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Tag: Abortion

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Contraception and Abortion Lead to An Irrelevant, Ungrounded, Self-absorbed, Empty, Mournful Existence

lori and ken alexander

“This feminist ‘freedom’ didn’t really arrive at its sad, frenetic decline until the birth control pill hit the scene. Contraception and its evil twin, abortion, paved the way for an irrelevant, ungrounded, self-absorbed, empty, mournful existence. So much pain. God’s Word, His people, and the precious family are places of true joy and experience that has value that lasts. Even the barren are set in families and find a place to ‘give and receive’ if we trust Him.” (Lauren Channon)

….

In general, women are short-sighted. Some will claim that the [sic] birth control has helped them with some disease or problem that they have in the same way women will be angry if I suggest that women should have never had the right to vote. The [sic] birth control kills babies. It causes abortions. Millions upon millions of unborn babies have been slaughtered in their mothers’ wombs because of the birth control pill.

How, you may ask? The pill itself can cause abortions. It has also caused almost everyone to have a birth control mentality. “We get to decide when, how many, and if we’re going to have children.” God has been completely left out of the conversation, even among Christians. Now, pregnancy is called an “accident” or an “inconvenience” when discussing a human being [sic] being formed in the womb rather than a blessing from God. The pill has also led to massive fornication which leads to a massive number of abortions to cover up the couple’s immorality. Women have also decided they want careers rather than having babies. Why do you think we’re at the point where doctors and parents can decide to cut off a five-year-old boy’s male anatomy? Life is no longer valued. This is [sic] path that the pill has taken us down, and it’s horrific.

What about voting? Women overwhelmingly vote Democrat. There would have been no Democrat Presidents without women voting. It’s mostly the single and liberal women who are voting for large, intrusive government programs. They don’t have husbands, so they want everything free from the government. Instead of depending upon a husband to provide for them, they prefer an impersonal, corrupt government do this for them. It’s also the Democrats who are trying to vote in the right to be able to murder a baby weeks after it is born. Wouldn’t you all gladly give up your right to vote so women wouldn’t vote anymore and more babies would be given life??? I sure would in a heartbeat. Beside [sic], most voting is fraudulent now.

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Feminist “Freedom” Arrived With the Birth Control Pill, May 3, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Sounds of Fundamentalism: Lori Alexander Has a Metaphorical Orgasm Over the Prospect of Overturning Roe v. Wade

lori and ken alexander

The Sounds of Fundamentalism 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 Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, giddily rejoicing over the prospect of the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Evidently, Samuel Alito did for Lori what her husband, Ken, could never do. 🙂

Video Link

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

The ‘Raw Judicial Power’ of Samuel Alito Is an Attack on Dignity, Autonomy, and Progress

supreme court abortion
Cartoon by Mike Luckovich

Article by Jenny Breen, an Associate Professor of Law at the Syracuse University College of Law, where she teaches Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Labor Law.

What is the end game here for the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing majority? It’s not pretty.

The leak of the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft opinion in the Mississippi abortion ban case has put into authenticated form an announcement that abortion advocates on both sides of the aisle have been predicting for years: stack the Court with Republican-appointed justices and Roe v. Wade will be overturned. The Court’s leaked opinion does just that, holding that both Roe and Casey are now bad law because there is no longer any constitutional right to abortion.

The current draft—which will be revised between now and its formal publication, likely in June—tells us a lot about where the Court stands on abortion, of course, but also other constitutional rights and the role of the courts in our constitutional republic.

First, though the opinion purports only to hold that there is no constitutional right to an abortion, thus permitting states to implement laws restricting, banning, or even criminalizing abortions, the language of the draft opinion lays the groundwork for a future federal ban on abortion altogether. Alito’s opinion approvingly quotes Mississippi’s claims that dilation and evacuation abortions are “barbaric,” “dangerous for the maternal patient,” and “demeaning to the medical profession” as “legitimate interests” that “provide a rational basis” for the Mississippi ban. (The draft opinion employs rational basis review rather than the tougher level of review reserved for gender-based distinctions because—though it may surprise any human on the planet to hear it—the Court reminds us that previous cases have established that “regulation of abortion is a not a sex-based classification”).  These “interests” are, of course, anti-choice talking points, not rational bases for a ban on abortion. Their embrace by the draft majority opinion makes clear that Alito is being disingenuous when he claims that the decision “is not based on any view about when a State should regard prenatal life as having rights or legally cognizable interests.” Instead, the opinion is suffused with the unstated but implied belief that legally cognizable life begins at conception.

Second, Alito is also deeply disingenuous when he argues the opinion won’t impact other fundamental rights. Alito’s opinion holds there is no right to abortion because that right is neither explicitly mentioned in the Constitution nor implicitly contained within the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of an individual’s right to liberty. Many of our most cherished constitutional rights are only impliedly contained within the expansive, conceptual language of the Constitution. As Justice Marshall reminded the Court over 200 years ago, “we must never forget that it is a Constitution we are expounding.”

So why does it matter to other constitutional rights that Alito doesn’t think individual liberty includes the right to decide whether to have an abortion? Because the liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause and the right to privacy it encompasses are also the bases for the Court’s protection of gay marriage, the right to contraception, the right to private consensual sex, and the right to interracial marriage.

