Tag Archive: Adultery

Accusations Against Evangelical Pastor Dean Curry Upheld by Church Board

pastor dean curry

In July, Dean Curry pastor of Life Center Assembly of God in Tacoma, Washington, was fired over sexual misconduct allegations. (You can read previous posts about Curry here and here.)  Yesterday, the church board upheld the accusations against Curry.

The News Tribune reports:

They didn’t provide racy details, nor did they name accusers, but leaders of Tacoma’s Life Center church took a methodical procedural walk during a private meeting Thursday, explaining to a crowd of parishioners exactly why lead pastor Dean Curry was fired this summer after 14 years of service.

“The board is in unanimous agreement that Pastor Dean Curry’s removal as senior pastor was the correct decision,” said Nate Angelo, chairman of Life Center’s executive board. “He is disqualified from gospel ministry because of repeat violations of Life Center’s sexual harassment policies. He will not be returning as Life Center’s senior pastor.”

To the end, Curry denied the accusations against him, saying,

I stand by my denial and I stand by my comments about the Assembly of God — very disappointing. My disagreement has to do with mishandling of this process by the Assembly of God. It put Life Center and the board and me in a very awkward situation. I know they were forced into making a decision that was difficult for them. I appreciate their love and kindness to me. They have to make a decision and a statement that is best for Life Center. I totally understand why they want to cut ties.

Julee Dilley, a former church board member who left the church in 2016 over concerns about Curry’s conduct, filed complaints this summer with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the state Human Rights Commission regarding Curry’s behavior.

Dilley’s complaints levied the following allegations against Curry:

  • An ongoing relationship with a married church member that turned physical.
  • An incident involving another married church member being visited by Curry late at night, discovered by the woman’s husband.
  • A female administrative employee who spoke of uncomfortable conversations with Curry that included comments on her appearance and discussions of his intimate relations with his wife.
  • Inappropriate counseling sessions when Curry used vulgar terms when describing intimacy.
  • Talking to other women about intimate details of his marriage
  • Talking to women about their appearance, sometimes in crass terms.
  • Telling women, “You are the only one who gets me.”
  • Isolating women and spending time alone with them on multiple occasions, to their discomfort.

According to The News Tribune, DIlley took issue with the Life Center’s board’s characterization of Curry’s behavior as mere “sexual harassment.” Dilley called the board’s findings an understatement, saying:

Dean’s abuse was not consensual. This isn’t about bad language, lack of boundaries with women or flippant sexual comments. This was abuse, in my opinion. I do feel that there is a duty to warn the public about this type of predatory behavior to help protect from the potential of future victims.

It’s time to start the Dean Curry Resurrection® betting pool. How long will it be before the good pastor finds a church that buys his denials or is willing to give him a second chance?  Forgive and forget, that is what Dean Curry is hoping for. And if there’s one thing I know about Evangelicals, they love a great comeback story. If Mark Driscoll, Ted Haggard, and Jimmy Swaggart can find forgiveness, why anyone can!

Evangelical Pastor Jason Webb Resigns Over His “Adultery Addiction”

pastor jason webb

It comes as no surprise to read of an Evangelical pastor getting caught with his pants down.  What’s surprising, at least to me, is how these revered cult leaders explain away their “sin.” Take Jason Webb, pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield Wisconsin. Webb resigned Wednesday, saying he had been “struggling with a serious addiction, which has led to many betrayals, including unfaithfulness to my wife, Heather.” In a letter to the Elmbrook congregation, Webb wrote:

It is with deep remorse that I write you this letter. As you are aware, over the last two years I have been on a journey towards emotional, spiritual and relational health.

While I have been open with you about much of the journey, there is one part that I have kept hidden. I have also been struggling with a serious addiction, which has led to many betrayals, including unfaithfulness to my wife, Heather.

Words cannot fully describe how sorry I am for my sin. The gravity of all of this is not lost on me. I have lied to Heather, my counselor, the men in my life, the elders, the staff and the church.

I am so very sorry. As I come to terms with this, I must take two difficult steps for myself, my wife and my children.

First, I will immediately seek intensive inpatient treatment for addiction over the next six weeks. Second, I am offering my resignation as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church.

Elmbrook will always be dear to me. I will continue to count it one of the greatest honors of my life to have served under the Elmbrook umbrella in various capacities for the last seventeen years, and as senior pastor these last four years. (PDF)

Just once, I wish one of these smooth talking preachers would be brutally honest and say, “I admit it. I fucked my secretary, and I loved it!” Instead, they talk of “sexual indiscretions” or in Webb’s case “addiction.” Addicted to what, exactly? Sex? If that’s the case, I know a hell of a lot of addicts.  The issue for me, of course, is not the adultery; it’s the hypocrisy. Evangelical preachers and their congregations believe that they have a God ordained duty to inflict on everyone their version of Jesus and his morality code. And yet, these very same people don’t practice what they preach. Jason Webb, whose church believes atheists think they are smarter than God (we are, by the way), is one such hypocrite. Why should any of us listen to one word Evangelical preachers have to say about sex, when they themselves can’t keep their toadstools in their pants? I say to to these hypocrites, talk to the hand.

Webb has committed himself to six weeks of “intensive inpatient treatment for addiction.” While Webb cannot return to Elmbrook, I have no doubt that he will, much like Dean Curry, rise again and find a church that will let him be their pastor. If his wife forgives him, so should everyone else, right? What’s a little adultery among friends.

In February, Elmbrook’s executive pastor, Brodie Swanson, resigned after it was made known he was having an affair with another church staff member.

Evangelical Pastor Dean Curry Faces More Sexual Misconduct Allegations

pastor dean curry

If you have not read my previous post on Dean Curry, please do so.

The News Tribune reports that Dean Curry, the former pastor of Life Center Assembly of God in Tacoma, Washington, is facing new allegations of sexual misconduct. Additionally the News Tribune story says that a former church board member, Julee Dilley, has filed formal complaints against Curry with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the state Human Rights Commission.

Dilly’s complaint details three incidents involving three female church members:

  •  An ongoing relationship with a married church member that turned physical.
  • An incident involving another married church member being visited by Curry late at night, discovered by the woman’s husband.
  • A female administrative employee who spoke of uncomfortable conversations with Curry that included comments on her appearance and discussions of his intimate relations with his wife.

Curry, of course, indignantly and with all the self-righteousness of Jesus cleansing the temple, denies these recent allegations. Curry stated:

More outrageous false accusations. Saddened to see some are opportunistically trying to hinder the forward work of the ministry. I categorically deny all of it.

One, two, three, six. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Evangelical Pastor Dean Curry Fired Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations

pastor dean curry

Dean Curry, pastor of Life Center Assembly of God in Tacoma, Washington, has been fired over sexual misconduct allegations. Curry denies the allegations leveled against him by a former church employee:

My relationship with Assembly of God has been fractured. This woman accused me of behavior that would have amounted to adultery if it were true.

I have been falsely and wrongly accused [adding that a continuing investigation of his conduct would show] no damaging phone logs, no compromising emails or text messages.

Pastors come and go, and this one is going, and you have to keep doing your Jesus thing. I’m not going to allow myself to be bitter toward my accuser. I’m 50 years old and I’ve got a lot of living to do.

The Northwest Ministry Network issued the following statement:

The Northwest Ministry Network was informed of allegations involving the conduct of Pastor Dean Curry, the Senior Pastor of Life Center Church in Tacoma, Washington. Pastor Curry is a credentialed ordained minister with the General Council of the Assemblies of God located in Springfield, MO and The Northwest Ministry Network in Snoqualmie, WA. The Northwest Ministry Network takes allegations of wrongdoing or violations of ministerial ethics seriously. We consider these issues to be ecclesiastical matters under our governance within our biblical purview.

After a thorough investigation of the allegations, the Northwest Ministry Network Executive Presbytery, having received the testimony of two or more witnesses and acting in their role as the Ministerial Relations Committee, has unanimously recommended dismissal of Pastor Curry to the General Council of the Assemblies of God. This recommendation requests that Pastor Curry’s credentials with the Assemblies of God be terminated for violating prescribed standards of ministerial conduct, and he be listed as a dismissed minister of the Assemblies of God. This recommendation is within the Northwest Ministry Network’s purview as per Article X of the Assemblies of God General Council bylaws.

