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Tag: Atheism

Hello Bruce, I’m a “Nice” Evangelical

hell

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Several times a month, I get emails from Evangelicals who want to let me know that they are not like “other” Evangelicals. They want me to know that there are Evangelicals who are nice, polite, decent, kind, and respectful people. That’s great, their mothers taught them well. However, these “nice” Evangelicals aren’t really as nice as they would have me believe. They desperately want to be viewed in a good light, thinking if I just knew that there are “nice” Evangelicals, I would fall on my knees and call to Jesus to save me. As if my entire deconversion hangs on how I was treated while I was an Evangelical pastor.

When I am feeling up to it, I respond to the “nice” Evangelical’s email with a few questions. Questions like:

  • Do you believe that humans are inherently “sinful”; that humans are broken and in need of fixing?
  • Do you think believing in Jesus is the only way for people to have their sins forgiven?
  • Do you believe there is one true God, and that all other deities are false?
  • Do you believe the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible text?
  • Do you believe that a person must be saved/born again/become a follower of Jesus to go to Heaven when he dies?
  • Do you believe that a person who is not saved/born again/a follower of Jesus goes to Hell when he dies?

The answers to these questions will quickly reveal that the “nice” Evangelical is no different from Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, Steven Anderson, Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, Bob Gray, Sr., Bryan Fischer, James Dobson, or Franklin Graham. The “nice” Evangelical and the nasty/hateful Evangelical, both share the same beliefs. The former comes in a nicer, more pleasing package, but inside the package are the same abhorrent, vile beliefs.

Sometimes, a “nice” Evangelical will be coy about his beliefs. When pressed on the question of God torturing non-Christians in Hell/Lake of Fire for eternity, he often replies that he leaves such things up to God. A “nice” Evangelical want me to know that he doesn’t judge, he just unconditionally l-o-v-e-s others. However, if he believes the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, then he already knows what God says on the matter. Fact: non-Christians will go to Hell when they die. Fact: atheists, agnostics, secularists, and humanists will go to Hell when they die. Fact: most of the readers of this blog will go to Hell when they die. Fact: most of my Facebook friends will go to Hell when they die. Fact: most of my Twitter followers will go to Hell when they die. Fact: and, to make it quite personal, Bruce and Polly Gerencser and most of their children will go to Hell when they die.

The “nice” Evangelical, if he is truly a Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Evangelical, is boxed in by his beliefs. There is one God — the Christian God; one way of salvation — Jesus; and Hell awaits all of those who reject him. This is why I respect someone like the late Fred Phelps more than I do a “nice” Evangelical. Phelps just tells non-Christians how it is. He makes no effort to hide his beliefs. The forwardness of such Evangelicals allows me to know exactly where I stand with them. No need for us to play the pretend-friend game or make nice with each other.

Sometimes, “nice” Evangelicals will take a psychological approach. They view me as one who has been wounded by the nasty, hateful, judgmental Evangelicals. They read a few of my blog posts and determine that I have been hurt in some way, and that this is the reason I am not a Christian. In their minds, they think if they are just really, really, really nice to me that I will be overwhelmed by their niceness and fall in love with Jesus all over again. Since “nice” Evangelicals think Jesus is w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l, they can’t imagine someone NOT wanting to become a follower of Awesome Jesus. A “nice” Evangelical sees Jesus patiently knocking on the door of my heart, pleading for me to let him in. Isn’t this the same Jesus who says that if I DON’T open the door, he is going to torture me for eternity in a lake that burns with fire and brimstone, a place where the worm dieth not? Isn’t this the same Jesus who will fit me with a special body after death so that no matter how severely he tortures me I can never die?

While there is certainly a truckload of harm and hurt in my Evangelical past, the reason I am not a Christian is because I do not believe the central claims of Christianity to be true. I don’t believe the Bible is an inspired, inerrant text. I don’t believe Jesus was God, virgin-born, a miracle worker, or resurrected from the dead. I don’t believe God created the world, nor do I believe in “sin.” Simply put, I reject everything one must believe to be a Christian. No matter how “nice” an Evangelical is to me, I do not buy what he is selling. Salvation requires faith, a faith I do not and will not have.

Look, I am glad that many Evangelicals are nice people. I am glad they treat me and others like me with kindness, decency, and respect. Their behavior certainly makes the world a better place. That said, I suspect their behavior is a reflection of their tribal training and culture more than it is their Evangelical beliefs. I am glad someone taught them to be decent, thoughtful people. I do, however, wish they would stop wasting their time by trying to “nice” me to Jesus. I have no interest in Jesus, and I think their time would be better spent teaching Evangelicals how to behave in public. As blog comments, news articles, blogs, social media,  and personal emails show, there are a lot of Evangelicals who don’t the first thing about the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Instead of trying to save people who don’t want to be saved, “nice” Evangelicals should spend their time getting fellow Evangelicals saved.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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The Atheist Agenda

value life

The Black Collar Crime Series — which details the criminal behavior of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and other Christian leaders — draws a lot of vitriol from Evangelicals who believe there is some sort of “atheist agenda” behind these stories.

Recently, a self-righteous, indignant Evangelical took issue with my posts on Pastor Raymond Vliet (please see Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Raymond Vliet Pleads No Contest to Attempted Embezzlement). Here’s part of what he had to say:

Do you believe in truth in reporting? I would think putting your name on this article you would have some integrity. did you investigate any of this information you posted or are you just here to Bash any Pastor to push your atheism?

….

If you want the truth and you want to prove email me we will send you all you need to know the print the truth. Unless of course you’re not interested in the truth the Constitution gives you the right of free speech Integrity gives you the right of Truth in free speech.

This man suggests that I have some sort of “atheist” agenda driving my exposure of his pastor as a thief. He provided no evidence that my post was false or misleading. Instead, he accuses me of going after his pastor for nefarious reasons — as he does the sheriff and prosecutor in the case.

Let me state, once again, WHY I write the Black Collar Crime series:

The Black Collar Crime series is in its fourth year, having published almost eight hundred reports of clergy and church leader criminal misconduct. Using Google Alerts, I receive an immediate notice any time a news story about clerical malfeasance is posted on the internet. It is important that these stories receive wide circulation. Victims need to know that there are people standing with them as they bring to light that which God’s servants have done in secret.

I realize that these reports are often dark and depressing, but the only way to dispel darkness is to turn on the lights. Clergy who prey on congregants — especially children — must be exposed, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison. By leveraging this blog’s traffic and publishing these reports, I am serving notice to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges: we are paying attention, and if you fail to provide justice for victims, we will hold you accountable.

Sadly, many clerics have enormous power over people. How else do we explain that alleged repeat abusers of children and sexual predators such as Lester Roloff, Jack Patterson, Bob Gray, David Hyles, and Mack Ford — to name a few — never spent a day in jail for their crimes? Mack Ford, in particular, spent decades physically and psychologically destroying teenagers, yet, thanks to his connections in the community, he was never prosecuted for his crimes. (Please see Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for GirlsTeen Group Homes: Dear IFB Pastor, It’s Time for You to Atone for Your SinWhat Should We Do When Religious Freedom Leads to Child Abuse?)