“Liberty,” the Court explained in Lawrence v. Texas, “presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.” Alito says he can’t seem to find a liberty interest in abortion because “the most important historical fact” is “how the States regulated abortion when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted.” Needless to say, these other core rights would also not fare well under an analysis that prioritizes what legislatures were doing in 1868. Alito has already suggested as much. His dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges reads like an early edition of this draft opinion, arguing that gay marriage “lacks deep roots” and “is contrary to long-established tradition” and thus is not a right that can be protected by the Constitution. 

Finally, the opinion makes clear that the guard rails are gone when it comes to SCOTUS decision making. Throughout the opinion Alito returns repeatedly to the argument that the decision will correct “Roe‘s abuse of judicial authority” and “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” Of course, fundamental rights are fundamental rights because they are not up for debate by “the people’s elected representatives.” We don’t ask for state referenda on whether we should permit racially segregated schools. Courts do their best and most essential work for a democracy when they protect the interests that enable humans to live with dignity and autonomy.  

justice alito
Cartoon by Gary Markstein

In 2018, Alito wrote the majority opinion Janus v. AFSCME, the decision that held that public employees could not be compelled to pay agency fees to the unions that are required by law to represent them and advocate for their interests. Though public employee unions have passed the small “d” democratic test not once but twice—elected state legislators must first pass a law enabling public unions and then, of course, the public employees themselves must vote for their union—Alito’s majority opinion overruled a 41-year-old precedent to hold that agency fees violated the First Amendment rights of public employees. At the time of the opinion, commentators expressed concern that the Court’s easy overruling of a case it did not like did not bode well for Roe v. Wade in the hands of a differently constituted Court. And of course, that is precisely what seems to have happened.

Alito tries to ease the shock of the decision to overrule such longstanding and prominent precedent by citing a number of cases—I counted 26 in total—in which the Supreme Court has overruled its own precedent. But I am not aware of a single case on that list in which the Court overruled precedent to take away a previously granted constitutional right. 

So what is the end game here? Alito’s full vision for the United States has yet to be painted, but thus far it’s looking like an America in which “raw judicial power” (words he quotes disparagingly regarding Roe four times in the draft opinion) is used to foist the world views of judicially privileged interests upon the rest of us.

In the meantime, it means that where you live and what private resources you have at your command will be increasingly important to chart the course of your life.

As disconnected as they may seem on their face, overruling decades of precedent to weaken public unions on the one hand and doing the same to revoke a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion on the other are two sides of the same oppressive coin. They both chart dramatic turns away from an understanding of the law and Constitution grounded in commitments to individual dignity and autonomy in core spheres of life—work and family—and establish a core role for the judiciary in steering the ship in that direction. 

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Overturning Roe v. Wade is Just the First Step in the Evangelical War Against Women, LGBTQ People, and Anyone Else Different From Them

abortion texas

Article by Julia Conley, Common Dreams, Critics Warn Alito Draft Threatens Much, Much More Than Abortion Rights

The draft opinion leaked from the U.S. Supreme Court Monday night portends future attacks not just on Americans’ right to obtain abortion care, said critics on Tuesday, but also on anyone whose rights the court’s right-wing majority does not view as “deeply rooted” in U.S. history.

In the opinion, Justice Samuel Alito cited a number of reasons for the majority’s objection to legal abortion—including a discredited theory that abortion care is a racist tool of eugenics and Alito’s incorrect belief that “the costs of medical care associated with pregnancy and childbirth are covered by insurance”—but central to his argument is the claim that Roe v. Wade protects a right that is “not deeply rooted in the nation’s history and traditions.”

The phrase encapsulates “the most terrifying argument in that draft,” tweeted Oindrila Mukherjee, a professor at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Judging from the draft opinion—which, Politico reported, was also supported by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett when the court apparently voted to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year—”everything is on the table,” said writer Rebecca Traister, naming other Supreme Court decisions which affirmed rights for Americans.

In the opinion, Alito “disavows the entire line of jurisprudence upon which Roe rests: the existence of ‘unenumerated rights’ that safeguard individual autonomy from state invasion,” wrote Mark Joseph Stern at Slate.

“The Supreme Court has identified plenty of ‘unenumerated rights’ that lack deep roots in American history,” he added. “Most recently, the court established the right of same-sex couples to be intimate (2003’s Lawrence v. Texas) and get married (2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges). Alito dismissed both decisions in harsh terms.”

Other legal experts also raised alarm that the court’s conservative majority appears to be “a half step away from letting states criminalize same-sex sexual intimacy.”

Stern wrote that Alito appeared to include language in the draft opinion which suggested the overturning of Roe would not weaken the protections that were affirmed by Loving v. Virginia, which affirmed the right to interracial marriage; Griswold v. Connecticut, which protected the right to obtain contraceptives; Skinner v. Oklahoma, which held that compulsory sterilization of people convicted of crimes was unconstitutional; and Pierce v. Society of Sisters, which struck down a law requiring parents to send their children to public schools.

“But Alito actually makes it extremely clear that he is not including Lawrence or Obergefell in his category of safe precedents!” Stern said. “Instead, he appears to include them as an example of illegitimate rights like abortion, which he is overruling in this very opinion!”

“As written, the draft is quite blithe and unflinching in its disdain for the constitutional basis of gay rights,” he added.

