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Local Christians Respond to Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

biblical marriage

On Friday, the godless, anti-American,socialistic, communistic,  jihadist, liberal, satanic-inspired U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ohio’s constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. Ohio Governor John Kasich, also known as Mr. Wall Street, publicly admitted the marriage battle is over: (link no longer active)

“I’ve always felt that marriage is, you know, one of these traditions between a man and a woman, but the Court has spoken. And I’ve said all along that when the Court makes a decision, we abide by the law of the land. And they made their determination and—just move on. It doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed, I am, but the decision has been made.”

 

Williams County Commissioner Al Word, formerly the sheriff of Williams County, evidently slept through high school government class. Word told The Bryan Times (behind paywall):

“Why don’t they change the voting process so the minority always wins?  I believe everyone should be treated with respect, whoever they are, but this has gone completely over the edge. I’m in total disbelief and most people don’t realize the gravity of the whole thing. It changes who we are and how our issues get decided.”

Evidently, Word thinks the United States is a democracy where the majority rules. However, as anyone who has ever taken a government class should know, the United States is a republic with a representative form of government. Majority or minority has little to do with it, and in the case of the Supreme Court ruling, the issue is the court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, especially the equal protection clause.

I understand why Word is upset. In 2004, Ohioans voted to restrict marriage to “only a union between one man and one woman.” This constitutional amendment passed 62-38 percent statewide. In Williams County the margin was 73-27 percent. According to The Bryan Times, the voting margins were similar in nearby Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Putnam, Paulding, and Van Wert counties.

But, let’s look at the numbers (link no longer active) for God’s Kingdom-Northwest Ohio Division, also known as Williams County. In 2004, there were 26,722 registered voters in Williams County and 18,294 of them voted on the marriage amendment. (68% voter turnout) 13,275 voted for Issue One, and 5,019 vote against the amendment. Yes, 73% of those who voted cast a vote in favor of the marriage amendment. However, when measured against the number of registered voters, the number drops to 50%. As in the case of most Ohio ballot initiatives, they are voted up or down by a majority of a minority. (in 2004, Ohio had its largest voter turnout in years)

I think Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is right when he said:

“The court has spoken. The public is behind the court and the court speaks for the public…I am convinced Ohio voters, if they had it to do over would agree. Marriage equality is the law of the land now, period, just like civil rights. It’s a victory for everyone, gay and straight. Those who disagree will be relegated to the dustbin of history.”

After the Court’s decision, The Bryan Times contacted “virtually every church in Bryan”  to get a response. Only two pastors responded: Pat Schwenk, pastor of New Hope Community Church and Kevin Kellum, pastor of Grace Community Church. Both pastors were deeply disturbed by the ruling.

Schwenk stated:

This is certainly not the firs time the U.S. Supreme Court has made a ruling contrary to the truth of God’s word. It’s not a decision we celebrate, nor is it one we despair over either. God is still in control. Regardless of the moral and spiritual drift happening in our country, our response should be to faithfully honor God first, while loving others–even when there is disagreement.

Kellum stated:

Troubling, for a number of reasons. The church’s worldview of marriage has always been that it’s a vow between a man and a woman. Now we’re in uncharted territory. We’ve talked about openly with the congregation. Our doors are open to any race, gender, and (sexual) orientation.  We still have hope and we still believe and obey the word of God and depend on him for guidance on our lives, and we continue to look to God for his definition (of marriage). I’m concerned that there is a whole generation of young people who have no foundation in the church’s teachings, and with this ruling, I expect that to continue, to present a challenge to the church.

Don’t be blinded and misled by the talk of loving others and open doors. These words are loaded with Evangelical presuppositions, and all that is meant by their perfidious words is:

Yes we love homosexuals, they need Jesus, so our doors are open so that they can repent and find Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And if they don’t, they are going to be eternally tortured by God in hell.

Neither pastor is willing to openly and without reservation embrace homosexuals and welcome them into the membership. Married same-sex couples will find that very few local churches are willing to treat them as they do married heterosexual couples. As long as the Bible is the authoritative standard, same-sex couples will never be treated justly, fairly, and equally in churches like New Hope and Grace Community Church.

