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Tim Wildmon Says Satan Hates the United States

satan hates americaTim Wildmon, president of American Family Association, had this to say yesterday on the Point of View radio program:

“God made a special carve-out, if you will, in the late 1700s to create this new country called the United States of America. It was all birthed out of biblical values or, as my dad calls it, the mind of Christ [for the purpose of spreading] the Christian Gospel all over North America and then we spread the Christian Gospel all over the world. And by ‘we,’ I mean American Christians.” “This is a spiritual war for America and I think Satan hates America because America has spread the Gospel around the world and we still have a majority Christian nation. That’s my view. I can’t prove it but I think that’s why we’re so engaged and we see so much going on for our country’s future.”

First, I find it interesting that Wildmon ignores the first hundred years of American history. Why is that? Perhaps he  wants to steer clear of the genocide perpetrated by America’s first settlers on Native Americans. Or perhaps he wants to distance himself from the fact that commerce and trade were the primary reason settlers migrated to America.

Second, there is little to no evidence for the United States being “birthed out of biblical values.”  Wildmon is taking his fundamentalist beliefs and attempting to read them back into history. He, like David Barton, scours history for evidence to bolster his claim. So far, the evidence is scant and I don’t expect any to be forthcoming. Certainly, some of the founders of the United States were Christians, but I seriously doubt that any of them were Evangelical. Many of them were deists.

Third, commerce and control of taxation were the primary reasons for the founding of the United States. The tea thrown into Boston Harbor was not tossed overboard because of a lack of religious freedom.

Fourth, America has not spread the gospel all around the world. The vast majority of world citizens are NOT Christian.  And those who are belong to sects that Wildmon likely thinks preach a false gospel. (i.e. Roman Catholicism) According to a 2012 Pew Research report:

  • There are 2.2 billion Christians in the world (32%)
  • About 50% of Christians are Catholic
  • About 37% of Christians are Protestant (this includes Evangelicals, Anglicans)
  • About 12% of Christians are Greek/Russian Orthodox

According to Wikipedia:

There are an estimated 285,480,000 Evangelicals, corresponding to 13.1% of the Christian population and 4.1% of the total world population. The Americas, Africa and Asia are home to the majority of Evangelicals. The United States has the largest concentration of Evangelicals.Evangelicalism is gaining popularity both in and outside the English-speaking world, especially in Latin America and the developing world.

According to Operation World, there are about 550 million Evangelicals in the world. Regardless of which number is used, Evangelicals are 4-8% of the world’s population. So much for “spreading” the good news of the gospel. The true gospel of the United States is capitalism. When IN GOD WE TRUST was put on our money they left a word out. It should have said In THIS God we Trust.

Fifth, the United States is a Christian nation in name only. Surely, Wildmon would agree that one of the marks of being a Christian is regularly attending a Christian church. Yet, the vast majority of Americans never, rarely, or infrequently attend church. 63% of Evangelicals attend church weekly, but the same cannot be said for other Christian sects. Like many Evangelical zealots, I suspect Wildmon conflates Evangelical Christianity with generic Christianity.  At best, the United States has a cultural form of Christianity, and if we want to see what future awaits us, all we need to do is look at Europe, especially England.

Sacrilegious Humor: Religion by Jim Jefferies

This is the eighteenth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit 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 email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s bit is Religion by Jim Jefferies.

Warning, many of the comedy bits in this series will contain profanity. You have been warned.

Video Link

Armchair Evangelical Psychologists

armchair psychologist 2When I started blogging in 2007, I made the decision to use my real name as I attempted to tell my story. I also decided that I would not protect the guilty. Since Evangelical churches, pastors, parachurch groups and the college I attended are a part of my storyline, I decided their names should be part of my story. Doing this has upset a lot of people, especially when a web search for their name, church, or group brings up my blog on the first page.

My writing is also prominently featured on the No Longer Quivering site, along with a handful of other sites I’ve either written a guest post for or participated in an interview. (I recently did an interview with Scott Lohman on Atheists Talk) I also write 8-12 letters a year to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

If you take time to search for websites mentioning my name, you will find sites with articles deconstructing my life. You will also find my name and articles mentioned on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Free Jinger, Reddit, and a number of public/private sites.

Since I write using my real name and I am the only Bruce Gerencser in the world, it is not hard to find a wealth of information, positive and negative. I knew when I started blogging that I would open myself up to scrutiny. I knew that people would lie about me, distort my story, and try to besmirch my character. This is the price I pay for being a public figure.

