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Three Questions About the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church Movement

good question

Last week, I received an email from a reader named JT, asking me three questions about the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. My responses are below.

How come many Americans haven’t heard of the Independent Fundamental Baptist church movement?

Most Americans don’t understand that there are flavors of Baptist Christianity, everything from liberal to hardcore Fundamentalist. The IFB church movement is on the far right of the Baptist spectrum. People are often surprised to learn that millions of people attend IFB churches; that at one time, many of the largest churches in the United States were IFB congregations.

The IFB church movement has fallen on hard times. While there are still IFB megachurches, most IFB churches are in numeric decline. IFB colleges are in decline too. Many of them have closed their doors in recent years. Why? As Americans have become more progressive/liberal, IFB churches have dug their heels in, claiming that they are the holders and defenders of old-fashioned Christianity — old-fashioned meaning the 1950s. Racism, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, and anti-intellectualism plague the movement, as does conspiratorial thinking, Trumpism, and Qanon ideology. Scores of IFB church members participated in the 1/6/21 insurrection. Despite these things, millions of people attend IFB churches (and IFB adjacent sects such as the Bible church movement and the Southern Baptist Convention). Virtually every community in the United States has an IFB church. That people don’t know that these Baptist churches are IFB reflects how indifferent Christians have become to denominationalism (and yes, in the loosest sense of the word, the IFB church movement is a sect/denomination)

Do ex-IFB church members get shunned by church members, pastors, evangelists, and IFB families?

The short answer is yes. IFB churches are exclusionary and anti-culture. While they might grudgingly admit that non-IFB Christians are True Christians, in practice they believe they alone preach the faith once delivered to the saints. That’s why a community can have numerous churches, yet an IFB church planter with come to their town and will start a church. Why, there’s no Bible-believing church in town, the IFB church planter says. I know I believed this when I planted churches in Somerset, Buckeye Lake, and West Unity — all in Ohio. These churches were surrounded by other Bible-believing, Bible-preaching churches, but they weren’t IFB.

Personally, my wife, Polly, and I have been shunned by IFB family members. Polly’s late father was an IFB pastor, as was her late uncle. (Please see The Family Patriarch is Dead: My Life With James Dennis.) She also has cousins who are IFB preachers, evangelists, and missionaries. Polly’s extended family has largely shunned us. Only one of them is friends with us on Facebook.

Polly’s mom is dying. She has cancer, congestive heart failure, and kidney failure. I would be surprised if she makes it to Christmas. We are planning to drive to Newark, Ohio tomorrow to visit with her and help her, kicking and screaming, get her house in order. We are somewhat estranged from Polly’s mom, but since Polly is the last surviving close relative, it is up to her to make sure everything is taken care of after her mom dies. Of course, there will be a church funeral at the Newark Baptist Temple to contend with. Ugh.

Two years ago, Mom sent us her funeral demands. We gave it a cursory glance, at the time. We know we will have to endure being preached at by her pastor. The funeral service will be all about Jesus, as most IFB funeral services are. Yesterday, I got Mom’s funeral demands out and gave them a careful reading. What stood out was the fact that the Gerencser family — her only living daughter’s family — will have NO part in the funeral service. Mom’s demands were quite detailed. Only IFB family members will have a part in the church and graveside services. It’s hard not to conclude that Mom is punishing her oldest grandchildren for her daughter’s and son-in-law’s unbelief. We will, of course, abide by her wishes, knowing that this will be the last sentence written in our IFB story. I told Polly that when we drive away from Newark some day after her mom’s funeral, I plan to look in the rearview mirror and give a middle-finger salute.

We wish it could be different with Polly’s family. However, their theological beliefs keep them from loving as we are. As long as we are atheists, we will be evangelization targets — not family members, not friends.

Do Independent Fundamentalists Baptists know that they are indoctrinated in a cult?