Given the sensitive nature of the allegations, and because the process regarding Pastor Curry’s credentials is ongoing, the Northwest Ministry Network will not be discussing the details of the allegations publicly. As such, there will be no further comment at this time. The General Council of the Assemblies of God Executive Presbytery will decide what to do with our recommendation and the allegations regarding Pastor Curry and his status as a credentialed ordained Assemblies of God minister.

On July 2, 2018, The News Tribune reported:

The accusation that led to his dismissal wasn’t the first Curry has faced, according to multiple sources, including people with ties to local Life Center leadership.

Those individuals told The News Tribune that Curry had been accused of misconduct with female employees and other women in the past, and the church board had investigated the claims. Curry continued to lead the church after those inquiries, sources said, adding that some members disapproved of the board’s approach.

The News Tribune could not confirm those claims independently.

Curry hinted at past allegations during his Sunday speech. He offered no specifics.

“My integrity, character and reputation are everything,” he said. “And these last few months and even years before, all three of those things have been challenged, and I intend to continue to fight to maintain all three of those things.”

On July 1, 2018, the church released the following public statement:

Life Center church is governed by 15 board members; comprised of women and men who have been nominated and elected by our voting members. As such, we are responsible for the selection and oversight of the senior pastor, for church policy, administration of church finances and the general well-being of the church. We don’t manage the day-to-day operations but serve as your representatives to be the governing authority of the church. This is both a privilege and a responsibility we take very seriously and devote countless hours to.

As a church with membership in the Assemblies of God denomination we are subject to another governing authority structure—namely the NW Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God (sometimes referred to as the “NW District” office), and ultimately, the denominational headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. Of course, our highest allegiance is to God, whom we serve above all.

One role of the board is to consider accusations, which we have done in the past, which may come against a pastor in accordance with Scriptural teaching. Indeed, the biblical standards laid out for this board and pastors are quite high, and we have a responsibility to require adherence to them by our pastors and to carry out discipline when and where they are questioned.

Dean Curry has been Life Center’s pastor for 14 years. Under his leadership, Life Center has solidified its place in the 253 as a place of hope. Countless people in the region have encountered Jesus because of the ministry of Dean Curry and Life Center Church.

A few weeks ago, we learned about an accusation against Dean that was brought to the NW District office (not Life Center nor the church board) by a former employee who felt Dean had acted physically inappropriately toward her. The accuser presented her accusation directly to the NW District office, which in turn notified Dean. Dean immediately notified the Life Center board. Based on the allegations we as a board requested a thorough investigation or substantiation of claims brought to the District, but unfortunately we have not been presented with written details of the formal charge. We have only been told what was presented to the District office.

Then, on June 21st the NW District office presented the Life Center church board with their plan to recommend to the national office in Springfield that Dean be dismissed as an ordained Assemblies of God minister. This has immediate ramifications for Life Center because our bylaws require that our Senior Pastor be a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God denomination. Due to the nature of Life Center’s bylaws the board has dismissed Dean as our Senior Pastor. In this process we have no other choice then to adhere to the decision of the NW District in this matter at this time.

We have raised concerns about the thoroughness of the investigative process used by our denominational officers from the NW District. For an allegation as serious as this and the gravity of the potential outcomes (for all involved) the lack of extensive discovery, review, objectivity and transparency leads us to question the validity of the Northwest District office’s process. That being said we submit to their authority as our governing body.

While we may disagree with the NW District’s process, we do believe that all people (women and men) deserve to be heard. As a board we care deeply for each and every person that steps foot on a Life Center campus. The Life Center staff and board are here to listen, here to support and here to help those who are hurting and/or in need. The team has put in place clear policies and protections for employees who have experienced hurt in the workplace as everyone’s story matters. As a board we are here to help ensure that Life Center remains a place of HOPE in the 253.

Finally, we remain committed to Life Center Church and her mission in the city and greater community. Dean has always been careful to remind us this is not his church and it is not our church—it’s a Jesus church, and we reaffirm that. As a board with governance responsibility for this church, we are determined to guide us through this challenging season in the long history of Life Center. Specifically, that means we’ll be doing the following:

Praying for all involved. Praying for wisdom and God’s guidance as we navigate perhaps the most challenging season in our distinguished history.

Searching for an interim pastor.

Providing strategic support to all Life Center staff and campuses.

Reviewing our options to ensure our internal systems and policies and guidelines protect both pastors and staff and provide a healthy work environment in which men and women can function effectively in a way that honors and respects both. We updated such guidelines four years ago and will continue to conduct reviews to ensure they remain effective.

Developing a strategy and plan for Life Center Church’s future.

Communicating with you all in a more frequent way as we have more information.

Let’s be people of prayer and harmony and fidelity to God’s Word and trust Him to lead us in accordance with His plans. Thank you for listening and praying with us.

On July 2,2018 Curry released the following statement:

There is no witness to this accusation. None The NW district is using bureaucratic words to defend their rash judgment. Misleadingly, they have used a completely unrelated situation, dismissed years ago to justify their statement. I have appealed to the National office of the Assemblies of God and await their input. My optimism is high and I’m grateful for all the love and support.

I am sure there is much more to come in the days ahead about Curry’s alleged misconduct. As far as I currently know, Curry has not been accused of criminal behavior, so this story is not a Black Collar Crime story.

Here’s a taste of Curry’s preaching.Curry shares why he is a anti-LGBT, anti-same sex marriage. Let me translate: We love you, but unless you repent of your non-heterosexuality you will go straight to Hell. Now, Curry doesn’t say that, but he sure as Heaven believes it. Why? Cuz it is in the B-i-b-l-e.

Video Link

Several people have I objected to my characterization of Curry’s view on LGBT people and human sexuality. The following video should silence my critics. I hope regular readers will take the time to listen to Curry’s sermon. If you make it to the end of Curry’s sermon, you will hear him several times equate atheism to homosexuality. Let me know what you think in the comment section.

Video Link

Dear Southern Baptists, Your Doctrine is the Problem

southern baptist men

Southern Baptist Men 6,022 Years Ago, Still Holding to the “Truth” Today

Coarse language ahead! You have been warned.

The Southern Baptist Convention is holding its annual shindig this year in Dallas, Texas. Ten thousand messengers (delegates) will fuss and fight with each other over doctrine, culture, and who should run the denomination’s institutions. Thanks to recent revelations about Paige Patterson and Andy Savage, along with allegations leveled against Frank Page, the SBC has decided to get “serious” about sexual abuse and how women, in general, are treated by SBC churches, pastors, and denominational leaders. Resolutions will be offered up, and some will pass, and, happy as a seal with fish, Baptists will say, SEE, we took care of our sexual abuse problem; we changed how women will be treated in the future. And to all this I say, bullshit.

In 2007, messengers were asked to approve establishing a national database of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and other church leaders who have been accused and/or convicted of sexual abuse and other sex related crimes. The “godly” messengers said “no.” That’s right, they said “no.” Eleven years later, this issue will be brought to the floor once again. It will be interesting to see how serious SBC churches really are about predatory, criminal pastors in their midst. A “no” vote will tell everyone that the SBC doesn’t really want to know what’s going on in their churches; that is unless a church tries to ordain a woman or gay man. Then, by God, their Baptist boners are at full attention, ready to screw anyone who dares to be anything but a conservative cisgender male who has sex in the missionary position.

Messengers passed a resolution condemning adulterous affairs by pastors. And what effect with this resolution have? Imagine Pastor I. LvJesus at First Baptist Church in Anywhere, Alabama hearing of this resolution and saying, Well, Sister B. Submissive, I guess we need to quit having sex in my office. The messengers have spoken! Resolutions such as this one are feel-good measures; all the while at home, SBC pastors are “feeling good” too, but that’s because they are having oh-so awesome extramarital motel sex. Resolutions are akin to Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’ anti-drug-use campaign. Well-intentioned, perhaps, but illicit drug use continues unabated, and something tells me that SBC preachers with a mind to cheat on their wives will continue to do so. The Holy Spirit is no match for sexual desire, especially with sex that has a bit of danger attached.