Those of you who have read this blog for years know I stopped blogging when the emotional and mental stress became too much. I think, thanks to my seeing a counselor on a regular basis, that I have learned to handle the stress that comes from having a public blog that is widely read. This doesn’t mean that I plan on blogging until Jesus comes again, but I hope I have enough mental and emotional wherewithal to withstand the pressures that come my way. If anything puts an end to my writing career it will be chronic illness and pain.

Recently, a man by the name of Steve Ransom sent me an email that I shared with readers in a post titled Steve Ransom Lays Down a Challenge to Bruce and His Fellow Atheists. He purported to have a new argument that he was sure would set me back on the right path to God. All he really had was a deconstruction of my life and how I had followed a false God. There was a time such a deconstruction would cause me mental and emotional angst. Not any more.

When I started blogging I thought if I just told my story people would understand, even if they disagreed with me. I thought if I just explained myself that my critics would at least understand my viewpoint. I know, quite naïve of me.

This subject came up one day during counseling. I expressed my dismay over Evangelicals not being willing to accept my explanation of my life. Who knows my life better than me, right? My counselor told me:

Bruce, you think they care what you think? They don’t give a shit about what you think.

And he is right. I know that those who tear into my life aren’t interested in anything I have to say. They have read a handful of posts, maybe even 25 or 30, and they are now ready to render judgment, and render they do. It’s happened uncounted times over the years, and it will happen in future. Evangelicals can’t help themselves, so I let them have one opportunity to say whatever is on their mind. One comment, that’s it.

There was a time when I engaged every Evangelical commenter. I thought if I just explained myself they would understand. I now know better. Now that I know they don’t give a shit, neither do I.

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Evangelical Culture Warriors Find New Enemy

slide into modernism

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex-marriage, handing Evangelical culture warriors a bitter defeat. Unless they can figure out how to remove several Supreme Court justices or amend the U.S. Constitution, Evangelicals must live with the fact that same-sex marriage is legal.

The culture war pits Evangelicalism, along with Mormonism and conservative Catholicism,  against any societal ill considered by Evangelicals to be a sin against God or a move away from Christian nationalism. Now that they have lost the homosexual/same-sex marriage battle, Evangelicals must find another enemy to fight against. According to Think Progress writer Jack Jenkins,  the new enemy is liberal/progressive Christianity: (link no longer active)

For decades, conservative Christians who oppose LGBT equality have singled out the federal government or secular atheists as their preferred enemy in public settings, blasting both groups for supposedly attacking “traditional marriage” or infringing on their religious liberty. Yet in the months surrounding the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the country, right-wing Christians have become increasingly willing to cast blame — seemingly hypocritically — on a group they have often dismissed or outright ignored: Progressive Christians, especially those who support marriage equality.

The first hints of a growing front against liberal Christians came in May, when a coalition of conservative churches in Fountain Hills, Arizona publicly ganged up on a local progressive Methodist community. Unhappy with the church’s teachings, eight congregations launched a campaign entitled “Progressive Christianity: Fact or Fiction?,” a coordinated teaching and preaching series that included op-eds, a half-page advertisement in a local newspaper, and a massive banner with “progressive” written in jagged red letters and hemmed in quotation marks.

“The progressives are at it again, and for a small fee you can join the primary proponent of this apostate religious movement to get answers,” Tony Pierce, a pastor of First Baptist Church of Fountain Hills and one of the participants in the effort, wrote in a letter to the editor. “The good thing about the progressive movement is it gives people a clear choice. The ironic thing about progressive Christianity is that it is neither!”

The source of their outrage? Rev. David Felten, the left-leaning pastor of Fountains United Methodist Church. He reportedly stoked ire by preaching a variety of progressive concepts to his parishioners, such as theological support for interfaith dialogue, scientific discovery, and, of course, LGBT equality.

Felten, like many progressive Christians, was used to criticism for his views — he has even published a book about progressive Christianity. But the intensity of the local attack — which included churches from denominations that are generally more liberal than his own United Methodist Church — caught him off guard.

This same sentiment reemerged in June in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges, which was gleefully celebrated by a host of progressive faith groups. Just a few days after the decision, Kevin DeYoung, a pastor in East Lansing, Michigan, published a blog post at the Gospel Coalition entitled “40 Questions For Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags” that quickFor decades, conservative Christians who oppose LGBT equality have singled out the federal government or secular atheists as their preferred enemy in public settings, blasting both groups for supposedly attacking “traditional marriage” or infringing on their religious liberty. Yet in the months surrounding the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the country, right-wing Christians have become increasingly willing to cast blame — seemingly hypocritically — on a group they have often dismissed or outright ignored: Progressive Christians, especially those who support marriage equality.

