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Tag: Abortion

Religion, Death, and the Afterlife: St. Catherine of Alexandria, Columbia City, Indiana

st catherine of alexandria columbia city indiana 2018 (6)

As many of you know, Polly and I travel the highways and byways of Northwest Ohio, Northeast Indiana, and Southeast Michigan looking for photography opportunities. I have developed an interest in how we as Americans — particularly Midwesterners — memorialize life and death.  Of special interest is the various means religious people use to remember the dead. This interest might seem odd for someone who is an atheist, but I am attracted to roadside memorials and cemeteries. From time to time, I plan to share a few of the photographs I’ve shot while stalking death.

I shot these photographs at the St. Catherine of Alexandria in Columbia City, Indiana.

st catherine of alexandria columbia city indiana 2018 (5)

HB565: Ohio Republicans Take ‘Abortion is Murder’ to its Logical Conclusion

craig-riedel-quote-on-abortion

Ohio Republicans introduced a new bill yesterday that takes the phrase ‘abortion is murder’ to its logical conclusion. HB565 outlaws all abortions and makes performing or having one a capital offense. The bill also does away with exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.  One of the bill’s sponsors is Craig Riedel, state representative for District 82. Riedel is my representative and lives in nearby Defiance, Ohio. Riedel, a Catholic, is stridently anti-abortion, so it comes as no surprise that he is one of the sponsors of HB565. Riedel was also instrumental in the recent passage of HB214, a law that criminalizes doctors performing abortions on women whose fetuses have Down Syndrome.

HB565 doesn’t surprise me in the least. The Ohio legislature is controlled by a super-majority of staunch, right-wing, anti-abortion Republicans. These Republicans make Governor John Kasich look like a liberal. The only way to repel their attacks on abortion rights is to run them out of office and replace them with men and women who put people before religion. Make no mistake about it, the assault on abortion is religiously driven, primarily by Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons. Only those with minds sotted with religious delusions would criminalize abortion and make it a capital crime. Only the Craig Riedels of the world put God and theological dogma before women’s health.

I hope my fellow Ohioans are paying attention to the anti-abortion spectacle currently on display in Columbus. Far too many of us wrongly think that the people who wave signs that say, God is pro-life and abortion is murder, are ignorant, harmless country bumpkins. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ohio is primarily a rural state, and people who live in small communities such as Ney, Bryan, Defiance, Hicksville, and countless other places, have been voting into office right-wing Republicans for decades. Senior Ohioans such as myself remember an Ohio that was considered a progressive state, one governed by officeholders who worked for the common good of the Buckeye state. That Ohio no longer exists. In its place is a state government where God and the Bible come first, especially when it comes to hot-button social issues.

It is unlikely that this bill will pass constitutional muster. But, maybe the real issue here is to get HB565 before the U.S. Supreme Court so the court can overturn Roe v. Wade. Isn’t that the ultimate goal of all anti-abortion laws at the state level? Outlaw abortion in the states and then make a full-bore frontal assault on Roe v. Wade. If attempts to criminalize abortion at the federal level are successful, this means the United States returns to the days when abortions were performed in backrooms and alleys. Ultimately, it means more unwanted children will be brought into the world and more women will die of complications from illegal, unsafe abortion procedures. We must not forget that the people who believe that abortion is murder often think that using birth control is a sin too. Imagine, if you dare, a country where women no longer have access to birth control and they once again must live in fear of unwanted pregnancy. Is this really what we want for Ohio and our country? If the answer is “no,” then the only answer is to elected leaders who put their duties and obligations to their constituents ahead of their fealty to God.

I am not suggesting that religious people cannot hold office, but if they are unwilling to separate church from state, then they are not fit for office. Our governmental structures are, by design, secular, and politicians who ignore or refuse to understand this must be replaced by people who do. For far too long, voters have treated the religious beliefs of politicians as being beyond criticism and critique. Since we now know that religious beliefs have political and social consequences, those of us who consider the separation of church and state essential to the future of our secular state must expose and critique the religious beliefs of politicians. The same applies to atheistic, agnostic, and humanistic politicians – we must question their beliefs as well. What we believe matters, as HB565, HB214, and other anti-abortion bills show. If we want a country where secular, humanistic ideals drive the legislative process, then we must elect candidates who value these things. It really is that simple.

Previous Articles About Abortion
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

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Reducing the Number of Abortions

Is God Pro-Life?

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Is God Pro-Life?

3 day old human embyro
Three Day Old Human Embryo.

A hundred or so local anti-abortion residents held a protest at ProMedica health system’s Defiance, Ohio facility yesterday. These zygote lovers were protesting Promedica’s decision to enter into a transfer agreement with Toledo’s lone abortion facility — Capital Care. Anti-abortion zealots in the Ohio legislature have passed numerous anti-abortion laws and regulations in recent years. One recent bit of legislative wonder requires abortion clinics to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital. This requirement has put most of Ohio’s abortion clinics out of business, much to the delight of anti-abortion God worshipers.