Sometimes, these seemingly untouchable predators are brought to justice, but not until the public puts pressure on law enforcement and prosecutors, forcing them to act. The sordid story of abuse at Restoration Youth Academy is case in point. Decades of reports about abuse were filed with local law enforcement, yet nothing was done. Yes, they finally acted and the perpetrators are now in prison, but what do we say to the hundreds of children and teenagers who were ritually abused before prosecutors got around to doing their job?

I am sure that this series will bring criticism from Evangelical zealots, reminding me that accused/charged clerics are innocent until proven guilty. While they are correct, all I am doing is sharing that which is widely reported in the news. In the twelve years I’ve been writing about clergy misconduct, I can count on one hand the number of pastors/priests/religious leaders who were falsely accused — less than five, out of hundreds and hundreds of cases. The reason for so few false accusations is that no person in his or her right mind would mendaciously accuse a pastor of sexual misconduct. The social and personal cost is simply too high for someone to falsely accuse a religious leader of criminal conduct.

People often believe that “men of God” would never, ever commit such crimes. One common thread in the crimes committed by Jack Schaap, Bill Wininger, Josh Duggar, David Farren, Naasón Joaquín García, and a cast of thousands, is that family and fellow Christians were absolutely CERTAIN that these men of God could/would never commit the crimes with which they were charged. Even when presented with overwhelming evidence, their supporters — with heads in the sand — refuse to believe that these servants of Jesus did the perverse things they are accused of. (Please see What One IFB Apologist Thinks of People Who Claim They Were Abused and Evangelicals Use ‘We Are All Sinners’ Argument to Justify Sexual Abuse.)

Secondary reasons for this series have to do with exposing the lie that Evangelicalism is immune to scandal and criminal behavior. I remember when the Catholic sex scandals came to light. With great glee and satisfaction, Evangelical preachers railed against predator priests and the Catholic Church who covered up their crimes. Now, of course, we know — with the recent Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) and Southern Baptist sex scandals — that Evangelicalism is just as rotten, having its own problem with sexual abuse and subsequent cover-ups. Evangelicals love to take the high moral ground, giving the perception that their shit doesn’t stink. Well, now we know better. Not only does Evangelicalism have a sexual abuse problem, it also has a big problem with pastors who can’t keep their pants zipped up. (Please see Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?)

I receive threats from people defending their religious heroes. Threats of legal action are common, even though all I am doing is republishing stories publicly reported by news agencies. A pastor featured in one of my reports contacted me and said that reporters had it all wrong. As I do with everyone who asserts they are being falsely accused, I told this preacher that he could give his version of the facts, sign his name to it, and I would gladly add it to the post. Usually, this puts an end to any further protestations. Most often, the accused want to bully me into taking down my post. In this preacher’s case, he provided me his version of events and I gladly added it to my post. After adding the information, I decided to investigate this pastor further. I found more information about his past indiscretions and crimes. I dutifully added them to the post. I have not heard anything further from the good pastor.

I am not immune from making mistakes, so if you spot a factual error in one of the stories, please let me know and I will gladly correct it. If you come across a story that you would like me to add to this series, please use the contact form to email me. Please keep in mind that I need links to actual news reports in order to add them to this series.

Today, my godless friend Brian Vanderlip — who happens to have advanced degrees in sarcasm, snark, and humor — asked me the following question:

I am interested, Mr. Gerencser, in understanding your ‘atheist agenda’, the one you are trying so hard to ‘further’ by publishing false stories about preachers. I keep hearing this ‘idea’ from Christians, how atheists want to turn the world into a moral and ethical cesspool, how they are involved in cultic practices, have sex with and eat babies and so forth.

I have not been able to verify this oft-repeated meme and wonder if you might, as a known perpetrator of atheism, reveal to me your ‘agenda’. Over time, it seems to me that non-believers simply don’t believe in God(s) but often say they are open to being provided proofs and that should these proofs stand scientific scrutiny, they are more than willing to change their position. Christians, on the other hand, firmly knowing their Saviour, actively shout protests when anybody offers them information that is not approved by their local pastor, their Christian club.

So, please, please, Mr. Gerencser, if you would be so kind, explain just what the atheist agenda is, pretty please?

Brian’s question gives me the opportunity to address the notion that atheists with public voices as writers and speakers, have some sort of “agenda.” While I can’t speak for all atheists, nor can I address the motivations of individual atheists, I can speak about my motivations, and what, if any, agenda drives my writing — particularly the Black Collar Crime Series.

Most Evangelicals, preachers included, make all sorts of false assumptions about atheism in general and atheists in particular:

  • Atheism is a religion.
  • Atheists hate God.
  • Atheists want to destroy Christianity.
  • Atheists are deliberately ignorant, refusing to see the “truth” revealed in God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word.
  • Atheists worship humans.
  • Atheists secretly desire to engage in sin, especially sexual sins.

I am sure there are more things I could add to this list. While some of these things might be true about certain atheists, I can categorically state atheism is not a religion, and most atheists don’t hate God, want to destroy Christianity, live in “denial” to the truth of God’s word, worship humans, or secretly desire to engage in sexual “sin.” All of these claims are assumptions made by Evangelicals without any credible evidence to prove their veracity. I have written about these claims several times over the years. None of them is true. Instead of engaging atheists on their own terms, fairly and honestly, Evangelicals construct a strawman, which they then gleefully burn to the ground. What Evangelical fail to understand is that what they have torched bears no resemblance to atheism and atheists. Sorry, but we are not the awful, vile, evil people you think we are. In fact, I would argue that atheists — who generally are humanists — are moral, ethical people who promote and value love, kindness, and goodness. Simply put, Evangelicals, just cuz you say it, doesn’t make it so.

Every atheist writer I know is a free agent. We don’t check in with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists, American Humanist Association, or Atheist Pope Matt Dillahunty before we write on a particular subject. Some atheists don’t particularly like my writing. I have been accused of being too soft on Christianity. Atheist mythicists don’t like the fact that I believe Jesus was a real person. And atheist libertarians? Why they can be downright vicious, despising my liberal/socialist political views. The other day, we had a mother cat and four kittens eating at Gerencser Buffet for Feral Cats, Possums, and Racoons. The mother had black fur, but the kittens? Talk about genetic diversity. So it is with atheists. We are a diverse lot.

Let me conclude this post by taking a few steps back and viewing atheism as a whole. Are there some generalizations I can make about atheists? Sure.