The first hints of a growing front against liberal Christians came in May, when a coalition of conservative churches in Fountain Hills, Arizona publicly ganged up on a local progressive Methodist community. Unhappy with the church’s teachings, eight congregations launched a campaign entitled “Progressive Christianity: Fact or Fiction?,” a coordinated teaching and preaching series that included op-eds, a half-page advertisement in a local newspaper, and a massive banner with “progressive” written in jagged red letters and hemmed in quotation marks.

“The progressives are at it again, and for a small fee you can join the primary proponent of this apostate religious movement to get answers,” Tony Pierce, a pastor of First Baptist Church of Fountain Hills and one of the participants in the effort, wrote in a letter to the editor. “The good thing about the progressive movement is it gives people a clear choice. The ironic thing about progressive Christianity is that it is neither!”
The source of their outrage? Rev. David Felten, the left-leaning pastor of Fountains United Methodist Church. He reportedly stoked ire by preaching a variety of progressive concepts to his parishioners, such as theological support for interfaith dialogue, scientific discovery, and, of course, LGBT equality.

Felten, like many progressive Christians, was used to criticism for his views — he has even published a book about progressive Christianity. But the intensity of the local attack — which included churches from denominations that are generally more liberal than his own United Methodist Church — caught him off guard.

This same sentiment reemerged in June in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges, which was gleefully celebrated by a host of progressive faith groups. Just a few days after the decision, Kevin DeYoung, a pastor in East Lansing, Michigan, published a blog post at the Gospel Coalition entitled “40 Questions For Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags” that quicly spread through conservative and progressive Christian circles. Many of the inquiries were phrased in an accusatory manner, harping on old tropes that LGBT parents harm children and that supporters of marriage equality also support polygamy: “Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?” question 14 asked, followed by, “Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?” and “On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?”

The post launched a heated war of words between progressive and conservative Christians, including LGBT evangelical Protestants such as Matthew Vines, who published his own list of 40 counter-questions in response. It, predictably, triggered spirited retorts from traditionalist conservatives.

But while DeYoung’s post was at least framed as an attempt at theological dialogue, other subsequent critiques of progressive faith have abandoned conversation for castigation. In mid-July, Peter Leithart, a Reformed theologian and head of the right-leaning Theopolis Institute, penned a piece in First Things that bemoaned the Court’s decision and explicitly asked conservatives to condemn LGBT-affirming Christians.

“Most important is what happens in the churches,” Leithart writes. “Even before Obergefell, some churches were making peace with same-sex marriage. Now that same-sex marriage is law, the tribe of ‘Good Churches’ will increase, and the division in the churches over sexual morality will sharpen. Many leaders, churches, and denominations have condemned the Court’s decision, and more will; but others support it, and we have no trans-denominational mechanism to adjudicate between them.”

Saying what’s right is necessary, but it’s not enough. Pastors need to be willing to say that other churches [that support marriage equality] are wrong, and dangerously so.”

Granted, conservative Christian denunciation of people who hold different beliefs than they do isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. Organizations such as the Institute on Religion and Democracy, which has spent years lobbying against LGBT equality from within several Christian denominations, have long sought the eradication of liberal theology. Right-leaning Catholics and evangelical Christian leaders such as Franklin Graham have repeatedly made sweeping claims as to what “Christians” believe, implying that people of faith who don’t share their views are not, in fact, Christians. What’s more, faith communities — conservative or otherwise — have lashed out at each other almost since their inception, so it’s not necessarily surprising that conservative Christians, having lost legal battles over LGBT issues, are now sliding into a theological debate with fellow believers.

Yet the newest push against liberal Christianity appears hypocritical, as it coincides with a massive campaign waged by various right-wing Christians to insist that the political left respect their “religious liberty” — namely, the right to deny jobs and services to LGBT people in the public sphere, private business, and in Christian schools by invoking faith. Within hours of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, Andrew Walker, Director of Policy Studies at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, began insisting that the decision will only lead to the erosion of religious liberty — for evangelical Christians.

“Slowly and surely, Americans are now witnessing a slow erosion of religious liberty happening in the public square,” he wrote. “From backlash at expressing a belief about marriage that results in dismissal, to the real fear that institutions that desire to maintain accreditation may not be able to do so, the concerns registered in the past are being catapulted into the present.”…

You can read the entire article here. (link no longer active)

Songs of Sacrilege: Shadows Die by Black Veil Brides

This is the thirty-fourth 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 Shadows Die by Black Veil Brides,an American rock band based in Hollywood, California.

