Tag Archive: Bigotry

One Reason People Don’t Like Evangelical Christians

truth about homosexuality

Evangelicals are widely regarded as people who preach bigotry and hate. Defenders of the One True Faith® say that this is a stereotype; that Evangelicals are people of love — a love for God and love for their fellow man. I contend that this is not a stereotype at all, that evidence found on social media, blogs, Christian news sites, and anecdotal stories amply prove that generally, Evangelicals are hateful bigots; that they are so immersed in Republican politics and fighting the culture war that they are blind to or don’t care how their words and actions are perceived. This is especially true when it comes to homosexuality, LGBTQ people, and same-sex marriage.

A local non-Christian recently told me about a new employee at her place of employment. The new employee is in her late 20s, the wife of a pastor of a nearby mid-sized Evangelical church. This new employee has only been there for a short while, but she is already known for her rants about gays; about how evil homosexuality and same-sex marriage are; about how awful it is that TV programs show gay people in a positive light.

The business is owned by an Evangelical couple, so I am quite sure the new employee “assumes” everyone thinks as she does; that everyone agrees with her about gays and same-sex marriage. When you live in a religious monoculture, such thinking is not uncommon. As an atheist, humanist, and Democratic Socialist, I find it frustrating that family, friends, doctors, nurses, business owners, dog groomers, car salesmen, auto mechanics, and other sundry acquaintances assume that I agree with them on religious, political, and social matters. I don’t. If I responded every time a local Bible thumper spewed bigotry and hate, that’s all I would get done. There are days I feel like I am Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, or Elizabeth Warren at a Ted Nugent or Charlie Daniels concert. Not a comfortable place to be.

Some Evangelicals argue that people such as the new employee are just speaking the “truth” in “love”; that they love the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world so much that they just have to tell them the “truth.” Fine, but perception is everything. And constantly ranting about homo sex, gays on TV programs, LGBTQ people, and same-sex marriage makes you look bad. From my perspective, if it walks, talks, and acts like a hateful bigot, it is one. Don’t want people to think of you this way? Then shut your damn mouth and keep your homophobia to yourself. By all means, when you go to church on Sundays to worship the gay Jesus — he did travel with twelve MEN, you know — let your hate hang out, and let your brethren in the Lord know how oppressed you felt while mingling with the lost. But when you come to work on Monday or go to store or attend your class reunion, please, unless asked, keep your anti-gay preaching to yourself. Want people to think well of you? Then treat everyone with decency and respect, and don’t assume that everyone thinks and believes as you do.

My words, of course, will fall on deaf ears. We live in a day when Evangelicals are drunk with political power, and with this power they intend to undo the social progress of the past one hundred years and force unbelievers to live their lives according to the moral dictates of the Bible. One need only to watch the battle over abortion to see what Evangelicals, along with Mormons and conservative Catholics, have in store for the rest of us. In their minds, the United States was founded according to the principles and teachings of the Christian Bible; that the United States was divinely chosen by God to be a shining light in a dark world; that “others” should be tolerated as long as they understand that the United States is GOD’S country. USA! USA! USA! Don’t think for a moment that Evangelical zealots aren’t working behind the scenes and in courts and legislatures to rollback or eliminate civil rights protections for LGBTQ people. They are, and they won’t rest until Jesus sits on a throne at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, ruling with a rod of iron.

Knowing the unbeliever mentioned above, I suspect that the new employee is going to find out that everyone does not think as she does. Sometimes, bigots and haters just need to be put in their place.

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.

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: Pennsylvania Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, Christian Bigot

stephanie borowicz

This is the one hundred and ninety-fifth 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 is a video clip of a prayer uttered by Pennsylvania Rep. Stephanie Borowicz before  Movita Johnson-Harrell,  a Muslim Representative from Philadelphia, was sworn into office. Borowicz’s husband, Jason, is an associate pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.