I was a guest on Clint Heacock’s podcast today and we talked about this very subject. Religious sects, by definition, are cults. (Please see Questions: Bruce, Is the IFB Church Movement a Cult?) However, not all cults are equal. IFB churches cause psychological (and physical) harm. They are not, in any way, benign. That said, IFB church members don’t think they are part of a cult. In their minds, cults are sects such as the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Charismatics, and others. Why don’t they see that the IFB is a cult too? When you are in the IFB bubble, everything makes perfect, rational sense. The beliefs and practices are “Biblical.” I never thought I was in a cult. I never doubted that my beliefs were right. When you are conditioned and indoctrinated in certain beliefs and practices, it is impossible for you to see your sect’s weaknesses and contradictions. This is especially the case in the IFB church movement. Congregants isolate themselves from “lost” people; from the “world.” Their churches become their families; the hub around which their lives revolve.

I hope I have adequately answered JT’s questions.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Two Questions About the IFB Church Movement

good question

Several days ago, a reader sent me two questions about the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement.

What is an evangelist in the IFB church and what is their role?

Generally, an evangelist is a traveling preacher who goes from church to church holding revival meetings. The goal is to “revive” (bring back to life) church members and evangelize the lost. Evangelists are given love offerings and honorariums and paid expenses for their services.

Most IFB churches believe evangelists are an office in or a gift to the church, much like pastors and deacons. While the Bible does mention evangelists, my understanding is that they were what IFB churches call missionaries/church planters today. There is nothing in the Bible about paid traveling preachers. (Please see Evangelists: The Hired Guns of the IFB Church Movement.)

Over the past fifty years, many IFB churches have lost their appetite for revival meetings. As a young pastor, I typically scheduled two Sunday-through-Friday revival meetings every year. For a number of years, evangelist Don Hardman (please see Book Review: The Preacher: The Life and Times of Donald A. Hardman and Book Review: Laura’s Light by Laura Hardman) held three-Sundays, fifteen-day protracted meetings at the church I pastored in southeast Ohio. These days, IFB revival meetings are often only three or four days long. Church members are no longer willing to come to church night after night for a week.

Did you ever meet anyone in the IFB church that still remained friends with you even though you left the movement?

The short answer to this question is no. When I left the IFB church movement in the late 1980s, moving on to Evangelical Calvinism (though still quite Fundamentalist), I maintained many of my connections with IFB pastors, missionaries, and evangelists. Privately, my colleagues in the ministry worried that I was going “liberal.” By the time I left the ministry in 2005, only a handful of IFB-era friendships remained.

In 2008, I left Christianity. I sent out a letter titled Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners to several hundred people, including my colleagues in the ministry. In this letter, I explained why I was no longer a Christian. I did not call myself an atheist at this time.

My remaining IFB friends labeled me an apostate and an enemy of the faith. My best friend told me that I was mentally ill and a tool of Satan. This sentiment would be repeated by other friends and former parishioners. Prayer meetings were held to pray on my behalf and sermons were preached denouncing me by name. I became a cautionary tale, an illustration of what happens when someone strays from “true Christianity.” Rumors were floated that I had some sort of secret sin in my life. How else could they explain my defection from Christianity?

I am well-known in some corners of the IFB world. I am viewed as a hater of God; an enemy of the one true faith. I, of course, view the IFB church movement as a cult, a dangerous religious sect that causes untold psychological (and physical) harm. I have received countless nasty, hateful blog comments, emails, and social media messages from IFB Christians (yes, I think they are Christians). I suspect that they see me as some sort of existential threat to their religion. And I am, to the degree that my story rings true for many Christians. Numerous people say that my writing played an instrumental part in their deconversion or, remaining Christian, their abandonment of Evangelicalism. Most of these people came out of IFB and Southern Baptist churches.

I hope I have adequately answered these questions.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Evangelical Apologist Dismisses Atheists by Saying, “I’ve Read the Last Chapter of the Bible — We Win!”

god wins
god wins

Several weeks ago, I watched a YouTube video of an Evangelical apologist dismissing arguments atheists make against Christianity. He said Christians shouldn’t bother answering atheist objections. Why? “I read the last chapter of the Bible, and we [Christians] win!”

