Tag Archive: Bernie Sanders

Bruce, Do You Hate God?

hate god

Originally posted June 2, 2015. Corrected, updated, and expanded.

On one level, this is a silly question. Since I do not think there is a God, if I hated God, I would be hating a nonexistent entity. This would be akin to hating Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. However, I understand why religious people might think someone like me hates “their” God. I spend a lot of time writing things that are negative about God and religion, so surely I must HATE God. Maybe some atheists do hate God, but I don’t. It is a non-issue for me.

As a writer, my focus is on religion. Religion is the human attempt to answer what I call the “hard” questions of life. Where did we come from? What is the essence, the substance of life? Is there life after death? What gives life meaning and purpose? These are not easy to answer. I realize many atheists will say “no evidence”. . . end of discussion, but I think these kinds of questions are worthy of friendly, thoughtful, pointed discussion. The problem is many religious people can’t discuss these questions in a friendly manner. Thinking their God and belief system is truth, they condemn and marginalize anyone who thinks differently.

While I think evolution is the best answer to the “where did we come from” question, I am not at all satisfied with the answers science gives when dealing with the something rather than nothing question. Even Bill Nye, in his debate with creationist Ken Ham, admitted that, so far, science hasn’t answered the question of where the first particle came from. Of course, Ham, a man with cement in the place where his brain once sat, jumped up and down and said, TEACHER, TEACHER, I KNOW THE ANSWER!  IT’S FOUND IN THE B-I-B-L-E. Ham thinks the question is answered whereas Nye is willing to say, We don’t know, but we continue to try and find the answer this important question.

I am an atheist because the evidence tells me, at this present moment, that there is no God. As a man who spent fifty years in the Christian church and twenty-five years in the pastorate, I am well versed in the teachings of the Bible and the one, true, and holy Evangelical faith. There’s no possible argument an Evangelical could make that I have not heard. It is not evidence that I am lacking. I have weighed all the available evidence in the balance and found it wanting. I am convinced, based on the available evidence, that the Evangelical God is a work of fiction and that Christianity is an admixture of myths, legends, oral traditions, and religious teachings. Maybe someday a deity of some sort will reveal itself to us. If so, I will consider this new evidence just like I have the evidence for the plethora of human religions. I doubt this will happen, so I am not going to spend any time worrying about it. In the meantime,  I remain agnostic on the God question and live my day-to-day life as an atheist. Reason, humanism, family, friends, baseball, photography, and writing are enough for me; no God needed.

My hatred is reserved for certain aspects of some religions. Since I live in the United States, my experience has primarily been with the Christian religion, especially the Evangelical form of Christianity. While I think the essence of Christianity can provide value and substance for some people — even in our modern, scientific world — I am convinced that twenty-first-century Christianity is so far afield from its original intent that it has ceased to be Christianity at all. How does the Christianity of today, in any of its various forms, remotely resemble the teachings and faith of Jesus, the poor, itinerant do-gooder of first-century Palestine.

Part of the problem is that early in the history of the Christian church, the Christianity of Jesus was subjugated by the Christianity of Paul.  The modern version of Christianity we see today is Paul’s version of it and not that of Jesus. It is doubtful, at least in my mind, that we can ever recover what Jesus wanted Christianity to be. We can’t know if he even wanted to start a new religion. Perhaps all he wanted was to reform Judaism.  We can’t appeal to the Bible because it has been corrupted by errors, corrections, additions, and outright fraudulent changes. At best, we might be able to peer within the pages of the Bible and get a general idea of who Jesus was and what he was all about. And we can do this regardless of whether we consider Jesus divine or not.

When I look at American Christianity, what do I see? I see power and wealth. I see arrogance. I see machinery. I see everything but what I should see. Where is Jesus? Where are the good works? Look at the 2016 Republican slate of presidential candidates. Jesus lovers, the lot of them, all trying to see who has the biggest Evangelical dick. Their beliefs and policies would likely be condemned by Jesus of Nazareth they purportedly worship. Millions of Christians considered voting for these men, thinking they were voting for God’s man. (Please see Why I Hate Jesus.) And that’s precisely what Evangelical voters did in November 2015, electing “baby Christian” Donald Trump as president. Eighty-two percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for Trump. By doing so, Evangelical Christians traded their souls for a bowl of pottage, choosing power over morality, ethics, and decency.

