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Songs of Sacrilege: Preachin’ Blues by Son House

son house

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

Today’s Songs of Sacrilege is Preachin’ Blues by Son House.

Video Link

I’m gonna get me some religion
I’m gonna join the Baptist church
I’m gonna get me some religion
I’m gonna join the Baptist church
Gonna be a preacher
So I don’t have to work I wish I had a heaven (heaven)
A heaven of my own
I wish I had a heaven (heaven)
A heaven of my own
Give all of my women
A long and happy home I’m gonna preach these blues (these blues)
I’m gonna pick my seat and sit down
I’m gonna preach these blues (these blues)
I’m gonna pick my seat and sit down
‘Cause when the spirit comes
Lord knows I’m gonna watch it too Grabbed up my suitcase
And took off down the road
Grabbed up my suitcase
And took off down the road
I said, “Farewell, my church”
“May the good Lord bless your soul”Bless your soul
Bless your soul
Bless your soul
Bless your soul

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Slut-Shaming Unmarried Pregnant Baptist Women

sexual sin

It is commonly believed by most Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church members that unmarried members are virgins and that they do not masturbate or have lustful thoughts. Listening to preaching multiple times a week, daily reading the Bible, and praying — along with cold showers — are sure antidotes for sexual sin. When the preacher’s daughter someday marries the deacon’s son, everyone will think that both of them are pure as the driven snow, with thoughts of only serving Jesus. This is the myth that is promoted in Baptist sermons, books, blogs, and websites. It has no basis in reality, but people sure do believe it. After all, if getting saved turns sinners into new creations and gives them a desire to love and follow Jesus, why, any thought of hormone-raging Fundamentalist young adults engaging in any sort of “promiscuity” is preposterous. As is often the case, reality paints a far different picture.

In recent years, a plethora of Fundamentalist ministries have begun ministering to those with addiction problems. Based on the number of ministries geared towards helping Christians addicted to porn, one can easily conclude that Evangelicalism has a huge porn problem — easily the size of John Holmes, AKA Johnny Wadd. If Jesus is the cure, the solution, and the answer for what ails the human race, why are there so many Christians committing what Evangelicals consider sexual sins? Why are there so many IFB preachers and church leaders who can’t keep their pants zipped up or have Google search histories that would make Hugh Hefner blush? Why are the biggest hypocrites on Sunday the men standing behind the pulpits of Evangelical and IFB churches?

No matter how many moral scandals rock Evangelicalism and the IFB church movement (please see the Black Collar Crime Series), their pastors, church leaders, Sunday school teachers, evangelists, bloggers, and culture warriors continue to present Christianity as some sort of superior way of living. Never mind studies and anecdotal stories that suggest otherwise, these purveyors of Evangelical “truth” continue to say that Jesus is the only way to keep unmarried young adults from committing fornication. Just say YES to Jesus and NO to physically and emotionally satisfying romps in the hay.

fornication

So what happens when church teenagers and young adults ignore the moral standard or, in a moment of understandable passion, give way to sexual desire and fulfillment? Most of the time, as long as the keepers of the chastity belts do not find out, these fornicators and pleasurers will continue to engage in behaviors that — according to their parents, churches, and pastors — will land them in Hell. As one aged preacher tried to impress on us young preachers: a stiff prick has no conscience. Once aroused, sexual desire usually wins the battle. On those Sundays when pastors rage against immorality, frothing at the mouth and pounding the pulpit as they wage war against normal, healthy sexual behavior, those who have given into their desires will be drowned in seas of guilt, shame, and fear. Sometimes these fornicators will make their way down to the front of the church, and kneeling at an old-fashioned altar, they will promise God that they will never, ever spank the monkey, ring the bell, or engage in any behavior remotely considered sexual. If need be, they will pluck out their eyes. Yet, come Saturday night they will be tempted to break their vow. While some will hold out, most will engage in the very “sins” they confessed the week before. Why? Not because they are in any way morally inferior or weak. Much like drinking and eating, desiring sexual fulfillment is an essential part of what makes us human. It is these preachers of sexual abnormality who are the problem. Instead of teaching sexually aware young adults how to handle their sexuality and how to engage in thoughtful, satisfying sex, these deniers of human nature do everything possible to shame and guilt people into obedience.

