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Tag: Atheism

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Dinesh D’Sousa Says Barack Obama is an Atheist and Hates America

dinesh d'sousa

Here’s my take on it, His father was born a Muslim but became an atheist. His mother was an atheist from a very young age. His stepfather, a guy named Lolo Soetoro from Indonesia, was also born a Muslim but became an atheist.

So he [Obama] was raised by three atheists. I don’t believe that he has an ounce of religious faith of any kind in his upbringing.

Through his father and a series of mentors, he developed a passionate hostility to the United States of America as being a rogue nation. One of the reasons that Obama is sympathetic to these Muslim rebel movements is he thinks we’re oppressing them. We’re occupying Iraq, and we’re occupying Afghanistan kind of like the British occupied India and Kenya. And so, the guys we’re fighting, they’re heroes. They’re like Gandhi. They’re like Mandela. They’re like his [Obama’s] dad. They’re freedom fighters.

….

He worked in Chicago with church groups. These were left-wing church groups, but they were fighting for social justice. So every time Obama would meet the priests and the pastors in his network, they’d say to him, ‘Hey Obama, where do you go to church?

So one of his buddies told Obama, ‘Listen, you kind of have to pretend to go. Even if you don’t go, go find a church. Go check out this Trinity Church in Chicago.’ Now, by amazing coincidence, when Obama went to that church, he found a kind of a third-world guy, by which I mean Rev. Wright would wear African dashikis.

And really [Rev. Wright’s] main theme was not civil rights. It was foreign policy. [It was] how America is the evil nation in the world. We bombed Grenada. We bombed Libya. We are the ones who used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and at the end of it, of course, [expletive] America!’

And Obama was like, ‘Right on. That’s what my dad believed.’

I’d call it third-world liberation theology. That’s his doctrine. It’s not traditional Christianity.

Third-world liberation theology makes Jesus into a Marxist guerrilla revolutionary. And He’s fighting against the ‘evil empire.’ The liberation theologians of today are fighting the ‘evil empire,’ and who’s the ‘evil empire?’ The United States.

— Dinesh D’Sousa, Charisma News, Dinesh D’Souza Reveals Obama’s Shocking Religious and Political Beliefs, April 1, 2022

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

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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The Emotional Effects of Divorcing God

divorce-decree

Evangelicals-turned-atheists are often accused by Christian zealots of being angry and/or bitter. The goal is to dismiss the intellectual reasons people deconvert, painting former Evangelicals as emotionally damaged goods. By doing this, Evangelicals are free to say things such as, you are just mad at God or my all-time favorite, someone hurt you. Of course, this argument works both ways. Few Christian converts convert solely for intellectual reasons. I have heard hundreds of salvation testimonies over the years, and every one of them had an emotional component. In fact, for some testifiers, that’s all their testimony had. I’ve even seen deader-than-dead Calvinists get a bit emotional when talking about the wonders of being chosen by God from before the foundation of the world.

Many Evangelicals-turned-atheists were devoted, on-fire, committed followers of Jesus Christ. They were, in every way, True Christians®. These former Evangelicals loved Jesus, often daily spending time praying, reading and studying the Bible, and sharing their faith. Thoroughly committed to God’s Kingdom, they liberally gave their time and money to their churches. Some of them went further still, answering the call of God to be pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and teachers. When critics question my devotion, I find myself thinking, would anyone live the way I lived if they didn’t really believe what they were selling? Of course not.

For many Evangelicals-turned-atheists, Jesus had seeped into every fiber of their being. The words that flowed from their mouths spoke often of Jesus and the wonders of his grace. Married to Jesus, they only had eyes for him. Satan and the world would sometimes cause them to stray, but these followers of Jesus were quick to seek forgiveness, knowing that sin marred their relationship with God. Their motto was only one life twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. Better to burn out than rust out for Jesus, they cried.

And yet, these followers of Jesus no longer believe. Instead of attempting to understand their stories, critics focus on their emotions. I have had hundreds of Christians tell me that I am angry, bitter, jaded, or hurt. For a long time, I refused to admit that emotions played a part in my deconversion. I wanted my decision to leave Christianity to be judged on an intellectual basis, not an emotional one. Through counseling, I was able to see that it was okay for me to be angry and bitter. It was okay for me to feel hurt by the words and actions of those who once considered me their friend, pastor, or colleague in the ministry.

