After the election, I read several books about Trump, and they didn’t even mention the evangelical vote. And yet that was decisive in Trump’s win. As it turned out, 81 percent of all evangelicals [Strang is wrong here. 81 percent of voting Evangelicals voted for Trump, NOT 81 percent of all Evangelicals] —Bible-believing, born-again, church-going Christians—ended up voting for Trump. Part of that had to do with the fact that Trump was running against Hillary Clinton. (Whatever negative things you can say about Trump, Clinton would have been 10 times worse, in my opinion.)
But Trump has turned out to be quite a surprise. He’s proved himself to be a champion of religious freedom, he seems to be very respectful of evangelicals, and he even seeks counsel from them. Evangelical leaders have said they have more access to him than to any president in recent history.
What generally happens is that Democrats running for president don’t reach out to the evangelical community. They tend to write them off. The Republicans, on the other hand, reach out to evangelicals during their campaign but, once elected, don’t talk to them or even honor their promises to them. But Trump has been very different in that regard. In short, the last few years have been a refreshing change.
I believe this has been a largely untold story, which is why I decided to write Trump Aftershock. My heart in writing the book is to highlight what God has done through Trump since he was elected. Just think of how Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, negotiated with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and most recently, freed American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey for two years. These are the aftershocks of Trump’s election and, by God’s grace, more are yet to come.
Beginning with the election of President Trump, we are all perhaps witnessing one of the historic turning points in American history. If they were able to destroy Judge Kavanaugh, it would have been a big step toward perhaps destroying America, for it could have set a precedent. Does that sound overdramatic? Please hear me out.
This is not politics as usual. We are not wrestling against flesh and blood. This is the work of principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph. 6:12). This is all related to the death of a nation and a constitution founded on godly principles. The two things the radical leftists fear the most are the Bible and our national Constitution.
When you witness yet another senior Democratic senator, Diane Feinstein, deliberately conspiring in a Senate deliberation involving hiding a letter for months and the witness for weeks, and doing it totally against Senate rules—and then to complicate the matter, apparently allowing one of her staff to leak the letter to create a media firestorm, it is not politics as usual. It is the basest form of corruption and lawless manipulation.
As I stated, this all began building momentum after the election of President Donald Trump on that fateful day for all Democrats in November 2016. The defeat of Hillary Clinton loosened the grip on socialism and atheistic communism and the complete remaking of Barack Obama’s America.
This is the reason the day after the inauguration you heard influential celebrities like Madonna saying she has dreams of the White House burning down and being destroyed. It’s the reason other popular figures use such derogatory language and profanities against our president. Remember the image, still so clear in my mind, of the woman holding a model of the bloody head of Donald Trump in her hand?
This is not normal. It is a murderous Satanic spirit. Never in my lifetime or perhaps the entire history of our nation have we seen this kind of disrespect and dishonor for the highest office in the land. It is demonic filth and hatred.
This irrational and senseless attitude, which borders on insanity, is the prevailing spirit in our nation. It’s like a virus. The ungodly media is shaping the minds of multitudes and spreading this virus. That’s why you had the desperation to find collusion with the Russians, which, one Washington reporter, after two years of investigation, says turned up no evidence at all. Zero. Zilch. Nada. But just as with the Kavanaugh hearings, it’s never been about evidence. It’s about smearing, undermining, distorting the facts and character defamation of the truly upright.
What follows was started by a woman named Lori Gallagher Witt. The brilliance is hers; the rest has been edited to best express similar, though not identical, opinions of those passing the main ideas on. I didn’t write this from scratch, but edited and added to a similar post to reflect my personal beliefs. I found this particular post on my editor’s Facebook page and have edited it to reflect my personal beliefs.
I’m a liberal. I wasn’t always a liberal. There was a day when I was a conservative. For many years I was a Fundamentalist Christian, a supporter and foot soldier in the Evangelical culture war. Today, I am a liberal, though I suspect many readers don’t know or understand what the word means.
Some of you suspected. Some of you were shocked. Many of you have known me for years, even the majority of my life. We either steadfastly avoided political topics, or I carefully steered conversations away from the more incendiary subjects in the name of keeping the peace. “I’m a liberal” isn’t really something you broadcast in social circles where “the liberals” can’t be said without wrinkling one’s nose. I live in a community where seven out of ten voters are Republican and even the Democrats tend to be religious conservatives.
While most of the readers of this blog skew towards the left, a fair number of you are Republican and voted for Donald Trump (or Jill Stein). You love my critique of Evangelicalism and you love my atheism, but you despise by liberal politics. I hope what follows will give you a better understanding of my political beliefs.
Then the 2016 election happened, and staying quiet wasn’t an option anymore. Since then, I’ve received no shortage of emails and comments from people who were shocked, horrified, disappointed, disgusted, or otherwise displeased to realize I am a liberal. Yep. I’m one of those bleeding-heart commies who hates anyone who’s white, straight, or conservative, and who wants the government to dictate everything you do while taking your money and giving it to people who don’t work.