Despite Alito’s claim in the draft that previous decisions pertaining to Americans’ right to privacy will not be overturned, journalist Emma Vigeland said, lower courts are likely to “chip away at birth control legality, appealing it all the way up to this extremist SCOTUS.”

At The Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson wrote that with abortion rights found by the court to be not “deeply rooted” in U.S. history and therefore not protected under the Constitution, marriage equality could be overturned “within a year or two.”

“Unless another justice leaves the court, the constitutional right to marriage for all is going to be overturned,” Michaelson wrote. “The only question is whether Republicans will have a veto-proof majority (or the presidency in 2024) to ban both abortion and gay marriage anywhere in the nation.”

As Common Dreams reported Monday, with evidence emerging that the court is preparing to overturn Roe—likely making abortion illegal in more than two dozen states—Republican senators are currently developing a strategy to pass a nationwide ban on abortion care after six weeks of pregnancy, and anti-choice groups have lobbied potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates to run on passing the legislation.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

We Have Lost the Battle, But Have We Lost the War?

abortion
Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News

Dear Editor,

Forty years ago, Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich birthed the Moral Majority. Falwell traveled America holding “I Love America” rallies. In 1981, my wife and I attended one such rally at the steps of the Capitol in Columbus. As a young Evangelical pastor, I was thrilled to hear Falwell speak of reclaiming America for God. Those were heady days, times when Evangelicals envisioned a path to a “Christian” nation. Falwell encouraged Evangelicals to not only win souls, but to also become political activists. Falwell knew the path to a Christian theocracy was political.

Fast forward to 2022. The baby has turned into a monster. Evangelicals, along with conservative Catholics and Mormons, have abandoned all pretense of evangelization. The goal now is raw political power — the establishment of a Christian nation, complete with laws from the Bible. Evangelicals have spent the past forty years incrementally chipping away at social progress, with the goal of returning America to the good old days of the 1950s: a time when abortion and homosexuality were illegal, women were barefoot and pregnant, LGBTQ people were closeted, people of color knew their place, and Bible reading and prayer were part of public school curricula.

Liberals and progressives, of which I am both, wrongly believed the progress of the 1960s and 1970s would continue to march forward. Whether due to naivety or intellectual laziness, liberals and progressives abandoned the field, retiring to institutions of higher learning. This abandonment has yielded the battleground to people who have no allegiance but to Jesus and the Bible.

Recently, a draft of a Supreme Court ruling on abortion was leaked to the public. The Court intends to reverse Roe v. Wade, immediately criminalizing abortion in numerous states. No one should be surprised by this outcome. And Evangelicals aren’t done. Next on the agenda is outlawing same-sex marriage, banning some forms of birth control, and a host of other hot-button culture war issues. One need only look at Evangelical hysteria over critical race theory, sex education, and gender to get a glimpse of the future.

I see no glimmer of hope on the horizon. I can’t and won’t give up, but I am realistic. Evangelicals have won the day. And they will continue to do so until we put an end to the present frontal assault on the separation of church and state.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

The Evangelical Plan to Return the United States to the 1950s

prayer in school

Many atheists, humanists, and progressives look at the declining attendance numbers for Evangelical churches and wrongly conclude that Evangelicalism as a movement is dying. Numerically, Evangelicalism is dying, as an increasing number of younger adults exit stage left never to be seen again. As baby boomers continue to die off, their numbers are not being replaced by younger people. Instead, more and more people in their 20s and 30s are self-identifying as atheists, agnostics, or nones (people who are indifferent towards organized religion). Based on the sheer volume of articles I see on this subject from Evangelical “experts,” it is clear that churches and pastors are alarmed over attendance losses.

If we wait long enough, Evangelicalism will die from self-inflicted wounds. Unable to leave off their penchant for waging war on people different from their tribe, there will come a day when Evangelicalism as we know it will no longer exist. However, by then the damage caused by these Evangelical culture warriors, along with their Catholic and Mormon compatriots, will be irreversible. Evangelicals have traded piety, holiness, and commitment to preaching the gospel for raw, naked political power. Evangelicals are the power and money behind Trumpism, Qanon, 1/6 Insurrection, and countless attempts to destroy sixty years of social progress. The goal is to return the United States to the 1950s.

Evangelicals harnessed incrementalism to advance their agenda This fact is aptly illustrated in their frontal assault on reproductive rights. It is widely believed by conservatives and liberals alike that the Supreme Court will soon reverse Roe v. Wade, giving states the right to totally outlaw abortion. This outcome was birthed forty years ago when Jerry Falwell and Paul Wyrich started the Moral Majority. Year by year, Evangelicals chipped away at reproductive rights, using an incrementalist approach to strip women of their right to choose.

Next on the Evangelical agenda are issues such as legally recognizing fertilized human eggs as persons, outlawing same-sex marriage, banning interracial marriage, criminalizing homosexuality, and a host of other culture war hot button issues. Who do you think is behind the outrage over LGBTQ-friendly books in schools, critical race theory, Disney, and socialism? Evangelicals, that’s who. No longer believing there is a separation between church and state, Evangelicals, if left to their own devices, fully intend to establish a Christian theocratic state. Your Evangelical neighbors might be friendly, smile when they see you, and seem to all around nice people, but make no mistake about it, behind closed doors and at church on Sundays, they shout hallelujah and amen when their preachers call on them to take back America for the Christian God.

one nation under god

I was born in 1957, an era drastically different from today. Evangelicals look at the 50s and sigh, wistfully wanting a return to the “good old days.” Knowing they currently control the levers of power, Evangelicals are working tirelessly to return us to the days when President Dwight Eisenhower and the U.S. Congress added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and put “In God We Trust” on our money. And make no mistake about it, this “God” is the Christian God of the Bible.