Video Link

Lyrics

Tear down the cross,
Splinters and shards.
Remembered this Trojan horse
Rode to the land we enter.

We’ll burn away
And free our fallen brothers
From shackles made
Of steel and bones of soldiers.

Yeah!

Let shadows die
So I can feel alive.
A church of lies
Can’t tell me what is right.

Our little victories and desires won’t live on
Let shadows die
So I can feel alive, feel alive

I feel alive, yeah

In fear and faith
The candles light our freedom.
By tainted night we live this war of wisdom.

The streets are stained
With blood that ran their kingdom
And feed the beast that lies beneath our treason.

Let shadows die
So I can feel alive.
A church of lies
Can’t tell me what is right.

Our little victories and desires won’t live on.
Let shadows die
So I can feel alive, feel alive

F.E.A.R. round up these rebels
These deviants, these so-called Wild Ones
We will litter the streets with their bones
And annihilate the dangerous and obtuse ideas poisoning your children,
Endangering your freedom, giving rise to the destruction of the benevolent future we have prepared for you.
You belong to the shadows, and the shadows are where you will remain safe.
Do not disobey.

Let shadows die
So I can feel alive.
A church of lies
Can’t tell me what is right.

Our little victories and desires won’t live on.
Let shadows die
So I can feel alive, feel alive

(I feel alive)

 

Sacrilegious Humor: Going to Church by Bill Burr

This is the seventeenth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit 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 email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s bit is Going to Church by Bill Burr.

Warning, many of the comedy bits in this series will contain profanity. You have been warned.

Video Link

Sacrilegious Humor: Church, Religion, and God by Bill Burr

This is the sixteenth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit 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 email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s bit is Church, Religion, and God by Bill Burr.

Warning, many of the comedy bits in this series will contain profanity. You have been warned.

Video Link

Sacrilegious Humor: Christianity in a Nutshell by Dan Barker

This is the fifteenth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit 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 email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s bit is Christianity in a Nutshell by Dan Barker.

Warning, many of the comedy bits in this series will contain profanity. You have been warned.

Video Link

IFB Evangelist Allen Domelle Says Training Kids is Like Training Dogs

4 basic food groups
Cartoon by Randy Glasbergen

Did you know that training a child is a lot like training a dog?  Using Proverbs 22:6, train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it, as a foundation, Allen Domelle, editor of the Old Paths Journal and an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) evangelist, compares training a Rottweiler to training a child.  Domelle writes:

In recent years, I have owned several Rottweilers…One of the current dogs I got from them is Tydy. Tydy is a female Rottweiler who weighs in at about 100 pounds, and is all muscle. She is a beautiful dog! Like all Rottweilers, Tydy is a strong-minded dog and needs a strong owner. Don’t get me wrong, she is the most loving dog you can be around, but she is a very strong-willed dog which requires my wife, daughter and me to be sure to be strong, calm and assertive owners.

When I got her as a pup, I immediately started training her. For the most part, she was a pretty easy dog to train. One thing I quickly noticed about her is that it is very hard to break her focus once she gets sidetracked. She is a well-trained dog that I can take to any public place, but I have to be sure to stay engaged with her and keep her focused on what I command her to do.

One morning I was taking her for a walk, and I decided to try something different to keep her from being sidetracked when other people, dogs or distractions walked by us. I took a bag of dog treats and got her nose working instead of her eyes. I quickly found out that I could keep her focused by making me more attractive than those things that would normally sidetrack her. I learned to get a treat out and hold it by her nose which caused her to stay focused on me every time something came that usually sidetracked her. I learned by doing this that she wanted to stay with me more than she wanted to focus on anything else.

That morning it made me realize the importance of parents keeping God’s way attractive so that their children don’t get sidetracked by the Devil and the world. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Just like I train my dog to obey me, every parent has a responsibility to train their child in the right way of life. The age-old problem that most parents face is keeping their children walking in the right ways. I am by no means an expert in child rearing, but I learned that morning walking my dog that if parents would keep the right way attractive, then fewer children would be sidetracked by the world and the Devil.

The principles in training a child and a dog are very similar. It takes time to train. God did not tell us, “Teach a child in the way he should go,” but He commanded us to “Train up a child in the way he should go…” If we are going to keep our children walking in the right ways after they leave home, then we must keep God’s way more attractive than the world’s. There are several thoughts that come to mind when I think of keeping the way attractive.