Or am I?
Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines.
I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected.
I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.
I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the U.S.), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.
I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.
I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. I’m self-employed, so I already pay a shitload of taxes. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, that means increasing my already eye-watering tax bill. I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.
I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that people should not have to work two full-time jobs and a part-time weekend job just to keep their heads above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multi-billion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work forty hours and live.
I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOTillegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is — and should be — illegal) All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose Sharia-like biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.
I don’t believe LGBTQ people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the *same* rights as you and I — justice and equal protection under the law.
I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO(spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who are here illegally, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc.).
I believe we should take in refugees, or at the very least not turn them away without due consideration. Turning thousands of people away because a terrorist might slip through is inhumane, especially when we consider what has happened historically to refugees who were turned away. If we’re so opposed to taking in refugees, maybe we should consider not causing them to become refugees in the first place. Because we’re fooling ourselves if we think that somewhere in the chain of events leading to these people becoming refugees, there isn’t a line describing something the U.S. did (like dropping bombs on civilians and fomenting civil war).
I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since capitalistic greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices, etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.
I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I’m butthurt over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.
I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.
I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think of it as social politeness. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because, as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person? Your refusal to adjust your vocabulary in the name of not being an asshole kind of makes YOU the snowflake.
I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.
I’m not interested in coming after your guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible policies, including background checks, that MIGHT save one person’s life by the hand of someone who should not have a gun. I am also in favor of removing from the market military grade firearms. No one needs a clip that hold thirty bullets.
I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men, and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?
I believe that life begins at viability — at the point where a baby can survive outside the mother’s womb. But that’s my own belief. I do not have the right to impose my belief on anyone else. Nor do you. Abortions have happened since the dawn of history, for a variety of reasons — some good, some bad. They are not going to go away. Government has no business legislating morality. It does have a responsibility to create and educate people on possible alternatives. But neither the government, nor you, nor, I, can make that choice for another.
I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal (and a humanist) because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work eighty hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.
So, I’m a liberal.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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Satan is the author of confusion, the father of lies and the accuser of the Brethren both day and night. The liberals…….BLM……Occupy……..and now Antifa are all under the spell of the god of this world. They don’t think for themselves – they are told what to think.
President Trump loves Israel and this makes the evil one livid. While BHO was in office, his disdain for PM Netanyahu and Israel made the devil very happy. Satan and his minions were enraged at the election of Donald Trump as our president. The dark forces of evil did NOT see that coming.
Republicans who voted for Donald Trump bristled when I described their man as a narcissistic, psychopathic, bigoted, pathological liar. They objected when I said that Donald Trump acts like a junior high boy obsessed with his handsomeness and dick size. I warned that Donald Trump was not fit to be a trash truck driver, let alone President of the United States. I reminded people that Donald Trump was a lying, cheating failed businessman who had no regard for the Constitution and the rule of law. I challenged Republicans to consider what could happen if the orange-haired toddler was given the power to order troops into conflict and fire nuclear weapons. Yet, here were are, not thirty days into the Trump presidency, and the man who was going to drain the swamp and make America great again has turned the United States into the laughingstock of the world.
Just today, Donald Trump gave an impromptu press briefing that has left many Americans wondering if the President is mentally ill. How else can Trump’s behavior be explained? Rolling Stone published a summary of some of the ravings-of-a-lunatic worthy statements made by Trump. Enjoy!
That time he batted back reports of chaos in the West Wing
“I turn on TV, open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos – chaos – yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”
That time he confirmed the veracity of the leaks that lead to Michael Flynn’s resignation
“The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.”
That time he couldn’t say Flynn lied
“The thing is, he didn’t tell our vice president properly, and then he said he didn’t remember … that just wasn’t acceptable to me.”
That time he characterized the rollout of his travel ban as “smooth”
“We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban; we had a bad court.”
That time he called the country of Russia fake news
“Russia is fake news. Russia – this is fake news put out by the media. The real news is the fact that people, probably from the Obama administration because they’re there, because we have our new people going in place, right now.”
That time he denied knowledge of whether anyone from his team colluded with the Russian government during the campaign
“Nobody that I know of. How many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years.”
That time he bragged about not being a bad person
“And I’ll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word ‘tone’? The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such – I do get good ratings, you have to admit that – the tone is such hatred.”
That time he compared the price of drugs to that of candy bars
“We’ve ordered the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to coordinate on a plan to destroy criminal cartels coming into the United States with drugs. We’re becoming a drug-infested nation. Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars.”
That time he promised America and Russia would have a nuclear holocaust “like no other”
“We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I have been briefed. And I can tell you, one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say, because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other. They’re a very powerful nuclear country, and so are we.”
