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Did I Try to Murder My Father’s Wife?

bruce gerencser arizona 1975 (1)
Bruce Gerencser, 1975, Sierra Vista, Arizona

Several weeks ago, Evangelical troll Victor Justice shockingly alleged that I tried to murder my father’s wife. Is Justice right?

In April 1972, my Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) parents divorced after fifteen years of marriage. I was fourteen. Both of them remarried several months later. Mom married her first cousin, a recent parolee from the Texas prison system. Dad married a nineteen-year-old girl with a toddler. Dad had met her at the local dirt track — Millstream Speedway — where she was the trophy girl.

My younger sister and I lived with Dad after the divorce. My younger brother lived with Mom for a time, though a few months later he returned home due to the danger and volatility in Mom’s home. We would, over the next four years, move between Dad’s and Mom’s homes as children of divorced parents often do. From the time of their divorce in 1972 to when I went to college in 1976, I lived with Dad three times for about twenty-six months, and with Mom three times for the balance of the time, save for living my eleventh-grade year with a family in the church we were attending when Mom and Dad divorced. I was living with Mom when I left for Midwestern Baptist College in August 1976.

Dad brought his new wife into our home, thinking that she would become our new mother. While I cannot speak for my siblings, I can say that this was a gross miscalculation on my father’s part. I didn’t need a new mother, I already had one. She was nineteen and I was almost fifteen. In three years, I would be in a serious relationship with a woman her age. (Please see 1975: Anita, My First Love.) There was no chance that she could EVER be my mother. As a result, we never bonded. This led to an adversarial relationship between us. She was thrilled when I moved home to Ohio to live with my mom; but not so thrilled when I moved back.

In March 1972, Dad abruptly informed my siblings and me that we were moving to Tucson, Arizona. We had no say in the matter. Overnight, Dad had our household goods auctioned off, packed up his two cars, and moved us in the night to Tucson. After arriving in Tucson, I learned that the real reason that we moved is that Dad had creditors chasing him — a scenario I experienced most of my young life. Dad was a wheeler dealer and could be, at times, a con man. As a district manager for Combined Insurance Company, Dad embezzled $10,000. Dad was investigated by the ATF for illegal firearm sales, and was even investigated by the FBI as a possible suspect in a bank robbery (which was unfounded). Throw in unpaid rent, utilities, and other debts, and life was definitely “interesting” for the Gerencser children. When people ask me if I moved a lot growing up because of Dad’s job, I reply, no, we moved all the time because Dad didn’t pay the rent.

After settling into our new home in Tucson, I set about carving out a new life in the desert. During the week, I was a tenth-grade student at Rincon High School. This was the first school where I experienced racial diversity. On Sundays and Wednesdays nights, I walked to the Tucson Baptist Temple to attend services. Neither my father, his wife, nor my siblings attended church. I tried to avoid interaction with my dad’s wife, but conflict was inevitable.

bruce gerencser arizona 1975 (2)
Bruce Gerencser, 1975, Sierra Vista, Arizona

One Sunday, I came home from church and walked into our home. Dad was working on Speedway Boulevard selling carpet. His wife and I had words. I don’t remember what the issue was. It didn’t matter. We always had words. All of a sudden, my dad’s wife picked up a leather belt and hit me in the face. I retaliated by picking her up and throwing her into a cement block wall, knocking her out. I left her lying on the floor and walked to where dad worked and told him what happened. He rushed home and took his wife to the hospital. She had a fractured back.

I could have been arrested for assault. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Neither my dad’s wife nor I talked about the incident afterward. Both of us understood we were wrong to do what we did. Our relationship changed after that. We both stayed away from each other. A couple of months later, I moved back to my mom’s home in Bryan, Ohio. By the time I returned to Arizona in November 1974, Dad and his wife had moved to Sierra Vista. I spent very little time at home, busying myself with my job as a stock clerk for Food Giant, church three times a week and working a bus route on Sundays, and roaming southeast Arizona with my girlfriend. I also worked part-time at my dad’s gun store and manned Dad’s table at various gun shows. My life was busy, which was good, since it meant I spent very little time with Dad’s wife.