Messengers also passed a resolution emphasizing the dignity of women and lamenting how women have been treated in SBC churches. Of course, this same resolution reminded women that could only serve the church in “Biblically appropriate ways.” The resolution also reminded women that they were to submit themselves to their husbands as unto the Lord. As you can see, nothing has changed. The increasingly Fundamentalist SBC will continue to treat women as second-class citizens. Complementarianism will continue to be the official doctrine of the Convention. And as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, misogynistic pastors will continue to use the Bible to beat Baptist women into submission. Until the SBC abandons complementarianism, women should not expect meaningful change, nor should they accept the bones the men who are running the show throw their way. Perhaps it is time for Southern Baptist women to rise up and say FUCK YOU to their handlers and move on to women-affirming denominations.

Note

News sites routinely report that the Southern Baptist Convention has 15 million members. Here’s the truth behind this statistic. Yes, there are 15 million people on the church roll, but on any given Sunday over half of them are someplace other than a Southern Baptist Church. In 2003, I pastored a small Southern Baptist church in Clare, Michigan. It had dozens of families on its membership roll who no longer attended the church. One of my first steps as pastor was to clean up the roll, sending letters to everyone on the roll, reminding them that membership required regular church attendance. THAT went over well. 🙂 Why is this important? Let conflict spring up in the church — Baptists love to fight — and all those non-attending “members” will be front and center to cast their vote on the issue at hand. In the end, it’s all about power and control.

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.

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.

Evangelicals and Their Obsession With Sexual Lust

lust

Evangelicals have a huge problem with what they call sexual lust. Countless sermons, books, and website articles are devoted to helping Christians overcome lust. Rarely, if ever, do Evangelicals ask WHY they have a lust problem. Why do men and women filled with the Holy Spirit need to be constantly reminded of their propensity to lust? With God living inside of you (there’s a joke waiting to be told), I would think that victory over lust or any other sin would be but a thought or prayer away. If God himself can’t keep Evangelicals from sexually desiring other people to whom they are not married, what hope is there for the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world?

Perhaps, the real issue is that Evangelicals mislabel and misunderstand sexual lust. Thanks to Jesus to telling his followers in Matthew 5:27,28: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart, Evangelicals think that if they look at a man or woman and desire them then they have committed adultery in their hearts. Is it any wonder that some Evangelicals, upon realizing they have committed adultery in their hearts, decide to physically have sex with whomever they are “lusting” after? If you are going to think it, you might as well do it.

What is lust, anyway? A simple definition is this: having a craving, appetite, or great desire for. Based on this definition, all humans lust, and there is nothing inherently wrong with sexually lusting after a man or a woman. What complicates the matter for Evangelicals is that they are duty-bound to live according to the laws, commands, precepts, and teachings of the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. The Bible, then, and not an English dictionary, defines what lust is. The inconsistent, arbitrary, contradictory moral code found in the Bible becomes the standard by which the triune God demands people live — in theory anyway. As any observer of Evangelicalism knows, Evangelicals don’t walk what they talk. Here they are, filled with the Holy Spirit and holding in their hands God’s blueprint for living, yet they fail miserably at being different from the big, bad “world.” Why is that?

The first problem is that Evangelicals view themselves as sinners; weak, powerless, helpless people, who, without the saving grace of Jesus, would be given over to their sinful desires. Evangelicals believe humans are inherently broken and need fixing; and only God, through the atoning work of Jesus, can repair them; and this fixing is an hour-by-hour, day-by-day process. Sin is always at the door, threatening to destroy their lives, Evangelicals think. Powerless, they cry out to Jesus for help, and in his good time, if at all, Jesus supposedly rides in on his white horse and delivers them from their sins. And if Jesus doesn’t arrive in time and Christians fall or run into sin? Forgiveness and a clean slate are but a prayer away: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, the Bible says in 1 John 1:9. Thus, for Evangelicals, there’s no reason for them to own their behaviors and be accountable for their actions.

colossians 3:5

The second problem comes when you join the Evangelical concept of sin and inherent helplessness with strict adherence to what’s written in the Bible. Instead of understanding that it is normal and healthy to sexually desire people, Evangelicals label their desires “sexual sins” such as adultery or fornication. Worse yet, even thinking about these desires, according to Jesus, is adultery. Imagine living in a world where the very thought of another person’s sexual desirability is considered heinous behavior worthy of eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. Is it any wonder Evangelical men and women go through life laden with guilt and fear? Is it any wonder so many Christians act out on their desires, often crossing the line from normal human behavior to criminality? One need only to follow the Black Collar Crime series to see that Evangelicals have a huge problem with sexual sin — especially sex with minors or, as in the case of pastors, people with whom they have professional relationships. A pastor having consensual sex with someone other than his wife violates the Evangelical God’s moral code, but outside of Christianity such behavior, at worst, leads to divorce. Consensual sex between unmarrieds is normal, healthy, and expected, but, for Evangelicals, such behavior is called fornication – an accursed sin worthy of eternal damnation. Masturbation and viewing pornography are also considered serious sins by most Evangelicals.

The focus should be on sexual behaviors that harm others. If there is no harm to others, and all parties are adults who consent to the sexual behavior, there should be no condemnation of the sexual behavior. Extramarital sex is generally considered bad behavior, but a married couple could have an understanding, making what Evangelicals consider adulterous normal. The rules I live by are quite simple:

  • I made a commitment to my wife forty years ago when I stood at the church altar and said that she would be my one and only. Polly and I, on that day, entered into a contractual relationship governing our sexual behavior. I live by that commitment. Do I desire other women? Do I find other women attractive? Do I even have thoughts about having sex with them? Yep. I am a normal, healthy human being. But, I don’t act on these desires. Why? I pledged my troth to wife, and I plan on keeping that vow.
  • Whatever people do sexually behind closed doors, as long as it is consensual, is none of my business. I don’t understand why some people enjoy BDSM, but I don’t have to understand it to find it acceptable human behavior. Each to his own as long as the parties involved freely consent.

Simply put, I mind my own business.

Evangelicals, on the other hand, are plagued with all sorts of rules governing their sex lives. Worse yet, these rules have differing interpretations depending on whom their pastor is, where they attend church, and what sect their church belongs to. When Evangelical men and women see someone to whom they are sexually attracted , they immediately feel guilty and worry about committing adultery in their hearts. Instead of seeing such behavior as normal and healthy, Evangelicals fear God’s judgment if they fail to avert their eyes and repent of their inordinate desire.

Yesterday, an Evangelical psychologist by the name of Douglas Weiss barfed up a post titled 10 Powerful Tips to Stay Lust-Free. The article was pretty much standard Fundamentalist fare: pray, read the Bible, memorize Scripture, and keep a journal of your lustful behavior. Weiss did, to his credit, speak of Evangelicals owning and changing their behavior. These points seemed quite humanistic, so I do wonder how Weiss squares personal accountability with what the Bible says about sin and human helplessness without God.

I did find tip number eight quite humorous:

Simply put a rubber band around your wrist and when you start to lust, snap it hard.

Currently, you are giving your brain positive reinforcement when you lust. You escape reality, you feel desired, you fantasize and sometimes even receive a chemical reaction in your brain from the risk and excitement you feel. When you positively reinforce your brain, it will heighten your desire to repeat that behavior.

The rubber-band technique creates a negative reinforcement for lust and sends your brain the message: I don’t want to do this anymore.

Of course, Weiss is giving advice for combating a behavior — lust — that only exists in the minds of Evangelicals. I see a theological contradiction with Weiss’s advice. If Evangelicals are to snap the rubber band when they start to lust, doesn’t that mean they have already sinned? Isn’t lust sinful, regardless of whether the Christian is at the start, middle, or end of the lusting process? Shouldn’t the lustful Christian immediately stop sinning, drop on his knee, and give God a blo- uh I mean pray for forgiveness?