  • Atheists want to live and let live.
  • Atheists want to live happy, prosperous lives.
  • Atheists want others to live happy, prosperous lives.
  • Atheists value science, believing the scientific method is the best way of explaining the world we live in
  • Atheists don’t hate God. How could they since they don’t believe deities exist?
  • Atheists don’t hate religion, per se. They do, however, strenuously object to what is done in the name of God/religion. If religionists keep their religions to themselves, atheists would have little to say about their practices. However, many religions aggressively proselytize, demand preferential treatment, and use the power of the state to force unbelievers to live according to the teachings of their Holy Books. In the United States, it is primarily Evangelicals who are pushing a theocratic agenda.

So, does atheist Bruce Gerencser have an agenda? Yes and no. I started blogging in 2007. My goal then and now is to tell my story; to detail my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism. My target audience are those who have questions and doubts about Christianity or who have left Christianity. I am not an atheist Evangelist. I am just one man with a story to tell. If I can help someone in a small way, I have done my job.

The Black Collar Crime series was started to provide public exposure to alleged crimes committed by men of God. I often find this series hard to write. I feel as if I need to take a shower after writing a post about a predator preacher. But, if I don’t do this, I know some of these stories will not get the press they deserve. Victims deserve to be heard, and as long as I have the strength to do so, I intend to keep shining light on what’s done in darkness.

This blog is NOT my life, though some days it seems so, especially when I am not feeling well. I’ve been a writer for forty years. I write because I am passionately driven to do so. When I started blogging years ago, my goal was to provide an outlet for me to share my story. That thousands of people now read my writing is beyond my wildest expectations. Do I want more readers? Sure, who wouldn’t, right? But blog traffic has never been my goal. I am grateful for every person who reads my writing — including my Evangelical critics. But, regardless of the numbers, I plan to keep plunking the keys on my IBM Model M keyboard until my fingers drop off. If I have an agenda, it is this: to be an honest, thoughtful, engaging writer.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

Are you on Social Media?

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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.

God Gave Me Breast Cancer Because He Loves Me

calvin and hobbes god

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Joni Eareckson Tada was severely injured in a diving accident in 1967. For the past fifty-three years, she has been a quadriplegic. Tada’s life story was popularized in a best-selling book titled Joni: An Unforgettable Story (1976) and the movie Joni (1979).

In the Friday, June 25, 2010 edition of the Defiance Crescent-News, there was a story about Tada undergoing treatment for breast cancer (behind paywall).

As I read the article, what astounded me was Tada’s comment about God’s involvement in her breast cancer.

Tada said:

I’ve often said that our afflictions come from the hand of our all-wise and sovereign God, who loves us and wants what’s best for us. So, although cancer is something new, I am content to receive from God, what ever he deems fit for me. Yes, it’s alarming, but rest assured Ken and I are utterly convinced that God is going to use this to stretch our faith, brighten our hope and strengthen of our witness to others.

In other words, God gave Tada breast cancer because he loved her and deemed it best for her. God gave her cancer so that she and her husband would have more faith and be a stronger witness to others.

Tada’s God is best described as a know-it-all deity who afflicts humans with sickness, disease, suffering, and death because he loves them and wants to increase their faith in him. He then wants them to use the afflictions he gave them to tell others what a wonderful God he is.

Crazy, isn’t it? I doubt if Sigmund Freud could even figure this out. How is this any different from a violent sadist expecting his victims to praise him for not killing them. “Hey, I cooked them awesome dinners while they were hanging in my basement!”

The Christian interpretation of the Bible presents God as a father and the Christian as a child (a son). Good fathers love, protect, and nurture their children. They don’t beat them, abuse them, or afflict them with pain and suffering. Every right-minded human being knows what qualities make for a good father. We also know what qualities make for a bad father.

In his best-selling book, The God Delusion, Dr. Richard Dawkins described the Bible God this way:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

Anyone who has read the Bible knows that this is an accurate description of God, the “father.” If God was Santa Claus, he would definitely be played by Billy Bob Thornton, of Bad Santa fame.

A father who has the power to heal and doesn’t is a bad father. A father who causes suffering, sickness, and disease when he could do otherwise is a bad father. A father who afflicts his child with breast cancer is a bad father. A father who gives his child breast cancer so she can tell everyone what a wonderful father he is, is a bad father. From my seat in the pew, this God-the-father, as presented by modern Christianity, is a bad father.

Tada’s argument for a breast cancer-giving God is one of the reasons I left Christianity. I could no longer believe in a loving God that willingly afflicts and kills his children because he has determined that it is best for them. This God demands the Christian bear whatever affliction he brings upon them, and in true narcissistic fashion, he also demands that they love him while he is afflicting them. I want nothing to do with such a capricious, vindictive, warped God.

Disease, sickness, suffering, and death are all around us. If God could do something about these things and doesn’t, what are we to make of such a God? What are we to make of a God who is seemingly involved in the intimate details of life — helping Granny find her car keys — yet when things really matter, he is absent without leave (AWOL)?

Christians sing a song that says “what a mighty God we serve.” A mighty God? In what way is the Christian God mighty? Batman and Superman were mighty gods. They used their powers for good. They were always on call, ready at a moment’s notice, to swoop in and help those in need. But the Christian God? It seems the bigger the need the harder he is to find. As I noted in another post, God seems to involve himself in trivial matters like getting a woman a $200 refund on her plane ticket, but he seemingly can’t be found when an environmentally catastrophic oil leak needs plugging or forest fires are destroying lives and property. Perhaps we need to forget about this God and turn on the Bat-signal.

I am saddened by Joni Eareckson Tada’s affliction with breast cancer. Being a quadriplegic for over fifty years is enough suffering for one lifetime. But I know just because you have one health problem in life doesn’t mean you won’t be afflicted again. As I have learned in my own life, just because I have fibromyalgia doesn’t mean I won’t get some other disease. Life isn’t fair. Life can be cruel. I’ve known Christians whose lives were devastated by one tragedy or sickness after another. I know one Christian woman whose oldest son recently committed suicide, her middle son is in prison for murder, and her youngest child died of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma at age 23. Yet, she still devotedly praises God for his manifold blessings. If God is the one dumping all this on them, it would seem proper to ask God to move on to someone else. “Please God afflict sister so-and-so. She is in perfect health.”

Christians often quote the verse that says God will never give anyone more than they can bear. In other words, no matter what you face in life, God has determined you can bear it. This verse always leaves God off the hook. God, who is sovereign over all things, determines that you can bear to have cancer, AIDS, fibromyalgia, ALS, MS, emphysema, or any other dreaded disease, so he afflicts you. You are expected to bear whatever he brings your way. If you don’t, it is your fault. Your failure to bear your burden shows that you lack faith or you have secret sins in your life.

Reality paints us a far different picture. Many Christians, if not most, do not bear their burdens as the Bible says they should. I have counseled hundreds of Christians over the years who were weighed down by the burdens allegedly given to them by God. At the time, I encouraged them to have more faith, but rarely did the faith of the afflicted rise to the weight of the burden. Most often, the burden broke their back. Sadly, many of these people continue to walk around, stooped over and crippled, all the while singing “what a mighty God we serve.”