Ohio is on the cusp of being the first state to totally ban abortion; either by enacting strict, impossible-to-meet regulations or directly assaulting Roe v. Wade with a ban on abortion. This is what happens when Republicans are given super majorities in state legislatures. The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion almost forty-five years ago. Yet, here we are, re-litigating an issue decided decades ago. And abortion is not the only right under attack. Republicans control most state legislatures. Believing that Christianity is the one true religion and that the Bible is the moral framework by which all Americans should live, these politicians demand that secular governments bow to God’s theocratic will. Abortion is just one issue, among many. Take any of the church and state issues litigated from the Scope’s Monkey Trial forward. Many of these court cases are being challenged and, in some instances, overturned. Christian zealots will not rest until the Christian flag flies over the White House and every state capitol. They will not rest until the wall of separation between church and state is breached and secularism is banished from the realm. One need only to look to the Middle East and Europe to see what happens when theocrats gain the power of the state; people die and freedoms are lost. The only way to turn back this assault is to elect to office people who value the U.S. Constitution and its secular principles and values.

Signs at the ProMedica protest sported messages such as: Killing babies is not healthcare, Abortion is always the wrong choice, and God is pro-life. Most of the protesters were either Evangelical or Catholic — the two dominant sects in this area. While Catholics, at one time, voted for Democrats and pro-union candidates, recent decades have brought a virulent swing to the right. These days, Catholics are every bit as caustic as Evangelicals, especially on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage.

I have no doubt that these protestors sincerely believe that God is pro-life, but such a belief is rooted in fanaticism, and not fact. Anti-abortionists selectively appeal to the Bible as justification for their anti-abortion rhetoric, but a careful reading of the Bible suggests that God is not, in any way, pro-life; and that people who claim God is on their side are ignoring vast amounts of Biblical and historical evidence to the contrary. If anything, God is blood-thirsty, violent megalomaniac who has caused untold pain, suffering, and death (if he is indeed real, as Christians insist he is).

According to the Bible, the pro-life God of the Bible drowned millions of people with a flood, including children and pregnant women. How can it be said that God is pro-life if he murdered fetuses by drowning them? Down through the pages of the Bible we find story after story detailing Jehovah’s genocidal rage against anyone and everyone who refused to bow in fealty and worship him. The New Testament is no better. One need only look at the death of Jesus to see the homicidal tendencies of the Christian deity. What kind of father does what God did to his son? Worse yet, this same God created a place called Hell; a place where he tortures all non-Christians for eternity. This God is such a psychopath that he fits the dead with new bodies that will tolerate torture in the fire and brimstone of the Lake of Fire. What a monstrous being!

And then there’s the fact that if God is the giver and taker of life, then he is responsible for the ten to twenty percent of pregnancies that end with spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). If God is pro-life, why then are these pregnancies not carried to term? Surely, God can keep spontaneous abortions from happening. Why does he sit on the sidelines and do nothing? The same argument could be made for children who die due to war, murder, malnutrition, disease, and parental neglect. If God is pro-life, shouldn’t he intervene and save children from death? If God truly cares about the pre-born, surely he still cares for them after they are born. Yet, all the evidence points to the fact that God is indifferent to the plight of his created beings. One could even argue that the evidence suggests that the pro-life God is a figment of Christian imaginations.

No, God is not pro-life, and neither are his followers. Most pro-lifers have a schizophrenic approach to life. The very same people protesting at ProMedica can be found defending U.S. militarism, capital punishment, and all sorts of anti-life government policies. At best, most pro-lifers are pro-fetus, hypocrites of the first-degree. Take protesters who released balloons to honor the babies have been aborted. They showed no regard for what balloon releases do to the environment and wildlife: that released balloons eventually return to the ground, causing wildlife deaths when they are ingested. This fact is a great example of the myopia of anti-abortionists. They are one-issue crusaders who only believe in protesting in support of the pre-born. Once a child is born, all bets are off.

An anti-abortionist who lives near me told the Defiance Crescent-News, “They [ProMedica] became complicit in murder when they signed that transfer agreement.” As long as Christian zealots continue to believe that life begins at conception, and any and all forms of abortion are murder, there’s no possible way to work with them to reduce the need for abortion. Instead, people such as myself are forced to fight their irrational, anti-woman assault on women. Believing that God is on their side and the Bible is God’s inspired, infallible word, Evangelicals and conservative Catholics cannot and will not compromise. Trying to reach such people is a waste of time. All any of us can do is strip them of the power of the state. This is accomplished through electing politicians who believe it’s important to protect a woman’s right to choose; who believe that women have a Constitutional right to control their own bodies. At this juncture in American history, this means running Republicans out of office. Remember, if we don’t realize the importance of the hour, we are going to wake up one day and find ourselves living in what Evangelicals have long desired — a Christian nation. Come that day, abortion rights will be the least of our problems.

Previous Articles About Abortion
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

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Reducing the Number of Abortions

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Phillip “Flip” Benham Accused of Threatening Woman at a Clinic

flip-benham

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

Flip Benham, a virulent anti-abortion preacher, was arrested for threatening a volunteer at a Charlotte, North Carolina woman’s clinic.