I grew up in a world where there was one God — the Christian God — homosexuality, abortion, and birth control were illegal, LGBTQ people were deeply closeted, Blacks knew their place, and the only thing Mexicans were good for was picking our crops. Christian morals and ethics were expected and demanded. School days began with the Pledge of Allegiance, Christian prayer, and readings from the Protestant Christian Bible. Patriarchalism and complementarianism were the norms. Divorce, sex before marriage, and pregnancy outside of marriage were frowned upon. This is the world Evangelicals want to return to.

It remains to be seen whether the Evangelical horde at the gate can be repelled. I am not optimistic. Liberals and progressives seem clueless about the real and present danger we face from Evangelicals. Our constitutional republic is weak, if not failing. Evangelicals know this and are using this weakness to advance their theocratic agenda. Their goal is Jesus on the throne in Washington D.C. and the Bible as the lawbook of the land. And when this happens, freedom is lost and people die.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

The Insanity of the ‘Life Begins at Fertilization’ Movement

aaron wilson

The goal of the pro-life movement is to make ALL abortion illegal. They will not stop their war against women until fertilized eggs receive the same constitutional protections afforded post-birth humans. Using the incremental approach, pro-lifers have successfully made it impossible for women in many states to get an abortion. Some zealots even go so far as to say that birth control should be outlawed. I have no doubt that once the U.S. Supreme Court is at full strength that zygote warriors will attempt to re-litigate Roe v. Wade.

I have written several articles on abortion you might find helpful:

Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

Frozen Embryos: If Life Begins at Conception

Tristan Vick also wrote an article for this site on abortion titled, Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take).

Several years ago, The Gospel Coalition — a Fundamentalist, Calvinistic, parachurch group — published an article by Aaron Wilson titled, What Christians Should Know About Embryo Adoption. That’s right, EMBRYO ADOPTION.  Tens of thousands of children need adoptive families, yet people such as Aaron Wilson are focused on rescuing frozen embryos — who are, in their minds, human beings with constitutional rights — from being criminally murdered. Here’s some of what Wilson had to say:

A hallmark of the evangelical church in America is the backing of a pro-life worldview. As such, abortion clinics and the politics that govern them are primary areas of focus in this important cause. However, there’s another front that often gets overlooked in the fight for life: the state of the thousands of children who remain cryogenically frozen as human embryos following in-vitro fertilization cycles.

A growing Christian response to this issue is the life-affirming answer of embryo adoption.

If you haven’t heard of embryo adoption, you’re not alone. Even though thousands of children in the United States could immediately benefit from this act of love, many people—Christians included—remain unaware of this adoptive need.

Because embryo adoption can be confusing, here are six answers to common questions.

1. What is embryo adoption?

Embryo adoption is a way to care for children who, for lack of a better phrase, are “left over” and kept in a cryogenic state following an in-vitro fertilization cycle. Through embryo adoption, an adopting mother gives these children a chance at birth by allowing their embryonic form to be thawed and transferred to her uterus. If one or more implant, the mother then carries and births the child (or children) though she is not genetically related to them. Embryo adoption is often referred to as pre-birth adoption.

2. Isn’t embryo adoption the same thing as in-vitro fertilizatio (IVF)?

No. In many ways, it’s the opposite. In-vitro fertilization creates life as a form of reproductive technology. Embryo adoption is a response to the fact that life has already been created and that it needs a womb to continue developing the way God intended babies to grow.

3. How many embryonic babies exist in cryopreservation?

In the United States alone, a projected 700,000 children exist as frozen embryos. Of these, an estimated 10,000 to 11,000 are available to be adopted. That number grows every week. These statistics reflect two pressing needs: A movement of families who are willing to adopt and an awareness of the life-affirming options available to parents who already have remaining embryos.

4. Is embryo adoption really adoption?

Because the U.S. government doesn’t agree with the Bible’s claim that life begins at fertilization, embryo adoption isn’t considered legal adoption in America. The government only sees human embryos as cells, and so treats embryo adoption as a mere transfer of property. As such, many fertility clinics prefer “embryo donation.”

Biblically informed Christians, however, shouldn’t shy away from using life-honoring terms. Just as Jesus was adopted by Joseph in a preborn state (not received as a donation from God), Christians should honor life by using theologically accurate language.

….

6. How can I care for frozen children?

….

Inform. Most people have never heard of embryo adoption. Those who have often confuse it with IVF. Much adoption evangelism needs to take place inside the church on behalf of these frozen lives. Share embryo adoption articles on social media. Talk with friends. Do research. Talk to your elders and your small group about ways your church can be involved in the mission field that is embryo adoption.

….

Adopt. The most powerful way to care for these tiniest of children is to personally open a womb and a home to them. A great place to start is to check out the website of the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville, Tennessee.

When God Became an Embryo

Jesus didn’t leave his throne for a manager, at least not directly. He first left his throne nine months earlier for a womb.