The York Daily Record reports:

Now normally, the opening prayer is not a big deal, just some words intended to inspire our elected officials to grasp for the higher angels of their nature – which, considering the results, often doesn’t seem to take.

But Borowicz’s prayer was seen as being political, coming just moments after the House swore in its first Muslim member, Movita Johnson-Harrell, a Philadelphia Democrat who took the oath of office while resting her left hand on the Quran.

At one point, House Speaker Mike Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican, reached over and touched Borowicz’s arm, cutting her off in mid-prayer.

The prayer, some representatives said, was divisive and was seemingly intended, as House Minority Whip Jordan Harris, a Philadelphia Democrat, said, to weaponize her religion and “intimidate, demean and degrade” Johnson-Harrell.

Video Link

Questions: Bruce, Is Rural Northwest Ohio Less Prejudiced Than When You Were a Child?

questions

I recently asked readers to submit questions to me they would like me to answer. If you would like to submit a question, please follow the instructions listed here.

Becky asked, “Questions: Bruce, Is Rural Northwest Ohio Less Prejudiced Than When You Were a Child?”

Rural Northwest Ohio is about as white as a Mississippi Ku Klux Klan meeting. In the 1970s, I attended Findlay High School, one of the largest high schools in the state of Ohio. There were two black students in the whole school — a brother and a sister. I spent the early years of my life in Bryan, Ohio. There were no black people who lived in Bryan. Even today, very few Blacks live in Bryan or the surrounding area. I saw my first black person at the age of five — a porter on the train we were riding from Chicago to San Diego. Every public school I attended was as white as white could be. I don’t blame this whiteness on the people who live in rural Northwest Ohio. It’s not their fault that everyone happens be white. That said, living in homogeneous communities and not being exposed to racial diversity tends to breed racist beliefs. The closest rural Northwest Ohio comes to having a minority population is the sizable number of Hispanics who call this part of Ohio home. But even here, I have vivid memories of how family members, church members, and my friends thought of “Mexicans.” Many of the Hispanic families in rural Northwest Ohio trace their lineage back to family members who came here as migrant workers. These workers would pick local crops and then move on. Some of them decided to stay, putting down roots and having children. Thanks to automation, most farmers no longer need migrant workers. There are still a few working farms that hire Hispanic transients to pick their labor-intensive crops. If these farmers had to rely on local whites to harvest their crops, their tomatoes, squash, sweetcorn, and other crops would be left on the ground to rot.

I recognize that I am a white man raised in a white culture. My interaction with nonwhites is somewhere between little and none. I had a black college roommate, but he spent his four years of college trying to be white. I now have several local Hispanic friends, but this doesn’t mean that I truly understand the vagaries of their culture. I’m a white man in a white world, and as long as I live in rural Northwest Ohio, that’s not going to change. Fortunately, attending college in Pontiac, Michigan, living in San Antonio, Texas, and managing restaurants in Columbus, Ohio exposed me to people of color. The beginning of the cure, then, for racism, is exposure to people who are different from us. I’ve known more than a few homophobes, yours truly included, who saw the light after they met someone who was gay or who had one of their children come out of the closet. There’s nothing better than exposure to people different from us to force us to deal with our deeply rooted bigotry and racism. As a sixty-one-year-old man, I can say that I’ve come a long way when it comes my attitudes about race and human sexuality. That said, I don’t believe for a moment that I have been miraculously delivered from the conditioning of the first forty or so years of my life. All I can do is confront racism and bigotry in my life when it shows itself.

etch a sketch

The Etch-a-Sketch is made by Ohio Art, a Bryan Ohio Company. Once Manufactured in Bryan, it is now Made Overseas.

