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Tag: Atheism

IFB Church Sign Says, Pity the Atheist Who is Grateful

Blessed, Thankful, Grateful

Several years ago, Polly and I drove 50 or so miles northeast to Toledo to celebrate her birthday.  We had a delightful evening and enjoyed a scrumptious meal at Mancy’s Steakhouse.  On our way to the restaurant, we traveled on I-475 North and passed by Hope Baptist Church, one of the largest Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches in the area. (The church is pastored by Richard “Rick” Sowell, a graduate of Peter Ruckman’s school, Pensacola Bible Institute.)  Hope Baptist has a snazzy and expensive church building as far as IFB church buildings go. Hoping to maximize their message, the church has a digital sign that can be read easily from the interstate. I wish we could have stopped along the road so I could photograph the sign, but traffic was heavy and we were pressed for time. I did, however, write down the message and text it to myself. Here’s what it said:

PITY THE ATHEIST WHO IS GRATEFUL

Over the years, I’ve had a few Evangelicals question my use of words like “blessing” and “grateful.” Some of them suggested that my use of these words proves I am still a Christian, as does the fact that I capitalize words such as  Bible, God, etc. Evidently, no matter how much I try to suppress God, he oozes out of my life. Can’t argue with brilliance like this, right?

The argument goes something like this; the words “blessing” and “grateful” are words that can only be used by someone who has God as the focus of their worship. The Christian says, WHO is blessing you, Bruce? WHO are you thanking? They got me. I’m caught in an insurmountable problem. What should I do? Is it time for me to admit that it is the Christian God that blesses me?  Is it time for the preacher-turned-atheist to admit that he is grateful for what blessings come into his life from the God from whom all blessings flow?

doxology hymn

This line of argument reveals that many Evangelicals have no curiosity (please see Curiosity, A Missing Evangelical Trait) and are unable to think of any explanation but that which flows from and fits the narrow confines of their Fundamentalist theology. For Rick Sowell and the people of Hope Baptist Church, the locus of blessing, gratefulness, and thanksgiving can only be their peculiar version of the Christian God.

Well, let me disabuse Evangelicals of the notion that an atheist can’t use words like “blessing” and “grateful.” As an atheist and a humanist, I reject the notion that there is a God. As I have humorously said before, when the words Oh God are screamed out in our bedroom, we know exactly who God is. Too risqué? Consider this. Who is it that blesses your life? A fictitious God, a deity no one has ever seen? The Christian says yes, believing that ALL blessings flow from the hand of God Almighty, and any humans taking credit for these blessings are blaspheming God. However, as a man rooted in the here and now, in the earthy present, I choose to recognize that what blessings come my way come from one or more of my fellow human beings, nature, and the animals I share this world with.

When someone does something that is a blessing, I express to the person blessing me that I am grateful for what he or she has done. When I tell the doctor THANK YOU, I am directing my gratefulness to the person responsible for my medical care. When we stopped to pick up Bethany from my son and daughter-in-law’s home after our trip to Toledo, I thanked them for babysitting. Polly and I were grateful that they were willing to watch Bethany so we could have a nice time on the town. Should I shoot up a prayer to the ceiling, thanking the Big Man Upstairs for them being willing and able to babysit? Of course not. God didn’t do the babysitting, they did.

Video Link

One of my all-time favorite movie prayers is Jimmy Stewart’s dinner prayer in the movie Shenandoah:

Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be eatin’ it, if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked Dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel. But we thank you just the same anyway, Lord, for this food were about to eat. Amen.

This prayer reveals the essence of the atheist and humanist view on expressing gratefulness. Who deserves our praise and expression of gratefulness? The person doing the work. When someone makes a financial donation supporting this site, I don’t send them an email letting them know that I thanked someone other than them for their donation. Simply put, we should give credit to whom credit is due. If religious people want to give their deity an honorable mention, that’s fine, but the praise and gratefulness should be directed to the person responsible for the blessing.

So, to Rick Sowell and Hope Baptist Church, I am GRATEFUL that you continue to provide me with blog fodder. Keep up the good work. As long as you and your fellow Evangelicals continue to deliberately distort how atheists and humanists view the world, I plan to send a bit of Bruce Gerencser Blessing® your way.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Quote of the Day: Atheism and Agnosticism, The Last Closet

atheist closet

Some equate atheism with being immoral and even amoral. Some of the criticism leveled at nonbelievers comes from the suspicion that those who do not believe in God could not possibly believe in anything else, moral or otherwise. Several years ago, a coworker, upon learning of my agnosticism, said, “So you just believe and do anything you want?” That he had engaged in several extramarital affairs was lost on my hypocritical colleague but not on me.

