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Leaving Christianity: Why I Was an Old Man Before I Deconverted

bruce gerencser august 2021
Bruce Gerencser, 2021

I am often asked why it took me so long to deconvert. Some people suggest that I must have really been stupid to have spent most of my life believing in a God that doesn’t exist. People who have always been atheists, in particular, have a hard time understanding how anyone could spend fifty years believing a book of fairy tales — the Bible — is real. Sometimes people can be downright cruel, suggesting that there must have been some sort of ulterior motive that kept me believing all those years. Money? Power? Prestige?

Most Evangelicals-turned-atheists deconvert in their twenties and thirties. Ministers, in particular, tend to deconvert when they are younger. Rare is the pastor who waits until he is in his fifties or sixties before he abandons the ministry and Christianity. Part of the reason for this is because older ministers have economic incentives to keep believing, or at least to give the pretense of believing. I know of several pastors who no longer believe, yet they are still doing through the motions of leading churches, preaching sermons, and ministering to the needs of parishioners. Their reasons for doing so are economic. Quitting the ministry would cause catastrophic economic and marital harm, so these unbelieving pastors continue to play the game.

Now to the question, why was I an old man before I deconverted? First, let me tell you that economics played no part in my commitment to Christianity. The most I ever made as a pastor was $26,000. I spent twenty-five years pastoring churches that paid poverty wages and provided no health insurance or benefits. I always made significantly more money working outside of the church — especially when I was managing restaurants. In retrospect, I wish I had made money more of a priority. I wish I had put my family’s welfare first. But I didn’t. I was quite willing to work for poverty wages. Why? I thought God had called me to the ministry and he alone was in charge of what churches paid me. I learned late in the game that churches are often sitting on large sums of money. These caches of money are often accumulated through paying their pastors welfare wages and providing no benefits.

I grew up in an ardent Fundamentalist home. My parents were hardcore right-wing Christians. They were also supporters of groups such as the John Birch Society. From the time I was a toddler until the age of fifty, I attended church several times a week. After my parents fell in with the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, it was normal for me to attend church three times a week — plus Sunday school, youth meetings, revivals, mission conferences, youth rallies, youth events, church league sports, prayer meetings, visitation, soulwinning, preachers’ fellowships, music concerts, conferences, and bus calling. For many years, I attended 200-300 church services and events a year. While I had some social connections outside of the church, my best friends and girlfriends attended the same churches I did. The church was the social hub around which my life revolved.

By time I enrolled at Midwestern Baptist College — an unaccredited IFB institution — I had spent my life deeply immersed in IFB beliefs, practices, and methodology. It was impossible, then, for me to turn out any other way. It would take me thirty more years before I admitted that what I once believed was a lie.

I was what people call a true believer®. True believers continue to believe until something catastrophic causes them to doubt. In my case, I became tired of the church grind. Weary of low wages, poverty, seven-day workweeks, endless conflicts, and a lack of personal satisfaction, I decided to leave the ministry and seek out a church where I could be a help without being its pastor. I left the ministry in 2005. Between 2005 and 2008 Polly and I visited churches in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Arizona, and California — seeking to find a church that took seriously the teaching of Christ. All told, we visited more than 125 churches. (Please see But Our Church is DIFFERENT!) We concluded, that regardless of the name on the door, Christian churches were pretty much all the same. Polly and I made a good-faith effort to find a Christianity that mattered. In the end, all we found was pettiness, arrogance, internecine warfare, and indifference. Less than 10% of the churches we visited even bothered to touch base with us after we visited. Half of those who did, came to our home to visit because we asked them to. If I had to sum up this period, I would say this: We found out that churches didn’t give a shit. And then one day, neither did we.

It was these experiences that cracked open the door of my mind. I guess I should thank these Christians for showing me the bankruptcy of modern, Western Christianity. Once I began to doubt whether the church that Jesus built in fact existed, I was then free to examine my beliefs more closely. This examination ultimately led me to renounce Christianity and embrace secularism, atheism, agnosticism, and humanism. I remain a work in progress.

While it certainly would have been better for me if I had deconverted in my twenties or thirties, I didn’t, so it is a waste of time for me to lament the past. One positive of my long, storied experience with Evangelical Christianity is that I know Evangelicalism and the IFB church movement inside and out. This is why many Evangelical pastors think I am a “dangerous” man and warn people to steer clear of my writing. I write not from ignorance, but from a lifetime spent loving and serving Jesus, pastoring churches, and winning souls. I know things, as an informant says on TV. I know where the bodies are buried. I know about what went on behind closed church, bedroom, and motel room doors. This knowledge of mine makes me dangerous. It is also the reason doubters are attracted to my writing. As they read, my words have a ring of truth. Here’s a guy who understands, they say, a man who has been where I am now.

I can’t do anything about the past. It is what it is. If my past experiences can keep people from following a similar path, then I am happy. If I can help those who are trying to extricate themselves from Evangelicalism’s cult-like hold, then I have accomplished what I set out to do. I know I will never reach those who cannot or will not see. But for those who have doubts or questions, I hope to be a small light at the end of a dark tunnel. By helping Evangelicals see the light of reason, I can help break the generational hold of Christian Fundamentalism. Atheism is not the goal; skepticism and reason are. Once people start thinking for themselves, Fundamentalism will lose its power and control. Every person extricated from Evangelicalism is one more nail in Fundamentalism’s coffin. As long as I am numbered among the living, I plan to keep on driving nails.

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.