The rural Northwest Ohio of my youth was stridently racist. Anyone who suggests otherwise is living in denial. In 2015, I wrote a post titled, Does Racism Exist in Northwest Ohio? Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote:

I am a member of the Growing Up in Bryan, Ohio Facebook group. The group is made up of people who live/lived in Bryan, Ohio. Recently, the subject of racism was brought up and this provoked a lively discussion about the state of race relations in Bryan. This got me to thinking: does racism still exist in rural Northwest Ohio and Bryan? Have we reached a place where we live in a post-racial era? Before I answer this question, I want to spend some time talking about demographics and my own experiences as a resident of northwest Ohio.

….

In 1995, I moved back home to northwest Ohio, pastoring a church in Alvordton for a short time and pastoring a church in West Unity for seven years. Polly and I have lived in this area now for 17 of the last 20 years. This is our home. Our six children and ten grandchildren all live within 20 minutes of our home.

It was during my time as pastor of Our Father’s House in West Unity, that I began to address my own latent racism and the racism that percolated under the surface of the local community. As my politics began to move to the left, my preaching took on a social gospel flavor and this included preaching on race, racism, and race relations.

When a church member would talk about colored people I would ask them, so what color were they? Oh, you know what I mean, preacher! Yes, I do. So, how is the color of their skin germane to the story you are telling? I did the same when members talked about “those” people, those meaning blacks, Mexicans, or welfare bums.

What made things difficult was that we had a black man attending the church. He was a racist’s dream, the perfect stereotype. He was on welfare, didn’t work, lived in Section 8 housing, had an illegitimate child, and spent most of his waking hours trying to figure out how to keep from working. The church financially helped him several times and we brought him groceries on numerous occasions. One time he called me and told me he needed groceries. I told him that I would have someone bring over some groceries. He then told me, preacher, I’m a meat and potato man, so I don’t want no canned food. Bring me some meat. He’s still waiting for those groceries to be delivered.

As I read the comments on the Growing Up in Bryan, Ohio Facebook group, I noticed that there was an age divide. Older people such as I thought Bryan was still, to some degree, racist, while younger people were less inclined to think Bryan residents were racist or they thought local racists were a few bad apples. I think that this reflects the fact that race relations are markedly better now this area.

The reasons are many:

  • Older generations — those raised in the days of race riots, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jim Crow — are dying off.
  • Local residents are treated by doctors who are not white.
  • Interracial couples now live in the area.
  • Migrants workers, once a part of the ebb and flow of the farming season, are now permanent residents.
  • Younger adults and teenagers no longer think race is a big deal.
  • Music and television have brought the world to our doorstep, allowing us to experience other cultures.
  • Sports, in which the majority of athletes in the three major professional sports — football, basketball, and baseball — are non-white. Cable and satellite TV broadcast thousands of college and professional games featuring non-white players.

Exposure breeds tolerance. Bigoted attitudes about gays and same-sex marriage are on prominent display in rural northwest Ohio. These attitudes remind me of how things once were when it came to race. Time and exposure to people who are different from us can’t help but change how we view things such as race and sexual orientation. My children are quite accepting and tolerant of others, and I hope that these attitudes will be passed on to my grandchildren. We are closer today than we ever have been to Martin Luther King’s hope of “a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

We haven’t arrived. Latent, subtle racism must continue to be challenged. Unfortunately, on both sides of the political divide, there are those who use race and fear to stoke distrust and hate of those who are different. We must forcefully marginalize those who want to return America to the 1950s. We must also be willing to judge our own attitudes about race. We enlightened liberals gleefully look at the extreme right and we see racism and bigotry in all its glory. Yet, if we are honest, such things exist in our own backyard. None of us can rest until we have achieved a post-racial world. We have much work to do.

