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Tag: Bethel Redding

How Fundamentalist Christianity Turns People into Raving Lunatics

sean feucht

I am not one to write inflammatory, hyperbolic headlines, but for this post, it will be clear to readers that the chosen post title is not unfair nor does it misdescribe the subject matter. The following video features Sean Feucht, a, uh, a, well, I am not sure what to call him. Let’s go with Trump-supporting Fundamentalist Charismatic preacher and worship leader with deep ties to Bethel Church in Redding, California. (Please see Bethel Redding, a Dangerous Evangelical Cult and Do You Really Have to Ask if Bethel Redding is a Cult?) Feucht describes himself as a:

…. missionary, artist, speaker, author, activist, and the founder of multiple worldwide movements.

According to Feucht’s website, he currently operates three ministries:

  • Burn 24-7 — a global worship and prayer movement launched out of Sean’s dorm room in college, now spanning 6 continents and more than 250 cities.
  • Light A Candle — a global missions and compassion movement bringing light, hope, healing, and tangible love to the hardest, darkest, and some of the most isolated places of the earth.
  • Hold the Line — a political activist movement seeking to rally the global church to engage in their civic duty, to vote, and stand up for causes of righteousness and justice in the governmental arena.

Currently, Feucht is traveling the country holding “spontaneous” rallies. (The rallies are, in fact, quite organized.) Hundreds and thousands of primarily white Evangelical Christians flock to Feucht’s rallies. What follows is a video of Feucht’s latest rally in Little Rock, Arkansas. The video is six minutes long. PLEASE take the time to watch all of it. If you do so, you will understand why I chose the title I did for this post.

Video Link

Here’s a link to a recent rally Feucht held in Springfield, Missouri.

Feucht is a rabid anti-masker, so it should come as no surprise that none of the rally attendees is wearing a mask. Every rally Feucht holds is a super spreader event, yet thanks to warped interpretations of the separation of church and state and the First Amendment, he and his merry band of minstrels are exempt from state health mandates. Truly, with God all things are possible.

What troubles me is the religious hysteria shown in the video. Using rock music and psychological manipulation, Feucht and other rally leaders whip the crowd into a frenzy. While some Evangelicals might suggest that the behavior of rally attendees is fueled by Charismatic beliefs and practice, not True “Biblical” Christianity, I have witnessed similar insanity during Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) conferences and camp meetings. The root issue is psychological and emotional manipulation. The very same techniques that Feucht uses were used to foment the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The people in the aforementioned video are not, for the most part, uneducated, ignorant hillbillies. These people are educated, working-class people, people who have good jobs, own their own homes, and drive nice automobiles. If the Insurrection taught us anything, it is this: smart, educated, financially secure people can behave in ways that look a lot like the scenes from the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. When people gather together in like-minded tribes, it is easy for the Sean Feuchts of the world to manipulate them psychologically. I was a pastor for twenty-five years. I was, by all accounts, a well-spoken orator. I knew how to use the Bible, religious verbiage, and stories to deliver sermons that moved people to action. As I look back on the 4,000+ sermons I preached, it is hard not to conclude that I manipulated people to achieve a religious objective — be it salvation, getting right with God, winning the lost, fulfilling my agenda, or filling the church’s coffers. I may have thought, at the time, that I was doing God’s work, that my motives were holy and pure, but the fact remains that through my words (and behavior) I “led” people to do things they might not do otherwise.

What I found most disturbing in this video was clips of children being overcome with emotionalism. While Feucht and his defenders will claim that what is witnessed on the video is “God,” it is clear, at least to me, that these poor children were whipped into an emotional frenzy by an expert modern-day Elmer Gantry.

I should note, in passing, Feucht’s (and his crew’s) crass, manipulative appropriation of Native American (called First Nation People in the video) culture. I wanted to scream when I watched indigenous people wrapped in what are commonly called Indian blankets. Feucht is evidently unaware of the history Indigenous people have with Christianity, including blankets given to them infected with diseases such as smallpox.

What do you think of this video? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

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 contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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

Do You Really Have to Ask if Bethel Redding is a Cult?

beni and bill johnson bethel redding
Bill and Beni Johnson, senior pastors Bethel Redding.