In the fall of 1975, I moved back to my mom’s home. Outside of my marriage to Polly in 1978, I would not see or speak to Dad’s wife again. We had a brief email exchange in the early 2000s, but I have no recollection of what we talked about.

Was it wrong for me to throw my dad’s wife into a block wall? Absolutely. I am grateful that I didn’t end up in jail. All of us do dumb things; things that can have catastrophic consequences. On my dad’s wife’s part, hitting me in the face with a belt was child abuse or assault. What happened was the result of a hostile relationship driven by anger. Both of us were lucky to avoid the consequences of our behavior.

Did I intend to murder my dad’s wife? Of course not, and it is absurd to suggest otherwise. Could my actions have caused her death? Absolutely. That’s what happens when anger and rage take over. When passions are enflamed, anything is possible. I visited numerous murderers in local and state prisons. Most of their crimes had a flash point. One boy killed his dad over an argument they had; another killed his friend with a shotgun because they had a disagreement over who should pay for a pizza. We humans can do awful things when sense and rationality go out the window. If I learned one thing it is this: when you find yourself angry or enraged with someone, walk away. Don’t put yourself in a position where something tragic could happen.

An attempted murderer I am not. There was a time when I was a young, temperamental boy who was placed in living situations that were challenging and difficult. The adults in my life were, for the most part, AWOL, leaving me to fend for myself. Even my pastors paid very little attention to what was going on in my life. That’s life, is it not? That’s why it is crucial that children have loving parents who are there for them. Not helicopters, but a guiding presence as they navigate life. My parents were broken from the start, as was their marriage. They did what they could, but their dysfunction had real-world consequences in the lives of their children. I have made peace with my past, and have tried my best to be a good husband, father, and grandfather. Without a doubt, I have failed many times. All I know to do is learn from my past and do better today.

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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There’s No Such Thing as a Former Christian

saved or lost

Like Hotel California, once you are in, you can’t get out.

Once you are saved, you can never be lost.

Once God’s hound dog, the Holy Spirit, tracks you down, you belong to God forever.

Or so says Charles Smith:

If you scour the world-wild-web for any amount of time using atheism as your search term, you will undoubtedly find pages and pages of sites laced with the famous proclamation, “I used to be a Christian.” While this may be intriguing to the seeker, desiring a glimpse at the testimony of a formerly professing believer turned cynic in hopes of discovering reasons to remain religiously repulsed by Christendom, or possibly the opposite – looking to see if their retroversion experience is sensible – one thing is certain…there’s no such thing as a former Christian.

Cultural Christianity is quite the phenomenon of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries…

After “leaving the faith,” these misguided, false-converts then find their voices in the blogosphere, social sites, chat rooms, discussion boards and every other form of digital media outlet known to man – exhaustively expatriating as many “cardboard Christians” as they can sink their flaw-full claws into. Ironically, if they would spend as much time truly investigating and begging with a contrite heart, “God, please show yourself to me!” they would discover that He is absolutely faithful to do so – and the door the Lord has once opened, can be closed by no man.

These poor misinformed “ex-Christians” were never truly reborn of the Holy Spirit of God. They followed the crowd in church, were dunked under water, consumed crackers and gulped grape juice, sang songs, talked the talk, looked the part, memorized verses and so many other religious acts, but never came to a saving faith found in a relationship with the only begotten Son of God. Like so many of their contemporaries who weren’t led to the foot of the blood-stained cross of Calvary, they never saw their sins in the mirror of the ten commandments and consequently, never realized the magnitude of their debt – owed to a God who, because of His perfect love and justice, must punish sin – and they never saw the spotless Lamb for who He was and is, the ransom payment – the sacrificial substitute – who carried their sins before the Father and said “I will take their punishment.” Their prideful hearts of stone never crumbled under the weight of such a love and therefore, they simply socialized and enjoyed the music and learned to get along. But, of course, anyone who goes through a “phase” knows, it wore off and they moved on and Jesus wept…

Let the reader understand, just as you can’t become unborn once you have evacuated the womb, you also cannot become un-born-again. It is impossible to un-ring a bell, un-cook an egg or un-kill the living. If you are a spiritual seeker, please know that there is no such thing as an ex-Christian and if you want the truth, please look in a good Bible teaching church for assistance. If after reading this you still claim to be a “former believer,” you just do not understand…

While Smith’s argument certainly might apply to cultural or nominal Christians, it falls flat on its face when it comes to people like me; those who were sincere, committed, devoted, sold-out, on fire, consecrated, dedicated, sanctified followers of Jesus. While it is quite easy to dismiss those who never really took Christianity seriously, what about those of us who did? Did I really spend most of my adult life deceived, never having come to faith in Jesus Christ? Only in the echo chamber of Smith’s mind is such a claim possible. The only way he can square his theology with the life of someone like me is to say I never was a Christian, and since theology always trumps reason, Bruce Gerencser never was a Christian.