It seems that most churches and pastors are focused on building a kingdom, not in heaven, but here on earth. Why all the fancy, expensive buildings? Why all the programs designed to keep fat, lazy sheep happy? Why does most of the income go to maintain buildings, pay staff, and provide programs for people who are already Christians? What happened to outreach to the “least of these?” Where can I find a church where the poor, sick, homeless, and dying are given preferential treatment? If Jesus were alive today, do we really think he would go to an American church? I don’t.

Even though I don’t believe in the Christian God — nor do I think the Bible is divine truth — I could see myself going to a church that took seriously the teachings of the man named Jesus. (And yes, I am aware that some of his teachings are contemptible.) I still have a heart filled with compassion for the poor, sick, and marginalized, and I suspect many of the readers of this blog do too. As atheists and agnostics, we don’t have many meaningful opportunities or outreaches to help others. Imagine the help we could lend to churches focused on helping others instead of building kingdoms in this life.

I wonder if there is any room in the world for itinerant atheist preachers? While I couldn’t preach the Christian gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, I could preach a humanist gospel, a gospel that says salvation is found in the goodwill, mercy, and compassion we have for others. I could point to the teachings of Jesus, Buddha, and Bruce Almighty and show how the relevant parts of their teachings can help make us better human beings.

My hatred is reserved for any religion that is focused on power and wealth, and not people. For the most part, I despise Evangelical Christianity. To Evangelicals, words in a book are more important than loving their neighbors and helping the poor, hungry, and homeless. They prefer the narrowness of their religion to the wideness of human love, mercy, and compassion. They would rather concern themselves with abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, gun rights, combatting socialism, refuting global warming, evolution, and getting Republicans elected, than trying to make a real difference in the lives of the “least of these.”  Thinking evangelizing someone is more important than feeding and clothing them (better to go to Heaven with an empty belly, than Hell with a full one, the thinking goes), Evangelicals are viewed by non-Christians in the same light as door-knocking Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and siding salesmen.

My beef is not with God because I don’t think there is a God. My beef is not with Christians who are serious about loving and helping others. My disdain, and at times my anger, is reserved for those who have no regard for the plight of the poor and the sick, who only care about building a kingdom here on earth. No matter how much they talk about the future kingdom of God, their actions betray their true ambitions.

If churches took the teachings of Jesus seriously, they would merge, sell off the excess real estate, and use the money to help the poor, sick, and disadvantaged. If churches took the teachings of Jesus seriously, they’d fire all the professional Christians, forcing them to get real jobs. In doing so, these professional Christians would be forced to reengage with a world they lost connection with once they became gatekeepers and waitstaff at the local Evangelical churches.

If churches took the teachings of Jesus seriously, they’d stop programs that are little more than crack for religious junkies. These addicts bounce from church to church, program to program, service to service, hoping to get a Jesus Fix®. They are narcissists who have forgotten that what really matters is loving their spouses, children, family, and neighbors. They’ve traded the church for their common, dirty connection with the world. Sheltered from sinners, they listen to sermons that remind them of how wonderful it is in the church and how bad it is out there.

I don’t hate God. My hatred is reserved for evil done in the name of God. (Please see the Black Collar Crime series.) My hatred is reserved for those who value theological fealty, fidelity, and conformity more than they do people. Such thinking caused the burning of people at the stake and the slaughter of countless heretics. Given a chance here in America, Evangelicals with theocratic impulses would enact and enforce a Christian version of Sharia law. I hate all who dare attempt the subjugation and control others in the name of their God. Thinking they are oracles who have THE truth, they demand everyone else bow to their truth. Willing to use violence and the power of the state to force others to embrace their God and Holy Book, they cause deep hatred and resentment. Thinking they are being hated for their beliefs, what they are really being hated for is their unwillingness to allow others to have the same freedoms they demand for themselves.

As I look at American Christianity, I search in vain for one good reason that I would/should become a Christian. Maybe there is a group somewhere that takes the teaching of the socialist Jesus seriously, but so far all I see is ice cream. Various flavors, but all ice cream. (Please see But, Our church is DIFFERENT!)