There is a hypocritical vein in this line of thinking. The theory is this: God afflicts his children with suffering for their good because he loves them and wants to increase their faith. I would ask then, why do Christians go to the doctor and take prescription medications? It seems to me that not seeing the doctor and not taking medication would result in a greater increase in faith. Surely a sovereign, omnipotent God is bigger than high blood pressure or diabetes, and surely a sovereign, omnipotent God is bigger than any pain a Christian might have, right?

There are Christian sects that do have this kind of faith. They don’t go to doctors, and they refuse to take medication of any kind. And every few years we have the privilege of reading about them in the newspaper when they are charged with manslaughter or child abuse for failing to get proper medical care for one of their children.

For me personally, it is more palatable for there to be no God, or a deistic God that is not involved in his creation, than there is a God that afflicts people because he loves them and wants to increase their faith. Such a God is a monster of vast proportions, a deity unworthy of worship.

I recognize that sickness, suffering, and disease can be instrumental in shaping us and changing us, and making us better people. But this is far different from a loving God-the-father afflicting us so that we will love him, have more faith, and be better witnesses. Such thinking is barbaric and best relegated to the ancient past it came from.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

Are you on Social Media?

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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.

Bruce, Your Mind is Darkened and Your Heart is Hardened by Sin

peanut gallery

Earlier today, an Evangelical man from Birmingham, Alabama, left the following comment on the post, Things Christians Say: If the Lord Tarries:

Why do you people bother arguing and debating with this guy? He’s spiritually dead as a doornail and always has been. His 25 years in the pastorate was a complete sham. If you doubt that call the leadership staff at any of the churches and ask about his conduct. On top of multiple failed “ministries,” he has hopped from job to job and place to place (22 and 18, respectively). Don’t waste your time reading his blogs. His mind is darkened and his heart hardened by sin. He has nothing of substance to offer you. Above all else don’t make a donation and facilitate his folly.

This man did read a few more posts than the typical Evangelical asshole (9), so for that HSV Counseling gets a gold star beside his name. Atta boy, you sure put that atheist Bruce Gerencser in his place. Here’s what HSV wants readers to know:

  • I am presently as spiritually dead as a “doornail (utterly devoid of life).”
  • I have always been as spiritually dead as a “doornail.”
  • The twenty-five years I spent pastoring Evangelical churches was a complete “sham.”
  • The leadership at the churches I pastored will confirm that my work as their pastor was a “sham.”
  • The churches I pastored were “failures.”
  • I worked a lot of jobs and lived in a lot of places in my lifetime. This is another sign that proves I was a “failure.”
  • People shouldn’t waste their time reading my writing. Why? My mind is darkened and my heart hardened by sin.
  • I have nothing of substance to offer readers.
  • And, most importantly, people shouldn’t make donations me, facilitating my folly.

I find it interesting that Evangelicals — who don’t know me — can read a few blog posts and then, angered, outraged, and butthurt about what I wrote, attempt to psychologically wound me by attacking my character. Years ago, such attacks were quite effective. So much so that I would often stop blogging for weeks and months on end. At the time, I thought, why won’t they just accept my story at face value? Why do they have to attack me personally instead of interacting with my writing? Why are they comfortable with lying about me and distorting the narrative of my life?

I am not sure that I can answer these questions, but I do know that how I respond to such people has changed. I no longer let their words harm me. Sure, much like everyone, I don’t like it when people personally attack me, malign my character, and, on occasion verbally assault my spouse, children, and readers of this blog. I know these Cowards for Jesus® hide safely behind their computer screens, smartphones, and tablets, never fearing the consequences of their un-Christian behavior.

When I have the opportunity, I will track them down and out them, giving a very public face to their hateful words. Years ago, an Evangelical man sent me numerous hateful emails and comments. I eventually figured out who he was. This Coward for Jesus® was using his work computer to email me. One day, while he was, once again, verbally assaulting me, I called the HR department at the company he worked for, informing them as to what this man was doing while on the clock — while accessing the Internet from his work computer. This man never sent me another email. He got my message loud and clear.

The same goes for James Tester, an IFB pastor who sent me a nasty email several weeks ago. Unfortunately, for Tester, he left enough breadcrumbs for me to track him down. (Please see IFB Pastor James Tester Sends Me a Message.) Now Tester has to live with the fact that when someone searches for “Pastor James Tester” on Google, the aforementioned post ranks fourth, right after his Facebook and Instagram pages. Do I find a bit of smug satisfaction when this happens? Yep, I sure do. There’s little more that I can do than publicize their “faith” for all to see.

Alas, for HSV Counseling — bclarkf150 — all my Google search returned was Herpes Simplex Virus Counseling. There’s a punch line there for readers who would like to make the connection.

I will continue to publicizes these kinds of emails and comments because I think it is important for people to see the ugly side of Evangelical Christianity. If nothing else, they remind us of one of the reasons we walked (ran) away from Christianity. It’s hard to argue for the moral and ethical superiority of Evangelicalism as long as Jesus-loving trolls attack and disparage the very people Jesus commands them to love.

Now, let me get back to counting all the donations I received today. Almost enough for me to buy a Lear Jet! All praise be to Loki!

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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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.

Dear Bruce, I Think You Are Still a Christian

horse
Free at Last!

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

I’ve been blogging for thirteen years. Different iterations of this blog, with different names, but with one goal: “telling my story; recounting my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism.”

Thousands of posts, and tens of thousands of comments. When I started blogging in 2007, I was still a follower of Christ — a progressive, emergent (emerging) church Christian.

I was still going to church, still reading the Bible, still praying, and still trying to find a Christianity that mattered.

I never found it.

I did find that I was just an ass in the pew, an offering to be collected. I had talents and gifts that any church would benefit from, but I found that pastors were quite territorial and allowed no one to get near their throne.

Twelve years ago, after a tremendous amount of study, angst, and gut-wrenching heartache, I finally concluded that I was no longer a Christian. Try as I might, I couldn’t square what I knew about the Bible and the church with Christianity. As I tried to find a stopping place on the slippery slope of reason, I found there was none. Liberal Christianity, Unitarianism, Universalism, all provided a brief respite, but ultimately failed to stop my slide to atheism.

Atheism became the label that best described my belief about the Christian Gods, gods in general, and religion. Technically, I am agnostic on the God question, but in my day-to-day life I live with nary a thought about God, thus I call myself an atheist.

I have no need of God, a God, any God. I am an A-T-H-E-I-S-T.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I receive emails from Evangelical Christians who say they believe I am still a Christian; that deep down I still have a longing for God and faith.

Every time I receive such a letter, I think, “how can anyone read my writing and come to this conclusion?”

Just because I write about and critique Evangelicalism doesn’t mean that I am still a Christian. One man even suggested that the fact that I capitalize words such as God and Bible are proof that, deep in my heart-of-hearts, I am still a follower of Jesus. Or, to apply Occam’s razor, I capitalize these words out of habit. Which is more likely?