The IFB War Against Long Hair on Men

gerencser boys 1989
My Three Oldest Sons Sporting Baptist Haircuts, Somerset Baptist Church, 1989

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (I Corinthians 11:14)

According to many Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers, 1 Corinthians 11:14 is clear: it is shameful and against nature for a man to have long hair. The late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, made it his life’s mission to rid American men of what he considered effeminate long hair. In a sermon titled, Satan’s Bid for Your Child, Hyles stated:

God pity you people who call yourselves Christians and wear your long hair, beard and sideburns like a bunch of heathens. God, clean you up! Go to the barber shop tomorrow morning, and I am not kidding. It is time God’s people looked like God’s people. Good night, let folks know you are saved! There are about a dozen of you fellows here tonight who look like you belong to a Communist-front organization. You say, “I do not.” Then look like you do not. You say, “I do not like that kind of preaching.” You can always lump anything you do not like here.

In the booklet titled Jesus Had Short Hair, Hyles made the connection between male hair length and homosexuality. In Hyles’ eyes, men with longer hair were more likely to be sissified, weak homos. Hyles wrote:

It is very interesting that as the trend toward long hair increases, the acceptance of homosexuality increases. This is not to say that long hair and homosexuality always go together, but it is to note the fact that both are on the rise in our generation. Several of the major denominations have now accepted homosexuals. In some cities there are churches for homosexuals pastored by avowed homosexuals. At least one major denomination has ordained a homosexual preacher and others are considering following suit.

IFB preaching against long hair on men found its impetus as men began to grow their hair longer in the late 1960s and 1970s. Hippies had long hair and were anti-establishment. IFB preachers viewed long hair on men as a sign of rebellion against parental and religious authority. As anyone raised in the IFB church movement knows, rebellion is considered a grave sin, one that is never to be tolerated by parents or churches. This view of rebellion led to the establishment of IFB group homes, places where frustrated parents sent their children to be cured of rebellion. Sadly, children sent to these homes often returned to mom and dad emotionally and mentally broken. In some instances, these rebellious children had been physically and sexually assaulted.

In the IFB church movement of the 1970s, the four big sins were: long hair on men, short skirts on women, pants on women, and rock music. Youth directors waged holy wars against these sins and pastors frequently excoriated church teenagers over their unwillingness to obey the rules. While the days of hippies, Woodstock, and free love have faded into the pages of American history, many IFB preachers still preach against long hair, short skirts, pants, and rock music.

There are numerous unaccredited IFB colleges and Bible institutes in the United States. With few exceptions, these institutions strictly regulate how men must wear their hair. I attended Midwestern Baptist College from 1976-79. Midwestern had a strict standard concerning hair: short, off the ears, no long bangs, short sideburns, no facial hair, and a tapered neckline. This standard was strictly enforced, and men who let their hair grow too long were told to get a haircut. Ignoring this demand resulted in suspension or expulsion.

While some IFB preachers, churches, and colleges have adapted to the times, many have not. Midwestern Baptist College is one such institution that still thinks it is 1976. Here is Midwestern’s male hair standard, as published in their 2013-14 student handbook:

Men are to be neat in appearance and dressed properly at all times. The hair is to be cut over the ears and tapered at the back above the collar. Sideburns are to be no lower than the middle of the ear. Hair must be no longer than the middle of the forehead in front. Men may not have facial hair unless approved by the Dean of Students. Such facial hair must be neatly groomed at all times. Faddish, worldly hairstyles will not be tolerated. The final decision as to the appropriateness of a hairstyle will rest with the Administration.

As a loyal, faithful son of the IFB church movement, from the time I was a child until the late 1990s, I had short hair. As an IFB preacher, I thought it important to model the hairstyle God approved. While I didn’t preach very often on men having long hair, my short hairstyle made it clear to church members where I stood on the matter. Not only was my hair a testimony to the notion that the Bible condemned long hair, but so was the hair of my three oldest sons. My sons spent many years looking similar to children who were either being treated for lice or recently released from a Nazi prison camp. Not wanting to spend money on haircuts, we bought a pair of clippers and periodically gave them buzz cuts. No protestations allowed. Sit down, buzz, next. I am sure, at the time, they hated me, and I don’t blame them.

charles spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon, a 19th Century English Baptist Preacher

Over time, my views on hair began to change. In the early 1990s, I grew a beard, much to the surprise of my fellow IFB preachers. By then I had distanced myself from the more extreme elements of the IFB church movement, and I began fellowshipping with Calvinistic-oriented Reformed and Sovereign Grace Baptist preachers. These men, refugees from IFB churches, didn’t have as many social hangups. While they were still quite Fundamentalist, these preachers spent little time preaching on things such as male hair length and facial hair. Charles Spurgeon was one of this movement’s patron saints and he had long hair and a beard. I thought at the time, if Spurgeon had long hair and a beard, it must be okay for me to do the same.

Several years ago, Polly and I drove to Newark, Ohio to visit her parents. While there, my IFB mother-in-law asked me about my hair. I had let my hair grow, longer than it had ever been. (I know, I know, it’s hard for some of you to believe I actually had hair at one time.) Mom, who attends a church that is anti-long hair on men, asked, So you are growing your hair long? I replied, Yes. She responded, Why? And with nary a thought, I replied, Because I can. I am sure she was disappointed that I let myself turn into a hippie. She later asked if I planned to put my hair in a ponytail like my former brother-in-law does I told her I didn’t plan to let my hair grow that long.