Look, I understand. I really do. Christians such as Smith cannot fathom anyone walking away from their Jesus. Why would anyone want to walk away from J-E-S-U-S, the most awesome God-man in the world, the biggest, baddest God in the entire universe? Why would anyone walk away from a golden ticket to God’s Motel 6? No more pain, no more suffering, no more death . . . who in their right mind would turn down such an offer?

But I did, others have, and more will continue to do so. Evidently, God didn’t want us bad enough to keep us.

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

How Fundamentalist Prohibitions Cause Needless Suffering and Pain

sin can make you sick

Polly’s father, who died two years ago, was always a hard worker, often able to work circles around men half his age. He and I got along well because we both had that workaholic drive, the need to constantly be busy and get things done. However, at the age of sixty-five, Dad was in an industrial accident that injured his back and required immediate surgery. He never walked straight again.

Soon, pain became an ever-present reality for him. Dad, having been taught that taking narcotics could lead to addiction, refused to take anything more than Tylenol or aspirin. Later in life, Naproxen was added to the mix, as was Darvocet, a drug that was later removed from the market due to serious side effects. Dad would do his best to only take what he thought he needed, often only taking half a pill or going without taking anything for several days. No matter how often I reminded him that it would be better if he took the drugs regularly and on schedule, he continued to endure the pain rather than take the drugs as the doctor ordered. Dad’s doctor eventually gave him a prescription for Tramadol, and later prescribed Oxycontin. Finally, I thought, Dad will find some relief for his pain and suffering. Sadly, that was not to be.

You see, Dad was afraid of becoming addicted. I tried to explain to him the difference between addiction and dependence, but I don’t think heard me. Having been a narcotic user for seventeen years, I know that I am physically dependent; I’m not an addict. I take the drugs as prescribed. I wish that Dad had seen that being dependent is no big deal, and that regularly taking Oxycontin would have reduced his pain and improved his quality of life. Unfortunately, thinking drug dependence is a sin kept Dad from getting the full benefit of the drug.

This is a perfect example of how Fundamentalist prohibitions cause unneeded suffering and pain. From preaching that says addiction (dependence) is a sin to viewing pain and suffering as some sort of test from God, many Fundamentalists eschew drugs and treatments that would likely improve their quality of life. Better to suffer for Jesus, the thought goes, than to become dependent on narcotics. In just a little while, Jesus is coming again . . .so endure until you see your Savior’s smiling face.

I pastored numerous people over the years who thought taking pain medications was a sign of weakness or lack of dependence on God. I watched one man horrifically suffer from bowel cancer, unwilling to take drugs for the pain. I’ve come to see that this is the Evangelical version of Catholic self-flagellation.

As an atheist, I am deeply troubled by this kind of thinking. Since I think this life is the only one we have, we should do all we can to eliminate not only our own pain and suffering, but that of others. Since there is no Heaven and no reward in the sweet by and by, why needlessly suffer? Better to become dependent on narcotics and have some sort of pain relief and improved quality of life than to go through life suffering, only to die in the end.  While I certainly think having a chronic illness and living with unrelenting pain has made me more compassionate, I don’t wish such a life on anyone, especially those I love.

How about you? Were you taught that taking narcotics and becoming dependent on them was a sin? Please share your story in the comment section.

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.

Understanding the Difference Between Private and Public

ideas dont have rights

Evangelical Christians, among others, have private (personal) beliefs that people such as I consider uninteresting, intellectually lacking, or irrational. As long as they do not try to force their beliefs on me, codify their beliefs into law, or demand special treatment, I am quite indifferent toward their beliefs. I have no interest in regulating what people believe about God, Jesus, the Bible, or anything else for that matter.