First, this apologist provided no evidence for why we should believe anything the Bible says. He claims the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, but what evidence does he offer up for his claims? None. He’s a presuppostionalist, so he thinks he has no obligation to defend his claims. In his mind, the Bible says it is God’s Word — end of discussion. Atheists KNOW this to be true. They just suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Or so apologists say, anyway.

Second, the book of Revelation — the last book of the Bible — is a widely disputed book among Christians. Church fathers debated whether it should even be part of the canon of Scripture. Many Christians believe that Revelation is allegorical history, fulfilled centuries ago. Evangelicals tend to read Revelation literally. Thus they see the book as a chronology of human history, much of which has not yet been fulfilled. Evangelicals really do believe that the events recorded in Revelation will literally come to pass, and soon (even though their lived lives suggest otherwise).

Third, when this apologist says “we win” what does he mean? He means that God has slaughtered everyone on the face of the earth. He means that ninety percent or more of the humans who have ever lived on the face of the earth will be suffering endless torture in the Lake of Fire. Saying “we win” is his way of laughing in the faces of all those who challenged his Fundamentalist beliefs. “Ha! Ha! Ha! motherfuckers, I was right. Bring me a stick and some marshmallows.”

If this apologist really believed what Revelation says about the future of his unsaved family, neighbors, and friends, along with billions of non-Christians, he would spend every waking hour pleading with sinners to get saved. Instead, he spends his time making YouTube videos and arguing with atheists.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Why Would Anyone Want to Spend Eternity in Heaven?

rewards in heaven

Heaven. No one knows if it is real or where it is located. Even the Bible is sketchy about Heaven’s exact location. When asked to point to where Heaven is located, Evangelicals typically point to the sky and say “up there.” A popular song taught to Evangelical children years ago went something like this:

10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 Blastoff.
Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place
For those who trust Him and obey….
Jesus will come again, although we don’t know when.
The countdown’s getting lower every day.
10 and 9, 8 and 7, 6 and 5 and 4.
Call upon the Saviour while you may……
3 and 2 coming through, the clouds in bright array.
The countdown’s getting lower every day.

Somewhere in outer space . . . but where? The James Webb Telescope can look deep into space:

Webb has the capacity to look 13.6 billion light years distant—which will be the farthest we’ve ever seen into space. This image of the galactic cluster known as SMACS 0723 contains thousands of galaxies, some of which are as far away as 13.1 billion light years. (A single light year is just under 6 trillion miles.) Since light takes a long time to travel so far, we are seeing the galaxies not as they look today, but as they looked 13.1 billion years ago.

As of today, the Webb Telescope has not spotted “Heaven.” Yet, Evangelicals, much like Fox Mulder of X-Files, say “The truth [Heaven] is out there.” I am inclined to think that the belief in the existence of Heaven (and Hell) is a relic from our pre-scientific past. Until the Webb Telescope sees the “Welcome to Heaven” sign far, far away, I am inclined to believe that Heaven is a myth.

For the sake of this post, I will assume Heaven is real; that Evangelicals go to Heaven after they die, and everyone else goes to Hell. Talk to enough Evangelicals and you will find that the promise of Heaven is their primary religious motivator. Fearing death and punishment from God, Evangelicals profess fealty to Jesus Christ, hoping that when they die, God will give them a deluxe room in Heaven. Clergymen go to great lengths to promise their congregants that there will be a divine payoff after death if they will believe, obey, and tithe.

The Bible mentions the word Heaven 691 times; 414 times in the Old Testament; 277 times in the New Testament. Some of the verses use the word Heaven to mean the atmosphere or God’s kingdom on earth. Few verses describe in detail the Heaven Evangelicals think they are going to after they die. It seems preachers just expect church members to take their word for it, even though none of them knows any more about Heaven than their members.