The notion that atheists and agnostics “do anything they want to do” is not uncommon; however, it is woefully and recklessly ignorant.

Comedian and atheist Penn Jillette says he’s often asked, “Without God, what’s stopping you from raping all you want?” Jillette’s response? “I do rape all I want, and the amount I want is zero.”

The late Christopher Hitchens had a standing offer to name a moral thing that was done in the name of religion that hadn’t been done by an atheist. Morality isn’t the sole provenance of religion, and immoral persons can be found in pews and prisons alike.

….

It is precisely because of these religious prejudices and stereotypes that many agnostics and atheists do not discuss their worldviews in public or even private settings, and if they do, they don’t necessarily tell the truth.

Timur Kuran, in Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification, argues that social pressures can make people say that they want and believe something they really don’t want or believe. Kuran calls this “preference falsification,” a phenomenon that occurs when you make an inaccurate public statement about your actual preferences or beliefs.

“Some of the criticism leveled at nonbelievers comes from the suspicion that those who do not believe in God could not possibly believe in anything else, moral or otherwise.”

….

The same can’t be said for our nation’s and society’s view of atheists and agnostics. In spite of the Obama administration’s passing of the International Religious Freedom Act in 2016, many Americans still do not want atheists teaching their children or marrying them. They would, according to surveys, prefer a female, gay, Mormon or Muslim President to having an atheist in the White House.

To be sure, no closet, neither LGBTQ nor atheist, has ever been padlocked. The choice to come of out of either closet is free and deeply personal. But if the LGBTQ closet is largely empty, the agnostic closet remains, with stigma and stain awaiting anyone who decides to leave it.

Last year, I wrote a book in which I discuss my journey from minister to agnostic and critique popular religious notions like “everything happens for a reason.” I have friends who reviewed my book online, some of whom masked their names to avoid being outed by their association with a controversial topic and agnostic author.

I dream of a day when the atheist closet is empty. When epistemic humility is the intellectual norm and credal dogmatism is the outlier. I envision a world where the burden of proof for an invisible supreme being falls on the believer, not the skeptic. Until then, I hope that the flickering flame of my own religious journey will be a beacon of courage and hope for those cloistered in the last closet.

— David Ramsey, Baptist News Global, Atheism and agnosticism: The last closet, December 15, 2021

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Unbelievers Refuse to be “Honest” About Christianity

Unbelievers . . . do not have time for the truth nor do they want to see true Christianity in operation. So they distort what the faith is all about and present a lopsided view of the faith and those who are members.

In other words, the unbeliever refuses to be honest about Christianity as then they would be faced with the reality that Jesus and God exist, that the Bible is actually true and they are not as good a person as they thought they were.

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Remember, the unbeliever does not have the Spirit of Truth helping them find the truth. They are the ones lost and deceived.

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God cannot be more clear than that. it is said throughout the Bible that the unbeliever is lost, deceived, and blind. Jesus also told us that the unbelieving world does not have the Spirit of Truth guiding them to the truth.

That means you cannot get to the truth through the unbelievers’ words. Yet many people who were once Christian have done the opposite of God’s directive and the end result was, they lost their faith.

— “Dr.” David Tee, TheologyArcheology: A Site for the Glory of God, Unbelievers Can’t be Honest, December 9, 2021

Answering “Dr.” David Tee’s Assertions About Atheists and LGBTQ People

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Since my last post about “Dr. David Tee (David Thiessen, Theology Archeology, TEWSNBN), “Dr.” David Tee Continues to Obsess Over My Writing, the defender of Fundamentalist Christianity from a dank, poorly lit basement somewhere in the Phillipines has written six more posts that are either about me directly or mention me in passing.

Typically, I ignore Tee’s stalker-like obsession with me, but his next-to-last post about me (and atheists in general), Are Evangelicals Responsible for the Culture Wars? demands some sort of response from me. My response is indented and italicized. All spelling and grammar in the original.

The answer according to BG [ Tee is too lazy to type out my name] and other atheists seems to be a resounding ‘yes’.  Just read his words as BG speaks for himself and other atheists:

“It seems that Donald can’t or won’t understand why atheists might want to challenge Evangelical beliefs, especially since those beliefs directly affect and harm unbelievers.”

This concept is held by atheists world wide. Instead of taking the blame for their own actions, it is easier and more convenient to blame someone else. The easiest target is the Evangelical or the RCC or some other protestant religion that goes against atheist ideals.