Over in Defiance County, the Crescent-News asked readers what they thought of the Court’s ruling. Here’s what several local fundamentalists had to say on the newspaper’s Facebook page:

crescent news 1

crescent news 2

crescent news 3

I left more comments on the Crescent-News’s page than anyone else, yet when the newspaper printed many of the comments in today’s edition of the paper, none of my comments were printed. It’s hard not to conclude that they either “overlooked” my comments, they were too long, too intellectual, or they didn’t want to give the village atheist any more press.

The Bryan Times was able to find an openly gay local man willing to comment. Here’s what Denver Henderson of Bryan had to say:

“Yesterday, I could do anything everyone else does–buy a car, own a house, pay taxes, fall in love–but there was always one thing I couldn’t do. Tomorrow I can. It’s not a big national question of ‘Can we?’ anymore. Now it’s the personal question of ‘Do we want to?’  (That kind of freedom is)  what it feels like to be a part of ‘We the People.’  It’s a big deal. It’s history happening right now and you don’t get to see that very often.”

Notes

Over the years, I’ve tried to give the Crescent-News editorial staff the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like not printing my comments, but I have reached a point where I am no longer willing to do so. If I am missing something here, then I’d love for Steve VanDemark, Dennis Van Scoder, Todd Helberg, Mark Froelich , or Bruce Hefflinger to point it out to me. From “lost” letters to the editor, a “lost” 35th wedding anniversary announcement, numerous resumes submitted for a photography position flushed down the toilet, and no response to emails, comments, and tweets, it’s hard not to conclude that the newspaper has no interest in engaging me at any level. Even when fundamentalists personally attack me in their letters to the editor, making inflammatory and untrue statements, the newspaper says nothing. Why is this?

Grace Community Church is a part of the Ohio Mennonite conference. While there has been some movement towards accepting same-sex marriage at the national level, I suspect most NW Ohio Mennonite pastors/churches consider homosexuality and same-sex marriage a sin.

New Hope Community Church is a garden variety Evangelical church. Here’s their doctrinal statement (proof texts removed):

The Infallibility of the Bible
We accept the miracles, creation, etc., as literal accounts.
To repudiate any portion of Scripture as unreliable is like changing an inch on a ruler.
If one inch is changed, the entire system of measurement is altered.

The Absolute Diety of Christ

The Virgin Birth of Christ

The Historical Creation of Man
Man did not accidentally evolve from lower forms of life.
God created man as a unique spiritual being.

The Sinful Nature of Man
Man is not basically good.
He is basically evil.

The Substitutionary Death of Christ
Others have died difficult, martyrs’ deaths.
Jesus is the only One who died for the sins of the world.

The Bodily Resurrection of Christ
Some say Christ arose in spirit or His teaching lives on.
But the Bibles teaches Jesus arose bodily from the grave.

A Literal Return of Christ to Earth as Promised

The Resurrection and Assignment of All People to Heaven or Hell
We are sometimes criticized for too rigid a stand.
But Jesus said, “Narrow is the way…”

Sacrilegious Humor: Biblical History by Robin Williams

This is the eighth 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 Biblical History by Robin Williams.

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

Video Link

I’m Not Preaching Now, I’m Telling the Truth

preaching

I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan from 1976-1979. Midwestern, started in 1954 by Alabama preacher Tom Malone, was a small fundamentalist Baptist college.  Malone pastored nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church. In the 1970’s, Emmanuel was one of the largest churches in the country. Today its buildings are shuttered and a FOR SALE sign sits in the dust-covered main entrance door.

During my time at Midwestern, I heard Tom Malone preach several hundred times. Considered by many to be a great pulpiteer, Malone’s preaching was fervent and punctuated with illustrations meant to drive home the point he was making. During one sermon, Malone said something I never forgot. In the middle of sharing an illustration, Malone said:

I’m not preaching now, I’m telling the truth.

Everyone laughed and then he finished his illustration.