Instead of exegeting the Bible verses that mention a far, far away Heaven, I thought I would conclude this post talking about what Evangelicals believe Heaven will be someday.

One of the great selling points of Heaven is that you will get to see your Christian loved ones after you die. Heaven will be one big family reunion. Cue Johhny Cash, Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Video Link

The problem with this idea is that the Bible says that there will be no males or females in Heaven; that its residents will be androgynous beings much like angels.

Many Evangelicals believe that they will see their beloved pets in Heaven. Building on the idea that the Bible says that God will one day give Evangelicals the desires of their hearts, it stands to reason that Heaven will contain pets, automobiles, firearms, televisions, and porn. 🙂

Most Evangelicals will live 60-80 years on earth. They will live good lives, fulfilling lives. Yet, when they get to Heaven, everything changes. Sure, there will be no sickness, pain, suffering, sadness, atheists, humanists, pagans, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Catholics, Buddhists, indigenous people, LGBTQ people, Democrats, liberals, socialists, or any of the other people they consigned to Hell in this life. David Tee will be there. Revival Fires will be there. Pedophile preachers will be there. My violent, abusive grandfather will be there. My uncle who raped my mother will be there. “Salvation is by grace, through faith,” Evangelicals say. Not works, G-R-A-C-E. Thus, serial abuser David Hyles will be there, praising Jesus that he doesn’t have to pay for his crimes. Entrance to Heaven requires one thing and one thing alone: sincere belief in a set of theological propositions. Pray the prayer, and you too can have a room in Heaven after you die. Think about all the vile, nasty, hateful Evangelicals you have met over the years or read about on the pages of this blog. They will all be in Heaven; you won’t.

Thinking that they have won the lottery, Evangelicals believe a wonderful life awaits them after they die. The Bible suggests that Evangelicals — the only people in Heaven — will spend eternity in Heaven doing one thing: worshipping and praising God (Jesus). 24-7; they will be praising the narcissistic lamb of God. Maybe there will be arts and crafts and roller skating in Heaven, but one thing is certain: Evangelicals will spend the bulk of their time praising Jesus for his three-day weekend thousands and millions of years before. (Please see I Wish Christians Would be Honest About Jesus’ Three Day Weekend.)

Heaven sure sounds like Hell to me.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Letter to the Editor: Defiance Has a Feral Cat Problem, Mayor Mike McCann Says Killing Them is the Solution

letter to the editor

Letter sent to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

Dear Editor,

Defiance mayor Mike McCann recently shared his solution for the city’s feral cat problem: kill them. When offered other solutions for the problem, McCann dismissed them, saying it was simpler and cheaper to round up the cats and kill them.

Every community in Defiance County has a feral cat problem. Our family has been feeding Ney’s feral cat population for the past fifteen years. Countless cats have come through our yard, stopping to eat and drink. It’s the least we can do. We feel that caring for them is our moral duty. It is not their fault that they have no homes or humans that care for them. Why not go after the owner of these animals and hold them accountable for their behavior?

Years ago, I sat in a Sunday school classroom listening to a local farmer talk about one of his barn cats having kittens. With nary a thought, this aged farmer said, “I just got a hammer out and killed the kittens.” This man could have had his barn cats neutered or spayed or found homes for the kittens. Instead, he followed Mayor McCann’s way of thinking: kill them. It was cheaper, and less time-consuming, for him to brutally kill the kittens, without ever considering whether his actions were moral.

Cat owners should be required to license their animals, just as dogs are annually licensed. Owners should also be required to keep their cats inside or have them spayed. It is against the law for dogs to run free. Why is it any different for cats? People who abandon cats should be criminally prosecuted for animal abuse. If you are going to own an animal, their care is your personal responsibility for the life of the pet. Defiance County and local communities should establish a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Yes, caring for the least of these costs money, but if the goal is to reduce the feral cat population, then it seems right to invest the money necessary to make these things happen.