How much grander is the story of the incarnation when we realize the Son of God went from ruling the universe to becoming the smallest, most dependent, most microscopic form of human life. The God who authored a world that can’t be measured, humbled himself into a form that can’t be seen.

And this same God who became a human embryo to save sinners would have his church stand up for the many human embryos regularly discarded or frozen indefinitely. Consider how you can expand your pro-life passion toward the littlest lives by championing the cause of embryo adoption.

As someone who believes women should have the unrestricted right to an abortion pre-viability, Wilson’s article is a reminder of the impossibility of working with pro-lifers to reduce the number of abortions. Unable to differentiate between a blob of cells and a human life, pro-lifers obstinately refuse to compromise their beliefs. This is why I no longer waste my time arguing or debating with members of God’s Zygote Squad®. Their Fundamentalist religious views have blinded them to the horrific damage caused by their incessant assault on reproductive rights. They will not rest until Ozzie and Harriett, Leave it to Beaver, and the Duggars are the gold standard for American families.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Dr. Patrick Johnston and His Dangerous Advice to Depressives

sin can make you sick

Dr. Patrick Johnston is a former Ohio family practice physician, the founder of the Association of Pro-life Physicians, and the former director of Personhood Ohio (link no longer active). He and his ex-wife Elizabeth have ten children, all of whom are homeschooled. Several years ago, Johnston wrote a rebuttal to a post that I published about my views on abortion and personhood laws. Johnston believes there are no justifiable reasons for women to have abortions. Rape? Nope. Incest? Nope. Life of the mother? Nope or maybe. Severe physical malformation? Nope. Ectopic(tubal) pregnancy? Nope. Huh? That’s right, Johnston does not think women should have access to abortion services if they have ectopic pregnancies. In a December 2015 Personhood Ohio article, Johnston stated (link no longer active):

Many sincere advocates of life fall prey to the argument that abortion is occasionally necessary to save the life of the mother. An example of an ectopic pregnancy is often given. However, a cursory investigation of the evidence reveals that many babies have survived ectopic pregnancies. There are life-saving alternatives to treat the mother and her ectopically-implanted baby. Successful transplantation of the embryo from the Fallopian tube to the uterus has been reported in the medical literature as far back as 1917. We do not have to kill these babies to save the mother. Their cases is [sic] not hopeless.

Johnston also wrote an article for his blog titled Saving Ectopically Implanted Boys and Girls. Yes, really.

Johnston and Personhood Ohio tried for years to amend Ohio’s Constitution. If successful, Article 1, Section 16 would have been amended to say (link no longer active):

(A) The words “person” in Article 1, Section 16, and “men” in Article 1, Section 1, apply to every human being at every stage of the biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization.

(B) Nothing in this Section shall affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing the creation of a new human being; or human “eggs” or oocytes prior to the beginning of the life of a new human being; or reproductive technology or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures that respect the right to life of newly created human beings.

So far, right-thinking citizens and politicians have kept the amendment and its subsequent iterations from being enacted.

In an undated article titled Curing the Miseries of the Mind: Anxiety and Depression (link no longer active), Johnston and his now ex-wife Elizabeth offer up advice to those who suffer from mental health problems. According to the Johnstons, the cure for depression and anxiety is found in the Bible:

If you are suffering from severe depression or anxiety, I want to let you know that there is light at the end of your dark tunnel – and it’s not found in a pill! The God who created you loves you, and does not want you to be miserable. I believe that God’s Word – the Holy Bible – holds the key that, if not cures, greatly alleviates psychological symptoms.

Ah yes, the time-tested Fundamentalist maxim: the B-i-b-l-e is the cure for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Johnston admits that he does “prescribe a lot of medication for anxiety and depression because they help alleviate symptoms,” but he wants people to know that many physical and mental ailments have “spiritual roots.”  The Johnstons list seven reasons people suffer from anxiety and depression:

  • Genetic and social influences (Yea! Dr. Johnston makes an appeal to science.)
  • So that the sufferers faith will be strengthened
  • Punishment for sin
  • Unforgiveness
  • Ingratitude
  • Unbelief
  • Excessive worry
bible the cure for depression
This graphic is not Dr. Johnston’s, but it does show similar “Biblical” cures for depression.

The Johnstons then give their Jesus-infused prescription for overcoming depression. Are you ready to be delivered, fellow depressives? All right, let’s all get h-a-p-p-y! The Johnstons believe that the following tips will help people “overcome the daily onslaught of anxiety and depression”:

  • Write out encouraging Bible verses, quotes, or thoughts, and tape them up at your house or work, or carry them in your purse or wallet. Refer to them and memorize them whenever you are struggling with unhealthy thoughts.
  • Turn on uplifting Christian music. Sing and meditate on the principles of God’s Word. Praise and worship the Lord. Try dancing to praise music! By all means, turn OFF any music or television that saddens you or causes you to focus on your troubles.
  • Make a list of ten things to think about when you are tempted to think things you shouldn’t. Make your list very practical. For instance: “What will I buy at the store?”, “Where will we go on our next vacation?”, “What will I say to my friend/neighbor/family member next time we speak?”, etc. Always have this list on hand to refer to when tempted to be anxious, depressed, or angry.
  • Occupy yourself with a big project or many projects that direct your mind off of yourself and onto others. There is no end to the number of nursing home residents, hospitalized patients, struggling families, volunteer organizations, and ministries who need a letter or a helping hand. Do not sit around and wait for your problems to disappear. Busy yourself with projects and invest your time in caring for others.
  • Always fight the tendency to pity yourself. You will find one hundred reasons to believe that self-pity will make you feel better but it never solves anything. When tempted to pity yourself, think of others you know who are in much worse circumstances (i.e. the paralyzed teenager, the young husband who just lost his wife, Christians who are persecuted for their faith in China, Cuba, or Indonesia, etc.). Make a list of such people and remind yourself of how blessed you are. Stop and take a moment to pray for those who are less fortunate than yourself.
  • Journal!! Write out your thoughts, regardless of how troubling or embarrassing they may be. Often, when you see on paper what is going on in your head, you will be surprised by how manageable your problem is through changing your way of thinking!
  • A few good Scriptures on topics of importance are listed below for your edification. Suffering: 1 Pet. 4:12-16, Rom. 8:17-18, 2 Cor. 4:17, James 1:2-4  Forgiveness/Mercy: Matt. 6:14-15, Matt. 18:21-22, Heb. 8:12, Prov. 11:19, James 5:9 Thankfulness: Phil. 4:11, Heb. 13:5, Rom. 1:21 Fear/Worry/Doubt: Matt. 6:25-34, Phil. 4:6-7, 2 Tim. 1:7, I Cor. 10:13

Certainly, some of the advice offered by the Johnstons can often help alleviate the effects (not the cause) of anxiety and depression. However, make no mistake about it, the Johnstons believe that the Christian God and the Bible are the CURE for those suffering from mental difficulties. I suspect that Dr. Johnston tells depressives who are not Christians that Jesus can and will cure what ails them. For those who are Christians, Johnston tells them to put mind over matter and remember that there are always people worse off than you. Trust Jesus and all will be well.

If Johnston is prescribing God and the Bible as a cure for anxiety and depression then he is committing medical malpractice. His patients should expect treatment by a doctor thoroughly grounded in the scientific method. Using the tips mentioned above to “cure” depression might work for a time, but true healing comes through counseling, behavior modification, and, if warranted, psychotropic drugs. As someone who has suffered from depression for most of my adult life — both as a Christian pastor and as an atheist — I know that the sort of Christian voodoo offered by Johnston does not cure depression. If Johnston objects to what I have said here, he is free to present empirical data that suggests otherwise. Until then, Dr. Johnston’s tips for curing anxiety and depression should be viewed in the same light as the chants and gimmickry of witch doctors.

Note

We know the Johnstons personally. We attended church with them in 2004-2005 at Faith Bible Church in Jersey, Ohio. Faith Bible is a family-centric, Reformed Baptist congregation.

Elizabeth filed for divorce in 2020, saying “he [Patrick] has been repeatedly unfaithful to me, as well as psychologically and emotionally abusive.”

Elizabeth stated at the time:

After repeatedly taking him back, covering for him, preserving his reputation, and forgiving him of adultery, pornography and sexual immorality, which began 16 years ago, I have been forced to come to the harsh realization that I’ve done all I can and am entrusting Him to my Savior! I don’t share this to harm or humiliate, but to help explain why I, a Christian woman who hates divorce, have decided to separate and pursue a divorce.

The deception and aggression has recently gotten very unhealthy, so I am being forced for the sake of my children to make the hardest decision of my life. To stay at this point would be more harmful to my children than to separate. I will be blasted for not staying married. Don’t listen to the critics, and just pray for us instead.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Hey Girls: Did You Know Spaghetti Straps are Sinful?

girl wearing spaghetti straps
Girl Wearing “Sinful” Spaghetti Straps

When people think of Christian fundamentalism they most often think of the fundamentalism found in Evangelicalism and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. However, as the following story will show, fundamentalism is alive and well in the Roman Catholic church too.

Melanie Pritchard, Founder of Vera Bella Catholic Girls’ Formation Program and the Executive Director of the Foundation for Life and Love, wrote an article about why she does not let her four-year-old daughter wear spaghetti straps (link no longer active):

My four-year-old daughter Ella received a doll from a relative for Christmas that was wearing a fluffy pink skirt and a spaghetti strap tank-top covered by a sweater. To my daughter’s wild surprise, she also received the same outfit as her doll, in her own size. She put on her new outfit immediately to match her doll. I call them “the twinsy-bops,” since my daughter proceeded to try to wear the same outfit as her doll for the few days following Christmas.

Although I love the doll’s and my daughter’s outfits in their completion, I don’t allow my daughter or her dolls to wear spaghetti straps without something covering the tank-top. Some may think I go overboard or even call me a prude, but I am parenting with an advantage. I have inside knowledge of the working relationships between parents and their teenage daughters. Since I have been speaking to teenagers and their parents for the past 15 years, I have gained an extensive knowledge of the kind of drop-down-drag-out battles parents have with their teenage girls and their wardrobes.