Here’s a few of the comparisons Domelle makes between dog training and child training:

  • Training a dog is not always accepted by those who don’t know how to train dogs. Many who don’t know anything about training dogs will think you are being mean to the dog by not allowing the dog to do what it wants to do, but in the long run my dogs have much more freedom than theirs because I can take my dog in public off leash and they can’t. The dog trainer always has to keep a closed ear to the critics and keep their eye on the way they know will turn out a good dog.One thing you must always remember is that doing right is always right even when it seems nobody else is doing it. You must keep in mind that God’s way is always right whether or not others are doing it. If you do train your child in the way, you will find there will be times when criticism comes your way, but you must not forsake the way. Jesus says in John 14:6, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Don’t ever doubt the way because people have said that it doesn’t work. Don’t change the way because society doesn’t agree with it. The way is always right even when the whole world doesn’t agree with it. You know where God’s way is taking your children, so don’t leave it because another way seems more attractive.
  • Training a dog takes patience, hard work, time and determination. If training a dog was easy, then everybody would train their own dog. We know it’s not easy because most people want someone else to train their dog for them. They want others to do the work that theyshould be doing. What most dog owners don’t realize is that they can get the dog professionally trained, but if the dogis going to continue to act the way it should, then the owners are going to haveto be consistent with the rules of training when the dog comes home. This won’t always be easy. That is why you have so many dogs that are out of control.Training children is not an easy task, but let me assure you that you are up to the task. Just like people want someone to train their dog, many parents leave the spiritual training to the church, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders or to the Christian school, but God places that responsibility on the parent. Training children takes wisdom, time, patience, hard work, communication and determination by both parents. If training children were easy, then every child would turn out right. What I have found out is that most parents struggle with their children because they have not taken the time to train them. They tell them what to do, but training is showing them how to do it and following through with each directive. Training children in the way is not going to be easy, but it is very much worth the time and effort when your children continue walking in God’s way.

You can read the entire article here. (link no longer active)

love and obey

While I certainly can find points of agreement with Domelle, I find it troubling that he would equate training a dog with training a child. Dog owners often take their dog to obedience school. I suspect, knowing that Domelle is IFB, that Domelle thinks that the home and the church is akin to a dog obedience school. Train them when they are young and they will obey and turn out well. Teach a child to come when called for, sit or run when commanded to do so, and urinate and defecate in the proper place, and all will be well, right?

Fundamentalists like Domelle think that every problem can be solved with discipline and obedience. Read the Bible, pray, attend church, tithe, and witness. These must be drilled into a Christians head until they become second nature. These are the first steps, the first works, that a Christian must take on the path of obedience. Once indoctrinated, they are more likely to obey the other laws, commands, and precepts found in the Bible. Start young, and as the child grows older it will be easier to get them to accept whatever the pastor says is truth. If the pastor says, THE BIBLE SAYS, that’s the dog’s, I mean the child’s cue to perk up, listen, and obey.

Like every IFB preacher, Domelle sees Proverbs 22:6 as a blueprint for raising children who turn out right,  Domelle believes parents must train their children in THE WAY to have any hope of their children turning out as God-fearing, pastor obeying Christians. According to Proverbs 22:6, if parents train their child in the proper way, when the child is old they will not depart from their training. However, as the readership of this blog can attest, this training does not automatically result in adult children loving, serving, and obeying the Christian God.

Polly and I were blessed with six children. From birth, we trained them in THE WAY, yet none of them are in the Evangelical church today. Why is this? Shouldn’t the early dog God training have ensured their obedience? All of them were late teens and older when we stopped walking in THE WAY. Why are none of them Evangelical today? The most religious among them is a Catholic, and in Domelle’s IFB world, Catholicism is a cult, a false religion. Was there some flaw in the training they received that resulted in all six of them abandoning the faith of their childhood? One would think after fifteen to twenty-nine years of indoctrination that they would have stayed on the straight and narrow. But, they didn’t. Why?

Domelle’s child rearing model is based on strict rules and obedience. Do this and thou shalt live, is the gospel of Evangelicalism. For all their talk about grace, the Evangelical really believes in a gospel of works. Believe the right things + live the right way = a divine doggie treat called heaven after death. While many Evangelicals will likely object to my characterization of their beliefs, once all the flowery theological jargon is stripped away, what is left is a belief system that requires fidelity to certain beliefs and a life lived according to those beliefs. Anyone who doesn’t believe the right things and live the right way doesn’t get a divine doggie treat when they die.