These days, I am bald and Polly wears her hair short (unlike the days when her hair was long in compliance with her husband’s interpretation of the Bible). We have a hard, fast agreement: we don’t criticize each other’s hairstyles. While we do, at times, defer to one another, both of us are free to wear our hair as we wish. Now that we have cast off the shackles of Fundamentalism, we are free to do what we want. FREEDOM! As I have mentioned before, Polly and I missed out on the wildness of the 1960s and 1970s. Both of us were members of hardcore IFB churches that strictly regulated dress, hairstyles, and conduct. Now that we are no longer psychologically chained to IFB beliefs, we are, to some degree, living, for the first time, the 1960s and 1970s. On the plus side, we are much wiser than we were forty-five years ago. On the negative side, we also have bodies that are forty years older. Oh, to be wise and young!

How about you? Did you grow up in a church that strictly regulated dress, hairstyle, and behavior? Were you compliant or rebellious? If you were rebellious, how did your church and parents respond to your rebellion? Please share your hair-raising experiences in the comment section.

(Please read my previous post on this subject, Is it a Sin for a Man to Have Long Hair?)

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: Methodist Pastor Jody Sambrick Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charges

pastor jody sambrick

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.

Jody Sambrick, pastor of Hopeland United Methodist Church in Lititz, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty this week to child pornography charges and was sentenced to 1-2 years in prison.

Lancaster Online reports:

A West Lampeter Township man and former church pastor pleaded guilty this week to possessing child pornography in 2018, West Lampeter Township police announced Tuesday.

Jody Sambrick, 61, was sentenced to one to two years in prison plus eight years of probation upon his release, police said in a news release.

Sambrick, a former pastor at Hopeland United Methodist Church in Clay Township, will also be required to register as a sex offender for 25 years, provide a DNA sample and must undergo evaluation by a Sex Offender Assessment Board, among other conditions, said Sean McBryan, a spokesperson for the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

Judge Merrill Spahn accepted Sambrick’s negotiated plea on three counts of child pornography, two counts of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of disseminating photos of child sex acts and ordered the sentence Monday, according to court records.

….

Police and the DA’s Computer Crimes Task Force searched Sambrick’s residence in the 1700 block of Pioneer Road in September 2018, uncovering numerous images and videos depicting child pornography on computers and other electronics, according to the news release.

Sambrick was also previously an assistant tennis coach at Millersville University and started a coffee roasting business in 2013, according to previous reporting.

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: Independent Baptist Youth Pastor Scott Christner Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Sex Crimes

scott christner

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.

Scott Christner, a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Goshen, Indiana, pleaded guilty to child molestation and was sentenced today to twenty years in prison. First Baptist is an Independent Baptist congregation pastored by Gregg Lanzen.

The Goshen News reports:

A former youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Goshen has been sentenced following his conviction for child molestation.

On Wednesday, Scott Christner, 46, was sentenced in Elkhart County Superior Court 3 to 41 years at the Indiana Department of Corrections with 20 of those years being served in prison and the remaining 21 on probation, according to court records. 

He initially was charged in December 2019 with nine felony counts of child molesting and two felony counts of sexual misconduct with a minor in one case and another count of child molesting in the other case. He pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement Nov. 4 to child molesting, a Level 4 felony.

Five victims had accused Christner of touching them inappropriately when they were boys while they participated in The Olympians, a youth group they said Christner helped lead at First Baptist Church in Goshen. The touching occurred from about May 2012 through January 2017, as well July of 2019, according to court documents.

Christner was first arrested in November of 2019 as Goshen police investigated allegations made by a boy under 14 years old.

Shortly after the arrest was reported, four more victims, now 19 and 20 years old, came forward. They told investigators they had also been inappropriately touched by Christner when they were approximately 10 to 12 years old, the documents showed. Many of the incidents occurred at Christner’s house.

Christner was arrested and jailed a second time after the new accusations surfaced. He bonded out of jail shortly after both arrests.

WSBT-22 adds:

Scott Christner will spend 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to 5 counts of child molestation. If he had been found guilty of all counts, he would’ve faced 114 years in prison. Five anonymous survivors have come forward since the allegations came to light in 2019.

At the sentencing hearing, Christner read the letter he wrote to the survivors in March 2020. He was stoic at the defense table, but his voice started to break when he spoke about the times he and the survivors had when he was a First Baptist Church youth lead.

“I had a great opportunity to lead and encourage growth. However, I have sinned against you, your families and God,” Christner said.

Christner said he regrets the pain he’s inflicted on the survivors and their families. Michiana Biblical Counseling Center had been working with Christner since he was charged. The counseling center’s director, David Hills, took the stand and said he believes Christner has genuine remorse and wants more counseling help.

“He’s not doing this on his own and therefore will not put himself in a situation to be a repeat offender,” Hills said.

However, the prosecution said Christner took advantage of his authority and the connections he had with the survivors and their families.

One of the survivors — and family members of some of the others — were in court for the hearing. The parents of one of the survivors detailed how their once outgoing son had significant health problems after the sexual abuse and is still recovering from the trauma. In a letter to the court, survivor said:

“For years I wanted to say something to family and friends. I was afraid they wouldn’t believe me.”

The father of one of the survivors took the stand and said he had been lifelong friends with Christner. He said he would take his son and Christner to sports events. He would also leave his son at Christner’s house if he had to go out of town.

“Until things came to light, I was still doing things with my son with Scott this is ingrained, it’s part of who [my son] is. It should’ve never happened,” the survivor’s father said.

When Christner completes his 20-year sentence, he will be on probation and will need to register as a sex offender, pay a $10,000 fine and restitution, and can’t leave Elkhart County without permission.

It is fortunate that the judge in this case didn’t buy the nonsense (which would be hilarious if it wasn’t for the nature of Christner’s heinous crimes) spouted by David Hills, the director of the Michiana Biblical Counseling Center in Osceola, Indiana. Michiana’s website states:

We approach counseling with the strong belief that there is no better counseling tool available than God’s Word! Nothing else even comes close! We believe that the one who made us, loves us, and wants what is best for us has given us His Word to clearly teach us how to live in this world in a way that REALLY WORKS!!! Based on this strong belief, the foundation of our counsel is the Word of God, allowing us to counsel with great joy and confidence.