Since no one in Evangelical churches is committing fornication and everyone is waiting to have sex until they are married, there is really no need for church young adults to be taught about birth control. As a result, it is not uncommon for church girls to get pregnant or for young adults to come down with sexually-transmitted diseases. How do pastors and churches respond when such things occur? Often, not very well.

I want to conclude this post with several stories that I think will illustrate how some Evangelical churches handle sexual indiscretions.

One of the teenage girls in the first church I worked for, Montpelier Baptist Church, became pregnant. Here is how the pastor, Jay Stuckey, handled it. He told the girl that she must immediately marry the father. She was also told that because she was no longer a virgin, she forfeited her right to a church wedding. Only her family would be permitted to attend the wedding. No announcement would be made to the church about it. And if these prohibitions were not bad enough, the pastor informed the pregnant teen that she would not be permitted to wear a white dress. She had sullied the name of Jesus, and as a result she would be required to wear an off-white dress. Much like wearing a red A, it would be clear to everyone that this girl had violated the holiness of God. Marked forever as one who could not wait, she would carry shame the rest of her adult life. Perhaps, in time, her fellow church members would forget her scandalous behavior, but, for now, she had to bear the weight of her indiscretion. The severity of the punishment was meant to be a deterrent. Church girls, seeing how severely _______ was punished would think twice before letting some boy have his way with them.

One church I know of required exposed fornicators and pregnant unmarrieds to stand before the church and confess their sins. I remember one young woman weeping uncontrollably as she admitted having the sex that led to her pregnancy. Sadly, this kind of slut shaming still goes on today. Described as church discipline, it is really an attempt — through fear, shame, and guilt — to make sure that any other prospective fornicators toe the line. Who wants to stand before the church and have her — it is almost always teen girls and young women — secrets exposed for all to see?

fornication

As many former pregnant out-of-wedlock Evangelical women will attest, some churches subscribe to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind way of handling fornication. Unmarried young women who find themselves in the family way are often shipped off to Christian boarding schools or homes for unwed mothers. Since their pregnancies are viewed as acts of rebellion against God, the Bible, and Evangelical morality, it is hoped that intensive authoritarian indoctrination and control will force slutty Baptist women to see the error of their way and recommit to following the Evangelical moral code. While they can never regain their virginity — unlike salvation, once virginity is lost it can never be regained — these fornicators can have their sexual indiscretions washed in the blood of Jesus. Once washed in his blood, their lives will once again be pure.

While I may have been a card-carrying Evangelical and a subscriber to narrow moral strictures, I never heaped shame, guilt, or fear upon the heads of those who failed to measure up. Part of the reason was that I knew about the moral failings of more than a few Evangelical preachers. I also knew that I was not without sin. I readily admit that my preaching — at times — was quite hypocritical. As many Evangelical preachers do, I sometimes used the pulpit as a way to confess my sins and atone for them. What better way to assuage one’s guilt and shame over a perceived moral failure than to admit before the church — in a generic, nonspecific way — that I understood their moral struggles and failures. More than a few church members were upset by my honesty concerning lust. These faux pillars of moral virtue wanted a preacher who could be inches away from a hot naked woman and not be tempted to touch. They wanted a man who was above the fray, a man so holy and righteous that having a front-row seat for a wet T-shirt contest would not cause arousal or heightened sexual desire. After admitting that I knew what it was like to lust after a woman, the super saints moved on to other churches, oblivious to the fact that their new pastors were no different from me. Now I am in no way suggesting that I cheated on my wife. I didn’t. But I am saying that I always understood what it was to be a normal, healthy heterosexual man. One time, my child-molesting Evangelical grandfather publicly objected to a sermon I preached on the sin of mixed bathing (swimming). He told me that he could go down to the beach and look at women wearing bikinis and never have a lustful thought. I looked at him and told him that I did not believe him and that perhaps he needed to be examined by a doctor. I do not believe for a moment that a man — in particular an Evangelical man — could watch a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photoshoot and not have sexual thoughts. Thinking otherwise is a denial of human nature and abnormal. I knew then, as I do now, that it is normal and healthy to have sexual thoughts, and that having these thoughts does not make someone a bad person.