Imagine, for a moment, Pastor Joe sitting at his office desk studying for Sunday’s sermon. Pastor J, as his followers love to call him, is planning on preaching a ten-point sermon titled How to Live a Lust-Free Life. J-Man, as church teens fondly call him, clicks on Firefox, and once it loads he opens an incognito window. Pastor Joe wants his study materials to be between him and God, and by using an incognito window, he leaves behind no trace of what websites he has visited. Pastor Joe navigates to youporn.com, telling himself, what better way to understand lust than “studying” the content of porn sites. As the tenth photo loads, Pastor Joe remembers he is wearing a Lust-Free Life Rubber Band®. He starts snapping the band repeatedly, thinking that the pain from having a rubber band snapped on his arm will cause him to turn from his computer screen. Alas, it does not. Soon, Pastor Joe is overwhelmed by what he has seen. I’m lusting, he cries, but no amount of self-awareness — or rubber bands — keeps Pastor Joe from masturbating. Soon orgasm brings release, and with release comes an overwhelming sense of religiously driven guilt. Oh Lord, I am so sorry for my sin. Please forgive me! Jesus, of course, forgives Pastor Joe, just as he has every other time. Or so we are told, anyway. Pastor Joe is forgiven by God because he says he is forgiven. In fact, every time Pastor Joe “sins” God forgives him. A weak, helpless man I am, says Pastor Joe. Deliver me from my lust, Jesus! What a miserable existence, but the fictional story I’ve told here happens countless times a day behind closed doors. And it will continue to happen until Evangelicals realize that their religion is the problem. Their belief system has turned them into pathetic weaklings who believe they have no control over their emotions or sexuality.

Evangelicals don’t need rubber bands. Does anyone really believe that snapping yourself with a rubber band is going to keep you from acting on your sexual desires? This is absurd. The only thing that controls your sexual desires is YOU. Not God, not Jesus, and certainly not a Lust-Free Life Rubber Band®. What’s required here is personal responsibility and accountability. Determine what is good and bad sexual behavior and act accordingly. The Bible, with its sexually repressive teachings, is not the answer, and neither are any of Weiss’s tips for living a lust-free 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.

The Worst Mother’s Day Ever

mothers day

Mother’s Day is a special time at Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. It’s the one Sunday out of the year when the whole service is dedicated to women. Churches often give gifts to mothers in attendance, especially flowers. My favorite gift for church women on Mother’s Day was carnations. During this oh-so-special service, men and children are reminded of how they should love their mothers and praise Jesus for giving them such a wonderful, godly presence in their lives. And then comes the annual sermon for women from Proverbs 31:

 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Passing mention will also be made to other Bible verses that have been used to keep women in their place — barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen — for two thousand years. Throw in a couple of verses about women submitting to their husband and male leadership, and the sermon is complete; and whatever joy the $1 carnation brought into their lives is muted by the Biblical reminders of their true status before God and man.

As a pastor, I saw Mother’s Day as an opportunity to evangelize. I encouraged church members to invite their mothers to church, especially those who had unsaved mothers. I promised them that if they would do all they could to get their mothers in church on Mother’s Day, that I would do my best to share the gospel with them in between my points on Godly womanhood. Sometimes, I would plan a mother-daughter banquet the day before Mother’s Day. I would have the men of the church prepare a fancy meal for those in attendance. Feeding large numbers of mothers and their daughters afforded me the opportunity to put my restaurant skills to use. I became the general of the kitchen, making sure that everything was cooked according to plan. After the meal, a guest speaker would remind those the mothers and daughters in attendance of their duties before God and man. It was the only day on the church calendar when church women would be afforded the opportunity to hear a female speaker (not a preacher, not a preacher, not a preacher, DAMMITA SPEAKER!)

One Mother’s Day, I decided that I would recognize all the mothers in attendance. Numerous women stood as I asked mothers to stand so we could honor them with applause and $1 carnations. I then asked those who were standing to say how long they had been married and how many children they had. I planned to give special gifts to the oldest mother, the youngest mother, the mother with the most children, and the mother who had been married the longest. It took all of about thirty seconds for me to realize that I had made a horrible mistake.

Here’s what happened …

Sister I, how many children did you have and how long were you married? I was never married, but I have three children. (Imagine what my IFB face looked like the moment she uttered these words.) Sister D? I am not married, I’m divorced, and I have two children. (Sister I and D were blood sisters.) At that moment, I wanted to commit hari-kari. I thought, I need to hurry this along, knowing that there were other unwed mothers and divorcees ahead in Bruce’s nightmare of a conga line.

Finally, the repudiation of all my preaching against premarital sex and divorce was complete, and all that was left for me to do was preach my sermon, give a brief invitation, utter a benediction, and usher my family and me the hell out of Dodge. Needless to say, I never, ever asked women again to share how long they were married and how many children they had. Polly and I laugh about this now, but it was not funny at the time. My moralizing had been exposed, and the only feeble argument I could make was that all their sinning took place before they were saved. Praise Jesus, none of them had sexual intercourse post-Jesus, or so I told myself anyway. I would later come to the realization that, despite all my sermons against sexual sin, congregants were still, in the privacy of their bedrooms, car back seats, and motel rooms, having sex with people they weren’t married to. I would later pastor an unmarried woman who wanted to have a baby without marrying a man. She paid a neighbor man to sleep with her so she could get pregnant. She succeeded. Unfortunately, she bore a child with a serious birth defect — a sure sign to many of God’s disfavor.

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.

The Absurdity of the Billy Graham-Mike Pence Rule

jesus alone with a woman

Jesus, alone with a woman, violating the Billy Graham-Mike Pence Rule. Shame on you, Jesus! I am surprised you escaped with your virginity intact.

Embedded deep into the thinking of Evangelical pastors is the notion that women to whom they are not married are dangerous creatures who must be kept at a distance, lest they tempt men of God to commit sexual sin. As a young ministerial student, I was taught that there were Jezebels in every church, and that I must never, ever allow myself to be alone with any woman who was not my wife. According to my professors and chapel speakers, there would always be women lurking in the shadows of the steeple, ready and willing to “steal” my sexual purity. Men, including pastors, were, by nature, weak-kneed, visually stimulated horn dogs. Allow the doors of your office or study to be shut with you and a woman alone, and, why, anything could happen! This kind of thinking, of course, teaches men a warped view of women and human sexuality. While I agree that humans are sexual beings — a trait necessary for our species’ propagation — it does not follow that every time two people of the opposite sex are alone with each other, sexual intercourse is a real and distinct possibility. Common sense tells us otherwise.

This view of women and human sexuality found its nexus with Fundamentalist Baptist evangelist Billy Graham. Graham had three rules he lived by when it came to women who were not his wife. Graham would not travel alone with a woman, meet alone with a woman, or eat alone with a woman. These rules, over time, were called “The Billy Graham Rules.” While Graham was viewed as a liberal by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers, his three rules were taught and preached in IFB churches and colleges alike. Simply put, stay away from women who aren’t your wife. Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!  Abstain from the very appearance of evil, the Bible says. Eating a meal with a woman who is not your wife, offering her a ride in your car, or counseling her alone with the door closed, all give forth the appearance of evil. I knew of some pastors who wouldn’t even counsel female church members out of fear that their ministry could be compromised.

Most non-Evangelicals had never heard of the “Billy Graham Rule” until Vice President Mike Pence let it be known that he, too, avoided being alone with any woman who was not his wife. Moderns were astounded by the Vice President’s Puritanical view of women, but to my ears his words were what I had heard over and over again as an Evangelical pastor.

Recently, John Ellis wrote a post for PJ Media extolling the virtue of the “Billy Graham-Mike Pence Rule.” In a post titled, Can Men and Women be Friends? Ellis wrote:

After reading that mega-pastor Bill Hybels has been accused of sexual misconduct, I commented to some friends that we (Christian men) need to be extra diligent in what we say and do around women. I said that because I believe that it’s imperative that Christian men protect themselves and the women around them while serving women. Unfortunately, that’s an increasingly difficult tightrope to walk in today’s climate, to the point that it’s appropriate to wonder if men and women can be friends.

….

Most people within conservative Christianity get that. Most would shake their heads in suspicion if it were discovered that I frequently hung out alone with a female pal, just the two of us shooting the breeze. But the claim that men and women can’t be friends brings with it the charge of patriarchalism from some of the same people who believe it unwise for a married man to hang out alone with a woman who is not his wife (or vice versa).

Often, the disconnect in conversations like this one comes down to how terms are defined. I contend that men cannot be friends with women in the way that “friend” is defined when I’m speaking of my buddies. However, Christian men can and should count Christian women as their sisters in Christ.

….

Sadly, desire for personal purity in the pursuit of holiness often brings with it the accusation of patriarchalism. Vice President Mike Pence was assigned that pejorative after it was revealed that he doesn’t dine alone with women not named Karen Pence. The vice president was accused of creating an environment that makes it harder for women to succeed.