If the “Word of God” really “works,” why didn’t it keep Christner from sexually molesting numerous children? Further, neither Hills nor his fellow counselor, Deanna Doctor, are qualified to provide counseling for Christner. Michiana is little more than a Fundamentalist church hiding behind the facade of a counseling center. Using the Kevin Bacon Rule, I found that virtually everyone connected to Michiana has degrees from Fundamentalist institutions. The judge was wise to reject Hills’ baseless assertion that Christner is “cured,” and is unlikely to offend again. Well, I guess Hills is right in one regard. Christner won’t have an opportunity to re-offend for twenty years.

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.

Q & A Time in the IFB Church

i have a question

As a pastor, I would have occasional Q & A times on Sunday evenings. Congregants could ask me any question and I would try to answer them (regardless of my expertise or lack thereof). There would be times church members would ask me questions for which I had no answer. Instead of saying “I don’t know,” I would bullshit my way through an answer, hoping the questioner would be satisfied. For those raised in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches, you know that pastors were viewed as oracles of sorts, answer machines that could quickly spit out answers to every question. Perception was essential to the work of the ministry. It was important for pastors to be perceived as authoritative and knowledgeable. When asked questions beyond their requisite skillset, IFB pastors would try to give off the air of knowledge and understanding when there was none. Saying “I don’t know” was never an option.

I spent twenty-five years pastoring churches. I fielded countless questions from congregants, and without fail I answered them, even when I shouldn’t have. I thought it important to portray intellectual prowess. I wanted people to come to me for the answers to their questions. After all, I was a God-called, God-ordained, Holy Spirit-filled preacher. Who better to answer their questions than me? I thought to myself. The problem, of course, is that I was lacking knowledge of all sorts of subjects. Want to talk about the Bible? I was your man. Want to talk about computers or photography? I was still your man. However, when it came counseling issues, for which I had all of 2 credit hours of training, I was definitely out of my depth. Sure, I could give my opinion, but I had no training on how to deal with complex psychological problems. I believed for years that the Bible was the answer to every question; Problems were reduced to sin and rebellion, and correction of these problems was only a few Bible verses away.

During my time as a pastor in Southeast Ohio, I was friends with a fellow pastor at a nearby IFB church. One day we were sitting in his office shooting the breeze when a visibly agitated man came into the room. It quickly became clear to both of us that this man was having severe psychological problems. I thought, at the time, that my friend would sit the man down and try to help him by taking him through the Scriptures. The answer to every problem was found within the pages of the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Instead of doing this, my pastor friend offered to take the man to the stress center in Zanesville. He asked me if I wanted to go along, I said, “sure.” After we arrived at the hospital, my friend told the man to go inside and they would help him. And he did. And with that, we drove off and found a place to eat lunch.

I asked my friend why he didn’t try to “help” the mentally disturbed man. He replied, “I did. I brought him to a place where trained professionals could help him.” My friend could see that I was quite puzzled by his answer. He turned to me and said, “look, Bruce, it’s not our job to answer every question or fix every problem.” Years later, I came to see that my friend was right. I went from the “answer man” to the preacher who recognized the limitations of his training, knowledge, and expertise.

Years ago, my best friend was a young preacher named Keith Troyer. We got along famously. I encouraged Keith to have Q & A times on Sunday evenings. He did so, and continues to do so to this day. Keith now pastors an IFB church in Pennsylvania. This past Sunday, Keith held a Q & A time during the evening service. Keith’s theology hasn’t matured much over the years. He’s still KJV-only, a Bible literalist, and a right-wing extremist. Just your typical, run of the mill, IFB pastor.

What follows is a video of Keith’s Q & A time. As you shall see, beginning at the 18:10 mark, when presented with a question that requires an answer that puts God in a bad light, Bible literalism went out the window.

Video Link

A young man in the church asked Keith a question about Psalm 137:9: Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

The young man asked, “does it mean literally?”

I am sure my former friend, who thinks I am mentally ill and under the influence of Satan, thought, “oh, shit, how am I going to answer this question?” Instead of holding true to his literalistic hermeneutic, Keith spent the next ten minutes giving a convoluted answer meant to obscure and protect God’s image and name. I chuckled as I listened to Keith’s attempted dodge of what this verse actually means. For those of you who have interacted with IFB Christians, you know they are Bible literalists until they are not. When uncomfortably cornered about the “literal” reading or interpretation of a verse, they will try to obfuscate what the text clearly says or change the focus of the discussion. And if all else fails, IFB Christians will say, “well, brother, we are just going to have to agree to disagree.” Discussion over. 🙂

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.

Dear Christians: The Word “Atheist” is Not Shorthand for Your Lives Before Jesus

Calvin the atheist

It is not uncommon to hear Evangelicals claim that they were “atheists” before they became born-again Christians. Often, their goal is to connect with atheists, hoping to win them to Jesus. These atheists-turned-Christians think if they show that they “understand” atheism, that atheists will more likely accept their evangelistic appeals. Over the years, countless Evangelicals have tried this approach with me: Bruce I understand! I was once an atheist just like you! And then one day I realized I was a sinner in need of salvation and Jesus saved me! See! We are just the same. No. Really we aren’t.