Over the march of my life from infancy to the grave, I’ve heard thousands of sermons and preached thousands more. I’ve heard men that had no public speaking skills and others who were wordsmiths capable of enchanting hearers with their preaching and illustrations. Sadly, there are a lot more of the former than the latter.  Even though I am an atheist, I still enjoy hearing a well crafted sermon delivered by a man who knows how to turn a word into an epic Broadway production.

Preaching only the Bible is boring, uninspiring preaching. An effective sermon requires illustrations. Jesus was a master storyteller. His sermons made ample use of illustrations meant to drive home a spiritual point. A preacher that is good at his craft knows that illustrations are key to helping listeners understand and embrace his sermon. And therein lies the danger.

When I started preaching, I used illustrations from illustration books. As I aged and experienced more of life, I began to use more and more illustrations about my experiences and personal life. If a preacher isn’t careful, it is easy to massage his illustrations to “fit” a particular sermon or audience. Sometimes, the illustration becomes a lie.

As I mentioned above, I’ve heard a lot of sermons. I’ve heard thousands of illustrations and personal stories, all meant to get my attention or drive home a point. Over time, I came to understand that many preachers played loose with the truth, often shaping their stories to make a particular point or to cast themselves in a positive light. In other words, they lied, even if they don’t understand they are doing so. Often, a speaker can tell the same lie over and over until they reach a point where the lie become reality and they think it is the truth.

Take Jack Hyles, by all accounts a masterful speaker and storyteller. He was also a narcissistic liar. I heard Hyles preach numerous times at Sword of the Lord and Bible conferences. His sermons were usually long on illustrations and short on Scripture and exegesis. For Hyles, it was all about the sermon, the story, and the invitation. Everything he said was meant to bring hearers to a point of making a decision for or against Jesus.

Here’s a story Hyles told about winning an auto mechanic to Christ:

When I got to his house, he was working under the car. He was lying face up on a creeper and could not see me as I arrived.

“Hyles Mechanic Service!” I shouted.

“Who called you?” he asked.

“I was not called,” I replied, “I was sent.”

“Well, roll yourself under and see if you can see what is the trouble.”

I got another creeper, laid down on it, and roiled myself under the car with him.

“Looks like to me you need the valves ground,” I shouted.

“How can you tell from under here?”

“I am not talking about your car. I am talking about you.”

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am Pastor Hyles of First Baptist Church.”

Then he became inquisitive, and I explained to him that he needed Christ as Saviour to make him a new creature and that he was in worse shape than the car. With both of us lying on our backs looking up at the bottom side of the car, I told him how to be saved. When time came to pray the sinner’s prayer, he closed by saying, “Lord, I am just coming for a general overhauling.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both. The next Sunday he came forward in our service professing his faith in Christ.

Great story, and one I have no doubt is an admixture of truth and lie. Every time I read a story like this I am reminded of that Sunday morning almost forty years ago when I heard Tom Malone say, “I’m not preaching now, I’m telling the truth.”  Now, that will preach, as the Baptists like to say.

Songs of Sacrilege: Eve by Shelley Segal

This is the thirtieth 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 Eve by Shelley Segal, an Australian musician.

Video Link

Lyrics

The bible tells me I was made for and from man
And I must do for him everything that I can
I must surrender to his will, yeah I must submit
I can’t make the household decisions coz I am unfit
It tells me my place
With ever-lasting grace

The bible tells me I must be silent you can’t hear my voice
My role has been divinely defined and I have no other choice
I may not be a teacher of man, I must cover up my shame
These are the laws of the one who in vain I cannot name
He tells me my place
With ever-lasting grace

And my punishment for wanting to learn
Is a painful birth from which I may not return

The bible tells me that I am unclean
I am impure you cannot touch me and it has nothing to do with where I’ve been
It is part of who I am, It is because I corrupt man
I was asking for it just by being a woman
He tells me my place
With ever-lasting grace

And my punishment for wanting to learn
Is a painful birth from which I may not return

The bible tells me I was made for and from man
And I must do for him everything that I can
I must surrender to his will, yeah I must submit
I can’t make the household decisions coz I am unfit
It tells me my place
With ever-lasting grace

Songs of Sacrilege: Saved by Shelley Segal

This is the twenty-ninth 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 Saved by Shelley Segal, an Australian musician.