However, as Pence continued to suffer the slings and arrows of those who despise his desire to interact with women “in all purity,” the #MeToo movement was created, as powerful men began to be exposed as sexual predators. Sadly, even in the face of the expanding #MeToo movement, many of Pence’s critics still fail to see the wisdom of the vice president’s personal standards of interaction around women.

….

Serving our sisters in Christ in all purity requires acknowledging the truth that because of sin the issue of sex will always be within reach when it comes to members of the opposite sex. Once again, that’s why most conservative Christians would look askance at me going on an overnight fishing trip alone with a woman who was not my wife. But even beyond obvious examples of overnight trips, men need to be careful about how they interact with women in our day to day lives.

Among other things, Bill Hybels has been accused of giving “lingering hugs.” It’s a good thing that I’m an introvert and don’t like being touched or touching people. If I were a “hugger,” I can’t imagine how I would defend myself against an accusation of a lingering hug.

And that’s not to defend Hybels or to claim that women who are made to feel uncomfortable by the actions of men are wrong for speaking up and defending themselves. My point is that it is incredibly difficult to know exactly how a word, a look, or a touch, even if meant innocently, will be taken.

Because men often view women as little more than objects of pleasure and take advantage of them, many of our sisters in Christ have been deeply hurt in the past. What we as their brothers in Christ say or do can have the unintended consequence of being perceived within the context of past abuse. Among other things, loving our sisters in Christ demands that we be careful not to cause more hurt and harm.

On a lesser scale, it’s also important that Christian men guard ourselves. Since it is easy for our motivations to be incorrectly assumed, we need to make sure that we are acting above reproach around our sisters in Christ.

….

According to Ellis, all men should live according to “Billy Graham-Mike Pence Rule.” I say all, and not just married men, because Ellis, who describes himself as a conservative Christian, likely believes that it is a sin for unmarrieds to have sex. Thus, not only should married men abstain from being alone with women who are not their wives, so should unmarried men. Women, for married and unmarried men alike, are the problem. If married men want to keep themselves morally pure, then they must never, ever put themselves in positions where they are alone with women. For married men, the wife of their youth awaits, legs spread wide, ready and willing to satisfy their sexual needs. Unmarried men have no such fire extinguisher awaiting them — the Apostle Paul said it is better to marry than to burn — yet they, too, are implored to avoid being alone with the opposite sex. So what are these young men to do? Many of them, if they marry at all, do not marry until their late twenties. This means that they must wrestle with unsatisfied raging hormones for twelve to fifteen years. And remember, masturbation — lustful self-gratification that leads to homosexuality — is verboten too. (Please read Good Baptist Boys Don’t Masturbate, Oh Yes, They Do!)

This kind of thinking breeds immature, juvenile men; men who are weak; men who are not in control of their sexuality; men who see women primarily as objects of sexual gratification. Ellis, Graham, and Pence would likely object to my characterization of their beliefs, but it seems clear, at least to me, that women are treated as dangerous, seductive beings who must be avoided lest being alone with them leads to intercourse on office and study floors. This kind of thinking objectifies women, turning them into chattel used for male sexual gratification. Since the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God condemns all sexual behavior except married heterosexual vaginal intercourse, (preferably in the missionary position, and primarily for human propagation), any relationship or circumstance that could, even remotely, lead to moral compromise must be resolutely avoided. (A separate discussion is whether consensual adult sex with someone other than your wife or sex between unmarrieds is necessarily “wrong.”)

As I have stated time and again on this blog, Evangelical men need to grow up and own their sexuality. If they can’t control themselves when around physically and sexually attract women, the fault is theirs. Plenty of men are around women publicly and privately, yet they, somehow, keep themselves from having sex with them. These men have learned how to control their thoughts and behaviors. I have viewed countless women whom I have found attractive. My wife and I, now that we no longer concern ourselves with thoughts of God, judgment, and hell, are free to say to the other, that’s an attractive man/woman. Both of us have found it interesting the type of people the other is attracted to. Men I thought Polly would consider hot often elicit a meh from her — she really likes gay guys. Similarly, the kind of woman Polly thinks I would be attracted to often elicits a shrug from me. It’s liberating to be able to express my thoughts, interests, and desires without worrying that it could lead to adultery — a sin, according to the B-i-b-l-e, that lands offenders in the Lake of Fire.

Polly is around other men at work, yet I don’t worry that she might stray. It would be crazy for her to do so, having a stud muffin like me at home. As a photographer, I am often up close and personal with women, yet my wife doesn’t fret over this. She knows that for Bruce, Polly is his one and only. Now, this doesn’t mean that neither of us has ever been tempted to break our marital vows. We have, but we value our lives with each other and our family far more than we do three minutes and twenty seconds of pleasure. For us, it’s a matter of what’s important to us. There are going to be times when we are alone with people of the opposite sex. That’s life. If someone is flirtatious or even comes on to one of us, we expect the other to exercise maturity and wisdom and handle things appropriately. During the Christmas season, my Santa Claus alter-ego often has women who are quite friendly towards him. I have had more than a few women, young and old, want to get up close and personal and have a photo taken with Santa. In my mind, it’s all fun and games. I’ve found, now that I am in my sixties and have a white beard, that women, in general, are more friendly towards me. I suspect it is my grandfatherly look that says to them I am safe. Certainly looks can be deceiving, but in this case, the only fear anyone should have of this Santa Claus is him getting stuck coming down the chimney.

Men need in their lives women who are not their wives. Men NEED female friends, even the buddy type of friends Ellis says men cannot have. I was well into my late forties before I had female friends. I spent most of my adult life living according to the “Billy Graham-Mike Pence Rule.” Not perfectly, of course. In one church, I picked up a woman for services every Sunday for a decade. She was twenty years older than I, and due to a severe vision problem, she couldn’t drive. One couple who left the church in a huff let it be known that they thought this woman and I were having an affair. We both laughed when we heard this. I gave this couple, in my mind anyway, a “go freak yourselves.”  Several years later, I learned that the male of this couple had repeatedly sexually violated his daughter when she was young. I have no doubt that his wife knew that it was going on too. Yet, they were “concerned” over me driving a woman to church. Child, please.

It took me leaving the ministry and Christianity to realize the value and importance of having female friends. Over the past decade or so, I have been privileged to befriend a number of women. Having them in my life has forced me to change my view of the opposite sex. Evangelicalism is inherently patriarchal and misogynistic — let the screaming and whining begin. Thus, I had a warped, deficient view of women for many years. Much like my views of LGBTQ people, my beliefs about women were largely shaped by what Evangelical men and the women-are-property Bible said about them. Divorcing Jesus — we were in a same-sex marriage — and throwing aside the authority of the Bible allowed me to take a fresh look at my relationships with women. This blog and social media have brought into my life a cornucopia of women, along with LGBTQ people too. My editor is a woman. I doubt, had I been an Evangelical blogger, that our relationship would have worked. Now, not only have my grammar and style improved, but her input has helped me mature as a person. Other women have challenged some of things I have written, asking me to consider their perspective. I remember one woman taking issue with my use of the word pussy. I used the word to imply weakness. However, to women, my use of this word said, women are weak. Once this was pointed out to me, I stopped using it – well, except in the privacy of my bedroom, that is.

And my wife? She loves the new and improved Bruce Gerencser, the man who now views her as an equal, as a partner, as someone whose opinions and ideas have value. Most of all she loves the fact that this man of hers has gone from being the head of the home to being her friend. Not only are we lovers and confidants, we are best friends. We trust each other, each believing that the other will honor, even when alone with the opposite sex, the commitment we made forty years ago. No fling is worth what we have built together over the past five decades. Why in the world would I want to trade the best cooking in the world for a romp in the sack with someone I don’t really know? Polly makes the most awesome sloppy joes I have ever eaten. Better than sex — oh yes they are! Since she tried this new recipe out the first time a few weeks ago, I’ve asked her to make it again several times. Heaven? Oh, my Gawd, it’s on my plate, thank you very much. If given the choice between an illicit relationship and Polly’s sloppy joes, I know which one I am taking. Well, that and the fact that she now does all her cooking with cast iron pans. I can only imagine (to rip off the title of the latest Evangelical porno to hit the big screen) what one of the pans would do to the side of my head.