One of those battles is over spaghetti strap tank-tops being worn without something else covering them. Now, I’ll admit, when my four-year-old attempts to wear the new spaghetti strap tank-top, she doesn’t look immodest. She still manages to look innocent and dignified. So, why won’t I allow my daughter to begin wearing these types of tank-tops at age four? Because the battle she and I will inevitably have over tank tops will be a lot easier to win if the standard never changes. The same rings true for two-piece bathing suits and other clothes that will not protect her dignity and mystery when she is at a more womanly stage in her life…

For those of us raised in the IFB and Evangelical church, Pritchard’s argument is quite familiar. Better to win the battle over clothing when a child is young and impressionable than when she is a teenager. Better to teach her “modesty” at age four than try to get her to dress “modestly” at age fifteen.

Pritchard recounts a story about her daughter that she thinks illustrates that her daughter is starting to understand the importance of modesty and why she should not wear spaghetti straps:

A couple days later, we went to enjoy taco Tuesday at a locally owned restaurant in town. We were sitting at our table waiting for our food when Ella grabbed my arm and pulled me close to her. She was pointing to the hostess with the very womanly figure wearing a spaghetti strap tank-top that kept sliding up to reveal her stomach and was accentuating and revealing her large chest. Ella whispered in my ear, “Mom, her mystery isn’t protected. She is wearing a spaghetti-strap and it’s not modest.”

Ella saw it for herself. It clicked for my four-year-old. She began to have a small amount of judgment in her voice as she continued to talk about this woman. I explained gently, “Ella, we can’t judge her or talk about her behind her back. She may not know her beautiful mystery and why she should protect it. Instead, we should pray that God may reveal it to her, so she knows just how special she is.” Ella was satisfied with my answer and agreed to pray for her.

Later in the article Pritchard reveals the real reason she won’t let her daughter wear spaghetti straps. Some day, her daughter will be a teenager, and if she hasn’t learned to be modest she might dress immodestly and attract poor, helpless horn dog Catholic boys:

I meet many parents who have allowed their daughters to wear spaghetti-straps, tube tops, leggings as pants, two-piece swim suits, and other clothing when they were young when their figures hadn’t emerged, only to find out there comes a time when they become extremely uncomfortable with their beautiful, womanly, innocent, teenage daughters wearing them in public. Fathers are by far the ones who cringe the most when they speak to me. They know teen-age boys. Every father was a teenage boy once. They cringe at the way their daughters are dressing, but the fight is so big, they often back down and let their girls wear what they want.

As a parent of six children, I know the importance of teaching children to dress appropriately. However, there is a difference between appropriate and puritanical. Pritchard goes far beyond appropriate and teaches her daughter a way of thinking that will result in her thinking her now-womanly body is sinful and must be covered up lest poor, helpless men take sexual advantage of her.

Pritchard, with her silly objection to her daughter wearing a top with spaghetti straps (and tube tops, leggings as pants, two-piece swimsuits), is making sure her daughter will grow up to be a sexually repressed Catholic woman. Instead of teaching her daughter to dress appropriately, she is planting the seed of sexual repression.

Her ban of certain clothing will do little to help her daughter when she becomes a sexually aware woman. Silly talk about a woman’s “mystery” will not keep her daughter from desiring what is natural: sex. While we can certainly debate whether it is a good idea for teenagers to have sex, the fact of the matter is they do:

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the year 2007, 35% of US high school students were currently sexually active and 47.8% of US high school students reported having had sexual intercourse. This percentage has decreased slightly since 1991.

Self-report surveys suggest that half of all 15- to 19-year-olds have had oral sex. That percentage rises to 70% by the time they turn 19, and equal numbers of boys and girls participate. Research indicating that oral sex is less risky to teens’ emotional and physical well being than vaginal sex has been advanced; researchers at the University of California do not believe this conclusion is warranted. They found that oral sex, as well as vaginal sex, was associated with negative consequences. Of adolescents engaging in oral sex only, girls were twice as likely as boys to report feeling bad about themselves and nearly three times as likely to feel used. Despite their behaviors, 90% of adolescents “agree that most young people have sex before they are really ready.”

The average age of first sexual intercourse in the United States is 17.0 for males and 17.3 for females, and this has been rising in recent years. The percentage of teens who are waiting longer to have sex has been increasing. For those teens who have had sex, 70% of girls and 56% of boys said that their first sexual experience was with a steady partner, while 16% of girls and 28% of boys report losing their virginity to someone they had just met or who was just a friend.

Pritchard belongs to a sect that is known for sexual repression and the denial of natural human sexuality. The Church also condemns masturbation and birth control. One would think if the Church wanted unmarried Catholics to remain sexually pure that they would encourage masturbation as an acceptable release of sexual tension. One would also think that the church would encourage Catholic women to use birth control since it would help eliminate the need for abortion. But they don’t. I wonder how different the discussion and rules would be if women were allowed to have a say in the teachings of the Church.

When it comes to human sexuality, the male-controlled Catholic Church is fighting a losing battle. In 2012, the Guttmacher Institute had this to say about Catholic women having sex and using birth control:

“Guttmacher’s analysis of data from the federal government’s National Survey of Family Growth found that the vast majority of American women of reproductive age (15–44) — including 99% of all sexually experienced women and 98% of those who identify themselves as Catholic — have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point. Women may be classified as sexually experienced regardless of whether they are currently sexually active, using contraceptives, pregnant, trying to get pregnant or postpartum.

“By their early 20s, some 79% of never-married women — and 89% of never-married Catholic women — have had sex. (Presumably, all married women have done so.) In short, most American women (including Catholics) have had sex by their early 20s, and virtually all of them have used contraceptives other than natural family planning.