While I am hesitant to use my children as an example, I think doing so will help illustrate the fallacy of Proverbs 22:6 and the Domelle Child Training Program®.  Ask anyone who knew our children when they were young and they will tell you that our children were polite, respectful, obedient children.  All of them made a profession of faith, were active in church, and when they were old enough to work they gave liberally to the church, missions, and the needy.  They were, in every way, the perfect example of obedient Christian children. Yet, look at them today. What in the H-E-L-L happened?

When their father, the only pastor they ever had, left the ministry and later left Christianity, they were forced to fend for themselves. No longer were they trained pets, obedient to every command from the earthly and heavenly father. Instead, they became wild animals roaming free without the leash of the Bible or the hovering presence of their father. Instead of following a predetermined path, each of them were/are free to wander down a path of their own choosing. No dog whistle or stern command to call them back. They are F-R-E-E, free from the strictures of Evangelicalism, the Bible, their parents, and grandparents.

To the outsider, this freedom looks like confusion. Behind their back, fellow employees whisper, (please read out loud with “concerned” Christian voice)  did you know  _____________ Dad was a pastor? Did you know that _______________ Dad is the atheist who writes those anti-Christian letters in the newspaper? What happened to them? Freedom is what happened to them. Each of our children are free to choose their own path. If they are happy, then Polly and I are happy.

In April of 2009, I sent a letter to family, friends, and former parishioners. In this letter I stated:

I know some of you are sure to ask, what does your wife think of all of this? Quite surprisingly, she is in agreement with me on many of these things. Not all of them, but close enough that I can still see her standing here. Polly is no theologian, She is not trained in theology as I am. She loves to read fiction. I was able to get her to read Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus and she found the book to be quite an eye opener.

Polly is free to be whom and whatever she wishes. If she wanted to start attending the local Fundamentalist Baptist Church she is free to do so and even has my blessing. For now, she doesn’t.  She may never believe like I believe, but in my new way of thinking that is OK. I really don’t care what others think. Are you happy? Are you at peace? Are you living a good, productive life? Do you enjoy life? Yes, to these questions is good enough for me.

I have six children, three who are out on their own. For many years I was the spiritual patriarch of the family. Everyone looked to me for the answers. I feel somewhat burdened over my children. I feel like I have left them out on their own with no protection. But, I know they have good minds and can think and reason for themselves. Whatever they decide about God, religion, politics, or American League baseball is fine with me.

All I ask of my wife and children is that they allow me the freedom to be myself, that they allow me to journey on in peace and love. Of course, I still love a rousing discussion about religion, the Bible, politics, etc. I want my family to know that they can talk to me about these things, and anything else for that matter, any time they wish.

Opinions are welcome. Debate is good. All done? Let’s go to the tavern and have a round on me. Life is about the journey, and I want my wife and children to be a part of my journey and I want to be a part of theirs.

The sentiment I expressed in 2009, still holds today.

Training children like someone would train a dog, robs a child of their ability to reason and think for themselves. This why people like Domelle tell parents to send their children to a CHRISTIAN school or home school them, and when they graduate from high school it’s off to a CHRISTIAN college.  From birth to graduation from college, the children are indoctrinated, taught to only view the world a certain way. And if they color outside of the lines? Like with a disobedient dog, they are punished. For many, this punishment is enough to make them heel, but for others, they rebel. They tire of being told what to believe, what to think, or how to live. Once  free of their leash or the stake in the back yard, they run until they can no longer see from whence they came. While this  new-found freedom is dangerous and fraught with difficulty, they have no intention of returning to a life defined by commands and obedience.

Evidence for the Existence of Evangelical God: Bruce, Look at the Stars

carl sagan dot

Evangelicals believe the Christian God reveals himself to every human through:

  • Creation
  • Conscience
  • Divine Revelation (The Bible)

In this post, I want to focus on the Christian God revealing himself to us through creation. On a clear night, I can look skyward and see a vast array of stars and planets. Recently, Jupiter and Venus were in perfect alignment, a wonder to behold in the Western sky. Last week, the New Horizons spacecraft sent back pictures of Pluto, amazing both the atheist and the Evangelical.

Both atheists and Evangelicals look to the sky and contemplate its vastness and awesomeness. When Evangelicals look at the sky they see the handiwork of their God. They are certain that the Christian God created everything. Atheists, however, point to science and its explanations of the universe. They have a lot of questions, questions science has not yet answered. These questions may or may not be answered in the future. Evangelicals, using the creation framework in Genesis 1-3, are satisfied that the Christian God created the universe. No matter what science tells us about the universe, the Bible explanation is the superior and final explanation. If science conflicts with the Bible, science is wrong.