As an Evangelical pastor, I frequently counseled members who had some sort of moral failing. While I certainly held to the Evangelical interpretation of the Bible’s moral teachings, I understood that no one was perfect. People are going to make mistakes — including having sex before marriage and getting pregnant. When one of the unmarried women of the church found herself pregnant, I did not berate or heap shame upon her head (though I am sure my preaching likely had this effect). Once the deed was done, there is no way to undo it. The only question that mattered was now what? Instead of publicly shaming unmarried women — again, men are almost always given a free pass — I did what I could to help them make the most of a bad situation. What possible good could ever come out of publicly humiliating someone because of some sort of moral failure? Surely it is better to help them pick up the pieces and move on with their lives.

Of course, I now understand that the real solution is to distance oneself from religious moralizing and puritanical sexual beliefs. These Bible-thumping liars help no one. Guilt, shame, and fear only lead to more of the same. The solution is to get away from those whose goal in life is to destroy human nature and self-worth. The 1960s birthed a sexual revolution that continues to this day. There is no going back, and the sooner Evangelical churches and pastors understand this the better.

Having lost the battle against heterosexual immorality, Evangelicals are now focused on LGBTQ people and their “sins” against God. Preaching with all their might about those evil queers, Sodomites, perverts, and reprobates, these keepers of moral purity fail to see that they are driving scores of millennials and thoughtful older people away from their churches. To these preachers of puritanical morality I say, keep up the good work.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Atheist Matt Dillahunty Has Heart Bypass Surgery, Surgeon Finds No Evidence of God-Shaped Hole in His Heart

matt dillahunty

Recently, atheist luminary Matt Dillahunty had successful triple bypass heart surgery. After a two-week hiatus, Matt returned to his call-in talk show on The Line Network, The Hang Up. Matt took some time to detail what happened during his surgery. Two things stand out:

  • The surgeon found no God-shaped hole in Matt’s heart
  • The surgeon found no evidence of the law of God written on Matt’s heart

Matt, of course, was being funny. I chuckled when he said these things. I thought, man, how many times have Evangelicals told me that I have a God-shaped hole in my heart and that God has written his law on my heart?

Of course, these statements are meant to be “metaphors,” but as I shared in a 2021 post titled Can You Know Anything in Your Heart?, Evangelicals can be quite literal when it comes to the heart:

Evangelicals believe every human has a body, soul, and spirit. It’s evident to all of us that humans have bodies, but there’s no evidence outside of the Bible and the pronouncement of preachers that humans have a soul or spirit. Much like evidence for the existence of God, no one has ever seen a human soul or spirit.

Most Evangelicals believe humans are tripartite beings. If you are unfamiliar with this term, Wikipedia defines it this way:

In Christian theology, the tripartite view (trichotomy) holds that humankind is a composite of three distinct components: body, spirit, and soul.

I never believed the notion that humans were tripartite beings. Instead, I concluded that we were bipartite beings, consisting of a body and a spirit, that the words soul and spirit were used interchangeably in the Bible.

As a rationalist and an atheist, I concluded that there was no evidence for the existence of a human soul or spirit; there was no evidence for these things outside of the pages of the Bible. Christians and other religious people continue to try to prove the soul’s existence, but so far, they have miserably failed.

For those raised in Evangelical churches, we have likely heard preachers warn us countless times of missing Heaven by eighteen inches — the distance between the human mind and heart. According to these preachers, many Christians believe in Jesus only in their minds, not their hearts. They have “head knowledge,” not “heart knowledge.” As you likely know, intellectualism is frowned upon in many churches; that believing the right things in your mind is not enough for salvation, that you have to really, really, really believe the right things in your heart. Salvation requires the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart. Just believing the faith once delivered to the saints in your mind — assenting to a set of intellectual facts — is not enough. Unbelievers must have their hearts transformed to become born again.

Of course, the problem with this kind of thinking is that it is based on a false premise: that humans have a “heart” — the seat of the soul and spirit. Where is this heart located? Most Evangelicals point to the blood-pumping organ in their chest. The authors of the Bible certainly thought this was so. The Greek word most commonly used for heart in the New Testament is “kardia.” The only evidence Evangelicals have for the existence of the “heart” is the only evidence they have for a lot of things: THE BIBLE SAYS _________.