Three years after writing this, I continue to see progress on the race front with younger locals. These teenagers and young adults are much more tolerant and nonjudgmental than their parents and grandparents. They also are much more likely to vote Democratic. That said, their racist and bigoted parents and grandparents, thanks to the election of Donald Trump, are far more likely these days to express racist thoughts on social media and in private conversations. Donald Trump and his lackeys have, in one way, done us a big favor. The president’s overtly racist tweets and abhorrent immigration policies have ennobled local racists, giving them permission to fly Confederate flags and preach the gospel of white Christian nationalism and white superiority. The good news is this: we now know who the racists are. From this perspective, it seems that little progress has been made on the local front. However, I’m confident that once Baby Boomers and The Great Generation die off, their white and proud thinking will die with them. I am not so naïve as to believe that rural Northwest Ohio will ever be free of racism, but I’m confident that there is coming a day when racist bigots will be so marginalized that their bigotry will be little more than a minor inconvenience. We are not there yet, but I see the train picking up steam. Once the bigot who resides in the White House is either impeached or voted out of office — along with all those who supported and enacted his abhorrent policies — I have no doubt a better tomorrow lies ahead.

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.

Health Problems Experienced by Gays Can be Cured by Jesus

gay blade chick tract

Gay Blade, Jack Chick Tract, circa 1972

Warning! Snark ahead! Evangelicals easily offended by having their bigotry exposed should NOT read this post!

Monday, the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine Journal released a report detailing the health problems faced by LGBT people.  CNN reports:

Researchers now have a broader understanding of the health disparities suffered by gay, lesbian and bisexual people. A recent study found that these groups are more likely to suffer psychological distress, heavy drinking and heavy cigarette smoking.

The study, published in the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine journal on Monday, sheds new light on such disparities in a population-based sample of adults in the United States.
….
“This study was one of the largest, most comprehensive studies of its kind to find differences in health and health behaviors by sexual orientation,” said Carrie Henning-Smith, health policy researcher at the University of Minnesota and a co-author of the study. “Our findings should raise concern that lesbian, gay and bisexual adults experience health disparities.”

The researchers analyzed data collected from more than 68,000 [67,150 survey respondents were heterosexual, 525 lesbian, 624 gay and 515 bisexual. The average age was about 47] adults nationwide as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 and 2014 National Health Interview Surveys. The surveys included questions about sexual orientation, chronic conditions, mental health, alcohol consumption, cigarette use and overall health.

The researchers discovered that gay and bisexual men were more likely than heterosexual men to suffer severe psychological distress, heavy drinking and heavy cigarette smoking. Lesbians were more likely than heterosexual women to experience psychological distress, poor or fair health, and heavy drinking and smoking. Bisexual women were more likely to suffer multiple chronic conditions.

“The data did not allow us to identify specific causes of health disparities in this study,” Henning-Smith said. “However, we know from other research that the experience of being part of a stigmatized minority population can lead to chronic stress, which, in turn, can have negative impacts on health and health behaviors.”
The researchers hope that the data could help to inform and encourage clinicians to be more sensitive to and aware of the specific psychological and physical needs of gay, lesbian and bisexual patients.

….

Evangelicals have quickly and viciously used this report as “proof” that being LGBT promotes unhealthy lifestyles. Evidently these homophobic bigots missed the line that stated “The data did not allow us to identify specific causes of health disparities in this study.” One such person is a woman by the name of Denise who spends a lot of time “anally” reporting on the vile, wicked, sinful behavior of people she labels sodomites. Denise is a Calvinist, a female of version of Steven Anderson. Unlike Anderson, Denise doesn’t show her face on videos nor does she let readers know her last name. That said, theology and her obsession with oral and anal sex and STDs is very Andersonesque. In a post titled, Survey: excessive health problems among deviants , Denise opines:

Sin has consequences. Trying to go against God’s created order, suppressing the Truth with their unrighteousness (Romans 1), will have physical ramifications.  They blame those who reject their deviant behavior, for their physical problems which is irrational. The problem is enslavement to sin, and the solution is to repent of one’s sins, confess one to be totally depraved with original sin, and cry out to God our Creator, for mercy and forgiveness. He is quick to forgive and save those who come to Him through Jesus Christ the resurrected Lord for salvation. Those whom HE sets free through faith in Christ Jesus alone by His blood, are made free indeed by Him.