Many Evangelicals-turned-atheists go through an angry phase. As these former servants of the Most High God reflect on their failed marriage to Jesus, they become angry over the time and money they spent chasing a lie. It is perfectly normal to feel this way. The same can be said for bitterness. As I reflect on the thirty-three years I spent preaching the gospel, I can’t help but be bitter as I think about the sacrifices made by my family and me for the sake of the “cause.” I gave up everything to follow Jesus, choosing poverty over wealth and deprivation over comfort. And now, I face the consequences of these choices.

The key, for me anyway, is to channel my emotions into my writing and helping people who are considering leaving Christianity or who have already left. If every blog post of mine was an angry rant against Christianity, atheists and Christians alike would soon tire of me and move on. If I spent all my time whining and complaining about how bad my life now is thanks to Christianity, why before long even my wife would stop reading.

My point is this: emotional responses to leaving Christianity are absolutely normal. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The key is what to do with those emotions. It’s not healthy to spend life angry and bitter. I met plenty of such people in the churches I pastored; bitter, angry, mean people who took out their “love” for Jesus on anyone who dared to cross them. Instead, let your emotions fuel your passion for a better tomorrow — one not dominated by ignorance and religious superstition. Start a blog, write a book. Do whatever YOU want to do. Now that you are freed from guilt-inducing Christianity, you are free to throw yourself into whatever floats your boat. Want to take your anger and channel it into being an atheist stripper named Darwina? Go ahead. The only person standing in your way is you!

And sometimes, just because you can, it is okay to tell overbearing, deaf, in-your-face Evangelicals to go fuck themselves. Then, kiss your significant other and say, Life is good!

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

You Can Use the Bible to Prove Anything

peanut gallery

Today, a reader by the name of Chris left the following comment on the post titled The Bible Says Our Good Works Are as Filthy Rags. My response is indented and italicized.

“Evangelicals believe that humans, Christian or not, are incapable of good works; that all goodness comes from the Christian God; that works apart from God that “seem” good are actually done for the wrong motivations and reasons.”

I don’t know what “Evangelicals” believe, but this is wrong according to the Word of God.

Prooftexting deleted.

What Chris mean is this: according to my personal interpretation of the Protestant Christian Bible, this is wrong. There’s no such thing as a “right” interpretation. Every sect, every pastor, every Christian thinks their beliefs are right. That’s why I believe everyone is right. There’s no wrong interpretation of the Bible. Every sect, pastor, and Christian defends their beliefs by appealing to the Bible. How, then, do we know who is right and who is wrong?

Christians have been arguing with each other for 2,000 years. Jesus was barely dead before Paul, Peter, and James got into arguments over what constituted salvation. Who’s right? How could we possibly know?

The Bible is a hopelessly contradictory and confusing collection of books. Countless books have been written over the centuries attempting to defend this or that theological belief. Yet, there are thousands of Christian sects, each believing they hold to the “faith once delivered to the saints.” Calvinists vs. Arminians. Charismatics vs. Oneness Pentecostals. Baptists vs. Church of Christ. Over the years, I have been told by countless Christians that I am saved, I am lost, I am saved, I am lost . . . Each Christian thinks they have it figured out. Me? I’m content to pop some popcorn, grab a comfy seat, and settle in to watch the bloody internecine wars Christians are fond of fighting. The world will know we are Christians by our love, the Bible says. How is that working out?

The point that much of Christianity get wrong is that they view “salvation” as a one off thing that happens at the declaration of faith, and run from works, calling it “works based salvation” or “legalism”. No, we are supposed to have works – we are supposed to do good. But we should do those works out of love, not because we believe the works themselves make us righteous. We are told to walk as Jesus walked – and Jesus did many works. Paul is also an example to us, and who worked harder than he?

Again, Chris says much of Christianity is “wrong.” What is the basis for his assertion? His personal interpretations of the Bible — his personal opinion. There’s no such thing as absolute truth, authoritative truth. Virtually every verse in the Bible can be interpreted, explained, twisted, or contorted to fit a peculiar theological belief.