That time he mused about attacking the Russian vessel lurking off the coast of Connecticut
“The greatest thing I could do [politically] is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.”
That time he conceded his oft-repeated line about having the “biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan” is a lie
NBC reporter Peter Alexander: “You said today that you had the biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan – 304, 306 electoral votes. In fact, President Obama got 365 in 2008.” Trump: “Well, I’m talking about Republicans.” Alexander: “President Obama 333, George H.W. Bush 426 when he won. So why should Americans trust…” Trump: “I was given that information, I was just given it. We had a very big margin.” Alexander: “I guess the question is: Why should Americans trust you when you accuse the information they receive as being fake, when you’re providing information that is not accurate?” Trump: “Well, I was given that information. I was, actually, I’ve seen that information around. But it was a very substantial victory. Do you agree with that?” Alexander: “You’re the president.”
That time he explained uranium
“We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons, and other things. Like, lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things. Nobody talks about that.”
That time he offered a nuanced critique of Hillary Clinton’s record as secretary of state
“Hillary Clinton did the reset, remember? With the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks. Here, take a look. He looked at her like, ‘What the hell is she doing?’ With that cheap plastic button. Hillary Clinton. That was a reset. Remember it said ‘Reset’? Now if I do that oh, I’m the bad guy.”
That time he offered a nuanced assessment of his own performance at said press conference
“I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you you’re dishonest people.”
That time he grew tired of all the tough questions
“I want to find a friendly reporter.”
That time he was asked about Melania’s role as first lady
“That is what I call a nice question. … She – like others, like others that she’s working with – feel very, very strongly about women’s issues, women’s difficulties.”
That time he responded to a question – from a Jewish reporter – about the uptick in threats against Jewish organizations
“OK, sit down. … So here’s the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism – the least racist person.”
That time he assumed a black reporter would be friends with black members of Congress
April Ryan: “Will you meet with the Congressional Black Caucus?” Trump: “I would. You want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?”
By all means, Republicans, defend your man. You voted for him, and helped to put him into office. You must now own what you did. I hope you are rational and mature enough to realize that you made a h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e mistake, and that you will, when the time comes, support efforts to remove Donald Trump from office. That is if we all don’t die from radiation exposure first.
My name is Randy and I lived as an atheist for 32 years of my life. I’m a pastor [Randy’s church. He is not listed on the staff roster] (been a follower of Christ since 2002). I hung around Bruce’s blog for awhile until he finally asked me not to come back. I questioned him about having a personal vendetta against Christianity and never attacking Islam. I also accused him of being just as intolerant and judgmental towards Christians as he claimed they were to him. Boom – he asked me to hit the virtual highway.
Bruce stands beside the works of Ehrman like they are Scripture. I love Bart Ehrman and have read most of his books. He’s a great New Testament scholar but has some serious flaws in his conclusions. He is an agnostic but still has a personal vendetta against Christianity like Bruce. His goal is to undermine the Bible’s authenticity.
Atheism has changed since I claimed that name. I was a live and let live guy. Now, the radical, militant atheists, like Bruce, have become the majority. They are not happy just to choose unbelief, they actively try to draw others to their beliefs (atheist evangelism?) and want to strip all freedom from Christianity in the public area of life. They will tell you they don’t hate God because they don’t believe in him. This may be true to some extent, not being conscious hate, but their actions clearly express hate towards God and his people.
I appreciate your blogging. Keep up the good work. First comment
Randy left a total of forty-two comments on this site. While Evangelicals are generally given one opportunity to comment — as is made clear in the commenting rules — but Randy seemed nice enough of a guy that I allowed him to continue to comment.
Bruce let me say first, I am still in the Christian camp and I’m glad I didn’t let your warning prevent me from reading this post. But then again, I’m not in the “easily offended evangelical” section of the camp. I think more Christians need to hear and heed your words. The greatest deficiency I see in Christianity is a lack of authenticity. Most can put on the mask, play the part, buy the book, the t-shirt, the poster, and all the accessories just enough to fool others. The honest truth is this: the non-Christians I know are generally much nicer than the Christians I know. They aren’t pretending to be something besides who and what they are. They are my friends for the same reason anybody should be your friend: because I thoroughly enjoy their company. I do not maintain the relationship to convert them. We may talk about spirituality from time to time, but my goal is not to debate them to a profession of faith. I stand by my faith but I don’t bludgeon them with it.
I’m an introvert at heart, so I don’t open my house up to many people. The ones I do truly know me. Yes you’ll find some Christian pictures and such here and there. I do have a shelf full of Bibles and theological books, but you’ll also find some Louis L’Amour Westerns and (gasp) swords & sorcery and vampire fiction, along with plenty of non-fiction and a few biographies. Yes I have some Christian movies, but I have a ton of sci-fi and Westerns and yes (gasp again) some are rated R! I have an Xbox one and a stack of video games that have nothing to do with Jesus. My music collection has a scattered collection of Christian artists but is primarily composed of the likes of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and other heavy metal and honky tonk artists.