Saying “kill them” is the lazy way out. Cheap? Sure. But moral? Not a chance. Mayor McCann has done a lot of good things for Defiance. I commend him for his diligence in trying to move Defiance, kicking and screaming, into the twenty-first century. However, when it comes to his comments about feral cats, all I see is a farmer with a hammer.

Bruce Gerencser

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Chronic Illness: Oh, What a Night!

oh what a night

There are days, and then there are DAYS; memorable days; unforgettable days. Yesterday, and into the early morning hours of today, was one of those unforgettable days. I have had a lot of bad, really bad, awful days over the past three years. Thanks to gastroparesis, fibromyalgia, and degenerative spine disease, every day is challenging. Most days are normal, but there are other days that stand above what has come to be my “new normal.”

About 7:00 pm last night, my battle with nausea kicked into overdrive. My goal is to avoid vomiting. I took some Zofran, hoping it would ratchet the nausea down to normal levels. An hour later, I realized that the medicine was not going to work (it usually works quickly). I finally felt that awful feeling, the call to bow before and worship the porcelain God. I slowly rose from my recliner, picked up my cane, put my right hand over my mouth, and made my way to the bathroom. I quickly knelt before the toilet and up came the contents of my stomach. I repeatedly vomited for what seemed like eternity. Once I determined that I was “safe,” I got up off the floor, washed my face and beard — which was covered with chunks of vomit — and returned to the living room. I still felt nauseous, so I took more Zofran, hoping that I wouldn’t have to throw up again. The medicine quickly kicked in. All praise be to Loki and modern medicine.

Surely, this is enough for one day, right? Right? I mean, right?

Polly came home from work at 2:30 am. She asked me if I wanted anything to eat. I told her nnnnnooooo! We watched a bit of TV and then headed for bed. The time was 3:45 am. Polly did her usual bathroom routine while I arranged my side of the bed in preparation for yet another titanic struggle with pain. I took my nightly medications, including Vicodin, Zanaflex, and Trazodone — all meant to reduce my pain so I could sleep. At 4:15 am, I told Polly “good night” and told her “I love you.” As is her custom, Polly gently patted my side and told me “I love you too. I hope you have a good night.” In a matter of minutes, Polly drifted off to sleep. I started watching a new series on Netflix, hoping to join Polly in dreamland one to three hours later.

Surprisingly, I fell quickly asleep, only to wake up an hour later. What could happen in an hour, right? Due to the excruciating pain in my back and neck, I typically sleep on my right side or on my stomach. This night, I started out on my side. Sometime during the hour I was asleep, my right leg fell off the bed (a common occurrence). When I woke up (the first time), I was alarmed to find that my leg and right arm were totally paralyzed (not numb, paralyzed — a first). It took me about ten minutes to get my leg back on the bed. I suspect the nerve (s) controlling my leg and arm had gotten pinched. Once I was properly situated on the bed, the paralysis eventually went away.

Surely, this is enough for one day, right? Right? I mean, right?

As I wrangled my body on the bed something didn’t feel right. Why do my back and legs feel wet? I stood up by the bed and surveyed the blanket and sheets. Water, maybe? Nope. Shit. Lots of shit. I had lost control of my bowels. Worse, in trying to get my body settled, I had rolled in the shit. The “wet” on my back and legs was shit. Think: vanilla ice cream cone rolled in chocolate. I said to myself, “are you fucking kidding me?”

Surely, this is enough for one day, right? Right? I mean, right?

As I made my way to the bathroom to get a wet washcloth and towel, I noticed I was really weak and lightheaded. Halfway to the bathroom, I passed out for a second, sending me careening into a white folding table in the living room. Fortunately, this broke my fall.

Surely, this is enough for one day, right? Right? I mean, right?

Nope. You see, when I used the table to break my fall, my glasses were on the top of the table, Of all the things I could have hit, I put my full weight on my glasses, bending them to such a degree that I can’t wear them.