Video Link

Lyrics

Say that i need to be saved
Say with me the devils got his way
I want to know how when you are praying
And when you are dooms-daying
How you think you know that someone is listening to what you are saying

So you think that you
Can tell us how to live our lives
Never questioning the source from which your moral code derives
You think that suffering is part of some great plan that’s been devised
I wonder, I wonder
When we’ll be rid of your lies

Say I need to hear the truth
A sales-pitch of eternal life and eternal youth
All these blessings you are bestowing
Upon the one you say is all-knowing
Are they really deserved if ‘He’ is sending me where you say I am going?

So you think that you
Can tell us how to live our lives
Never questioning the source from which your moral code derives
You think that suffering is part of some great plan that’s been devised
I wonder, I wonder, I wonder, I wonder

What will it take for you
To start opening your eyes
To start questioning the bullshit everyone around you buys
You think it’s any of your business what goes on between my thighs?
I wonder, I wonder,
When we’ll be rid of your lies

 

He’s My Grandfather, Can’t You Tell?

karah and bruce gerencser 2015
Karah and Bruce Gerencser 2015

Most parents and grandparents go through periods of time when they wonder if their children/grandchildren like/love them. I know I’ve had moments where I’ve wondered if ___________ child or grandchild knew I even existed. Children go through phases ranging from clingy I need you to who are you?  As a young parent, I was certain my two oldest boys wanted nothing to do with me. Same goes for several of my granddaughters. I intellectually know that this is all part of their development, but who doesn’t want to feel needed and liked, right?

Thanks to being all jacked up on Lyrica and narcotics, I’ve been able to attend some of my grandchildren’s sporting events. I am easy to spot, the big man who looks like Santa Claus, the man who always wears a hat and suspenders and walks with a cool hand carved cane. That, and always having a monopod and camera with him.

On Wednesday, I attended my 8-year-old granddaughter Karah’s softball game. During the home half of one of the innings, I shuffled over to the Stryker dugout so I could take some photographs. As I aimed my camera towards the girls in the dugout, one of Karah’s teammates said. Who’s grandfather are you? I thought, here’s THAT moment. Will she own me? Without even pausing to think, Karah replied, He’s MY grandfather! And then she added, can’t you tell?  She seemed quite indignant that it was not evident to everyone that I was her grandfather.

These are the small moments that make your day, even when you are in tremendous pain.

Here’s some of the photographs I’ve shot in recent weeks.

karah gerencser softball 2015 (2)

karah gerencser softball 2015 (1)

karah gerencser softball 2015 (5)

karah gerencser softball 2015 (4)

karah gerencser softball 2015 (3)

karah gerencser softball 2015 (8)

karah gerencser softball 2015 (7)

karah gerencser softball 2015 (6)

Sacrilegious Humor: Various Bits on Religion by Rowan Atkinson

This is the seventh 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 Various Bits on Religion by Rowan Atkinson.

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

Video Link

Atheists Talk: Radio Interview on Sunday June 28, 2015

am950

This Sunday, I am scheduled to be interviewed on Atheists Talk, a program broadcast on AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota. The program, a production of Minnesota Atheists, is one hour-long and will be broadcast live from 9AM to 10AM Central time. Scott Lohman will be conducting the interview. Scott is a friend of mine. He regularly comments on this blog.

You can listen to the program here.  After the broadcast, a podcast will be available. I am not sure how long it takes for them to make the podcast available. You can access it here.

If asked for a zip code, please use 55412

Evangelical Mega-Churches Using Face Recognition Software to Keep Track of Parishioners

churchix face recognition
Churchix Face Recognition Software

Excerpt from Why Are Churches Using Creepy Face Recognition Technology? by Valerie Tarico:

Churches just got a new way to figure out who is sleeping in on Sunday morning: facial recognition software that scans the congregation and records who showed up. Churchix is a product of Skakash LLC, which sells Face-Six for law enforcement, border control, and commercial applications. According to CEO Moshe Greenshpan, in the 4 months since the technology launched, 30 churches have already deployed the software and service, which could be used to target members who need a nudge or to identify potential major donors among those who attend faithfully.