In 2016, I wrote a post titled, Bethel Redding: A Dangerous Evangelical Cult. Since that time, thousands and thousands of people (Almost 14,000 viewers in 2019, 18,000 in 2018, 24,000 in 2017, and 17,000 in 2016) have come to this site seeking information about Bethel Redding, an Evangelical megachurch in Redding, California pastored by Bill and Beni Johnson. Over the past seven days, almost 2,000 people have accessed the Bethel Redding post. Why all the interest in Bethel Redding?

Bethel Redding and its leaders have an outsized influence on Evangelical churches, especially Charismatic congregations. While Bethel’s core doctrines are Evangelical, its peripheral doctrines are anything but, and anyone with an ounce of sense should be able to look at their beliefs and conclude that Bethel is a dangerous cult. Granted, all sects and churches are, by definition, cults. Christianity, in particular, is an ancient blood cult. The difference between Bethel and its affiliates and other Evangelicals churches is that Bethel’s beliefs about the work of the Holy Spirit can and do cause psychological and physical harm. Many Christian churches are quite benign, little more than social clubs for likeminded people. Bethel, on the other hand, is a world-spanning club with all sorts of magical, secret rituals. One such ritual is currently in the news.

Bethel Redding and its pastors believe that they have the power to raise people from the dead. That’s right, they believe they can reanimate corpses that have been dead for hours and days. On December 15, 2019, Bethel worship leader and songwriter Kalley Heiligenthal asked for urgent prayer after doctors pronounced her two-year-old daughter, Olive Alyane, dead. Heiligenthal wrote:

We’re asking for prayer. We believe in a Jesus who died and conclusively defeated every grave, holding the keys to resurrection power. We need it for our little Olive Alayne, who stopped breathing yesterday and has been pronounced dead by doctors. We are asking for bold, unified prayers from the global church to stand with us in belief that He will raise this little girl back to life. Her time here is not done, and it is our time to believe boldly, and with confidence wield what King Jesus paid for. It’s time for her to come to life.

Prophetess Christy Johnston wrote:

Friends, we are joining the Bethel family in a global movement of prayer for this little one, Olive. Ever since we heard yesterday morning, I have been praying prayers of resurrection over this little girl. We serve a miracle working God, and all night in my sleep, I kept hearing the words, ‘Talitha Koum’… little girl, I say to you, get up from the sleep of death in Jesus Name and WALK! I looked up her name meaning just now, Olive Alayne. Olive- ‘evergreen’, which speaks of LIFE in EVERY SEASON. Alayne – ‘AWAKENING’ and ‘dear child.’ ! Lets decree together over her, O-LIVE the AWAKENING breath of Jesus, dear child!
・・・
Our God is the God of miracles, and nothing is impossible for Him! We are asking you, our global church family, to join with us in prayer and in declaring life and resurrection over @kalleyheili and @apheiligenthal’s daughter, Olive Alayne. Kalley, Andrew, and Elise, we stand with you in faith and in agreement for Olive’s life!

Bethel pastor Kris Vallotton shared Heiligenthal’s request on Facebook, saying:

Please join us as we pray in bold faith for a miracle for our own Kalley an [sic] Andrew Heiligenthal.

Thousands of Bethelites left comments such as these:

In JESUS name, and by the power of Holy Spirit , I command the spirit of death to leave Olive now! I speak resurrection LIFE into sweet Olive’s body now in JESUS name and I declare Olive will live and not die and declare the works of the LORD !

Olive… we say you will live and not die in Jesus’ name. Brain – wake up! Heart – wake up! Blood of Jesus we thank you that you speak now throughout every part of Olive the resurrection power and life and unity of our Lords words – wake up!

Praying and interceding from home today. God, we speak life to Olive! You are the God of Miracles! Do it again Papa raise Olive from the dead!

Come back to life, little babe! Jesus walked out of the grave, walk out with Him!!

Jesus raised our daughter from the dead not once, not twice, but three times! I am believing that for Olive! And it is so.

Jesus raise Olive to life in your name Lord! We declare life and liberty in this beautiful child. You have a plan and purpose for Olive. Bring her life, restore her soul, heaven come down. Unite the body to pray for her and see a mighty miracle in the name of Jesus Christ! Bring a testimony to the world Lord of your resurrection power Jesus! Fill our hearts with belief in Jesus name. Amen!