I recognize that if Christians read my old writing from my early blogging days, they might conclude I am still a club member or that I still really, really, really want to be a Christian. However, anyone who seriously invests time in reading my story from start to finish can only come to one conclusion: “Bruce Gerencser was once saved, and now he is lost.”

My goal is to keep telling my story; to keep exposing the hidden, dark secrets of Evangelical Christianity. I am grateful for the fact that I have far more reach today than I ever did in the twenty-five years I spent pastoring churches. Sometimes, I feel physically and emotionally overwhelmed, but I remind myself that what I do matters.

I know my writing deeply resonates with many people, and it gives a voice to their thoughts and struggles. I also know my writing angers and infuriates many Evangelicals. They write and talk about me, preach sermons about me, mention my name at prayer meetings, send me nasty and hateful emails, and leave arrogant, self-righteous comments on this blog.

The latter are going to do what they do. I can’t stop them, nor do I want to, because their anger and indignation are reminders to me that, next to marrying Polly, the single best decision I ever made was the day I walked away from Christianity. They’ve tried bombing me with email spam, using bots to leave massive amounts of comment spam, spreading rumors and lies about my story, my mental fitness, my marriage, and children, and have even threatened to kill me . . . yet here I am.

The readers who matter the most to me are the lurkers in the shadows, laden with fear and doubt. They have questions that aren’t being answered by their pastors or churches. Their eyes have been opened to what is going on around them. Are they atheists in the making? Maybe, but I doubt it, and I don’t care. My goal is facilitation, not evangelization. If I can help wanderers as they journey on through life, that’s good enough for me.

Others who read this blog are post-Evangelical or post-Christian. They are trying to find purpose, meaning, and peace, sans God, Jesus, or religions. Now that their lives are no longer defined by their religious beliefs, they are left with the task of shaping new lives for themselves. It’s not easy, and I want to do what I can to provide a safe, friendly place for them to hang out. If telling my story helps them in some small way, I am grateful.

In the Biblesee Bruce, you just mentioned the Bible and this PROVES you are still a Christian — there’s the story of the Good Samaritan, a man who helps and cares for a man beaten and left for dead along the side of the road. Religion, especially Evangelical Christianity, beats people up, often leaving them for dead alongside the road we call life. I want to be like the Good Samaritan, lifting up those who’ve been beaten, robbed, raped, and scarred by religion. If I have a calling, this is it.

In many ways, I am a far better man today than I ever was when I was a member of God’s exclusive club. I no longer have to view life and others through the lens of the Bible and the teachings of Christianity. I am free to live life on my own terms, and embrace others as they are. That I have LGBTQ people who read this blog astounds me. Back in my Evangelical days, my life had no room for such people. Well, my life had no room for anyone who didn’t think, act, and believe as I did. As a Christian, I lived in a monoculture, a world devoid of diversity. Today, my life is filled with multifariousness. I am a much better man, husband, father, and grandfather, thanks to the people I have met through this blog.

So, to those who are convinced I am still a born-again Christian, I say: why would I ever want to go back to Egypt, to the land of leeks and onions, toil and bondage? Why would I want to return to a worldview governed by the ancient writings of fishermen and sheepherders? Like the proverbial horse that escaped his corral, I am free, and I have no intention of returning to the bondage and slavery called Christianity.

If some people can’t see and understand this, I am not sure what more I can do for them. They’ll just have to keep hoping that I will someday walk back into the church and say, with an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, “I’m B-A-C-K.”

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

For Evangelical Christians, It’s Not About the Evidence

birth of jesus

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Here’s one thing that atheists and agnostics need to understand. For a person becoming an Evangelical Christian – the choice to do so has never been JUST about the evidence. We mistakenly think that if we just show Evangelicals evidence that their God is a myth, the Bible is a manmade book, and the central claims of Christianity are false, they will abandon their religion and embrace atheism or agnosticism. How’s that working for us?

The truth is, Christianity, as a belief system, is all about faith. Hebrews 11:1-3 says:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

How does a person become an Evangelical Christian? Ephesians 2:8,9 says:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Evangelicals, by faith, decide to believe certain things. By faith, they believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. By faith, they believe the Bible is truth, and whatever it says comes straight from the mouth of God. By faith, they believe that the central teachings of Christianity are true regardless of evidence to the contrary.

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin — that he was birthed by a teen girl named Mary who was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. It is common knowledge that virgins can’t have babies. Unless a woman is impregnated by a man’s sperm, there can be no baby. Evangelicals know this, but they disregard this fact, choosing instead to believe, by faith, the story in the Bible about the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

It is also common knowledge that when people die, they stay dead. I know of no evidence that suggests that a person lying dead in the grave for three days has any hope or possibility of coming back to life. When you’re dead, you stay dead. Evangelicals know this, but choose, instead, to disregard this fact, putting their faith in the claims the Bible makes for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Much like it was for Jesus, Evangelicals believes that God will someday resurrect their bodies from the grave and make them new. What evidence do they have for this claim? None.

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead are two essential doctrines of Evangelical Christianity. There is absolutely no evidence for these two events outside of the Bible. Blind, irrational faith is required to believe these two essential Evangelical doctrines. The same could be said for the Bible stories about Jesus walking on water, walking through walls, turning water into wine, and walking through a crowd of people without being detected. Reason demands we reject such stories, but by faith, Evangelicals believe them to be true.

Evangelicals do a great disservice to their religion by attempting to argue for Christianity on an evidentiary basis. This is an argument that Evangelicals cannot win, and they only hurt their own cause when they attempt to argue faith claims in an evidence arena. Outside of the Bible, there is no evidence for the claims that virgins can have babies or dead people can get out of the grave and live again. These are stubborn facts that cannot be refuted.

Does this mean that Evangelicals are stupid or ignorant? Of course not. I recognize that Christianity has never been just about the evidence. Christianity purports to answer what we call the big questions of life. Where did we come from? What is the purpose of life? Is there life after death? The Christian Bible answers these questions and more. For atheists and agnostics, the answers to these questions seem empty and of little value, but we need to remember not everyone is like us.

Who are we to stand in the way of what helps someone get through the night? It matters not whether we think their beliefs are a flight of fancy — and many of us do. All that matters is whether their Christian beliefs meet the needs they have in their lives. We often forget that many people come to the Christian faith in a time of crisis. Let’s face it: atheism doesn’t do a very good job of comforting people when they are hurting, sick, or dying. Often, all we have to offer is love and compassion wrapped in the reality that life is shitty and hard and everyone dies in the end. Brutal, I know, but it is the truth.