When Evangelicals use the creation argument with me, I agree with them. I don’t really agree with them, but for the sake of argument, I say, OK, I agree that someone can look at the night sky and wonder if a God created everything. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that a God, a divine force, the first cause, the master holographic programmer created or designed the universe. Since science has yet to tell us all we need to know about the beginning of the universe, perhaps one day we will discover that a God of some sort created everything. I doubt it, but it is certainly possible, just like it is possible the Cincinnati Reds will overcome a 16.5 game deficit in the standings and win the World Series.

Once I grant the Evangelical position, I then ask, how does one get from A GOD to THE GOD, the God of the Evangelical Bible? What is there in the night sky that says the Evangelical God created the universe? It is at this point the Evangelical says, THE BIBLE SAYSIn the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Once Evangelicals appeal to the Bible, they’ve lost the argument. Why? Because science tells us that the creation account in Genesis is not true. Once drawn back into the confines of the printed page, Evangelicals are forced to defend all sorts of absurd beliefs, beliefs that can only be swallowed with a large dose of blindness and faith.

But, Bruce, look at the various creation myths. Don’t they ALL testify to there being a creator? Again, Evangelicals are not arguing for a generic, adaptable creator. They are arguing for a specific creator, the one spoken of in the Bible. Even here, I am willing to grant the Evangelical’s assertion. The question remains the same. Why is the Evangelical creation myth true and all others false? Why should I believe the Evangelical myth and not one of the other creation myths?

By appealing to the Bible and the creation account recorded in Genesis 1-3, Evangelicals also must defend everything from a talking, walking upright snake to polytheism. Since the night sky itself is not enough to tell us the Evangelical God created the universe, Evangelicals must appeal to the presuppositions they’ve derived from the Bible. With one hand, they point to the sky and with the other hand point to the Bible. As I have stated many times before, the Abrahamic religions are text-based. For Evangelicals, the Bible is the foundation upon which their religious house is built. Destroy the foundation and the Evangelical house comes tumbling down.\

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Overheard at the Watercooler: Even Without Proof, I Just Believe

just gotta believe

What follows is a discussion between two Christians about atheists/atheism. This is an actual conversation, overheard by someone I know quite well.

The discussion began with one woman saying that atheists are closed minded. Then the discussion moved to a particular atheist:

Woman: I don’t know why they don’t believe in God. They weren’t raised that way. But, they don’t. How can they live thinking this is it? I guess we just love them.

Other Woman: Yep, you gotta have hope in the afterlife. I don’t care what anyone says. Even without proof, I just believe. You just KNOW God is out there.

Just two ignorant Christians? Here’s what Paul said in Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (KJV)

Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.  (CEV)

The Christian’s hope rests in things they have never seen. By faith, they believe the Christian God exists, the Bible is true, and heaven awaits the saved and hell awaits the lost. They have no proof, no evidence that these things are true or exist, That’s what it really comes down to…either you believe or you don’t. Either you have faith or you don’t.  All the preaching, Bible verse quoting, and hate mail won’t change the fact that I do not have the requisite faith necessary to believe.

What would it take to change your mind, Bruce? Jesus stopping by for lunch would certainly do the trick, along with Jesus turning water into wine and helping the Cincinnati Reds win the World Series. Just three little things that should be no trouble for the God who holds the universe in the palm of his hands.

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It’s in the Bible: Who Won’t be in Heaven

stairway to heaven

Evangelicals believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. It is not a truth, it is THE truth. Who created the universe? The Bible has the answer. Who is God? The Bible has the answer. What is sin? The Bible has the answer. What happens after we die? The Bible has the answer. Is there a heaven and a hell? The Bible has the answer. What must a person do to be forgiven by God and delivered from sin? The Bible has the answer. As the old junior church classic goes:

The B-i-b-l-e, yes that’s the book for me

I stand alone on the Word of God

The B-i-b-l-e

BIBLE

If every person who has ever lived, past present and future, ends up after death in either heaven or hell, it’s very important for us to know exactly what God’s Word has to say on the matter. Are there certain sins that will keep a person out of heaven and guarantee them a bunk in hell with Christopher Hitchens? (Read Christopher Hitchens is in Hell.)  It’s at this point that many Evangelicals begin to play dumb, suggesting that it is up to God to judge someone. But wait a minute, isn’t the Bible the Word of God? Aren’t its words so clear that even a child can understand them? If the most important decision people will ever make is to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, shouldn’t the prospective Christians be able to go to the Bible and find out exactly what sins keep a person out of heaven?