I was a Christian BEFORE I became an atheist. I spent fifty years in the Christian church. I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I was raised, saved, baptized, and trained in the Evangelical church. I attended an Evangelical college. I pastored Evangelical churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. I, at one time, had a library that contained over 1,000 theology books, all of which I read and used in my sermon preparation. I also had Bible and language study programs on my computer. I spent most of my adult life thoroughly immersed in study of the Christian Bible and Christianity. When I deconverted, I did so because I intellectually concluded that the claims of Christianity were false. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.) My unbelief was the result of my painstaking, agonizing deconstruction of Christianity.

Most Christians-turned-atheists, deconvert when they are younger. Rare is the person who is in his fifties before he decides to walk away from Christianity. That I was willing, regardless of the cost, to renounce all that I once believed, doesn’t mean that I am, in any way, unique. While many people embrace atheism in their 20s and 30s, I do know of people who were much older when they lost the ability to believe in the existence of gods. All that being older means is that I had a lot more to lose by publicly announcing my defection from Christianity. I had accumulated a lifetime of experiences and friendships, and losing these was painful. The moment I dropped Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners in the mail and posted it to my blog, I knew that my life, from that point forward, would never be the same.

While my wife came along with me as we walked out the doors of the church for the last time, it was not at all certain that Polly would come to the same conclusions I did. The same goes for my six adult children. I risked losing the love of my life and the six blessings we shared over the course of our marriage. While I can now say that things worked out better than I could ever have imagined, there were times when I wondered if I wasn’t an arsonist who torched his own house.

So, dear atheists-turned-Christians, in what way was your “godless” life like my current life as an atheist? Be honest. Isn’t saying you were an atheist BC (before Christ) really just a generic, meaningless shorthand for life before Jesus? Evangelicals love to claim that there really is no such thing as an atheist, yet, when it suits them they are willing to claim the atheist moniker. If, as Evangelicals claim, everyone knows there is a God and has his law written on their hearts (Romans 1,2), how then is it possible for Evangelicals to be atheists before they became Christians?

Very few people schooled in the nuances of atheism, agnosticism, and humanism ever embrace Evangelicalism. Some might embrace moderate or liberal forms of Christianity or some other religion, but atheism is a sure antidote for Christian Fundamentalism. When it comes to reaching knowledgeable atheists, Evangelicals are batting pretty close to zero.

Instead of saying they were atheists before Jesus, Evangelicals should say they were indifferent towards religion. Virtually all religious belief is the result of where and when a person is born, along with tribal, social, cultural, and environmental exposure. Very few Evangelicals are willing to investigate why they believe what they believe. Better to make up stories about being atheists before being supernaturally saved by Jesus, than to admit that the reasons for their beliefs are quite human and earthly. In working with people who are in the process of leaving Evangelicalism, I try to get them to look at their lives from a sociological and cultural perspective. Once they are able to see how they became a Christian, sans any claims of supernatural action by the triune God, they will then be able to examine the claims of Christianity without faith getting in the way. It is not enough for people to say, I BELIEVE! Such a faith claim lies beyond investigation. If Evangelicals want their religion to be taken seriously, then they must be willing to expose Christianity to intellectual examination. If they are unwilling to do so, then atheists are free to dismiss their claims out of hand.

If there is one thing Evangelicals love, it is a glorious, often bloody, violent, sex-filled salvation testimony. Years ago, a young adult Amish-Mennonite man confided in me that he was distressed over the fact that he was not a bad person like many people were before they were saved. This man grew up in the Amish-Mennonite church and never strayed far from its teachings. He told me that he couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t a Christian. There was almost a yearning in his voice, a desire to live a little and experience the sins of the world. Then he would have a story to tell.

This young man, like many Evangelicals, likely heard countless testimonies from people who were (fill in the blank) before they became Christians. In the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church movement, larger-than-life testimonies of licentiousness and debauchery are quite common. I hate to reduce everything down to the penis size matters metaphor, but in the case of salvation testimonies, it often the case that Evangelicals want to “out–bad” each other. If Bro. Joe was a drunk, then Bro. Hank was a bigger drunk and a drug addict too. If Sister Sally lost her virginity to the preacher’s son, Sister Julie lost her virginity to the deacon’s son and had sex with the preacher’s son too. And on and on the dick-waving goes. Result? Fantastical stories of lives before Jesus that are legendary, often admixtures of embellished truths, lies, and fantasies.

Having heard hundreds of salvation testimonies, I have concluded that most public declarations of life before Jesus are fabrications built around a kernel of truth. So, when Evangelicals say they were atheists before Jesus, I generally roll my eyes and silently say to myself, sure you were. Many Evangelicals sincerely believe their testimonies are true. They are unwilling or unable to see that their stories are the products of telling the same falsehoods over and over. It is easy for us to convince ourselves of things that have no basis in fact. Atheists are capable of self-deception too. When I read a story about an atheist who says he knew Christianity was false by the time he was five years old, I want to laugh. That five-year-olds can be indifferent towards religion is certainly true. But understanding atheism, and intellectually weighing Christianity in the balance by age five? Not a chance.

It is common for atheists and Christians alike to take present experiences and beliefs and read them backwards into their lives. In doing this, the truth becomes stretched, often to such a degree that it distorts reality. When I first deconverted, I wanted people to know that I abandoned Evangelicalism solely for intellectual reasons. While certainly the reasons for my deconversion are intellectual in nature, I am now willing to admit that my loss of faith also has an emotional component. I couldn’t admit this for a long time because Evangelicals used it against me, suggesting that I was angry at God, bitter, jaded, and cynical, and these were the REAL reasons why I am no longer a Christian.