I don’t think Chris read any of my autobiographical material. Had he done so, he would have learned that my views of salvation and works evolved over the twenty-five years I was in the ministry. I was a Christian throughout, but I had various beliefs about salvation and the part good works played in the lives of believers. I can defend every position from the Bible. That’s why the Bible is such a wonderful book. You can easily make it say anything, and regardless of your beliefs, someone, somewhere is going to shout AMEN PREACHER! Keep preaching the Word!

The Bible talks against self righteousness – thinking that you’re a good person because you’ve done some good things. Your good works don’t cross out your evil – you don’t get to murder people because you’ve made charitable donations and fed homeless people.

Well, I am an atheist, so I don’t care what the Bible is for or against. Generally, I think humans are good people. I reject the Christian concept of “sin,” a tool used to cause fear and guilt so “sinners” will seek out a remedy for their “sin” through the church. Sin is the problem, salvation through Jesus is the solution, preachers say. I reject this construct out of hand.

Humans do good and bad things. As an atheist and a humanist, my goal is to be a good person: to love and help my wife, children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors, and fellow humans. Do I fail? Sure. I can be self-centered, self-indulgent, and self-righteous. When I recognize that I have failed, I try to make things right and, if possible, make restitution.

As far as I know, I have never knowingly (on purpose) been “evil.” I can look at my past life as an Evangelical pastor and conclude that some of my beliefs were evil, that they caused material harm to my family and the people I pastored. My only defense is that I did so ignorantly, that I was a product of tribal influences and indoctrination. I have spent the past fifteen years trying to atone for my ignorance. While it would be easy for me to say: Bruce, give yourself a break, you didn’t know any better, I think it is important for me to give an honest accounting of my life — past and present. My counselor told me today that I have great self-awareness, sometimes to a fault. My counselor before this one told me on several occasions, “Bruce, you are not as bad a person as you think you are.” I know he is right, but I look at what I preached and how I treated others, all in the name of God and according to the teachings of the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. I see myself as a victim and victimizer.

Salvation by grace, through faith, takes away our need to work for salvation – as if there’s a minimum number of good things you have to do to get to heaven, or as if you have a balance sheet that needs to be in the positive at the point of death.

Again, I could easily use the Bible to refute everything Chris says. For example, Matthew 25 clearly teaches that entrance into the eternal Kingdom of God is conditioned on good works. James makes the same claim when he says that faith without works is dead, and John says that anyone who sins is of the Devil, implying that good works are essential to salvation. In fact, I argue that without good works no one is saved; that the Mennonites and the Amish are likely closer to what the Bible teaches about salvation and good works.

I agree with Chris that the Evangelical notion of decisional regeneration — that of agreeing to a set of theological propositions and praying a one-off prayer makes one a Christian — is ludicrous and contrary to the picture of Jesus and his teachings and the early church found in the Bible.

From my perspective, all that matters is how we live, how we treat others. The goal should be well-being and reducing/eliminating harm (not only for humans, but other animals, and our planet).

“Is it any wonder so many Evangelicals are downright discouraged and depressed? Being told over and over that one is a worthless piece of shit and that one’s life is n-o-t-h-i-n-g without Jesus is sure to ruin any thoughts of self-esteem. Pastors frequently remind congregants that the Bible commands them to deny self, to take up their crosses and follow Jesus.”

Sounds like you went to a terrible church, and that the pastors were shitty people who wanted a passive flock to rule over. God loves you and gives you peace.

Romans 14 (KJV)
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years, so I was the “shitty” pastor, pastoring terrible churches. 🙂 Theological beliefs have consequences. What does the Bible say about humans? Is there anything in the Bible that remotely promotes self-worth? Of course not. The Bible says we are vile, evil sinners, haters of God. Salvation doesn’t turn us into good people. We have no righteousness of our own. We are righteous only because and through the person and work of Jesus. The Bible says we can’t do anything without Jesus, even breathe or move. So, according to the Bible, none of us are good people, even after we are saved.

Discouragement and depression are common among Christians. For all their talk about God loving them and God giving them peace (after all, the Holy Spirit), Christians have the same struggles as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. The bottom line is this: Christians are human, no different from anyone else.