This is why it is difficult, if not impossible, to have rational discussions with Evangelicals. Press them on their beliefs, and more often than not, Evangelical believers will say, “I believe in my heart that the Bible is true, God is real, Jesus saved me, and I am going to Heaven after I die.” Instead of using their minds to think and reason, Evangelicals appeal to a part of them that does not exist. Everything they know and feel comes from their brain, not a mythical heart. Yet, because Evangelicals believe God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, resides in their “hearts,” it’s impossible to reach them with rational, intellectual arguments.

Renowned Evangelical apologist and philosopher William Lane Craig had this to say about the matter:

The way in which I know Christianity is true is first and foremost on the witness of the holy spirit in my heart. This gives me a self-authenticating means of knowing that Christianity is true, apart from the evidence. (Thanks Doctor DJ for the quote)

Craig makes his living from arguing for the existence of God, yet when it comes to where the proverbial rubber meets the road, Craig says that it is the witness of the Holy Spirit in his heart, not evidence, that proves to him Christianity is true.

Evangelicals-turned-atheists know where Craig is coming from. We too thought, at one time, that we knew Christianity was true because of the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. It is difficult to move a believer away from this type of thinking, regardless of how irrational it seems. I have concluded that the only way to reach Evangelicals is to disabuse them of the notion that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. If you can get them to question the nature and history of the Bible, this can and does lead to doubt. And as those of us who used to be Evangelicals know, doubt is the first step away from Christianity. Once the Bible loses its power and authority, it is far easier to convince people that many of their beliefs are false.

Matt’s humor aside, I’m glad he survived heart surgery and is on the mend. Matt closed out this week’s show by saying God had yet another opportunity to take him out, yet did nothing. Why is that? I am starting to think that maybe, just maybe, God doesn’t exist, and that the only people who want Matt dead are oh-so-loving followers of Jesus.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Songs of Sacrilege: Midnight Choir by Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers

larry gatlin and the gatlin brothers

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

Today’s Songs of Sacrilege is MIdnight Choir by Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers.

Video Link

Lyrics

The doors to the mission open at seven
And the soup will be ready about nine
Right now it’s six-thirty, they’re ragged and dirty
They’re standin’ and sittin’ and layin’ in line

First they’ll do a little singin’, then hear a little preachin’
And get saved for the 3rd time this week
A bowl of soup later and a pat on the shoulder
And by midnight, they’re back on the street

They walk to the corner of 4th street and Broadway
Then take the first alley on the right
One of them asks a stranger, “How ’bout a hand”?
And he gives ’em one finger at a time

Then they spot an old buddy with a bottle of heaven
Then pass around what means everything
One bottle for four, thank God, someone scored
And now the midnight choir starts to sing

Will they have Mogen David in Heaven?
Dear Lord, we’d all like to know
Will they have Mogen David in Heaven, sweet Jesus?
If they don’t, who the hell wants to go?

Will they have Mogen David in Heaven?
Dear Lord, we’d all like to know
Will they have Mogen David in Heaven, sweet Jesus?
If they don’t, who the hell wants to go?
If they don’t, who the hell wants to go, dear good God?

Will they have Mogen David in Heaven?
Dear Lord, we’d all like to know
Will they have Mogen David in Heaven, sweet Jesus?
If they don’t, who the hell wants to go?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Conrad Estrada Valdez Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault

pastor conrad estrada valdez

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In 2019, Conrad Estrada Valdez, pastor of Restoration Outreach Christian Church in Houston, Texas, was accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. Yesterday, Valdez pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of a child and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

ABC-13 reports:

A Houston-area pastor has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for the sexual assault of a child.

Conrad Estrada Valdez , 61, pleaded guilty Wednesday to the charge of sexual assault of a child between the ages of 14 and 17.

Valdez was a pastor at The Restoration Outreach Christian Church, according to Harris County sheriff’s deputies.

In 2019, a then-30-year-old woman disclosed to authorities that she was sexually abused by Valdez when she was 15 years old. She described Valdez as a longtime family friend and her pastor/mentor at the time.

She told deputies that she started visiting the pastor for counseling after experiencing a previous sexual assault.

She said what started as Valdez inappropriately touching her later progressed into sexual intercourse.The woman said she didn’t come forward sooner because Valdez had threatened to expose the situation to her family.