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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An Open Letter to the DNC

dnc

Cartoon by A.F. Branco

Dear Democratic National Committee,

I write to express my outrage over recent revelations detailing how DNC officials attempted to derail Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Presidential campaign. It is evident, based on released internal emails, that Deborah Wasserman Schultz and operatives within the DNC were working behind the scenes to marginalize Bernie Sanders, paving the way for Hillary Clinton to become the Democratic candidate for President. Earlier this year Bernie Sanders complained about attempts by Wasserman Schultz and the DNC to keep him from becoming the nominee. The DNC dismissed Sanders’ claims, categorically stating that both candidates were being treated fairly and equally. Thanks to Wikileaks, we now know better.

I am a diehard Bernie Sanders supporter. As a liberal, democratic socialist, I found Sanders’ policy positions to be the closest to my own. Sanders is the voice of progressivism; Hillary Clinton is the voice of centrist Democratic politics. Sanders is a man of principle; Hillary Clinton is a political opportunist. Bernie Sanders didn’t take a dime from Wall Street; Hillary Clinton made millions off of private Wall Street-sponsored speeches. Bernie Sanders opposes  war in the Middle East; Hillary Clinton will continue the blood-spilling policies of the Barack Obama. It is for these reasons (and others) that I support Bernie Sanders.

I am also an atheist. Offensive revelations that Wasserman Schultz and the DNC considered tarring Bernie Sanders with the atheist label suggests to me that the DNC doesn’t realize that most atheists are political liberals who most often vote Democrat. It is also clear that the DNC doesn’t understand that scores of millennials are non-religious. These millennials generally skew to the left — good news for Democrats. Good news, that is, if the DNC stops treating non-religious people as if they have some sort of communicable disease.

I am pleased that Wasserman Schultz has been removed as the head of the DNC. But that action is not enough. Every DNC operative who thought labeling Bernie Sanders an atheist was a good idea should immediately be fired. A failure to take such action shows that Democratic leaders don’t value fairness. The DNC should also publicly apologize to the atheist community for their shameful use of the word “atheist” as some sort of pejorative term. A full-page apology in the New York Times and personal letters to the major atheists groups will suffice.

I plan to vote for Hillary Clinton come November. I will do so for one reason and one reason alone — Donald Trump. I cannot in good conscience do anything that will increase the likelihood of a Trump presidency. These are perilous times, and I must do what is best for my country. Quite frankly, if a centrist Republican was running for President I would likely cast my vote for Jill Stein. In doing so, I would be telling the Democratic Party that until they value me as a voter, they have lost my vote. I want to do this now, but I can’t. I know that if Donald Trump is elected he will fundamentally and permanently harm our Republic. It’s Hillary Clinton’s lucky day. She will get my vote, not because I think she best represents my views, but because Donald Trump is a real threat to national security and social progress. If Clinton wins the election, the DNC might want to consider how to keep my vote come 2020. If liberal, democratic-socialist atheists aren’t welcome in the Democratic Party, then perhaps it is time to start seriously considering  third-parties that value people such as myself.

Sincerely,

Bruce Gerencser
A Former Right-Wing Evangelical Republican Turned Liberal, Democratic-Socialist Atheist

Local Residents Threaten to Steal or Destroy Our Bernie Sanders Sign

bernie sanders 2016

Bernie Sanders for President Sign in Our Front Yard

Last July, we purchased a Bernie Sanders sign and placed in our front yard. We live on Ohio State Route 15, a busily traveled road running between Bryan and Defiance. By now, thousands of local residents have seen our sign. While several people have stopped by our home and asked where we got our Bernie sign, it remains the only one we have seen in Defiance and Williams County.

A few hours ago, one of my sons alerted me to an interesting discussion on the Citizens for a Better Williams County Facebook page about stealing local campaign signs. The screenshot that follow is self-explanatory.

stealing bernie sanders sign

Both potential criminals are Republican, and one of them is a devout Evangelical Christian. Evidently, respecting the property rights of others is not a part of their political or moral code. I wonder what they would do if they found out that not only are we Bernie Sanders supporters, we are atheists too?