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for breathing the breath of life back into this child’s body. We command her spirit to return to her body, and thank you, Holly Spirit, for quickening and making alive her mortal body right now, in Jesus’ mighty name. We thank you for miracles, signs, and wonders coming forth from the life of this precious little girl. May she be a testimony of your faithfulness. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Her name is Olive???? She will LIVE!!! The very olive tree sprouts new life… Jesus— we ask the same, by your authority… Resurrection power— gives birth to resurrection life— we join together— as one body— to the LIFE of Jesus! Rise up little Olive!!!!

Holy Spirit come and blow the breath of God unto her lungs, neurons we command you to fire, heart we command to pump!! We claim healing in Jesus Name!!

I rebuke the spirit of death off this child. Jesus bore all sickness and disease and lack for this child. He is healed and whole and well. All parts are straight from the warehouse to Olive. God bless you all.

I command the spirit of death to lift off Olive’s little body right now!!! She will live and not die! Breath of Life breathe in her nostrils right now!! In the mighty name of Jesus Christ!!!! HOLY SPIRIT invade that room tight now!!! Hallelujah God we cry out to You! The Giver if life!!! Hallelujah Lord!!!

Four days later, the child is still dead, yet True Believers® continue to delusionally believe that Jesus is going to resurrect Olive from the dead:

I commend the blood of Jesus over her right now in Jesus name every demonic Spirit every Spirit of Witchcraft every sickness every disease every thing that’s trying to choke her out I lose it right now in Jesus name we command healing power to rise up in her right now in Jesus mighty name amen.

Still praying. I feel God tell me to connect more and more to this. The power of Christ’s resurrection is the power that cancels everything. I keep studying scripture and my heart is full of such promises.

We partner with Him by being wise as kings and seeking out the connections. I’m back 3 major events so far and I will not stop until God tells me to stop. Do I ever love God!

I raise a Hallelujah! IN Jesus’ resurrection power I speak LIFE over Olive. Raise up, and live your Destiny Olive.

Covered by the blood of Jesus we are declaring Life over Olive Alayne in Jesus precious name. Thank you Father that you answer to our prayers in Jesus name Amen!

23yrs ago, our 14 mo old baby girl was dead and came back to life on a quiet Winter night to NOW worship AT BETHEL with with Olive’s parents. Olive, Sweetheart, come back and tell us what you know.

Bethel Redding has a “Dead Raising Team.” Let that sink in for a moment.

bethel redding dead raising team

According to The Dead Raising website, Dead Raising teams:

The DRT offers a service of support to any family that is grieving the loss of a loved one. In addition to giving the bereaved spiritual and emotional support, our team of trained ministers will offer prayers of resurrection on behalf of the deceased. Handling each situation with the utmost sensitivity, our team travels to the funeral home, morgue, or family’s home where the deceased is being kept. Upon arrival, we spend time in prayer with the family, as well as the deceased. We will stay as long as we are needed.

Since it was started in late 2006, the DRT has comforted families in the midst of grief, as well as having 15 resurrections to date as a result of their prayers. If this is a service that you would like to make use of in the midst of your pain, please contact us as soon as possible.

Nothing is impossible with God. – The DRT

Fifteen alleged “resurrections” in thirteen years. That’s roughly one reanimated corpse per year. Think of all the prayers that these Deadraiser’s have prayed, and what, exactly, do they have to show for it? Fifteen alleged “resurrections.” No evidence for these science defying resurrections is provided on the Dead Raising website. Until I see solid, verifiable scientific evidence for their claims, I remain skeptical.

The death of any child is tragic, regardless of the religious inclinations of their parents. Sadly, Bethel Redding and its leaders used Olive Heiligenthal’s death as a means to promote their fanatical beliefs. That Olive remains dead is no surprise. That’s what dead people do — stay dead. Reason and common sense tell us that once people die, they stay that way, and all the prayers and magic tricks in the world won’t change that fact.

If you had any doubts about whether Bethel Redding is a cult, the church’s latest foray into raising the dead should put an end to your doubts.

Notes

Bethel’s senior pastor, Bill Johnson, explains why they believe dead people can and do come back to life.

evangelicals at white house december 6 2019

On Friday, December 6th, forty Evangelical preachers and worship leaders gathered at the White House to pray for “baby Christian” President Donald Trump. Seven of those gathered: Brian Johnson, Jenn Johnson, Sean Feucht, Luke Hendrickson, Kiley Goodpasture, Dominic Shahbon, and Jeremy Edwardson were affiliated with Bethel Redding.