While emotions and bad experiences certainly played a part in my deconversion, the most important factor was that I no longer believed that the claims of Christianity were true. Can the atheists-turned-Christians say the same? As our math teachers used to say, please show me your work. Show us the path that led you to atheism before finding Jesus. Few Evangelicals can show their work. Saying they were atheists before Jesus gives their testimony instant credibility within their houses of worship. Oooh, Bro. Jeremiah was an atheist before he got saved! Instantly, the stereotype which countless Evangelicals have of atheists is applied to the Bro. Jeremiahs of the church. What is that stereotype? That atheists are evil, followers of Satan, immoral, and eat babies for lunch. Rarely do Evangelicals ever bother to investigate whether pre-Jesus claims of godlessness are true.

When Evangelicals tell me they were once atheists, I usually ignore them, realizing that they likely have little to no understanding of atheism. When Evangelicals continue to say that they were once members of the Church of Atheism, I then press them for evidence for their claims. Point me to the atheist, secular, or humanist groups you were once a part of. Show me what atheist books you have read. Provide the articles, letters, and term papers you wrote in defense of atheism. Provide names of people who will attest to your claim of atheism. I have yet to have an atheist-turned-Christian provide such evidence.

What is ironic is that Evangelicals demand these very things from Christians-turned-atheists. I have spent fourteen years proving that I was a bona fide Evangelical Christian and pastor. I have written thousands of words in defense of my testimony. My claims can easily be checked and verified. I have, in every way, proved that I once was a preacher of the Evangelical gospel, a devoted, die-hard follower of Jesus Christ. Surely, I should be able to expect atheists-turned-Christians to give similar proof for their claims. While I am quite willing to accept that there are a handful of people who were once atheists and are now Evangelicals, I am unwilling to accept at face value testimonies that cannot be verified and vetted. And until these atheists-turned-Christians prove their claims, I hope they will forgive me for not believing a word they say.

Wikipedia has a page dedicated to notable people who were once nontheists and are now Christians. Most of the converts are now Roman Catholic, Anglican/Episcopalian, or liberal Protestants.  While I have no interest in going through the list name by name, I think it is safe to assume that there are very few Evangelicals on the list. The most notable Evangelicals are Lee StrobelWilliam Murray (son of Madalyn Murray O’Hair), Jeffrey Dahmer, and Kirk Cameron. Boy, there’s a panoply of intellectual greatness. While there are others like Francis Collins, the renowned geneticist, who claim the Evangelical moniker, many Evangelicals doubt evolution-believing people such as Collins are true Christians. Perhaps it is time for Evangelicals to start a Wikipedia page listing the names of atheists who became Evangelical Christians. I hope that, in doing so, Evangelicals will provide verifiable evidence for claims of once being atheists. If Evangelicals want people like me to believe they were once atheists, then they are going to have to prove it. Just saying it doesn’t make it so. Just because Pastor John down at First Baptist has a whopper of a before-Jesus testimony doesn’t mean it is true. Preachers know the value of great story, and what better story than that of an atheist who found God. Such claims can open doors to wider ministry opportunities and increased income.

The more bizarre and unbelievable the story, the more likely it is that Evangelicals will believe it. After all, the Evangelical God is a miracle-working deity. If he can raise the dead, heal the sick, walk on water, and turn water into wine, surely he can take a gun-toting, crack-smoking, whoremongering, thieving, hitman for the Mafia and turn him into a Bible-thumping, Jesus-praising, hallelujah-shouting Baptist preacher. With God, all things are possible, right?

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: IFB Pastor Kevin Scott Heffner Sentenced to Twenty-Five Years in Prison for Sex Crimes

pastor kevin heffner

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 November 2018, Kevin Scott Heffner, pastor of Victory Baptist Church and former principal of the Victory Academy in Ruffin, North Carolina, was found guilty of two felony B1 counts of statutory sex offense with a child under 15 and 12 counts of felony disseminating obscene material to a minor and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. (Extensive News & Record story about Heffner’s background)

The News & Record reports:

A former Ruffin pastor and private school principal will spend a minimum of 25 years in prison without the chance of parole after pleading guilty to performing inappropriate sex acts and sending a dozen nude pictures to one of his minor female students who was also a member of his congregation.

Kevin Scott Heffner, 48, of Pelham, was sentenced in the aggravated range Thursday in Rockingham County Superior Court by Guilford County Superior Court Judge William Wood.

The judge found Heffner, the former pastor of Victory Baptist Church and former principal of the Victory Academy in Ruffin, guilty of two felony B1 counts of statutory sex offense with a child under 15 and 12 counts of felony disseminating obscene material to a minor.

The victim was 14 and 15 years old during the time Heffner committed the crimes that took place February through August.

Rockingham County Assistant District Attorney Michelle Alcon said there were a dozen nude photographs of Heffner in various poses, many of which reveal his identifying tattoo of a Star of David.

As Wood delivered the sentence, a gaunt Heffner, clad in a tan county jail uniform worn over thermal underwear, clutched his Bible and bowed his head. His mother Connie Heffner, 79, of Greensboro, along with his daughter Whitney Heffner, 21, cried quietly from the second row in the courtroom, while his wife, Angie Heffner, stared straight ahead.

Just before he was sentenced, Heffner told Wood that he accepted full responsibility for his actions and asked the judge for leniency in sentencing. Earlier in the proceeding when asked by Wood if he accepted and understood the plea agreement, Heffner said, shaking his head, “I don’t want (victim’s name) to have to go to trial.”

“What I did is heinous and monstrous, but I didn’t mean to do it,” said Heffner as he read from a handwritten statement. “What I’ve done sickens me. I’m just pleading for mercy.”

Before reading the sentence, Wood told Heffner he found it “baffling” that as a father of children ages 18, 20 and 21, Heffner would have abused another child, knowing “the trauma it would cause.”