Now you better sit down for this one. I smoke cigars. I like bourbon. These are the two funniest because I know Christians who do them in secret. I’ve been asked not to post pictures of me doing either on social media by church leadership. It’s so funny man. My primary ministry is in the local county jail and I love it. I’m real with those guys about who and what I am. We are just a bunch of messed up guys who like to have a genuine good time but want to get our lives straightened out. For us, our faith is a guide.
Anyway, I make a lot of Christians uncomfortable for all the above reasons. Sometimes they think I am too “worldly” or “backsliding.” I used to make sure I never slipped up and cursed. Not a big deal now. I try to be mindful of offending people with my language and the fact I have children who I want to make a good impression on for how they speak, but every once in awhile, I just let those accursed words roll off my tongue.
Most of all I just want to be me. If Jesus is real, and he doesn’t love me for who I am, if he insists that I be something I am not, then it’s not real love anyway is it?
I am a Christian and a former atheist (I’m not going to argue that again here. I know what I believed and how I lived.) One of my absolute favorite authors is Bart Ehrman. He is one of the foremost scholars on the New Testament and quite brilliant. At this point I have read 5 of his books and own 2 of them (“Forged” and “Did Jesus Exist”).
The biggest problem I see in Christian apologetics to day is the use of circular logic. “How do I know the Bible is true? Because the Bible says so.” That is an epic failure. I am sure every holy text testifies to it’s own veracity. These same apologists will quickly call out circular logic when used by other faiths or evolutionists. You cannot change the rules in your favor.
To complicate things, the majority of Christians are unwilling to read anything outside of the Christian realm of apologetics. They won’t read Ehrman and his questions concerning the reliability of the biblical text. They won’t read what evolutionists have to say. They won’t read what prominent atheists have to say. They stick their head in the sand and shout, “But the Bible says so!”
I cannot live that way. I walk in doubt many days. I don’t find the answers of men like James satisfying at all. In fact, it makes me disappointed in Christianity in general. Do I have irrefutable evidence for the existence of the Christian God? Unfortunately, no. Do I believe the Bible is the best defense of the Christian faith? Nope. Do I believe there are compelling arguments against the existence of the Christian God? Sure.
My faith is what it is: faith. I have seen things, experienced things that leads me to the conclusion that a supreme being of some type exists. I best view him through the paradigm of Christianity. I am reluctant to label myself “evangelical” because at this point in my life, it is a personal journey seeking truth. I do not regularly share or impose my beliefs on others. I feel like I am beyond that. I do respond to those who come seeking knowledge of Christianity, and I always encourage those I work with to keep their brains turned on, to focus on their spiritual journey and not some manmade institution that is more interested with your butt filling a seat and your money filling the offering bucket.
I enjoy reading you Bruce because you challenge my thoughts and faith. I believe you were a sincere Christian once as I was a sincere atheist. Maybe one day our paths will cross somewhere on your side, my side or in the middle.
In December 2016, Randy finally showed his true colors. Objecting to something I had written about Donald Trump and Evangelicals, Randy vehemently stated:
I like you and respect you Bruce, despite us being on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to our spiritual beliefs. I think you normally do a fair job with your posts and your responses. However, I have several issues with what you’ve said here.
First is the ad hominem attack on Evangelicals who voted for Trump. Do you honestly think that people who voted for Trump condone this man’s behavior or behave like him? If so, then Christianity is in much worse shape than we think. Why have his actions not been condemned on Evangelical blogs? I think for one thing this guy has flown under the radar and many have not noticed. Just check out his Facebook pages. He only has a few hundred followers. I think that speaks greatly to the number of Evangelicals that support his methods. I believe others do not want to give him any more attention than he is already receiving for his ignorant actions in the media.
Secondly I fail to understand why people in liberal circles feel it’s okay to judge all Evangelical Christians by the actions of a fractional minority yet insist that Islam should not be judged by the actions of a small group of radical fundamentalists. Let’s be honest, people like Grisham, as disgusting as they are, are only doing things like protesting Santa, soldiers funerals or LGBT events. Compared to flying airplanes into buildings, chopping off peoples heads and destroying historic works of art and architecture it’s not hard to see who poses the greater danger. However, I’m not sure I’ve seen you one time denounce or address the danger of the other big monotheistic system in the world: Islam. I greatly respect atheists like Sam Harris who dare to challenge Islam, but he is one of only a handful who do.