As long of Evangelicals keep their beliefs to themselves and make no attempts to evangelize others or turn the United States into a theocracy, I suspect most atheists and agnostics are content to let Evangelicals believe what they will. Unfortunately, many Evangelicals refuse to keep their religion private, and, as will be on full display November 3, do everything in their power to ensconce Jesus as the King of the United States (and world). As long as Evangelicals have ill-will towards non-Evangelicals and demand preferential treatment, atheists, agnostics, secularists, and others who value the separation of church and state, must resolutely oppose and condemn Evangelicalism. That said, we should ask ourselves whether our time is well spent trying to evangelize Evangelicals and turn them into atheists.

Ask yourself, when is the last time you have won over an Evangelical by argumentation and evidence? Doesn’t happen very much, does it? Christianity is much more complex than that. It’s not the end of the world if Christians die thinking they will go to Heaven. At the end of the day, who cares? For whatever reason, Evangelicals need faith to make it through life, and they need to think that there is something better awaiting them after they die. I don’t fault them for believing these things, even if I think their beliefs are untrue.

As atheists, we cannot believe the things that Christians believe. Why? We don’t have faith. All we have is a Bible that Evangelicals tell us is truth, but we find no persuasive evidence for its truth claims. We know that faith would fix the lack of evidence problem for us, but we are not willing to relegate matters of life and death to such a subjective idea as faith. We wish we could, but we can’t.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

What Evangelicals Think They Know About Atheists

things christians say to atheists

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Evangelical Christians have all sorts of ideas about what atheists believe and what kind of people they are. Where do they get these ideas? From Evangelical apologetic’s books, their pastors, evangelists who hold meetings at their churches, their Sunday School teachers, Christian Radio and TV, Fox News, and their fellow Christians.

Most Evangelicals don’t know any atheists. They live in what I call the Evangelical ghetto, a bubble insulated from worldly, godless influences. After all, there are no atheists in their churches — though they might be surprised to learn that there are likely secret atheists sitting near them in church almost every Sunday. Evangelicals tend to surround themselves with people who think and act as they do, so they are rarely exposed to people who hold beliefs different from theirs — and this is common for all tribes, including atheists.

This is the same criticism LGBTQ people have of Evangelicals. Evangelicals rage against the sin of homosexuality, yet they don’t personally know any LGBTQ people.  All they know is what their pastors say, TV preachers say, or what they read in Evangelical apologetics book.

When Evangelicals actually meet and befriend a non-heterosexual, they are often forced to rethink their beliefs. When a face is put on their beliefs, they are forced to deal with the humanity of that person. Often, when Evangelicals become friends with an LGBTQ person, they soften or abandon their beliefs about homosexuals being sinful, wicked, deviant, child-molesters.

So it is with atheists. Evangelicals have little in-person, up-close contact with atheists, and until they do, they will continue to say and believe outlandish and untrue things about atheists.

So what do many Evangelical Christians think they know about atheists?

  • They think atheists are a monolithic group where everyone believes exactly the same thing.
  • They think atheists practice the “religion” of atheism.
  • They think atheists hate the Evangelical God.
  • They think atheists oppose religion of any kind.
  • They think atheists have a secret desire to live immoral lives.
  • They think atheists worship Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
  • They think atheists are ignorant of the Bible and Christianity.
  • They think atheists are out to steal the souls of children.
  • They think atheists are agents of Satan/Lucifer/Beelzebub/Barack Obama.
  • They think atheists revere men such as Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
  • They think all atheists are liberals, voted for Barack Obama in 2008/2012, and will vote for Joe Biden in November.
  • They think atheists are out to destroy America and turn it into a godless state.
  • They think all atheists are pro-abortion.

And in every instance, Evangelicals are wrong about what they think they know about atheists. What is atheism?

Atheism is in the broadest sense an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.

From this point, atheists head off in many different directions. Yes, most atheists are likely political liberals, but many atheists are Republican, pro-life, Libertarian, supporters of the right to own guns, and yes, some of them, inexplicably, will vote for Donald Trump.

Are some atheists ignorant of the Bible and Christianity?  Sure, and as an atheist, I am embarrassed when they open their mouths and expose their ignorance. However, many atheists are like I am, raised in the Christian church, taught the Bible from our youth, and we know the Bible inside and out. There are countless college-trained atheists who were once Evangelical pastors. Some, such as I, spent most of their adult life preaching and teaching the Bible, winning souls, and doing the work of the ministry.

As I asked one commenter who suggested that since I was not a Christian and didn’t have the Holy Spirit living inside me, my understanding of the Bible was wrong: does this mean the moment I said, I am an atheist, thirty-five years of intense Bible study and knowledge immediately left my brain? Really?

If Evangelicals really want to understand atheists, they are going to have to set aside their presuppositions and actually get to know real, flesh-and-blood atheists. Most Evangelicals are unwilling to do this. They are closed-minded like former Taylor University professor James Spiegel (who wrote The Making of An Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief), having made up their mind that atheists are in rebellion against their peculiar version of God and secretly desire to live immoral lives.

Actually getting to know an atheist might force them to rethink their beliefs, and we can’t have any of that. To admit that atheists can be and are kind, loving, thoughtful human beings means that the Evangelical claim that only Jesus makes people loving and kind is not true. To admit that atheists are as moral as they are is to rob the Evangelical God of his power.

Evangelicals cannot stand being “just like everyone else.” They have been told their whole lives that they are unique and special — a new creation in Christ Jesus. To admit that atheists are just like they are is too much to handle, and invalidates the foundation upon which their lives are built.

So Evangelicals continue their attack on atheists, refusing to realize that the atheists they are attacking do not exist and are figments of their imaginations.

Here’s an offer I will make to any Evangelical church/pastor within a two-hour drive from Ney, Ohio. I will gladly, free of charge, come and speak to your church about atheism and answer any questions the congregation might have. I will even bring my beautiful, godless wife of forty-two years with me. If you really want to know and understand what makes an atheist tick, I am ready and willing to be examined. This is not an offer to debate. I do not do debates. This is a genuine offer to educate your congregation about atheism. If you are interested, please contact me (and I will prepare myself for the deluge of invitations that are sure to come).

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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 Use of the Word “God”

one true god

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

When Evangelicals speak of “God,” they often do so in ways that give people the impression that God is a generic deity who is the same regardless of the name of the sect. When it suits Evangelicals, they will appeal to the deities of other sects as proof that their God exists.

Evangelicals point to supposed universal moral traits in the various world religions as proof of the existence of God. They also point to the various creation myths and flood myths found in many sects, and suggest that the universality of these stories is more proof for the existence of God.

Don’t be misled by the subterfuge of Evangelicals. While they may speak of God in generic ways and appeal to other religions as proof that God exists, they really don’t believe this. Don’t listen to their public talking points, points used when they want to convince the public that they really are nice people who just want to get along with everyone.

Go to your local Evangelical church and listen to the preaching. Behind closed church doors, Evangelical pastors no longer have to play nice. These so-called men of God are free to say what they really think about the gods of other religions. I can tell you what you won’t hear. You won’t hear about a generic God, or the universal commonalities the religions of the world have, Oh, no. What you will hear is that all other gods but the Evangelical Christian God are no God at all.