However, when Evangelicals state/argue/debate their beliefs in the public space — newspapers, TV, books, magazines, Facebook, Twitter, the Internet, public meetings, etc. — then the rules of engagement change. Once these beliefs are uttered publicly they are no longer considered private and are open to criticism, investigation, debate, ridicule, mockery, and attack. People deciding to utter their beliefs in public should know this, and if they don’t, they are in for a rude awakening the first time they “share” their beliefs publicly.

As a writer, hopeful author, essayist of letters to the local newspaper, and the public face of atheism where I live, I am considered a public figure. As such, I open myself up to criticism, investigation, debate, ridicule, mockery, and attack. While I would hope people would treat me fairly and with respect, I have no right to expect such treatment and I have no recourse if someone lies about me, distorts my beliefs, or attacks me personally.

I can’t do anything about what someone may say about me or my writing on their own blog or in an internet forum. I can’t control the sermons Evangelical preachers preach about me. They can take something I have written and twist and distort it, and there is nothing I can do about it. This is the wild, woolly nature of the public space.

I wish Evangelical Christians would understand the difference between private and public. When they drag their beliefs into the public space, they have no right to whine, moan, or complain that I am attacking them and their beliefs. If they don’t want their beliefs assaulted or challenged, then they need to keep them out of the public space. As Tristan Vick said in a comment:

Someone needs to tell this caterwauling Christian that it’s people who have rights, not ideas.

Evangelicals often think that this blog is public; that they have a right to say whatever they want in the comment section. However, this blog is actually private; a site that the public can read and if they follow the rules comment on. As the owner of a private site, I have the absolute right to decide who may comment and what comments are approved. This site is no different from the churches Evangelicals attend.

If Evangelicals want to take me to task, critique my writing, or attack my character, they are free to do so on their own blogs, from the pulpits of their churches, on their podcasts, or any other medium of their choosing. But not on my blog.

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.

Update: Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Sean Masopust Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail for Sexually Abusing Church Teen

Sean Masopust

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 February 2022, Sean Masopust, a youth pastor for Northridge Church in Owatonna, Minnesota, was accused of sexually abusing a church teenager. Astoundingly, the church “investigated” the accusation before reporting it to the police, sending Masopust to Kansas to “take some time off.” According to the victim’s mom, the church never told her about the incidents between Masopust and her child. Way to go, Northridge! Masopust is married to the daughter of the church’s pastor, Mark Perryman. Need I say more?

Bring Me The News reported at the time:

A now-former youth pastor at an Owatonna church is accused of sending nude photos and sexually abusing a member of his youth group when she was 17. 

Sean Patrick Masopust, 32, of Owatonna, is charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection to the incidents that occurred in 2018. 

The “inappropriate relationship” between Masopust, who was the youth pastor at Northridge Church in Owatonna, and the then-17-year-old girl was reported to police on Dec. 23, 2021, the Owatonna Police Department said

A member of the church’s regional counsel reported the incident to police after the church did its own investigation, which led to the church firing Masopust, the criminal complaint states. 

According to the criminal complaint, a member of the church’s regional counsel told police last December that Masopust had a texting and inappropriate relationship with the 17-year-old girl in 2018. 

The regional counsel member told police Masopust admitted to sending pictures of him in his underwear to the victim, and he has since been fired, charges state.

The victim was a member of Masopust’s and his wife’s youth group and she worked at the church’s daycare with Masopust’s mother-in-law, the complaint says. 

She told police from about June-October 2018, Masopust sent her inappropriate texts and Instagram messages, including nude photos and video of him masturbating. He also kissed her and touched her inappropriately on a few occasions, including at the church and at Masopust’s home after his wife hired her to babysit their children.

Masopust sent a message to the victim in October 2018 stating they couldn’t talk anymore because his wife had found the text messages, noting the church’s pastor had sent him to Kansas to “take some time off,” the charges said. The victim’s mom told police the church never told her about the incidents between Masopust and her child.

Masopust also texted the victim on her 18th birthday, welcoming her to adulthood and apologizing “for everything that happened.” He asked for her forgiveness, adding he almost lost his wife and family and he’s ashamed of what he did. 