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.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

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Twenty-Six Questions From the Search Logs

good question

Twenty-Six Questions From the Search Logs

What follows is a list questions from the search logs. These questions are a handful of the thousands of Google search queries people use to get to this site. In this post, I plan to “answer” these “important” questions. Let these search questions remind you of how Evangelical beliefs can and do psychologically harm people. If this is not the case, then why-oh-why would a rational person ask such questions? No, my friend, Evangelical beliefs hinder critical thinking. How could they not? When a Bronze Age religious text is your go-to book, is it any surprise people end up fretting over the things mentioned in these questions?

Snarkiness and cussing ahead! You have been warned. Now, go and sin!

Is Bethel Church in Redding, California a cult?

Yes, Bethel Church in Redding is a cult. Every crazy, irrational Evangelical/Charismatic belief and practice can be found at Bethel. Bethelmania has spread far and wide, it seems.  A nearby church pastored by Tim and Lisa Hacker has changed its name to Bethel. The Hackers, members of the Bethel Leaders Network, believe God wants them to “make things on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

My advice to people wanting to hook up with the nutters at Bethel Church in Redding is simple: RUN!

Please read Bethel Redding: A Dangerous Evangelical Cult.

Why are Evangelicals so mean?

Evangelicals are mean because their God is mean. All one needs to do is read the Bible to find the ‘Mean God.” This God is the meanest son-of-a-bitch in the universe; meaner than Satan himself. Not that God or Satan exists, but if they did . . .

Evangelicals preach up love, joy, peace, and tithing, but their behavior suggests that they don’t practice what they preach.

Why are Evangelicals so hateful?

Evangelicals are hateful because their God is hateful. All one needs to do is read the Bible to find the ‘Hateful God.” This God is the most hateful asshole in the universe; more hateful than Satan himself. Not that God or Satan exists, but if they did . . .

Evangelicals preach up love, joy, peace, and tithing, but their behavior suggests that they don’t practice what they preach.

Where is David Hyles today?

Hopefully, David Hyles is under a rock somewhere, fearing further exposure of his vile and criminal behavior. Why would anyone want to know where Hyles’ is today? Passionately unrepentant, Hyles is attempting a comeback of sorts.  My goal in life is whack him on the head every time he pops his head up from the rock he is currently hiding under.

Please read UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been RestoredDavid Hyles Says My Bad, JesusIs All Forgiven for David Hyles?Serial Adulterer David Hyles Receives a Warm Longview Baptist Temple Welcome, and Disgraced IFB Preacher David Hyles Helping Fallen Pastors Get Back on Their Horses

Is kissing your boyfriend a sin?

Think about this question for a moment. Humans are naturally sexual beings. It is very human to desire to kiss someone you are attracted to. If God is your creator, why did he give you sexual desire and then expect you not to act on it? Silly, right?  Any church/sect that demands you refrain from kissing before marriage is a cult. My advice? RUN!

Please read Is it a Sin to Kiss Your Boyfriend? and Hey Girlfriend: Is it a Sin to Kiss Your Boyfriend?

What is the name of the Ohio preacher who became an atheist?

Bruce Gerencser. You can find everything you would ever want to know about him here. Beware! Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers believe Gerencser is a tool of Satan, a destroyer of the faith once delivered to the saints. His writing has been known to cause fear, doubt, gas, and loss of faith.

How do atheists handle death?

Every atheist is different, so I can’t speak for all atheists. That said, death is inevitable. It stalks all of us, and will one day — all too soon — catch us. Worrying about death is a waste of time. Here’s the advice I give to people to ask such questions:

You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.

Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you best get to living it. Some day, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.

Please read How Does an Atheist Handle the Death of a Loved One?

Who won’t make it to Heaven?

No one will make it to Heaven. Heaven (and Hell) are fictional places used by clerics to ensure congregants remain faithful. They use a carrot-stick approach. Heaven is the carrot, and Hell is the stick. Without the promise of eternal life in Heaven (or the threat of Hell) after death, most churches would close. Why bother with getting up on Sundays, giving ten percent of your income to the church, and listening to boring sermons if there’s no life after death?

Why are black women more loyal to their pastors than their husbands?

I don’t know if this is true, but I do know that black female Evangelicals are quite devoted to their pastors and churches. Pastors can commit all sorts of crimes, yet there is Sister Bertha and the Missionary Union standing behind them, faithful unto the end. I suspect this has to do with being taught to submit to male religious authorities.