I hope both men and women will share their thoughts and experiences in the comment section. Are women really as dangerous as Graham, Pence, and Ellis say they are? Comment away!

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.

Fundamentalist Pastor Greg Locke Justifies Divorce From His Wife

pastor greg locke

Greg Locke, famous for his insane sermon videos about everything from Starbucks’ cups to Target’s bathrooms, evidently has divorced from his wife and taken up with a new woman — his secretary. Locke, pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, took to the pulpit to defend (without mentioning it) his pending divorce:

Video Link

Locke is right about many things he says in this video. People shouldn’t stay married to abusers and the like just because some preacher (or the Bible) told them to do so. Life is too short to spend it mired in unhappy, loveless marriages. The problem, of course, is that Locke is a Bible-thumping Evangelical who supposedly believes the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, and the Bible is clear: God hates divorce; Moses permitted male (not female) Israelites to divorce only because of the hardness of their hearts; Jesus gave only one grounds for divorce, adultery. And the Bible is also clear that Evangelicals who divorce are forbidden to marry again; and that remarrying is adultery, an act the Bible says damns a person to hell. It seems, then, that Locke is not such a big Bible believer after all, that the Spirit that leads him is his Holy Dick, not the Holy Spirit.

I have no idea about how Locke and his wife got along with each other. Maybe their divorce was justified. But, if a man is going to stand in the pulpit and say, THUS SAITH THE LORD, then he sure as heaven should believe every word of the Bible and practice it in his day-to-day life; and if he doesn’t he shouldn’t be surprised when he is called a skirt-chasing hypocrite.

According to Fundamentalist website Pulpit & Pen, Locke’s wife was the one who filed for divorce, and the good pastor just went along with it so he could get a quick dissolution of their marriage. On to new things — a new woman and a new car:

Indeed, it was Locke’s wife who filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences”. However, court records clearly show that Locke responded in agreement. In arranging what could fairly be called a “quickie divorce” Locke filed documentation with the court stating that his marriage was “irretrievably broken”. There is nothing in Locke’s divorce papers that indicate he took action to fight the divorce proceedings or demand a trial. Locke signed a Marriage Dissolution Agreement. If that’s not taking action to “divorce his wife”, no matter who filed first, then what is?

A trail of witnesses from Mt. Juliet, to Mufreesboro, to the out-of-state women’s shelter in which Melissa now resides contend that Locke coerced his subservient and obedient wife into filing divorce in order to preserve for himself the claim that he was “abandoned”. These same witnesses contend that Locke basically ordered his wife out of the state of Tennessee. The traumatized woman is now isolated far away from her home and her family. Locke is still in close proximity to his church secretary, Tai McGee. The mandatory waiting period required by Tennessee law to make Locke’s divorce final has not elapsed.

Christians still following Greg Locke’s internet antics and attending his church should ask themselves if Locke is worthy of their time and generous donations. As an outspoken moralist, Locke’s actions towards his wife (and his secretary) are on display for the lost world to see and mock. Rather than condone his continuing pastorate, Locke’s familiars would do well to encourage him to repent and reconcile with his wife.

Indeed, those of us in the “lost” world are enjoying the spectacle, including Fundamentalists eating one of their own. It also seems, at least to me, that Locke’s ex-wife put his preaching into practice by divorcing his sorry ass. There will come a day — hopefully soon — when the former Mrs. Locke will be very glad that she jumped off Greg Locke’s crazy train and ran for her life.

As for Locke, he wants the world to know that his affair with his secretary is justified, as is his divorce from his wife. After all, his Ex is crazy:

She’s been in and out of mental health facilities but that is not where she is right now. She is at a place that helps ladies get on their feet again. The only reason why she is there is that the lady who runs it is like her grandmother, and so she’s there. She’s only there because of the comfort…It is a shelter there is no doubt. But it’s not something like a homeless shelter. She’s with the lady who runs the place.

Nice guy, right?

If you have the stomach for it, I encourage readers to read Pulpit & Pen’s latest article on Locke. Keep in mind the purveyors of Pulpit & Pen live for opportunities to expose sin and heresy among the faithful. In Locke’s case, this is a matter of believing the message regardless of the messenger. What matters is whether they are telling the truth, and it seems in this instance Pulpit & Pen is telling the truth about Locke, his wife, his girlfriend, and his recent divorce.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor John Bishop Arrested and Charged With Drug Smuggling

pastor john bishop

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.

John Bishop, former pastor of Living Hope Church in Vancouver, Washington, was arrested in December and charged with smuggling 282 pounds of maijuana into the United States from Mexico.

Jessica Prokop, a reporter for The Columbian, writes:

John Bishop, the former lead pastor of Vancouver’s Living Hope Church, is facing a federal drug charge in U.S. District Court in Southern California for allegedly trying to smuggle more than 280 pounds of marijuana into the country from Mexico.

The 54-year-old was arrested Dec. 11 after he was stopped about 5:25 a.m. by U.S. Customs and Border Protection while re-entering the country through the port of entry at San Ysidro, Calif. Bishop reportedly told border patrol agents he was driving to Chula Vista, Calif., according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case.

While conducting a routine inspection of Bishop’s gray Volkswagen Jetta, the officer found packages hidden in a wheel well. A narcotics detection dog was summoned and subsequently alerted officers to the undercarriage and trunk of the car, the affidavit states.

The car was taken apart revealing 105 packages weighing 281.88 pounds that field-tested positive for marijuana. Packages were removed from the car’s bumpers, rear seat, dashboard and at least one wheel well, the court document said.

Bishop was taken into custody and charged with unlawful importation of a controlled substance, according to a complaint filed Dec. 12 in U.S. District Court.

He entered a not-guilty plea Jan. 4 to the one count, and his trial was set for Feb. 8. He is being represented by Gerloni Cotton with the Federal Defenders of San Diego.

Bishop was released from federal custody Jan. 9, the Federal Bureau of Prisons website shows. Court records indicate that he posted $25,000 bond.

….

The arrest marked a spectacular fall for one of Clark County’s most dynamic and successful clergymen.

A petition for legal separation filed by Bishop’s wife, Michelle, on Jan. 2 in Clark County Superior Court states that he now lives in San Diego, Calif. — where his release documents say his travel is restricted to — and asked the court to find that their marriage ended Dec. 11, the same day he was arrested.

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The Bishops started Living Hope Church in 1996. It grew to be one of Clark County’s largest, attracting thousands of worshippers each week. They targeted “people who don’t do church” and Christians who might be in need of grace and second chance. Under Bishop, the church staged elaborate sermons, including a nativity with a live camel. Bishop once appeared onstage with a 350-pound live tiger.

The church, now along Andresen Road, is nicknamed the “Kmart church” because it occupies a former Kmart building.

After 19 years, Bishop stepped down as senior pastor in November 2015 after allegations of moral indiscretions. The church did not go into detail about the indiscretions, but Bishop had said he went “off the grid” while on a mission trip over the summer of 2015 in Los Cabos, Mexico. Court records show that he and his wife owned a vacation home there.

At the time, Bishop said he planned to seek alcohol abuse treatment, according to Columbian archives.

“As a church, we continue to pray and hope the best for John Bishop,” Living Hope Church Executive Pastor Doug Frazier said in a written statement issued Tuesday. “Ties have been cut for over two years, and we continue to pray for him regularly and do not harbor any ill will.

“We are so thankful to now be in a financially healthy and stable place and to have the opportunity to serve our community. Living Hope continues to have a daily impact on our local community — from feeding the homeless and shut-ins, and serving those in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse to offering a variety of ministries and worship services seven days a week.”

….

Christian Hypocrite of the Year: Republican Representative Scott DesJarlais

scott desjarlais

Scott DesJarlais, Republican Representative from Tennessee, was given a second term in office even after voters learned the divorced physician had sex with his patients while still married to his wife and encouraged them to have abortions. Here’s what comedian and political commentator Bill Maher had to say about Des Jarlais:

Video Link

DesJarlais, who happens to be one-hundred-percent anti-abortion and is endorsed by the National Right to Life, says that God has forgiven him for his past misdeeds — I made a very poor decision in my first marriage. I know God’s forgiven me. DesJarlais is quoted as saying, All life should be cherished and protected. Evidently, this doesn’t include the fetuses of the mistresses he impregnated.