Make Disciples of Every Creature

Evangelical churches often center their theology on a New Testament verse called the Great Commission: Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel every creature. They do so with good reason. Almost 40 years ago, with the publication of Richard Dawkins’s book The Selfish Gene, the broad public realized that ideas can be viral self-replicators, just like genes are. A “copy-me command” is a powerful thing, whether it prompts its host to replicate a computer virus, chain mail, species or a set of religious beliefs.

Churches that grow fastest and biggest are those that put the “copy me” directive at the center of their priorities. They actively invest in recruiting, whether that means designing high quality print materials and websites, training “friendship missionaries,” launching social media campaigns, or conducting professional market analysis. By contrast with Europe, where religion often exists as a fading church-state monopoly, American churches are particularly entrepreneurial and many keep eyes open for business tools that can be applied to the business of expanding membership, offerings, and market share.

In churches that are on top of their growth game, greeters stand in the lobby to make sure everyone feels welcome. Guests are asked to fill out contact cards for follow up. High-production-value materials promote both theological benefits like salvation and concrete perks like childcare. Websites and social media advertise programs for young people. As in any business, good marketing is critical to sales and fiscal health, and that means keeping up with the state of the art.

High Touch, Soft Sell

Since the time of Billy Graham’s fire-and-brimstone tent revivals, many churches have moved tactically toward a more soft-sell social marketing approach. A form of evangelism called “relational apologetics” trains Christians to win converts via a slow cultivation process rather than the more traditional door-to-door witnessing or Sunday morning altar call.

One 2014 training for pastors in Seattle included a handout, “30 Ways to Create a High Touch Environment,” that included tips more commonly given to fundraising professionals or sales teams:

  • Put energy into being likeable.
  • Smile a lot.
  • Make all the friends you can.
  • Focus on their interests. Ask them questions.
  • Follow the 101% Principle. Find the 1% that you agree on and give it 100% of your effort. Find common ground.
  • Walk slowly through the crowd.
  • Return all emails and phone calls within 24 hours.
  • Remember names.

For churches investing in this kind of courtship, technology tools including customer relations management software (like Salesforce), and social media are common practice. Software that scans attendee faces during the Sunday morning service and enters them in a database is just one in a long line of innovations that churches have adopted from the sales, marketing, and fundraising sectors.Powerful Persuasion, Questionable ProductBut will it backfire? Facial recognition software is creepy, even when it’s just a matter of Facebook tagging us in pictures; and if early web response is any indication, Churchix strikes some people as particularly creepy. Why? Because the whole goal of Churchix is to help power-seeking, member-seeking, communities manipulate people more effectively…

NW Ohio: Secular, Non-Religious, Same-Sex Wedding Ceremonies

bruce gerencser 2015

Are you having a hard time finding someone to perform your wedding ceremony? Are you non-religious, secular, humanist, atheist, agnostic, or pagan and want to get married but can’t find anyone to perform the service? Are you religious but not affiliated with a church and are looking for someone to perform your wedding? I can help!

Are you a same-sex couple looking for someone to officiate your wedding? Now that the Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage in Ohio, same-sex couples can now be legally married. Now is the time to book a date for your special day.

My name is Bruce Gerencser and I am duly licensed by the state of Ohio to perform wedding ceremonies. If you are interested in having me perform your ceremony, please contact me at defiancecounty@gmail.com

Service area: Bryan, Montpelier, West Unity, Alvordton, Pioneer, Wauseon, Napoleon, Archbold, Paulding, Hicksville, Defiance, Ayersville, Antwerp, Sherwood, Farmer, Ney, Holgate, Deshler, McClure, Malinta, Evansport, Ridgeville Corners, Pettisville, Fayette, Liberty Center, Stryker, Edon, Edgerton, Blakeslee,  and all points in between.

Sacrilegious Humor: Religion is Bullshit by George Carlin

This is the sixth 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 is Bullshit by George Carlin.

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

Video Link