Perhaps someone who spent years in a black church can better answer this question.

Why do some pastors stop believing in God?

Where oh where to I begin? Please read the posts on the WHY page for more information on why I divorced Jesus in 2008.

Is Christopher Hitchens in Hell?

Of course not. There is no such thing as Hell, silly boy. Please read Christopher Hitchens is in Hell

Is it a sin for a man to have long hair?

I see IFB preachers are still preaching against long hair on men. Any man focused on your physical appearance is a cultist (and a creep). His goal is to control you though demanding you look and dress a certain way. Please read Is it a Sin for a Man to Have Long Hair?

Was Jack Hyles a false prophet?

The short answer is yes.  Please read The Legacy of Jack HylesThe Scandalous Life of Jack Hyles and Why it Still MattersThe Mesmerizing Appeal of Jack Hyles, and Sexual Abuse and the Jack Hyles Rule: If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen

Is the IFB a cult?

Yes. All churches and sects, by definition, are cults. That said, IFB churches and pastors often use psychological manipulation and religious indoctrination to control congregants. My advice is simple: RUN! There are plenty of kinder, gentler, human-affirming flavors of Christianity. Check them out. You need not stay in the IFB cult.

Here’s the dictionary definition of the word cult:

  • An interest followed with exaggerated zeal.
  • A system of religious beliefs and rituals.
  • A religion or sect that is generally considered to be unorthodox, extremist, or false.
  • Followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
  • Followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices.

Need I say more?

Should IFB wives obey their husbands without question?

Back in my IFB days, I would have said yes, with one qualification: wives do not have to obey commands that are contrary to the Bible. That said, men are far smarter than women, stronger too. I read that in the Bible, so it must be true, right? (That’s sarcasm, by the way.)

Should churches get rid of their youth programs?

Yes, immediately. Don’t pass GO, don’t collect $200. Please read Dear Evangelical Church Leaders: It’s Time to Get Rid of Your Youth Pastors and Youth Departments

Why are Baptists not allowed to play cards?

Many Baptists think playing cards of any kind is a sin. The first church I worked in almost had a split over card playing. Here’s how one Fundamentalist site explains why card playing is sinful:

Playing cards, like reading your horoscope, has become a joke or just a game. However, the Lord does not look at it as a joke or game. There are serious consequences for reading your horoscope as well as using cards or just having them in your home. It has been said that nicknames for a deck of cards is “The Devil’s Bible” and “The Devil’s Picture Book”. At one time the church took a strong stand against the card game. Until recently preachers and churches warned about the dangers of cards.

Some of the most common places you will find a deck of cards (besides our homes) will be with prostitutes, gamblers, thieves, murderers, in taverns, brothels, prisons, insane asylums, gambling dens, etc., but never at a prayer meeting.

The king represents Satan, Prince of Darkness, usurper and foe of our Lord Jesus Christ. The ten card is for the Spirit of lawlessness, in opposition to the moral law in the Word of God. In 1300, clubs were the chief weapons used by murderers, therefore this suit represents the Spirit of Murder and death by violence. The jack represents the lustful libertine, from pimp to adulterer and whoremonger, a moral leper whose chief ambition is to gratify sensual fleshly lusts. The queen represents Mary, Mother of Jesus, but in the card language she is called Mother of Harlots. The joker represents Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Joker means fool and therefore Jesus is held up to ridicule. The joker is said to be the offspring of licentious jack and the queen, Mother of Harlots.

All other cards also have hidden obscene and blasphemous meanings. Nine-tenths of all gambling today is done with these cards. Witches, psychics, and satan-worshipers use playing cards for divination and to cast spells and curses. Born-again believers should not want to be in contact with such a tool of Satan. In Deuteronomy 7:26 we are told not to have abominable things in our homes. It will bring a curse on you and your household. It is time that Christians clean house and destroy the hidden works of darkness.

Is it ever okay to lie?

Yes. Please read Is it Ever Okay to Lie?

Is masturbation a sin?

Many Evangelicals believe masturbating is sinful. In their “clean” minds, since masturbation requires “lust” for matters to rise to the occasion, it is a sexual sin rooted in pride. Not pride over penis size. Everyone knows Evangelical men have small dicks (and Evangelical women never, ever ring the Devil’s doorbell). Since masturbation is generally a solo act, it is wrongly focused on prideful self-gratification. Besides, masturbation will make you blind.