Denise thinks that the reason LGBT people have certain health problems is due to the fact that they are sinful deviants. Denise totally rejects the notion that gay-haters such as herself are part of the problem. In Denise’s world, LGBT people are sick for one reason — sin!!  According to Anderson’s comrade in the war against “sodomy,” if sodomites would just repent of their sins (which means becoming as God made them — heterosexuals) and cry out to the Calvinistic God for mercy and forgiveness, all would be forgiven and their health problems would disappear. Now, I am sure Denise would say, No, LGBT health problems are the consequences of their deviancy. Yes, Jesus will save them and deliver them from their wicked desires, but former LGBT people still have to live with the physical damage done by lifetimes of wrong-way fucking. I suspect Denise would also say that LGBT deviants should repent while they are young before sexual “sins” ravage their bodies. Get out while you are young, Denise likely would say. Live the best years of your life in service of the heterosexual God.

If Jesus is the “cure” for LGBT health problems, why are so many heterosexual Christians sick? Churches are filled with people who are sickly, suffering the ravages countless diseases. Perhaps Evangelicals are sick due to heterosexual anal sex and blowjobs, Denise might say. Only married missionary position intercourse is permitted! Grandma Grace, why do you have cancer? granddaughter Evangeline asks. Grandma Grace shamefully hangs her head  and says, I gave Grandpa Joseph a blowjob in 1983. Cancer is God’s punishment for me swallowingIf you want to avoid cancer, Grandma Grace says, never, ever put anything but food in your mouth, and never, ever let your husband come through the back door.

I know, I am being silly now, but the very notion that LGBT people have certain health problems due to sin is ludicrous. I am sure that in the years ahead, researchers will continue to investigate exactly why LGBT people are more prone to certain illnesses. I suspect that researchers with find that AIDS, unrelenting persecution by Evangelicals, Mormons, and conservative Catholics, and lack of medical care contributed to many of the LGBT health issues detailed in the aforementioned study. For those of us who are heterosexual, perhaps we should ask ourselves how our health might be affected if we had to live in circumstances similar to those of LGBT people. I wonder, would we turn to substance abuse, suicide, and have increased mental health issues? Those of us who were savaged by Christian Fundamentalism (see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?) understand how constant assaults on your humanity can lead to mental health problems and thoughts of suicide. Those waging war against all things non-heterosexual are the very same people who preach and write against any and all behaviors they consider “sins” against their version of the Biblical God. It should be clear to all who dare to see that Evangelicalism, Mormonism, and conservative Catholicism breeds hate — hate not only of those they deem “sinful,” but also hate of self. Knowing who and what they really are, these defenders of virginity, heterosexuality, and Christian America rail against the very secrets they hide from their fellow Christians. As is often the case, people who scream and preach the loudest against this or that behavior are often secretly doing the same. Stay tuned. Perhaps we shall someday learn that Denise is really into making her own clothes — which is hard to do without a good bit of scissoring.

Fundamentalist J.D. Hall “Apologizes” to LGBT Community

jd hall

Last year, attention whore J.D. Hall, pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Sidney, Montana (the church’s website proudly reports that men such as Fundamentalists Paul Washer, James White, Voddie Baucham, Chris Rosebrough, Douglas Wilson, Ray Comfort, Phil Johnson, Justin Peters, and Sye Ten Bruggencate have preached there) , wrote an “apology” letter to the LGBT community. He reposted his letter today on the Pulpit & Pen website — a trash repository for all things Fundamentalist, Baptist, and Calvinistic. When I first saw  the headline of Hall’s post I thought, has J.D. Hall had a come-to-Jesus moment? Dare I hope that Hall is repudiating his hatred for LGBT people? These thoughts were quickly extinguished by the fact that unless Hall is admitting he is a transvestite Baptist, there’s zero chance that he will turn from his gay-hating ways.