There is some movement within Evangelicalism to be more inclusive when it comes to other sects, but at the heart of Evangelical belief is the notion that there is one God: a triune being, revealed to humankind in the 66 books of the Protestant Christian Bible. For Evangelicals, there is no other God but this God.

The Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Roman Catholics, and Greek Orthodox all, according to Evangelical apologists, worship false gods. Some Evangelicals even suggest that unless a sect holds to a certain soteriology, they too are worshiping a false God. Calvinists often make this claim about Arminians. Believe in free-will? Believe you can lose your salvation? You aren’t a Christian, according to many Calvinists.

In the days of the Roman Empire, Christians were considered atheists. Why were they considered atheists? The Romans had a plethora of gods, and they worshiped all of them. The Christians would have none of this. They were monotheists (actually polytheists), rejecting all other gods but theirs. Are not modern-day Evangelicals atheists; rejecting all other gods but the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?

Ask Evangelicals: do all roads lead to Heaven? and they will emphatically say no. According to Evangelical orthodoxy, there is one road that leads to Heaven and life eternal, and that road is the road bought and paid for by and through of the blood of Jesus, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead three days later.

This road is a straight and narrow road that few people travel. Most of humanity — past and present — will not go to the Evangelical Heaven when they die. Billions and billions of people will go to Hell (The Lake of Fire) when they die and be tortured for all eternity by the loving, kind Christian God.

Most Evangelicals are quite Fundamentalist when it comes to God. And those Evangelicals who are not? They most likely are not really Evangelicals. An increasing number of Evangelicals, influenced by the emerging church and liberal/progressive politics, are becoming more inclusive in their view of other sects. It is not uncommon to hear Evangelicals say that while Catholics, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventists, to name a few, are heterodox, they are still Christian sects. While this is good news as far as inclusiveness is concerned, such beliefs are betrayals of core Evangelical dogma.

Evangelicals who are more inclusive have one foot in the Evangelical church and the other foot in the liberal/progressive church. I suspect inclusivists will, in time, leave Evangelicalism altogether and join up with liberal/progressive Christian sects or completely leave Christianity. Countless on-fire-for-Jesus Evangelicals have walked away from Christianity and embraced atheism, agnosticism, or other forms of unbelief. The number of defections grows daily.

Are you a member of a non-Evangelical religious sect? The next time you have a discussion with an Evangelical about God, just remember he thinks your God is no God at all. Don’t be tricked into thinking that their use of the word God includes your God. It doesn’t.

This is why Evangelicals are so evangelistic. Since they worship the one, true, and living God, members of every other sect but theirs are soulwinning targets. They believe every human being needs to know, in a personal, salvific way, the Evangelical Christian God. A refusal to do so means spending eternity in the Lake of Fire.

If you happen to be an Evangelical and are reading this post, please explain to me why you do not call yourself an atheist? The ONLY difference between you and atheists such as I and many of the readers of this blog is that we have one less god on our NO GOD LIST than you do. You think every other god but your God is a false god. Please be honest enough to admit this. Please boldly tell non-Evangelicals — billions and billions of loving, caring, thoughtful people — that they are going to Hell after they die, and will be tortured by your God for all eternity unless they start worshiping Jesus.

No well, only God knows who is going to Heaven or Hell, cop-out allowed. This is not what Evangelical pastors preach on Sundays. Their sermons make it very clear who is and isn’t worshiping the true God. If this is your belief, then why not proudly own it? Why not proudly wear a button that says, My God is the only true and living God or God chose me but not you!

And if this is not what you believe, then why are you still sitting in the pew at the local Evangelical church? Are you not condoning their exclusivism and bigotry by continuing to attend an Evangelical church? Why not join up with people who share your theological, political, and social views?

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

From Evangelicalism to Atheism: Twelve Years Later — Part Five

creamery road zanesville ohio
Creamery Road, Zanesville, Ohio

I am often asked questions about my life post-Jesus: questions about children, marriage, and the effect of my unbelief on my relationships with family and friends. I am also questioned about my worldview, morality, and politics, along with my view of religion and Evangelicalism. Simply put, people want to know: how different is my life today from the way it was twelve years ago when I admitted to myself and the world that I was no longer a Christian?

I can safely say that leaving the ministry and leaving Christianity has affected every aspect of my life. How could it have been otherwise? I was in the Christian church for fifty years, and for twenty-five of those years, I pastored Evangelical churches. I married Polly in July 1978. We planned to graduate college, go to a community and start a church, live in a white two-story farmhouse with a white picket fence, have two children — a boy named Jason and a girl named Bethany, and live happily ever after. Boy, was that a fantasy.

I pastored seven churches in three states. We lived in Pontiac, Bryan (twice), Montpelier, Newark (twice), New Lexington (twice), Glenford (twice), Frazeysburg, Fayette (twice), Clare, Stryker, Yuma, and Ney. All told, we lived in more than 20 houses. Two children became six, and now we have thirteen grandchildren.

I left the ministry in 2005, and in November 2008, Polly and I joined hands together as we walked away from Christianity, never to return. At that moment, we burned our lives to the ground and began rebuilding them again. This process continues to this day.

While I am comfortable with the atheist moniker, Polly self-describes as an agnostic, even though her life is every bit as godless as mine. Our children have their own stories to tell, and I will leave it to them to share their journeys. None of them is an Evangelical. One son, however, seems to be moving towards Evangelicalism, having embraced Trumpism, white supremacy, and is a gun-toting militia member. The rest of my children are politically liberal/progressive, so I am sure they disagree with their father on many of the finer points of political discourse. My children, much like their father, remain an ongoing renovation project.

All of my Christian friends and colleagues in the ministry have cut ties with me, save two people. I literally lost hundreds of friends, ministerial colleagues, and acquaintances over the past twelve years. Some quietly slipped away, while others took flamethrowers to my life as they walked out the door. Awful, ugly, nasty things have been said about me by those I once considered dear friends.

Walking away entails walking towards something else. I treaded water for a time, trying to figure out exactly what life post-Jesus might look like. Today, I am comfortable in my atheist skin, proud to be numbered among the godless heathen of this world. My worldview and morality continue to evolve. When asked what I “believe,” I reply, I am a (secular) humanist. It is the humanist ideal that gives me a moral and ethical foundation for my life. After fifty years of having the Bible as my guide, it has been a challenge to rebuild the foundation of my life. At first, it seemed impossible to do, but with time, and lots of reading and thinking, I now see the scaffolding of life rising up, providing the structure by which I can live my day-to-day life.

Polly and I recently celebrated forty-two years of marriage. That young Baptist preacher and his bride are long gone, and in their place has grown a relationship that rests on love and mutual respect. While we continue to deal with patriarchal hangovers — I want to be the boss and Polly is all too happy to let me — I can say that our marriage is rock solid. Not perfect, and we still have occasional (about nothing) fights, but we don’t, to quote the Bible, let the sun go down on our wrath. We are in no way an example of a model marriage. We are just two people who happen to love each other, and really, really, really like each other too (and anyone who has been married a long time knows how important “like” is).