The history of the modern culture war is clear. One need only look at the history of the Moral Majority and other Evangelical groups who followed in their steps to see the people and beliefs behind the current iteration of the “culture war.” The same can be said of conservatives within Roman Catholicism and Mormonism. (Many other culture wars have been fought throughout America’s history — prohibition comes to mind, as does the pro-slavery movement. I am specifically talking about the post-Roe vs. Wade culture war.)

What behaviors, exactly, do atheists refuse to take responsibility for? Besides, there’s no such thing as “atheism” or the “religion of atheism.” Wikipedia defines atheism this way:

“Atheism, in the broadest sense, is 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.”

Atheists are individuals. There’s no sect or church atheists belong to. Each atheist simply denies the existence of deities. That’s it.

There’s also no such thing as “atheist ideals.” Aside from their common belief about the non-existence of deities, atheists have all sorts of political and social beliefs. Sure, many atheists are humanists, holding liberal/progressive ideas. Others, however, are card-carrying conservatives, many of whom voted for Donald Trump.

It should go without saying that I do NOT represent all atheists. The only person I represent is Bruce Gerencser. Do many of the readers of this blog generally agree with me? Sure. But, more than a few of my atheist readers wish I wouldn’t write about politics. To suggest that I am representative of a typical atheist is not only untrue, but dishonest.

BG repeats himself and makes his accusation even clearer: “Evangelicals are the primary force behind the culture war.”

Then he goes on to list the ‘crimes’ [I do not use the word “crimes” in my post.] being committed by Evangelicals that not only supposedly started this culture war but fuels [sic] it. Those are strong words to hurl against a group of people who look to help everyone in the nation in which they live.

Evidently, Tee is responding to what I said in my second response to Donald, Yet Another Evangelical Asks Me Why I Am So Bitter — Part Two:

“I spent significant time in my first response to Donald explaining to him why I do what I do. It seems that Donald can’t or won’t understand why atheists might want to challenge Evangelical beliefs, especially since those beliefs directly affect and harm unbelievers. My God, we need only to look at the January 6 insurrection or the election of Donald Trump to see how Evangelicals harm others. Evangelicals are the primary force behind the culture war. These warriors for Jesus want to criminalize abortion, outlaw same-sex marriage, marginalize LGBTQ people, and establish a Christian theocracy where the Bible is the law of the land. These things materially cause harm, so it would be irresponsible for me not to speak out on these (and other) issues. I suspect Donald wants the freedom to do the same. Again, I ask why does Donald want privileges for Evangelicals that he is unwilling to grant to atheists, agnostics, humanists, pagans, and other unbelievers?”

Tee asserts that Evangelicals “look to help everyone in the nation in which they live.” Really? I mean, REALLY? Everywhere I look, I see Evangelicals who want to cause harm to others: women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, atheists, and Muslims to name a few. What religious sect is behind the current war against masks and vaccinations? What religious sect was front and center during the January 6, 2021 insurrection? What religious sect is threatening violence toward people who refuse to bow to their theocratic demands? What religious sect has forsaken following after Jesus for fascism? (I am, of course, speaking generally. I am well aware of the fact that there are Evangelicals who take seriously the teachings of Christ and love their neighbors as themselves. They are, however, the exception to the rule.)

Evangelicals are an existential threat to our Republic. Left to their own devices, blood will be shed, people will die, and the Christian flag will stand proud and tall above the U.S. flag at the Capitol. In their minds, there is no king but Jesus and no law but the Bible.

But when you look at the crimes Evangelicals are supposed to be guilty of it really makes you wonder where the minds of atheists are at. How is it wrong to stop abortion and make that act of murder illegal?

How is making abortion illegal a far worse crime than killing innocent people? If a Christian stops a man from killing a woman on the street he is praised, yet when it comes to protecting unborn children from their parents somehow that act of sparing a life is worse than the atrocities committed by Stalin, Mao, and Hitler put together.

Abortion is not murder, need I say more? Eighty-eight percent of abortions take place in the first trimester — sixty-five percent in the first eight weeks. If Tee cannot or will not see the difference between a zygote and a child, I don’t know what to tell him.

Here are twenty-five questions I have for anti-abortionists, also known as forced-birthers:

Does life begin at conception?  How do you know it does? Is your view based on science or is it based on a religious belief?

If life begins at conception, why are you supporting an Ohio bill that makes it illegal to have an abortion once a heartbeat is detected? Does life begin at conception or at first heartbeat?

