smiles and benign “ministries” are just pretexts for what they really want: conversion and addition to membership. It’s all about the numbers. These preachers know that more asses in the seats equals more Benjamins in the offering plates. Rare is the Evangelical pastor or church that does something with no expectation of return — either by adding to their membership or improving their image in the community.

It is for these reasons that people should avoid Evangelical-sponsored Halloween events, even if the activities seem innocuous in nature. Most communities hold safe, fun secular Halloween activities. Why not support them, instead? Let’s not let Evangelicals steal yet another holiday! My God (Loki), they stole Christmas from Santa and Easter from the Easter Bunny, turning them into holidays about a virgin-born baby, his death 33 years later, and his resurrection from the dead.  Don’t let them do this to Halloween! Keep the witches in Halloween!

Other posts about Halloween

Halloween: Ten Reasons Why People Should Never, Ever Carve Pumpkins or Wear Costumes

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Eleven Reasons Why Celebrating Halloween is a Sin

Annual PSA Concerning Halloween and its Satanic Origins

Halloween is a Satanic Holiday

Fundamentalist Pastor C.H. Fisher Dishes Out the Truth About “Helliween”

Happy Halloween! by ObstacleChick

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.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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: Every Word of the Bible Comes Straight From God

bible

It is also plain that the inspiration of Scripture extends to every part of it. Even its historic records must be treated in the same way as its doctrinal statements. In fact, we can draw no line of separation between the two here, for some of the most important views of divine truth which the Bible contains, are embodied in the incidents which it narrates.

If we may not, then, speak of inspired facts, it is nevertheless evident that divine wisdom was needed by those who record these facts, lest they should be so stated as to intercept or obscure the light of divine truth which was let in upon the world in this way.

Nor can it be denied that divine wisdom was also needed for the selection of the facts which were to be recorded. In one word, we must recognize, from the first page of Scripture to the last, the presence of the Spirit of God, not destroying the individuality of the writers, but superintending its actings, prompting the communications which it was needful to make, restraining them from those which would have marred the design of their revelations, letting mind meet mind in the sacred page, and yet so pervading every portion with heavenly wisdom and divine grace, as to make the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, a volume which is all given by inspiration of God.

— Alexander MacEwan, ‘The Revelation Embodied in Scripture Supernatural, as Contradistinguished from the Productions of merely Human Thought and Genius’ in Patrick Fairbairn et al., Divine Revelation Explained and Vindicated: A Course of Lectures for the Times, Delivered in Glasgow in the Spring of 1866

Questions: Was Biblical Inerrancy the Primary Reason I Deconverted?

i have a question

I put out the call to readers, asking them for questions they would like me to answer. If you have a question, please leave it here or email me. All questions will be answered in the order in which they are received.

Emersonian asked:

I suppose, not to assume that I understood Steve’s question better than he does (especially since he’s commented above) — the follow-up question is this: was there a line for you between rejecting biblical inerrancy/Christ’s divinity and embracing atheism? Obviously there are many folks (myself included) who believe in a concept of “god” without the trappings of evangelical Christianity . . . so I’d say, even if this wasn’t the question Steve was really asking, do you feel that you went through multiple stages of detachment from religion (rejecting evangelical Christianity, then Christianity as a whole upon further examination, then rejection of the concept of a God of any kind) or was it all a package deal — if the evangelical view isn’t true then all of it must be BS? I know that you and Polly did attend non-evangelical churches of various types after your departure from your former congregation: how did that inform your eventual acceptance of your own atheism?

Perhaps what Emersonian wants to know is whether I think I threw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater; that in abandoning Evangelicalism (the bathwater), I threw out God (the baby) altogether. I certainly understand how someone might read my story, miss a few of the connecting dots, and come to this conclusion. However, this is not what happened, as I shall explain below.