WSOC-9 reports:

Concord pastor Phillip “Flip” Benham was arrested for threatening a volunteer at a Charlotte woman’s clinic.

The pastor, who holds rallies with dozens of people throughout the week, especially at woman’s clinics that provide abortions, told Channel 9 the arrest was “bogus.”

A volunteer at A Preferred Woman’s Health Clinic on Latrobe Drive in Charlotte claims the pastor threatened her life during one of his rallies.

The clinic’s director told Channel 9 in a statement that they are scared by the group’s “pattern of violence.”

The volunteer said Benham approached her and “menacingly” and “repeatedly” told her, “You are dead,” and was fearing the threat would be carried out.

“There has never has been one convicted act of violence there at all. I’ve been there 17 years,” Benham said.

Benham claims he did not threaten the clinic volunteer, but rather said she was “dead in her sins.”

He said he was referring to the Christian principles that don’t align with abortion.

Benham told Channel 9’s Stephanie Tinoco that he has worked to stand up for unborn children and has been arrested dozens of time.

He said he will gladly sit in a cell for the cause. He said he lost count how many times he’s been arrested.

“We care about choice. We know that God has called all of us to make a choice. And only we have that choice. We want to help them,” Benham said.

….

Benham said he wants women to know if they’re willing, his crew is willing to help them get through an unwanted pregnancy and choose life.

….

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Who Are the REAL Americans? by Bryan Fischer

bryan fischer

Considerable amounts of ink and pixels have been spilled in recent months over the question of who is an American, who is unAmerican, and who is anti-American. There is an easy way to tell: Use the Declaration of Independence as your guide.

The Declaration is the most quintessentially American document ever produced. It defines in unmistakable and unambiguous terms what America stands for. Simply put, someone who affirms the truth claims of the Declaration is a true American. Someone who is indifferent to its truth claims is un-American. And someone who is hostile to its truth claims is anti-American.

….

What, then, does it mean to be an “American?” 

First, Americans believe in absolute truth. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, … ” said the founders. There is such a thing as truth, an American would say, and we believe in it, and we defend it. An American believes, as did the founders, that certain things are true and other things are false. There is none of this business of everybody having his own truth. In fact, the founders observed that there are certain truths that are so obviously true on the very face of things that they do not even require proof; they are “self-evident.”

Thus someone who is indifferent to the question of truth is unAmerican because he does not care about this fundamental American ideal. And someone who is hostile to the idea of truth, or who is hostile to the self-evident truths the founders affirmed, is anti-American because he has pitted himself against a bedrock American principle.

Second, Americans believe man is a created being, not an evolved one. The very first self-evident truth the founders embraced is that “all men are created equal,” and that there is a “Creator” with a capital “C” who has granted them certain fundamental, non-negotiable rights. In other words, an American does not believe that man emerged from the primordial glop with some kind of ancestral connection to baboons and chimpanzees. No, an American believes, as the founders did, that man has been created in the image of God and is distinct and far above members of the animal kingdom in worth, value, and dignity. Man is not just a “trousered ape” but is an entirely different order of being altogether—a being who has not just a soul but also a spirit.

….

So an American believes man is a created being. Someone who is indifferent to the question of whether man is created or evolved is unAmerican. And someone who actively opposes the concept of a Creator and the concept of man as created in God’s image is anti-American.

Third, an American believes our rights come to us from God, not from government. An American believes that such rights are “unalienable,” which means that no earthly power has the moral authority to deprive us of any single one of these rights because they are a gift to us from God.

….

So an American believes that our rights come to us from a Creator God. An unAmerican is indifferent to the question. And an anti-American vigorously contests that idea and believes that rights are a gift to us from a beneficent government rather than the Creator.

Fourth, an American believes that babies have a right to be born. An American believes that no earthly power—not Congress, not the Supreme Court, not Planned Parenthood, nor a hospital in England—has any moral or legal right whatsoever to deprive a baby in the womb or a disabled newborn of its right to live. An anti-American is someone who supports the killing of babies in the womb and tries to lock up the Americans who expose this evil. Thus they seek to deprive babies of their right to life and undercover investigators of their right to liberty.

Fifth, an American believes that bakers, florists and photographers have a God-given right to liberty, a God-given right to manage their business affairs according to the dictates of their own conscience. An American believes that he should not be required by government to do work against his will, which is slavery, or to do work that violates his own conscience, which is tyranny. An American in name only believes that such artisans should be punished, fined, put out of business or sued for everything they own. And someone who is indifferent to this issue is not a bad person; he is just an unAmerican one.

Sixth, an American believes that the right to private property is a sacred right, a gift from God, and that government is not allowed to deprive homeowners of their property or deny farmers and ranchers the use of their property (apart, of course, from the proper use of eminent domain or as a consequence of the commission of a crime). The founders would be appalled at the way in which the abuse of eminent domain and the use of environmental regulations have shredded this unalienable right. An American believes the right to private property is a gift from God. An anti-American despises this right and treats it as something that government can readily dispose of if it will serve the progressive agenda.

— Bryan Fischer, American Family Association, The Declaration Exposes Americans in Name Only, July 10, 2017

Bruce Gerencser