“I’m always here and you are a big part of my wife and girls lives so I hope we can remain friends,” the text message said, according to the complaint. 

The victim told police said she looked up to Masopust for a long time, noting he was her pastor in elementary school, and it felt weird to tell him no, so she just let it happen, the complaint says.

The victim said she was active in the church until her high school graduation and became active again around November 2020 when she moved back to Owatonna. Around that time, Masopust’s wife asked her to be an adult youth leader. 

Masopust’s wife called the victim on Oct. 19, 2021, asking her to come to the church. She said she met with two men from the Minnesota Assemblies of God and shared her story. 

The Minnesota Assemblies of God (Northridge Church is part of the Assemblies of God) shared its finding of fact with police on Jan. 24, with the documents noting Masopust had sent pictures to the victim and admitted to a “flirtatious” text message thread, as well as having “hand contact” with her with the intent of having sex with her, the complaint states. 

The Roys Report’s extensive coverage of this story adds:

Sean Masopust was fired this past fall, former board member Pat McCauley and other former church members say, and he’s no longer listed on the church website.

Calls to Northridge seeking information about Masopust and his employment status were not returned.

Masopust’s wife, youth pastor Felicia Masopust, was also accused of sexual abuse in a letter sent this month by the parents of a youth group member. In the letter, which was obtained by The Roys Report, the parents state their son received a sexually explicit text from Felicia in 2019.

Kayla Mollenhauer and other former youth group members say Felicia Masopust also failed to take concerns seriously when girls told her certain men in the church made them uncomfortable. They also accuse her of manipulating them and creating a cult-like atmosphere in which they were expected to tell her everything about their private lives.

Former church members including McCauley and his daughter-in-law, Shelley McCauley, say Felicia Masopust resigned from the church in January. However, the church hasn’t made any announcement regarding Felicia Masopust’s employment, and she remains listed on the church’s website.

The Roys Report reached out to Northridge Church for clarification about Felicia Masopust’s employment, but received no response.

The Roys Report also contacted the Minnesota District of the Assemblies of God to ask about Northridge and Sean and Felicia Masopust. Mark Dean, the district superintendent, said “the accusations have been investigated.”

“We have forwarded our findings to the Owatonna Police, as well as to the General Council of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Mo.,” Dean wrote in an email. “We have no additional comment to make.”

The McCauleys and Amber Will, a former adult leader in the youth group, allege Perryman failed to notify church board members or to investigate fully when he first learned in 2018 that his son-in-law was accused of flirtatiously texting with the teen.

When Sean Masopust left the church staff, the church was told only that Masopust had committed “conduct unbecoming of a pastor,” said Shelley McCauley, another former youth group volunteer.

“The congregation has no idea why Sean was fired, why Felicia resigned,” she added.

Now the McCauleys, Will, and others, including the young woman who says she was assaulted, say they’ve been ostracized by the church.

In October 2022, Masopust pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim between the ages of 16 and 17 who he had a position of authority over. Astoundingly, Masopust was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 10 years probation. He must have received the preacher’s discount.

Owatonna.com reports:

The former youth pastor of Northridge Church in Owatonna has been sentenced to minimal jail time and a decade of probation after pleading guilty to grooming and molesting a teenager who had been in his youth group.

Sean Patrick Masopust, 33, was sentenced Thursday morning in Steele County District Court to 30 days jail, with credit for two days already served, and 10 years supervised probation, for a felony conviction of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim between the ages of 16 and 17 who he had a position of authority over. Masopust pleaded guilty to the charge on Oct. 6.

….

Terms of Masopust’s probation include attending and completing a sex offender treatment program, no unsupervised contact with persons under the age of 18 (with the exception of his own biological children in cooperation with Child Protective Services), no access to or use of internet without approval, no possession of any device that allows for internet capabilities or access to the internet without internet monitoring software, and he must register as a predatory offender.

….

According to the criminal complaint, on Dec. 23, 2021, a member of the regional counsel of Northridge Church reported to Owatonna police an “inappropriate relationship” that took place between Masopust and a 17-year-old female in 2018. The reporting party allegedly told police the church had first heard the “relationship” was through texting, but after some digging found that “inappropriate things” were occurring. Masopust reportedly admitted to the counsel to some of the conduct and has since been fired from the church. The reporting party said the victim was a part of Masopust’s youth group at the time of the “relationship.”