Hall used his “apology” letter to the LGBT community to remind them of the following:

Dear Gay Community,

As a Christian who has been forced to evaluate where I stand in recent days in light of Scripture, in both tone and message, I would like to apologize for myself and other Christians…

1. I’m sorry that any of us ever referred to you as a “gay community.” Really, that’s not helpful. A “community” is a group of individuals that either live in the same place or share the same values. Sodomy (defined as unnatural and immoral sexual behavior) is not a value. Sodomy is a deviancy. Now, if you defined “community” as sharing interests and not values, then there could theoretically be a gay community because you hold unnatural and immoral sexual behavior as a common interest. However, to call you a “community” would legitimize this sin in a way that we don’t legitimize any other sin. For example, we don’t recognize “the thieving community” or the “the lying community” or “the bank-robbing community” or “the rapist community” or the “white collar criminal community.” If communities could be founded upon self-destructive behavior, those communities would be self-defeating, and a self-defeating community is no community at all. In fact, a truly “gay community” would be extinct within one generation. Your unnatural sexual deviancy leads to death; legitimate communities are self-populating and regenerative. It was a dumb term for Christians to start using, and I apologize for all of those who inadvertently give credence to the narrative that yours is a community and not a group of sinners who share in community-destroying behavior.

2. I’m sorry that Christians have made a habit of referring to you as LGBT or LGBTQ or by any other acronym or term, identifying you by your sin. First, it is unfair and unhelpful to identify you by your sin. This is actually discriminatory against you, because we don’t behave this way toward any other group of sinners. Adulterers don’t find their identity in adultery. Liars don’t find their identity in lying. Gluttons don’t find their identity in gluttony. We tend to view others as “people who happen to [fill in the blank with any number of sins].” We haven’t viewed you as people – first and foremost – who suffer from the sinful desire of sodomy. Now, you have self-identified as LGBT, because there is a unique tendency when it comes to homosexuality to let the sin consume you as a person, but we should not have participated in the unfortunate reality that your identity has become wrapped up in sinful behavior. If you thought of yourself as a person who suffers from homosexual desires, rather than as a homosexual, you might realize that you’re more than your specific sexual deviancy.
….

3. I’m sorry that we’ve given you the impression that “self-identifying” is a thing. Yes, I know I’ve used the term to get a point across in this letter of apology. But, here’s the thing…you don’t get to “self-identify.” God gave you your identity. Bruce Jenner is not Caitlyn. That’s silly. He’s a guy who emasculated himself to look like a woman, adding breasts and makeup and tucking appendages. It’s a game of dress up, essentially. And if he were to remove his genitalia, he still wouldn’t be a woman. He’d be a man without his genitalia. Bruce Jenner will never have PMS. That’s because he’s not a woman. It’s really, really mean for Christians to be anything but straightforward with this reality. I’m convinced that Bruce Jenner doesn’t have people around him that loves [sic] him, or else they would tell him that he doesn’t look like a beautiful woman. He looks like the person that kids on the bus snicker at behind them, and dare one another to go up and touch. Christians, if we were loving, would say “Bless your heart, but you’re not a woman. You’re a man trying to look like a woman, but no one really thinks you’re accomplishing that so well. You are Bruce, and God made you to be Bruce, and you can never be Caitlyn.”
….

6. Finally, I apologize for all the professed Christians that you thought had convictions, only to find out that they were sniveling, driveling compromise machines. It probably surprised you how they changed their tune and their tone when the Supreme Court ruled. That’s especially tragic. It’s tragic, because I know that your conscience is cutting you. I know that even truth suppressed in unrighteousness hurts. It’s painful, I’m sure. You might even be on the look-out for conviction and resolve and truth, and while perhaps being glad to see the rainbow filter go on your professing-Christian Facebook friends’ profiles, you’re a little let down that there isn’t an unchanging reality out there somewhere. Down deep, you know that you need that. I’m sorry for all those who have professed Christ, but haven’t loved you (or Him) enough to dig their heels in and speak a truth that’s as helpful as it is inconvenient.