Do you support the use of emergency contraception (morning after) drugs? Why or why not?

Should a pro-life pharmacist have the right to not dispense emergency contraception drugs? Should I be allowed to opt out of anything that goes against my moral or ethical beliefs, regardless of their foundation?

Is abortion murder?

Do you believe murderers should be prosecuted?

Do you believe that driving the get-away car makes a person just as guilty as the person who robbed the bank?

Do you believe a woman who has an abortion should be prosecuted for murder? How about the doctor who performs the procedure? How about the nurse that assisted in the procedure? How about the person who drove the woman to the clinic? If you believe in the death penalty, do you support the execution of murderers?

Do you use birth control pills?

Should you be prosecuted for murder since birth control pills can, and do, cause spontaneous abortion?

Should abortion be allowed for reasons of rape, incest, or saving the life of the mother?

If you answered yes to question eleven, do you support murdering the fetus if it is the product of rape or incest?

Should a fetus be aborted if the mother’s life is at risk?

Do you support murdering the unborn if it saves the life of the mother?

Is your viewpoint on abortion a religious belief?

What passage in the Bible prohibits abortion? Does this passage define life beginning at conception?

Has God ever killed the unborn?

In Genesis, God destroyed every human save eight by drowning them in a flood. Were any of the women who drowned pregnant? Did God kill the fetuses they were carrying? (Kill the mother, kill the fetus.)

Do you support the death penalty? Do you support war? Should women who survive self-induced abortions be charged with attempted murder?

If you answered yes to question nineteen, why do you oppose the killing of the unborn but support the killing of those already born?

Why do you believe that killing the unborn is murder but consider an American bomb killing a baby 3 hours old a tragic result of war, collateral damage, but not murder?

Do you support birth control being readily available in every school? If your objective is to reduce or eliminate the need for an abortion, wouldn’t easily available, free access to birth control reduce the abortion rate?

Do you believe it is better for a severely deformed child to live for a day and die than for the fetus to be aborted? If so, explain why it is better for the child to suffer needlessly?

Do you believe that God is in control of everything? Does everything include children being born deformed or with serious defects that will result in a life of extreme suffering and pain?

Is someone a Christian if he or she supports abortion?

I’m sure Tee will take these questions as some sort of test for him to answer. Can’t wait for that. (That’s sarcasm, by the way.)

Obviously, atheists have a warped sense of what is fueling these so-called culture wars. The same questions can be put to the support of same-sex marriage.

How is it wrong to stop people from being perverts, mocking traditional marriage, and wanting to preserve that rite of life for everyone? Why should an institution become a laughingstock simply because some people do not want to follow the rules of marriage that have been in place since the beginning of time?

Where is the crime in limiting the institution to only those who will follow the rules? There is no law stating that same-sex couples cannot love each other outside of marriage.

However, there are certain rules in place that prohibit non-married partners from benefiting from certain aspects of life when a same-sex partner dies, is injured, and so on. To change those rules one does not have to destroy the institution of marriage but the LGBTQ community doesn’t care about that.

They are very selfish and only think of their own selves. It is not the Evangelical that fired the first shot in this battle and they have the right to defend the institution of marriage and keep it holy, sanctified, and pure.

After all, it is the sick and perverted that is invading the domain of marriage and they were not invited to join. In this case, the LGBTQ community is the one to blame for the war over marriage.

Tee says LGBTQ people are sick, selfish, and perverted. That should tell you all you need to know about the man. Thou doth protest too much, “Dr.” Tee.

Marriage is a state-sanctioned contract between two people. The state grants certain privileges to people who enter into such contracts. Tee can provide no rational reason outside of quoting the Bible to prohibit two people of the same sex from marrying. Their marriages do not affect Tee and his fellow moralizers in any way. What drives Tee’s outrage is his lifelong homophobia (and perhaps latent desire for gay sex). Tee covers up his homophobia with moral pronouncements and Bible verses, but make no mistake about it, underneath his facade is a homophobe (and I am using the word in a colloquial sense).

Then BG states the next crime to be marginalize LGBTQ people, yet how so? He does not go into detail here and in reality, homosexuals were never really marginalized. One of the codebreakers of the German enigma machines was a homosexual.

They got to help in the War and they got to work, live in homes, and so on. People draw the line when special rights are being granted. The selfish and greedy reach of the LGBTQ knows no boundaries.