The victim and her mother met with police on Christmas Eve. The mother told police the church “never told her” about what happened with Masopust and her daughter, according to court documents.

The victim reportedly told police she began working at Sunshine Tree Daycare, located in the church basement, in 2018, while Masopust was the associate youth pastor at the time, and she was a student youth leader under his and his wife’s direction. In June 2018, the victim said the first incident happened when Masopust allegedly sent her a private message and asked what kind of underwear she was wearing.

In August 2018, the victim said Masopust reportedly pulled her from the daycare while she was working and brought her to a back hallway/storage area and began aggressively kissing her and touching her body.

On more than one occasion, the victim said Masopust allegedly sent her photographs and videos of him in his underwear, of his genitals, and of himself masturbating. At one point, Masopust sent her a message complaining about her not sending a nude photo back, and she then complied, according to court records.

The victim said she would be asked to babysit Masopust’s children, and on one occasion, he allegedly brought her to the basement and tried to gain access to her genitals and breasts but stopped when she was clearly uncomfortable.

The victim said the last incident took place in October 2018 at Northridge Church when Masopust tried to grab and hug her in his closed office, according to the report. The victim said everything stopped later that month when Masopust reportedly sent her a message saying his wife “found the messages and got upset.”

The victim said she remained active in the church until she graduated from high school but returned in 2020. According to court records, the victim said she became active in the church again and was eventually asked by Masopust’s wife to become an adult youth leader. The victim said, on Oct. 19, 2021, Masopust’s wife asked her to come to the church, where the victim said two men from the Minnesota Assemblies of God met with her and she provided her story.

According to Owatonna police, the church fired Masopust in October 2021.

On Feb. 3, Tammy Perryman, mother-in-law of Masopust and wife of the church lead pastor, resigned from her position as director of the Sunshine Tree Daycare, which is located in the basement of the church. Lead Pastor Mark Perryman, Masopust’s father-in-law, voluntarily resigned from his position on Feb. 6. Felicia Masopust, the daughter of the Perryman’s and wife of Masopust, also resigned from her position as a youth pastor.

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.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Robert Kasler Charged with Engaging in Prostitution

pastor robert kasler

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.

Robert “Rob” Kasler, pastor of Manchester Christian Church in Akron, Ohio, stands accused of engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools.

WKYC reports:

Seventeen men in Northeast Ohio were arrested and charged as the result of a human trafficking investigation that took place on Dec. 8.

An online ad offering sexual favors for money led the men to a Microtel Inn & Suites hotel in Canton, the center of an undercover operation. 

Sixteen of the men were arrested and charged with Engaging in Prostitution (M-1) and Possession of Criminal Tools (M-1):

….

Robert L. Kasler, age 50, Massillon, OH

….

Reports indicate one of the men, Robert Kasler, is a pastor at Manchester Christian Church in New Franklin. He’s listed as the church’s senior pastor. He declined to speak to 3News Investigator Marisa Saenz at the church. 

Manchester Christian describes itself as:

a non-denominational church. This means we are a church that is self-governing  (independent) and not affiliated with any larger denomination or organization. We are accountable to God only, and adhere to the teachings of Christ and the Bible as the sole standard of faith and practice. All decisions and authority are derived from Holy Scripture and overseen by the Elders of the church. (1Tim. 3:1-8)

Independent Christian Churches, like MCC, have their founding in the Restoration Movement. Our worship emphasizes gathering, singing praise with music, baptism, offering communion weekly, biblical teaching, and prayer.

Kasler has been scrubbed from the church’s website.

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.

Frozen Embryos: If Life Begins at Conception . . .

3 day old human embyro
Three-Day Old Human Embryo. Why He Looks Just Like his Father.

According to anti-abortionists/forced birthers, life begins at conception. At the very moment the sperm and egg unite, a new life is created. Anti-abortionists are intractable when it comes to their position. Life begins at conception . . . end of debate.

Let me tell you a story . . .

This story takes place at the We Make Life Possible Fertility Clinic, owned by Dr. David Tee, a renowned gynecologist, fertility expert, and archeologist.