I doubt that either of these people would steal or damage our sign. We all say stuff on Facebook that we don’t really mean.  That said, IF our Sanders sign comes up missing or is defaced, we will be sure to direct the Defiance County Sheriff’s department to the aforementioned Facebook discussion.

Encouraged by a Young Bernie Sanders Supporter

bernie sanders 2016

Bernie Sanders for President Sign in Our Front Yard

A short while ago, someone pulled into our driveway and got out of their vehicle. I was busy writing when our early visitor detection system, also known as Breigh, the cocker spaniel, went off, alerting me that someone was in our driveway. Sure enough, seconds later someone knocked on our door.

As I looked out the window I saw a bearded young man wearing a ball cap in his late twenties standing on the porch. His vehicle was an old truck. I carefully opened the door, not knowing if there was a confederate-flag-waving redeck or an atheist hater standing on my doorstep. Imagine my surprise when I greeted a man who wanted to know where I got my Bernie Sanders sign.

As of today, I think our home sports the only Bernie Sanders sign in Defiance or Williams County. This man wanted to know if Sanders had a local office. I told him no and said I ordered the sign at Sanders’s website.

He said he wanted to get a sign because he was a big Bernie Sanders supporter, as was his girlfriend who sitting in the truck. I laughed and said, now there are two of us, and he replied that he had a number of friends who were Sanders supporters. At this moment, my heart flooded with joy, so much so that I wanted to shout PRAISE JESUS! Okay, just kidding a bit.

bernie sanders cartoon

When I look at the Republican debate lineup I want to gag and throw my hands up in despair. The candidates, all 17 of them, are a reminder of everything that is wrong with the United States. The young man on my porch reminded me that all is not lost. While President Obama failed to bring the hope and change I hoped he would, I know we are better off today than we were under the reign of King Bush. A better future awaits us if we can drive a stake in the heart of amoral capitalism and corporate greed. (I am not anti-capitalist as much as I am against capitalism as it is now practiced in the United States.)

There’s a restlessness brewing among young adults. Whether it will result in dramatic political change remains to be seen. For today, I am encouraged. If Sanders cannot win the nomination, then I will support whomever the Democratic candidate is. I hope, in the process, that Sanders can materially affect the Democratic party and force it to abandon the teat and bed of corporate America.

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The First Bernie Sanders Sighting in Defiance County, Ohio

Rural NW Ohio is home to an aging white Evangelical Republican super-majority. Even Democrats tend to skew to the right and many of the local mainline churches, traditionally bastions of liberalism, are conservative. As a liberal, democratic socialist, I’d be safe in saying you’d have a better chance of running into Barack Obama at the local coffee shop than you would meeting someone else who is as to the left as I am. Throw in the fact that I am an outspoken atheist…well, I am as rare as the ivory-billed woodpecker.  Add anti-gun, anti-hunting, and pro-choice to the mix and that makes me as rare as Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s conscience.

Raised in a fiercely partisan and right-wing home, I’ve never been shy about my political or religious beliefs. While I no longer share these beliefs with people who haven’t asked me to do so, I do shout them from the roof top on this blog and through letters to the editor of the local newspaper. When locals meet me they always seem perplexed. They have built up in their mind a certain picture of Bruce Gerencser; the spawn of Satan, a communist out to overthrow Christian America. In real life, I am just a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who just so happens to be a leftist and an atheist. I’m the guy who wears a Cincinnati Reds hat and suspenders; the man who is seen taking photographs at ballgames and public events.

I am a big fan of Bernie Sanders. He best represents my political beliefs and I plan on supporting him as he attempts to become the 2016 Democratic candidate for President. Is Sanders electable? I don’t know, but I refuse to support a Democratic candidate, at least at the primary level, who is Democrat-lite. If Sanders fails to win the nomination then I will get out a clothes pin, attach it to my nose, and support whoever the Democratic candidate is. Until then, I’m supporting Bernie.

bernie sanders 2016

Bernie Sanders for President Sign in Our Front Yard

As far as I know, our sign is the first Bernie for President sign in Defiance County. Hopefully, it is not the last. You can purchase your own sign here.