Third I question the validity of your statement that the Bible can be used to justify almost any behavior. Certainly people throughout history have used it to promote or defend their own dismal behavior but they have done so by ignoring or twisting the core tenants of Jesus’ teaching. Again, the seeming hypocrisy in liberal circles on this versus Islam and the Koran stand in stark contrast. In the case of radical Islam it is said that a marginal group is twisting the meaning of the Koran’s teachings and because of that all other Muslims are exonerated of any guilt for these terroristic actions. However, statements like yours are used to vilify all Christians. Let’s play fair or at least admit a personal vendetta against Christianity may be at work here.
Ultimately David Grisham is a far cry from the mainstream Evangelical. I think his actions are inexcusable. If I had been in line with my children and he pulled a stunt like that, I would have reacted much quicker and more harshly than these parents did. He is lucky that the only “assault” he experienced was someone simply touching him. I’m just asking for fairness in how you judge Evangelicals, or at least some equal time looking at other faith systems making inroads in America such as Islam.
In response to Randy, I stated:
Evangelicals who voted for Trump betrayed their beliefs and values. They are, in my opinion, hypocrites. Don’t come to me preaching Christ and moral superiority and then vote for the Devil. Evangelicals knew what Donald Trump was when they voted for him. He did not fly under the radar, he rolled over the top of America with a tank. That Evangelical blogs and websites were silent during the election (Unless they were condemning Clinton or explaining how Trump was a baby Christian) is proof that they desire political and social power more than they do righteousness. By electing Trump, Evangelicals have forever ceded their place of moral and cultural influence
I stand by my statement concerning the Bible. Thousands and thousands of Christian sects are all the evidence I need to prove my contention. Each appeal to the Bible as justification for their beliefs and behaviors. I’ve heard scores of people use the Bible to justify their behavior — you know, like voting for misogynistic, pussy-grabbing, immigrant hating, war-mongering Donald Trump.
Your comment does come off as passive-aggressive. You’ve presented yourself in the past as some sort of Christian moderate, but today you are a defender of Evangelical honor.
Everyone who reads this blog knows that when I use the word Evangelical I don’t mean all Evangelicals, everywhere. To expect me to use a modifier every time I use the word is silly. If the shoe fits wear it, if not….I wasn’t talking about you.
If you think Grisham is some sort of aberration, you need to get out more. Go to any moderate to large city and you’ll find people preaching on the streets and attempting to evangelize passersby. These zealots for Jesus all have one thing in common– they are Evangelicals. I get it, you want to pretend that your crazy uncles aren’t really related to you. They are, so deal with it. I’m not the problem here, they are, as are those who tacitly support them by not publicly condemning their behavior. Over the years I have had numerous pastors write to tell me than they appreciate my honest assessment of Evangelicalism. They are embarrassed by the crazy uncles. When I ask them to take a public stand against extremism, they refuse, saying that taking such a stand would cause a church split or loss of job.
I’ve given you a lot of space, Randy, but it now sounds like you have had your fill of Bruce Gerencser. Go in peace.
I then added the following:
And as far as other faiths, I write about American Christianity, particularly Evangelicalism. It is silly for you to expect me to write about Islam when they are not my focus. There are plenty of writers who focus on Islam, so there’s no need for me to do so. Besides, the greatest threat to America is not Islam, it’s Evangelicalism. Again, who is it that put Trump in the White House? Who is it that just passed an law in Ohio that outlawed abortions after six weeks? Who is it that wants to put God, prayer, and the Bible back in the public schools? Who is it that supports capital punishment and supports the American war effort? Who is it that wants to criminalize certain sexual behaviors? Who is it that denies the existence of the separation of church and state? Who is it that clamors for theocratic governance? Evangelicals.
I’ll respect your invitation to leave and not trouble you anymore in your personal corner of the blogosphere after this.
You say you have changed much since your days of IFB Fundamentalism. What I see is you have merely traded jerseys. You’ve adapted the same attitudes, tropes and tactics from your IFB / conservative days and simply clothed them in atheism / liberalism. You are still an extremist with little tolerance for those who do not believe the same way you do. We’ve had some good conversations but apparently I’ve crossed the line. I honestly did not expect such a virulent response from you.
Since I left atheism and went through my own zealous phase of Evangelicalism I’ve tried to walk a more moderate path. Unfortunately what I’ve found is that on both the Evangelical and Atheism fronts, people are equally dogmatic, rigid, intolerant and close minded. That’s unfortunate.
I wish you and Polly the best and Happy Holidays.
To which I replied:
Ah, now the true Randy comes out. I have zero problem with rational, thoughtful disagreement. We’ve had plenty of them on this blog over the past eight years. So far, Ive yet to meet an Evangelical who is capable of such discussion. No matter how much line I let out for them to run, sooner or later they will do exactly what you have done with your latest comments. It’s in the nature of Evangelicals to behave this way. Until you get away from Evangelicalism you will not see this. That you cannot see the Evangelicals voting for Donald Trump is a denial of EVERYTHING Evangelicals SAY they hold dear, is case in point.
I wish you well.