Sue gave birth to a beautiful baby girl through in vitro fertilization. Her baby girl is one month old. Sue stopped by the Fertility Clinic to show off her newborn to the clinic staff.

While Sue was there, a huge explosion rocked the place and the clinic was engulfed in flames. Later speculation on World Net Daily, Charisma, Protestia, and TheologyGynocology, suggested a supporter of Barack Obama/Joe Biden/Nancy Pelosi/Kamala Harris/AOC was behind the attack.

John, named after John the Baptist, a forced birth activist, happened to be passing by the clinic when the explosion took place. John went running into the clinic hoping to perhaps save someone from the fire.

John had been to the We Make Possible Life Fertility Clinic before. His wife Purity had problems conceiving, and not wanting to wait on God to open her womb, she went to the clinic for non-vaginal-sex fertilization. While the treatment was successful, Purity miscarried a few months into the pregnancy.

John knew the clinic stored hundreds of fertilized eggs (embryos) in a freezer. As he rushed into the clinic, John saw Sue huddled in a corner with her newborn daughter trying to get away from the fire. John thought, “Surely I should save these two.”

John thought for a moment, asking himself What Would Jesus Do? Suddenly, he realized the fire was going to destroy all the frozen embryos. John told Sue and her baby Sorry, maybe Jesus will come to rescue you, and he rushed to the freezer where the frozen embryos were stored. Through John’s heroic effort, hundreds of frozen embryos were saved. Sadly, Sue and her newborn daughter were burnt to death.

Who among us would fault John? After all, he acted according to the greater good. Who wouldn’t save two hundred lives at the expense of two lives?

The above story follows the logic of the life-begins-at-conception viewpoint to its illogical conclusion. There is no difference between two hundred embryos and Sue and her baby. Life is life. It makes perfect sense for John to save the frozen embryos and not Sue and her little one. Surely John would be praised for saving the two hundred embryos, right? If the clinic is unable to reopen, perhaps the frozen embryos can be put up for adoption. After all, EVERY embryo is a life.

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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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Chronic Pain: Living Life When There Are Few “Better Days”

pain and suffering
I am sure glad I am so close to Jesus 🙂

“I hope you will feel better soon,” is an oft-heard line by chronic pain sufferers from well-meaning people. There’s this idea that our pain is temporary; that a cure awaits somewhere beyond the next doctor’s appointment. “A better day awaits,” people confidently say. How they could possibly know this remains unsaid, but such thinking finds its impetus in the idea that all suffering is temporary; that deliverance awaits just around the next corner.

For chronic pain sufferers, however, there are few better days outside of death on the horizon. We know there will never be a day when we “feel better,” outside of the marginal relief we receive from medications and treatments. In our minds, “it is what it is,” and no amount of good thoughts, wishful thinking, or prayer is going to change that fact.

Why, then, do the family members and friends of chronic pain sufferers ignore, marginalize, or reject this fact? If the pain sufferer can live with “it is what it is,” why can’t they? Certainly, family members and friends want the pain sufferer to feel better. I never doubt that such people are sincere or that they want what they perceive is best for me. Others have warped understandings of medical science or the specific medical conditions chronic pain sufferers face. They deify science, thinking that no medical problem is beyond treatment or cure. Doctors, of course, know better. They know that they can actually cure a handful of maladies. Most often, pain is managed and controlled. I know my doctors cannot cure me. My health problems are beyond simply taking medication or having surgery. Everything my doctors do is in the hope of giving me quality of life during what time I have left. I told my primary care doctor that I don’t expect him to cure me. I want him to do what he can to make my life better: less pain, and more mobility, or at the very least, no increased pain or debility That’s the contract we have with each other.

Many well-wishers think that if pain sufferers can, they should. If there is a treatment or procedure that “might” help, we should do it. Such people are convinced that a “miracle” awaits if the pain sufferer will just swallow this pill, eat these foods, take these supplements, have this surgery, or go through yet another treatment. They are unwilling to accept that “it is what it is.” When concerned family members and friends think (often wrongly) pain sufferers are giving in or giving up, they lecture and badger chronic pain sufferers, prodding us as a farmer with a cattle prod, to move forward through the chute of life. In their minds, giving in or giving up is always wrong, even if doing otherwise leads to more pain and suffering. I have watched numerous people — including my wife’s father — go through horrific pain and suffering, all because family members didn’t want their loved ones to give in or give up. And in the end? They died anyway.