It is now known that the best way to combat unplanned teen pregnancy is to provide sex education and easy access to birth control. Just say no because God says so, is not a plan. Yet, Pritchard’s church wants to deny teens and unmarried women the means to keep from getting pregnant.

Knowing how the Catholic church views human sexuality helps to explain Pritchard’s puritanical obsession with her four-year-old daughter’s clothing. She doesn’t want her daughter to grow up to be one of those “easy” Catholic girls whom boys are fond of talking about.

Instead of teaching her daughter to embrace her sexuality and prepare her for life as a sexual being, she is teaching her that a woman’s body should be covered up so her “mystery” is not revealed. This is no different from the teaching of the IFB church, with its prohibitions against wearing any form of clothing that reveals the female shape and body. The reason? The teens and men of the church are pathetic, helpless creatures who are little more than dogs seeking bitches in heat.

Instead of teaching accountability and responsibility, religious zealots such as Pritchard teach repression and impotence. Sexually awake young women wearing spaghetti straps is not the problem. Any teen boy or man who can’t sexually control himself if he sees a woman wearing a top with spaghetti straps is pathetic. Men, regardless of their age, need to be responsible for their sexual behavior and the manner in which they treat women. Women should not be forced to manage not only their own sexuality but the sexuality of men who supposedly can’t help themselves. They are not the gatekeepers, the protectors of the “mystery.” Men need to own their sexuality and act appropriately (as the Catholic church needs to own its cover-up and protection of the real predators that roam the sanctuary and rectory: Catholic priests.

Lest readers think Pritchard is a lone fundamentalist Catholic, I leave you with the advice another fundamentalist Catholic woman, T.M. Gaouette, gives to sexually aware Catholic girls:

In a 2004 article titled “The Forgotten Virtue: Modesty In Dress,” author Monsignor Charles M. Mangan lays out a basic guide founded upon principles of modesty set by Pope Pius XII in 1957. These values are still valid today and I’ve found them to be very helpful in determining what’s modest and what’s not.

With Mangan’s help, I will offer specific guidelines on dressing modestly.

To dress modestly is to avoid deliberately causing sexual excitement in oneself or one’s neighbor (Mangan).

The objective of modesty is to refrain from wearing clothing that causes lustful thoughts, whether intentionally or unintentionally. When dressing modestly, Christian girls should avoid clothes that reveal, enhance or highlight certain body parts.

Bust: Avoid tight or see-through shirts or tops without appropriate undergarments, and tops with low plunging necklines that reveal a cleavage. If you have a large bust, then you should also stay away from spaghetti straps and strapless designs.

Thighs: When it comes to skirts, select those that are no shorter than above the knee. Make sure you account for how high the skirt rises when you sit. When it comes to shorts, opt for those that don’t expose too much of the thigh.

Back: Refrain from wearing backless shirts or dresses that plunge in the back. These styles are designed to look sexy.

Stomach: Shirts and tops should always cover the stomach.

Butt: Avoid tight skirts, shorts, dresses and pants that reveal the shape and curve of the buttocks. I also would avoid pants with words printed on the butt, since they are designed to cause the eyes to gaze at that area of your body.

I added “butt” to Mangan’s list because it often causes lustful thoughts in men when highlighted by tight shorts, pants, dresses and skirts.

There usually are no exceptions to the above rules in the case of everyday clothing. When it comes to athletic wear, make sure that your ensemble doesn’t look sexy.

Clothing fulfills three necessary requirements: hygiene, decency and adornment. These are ‘so deeply rooted in nature that they cannot be disregarded or contradicted without provoking hostility and prejudice’ (Mangan quoting Pope Pius XII).

In addition to these guidelines, I believe that, in some instances, modesty is subjective. One item of clothing may be immodest on one person, but modest on another. For example, spaghetti straps can look both modest and immodest, depending on the size of the person’s bust. However, modesty in this case can usually be attained by adding a cardigan or light jacket.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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1998: Statements Concerning Social Issues

our father's house west unity ohio
Bryan Times Advertisement for Our Father’s House, West Unity, Ohio

Slightly edited for spelling and grammar

What follows is an excerpt from the Constitution of Our Father’s House, West Unity, Ohio. I started Our Father’s House in 1995. I pastored the church for seven years.

Statements of Morality, Ethics & Doctrine

Homosexuality

We as a church believe homosexuality to be a sinful and wicked behavior. (Romans 1) Such behavior is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and no practicing homosexual will be admitted as a member of the church.

Living Together

We as a church believe that a man and woman living together (as husband and wife) without being legally and morally joined together as husband and wife are living in a state of fornication and/or adultery. (Exodus 20) Such behavior is contrary to Scripture and no couple living in such a manner will be admitted as member (s) of the church.

Abortion

We as a church believe that abortion (that is non-spontaneous or not a medical emergency) is a sin and such action is murder. (Exodus 20) We believe an anti-abortion stance is consistent with the morality and ethics of Scripture and no one may be a member of the church if they promote or advocate abortion.

The Gifts of the Spirit

We as a church affirm a non-cessationist view of spiritual gifts. We believe that God spiritually gifts His people for the evangelization of the lost and for the mutual edification of the body of Christ.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce Gerencser