Again, such beliefs are all about control. Evangelicals hold to Puritanical beliefs on sex. No sex before marriage, and that includes masturbation. Silly, I know, but many people believe masturbation to be every bit as sinful as fornication.  If this is so, skip spanking the meat and go straight to intercourse. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun!

Please read Good Baptist Boys Don’t Masturbate, Oh Yes, They Do!

Is Game of Thrones pornographic?

No, and only people who have never seen porn think it is. Yes, GOT has a good bit of nudity (and dragons). But, pornographic? Nope. Want to see REAL porn? Ask your pastor for a list of his favorite porn websites. Maybe, the both of you can check them out together. Nothing better for the soul than searching YouPorn with your preacher.

What religion approves of incest?

Christianity. It is, after all, in the Bible.

How do you witness to an atheist?

You don’t. True-blue atheists are NOT good evangelistic targets, especially if they were previously Christian. There are so many souls in need of saving. Why not go after the low-hanging fruit instead of wasting your time with people who know the score and have zero interest in your Gods?

Please read How to Witness to an Atheist

Is wearing leggings a sin?

No. Now, it may not be becoming for you to wear them. Spend an evening at the local Walmart and you see women who should never, ever attempt to put their size 22 ass in a size 12 pair of leggings. That’s just my personal opinion, so if you want to wear leggings, go for it. Don’t let ANYONE tell you how to dress, especially religious authority figures. Remember, their goal is not social propriety, it’s control.

Please read Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Wearing Leggings is a Sin

Why do liberals hate Evangelicals?

I am a liberal and I don’t hate Evangelicals. I do, however, hate Evangelical beliefs. I know a lot of nice, kind, thoughtful Evangelicals who have horrible, anti-human, anti-progress, anti-science beliefs. Such beliefs deserve a swift death, and I plan to do my part in smothering the life out of them. To use a common Evangelical cliché: I love the Evangelical, but hate the beliefs.

Why doesn’t God stop abortion?

Good question, why doesn’t he? Keep asking yourself that question until you exit the church doors into the fresh air of reason and freedom. God doesn’t stop abortion because he can’t. God doesn’t exist, so how can he stop anything? That why there is war, starvation, sexual violence and other calamities. It’s up to us to fix these problems, not God.

Where is Bruce Gerencser?

Right here. Not dead. Not in Hell. Seek and ye shall find. And please, God dammit, spell my last name correctly when you are using a search engine to locate me. Gerencser, how hard can it be? It’s Hungarian by the way, not that I am, in any way, Hungarian. I am the milk man’s son.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Tunnel of Fire, a New Charismatic Practice

 

charismatic faith healer

This is the one hundred and seventy-sixth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism features clips of a new Charismatic practiced called Tunnel of Fire. Charismatic churches are always on the look out for new methods and gimmicks to arouse the passions of congregants. The Tunnel of Fire is one such practice.

Fire Tunnel With Todd White at The Sound The Alarm Youth Conference, Orlando Florida 2016

Video Link

Video Link

Bethel Church, Redding, California

Video Link

Video Link

 

An Open Letter to Pastor Tom Hauser, Global River Church

open letter

Guest Post by Calulu

Tom Hauser is the pastor of  Global River Church in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Global River is affiliated with Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding. I have written previously about Bethel Redding in a post titled Bethel Redding: A Dangerous Evangelical Cult.

Dear Tom,

I know there’s no way you would remember me. I’m just some random woman at one of the churches in Virginia that held a deliverance ministry weekend taught by you and the members of your church many years ago. I’m the one who our overbearing pastor’s wife forced to make all those fancy half round flags for your church as a gift from our church. I’m still several hundred dollars out-of-pocket for the materials, and  I’m still annoyed at that even if you had nothing to do with it.

You and your church pushed the deliverance ministry that your church did, telling tales of people set free from all sorts of weird demonic infestations. Your goal was to get people to sign up to come to your church — Vineyard, in Wilmington, North Carolina.

During that weekend I had the chance to speak to you several times. I found that I liked you. Maybe it was the fact that you walked away from a high dollar career to preach, I don’t know. You are personable.