I finally made it to the bathroom, got the towels I needed, and returned to the bedroom to clean up my mess. Amazingly, Polly slept through all of this. I didn’t feel I needed to wake her up, though I could have used some emotional support. “My shit, my problem,” I told myself.

After cleaning the bed, I sat on the side of the bed for 30 minutes or so, head in hands, wondering if I could go on. I finally decided I could, and snuggled back in bed next to Polly.

Surely, this is enough for one day, right? Right? I mean, right?

Finally, I can say yes.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Short Stories: Sunday Night Communion and STARS Dirt Track Racing

bob hartman midway speedway
Butch Hartman

In the late 1980s, I planned to take Polly and our four children at the time to a dirt track race at Midway Speedway in Crooksville, Ohio. The STARS (Short Track Auto Racing Series) were making a Saturday night appearance at the track — a one hundred-lap event. Scores of big-name racers planned to be at this event. On the scheduled night it rained, forcing the track to move to Sunday.

At the time, I was pastoring Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. We had two services on Sunday: 11:00 am and 7:00 pm. I was facing a dilemma. I had tickets for the race, but I had to be present and accounted for Sunday night at the church. I couldn’t tell the church that I couldn’t be there because I had tickets to a “worldly” racing event. Doing so would have been considered a sin. Yet, I really, really, really wanted to go to the race. My two oldest sons really wanted to go to the race. All our dirt track racing heroes would be there. And a hundred laps? Wow, most late model races were 25-50 laps.

scott peltz midway speedway
Scott Peltz

So, I went to the Lord in prayer, seeking his guidance and wisdom. Just kidding. I concocted a plan to hold a “special” communion service at 5:00 pm, one that would be finished in less than an hour. And it was. My family and I quickly said our goodbyes and out the door we went. I am sure some members wondered why we were in a hurry.

The race was everything I thought it would be. On our way home, the guilt set in. Instead of taking the night off or telling congregants why I couldn’t be there, I manipulated them so I could do what I wanted. The good news? I prayed for forgiveness, and Jesus magically forgave me. 🙂

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Do Clergymen Have “Easy” Lives?

bruce gerencser 1987
Bruce Gerencser, Somerset Baptist Church, 1987

Over the years, I have thought about starting a series titled “Dumb Shit Atheists Say.” Atheist YouTube creators and podcasters, in particular, say all sorts of nonsense about Christianity, Evangelicalism, and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. I have, on occasion, tried to politely correct some of their more egregious errors, to no avail. I have received no response from the offenders, and far too often, they make the same factual errors over and over again. These same people object when Christians mischaracterize atheist beliefs, yet they are blind to their own mischaracterizations.

If atheists are going to talk about Christian theology, the Bible, and church history, at the very least they should have a rudimentary understanding of these things. And if they are unwilling to do this, they should shut the hell up. They are making atheists look bad.

Recently, I heard an atheist YouTuber say that clergymen have easy lives. He implied they were grifters. This strawman assertion is categorically absurd; a distortion meant to paint clerics in a bad light.

Most atheists (or Christians, for that matter) have no idea about how preachers live their lives. Are there lazy, indolent pastors? Sure, just as there are in every profession. By the same token, there are far more hard-working clergymen who devote their days to their positions. Yet, instead of recognizing this fact, these atheists portray clergy laziness and indolence as the norm for all preachers.

Most clerics are devoted to the work they believe God called them to do. They are devoted to the work of the ministry, believing they have some sort of divine purpose and calling. How else do we explain their willingness to work for low wages, often with few benefits? Many pastors even work a second job so their churches can have a pastor.

Contrary to what the aforementioned YouTuber said, pastors work hard and do so regardless of what they are paid. For every megachurch pastor making millions of dollars, there are thousands of pastors making average, or below-average wages (even when housing allowance is taken into account). It’s one thing for atheists to attack and challenge theological beliefs. It is another thing to attack the character of clergymen, all because they don’t like what they stand for.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce Gerencser