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Oh my, LGBTQ people get to serve in the military, have jobs, and own homes — rights Tee would deny to them if he and his fellow theocrats were in charge. LGBTQ people demand equal rights and protection under the law. Instead of thinking about anal sex all the time, I suggest Tee ponder why it is right to deny LGBTQ citizens the same rights heterosexual Americans have? What legal basis is there for denying LGBTQ people the same civil rights everyone else has? LGBTQ people want equal rights, not superior rights — unlike Evangelicals with their Christian nation beliefs.

But these crimes may only be the smoke screen for the most important ‘crime’ held against the evangelical- establish a Christian theocracy where the Bible is the law of the land.

What is being said here is that the atheist really wants to make their own rules and live by them. They do not want to humble themselves and say to God, ‘okay, we will obey you…’ They want to be masters of the world and live their own ways.

They do this regardless of how much harm and hurt their alternative lifestyles do to other people. It is not the Christian or Evangelical that is harming people, it is the atheist.

….

Well, at least Tee finally admits he is a Christian nationalist.

Everyone is being hurt by the atheist support of the LGBTQ agenda.

Who is being hurt and how? How does wanting equal rights and protection under the law for everyone cause harm to others? No answers will be forthcoming

Finally, the atheist and their fellow unbelievers have not created a great society to live in with their rules.

Crime is out of control, injustice is being done daily, people are being killed, shot, robbed far more now than when God’s rules were on the books. Also, criminals are not being punished for their crimes. How is this better than a God-centered nation?

Uh, the overwhelming majority of Americans are Christian. Christians control the levers of government and the U.S. Supreme Court. If crime is out of control (and it’s not) who is to blame? Most of the crime committed in this country is committed by people who believe in the existence of the Christian God, and who, to some degree or another, believe the Bible is the Word of God. Surely, Tee doesn’t think it’s atheists commiting most of the crimes in this country?

Tee lives in a dystopian Christian alternate reality, one where atheists roam the land murdering, raping, stealing, and burning churches to the ground. Much like many of his fellow Evangelicals, Tee has a persecution complex extraordinaire — detached from reality.

When you look closely at the facts, the atheist is merely blaming Christians for what they are actually doing.

Please provide those “facts” you are talking about, David. We would all love to look at them “closely.”

Oh, and the atheist says that those who make extraordinary claims need to produce the physical evidence to support those claims. Well. BG says God does not exist, there is no sin, and many other anti-biblical claims. He has yet to produce any real physical evidence to support his extraordinary claims.

I am an agnostic atheist, David. You know this. So, please quit misrepresenting my views. Sin? A religious construct used to induce fear, keeping asses in the pews and money in the offering plates. My real “evidence” can be found in the almost 4,000 posts on this site. Feel free to rage blog away, David. In fact, I encourage you to start a new blog with the express purpose of deconstructing my writing. Or, you can continue to whine and complain over my refusal to accept your irrational, unscientific, immoral, anti-human claims.

We challenge him to do so on his blog instead of declaring how many years he has been in ministry, how many sermons he has preached, or how he has trouble going to the bathroom (way too much information there).

The solution to your existential angst David is this: don’t read my blog. I have explained to you why I use autobiographical statements in my writing several times. Yet, you continue to whine about me doing so. I have come to the conclusion that you are jealous. You have come out on the losing end of a dick-measuring contest and don’t like it. You don’t like the fact that I have garnered a large following over the years. Instead of plowing your own fields, you stand along the fence row complaining about my farming techniques. You, my friend, are a petty man.

You are the only person who has ever complained about my use of autobiographical material or mentions of my health problems. Why is that, David? Let me state once again: you are a petty man.

Why are you so opposed to natural bodily functions such as sex and shitting? I assume you do both. If you don’t want to talk about your fucking and pooping, fine. However, I will continue to do so. Maybe I’ll even share photos. You can use them free of charge. 😂 Don’t like it? Don’t read my blog.

On a side note, BG has this to say:

“If Donald has not done so, I encourage him to read one or more of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books on the history and nature of the Biblical text.”

We know [a real Dr. unlike you] Bart Ehrman through his books, lectures, and debates. How could anyone think he has the truth about the Bible? He makes a lot of declarations but we are yet to see him produce any hard, verifiable, physical evidence that any of his declarations are true.

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His books are the same way. It is all his point of view not facts from archaeology or history. All you get from Bart Ehrman is lies and misrepresentations.

sigh

Let’s see, “Dr.” David Tee’s books have sold how many copies, exactly? Surely Tee will provide his sales numbers for all to see? Something tells me his sales numbers will be 2,000,000 books less than Dr. Ehrman’s.

Tee thinks that by slanderously attacking Bart Ehrman he can get at me. After all, I’m a fanboy and I frequently suggest Evangelicals read Dr. Ehrman’s books.