I’ll leave it to readers to decide if Randy’s comment on the Spiritual Minefield blog is a fair assessment of his interaction with me and my fellow atheists on this site.
This is the one hundred and forty-fifth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas Texas telling Marcus Lamb that God intervened in the 2016 Presidential Election and made Donald Trump President.
Evangelicals are fond of saying that the LORD is on their side. Culture warriors frequently invoke God being with them as proof that their causes are righteous and just. Christian politicians, when justifying their murderous, imperialistic wars, often suggest that God not only approves of their violence, but is also the mighty general that leads the troops into battle.
From February 23 to March 6, 1836, Mexican President General Antonio López de Santa Anna and his troops laid siege to the Alamo. On March 6th, Mexican troops overran the Alamo’s defenses, killing several hundred people in the process.
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World:
Fellow citizens & compatriots—I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna—I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken—I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch—The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country—Victory or Death.
William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. comdt
P.S. The Lord is on our side—When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn—We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
Travis, like countless Christians before and after him, believed that the LORD was on his side. Despite overwhelming forces outside the Alamo gates, Travis believed God would send reinforcements and lead them to victory over the Mexicans. No reinforcements came, and Travis, along with most of the people behind the walls of the Alamo, died.
Twenty-five years later, the United States found itself embroiled in a violent, bloody civil war that resulted in 750,000 deaths. Both the North and the South claimed that God was on their side. The 20th century would find the United States embroiled in two world wars and major conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. Fueled by theocratic and nationalistic fervor, American political leaders believed that a victory over totalitarianism and communism was a triumph for Christianity. In other words, THE LORD IS ON OUR SIDE!
In the late 20th and 21st century, the United States found itself waging a crusade in the Middle East against Islāmic terrorists. President George W. Bush framed invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as holy wars — good vs. evil. God is on our side, President Bush told the American people, repeating a time-worn cliché that has resulted in maiming and killing millions of people.
The 2016 presidential election invigorated the religious-right, resulting in the election of the most unqualified candidate in American history — Donald Trump. Eighty-two percent of white Evangelicals voted for a man who bragged about sexual assault and grabbing pussy. Believing that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party were the personification of evil, Evangelicals stormed the throne room of heaven with their prayers and voted their “conscience.” Come January 20th, Evangelicals will cheer as God’s man becomes the forty-fifth president of the Christian United States of America. In unison they will cry, THE LORD IS ON OUR SIDE!
And when a modern-day battle of the Alamo, one fought with weapons that have the power to erase the human race, causes horrific bloodshed, will Evangelicals still cry, THE LORD IS ON OUR SIDE? When millions of people lose their health insurance, their good-paying jobs, and Social Security benefits are cut, will Evangelicals still think God is on their side?
How much suffering, death, and loss must happen before Christians are willing to admit that, when it comes to the machinations of men, God is nowhere to be found. The only gods at work in the affairs of men are those who are very much earthly. If God is indeed on their side, then Christians have no response when secularists say that their God is a violent, bloodthirsty megalomaniac. If the Lord is on the United States’ side, then he is culpable for the worldwide slaughter of millions of men, women, children. He is responsible for the savagery of those who, with great fervor and pride, say THE LORD IS ON OUR SIDE! And when the last news reports Americans hear warn of incoming “enemy” nuclear warheads, just remember, THE LORD IS ON OUR SIDE!
This is the one hundred and thirty-seventh installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of con artist Jim Bakker and friends thanking Jesus for electing Donald Trump.
Guest post by Tristan Vick. Tristan Vick is an author and good friend. You can read his writing at Advocatus Atheist.
After the election I took a hiatus from social media and the Internet. I was too disturbed, disgusted, and disappointed to even gather a coherent thought let alone talk meaningfully about it. Now I feel I have regained some semblance of sanity and will share with you my final thoughts and opinions on the whole Trump election.
I wonder if anyone else has noticed Trump’s plans always involve doing the opposite of what is reasonable, prudent, or right.
According to Trump himself, he’s going to quit social healthcare, regardless of who it affects. Very unwise.
He’s going to quit the Asian Pacific Trade deal, never mind that it took decades to work out and it will benefit everyone involved. Very ill-advised.
He’s going to get rid of Muslims and illegal aliens. Never mind that’s racial profiling (evil) and doesn’t make logistic sense on any rational scale. Very-xenophobic and racist.
He’s going to ban reporters from saying “mean” things about him even if they’re true. Very fascist and totalitarian.
And he feels Global Warming isn’t really real, so why bother, even though the science is in and it states that Global Warming is definitely real. Very ignorant.
And his lies are endless. People complained about Hillary lying all the time, but her lies were to cover things up. They were strategic. You may not have agreed with them, or liked her very much, but Trump’s lying is far worse! All he knows how to do is lie.