According to the Daily Mail:

Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais has largely managed to avoid scrutiny of his sexual conduct, although they conflict with his family-values platform. DesJarlais, 53, said he supported his first wife Susan Lohr’s decision to have two abortions while they were together. Before becoming a politician and while he was a doctor in Tennessee, still married to Susan, the Christian man admitted to sleeping with two patients. He said he prescribed the now-banned painkiller Darvocet to one of the women. The father took her to Las Vegas and bought her an $875 watch. When the second patient he was sleeping with, who was 24 at the time, thought she was pregnant, DesJarlais offered to take her to Atlanta to have an abortion. The politician said he slept with six women, including three co-workers and a drug company representative, during his three-year marriage to Susan. But now, the remarried DesJarlais proclaims that he is ‘pro-life and proud of it’, and that ‘God has forgiven me.’

We can safely say that many of the Christian Congressional Republicans are Grade A hypocrites who use their faith as little more than window dressing for their election campaigns. Of course, it is Evangelical church members and conservative Catholics who continue to elect them to office, all the while demanding that non-Christians obey the morality code found in the Bible: no sex before marriage, only sex with a spouse after marriage, LGBTQ people are an abomination to God, and same-sex marriage is an abominable violation of God’s divine order for the family. Never mind the fact that more than a few of these sanctimonious politicians ignore the Bible, committing the very “sins” they deplore in others. If Evangelical support of disgraced politician Roy Moore and serial adulterer Donald Trump told us anything, it told us that Evangelicals no longer believe what the Bible teaches about sex. They are far more concerned with political power and maintaining their sticky-handed hold on American society.

DesJarlais is up for election in 2018. He beat his Democratic opponent in 2016 by thirty points. It will be interesting to see if DesJarlais’ whoremongering past keeps him from getting elected. So far, it has been smooth sailing for Representative DesJarlais. Perhaps his past indiscretions will come forward and tell their stories. If so, we will see if Christian Tennesseans put Jesus and the Bible first, and not continued political power. My money is on DesJarlais getting reelected.

Strangely, DesJarlais and his wife are members of Epiphany Episcopal Church in Sherwood, Tennessee. Episcopal churches are known for their liberal beliefs and progressive social values. Either Epiphany Episcopal is an anomaly or the DesJarlais are ducks out of water. Or, perhaps the Episcopalians, too, are enthralled with political power, of having a congressman and his family as members.

I would love to hear a rational, dare I say Biblical, explanation for the continued support of men such as Moore, Trump, and DesJarlais. Back in my preaching days I was a hardcore right-wing Christian. But, I would never have supported a man such as DesJarlais. I would have either not voted or I would have wrote in the name of someone I could support. What seems clear to everyone with eyes to see, is that Evangelicals have traded God’s heavenly kingdom for an earthly one. In doing so, they have lost their voice of authority. Evangelicals gave us Donald Trump, and historians decades from now will write about this era being time when Evangelicalism sold their soul to the company store.

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.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Bob Coy Accused of Sexually Molesting a Girl

pastor bob coy

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.

Bob Coy, the one-time pastor of Calvary Chapel — Fort Lauderdale in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, stands accused of sexually molesting a girl. What follows is an excerpt from an investigatory report written by Tim Elflink, the managing editor of the Miami New Times. I hope readers will read the entire article. You might want to have a barf bag handy as you read Elfrink’s detailed story about not only Bob Coy, but the entire Calvary Chapel church movement:

The call came from California. A woman told Coral Springs Police she had recently learned something terrible: A South Florida man had molested her daughter for years. It began when the girl was just 4 years old.

An officer noted the information and called the victim, who was then a teenager. She confirmed the story in stomach-churning detail.

The man had forced her to perform oral sex, she said. He would regularly “finger and fondle her” genitals, make her touch his penis, and “dirty talk” to her. The abuse lasted until she was a teenager, she told the cop. She’d never even told her family about the crimes.

By the end of that harrowing call on August 20, 2015, police knew the accused predator was no ordinary suspect. His name was Bob Coy, and until the previous year, he’d been the most famous Evangelical pastor in Florida.

Over two decades, Coy had built a small storefront church into Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, a 25,000-member powerhouse that packed Dolphin Stadium for Easter services while Coy hosted everyone from George W. Bush to Benjamin Netanyahu. With a sitcom dad’s wholesome looks, a standup comedian’s snappy timing, and an unlikely redemption tale of ditching a career managing Vegas strip clubs to find Jesus, Coy had become a Christian TV and radio superstar.

But then, in April 2014, he resigned in disgrace after admitting to multiple affairs and a pornography addiction. Coy shocked his flock and made national headlines by walking away from his ministry, selling his house, and divorcing his wife.

The sexual assault claims, which have never before been divulged, raise new questions about the pastor, his church, and the police who handled the case. Documents show that Coral Springs cops sat on the accusations for months before dropping the inquiry without even interviewing Coy. His attorneys, meanwhile, persuaded a judge with deep Republican ties to seal the ex-pastor’s divorce file to protect Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale from scrutiny.

The revelations come at a sensitive moment for Calvary’s national network of about 1,800 churches, which have been riven by legal infighting and dogged by claims that bad pastors have been allowed to run amok. In fact, at least eight pastors,  staff members and volunteers in Calvary Chapel’s network around the United States have been charged with abusing children since 2010. In one case, victims claimed the church knowingly moved a pedophile to another city without warning parents.

“Religious leaders have a tremendous amount of power over their flock,” says Scott Thumma, a professor of sociology of religion at Hartford Seminary who has studied the Calvary movement. “If Calvary gives these pastors this much authority and they use and abuse it with no accountability, they have to blame themselves.”

Coy, who was never charged with a crime, lay low after leaving Cavalry but recently turned up at Boca Raton’s Funky Biscuit, where he helps manage the club. Tracked down at the bar on a recent weeknight, the well-dressed ex-pastor looks no different from the days when he preached to thousands of followers. He declined to discuss the child abuse case except to say he is innocent and passed a polygraph test to prove it.

“I can’t discuss it on the record,” he said, before adding cryptically: “If you’re foolish enough to go through with this story… it would hurt a lot of people.”

Were there other abuse claims against Coy during the nearly three decades he controlled Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale? The church won’t say, though a spokesman says the chapel was “saddened to hear of the allegations.” That’s not good enough, critics say.

“There could be other victims out there,” says Michael Newnham, an Oregon-based pastor who runs a blog critical of Calvary Chapel. “We need answers.”

….

On a Sunday evening in April 2014, thousands packed into Calvary Chapel’s sanctuary, a cavernous space that looks more like a midsize city’s convention center than a church. As they sank into plush, arena-style seats and flipped open well-thumbed Bibles, Coy’s followers quickly noticed something was very wrong. The rock band that usually played raucous hymns to start services was missing. And a grim-looking assistant pastor, gripping a letter, was walking across the stage.

Pastor Bob had suddenly resigned, the assistant pastor told the stunned crowd. He had admitted to a grave “moral failing.” Ushers passed tissue boxes down the rows as his followers wept.

“People were really, really hurt,” says Colleen Healy, a Broward resident who began following Coy in 1995. “I was really hurt. I’ll never forget that meeting.”

Coy’s preaching career ended with shocking speed, but his sex scandal was far from the first for Calvary Chapel. In fact, the church had been battling accusations nationwide for years that it empowered predatory pastors while demanding little accountability.

The root of Calvary’s problems, critics say, lies in its unique structure. Unlike many Protestant churches, which set up powerful boards of elders to oversee ministers, Calvary used a management style Smith called the “Moses method.”

“Moses was the leader appointed by God,” Smith told Christianity Today in 2007. “We are not led by a board of elders.”

Instead, the pastors Smith installed in his hundreds of megachurches, which are similar to Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, had nearly unlimited power over budgets, personnel, and message. And even if complaints arose, Smith’s answer was often to give wayward preachers second and third chances.

In 2007, Christianity Today spoke to numerous Calvary pastors across the country. Some complained anonymously that Smith was “dangerously lax in maintaining standards for sexual morality” among his preachers. “Those men cannot call sin sin,” one 20-year veteran of the church complained to the publication.