Most Evangelicals believe the Bible is inerrant and infallible. Tee most certainly does, though I suspect he thinks his interpretations are superior to the original text. He is the pope of Evangelicalism. He’s never been wrong about a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.

You can’t honestly read Dr. Ehrman’s books and come away believing the Bible is without error. If facts and evidence matter, inerrancy (as typically defined by Evangelicals) has to go. Tee “says” he had read Ehrman’s books, yet never mentions them on his site. I suspect he is overstating his Ehrman prowess. Tee remains a staunch defender of inerrancy, so either he hasn’t read Ehrman’s books or his “faith” stands in the way of intellectual honesty. One can certainly remain, as many have, a Christian after reading Ehrman’s books, but inerrancy cannot be rationally sustained.

Saved by Reason,

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Ben Berwick Responds to “Dr.” David Tee

ben and bruce
Ben and Bruce

Ben Berwick is a friend of mine. You can read his writing at Meerkat Musings. One of our connections is “Dr.” David Tee (David Theissen, TheologyArcheology, TEWSNBN, the pope of Evangelicalism). Tee has written numerous posts about Ben or me. While Tee says he reads other atheist/ non-Christian blogs, he sure spends an inordinate amount of time “refuting” our writing — so much so that he should rename his blog to Ben & Bruce Speak (sound like an ice cream company).

Last week, Tee wrote a post titled No Reason to be Hostile Towards Religion — a response to my post titled Bruce, Are You Hostile Towards Religion?

Ben graciously and vigorously responded to Tee:

(Tee’s text is in red, and Ben’s is indented and italicized.)

Atheists, as you know, are very hostile towards religion. However, it is not all religions they do not like or do not tolerate. it is actually just Christianity that gets under their skin.

BG has once again provided a very accurate list of reasons why atheists, in general, are hostile towards religion. This is not a comprehensive list and some of the reasons probably would change depending on the specific atheist you talk to.

As we look through the list, all of those reasons can be boiled down to one simple fact- the Christian is not doing religion the way the atheist wants it done.

You will find that while atheists do not accept other gods from false religions, they do not attack those religious beliefs as often or as fervently as they attack Christianity.

We know that the atheist would never say the things they say about Christianity about Islam. They know that the Muslim does not necessarily turn the other cheek and the atheist does not have a death wish.

I can’t speak for Bruce, but I have witnessed quite a few debates and arguments (and even taken part in a few of them) with both Christians and Muslims, so I don’t know where TEWSNBN gets his info from. If he is using Bruce as the benchmark then it is hardly surprising that he thinks atheists generally go after Christianity at the expense of all else, but he is managing, as ever, to woefully distort (heh) Bruce’s position and twist it to apply, in a misleading fashion, to all atheists. Bruce’s background was as a pastor, he was someone who lived and breathed a particular kind of Christianity, and his experiences – both positive and negative, and especially since leaving – have shaped his views. Bruce did not leave Islam, he left Christianity, and copped a huge amount of flak from fundamentalist Christians who have hounded him, pleaded with him, and harassed him, all because he has dared to share his opinions. In those circumstances, would you be more or less inclined to feel warm and fuzzy inside about the faith you left behind?

I know people who left Islam and spoke out, for similar reasons. TEWSNBN’s idea that people don’t speak out about other religions, least of all because of threats of violence, is both a subtle form of Islamophobia and it ignores the aggression and hostility of fundamentalist Christians towards anyone who does not follow their exact form of Christianity.

But why attack  Christianity? If there is no God or Jesus as they claim, then whatever the Christian does, should not matter to the atheist. it would be a harmless religion among thousands of harmless religions and no threat to the atheist.

Also, the Christian teaching should not bother the atheist for it would not be true and as harmless as a gnat fighting an elephant. BUT since the atheist is so up in arms about Christianity, that means that the teachings of Jesus are a threat to the atheist because they are true.

I dare say most atheists simply do not care to comment one way or another, but those that do, do so because they are tired of religious interference in their lives. TEWSNBN has often complained about ‘selfish’ secular attitudes, yet how many times has an atheist knocked at your door to convert you? How many ‘atheist’ churches are there where members actively seek out people to preach to? There is interference – but not in the direct way TEWSNBN thinks.

Organised religion has a history of this. Be it Christianity or Islam, or for that matter a host of other religions, organised religion has kept people in conflict, held communities back in fear, and treated women like cattle. Yet to desire a life free from the shackles of organised religion is unfair?