She told deputies she eventually came forward after watching a documentary on survivors of sexual abuse.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Douglas Hammond Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $285,000

pastor douglas hammond

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Douglas Hammond, pastor of Olivet Assembly of God Church in Olivet, Michigan, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to embezzling $285,000 from his church.

The Lansing State Journal reports:

An Olivet pastor has pleaded guilty to embezzling $285,000 from his church, according to prosecutors. 

Douglas Hammond pleaded guilty as charged Friday to one count of embezzlement over $100,000, said Eaton County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Chris Anderson. 

Hammond stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Olivet Assembly of God Church when he was a pastor there, according to court records. The embezzlement is believed to have taken place over nearly six years, from January 2014 through November 2019, Anderson said in an email.

Hammond’s attorney, David Carter, said Hammond is not likely to be able to pay back the restitution he will owe because he is living at poverty level at the moment. 

Hammond was scheduled to go to trial earlier this year, but it was canceled and he instead pleaded guilty two months later. Carter said this is because Hammond “wanted to do what was right.” 

Carter declined to comment on why Hammond stole money from the church or what he did with the money. He said he did not have Hammond’s permission to speak about that. Carter did say, however, there were “a lot of special circumstances” with the case.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

UPDATED: Black Collar Crime: Josh Duggar Found Guilty of Child Porn Possession

josh duggar

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Earlier this year, Josh Duggar, of “19 Kids and Counting” fame, was accused of receiving and possessing child pornography.

CNN reports:

Former reality TV star Joshua Duggar has been arrested on federal charges related to the possession of child pornography, according to the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas.

Duggar allegedly downloaded material that depicted the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, the US attorney’s office said in a statement. Duggar allegedly possessed the material in May 2019.

Duggar, the oldest son of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, whose family was the subject of the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting,” faces two charges, the indictment shows — one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 if convicted, the statement said.

Duggar was arrested in Arkansas Thursday, according to the statement. He appeared in federal court Friday via video conference and pleaded not guilty to both charges.

In 2015, Duggar was accused of sexually molesting five girls, including some of his sisters. No charges were filed against Duggar.

The Daily Mail reports:

The arrest marks Duggar’s latest brush with the law after his father, Jim Bob, reported him to police in 2006 for allegedly molesting five young girls over multiple occasions back when he was 14 and 15. It took several years and a tip-off to local police that finally forced Jim Bob to report his son’s behavior to authorities.

Josh’s behavior was first discovered in March of 2002, when one of his youngest sisters went to Jim Bob ‘very upset and crying’. Josh admitted to touching her breasts and genitals while she was sleeping on multiple occasions.

In the report, Jim Bob said Josh was ‘disciplined,’ though didn’t reveal what the discipline entailed. 

But there were more incidents to follow after that. And it was revealed that Jim Bob decided to finally go to authorities after an anonymous tip was made to the Arkansas State Police Child Abuse Hotline about Josh’s behavior.

Finally speaking to police on Dec. 12, 2006, Jim Bob said when he learned about what his son was doing, he ‘met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on.’ 

They sent Josh to a Christian program that consisted of hard physical work and counseling from March 17, 2003 to July 17, 2003. 

It later emerged that the institute’s founder, Bill Gothard, was accused of sexually harassing or assaulting 34 women in 2014 and resigned shortly afterward.  

It wasn’t until May 2015, when the police report leaked in the media, that details of the accusations went public. The reality show was cancelled by TLC two months later. 

Duggar’s sisters, Jessa and Jill Duggar, have since claimed they were two of their brother’s alleged victims. 

Duggar later found himself caught up in the Ashley Madison scandal. The Daily Mail reports:

Months later, Duggar was rocked by another scandal when it was revealed that he had an account on Ashley Madison – the cheating website for married men.

He released yet another statement apologizing for cheating on his wife, saying: ‘I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the Internet and this has become a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.’

In December 2021, Duggar was found guilty and faces up to 20 years in prison.

US Weekly reports:

Josh Duggar has been found guilty of receiving and possessing child pornography just over one week after his trial began.

The former reality star, 33, was convicted on Thursday, December 9, on two charges of receiving and possessing child sexual abuse material, according to local news outlet KNWA. He faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each count. Sentencing will occur at a later date.

The political activist was previously arrested without bail on the child pornography charges in April. At the time, his attorney entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment and he was released on bond one month later.