There were ample cases to make that point. In 2003, John Flores, a pastor at Smith’s flagship in Costa Mesa, was arrested for having sex with the 15-year-old daughter of another pastor. According to Christianity Today, he’d been fired twice before for sexual misconduct, including once after getting caught having sex on church grounds, but kept getting his job back. (Flores was eventually convicted of sex with the minor.)

Two years later, a Calvary Chapel in Laguna Beach fired its pastor for adultery and embezzlement — but Smith quickly rehired him to preach at the nearby Costa Mesa church.

That same year, the church found itself in a bizarre scandal centered on a lucrative, 400-station radio network and its head, Idaho-based Pastor Mike Kestler. He had been in hot water in the ’90s when multiple women in his church claimed he’d sexually harassed them, but Smith gave him another chance.

In a lawsuit, a woman named Lori Pollitt said after she had moved from Texas to Idaho to work for Kestler, he repeatedly demanded she divorce her husband, give up her children to adoption, and marry him. When she rebuffed him, she said he stalked her and put a “hangman’s noose” in front of her house.

This time, Smith and his son Jeff actually turned on their pastor, pushing him out. They ended up locked in dueling lawsuits, with the pastor accusing Calvary’s leaders of skimming profits and the Smiths charging that he used his influence running the radio stations to pressure women into sex. (The cases were settled out of court.)

The next year, Santa Ana police investigated the Costa Mesa chapel after a 12-year-old told a staffer that a pastor had been touching her inappropriately. Police said they couldn’t find enough evidence to press charges, but the staffer claimed the church forced him to resign for alerting the authorities.

In 2006, Coy’s church in Fort Lauderdale landed in court over claims of lax oversight. A Calvary Chapel member named Rodger Thomas was arrested that year and charged with repeatedly molesting a 15-year-old girl at a high school run by the church. Two years later, her family sued Calvary, alleging leaders should have done more to stop Thomas. A jury awarded the family $360,000 but ruled Calvary wasn’t culpable.

The most serious claim against Calvary’s national church came in 2011, when four men in Idaho filed a federal suit alleging a youth minister named Anthony Iglesias had molested them between 2000 and 2003. Even worse, they said church officials knew full well he was a pedophile: He’d been kicked out of another Calvary youth ministry in California after being charged with sex crimes there.

That case was settled out of court, but the attorney who brought the case says that, in general terms, Smith’s habit of forgiving and rehiring pastors who have committed sexual offenses is a recipe for disaster.

“Typically, how it goes in these cases is you have a violator in the church, but the leaders will have this notion that if he repents, he’s forgiven, and then we don’t have to talk about it any more,” says Leander James, who specializes in church child abuse cases. “That whole approach always ends up hiding pedophiles.”

Neither Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, the movement’s flagship, nor the Calvary Chapel Association returned messages from New Times seeking comment for this story.

It’s still not clear how Coy’s sexual indiscretions came to light in 2014. But two weeks after his surprise resignation, Assistant Pastor Chet Lowe filled Coy’s followers in on what had happened.

“Our former pastor was caught in sin,” Lowe said April 16, according to the Sun Sentinel. “Our pastor, he committed adultery with more than one woman. Our pastor, he committed sexual immorality, habitually, through pornography. Rest assured, God will not be mocked.”

….

Coy’s faithful didn’t know it, but just over a year after the pastor’s resignation for adultery, Coral Springs Police launched their investigation into a far worse allegation. It’s unclear how seriously they took the claim of the teenager — whom New Times is not naming in accordance with our policy on reporting on victims of sexual abuse — who said Coy had forced her to have sex even when she was only 4 years old. But the case soon stalled.

The department assigned the case to Det. Jeff Payne, a veteran investigator in the usually sleepy, affluent suburb of 120,000. Payne had experience with sensitive cases involving sex crimes; earlier that year, he’d investigated a high-ranking cop for allegedly assaulting a 13-year-old girl. Payne had taken his case against Fort Lauderdale Police Maj. Eric Brogna to the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, but prosecutors declined to press charges.

In the Coy case, though, Payne never made that kind of headway. Shortly after resigning, the disgraced pastor moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Calvary Chapel has another affiliate church. (It’s unclear if he worked there.) Coy says he was never approached by the police about the allegations.

Indeed, police records show no progress on the case until eight months later, on April 4, 2016, when Coy’s young accuser showed up at Coral Springs Police headquarters. She told Payne she was “moving tomorrow [overseas] on a mission trip with the church, and asked if it was possible to destroy any record of [her] abuse,” the detective wrote in a closeout memo. The woman told him “she had an experience with God and has found forgiveness” for Coy over his abuse.

 

….

 

Coy has never been criminally charged, and if there were other cases of sexual harassment or abuse in the decades he ran Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, neither the church nor cops have revealed them. The church didn’t respond to a detailed set of questions from New Times, instead sending a general statement about the former pastor.

….

This year, Calvary has been hit by even more sexual abuse claims. In May, Matt Tague, an assistant pastor at North Coast Calvary Chapel in San Diego, was arrested on 16 counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor under 14 years old. Police say the victim wasn’t a church member, and Calvary Chapel says it immediately fired Tague upon learning about the claims.

Then, on July 18, police arrested 41-year-old Roshad Thomas, who had spent 13 years as a volunteer youth pastor at Calvary Chapel Tallahassee. He’s accused of molesting at least ten children aged 13 to 16 over several years, victimizing members of the youth group he led after taking them back to his apartment.

Police say Thomas has admitted to the abuse (though his criminal trial is pending). The chapel’s founder, Kent Nottingham, told a local TV station that there’d been no suspicion of abuse and that he was “shocked.”

Coy has also been dragged through legal battlefields since his resignation from the church. In January 2016, he and Diane filed for divorce in Broward County. They’d already sold their Coral Springs house about six months after he resigned; the settlement divided their substantial remaining assets — including a $330,000 Hillsboro Beach condo he still owns — and defined custody of their two children. The divorce file includes nearly 30 pages of documents related to their finances and settlements.

But on February 22 of that year, the case went to Judge Tim Bailey, a member of a powerful conservative family; his father, Patrick, founded the Pompano Beach Republican Club, and both father and son had chaired Broward’s Judicial Nominating Commission. That body recommends candidates for higher legal office to the governor. In Coy’s case, Bailey made a relatively unusual ruling: All financial documents would be kept secret. Why? To “avoid substantial injury” to Coy’s former employer — Calvary Chapel — according to the court file.

To critics such as Newnham, there’s only one reason to fight for a ruling like that: to hide from churchgoers the amount of cash the church gave Coy to go away. The case reeks of political favoritism. “These guys have been covering for Coy for a long time,” Newnham says, “and they’re still covering for him now.” (Judge Bailey didn’t respond to messages from New Times to comment on this story.)

You an read the entire story here.

Elfrink concludes his story with this:

But Newnham says the pastor still has more to answer for — especially because his sources say Coy has been trying to mobilize investors to start a new church.

“He’s contacted many former associates to try to get funding. There’s no question he wants back in the game,” Newnham says. “We need to stop him. In my opinion, if he did this [to one victim], it’s just a question of how many others are out there. He can’t be put in a position of power ever again.”

That’s right, Bob Coy is trying to get back in the “game.” And I have no doubt that he will find people who are willing to play along with him. Much like King David — a man after God’s own heart — who committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered, Coy will surely convince people that his “sins” are under the blood — forgiven and forgotten.

Update

A November 16, 2017 Miami New Times report states:

As New Times revealed in an investigation published Tuesday, former Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale Pastor Bob Coy — who once led the largest megachurch in Florida — was accused in 2015 of molesting a girl for more than a decade, beginning when she was 4 years old. Coy was never charged in the case and had already resigned from Calvary over an admitted string of extramarital affairs.

After his preaching career ended, he landed work managing the Funky Biscuit, a nightclub in Mizner Park in Boca Raton. The club now says that it has terminated any relationship with Coy and that the owners had no inkling he’d been accused of child abuse.

“Yesterday, through an article published by Miami New Times, we were made aware of certain allegations involving one of our associates, Mr. Bob Coy,” the club says in a statement. “Neither The Funky Biscuit nor any of its employees were aware of these allegations prior to yesterday. Because of the nature of these allegations, The Funky Biscuit has decided to terminate our consulting arrangement with Mr. Coy, effective immediately.”

….