The judge concluded, “It’s beyond belief, Mr. Heffner.”

Heffner was arrested by the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 29 after investigators determined the Guilford County native formed a sexual relationship with the student.

Her mother, also a church member, contacted the sheriff’s office earlier that day after learning from the victim’s sibling that the girl had received numerous sexual-themed texts and photographs from Heffner, Alcon said.

The sibling borrowed the phone for a short time and discovered a text thread between the minor and Heffner.

“[The sibling] found more than what she bargained for,” Alcon said during the hearing, adding that detectives used the phone’s history to unravel a road map to obscene material and inappropriate acts.

“Scott Heffner was a wolf in sheep’s clothing who used his position to groom his victim,” said Rockingham County District Attorney Jason Ramey, who commended Sheriff Sam Page, Detective Jonathan Cheek, Detective Ed Smaldone and Alcon for swiftly delivering justice for the victim.

“She looked to him as a spiritual leader and he took advantage of her,” Ramey said. “Throughout this process, (the victim) has demonstrated a tremendous amount of courage and her bravery and cooperation were essential to making sure Heffner will not be able to harm other children.”

Ramey hopes a hefty sentence for Heffner will bring the victim and her family some solace and closure.

“I also understand that, due to the nature of Heffner’s position, his actions caused tremendous harm to many other people as well,” Ramey said. “I pray that the good people in the congregation of Victory Baptist Church will not lose hope or faith in Christ because of Heffner’s betrayal of his sacred position.”

Prosecutors said that some texts to the victim were about oral sex and masturbation.

They included “detailed incidences of an actual physical relationship between the two of them,” Alcon told the court.

Some of the texted photos “show his full body” and a “close up of his penis,” Alcon said.

While Heffner digitally penetrated the young woman, he never engaged in penile intercourse with the minor, Alcon said.

Painting a portrait of an emboldened Heffner, Alcon described how he digitally penetrated the victim while on a crowded church van en route to a retreat, and how he repeated the act while at a Danville movie theater while his daughter sat close by.

The disgraced pastor also engaged in oral sex acts with the victim in his church’s office, church hallway, and kitchen, as well as in the victim’s home, and in his own master bathroom.

Heffner also made a practice of taking the victim on errands in his vehicles and digitally penetrated her while in a Suburban in a retailer’s parking lot and while in his Honda in the victim’s driveway.

While on a church retreat to Bugg’s Island and Kerr Lake near the North Carolina/Virginia border, Heffner “penetrated her (digitally) in the lake and she felt his penis in the water,” Alcon said.

….

The victim told authorities that Heffner made his first advance “by him grabbing her breast and rubbing her vagina in his office,” Alcon said.

Though the victim’s mother was too distraught to speak in court, Alcon told the court that the mother believed Heffner “used his position of authority and trust” to “prey” on her daughter.

Presenting himself as a father figure to a young woman who had lost her own dad, Heffner further won the victim’s trust. He paid extra attention to the student at school, took the student to lunch alone and “he had her convinced he was going to leave his wife for her,” Alcon said. “He took her innocence away from her and he convinced her that a woman should do things to pleasure the men in her life.”

“He’s a good man,” said Angie Heffner, the pastor’s wife of 23 years. “He has a good record. If anybody knows that man, I do. We’ve gone through three kids together, two cancer scares. He’s been good to us. He’s a good person.”

Pledging to write, call and visit Heffner every chance she can, Angie Heffner was without tears during the detailed reading of charges. “This does not define him in my eyes. I love him and nothing can change that,” she said.

Far from a philanderer, Heffner was a good husband and provider, who had early in their marriage worked three jobs at a time, his wife said. His employment included a job with the City of Greensboro as a landscaper, a carpet cleaning gig, and a stint as a youth pastor. He had been a full-time pastor for 15 years at the time of his arrest.

Angie Heffner didn’t excuse her husband’s poor judgment, but suggested that the recent death of his father, stress with transition in the church, and the departure of two children from home may have affected his state of mind.

Alcon questioned Angie Heffner in redirect about her monitored phone calls to her jailed husband made shortly after his August arrest. The prosecutor said that some of Angie Heffner’s comments suggested she had prior knowledge of his involvement with a minor before his arrest.

But Angie Heffner denied the allegation, saying, “He was counseling her (the victim). I told him that if in this ministry… if you let people too close, it can burn you. Satan doesn’t want to see Christianity succeed. He will do anything to break up families.”

….

During Thursday’s plea hearing, Alcon said that Heffner could have been charged with at least seven additional B1 felonies – charges that carry a maximum penalty of life without parole.

Those charges were negated by the swiftness in which Heffner agreed to the plea, Alcon said.

Heffner’s attorney Richard Panosh of Reidsville reminded the court that Heffner had been forthcoming about his crimes and had taken full responsibility for them early on. “The first thing he said was, ‘It’s all my fault. I knew better. I take full responsibility for it. The whole thing is my fault.’”

Heffner called his victim, ‘faultless,’ Panosh told the court. “…There is nothing to justify what he did.” Panosh said. “There is no excuse for it.”

Despite the plea agreement, Heffner could face additional charges in other jurisdictions, officials said.

Alcon, who detailed Heffner’s numerous crimes in the Danville area and on the church retreat, said that the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with Virginia law enforcement officials regarding possible charges.

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: Anglican Lay Pastor Mark Rivera Charged with Sex Crimes

pastor mark rivera

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.

Mark Rivera, a lay pastor at Christ Our Light Anglican in Big Rock, Illinois — an Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) church plant — was recently charged with two felony counts of criminal sexual assault.