First he’s going to revoke the marriage equality thing, but then he’s claiming he never said such things and that it’s perfectly fine for gays to marry and he’s not going to change the law but uphold it. But you can never really know what he’s thinking, because he says one thing, then says another, then claims he said neither, and everyone is like, yeah, that’s normal.
In the words of Jon Oliver, “This is not normal.”
And all I can wonder and be terribly impressed by are those who voted for him thinking that the things he says don’t carry any moral weight, that they don’t matter, that they aren’t hurtful because, luckily, most those who voted for Trump are the white privileged, albeit sorely under-educated and morally retarded.
I use retarded in its literal sense of retardation. Not as an ad hominem. I don’t think people are acting retarded, but their moral reasoning is clearly retarded, leaving them to make bad moral decisions. Concepts like altruism, fairness, kindness, virtue, compassion, empathy and the like are absent from their vocabularies. It’s why Trump was so popular with them.
Yes, the fact of the matter is, I’m appalled and horrified by the anti-intellectual and morally vacant claims of Trump and his entire campaign.
But…I’m MORE appalled and terrified by the people who voted for him thinking he was the lesser of two evils or that he really would make America great again.
If I knew how to wage a war on all those who embrace blissful ignorance as if it was their God given right, then I wouldn’t be so bothered by Trump and his crippling ignorance and vile rhetoric. But the fact that he feels it his duty to inflict his painful ignorance and debauched rhetoric on the rest of us, and his ignorant supporters gladly eat up his nonsensical propaganda like yummy, yummy candies, makes me very worried for my country.
Then there are the other type of Trump supporters who get mad at the so-called-justice warriors calling Trump out on all his BS. It’s really strange how mad they get at honest and good people trying to criticize a not so honest and not so good person who they seem to idolize. Very strange. Can’t really explain it apart from the blatant ignorance part and retardation of any moral sense a decent person might have.
But I digress. I’ve been ranting about social justice for over a decade in my writing, my books, on my five blogs, in numerous OpEds, on social media and elsewhere. And it’s impacted about zero percent of the people who obviously voted for Trump.
I don’t think many realize how disconcerting that is. I wasn’t expecting to change millions of minds. But I was hoping that by speaking reason, by being virtuous, and living an ethical life and upholding high moral principles, people would read and say this makes more sense than what this right wing alt news site is claiming.
As disappointed as I felt after the election, I thought, I’m quitting Facebook. It obviously doesn’t do any good. And it’s true. There’s no breaching the bubble. Everyone sets up their own social-political-global bio-dome and never come out of it.
I’ve been luckier than most too. I’ve traveled the world. Been to 14 countries. Been forced to open my mind. I’ve had to learn to understand other peoples and cultures. I’ve had to step outside my bio-dome. I’ve stood on the precipice of an entirely new worldview, terrified of what I might discover, but knowing there was no going back. Only going forward.
I sometimes take it for granted that most people have never had to face this very real crisis. They haven’t had to grapple with reality in this way. They’ve been content to live in the blissful seclusion their bio-domes and internet safe-spaces can afford them.
They don’t want to face reality. Hell, they don’t have the skill set for it. Which is why, the things Trump says makes sense to them. He speaks their same language. The language of ignorance and fear. Of a person with a worldview so astonishingly narrow it could split the atom.
In the grander scheme of things, Trump is like a pimple. A redish-orange crusted whitehead just needing to be popped. His legacy will do some serious damage. How could it not? The gushing ooze of his loathsome ideas will ooze all over us like a cum-blasted-whore at an orgy, and his shameful level of ignorance and disgraceful lack of moral sense will make sure that everyone gets a taste. Those who voted for him will share in the culpability of the damage of his reprehensible actions and words and that which he blithely inflicts upon the nation he swears he wants to make great again.
But greatness doesn’t come from tearing down others, and that’s all Trump has really offered. His policies are bogus. His foreign policy is non-existent. He lacks all leadership qualifications. He’s not dignified or skilled enough to handle diplomatic matters. He has no military service. His legacy is on fake, failed universities, slanderous abuse to women and minorities, and litany of crashed-and-burned business with heaps of bankruptcy. Those are facts. And people actually thought, well, this is better that voting for the status quo. This will at least bring some real change.
Maybe in this they are partially right. Maybe Trump will be the catalyst to usher along the change we need. The change that says, you fucking morons…you voted for this prick, now reap the benefits and suffer–and then, when you’re screaming your safe-word through your mouth gag, then, that’s when we’ll begin to want real change and not the bad facsimile that Trump offers in false promises and hollow convictions.
Of course, after the clusterfuck the next four years will undoubtedly prove to be, others will be left to clean up his mess. And after the deforestation needed to produce enough tissues to get Trump’s filth off us, we’ll do the only thing we can do…move forward. Because there is no going back. Not after this.