The atheist has no love for anyone, including their mates, children, and other family members as they continue to lead them away from the truth and keep their ‘loved’ ones in sin.

If anyone is doing any brainwashing at home or elsewhere, it is the atheist as they continue to preach a message they cannot prove to be true. They will preach it to anyone that will give them the time of day.

What a load of bull. I have never seen an atheist preaching on a street corner. I have never heard of children being brainwashed into a cult of atheism. These are desperate generalisations on TEWSNBN’s part.

Does TEWSNBN understand where Bruce is coming from? Is he even prepared to make the effort for once? Here, let me help you… Bruce has this to say, right near the start of his post:

“I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have all sorts of spiritual and religious beliefs. Do I think some of their beliefs and practices are strange? Sure. But, their beliefs are theirs and they have every right to believe them. I am indifferent towards their beliefs. For these friends and acquaintances, spirituality and religion is personal. They have no desire or need to convert other people or argue about whose religion is the “true” one. For the most part, they live according to the Live and Let Live maxim. I would be an arrogant fool to be hostile toward this kind of religion. I know that, for many people, religion and spirituality serve a purpose. They benefit from their beliefs and practices and many of them find meaning, purpose, and direction through their religions. Each to their own.”

Bruce does not rally against those who do not rally against him. If someone wishes to live their life believing in something Bruce does not, he is fine with that! I’m sure Bruce does not need my help in pointing that out (it is pretty bloody obvious after all), but since TEWSNBN is being selective in what he reads, it feels necessary.

TEWSNBN ends his post with this:

It might be better to let God rule instead of those people who want to exclude God from government and legal proceedings.

Which version of which God? As ever, if I were to ask that question of people of different beliefs, I would get different answers. TEWSNBN would argue for his specific version of Christianity, a Christian of a different denomination would argue differently, as would Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists… you get the picture. With that in mind, and with no theocratic system being able to fairly rule over all the rest, it is best to have none of them rule.

Tee’s response to Ben’s post?:

You continue to prove that you will distort, lie and misrepresent what I have said. You also do not verify with me before leaping to your own warped conclusions about what I write. it’s not me with the problem but you.

Much like Donald this week (Yet Another Evangelical Asks Me Why I Am So Bitter — Part One and Yet Another Evangelical Asks Me Why I Am So Bitter — Part Two) and countless other Evangelical zealots who have commented on this site and sent me emails, Tee refuses to own his words, even when they are quoted back to him. No matter what response is given, Tee plays the misunderstood victim, never responsible for what he says.

Ben responded:

I quoted you and I linked to your post. Anyone can see who is lying, and who has consistently lied.

Ben has been “interacting” with Tee a lot longer than I have. Both of us know that there is little hope of reaching him. At best, all we can do is publicly correct him when he misrepresents our words or spreads lies about us.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: There’s No Evidence There Isn’t a God

Why are there atheists? There is no evidence that there isn’t a God. Why then do atheists staunchly defend their atheistic identity? Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, admitted that the belief in “no god” freed him to live the way he desired:     

I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently I assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption . . . For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation . . . [from] a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.   Huxley chose the religion of “liberation” and meaninglessness. But does denial lead to liberation?

The Polish poet, Czeslaw Milosz, confessed that the atheistic religion offered another form of freedom:   · “a true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders are not going to be judged.”   Atheism provides “liberation” from the fear of judgment. As such, it is a religion which requires a constant vigilance against our accusing conscience, which testifies otherwise. Consequently, this religion does not bring peace. Instead, it pits the atheist against himself in an exhausting battle to suppress the obvious.

In contrast, it is the love of Jesus that has enabled me to accept my unworthy self because He does! I am now at peace. The battle has ceased.

— Daniel Mann, Mann’s Word: Defending the Christian faith and promoting its wisdom against the secular and religious challenges of our day, The Religion of Atheism, December 6, 2021

Polly and Bruce, Two Godless Peas in a Pod

bruce polly gerencser our fathers house west unity
Polly and Bruce Gerencser, Our Father’s House, West Unity, Ohio Circa 2000

Several years ago, Kenneth asked:

I am currently married to a Southern Baptist woman who is likely never going to change her mind about her beliefs. I deconverted late last year and am now an atheist. I’m curious as to how your wife ended up an atheist seemingly around the same time as you? I guess deep down I want her to see my views as an atheist but if anyone knows how hard it is to talk to a Christian as an atheist, it is you. My question is, can you tell us more about how Polly came to the same conclusions as you during the time of your deconversion? Maybe she can give us some input too. In a lot of scenarios, one spouse is still stuck as a believer while both the atheist and theist struggle with now being in a “mixed” marriage — I’m in one of them now. Thanks!