But, I know you don’t have a clue about the damage you and your fellow church members do. I suspect, seeing that the name of your church and the deliverance ministry has been changed more than once, that you have some small inkling that others think it sucks. Did you guys get sued by those you victimized while pretending they are demon-addled and need an exorcism? Something obviously happened.

For my husband and I, the damage was limited. We just lost some time, hotel and gas money, and spending time with our family for Thanksgiving. I feel pretty certain that your deliverance ministry likely did lots of damage, wreaked havoc, and destroyed marriages and few families. Let me explain why I think your deliverance ministry — that you now call a ‘prayer ministry’ at your renamed church, Global River Church — is a bad thing.

You preyed on my husband who was going through a long, horrible depression. Thanks to competent doctors, medical tests and therapy,  we know his entire problem was that he had cancerous tumors on his parathyroid glands. He wasn’t under spiritual oppression, nor did he lack faith. He wasn’t filled with demons and in need of deliverance ministry. He was sick. With cancer that would have killed him if we hadn’t tossed aside the compete and utter bullshit that the church was saying and sought legitimate medical treatment.

Jim told me a few days before Thanksgiving in November of 2005 that he had scheduled a weekend deliverance that weekend, that you had arranged for a team of deliverance-ministry trained staff to remove our evil spirits and cleanse us. This meant that we had to abandon our children to others for the holiday,  make the long drive from Northern Virginia to Wilmington North Carolina, and stay at a local hotel for several nights while the deliverance was going on.

I remember how angry I was, because even while at that time I was still a hard-core believer, I didn’t believe in what you guys did or your claims of demonic infestation. I was angry at the ruined holiday, angry I could not be with my kids, and angry that you insisted that I take part in the deliverance ministry too. Jim was told that you wouldn’t  help one spouse without de-demonizing the other.  I wanted no part of it.

One of my clearest memories of that weekend was waking up at 3 am on the Saturday morning before the first sessions. I felt fearful and angry, and l was suffering from extreme pain in my right arm due to an injury I was waiting to have surgery on. I sat in that ocean front hotel room, contemplating the Atlantic ocean in the moonlight while listening to praise music on my iPod, waiting for opioid pain medication to kick in. I wondered what the day would bring.

What the day brought was us being met at your church by the deliverance team. Jim and I were separated, and the sessions started. I wasn’t in Jim’s session so I can only imagine what happened. For mine, I was confronted quite starkly over things the two ‘counselors’ had received from God during their prayer time that week. The information that the women claimed to have heard from the Lord was  wrong on so many things. They told me I was having an affair with someone named ‘Walt’, which made me laugh because, at the time, the only Walt’s I had heard of were Walt Whitman and Jim Walter Homes — a dead man and a corporation. No, I was not and have never had an affair.

I was also told that my husband was having an affair — again not true. I don’t know much, but I know that about him. He’s not the type, and he didn’t have enough downtime with his commute into DC on public transportation to have an affair.

Imagine how such false revelations might have affected a married couple having problems? We both were told this and neither of us believed it about the other person. If someone in a shaky relationship was told an outrageous lie like that,  it would have blown apart their marriage. Somehow, I don’t think any of this is something Jesus would approve of.

The personal details and ‘problems’ listed on both of our prayer sheets were beyond wrong, right down to the smallest details. For example, Jim was told he loves ‘Star Wars’ and fishing, both of which he hates. I was also told Jim had a ‘demon of rage’ in him that would physically kill me if they didn’t  exorcise it from him.

The women attempting to ‘deliver’ me gave up after about two and a half hours, realizing that I was highly skeptical, thought their words of knowledge were ridiculous, and I was not cooperating like they wanted. I was told by the staff to go back to the hotel and wait for a phone call to come back and pick up my husband. He was held and brainwashed a total of nine hours. Ten years later, he still hasn’t told me what happened during his session. I do know that when I picked him up he clung to me and would not let go for many days (either holding my hand or hugging me).

We went home; it was anti-climatic by that point. We spoke very little about what had happened and things continued as normal until the point Jim was diagnosed with  parathyroid cancer and had the first of several surgeries.

I get it. You somehow think you are ‘helping’ people by doing this type of prayer and deliverance ministry. But you’re not. You are, at best, confusing people, and at worst blowing up homes and families and/or causing people with serious medical conditions to die because they believe their conditions are demonic. You take advantage of desperate people.

Calulu

Bruce Gerencser