I take a stoic approach to life. I have had a lot of trauma, tragedy, and suffering in my life. All suffering is personal. I know that what I have experienced is less than what some people have faced, but more than what others have gone through. When one of my toddler grandsons gets a boo-boo, his pain is every bit as real as Grandpa’s. The difference, of course, is that I have had almost sixty-six years of trauma, tragedy, and suffering. My lived experiences are far different from that of grandchildren or people decades younger than I am. All I know to do is to empathize with people when they are suffering, even when I know their pain is less than mine. I know that pain is a great teacher. I have had numerous steroid injections over the years. Polly always goes with me when I get juiced up. She usually remarks about my stoic mentality when the orthopedic doctor is sticking a long needle into my shoulder, hips, or hands. I always tell her that I have experienced horrible pain in my life; that the injections are uncomfortable, but nothing compared to my day-to-day pain or some of the painful procedures I’ve had in the past. I have developed mental processes that help me embrace the pain; the mental version of gritting one’s teeth and clenching one’s hands.

As I sit sideways in my recliner typing this post, my body hurts — literally — from head to toe. Herniated discs in my spine and neck, degenerative spine disease, osteoarthritis in numerous joints, muscle pain from fibromyalgia, and nerve pain in my legs and feet have left me in constant pain. I take narcotic pain medications, NSAIDs, and muscle relaxers to cope with my pain. They help, to be sure, but these drugs do not magically deliver me from pain. That has never been the goal. Pain medications and muscle relaxers, at their best, tamp down pain spikes. Certainly, I could take high enough levels of narcotics to make my pain go away, but in doing so I would sacrifice living a meaningful life. You see, “not dying” is not my grand goal. I don’t want to spend the last months and years of my life so drugged up that all I do is sleep, hoping that doing so will add a few days to my life. I choose quality over quantity, even if it means more pain than I would otherwise have.

I try to educate myself about the various diseases and debilities that I have. When I was diagnosed with gastroparesis (an incurable stomach disease) two years ago, the first thing I did was study up on the disease and its treatments. Knowledge really is power. With knowledge, I can know what to expect and how to best treat symptoms. I work in partnership with my doctors, knowing that the person who best knows my body is me. Unfortunately, family members and friends aren’t going to do this, so they often say ill-informed, ignorant, and, at times, stupid things to chronic pain sufferers. Typically, I ignore them. Other times, I ask, what treatment or drug do you suggest? Well, uh, I heard, I read on Facebook . . . You see, they don’t have any answers either. Why? In my case, there are no treatments, drugs, or surgeries that will lessen my pain and suffering in meaningful ways. And if there were, don’t you think I would investigate them and act accordingly? Or do some family members and friends think I want to be in pain; that I enjoy crippling pain, debility, vomiting, and diarrhea?

I have accepted that “it is what it is.” Unless there is a major medical breakthrough, I know that my life tomorrow and the day after will pretty much be, pain-wise, as it is today. I have embraced this fact. Are there treatments that I could have done that would offer short-term, temporary relief? Sure, but to what end? In 2021, I had a procedure done under anesthesia that used Botox to paralyze a muscle in my stomach. Did it work? Did I find relief? Sure, for three days, and then I was right back to being nauseous and vomiting. The same goes for epidurals and nerve blocks. They last for a short amount of time and are prohibitively expensive. I tried all of these procedures, but I decided, in the end, I didn’t want to deal with the false hopes and highs and lows that come from such treatments. A while back I had a night when I slept for nine hours, only waking up twice. I hopefully thought, “is this a sign of better days ahead”? Of course not. It was an anomaly. The next night I got two hours of sleep, and after that, I had on-and-off sleep for ten hours, as is typical for me.

I have accepted the fact that “better” days are not on my radar; that if I want to live, write, and enjoy what life I have, I must embrace my pain, do what I can, and try to ignore the well-meaning well-wishers. And when I can’t, I write a blog post. 🙂

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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