The Religion News Service reports:

A former lay pastor in a conservative Anglican denomination was charged Wednesday (Dec. 29) with two felony counts of criminal sexual assault in the Kane County, Illinois, circuit court. The charges come a year after Joanna Rudenborg reported Mark Rivera, her former neighbor, to Kane County police, accusing him of raping her in 2018 and again in 2020. 

According to Pat Gengler, undersheriff at Kane County, bail was set at $50,000 and Rivera was released after a hearing. “He’s on home monitoring, so he does have a GPS bracelet which greatly restricts his movements,” said Gengler.

….

“I’m glad he was finally charged and the prosecution is happening,” said Rudenborg. “It’s certainly validating that the state looked at the evidence and said, this is a strong case worth pursuing. … I hope that my story being taken seriously by the authorities will help other people take other victims’ stories more seriously.”

….

Rivera is also being prosecuted on charges of felony sexual assault and predatory abuse of a victim under 13 years of age, and at least eight others have made allegations of abuse by Rivera, including child sexual abuse, grooming, rape and assault.

Rivera was a lay minister at Christ Our Light Anglican, an ACNA church plant in Big Rock, Illinois, from 2013 to 2019. He was also a volunteer leader at Church of the Resurrection — the headquarters of the Upper Midwest Diocese — in Wheaton, Illinois, from the mid-1990s until 2013.

On Aug. 28, ACNA announced the members of a Provincial Response Team that would oversee an investigation into the diocese’s handling of the allegations. The denomination was not able to respond to a request for comment by the time of publication, but according to an email sent from the Provincial Response Team to Rudenborg on Nov. 30 and shown to Religion News Service, the group was “ready to begin the initial vetting process to narrow down the list” of investigative firms. That list would then be voted on by both survivors and members of the Provincial Response Team. On Twitter, Rudenborg expressed frustration at the team’s lack of action.

“At this point, I’m safe from Mark, I’m not in any direct danger, so really what I want is for him to not be able to harm anyone else,” Rudenborg told RNS. “The only way we can be sure that that’s going to happen is if he goes back into custody. So it’s kind of still a waiting game.”

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: Catholic Priest Michael O’Brien Accused of Sexually Molesting Boy

father michael o'brien

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.

Michael O’Brien, a former priest at St. Mary Catholic Church in Aspen, Colorado, was recently accused of sexually abusing a church boy over three hundred times. Currently, no criminal charges have been filed.

The Vail Daily reports:

A former Aspen Catholic priest not only sexually assaulted a local altar boy approximately 300 times in the early 2000s, he beat the boy when he declined to accede to his sexual demands, according to a civil lawsuit filed last week in Denver District Court.

The Rev. Michael O’Brien allegedly began abusing Keegan Callahan at age 7, soon after he moved to Aspen in the summer of 2004 with his devout Roman Catholic family, the lawsuit states. The abuse of Callahan, now 24 and serving a 14-year prison sentence for committing sex crimes against juveniles in Aspen, allegedly continued through 2008.

“If (Callahan) chose not to comply with O’Brien’s sexual demands, O’Brien would physically punish (Callahan) by hitting him in the torso, chest, and/or back,” according to the complaint, filed Dec. 22. “The egregious acts of sexual, physical, mental and emotional abuse (Callahan) suffered resulted in … the developed false belief that rape and torture is normal.”

O’Brien served at St. Mary Catholic Church on Main Street in Aspen from 2002 to 2011, when he left for a six-month sabbatical to address health issues, the lawsuit says. He was later appointed pastor of a Catholic church in Julesburg, though he was placed on administrative leave in September when the Archdiocese of Denver was notified of the abuse allegations.

At that time, Vicar General Very Rev. Randy Dollins said O’Brien “resolutely denied these allegations” and that the archdiocese had not received any other similar allegations against him.

On Thursday, O’Brien’s Denver-based attorney echoed that statement.

“Father O’Brien denies the allegations made by Keegan Callahan in this complaint and will fight the allegations in court,” Kevin McGreevy said.

The Aspen Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation into Callahan’s allegations. Sgt. Rick Magnuson declined to comment Thursday on an open case.

….

Scott Eldredge, Callahan’s attorney, characterized the allegations as “horrific.”

“It was a repeated, horrific episode of abuse,” he said Thursday. “We’re looking forward to trial.”

….

The Callahan family regularly celebrated mass, received the sacraments and participated in church-related activities, according to the lawsuit. Callahan greatly admired and revered the Roman Catholic Church, served as altar boy for O’Brien and attended classes he supervised.

“The abuse by O’Brien began only a few months after (Callahan) and his family joined St. Mary’s,” the lawsuit states. “O’Brien continued to groom (Callahan) by normalizing sexual abuse and represented to (him) that engaging in these sexual acts was a way of showing God’s love.

“Between 2004 and 2008, (Callahan) was sexually abused by O’Brien at St. Mary’s on approximately 300 occasions.”

The abuse not only caused Callahan to believe rape and torture were normal, it caused him “severe emotional, physical and mental anguish,” and left him with a loss of faith in “any church or institution” and a loss of innocence, according to the complaint.

“Moreover, (Callahan) did not discover … that he was injured or that the cause of his injuries was due to the abuse he suffered until recently because of the profound psychological damage that occurred as a result of (O’Brien’s) actions,” the suit states. “The sexual exploitation and circumstances under which the multiple acts of abuse occurred caused (Callahan) to develop various psychological coping mechanisms, including self-blame, denial, repression, suppression and disassociation from his experiences.”

The suit accuses St. Mary and the Archdiocese of Denver of negligence in employing and retaining O’Brien, which caused Callahan lasting injuries.

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.

Bruce Gerencser