Don’t throw away God because the “Christian” religion is awful. You can have a personal relationship with God by His Word. I don’t go to church, and I don’t like “Christianity” – but Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Chris wants to claim the Christian moniker, but doesn’t go to church and doesn’t like “Christianity” — meaning Christian belief systems other than his. Christianity and the Bible are inseparably linked. The church gave us the Bible. I can’t envision someone being a Christian in a meaningful sense without the church. The Bible says that Christians should not forsake assembling together. It is through the church that believers have community and instruction in the teachings of the Bible. I was fond of saying as a pastor, “there are no lone rangers in the Bible.” Christians are meant to congregate together (and, as an atheist, I miss the sense of community I had as a believer).

That said, I understand Chris’s frustration with Christianity at large. Many of the readers of this blog, myself included, were what I call disaffected Christians. Our paths away from Christianity began when we looked at the church (collectively) and said to ourselves that there’s something wrong here. For me, my journey didn’t end there. The reason that I am an atheist today is that I came to the conclusion that the central claims of Christianity are not true. If I were to blame someone or something for my deconversion, it wouldn’t be the church. All told, I was a happy pastor who pastored wonderful people. Polly and I had a good life in the ministry. The blame, then, rests solely on the Bible and the claims Christians make from its words. Why am I an atheist? The Bible. And my secret desire to live a debauched, licentious life. 🙂 Bring on the whores, booze, and coke. Praise Satan! 🙂

Saved by Reason,

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Why Christians Bombard Evangelicals-Turned-Atheists with Repetitive Words

jesus knocking on door

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

— Unknown

As an outspoken atheist and writer, I frequently come in contact with Evangelical Christians who think they have a duty to express their opinions about my past and present life and what awaits me after I die. Couched in Bible verses and regurgitated religious verbiage, their pronouncements are little more gnats flying around my head on a warm summer day. Irritating, to be sure, but nothing that can’t be dispatched with a quick swat of snark or reason. On days that I am in too much pain to snarkily respond, I allow Christian drones to aimlessly buzz around my head, knowing that if I ignore them, they will soon move on, or one of my regular readers will turn them into a splat. On rare occasions, I unsheathe my sword and spend time cutting to shreds Evangelical presuppositions, proof-texting, and sermonizing. What remain the same, regardless of the level of my response, are the repetitive arguments and statements used by Evangelicals to express their dislike/hatred of something I have written or said.

Come November, it will be fourteen years since I darkened the doors of a church; thirteen years since I wrote the infamous letter, Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners, and let everyone know that I no longer considered myself a Christian; thirteen years of being inundated with emails, blog comments, and social media comments from Evangelicals determined to show me the error of my ways. It’s been years now since a Christian has said something related to my deconversion or past life that I have not heard countless times before. After several thousand or more God wants me to tell you __________ emails and comments, I now just shake my head or laugh when I receive such things.

Occasionally, when I need a bit of humorous levity, I will respond, knowing that most Evangelicals interlocutors aren’t really interested in what I have to say. I have long since concluded that many zealots love to hear themselves talk. Such people aren’t really interested in my spiritual state as much as they are reinforcing their own beliefs. My story — fifty years in the Christian church, twenty-five years as a pastor, and now an atheist — is disconcerting and troubling for many people. If someone such as myself can fall away, then so can they. So, when reading my story, they attack me personally instead of wrestling with their own fears, doubts, and cognitive dissonance. This is why several former parishioners have told me that they can no longer talk to me. These people, who once called me pastor, preacher, and friend, find my current godless state so troubling that it causes them psychological pain. Instead of investigating their pain or examining their own beliefs, these former parishioners or friends choose to end our relationship (and I am fine with that).

Several years ago, a woman who was a teenager in one of the churches I pastored in the 1980s messaged me, thanking me for sending her a link to some old pictures I had posted a year ago on Facebook. (Her father is the focus of the post Dear Friend.) Evidently, my message ended up in her spam folder and she did not find it until this week. This woman, now in her forties, made no attempt to talk to me about family or any of the other commonalities we humans share. Instead, she said, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU? Immediately, my mind went back to the days when this woman was a rebellious, haughty, mouthy teenager — a constant pain in her parents’ asses. I envisioned her with her head thrown back, curling her face into a snarl, saying, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU? I did not respond to her, choosing not to waste time responding to someone who really isn’t interested in what I have to say. (Years later, we reconnected on Facebook.)