I have been asked on several occasions if I thought I would still be a Christian had I begun life in liberal Christianity instead of Evangelicalism? This is a good question, but one, of course, that I cannot answer. Playing the “what might have been” game is an interesting endeavor, but it is impossible to know how things might have turned out had I walked through door number one instead of door number three. I am sixty-two years old. The sum of my life is a long string of choices. Each choice sent me down a certain path. A different decision along the way would have sent me in a different direction. Maybe I would have married a different woman, gone to a different college, chosen a different profession, or lived in a different state. The fact remains, however, that I made certain choices that resulted in certain outcomes. So it is with me being an Evangelical Christian for 50 years of my life. I was born to Evangelical parents, grew up in an Evangelical home, attended Evangelical churches, went to an Evangelical college, and married an Evangelical woman. We spent the next twenty-five years ministering in Evangelical congregations, gave birth to six Evangelical children, and had numerous Evangelical cats and dogs.

My life was so deeply immersed in the Way, Truth, and Life of Evangelical Christianity that even today, eleven years removed from the day I walked out the Ney United Methodist Church for the last time, I wrestle with the vestigial remains of Evangelicalism. Now, this does not mean that I, deep down in my heart of hearts, still yearn to be a Christian. I don’t. What it does mean, however, is that five decades of Evangelical training and indoctrination left a deep scar upon my life; a scar that is fading with time, but will likely never totally fade away.

It is certainly true that coming to understand that the Bible was not an inspired, inerrant, infallible text shook my religious foundation. “If the Bible is NOT what Evangelicals claim it is,” I asked myself, “are any of its teachings true?” Answering this question forced me to re-study the central claims of Christianity; especially beliefs that were supernatural in nature. From creation to apocalypse, I took a careful look at the doctrines I once held dear. I painfully concluded that the central claims of Christianity could not be rationally and intellectually sustained.

I have always been the type of person who follows the evidence wherever it leads. This is why my theological foundation shifted several times when I was a Christian. I entered the ministry as an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher. Over time, I abandoned cheap grace, one-two-three, repeat-after-me soteriology and embraced Calvinism. A decade or so later I abandoned Calvinism. When I left the ministry in 2005, I was preaching what some of my critics called a social, works-based gospel. I was a far different preacher and man in 2005 from the one I was when I enrolled in classes at Midwestern Baptist College in 1976. Time changes all of us, and I am no exception.

Take my eschatological beliefs. For many years, I held to a dispensational, pretribulational, premillennial eschatology. Once I embraced Calvinism, I adopted a posttribulational, amillennial eschatology. Countless other beliefs changed over the years. The more I read, the more my beliefs evolved. This approach to gaining knowledge continued as I contemplated leaving Christianity. The goal has always been the same: to know the truth.

“Why didn’t I become a liberal Christian?” you might ask. Surely, I could have abandoned Evangelicalism, yet held on to the Christian God. Maybe, but I doubt it. I value truth more than many liberal/progressive Christians do. Liberals seem willing to jettison virtually every Christian belief save believing in the existence of Jesus/God. Their beliefs can fit on the front side of a 3×5 card. I find myself asking, “why bother?” Such people are usually universalists, so there’s no concern about unbelief landing anyone in Hell. I suppose there is value in the social aspects of belonging to a church, but I enjoy sleeping in on Sundays far more than I do listening to terrible, lifeless sermons and attempting to sing songs best suited for the Vienna Boys Choir.

After I left the ministry and before I deconverted, our family visited over 100 churches in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Arizona, and California. (Please see But Our Church is DIFFERENT!) We attended churches across the sectarian Christian spectrum. The only churches we avoided were IFB congregations. Our goal was to find a church to call home that took seriously the teachings of Jesus. After three years of searching, we concluded that all the churches we visited were pretty much the same. Sure, we experienced different liturgies, different worship/preaching styles, etc., but at a foundational level, these churches differed very little from each other.  I know, I know, every church thinks theirs is “special.”  Every church thinks their buffet is better than those of other churches. Every church thinks their flavor of ice cream (please see My Heart Goes Out to You or Please Try my Flavor of Ice Cream) is better than any other flavor. That’s what happens when you spend your life in inbred relationships; when you spend your life in religious bubbles that give the appearance of rightness. Ultimately, it was exposure to the “world” that led me down the path of deconversion. Once freed from the authoritarian hold of the inerrant Word of God, I was free to read and study whatever I wanted. I was no longer walled in by Evangelical beliefs. I was free to follow the path wherever it went. This led to where I am today.

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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