“According to court documents, Joshua James Duggar, 33, allegedly used the internet to download child sexual abuse material,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas said in a press release following the arrest. “Duggar allegedly possessed this material, some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, in May 2019.”

Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar addressed their son’s legal issues in a statement to Us, saying, “We appreciate your continued prayers for our family at this time. The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious. It is our prayer that the truth, no matter what it is, will come to light, and that this will all be resolved in a timely manner. We love Josh and Anna and continue to pray for their family.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Annihilationism: A Feel-Good Doctrine for Nice Christians 

john lennon imagine

Many Christians — especially those of a liberal/progressive bent — now believe that non-Christians will be annihilated after death. Queasy over the notion of their “Loving” God eternally torturing unbelievers in Hell, these Christians say that God will instead obliterate non-Christians, wiping them from the pages of human existence. Some Protestant Christians think unbelievers will be tortured for a certain amount of time, and then, having satisfied God’s torture-lust, will be burned up and remembered no more.

While it is certainly possible to selectively read and interpret the Bible and conclude that God will annihilate non-Christians, the historic Christian position remains this: God torturing conscious people for eternity. In recent years, thanks to authors such as Greg Boyd, Clark Pinnock, and John Stott, Evangelicals have become more sympathetic towards annihilationism. The question I want to raise in this post is WHY they have become more sympathetic to this view.

What causes staunch, Bible-believing Evangelicals to abandon the doctrine of endless punishment? Have they changed their view as a result of diligently studying the Bible? While I am sure that some Evangelicals have abandoned this doctrine for intellectual reasons, the real reason is more emotional in nature. By carefully examining increasing Evangelical support for same-sex marriage, I think we can understand why many Evangelicals no longer think non-believers will be eternally tortured in Hell (actually the Lake of Fire). Younger Evangelicals — having watched their parents and grandparents turn Evangelicalism into one of the most hated American religions — want to put a kinder, gentler face on Christianity. Many of them — deeply affected by postmodern thinking — have moved leftward, away from the culture war and the endless battles over doctrine. No longer wanting to be viewed in a negative light, younger Evangelicals strive to be accepted by the world. More accepting of evolution and science, tolerant, temperate Evangelicals genuinely want to be liked by others — bristling when lumped in with culture warriors and Fundamentalists.

john piper annihilationism

These worldly Evangelicals know and associate with people older Evangelicals have, in times past, consigned to the flames of Hell. It is hard for them to look at Lesbian Angela, Gay Harper, and Atheist Laura and think these friends of theirs will be endlessly tortured by God. As in the case of LGBTQ people and same-sex marriage, once people actually meet and know people who are happy unbelievers, their viewpoint often changes as well. Their parents and grandparents — fearing contamination by the “world” — walled themselves off from the influences of non-Christians. Younger Evangelicals — often educated at secular colleges — are more comfortable among non-Christians. Once exposed to the “world,” it is unlikely they will return to the Fundamentalism of their Evangelical forefathers.

As atheists, should we be appreciative of the fact that some Evangelicals think God will annihilate us some day, and not endlessly torture us? Ponder for a moment the fact that many annihilationists think God will — for a time — torture unbelievers before turning them into ash heaps. How is this really any better than eternal hellfire and damnation? The fact remains that the Christian God will reward or punish people based on their beliefs. Believe the right things and a home in Heaven awaits. Believe the wrong things and God will erase your name from the book of the living. I get it . . . many Evangelicals are tired of being viewed as mean and hateful, and liberal and progressive Christians are weary of being lumped together with Fundamentalists. However, the fact remains that annihilation is a form of punishment reserved for those who are members of the wrong religious club. This means that good people will be burnt to a crisp for no other reason than that their God was some other deity but Jesus. Forgive me if I don’t find such beliefs “comforting.”

Here’s the good news. Many Christians, having tried on annihilationism for a time, eventually realize that it is just endless-punishment-lite. Once annihilationism is abandoned, universalism awaits. All paths now lead to eternal bliss, so there is no need to evangelize or argue doctrine. Imagine a world without theocratic demands of fealty, arguments over theology, or threats of God’s judgment. Why, such a world would be Heaven on earth — a Heaven where even atheists are welcome.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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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Bruce Gerencser