And, moreover, there is no “Making America Great Again.” If you bought into that lie, sorry, you’re #DAF. There is no bygone time of perfect peace and prosperity. There is no point in time where America could lay claim to being the pinnacle of greatness everyone imagines it once was. That’s always been an illusion. A pipe-dream. But that’s the thing we need to chase. That’s what will keep us moving forward. The pursuit to make America great, but full well realizing it will never be great again. The competition isn’t with other countries or nations. The competition is with ourselves. Can we be greater than yesterday? Can I make the person I am today better than the person I was yesterday–you see, that’s the real challenge. That’s what the whole pursuit of becoming great again is about. It’s about chasing the ideal–about pushing forward.
Trump’s lie was sweet and tempting though. To slip back into some magical bygone era–where everything was flowers and sunshine. Yeah, right. Any level-headed person in touch with reality could see the lie for what it was. But so many bought into it, for whatever reasons. Maybe they were down on their luck, maybe the economy had kicked them in the nuts, maybe they were the disenfranchised. I doesn’t matter. They bought into the lie, and they voted a vulgar imbecile into the highest office in the land. Because he promised them a cure to all their woes.
But after the election, there was the lingering sense of dread in all of us who were privy to the reality of the situation. Those of us who remained firmly disillusioned to the lies we were being fed. We felt sick to our stomachs after. Because that was the moment we realized all those sweet lies really only amounted to a mountain of arsenic.
It was devastating to say the least.
But like I said…
The only thing we can do is go forward.
Keep struggling to try to make America better than it was yesterday. But it will be a hard and long four years before America can ever lay claim to decency let alone greatness again. And the fact that this doesn’t bother the nearly 60 million who voted for Trump sure as hell bothers me.
Because, the truth of the matter is, the people who bought into the lie will be trying to take two-steps back for every step forward the nation makes together. We’ll lose some ground in the next four years, I practically guarantee it.
But what’s the use of complaining, right? It doesn’t do a lick of good. People are enjoying the psychedelic ride of the insane acid trip too much to care about reality right now. And snapping our fingers in front of their faces and shouting, “snap out of it,” isn’t going to do much good.
But I jot down these thoughts now; as a matter of record. As a way of trying to get past this undeniable trauma, and reminding myself, all we can do is move forward.
That’s going to have to be good enough, because at the moment, that’s the best any of us can hope to do.
For generations now, the American church has been declining in both relevance and number as it sought to placate sinners rather than model holiness, call for repentance, and watch Jesus save them. The hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya-with-culture way of doing church looked like it was modeled after the accommodate-and-yield way of doing politics (especially in the Republican Party). “Whatever we can do to keep you from getting mad” has been the mantra of both for decades.
Americans were drawn to Donald Trump because of his fearless tell it like it is attack on what’s plainly and clearly wrong with the nation. That same go-along-to-get-along mentality he railed against in government has clearly trickled into the churches and found a home. We have hope for a better tomorrow in this country because a few pastors and Christian leaders boldly stood up and said Trump’s vision for America was more in line with biblical values and our Founders intent than Clinton’s dream of open borders, taxpayer funded abortion, and gun control.
Something is going on in America and it’s not just about the president. Republicans are now in control of the White House, both houses of Congress, and a record number of state legislatures and governorships. Liberals in government have been telling the American people for too long to “sit down and shut up” while they tell us what we need to do and even think. At one point in her campaign Hillary Clinton even said, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” Mrs. Clinton wanted the government in charge of changing religious beliefs. People are obviously fed up with it. And the same goes for liberals and progressives in the church. People are sick of it.
Smart churches that are experiencing growth have found that people are actually hungry for plain talk from the pulpit. America’s parishioners are rejecting the progressive religious message just as they are rejecting the progressive political message. They are sick and tired of being told by programmed clergy that the Bible doesn’t mean what it clearly states.
This country, as demonstrated by the 2016 presidential election, is ripe for a message of repentance, renewal, and restoration! Someone has said that the electorate voted to make America great again and the Church should decide to make America a Christian nation again.
Now is the time to speak truth to power from the halls of Congress to the padded pews in the vaulted ceilings of our church sanctuaries. The Left will call it hate speech, bigotry, and a long list of words ending in ‘phobia.’ But it is crystal clear that people are ripe for straight talk on both politics and religion. We will always have a welcome and needed contingent of people calling the body of Christ to love, forgive, and accept God’s love. Thank goodness. But what we have lacked for a long time is the voice of the prophet thundering about God’s judgment on unrepented sin. Surprisingly, we find out that people actually want to know God doesn’t look the other way when we sin.
This may be our last chance. The political climate has actually paved the way for it. People are responding to plain talk. If our preachers will stop apologizing for what is in the Bible and start reminding people that God is both loving and holy, teaching about forgiveness and Heaven as well as God’s judgment and hell, we just might have a revival in the country. We might make America a Christian nation once again. I wonder if that might have been the real purpose in the miracle of the Trump victory?