Well, the Evangelical says…really it’s only the sin of unbelief that sends a person to hell. Really? Is that what the inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word of God says? Shouldn’t everything, especially those issues that have eternal import, be judged by the Holy Bible? Surely God is clear on this matter, yes?

Many Evangelicals genuinely want to be thought of as nice people. They want to be respected and thought well of. So, when confronted with those who reject Jesus and live in a way that is contrary to the teachings of the Bible, they often refuse to say, as Jesus didexcept ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Many of the people who once called me pastor or preacher have a hard time believing and saying, Bruce Gerencser, you are headed for hell. They cannot fathom that the man who once preached to them the unsearchable riches of Christ and pointed them to the Jesus and his saving grace is now an atheist headed for hell. Some even go so far as to say that I am still a Christian.

The Bible has several lists of sins that will keep a person out of heaven and earn them a lifetime room in hell. Let’s take a look at what GOD says about the matter.

Revelation 21:8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

This passage says the following people will go to hell after they die:

  • Fearful (cowardly)
  • Unbelieving
  • Abominable
  • Murderers
  • Whoremongers (sexually immoral)
  • Sorcerers (magic)
  • Idolaters
  • Liars

1 Corinthians 6:9,10

 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

This passage says the following people will go to hell after they die:

  • Unrighteous
  • Fornicators
  • Idolaters
  • Adulterers
  • Effeminate
  • Abusers of themselves with mankind
  • Thieves
  • Covetous
  • Drunkards
  • Revilers
  • Extortioners

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.

This passage says the following sins will guarantee a person a bunk in hell after they die:

  • Adultery
  • Fornication
  • Uncleanness
  • Lasciviousness (wantonness, sensuality)
  • Idolatry
  • Witchcraft (drug use)
  • Hatred
  • Variance (quarrelsome, contentious)
  • Emulations (envy, jealousy)
  • Wrath
  • Strife
  • Seditions (dissension, division)
  • Heresies
  • Envyings
  • Murders
  • Drunkenness
  • Revellings (partying, rioting)
  • And such like (covering anything else we later make a sin)

Ephesians 5:5

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

This passage says the following people will go to hell after they die:

  • Whoremonger
  • Unclean person (impure, lewd, demonic)
  • Covetous man who is an idolater

Romans 1:26-32

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

This passage deals with those whom God has given over to a reprobate mind. Most Evangelicals believe a reprobate is a person who cannot be saved, a person whom God has turned his back on. The reprobate, thanks to a hard heart, is guaranteed a bunk in hell.  What sins are the mark of a reprobate:

  • Vile affections (homosexuality)
  • Filled with unrightousness
  • Fornication
  • Wickedness
  • Covetousness
  • Maliciousness
  • Envy
  • Murder
  • Debate
  • Deceit

They are whisperers, backbiters, and haters of God, who are:

  • Despiteful
  • Proud
  • Boasters
  • Inventors of evil things
  • Disobedient to parents
  • Without understanding
  • Covenantbreakers
  • Without natural affection
  • Implacable
  • Unmerciful

Reprobates not only do these things, they take pleasure in doing so. They sin with gusto!

The Bible is quite clear about who won’t be in heaven. Evangelicals don’t need to play dumb or stammer. All they need to do is point people to these verses. God has spoken! And why they are at it, they might want to re-read these passages. If we take God at his word, it seems quite clear that there will be NO Evangelicals in heaven. Think about all the Christians you know and the people you once attended church with. Think of the men who were once your pastor. Think about your Christian family. Aren’t all of them mentioned in one of these five Scripture passages?

Besides, the Bible says in 1 John 3:8,9:

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

The next time you come in contact with an Evangelical zealot, ask them if they have sinned. If they say YES, then quote the Good Book, telling them that:

  • Anyone who commits sins is of the devil
  • Whoever is born of God does not commit sin

If they have sinned then that means they are of the devil, are not a child of God, and are headed to hell like the rest of us unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines.

Just remember, it’s in the B-i-b-l-e.

Notes

Evangelicals have all kinds of explanations and justifications for why these verses don’t mean what say. Be prepared to be taken on a wild goose chase, with discussions meant to explain away or obfuscate the clear, unadulterated meaning of the Bible.

Evangelical preoccupation with sex?  As you can see from these verses, it started with a single man named Paul some 1,900 years ago.

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