in 2015, my two (now one since one of them died of COVID-19 last year) remaining Christian friends ran into a man I have known since the early 1970s. (I believe he is ten or so years younger than I am. I was mainly friends with his oldest brother and parents.) After trading pleasantries with my friends, this man said, CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED TO BRUCE? I am sure he heard about my deconversion from his parents. After receiving news of me leaving Christianity, his mother had sent me a blistering letter that suggested in no uncertain terms that I was under the control of Satan. A year or so later, I received an apology from her (a rare occurrence). While she could not comprehend how I could ever walk/run away from Jesus, she did accept the fact that nothing she could say would likely change my mind. People who know me well know that I am a man of deep convictions and intellectual acumen. They also know that I am rarely swayed by circumstance or emotion. When confronted with the possibility that I could be wrong, I tend to study the heaven out of the issue. I want to KNOW, so blissful ignorance or “faithing it” is not an option for me.

Several years ago, my doctor told me that my heart is skipping every fourth beat and that I might have an “atrial whisper.” He ordered an EKG and told me to me wait as he consulted with a cardiologist. He smiled and asked me if I had something to read. I laughed, and pointed to my iPhone. Having been my doctor for twenty-five years, he knows that I tend to study the life out of things. By the time he had punched in the phone number of the cardiologist, I was on Web MD and Wikipedia looking up “atrial flutter” and other related heart/health issues. This illustrates perfectly how I tend to go after challenges to my beliefs or understanding. When I don’t “know” something, I make it my mission to increase my knowledge. Despite health problems that increasingly rob me of the physical and mental wherewithal to read, learn, and write, I am still driven to know more today than I did yesterday. This is why people who are close to me know that I rarely speak on a matter before knowing the facts. (I am not suggesting that I can’t be wrong or act irrationally. I can. Just ask Polly.) 🙂

An Evangelical woman (a friend of a friend) left the following Facebook comment for me:

I’m sorry that you have lost your contact with God. He’s still there, if you are interested. You may have stopped believing, but he hasn’t stopped existing or loving you. May God bless you. We have exchanged comments in the past and I don’t want to re-open that debate. This post just struck me as being very sad and empty, so I wanted to give a bit of encouragement. That’s all.

Here’s a woman who is incapable of understanding any other way of life or system of belief but her own. For her, Jesus is the be-all and the end-all, the reason for getting up in the morning. As she looks at my life through her rose-colored Bible glasses, all she sees is sadness and emptiness. She cannot comprehend a good life, an honorable life, a blessed life, and a life of meaning and purpose without knowing her peculiar version of Jesus as Lord and Savior. For her, my life does not compute. If she really cared about me as a person, she would trawl the depths of my story, and having done so she would then know that telling me, “I’m sorry that you have lost your contact with God. He’s still there, if you are interested. You may have stopped believing, but he hasn’t stopped existing or loving you,” will not elicit the desired response, and will likely be viewed by me as the words of yet another tone-deaf Christian.

Evangelicals need to understand that I am immune to their words. I have reached a point in my life where I rarely respond to their comments, sermons, or attacks. I prefer to spend my time writing and hanging out with Polly. If I sense a Christian sincerely wants to “know” then I will send them a few links to blog posts that I think will answer their questions. Sadly, few of these people bother to read the suggested posts. No need, right? They know what they know, even if what they know is dead wrong.

A better use of time for Evangelical zealots would be to seek out those who have no understanding of Evangelical belief and practice. Ignorance is the fertile ground of Christian Fundamentalism. Why tell someone the gospel twice before everyone has heard the gospel once, right? Well, I have heard it and preached it thousands of times, and when Christians continue to spew the same intellectually vacuous arguments and attempt to emotionally manipulate me, I don’t hear a word they are saying. Their lips are moving, but I ain’t listening.

I know that nothing I have written here will ward off garlic-immune Evangelicals who believe they have a God-given duty to put in a good word for Jesus. Until such people can dare to fathom the possibility of being wrong, there is nothing I can say or do that will change their minds. Only unrequited doubt will put them on the path to intellectual freedom. As long as their minds are shackled to God, Jesus, and the Bible they will continue to view me as an enemy that must be vanquished. Little do they know that they are tilting at windmills.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce Gerencser