After we decided in 2005 we no longer wanted to be Pastor and Mrs. Bruce Gerencser, we spent a few years trying to find a church that took seriously the teaching of Jesus. Not finding such a church frustrated us and led us to conclude that the Christianity of Jesus no longer existed, and most churches were just different flavors of ice cream; same base ingredients with different added flavors. (Please see But Our Church is DIFFERENT!) The last church we attended was Ney United Methodist Church, four blocks from our home

For most of 2008, I had been doing quite a bit of reading about the history of Christianity and the Bible.  From Bart Ehrman to Robert M. Price to Elaine Pagels, I read dozens of books that challenged and attacked my Christian beliefs. Polly and I spent many a night discussing what I had read. I often read large passages of this or that book to her and we would compare what we had been taught with what these books said. While Polly was never one to read nonfiction, she did read several of Bart Ehrman’s books. Over time, both of us came to the conclusion that what we had been taught wasn’t true. We also concluded that we were no longer, in any meaningful sense, Christian. The last Sunday in November 2008, we walked out of Ney United Methodist, never to return. Several months later, I wrote the infamous Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners, which I sent to hundreds of Evangelical family members, friends, and former church members.

For a time, both of us were content calling ourselves agnostics. I soon realized that the agnostic label required too much explanation, so I embraced the atheist label. While Polly is hesitant to use the atheist moniker, her beliefs about God, Christianity, and the Bible are similar to mine. She’s not one to engage in discussion or debate, content to go about her godless life without having to define herself. I often wish I could be like her.

When we left Christianity, I feared that Polly’s deconversion was a coattail deconversion; that she was following after me just like she was taught to do in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. Some of my critics, unwilling to give Polly credit for doing her own thinking and decision-making, have suggested that Polly was/is being led astray by me. Fundamentalist family members have voiced their concern over Polly being drawn into my godlessness, rarely giving her credit for being able to think and reason for herself. Their insinuations only reinforce her belief that she made the right decision when she deconverted. Polly graduated second in her high school class and has a college degree. She is quite capable of thinking for herself. Granted, this ability was quashed for many years thanks to being taught that she should always defer to me as the head of the home. That I was also her pastor only made things worse. I can confidently say that Polly is her own person, and her unbelief is her own.

Where our stories diverge a bit is the reasons why we deconverted. While both of us would say we had intellectual reasons for abandoning God and Christianity, Polly’s deconversion had a larger emotional component than mine did. We’ve spent countless hours talking about the past, this or that church, and the experiences each of us had. Polly spent most of her married life under the shadow of her preacher husband. I’m amazed at how differently she views our shared past, now free to speak openly. While I was the center of attention, heaped with praise and love, she was in the shadows, the afterthought, the one who had to do all the jobs church members had no time for. It should come as no surprise that her view of the 25 years we spent in the ministry is much different from mine.

As I’m writing this post I am thinking to myself, Polly needs to be telling this story. I can’t tell her story. While I can give the gist of it, I think it is better if she tells her story, that is if she is willing to do. I do know that she has no desire to relive the “wonderful” ministry years. She’s quite content to be free of God, the church, and the Bible, free to just be Polly. Not Polly, the pastor’s daughter, not Polly, the preacher’s wife, just Polly. And I can say the same for myself. While I am noted for being a preacher-turned-atheist, an outspoken critic of Evangelicalism, I am content just to be Bruce. Most of our life was swallowed up by the ministry, so we are quite glad to be free and we enjoy the opportunity to live our lives on our own terms.

In many ways, our story is not typical. I’ve received scores of emails from people who deconverted and are now in mixed marriages. Like Kenneth, they want to share their unbelief with their spouses, but are unable to do so because of their spouse’s Christian beliefs or because they fear outing themselves will destroy their marriages. (Please see Count the Cost Before You Say I Am an Atheist.) Polly and I fully realize that if one of us had remained a Christian it could (would?) have ended our marriage. We are grateful that we’ve been able to walk this path together hand in hand. The farther away we get from the years we spent in the ministry, the more we realize how good we have it. Our deconversion could have destroyed our marriage and alienated us from our children, but it didn’t. Instead, we’ve been given a new lease on life; the opportunity for each of us to seek our own path. We deeply love one another, have six wonderful children and thirteen grandkids, and are, in every way, b-l-e-s-s-e-d.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce Gerencser