And that is the rest of my (our) story, for now. Each day, Loki-willing, provides us new opportunities to grow and mature; to be better people than we were the day before.  And that’s our goal.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Your Questions, Please

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Greetings, earthlings and residents of other galaxies.

It’s been a year since I asked readers to submit questions for me to answer, so I thought I would, once again, open the call lines and ask readers to submit their questions, along with $66.66 donations to help me reach Evangelicals throughout the universe. Reason — praise be to Reason! — has called me to evangelize Evangelicals, and your donations will help me take the gospel of critical thinking and skepticism to infinity and beyond. Just kidding. While donations are always appreciated, what I really want are questions; your pithy, erudite questions. Please try to ask questions that you think I haven’t answered before.

If you have a question you would like me to answer, please ask it in the comment section of this post. I will answer questions in the order they are received; that is, unless you are a bigly donor. Readers who shower me with cash, checks, gold bullion (ouch), Bitcoins, and restaurant gift cards just might be moved to the front of the line, or be sent a 20×30 glossy photo of me pole dancing at the Big Bear Strip Club — “might” being the operative word. (Long-time readers who know and understand my humor, sarcasm, and snark know whether I am speaking factually. Everyone else? Keep on dreaming of Bruce Almighty swinging on a brass pole wearing only his shorts, suspenders, and wing tips.)

You can also email your questions to me via the contact form.

This post will remain pinned to the top of the front page until Halloween, after which time it will disappear into the bowels of this blog never to be seen again. Or at least until next year at this time.

Let the fun begin.

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Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

From Evangelicalism to Atheism — Part Four

creamery road zanesville ohio
Creamery Road, Zanesville, Ohio

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

After two short stints pastoring Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas (1994) and Olive Branch Christian Union Church (1995) in Fayette, Ohio, I started a Sovereign Grace Baptist congregation in West Unity, Ohio called Grace Baptist Church. Several years later, we would change the church’s name to Our Father’s House to better reflect our inclusiveness.

When I started Grace Baptist Church, I was a five-point Calvinist, not much different theologically from my description in part three of this series. I remained a Calvinist until the late 1990s, at which time my theology and political beliefs began lurching leftward. The church changed its name and I began to focus more on inclusivism and good works. During this time, my theology moved from a Calvinistic/Reformed viewpoint to more of a liberal/progressive Mennonite perspective. Much of my preaching focused on the good works every Christian should be doing and the church’s responsibility to minister to the sick, poor, and marginalized.

As my preaching moved leftward, so did my politics. By the time I left Our Father’s House in July of 2002, I no longer politically identified as a Republican. The single biggest change in my beliefs came when I embraced pacifism. The seeds of pacifism were sown years before when the United States immorally attacked Iraq in the first Iraq War. I opposed this war, and as I began reading authors such as Thomas Merton, Dorothy DayJohn Howard YoderGandhi, and Eileen Egan, I concluded that all war was immoral.

By the time of the Y2K scare:

  • I was preaching inclusivism, encouraging interaction and work with all who claimed the Christian moniker.
  • I was preaching a works-centered, lifestyle-oriented gospel. Gone was the emphasis on being “born again” or making a public profession of faith. In particular, I focused on the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
  • I believed the institutional, organized Christian church was hopelessly broken and increasingly indifferent towards the needs of the poor and marginalized.
  • I was a committed, vocal pacifist, opposing all war on moral grounds. I remain a pacifist to this day.

In 2003, I pastored Victory Baptist Church — a Southern Baptist congregation in the central Michigan community of Clare — for seven months. Both Polly and I agree that we never should have moved to Clare.  It was a wasted seven months (more on that in a future post) that ended with me resigning from the church. This was the last church I pastored.

While I was pastor of Victory Baptist, a friend of mine from Ohio came to visit us. From 1991-1994, he had been a member of the church I pastored in Somerset, Ohio. After listening to me preach, he told me that he was astounded by how much my preaching had changed, how liberal it had become. And he was right. While my preaching was orthodox theologically, my focus had dramatically changed.

In 2004, Polly and I moved to Yuma, Arizona. We lived in Yuma for almost seven months. We then moved to Newark Ohio, where we lived for ten months. In July of 2005, we moved back to the northwest Ohio community of Bryan. In May of 2007, we bought a house in Ney, Ohio where we currently live.

As you can see, we did a lot of moving over the course of four years. We were restless seekers. Every place we lived, we diligently, Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday, visited local churches in hopes of finding a spiritual home. Instead of finding a home, we increasingly became dissatisfied and disillusioned. We came to the conclusion that, regardless of the name over the door, churches were pretty much all the same. Dysfunctional, incestuous, focused inward, entertainment/program driven, resembling social clubs far more than the church Jesus purportedly built. This would prove to be the emotional factor that drove me to investigate thoroughly the theological claims of Christianity and the teachings of the Bible. This investigation ultimately led to my deconversion in 2008.

From 2004-2007, Polly and I visited over a hundred churches of numerous sects:

  • Baptist (Independent, Southern, American, Conservative, Reformed, Sovereign Grace, Free Will, Primitive, GARBC, Missionary)
  • Lutheran (American, Missouri)
  • Church of Lutheran Brethren
  • Church of Christ (instrumental, non-instrumental)
  • Disciples of Christ
  • Methodist
  • Free Methodist
  • Christian Union
  • Church of Christ in Christian Union
  • United Brethren
  • Christian Missionary and Alliance
  • Roman Catholic
  • Apostolic
  • Vineyard
  • Calvary Chapel
  • Bible Church
  • Pilgrim Holiness
  • Greek Orthodox
  • Episcopalian
  • Church of God
  • Church of God Anderson
  • Pentecostal
  • Charismatic
  • Assembly of God
  • Mennonite
  • Old Order Mennonite
  • Presbyterian Church USA
  • Orthodox Presbyterian Church
  • Christian Reformed
  • Protestant Reformed
  • United Church of Christ
  • Friends
  • And a plethora of independent, unaffiliated churches

You can read the entire list of churches we visited here.

Some Sundays, we attended the services of three different churches. We also attended Wednesday prayer meetings (all poorly attended) and a fair number of special services such as revival meetings during the week.

The most astounding thing that came out of our travels through Christendom is that most pastors don’t care if people visit their churches. Less than 10% of the churches we visited made any contact with us after we visited. Only a handful visited us in our home without us asking them to do so.

In November of 2008, I told Polly that I was no longer a Christian, that I no longer believed the central tenets of the Christian religion. Not long after, Polly came to a similar conclusion. In 2009, I wrote my infamous letter, A Letter to Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners. This letter was my official coming out. Later in 2009, a former parishioner, friend, and pastor of a Christian Union church came to see me in hopes of rescuing me. I later wrote him a letter. You can read the letter here.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.