I sincerely hope you’ll forgive us for these shortcomings, and we strive to do better in the future.

You can read Hall’s non-apology letter here.

While Evangelicals fall all over themselves attempting to explain that Steven Anderson is some sort of lone homo-hater, Hall’s “apology” letter is a reminder that hatred of LGBT people can be found in EVERY Evangelical church. (Hall’s church, for example, is a Southern Baptist congregation that self-identifies as Reformed Baptist.) I am sure Hall is a proud as a peacock over his “apology” letter. Ha! Ha! Ha! No apology here, you sexual deviants. God’s still hates you, and since I, a properly circumcised Calvinist,  love what God loves and hate what God hates, I hate YOU! As Steven Anderson does, J.D. Hall and the Pen & Pulpit blog have a large following — including 2,373 likes on Facebook and 6,708 followers on Twitter. Hall and other Pulpit & Pen contributors also use a radio program, podcasts, frequent blog posts to promote their version of Evangelical Christianity. Evangelicals who now realize how their vitriol towards the LGBT community caused much harm need to own the fact that there are numerous Halls and Andersons within Evangelicalism (and the Southern Baptist Convention). Granted, many of these haters will never preach hateful sermons as Anderson does, or pen hurtful “apology” letters. Many Evangelicals are too “nice” to ever do such things, but don’t be deceived by their niceness. Behind closed doors, in the safety of their faggot-free churches and homes, these “nice” Evangelicals continue to rail against the letters of the rainbow, condemning LGBT people to hell.

Pastor Richie Clendenen Thinks Evangelicals Are the Most Hated Group in America

richie clendenenRichie Clendenen is the pastor of Christian Fellowship Church in Benton, Kentucky. One out of every four residents of the Blue Grass State attends a Baptist church. One out of three Kentuckians self-identify as Evangelical. Kentucky is the state that gave us Kim Davis and Ken Ham, and is currently governed by Southern Baptist Matt Bevin. By all accounts Kentucky is, from stem to stern, a Christian state, yet Pastor Clendenen thinks Evangelicals are being persecuted. Clendenen recently stated:

I never thought we’d be in the place we are today. I never thought that the values I’ve held my whole life would bring us to a point where we were alienated or suppressed.

Clendenen also thinks that Evangelical Christians are the most hated people group in America. More hated than gays, Muslims, and atheists, Clendenen claims that  Evangelicals are the most despised people in America:

The Bible says in this life you will have troubles, you will have persecutions. And Jesus takes it a step further: You’ll be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.

Let me tell you, that time is here.

There’s nobody hated more in this nation than Christians. Welcome to America’s most wanted: You.

Clendenen confuses persecution with being forced to treat all people with respect. Clendenen thinks those of us who demand justice, fairness, and equal protection under the law are persecuting Evangelicals, yet he provides zero support for his claim. Are Clendenen and his fellow Evangelicals free to worship as they please? Are they free to verbally attack gays, Muslims, Transgenders, atheists, socialists, secularists, Democrats, and Barack Obama from the pulpit? Are Evangelicals free to bar anyone who doesn’t believe as they do from attending their churches? Yes, yes, and yes.

Clendenen is 38 years old. He grew up in an era when Evangelicals wielded great political power. But, the times, they are a-changin’, and Evangelicals have lost their seat at the head of the cultural table Thanks to the LBGTQ community, secularists, atheists, humanists, liberal Christians, and the fastest growing religion in America — the NONES — Evangelicals are no longer the cultural authority on moral and ethical issues. Preachers such as Clendenen view their banishment from cultural discussions as persecution. These preachers of intolerance and hate demand, like toddlers who stomp their feet when they don’t get their way, that everyone bow in obeisance to the Christian God and their peculiar interpretation of the Protestant Bible. And when millions of Americans say NOStop persecuting us, cries Clendenen.

Clendenen is right about one thing. An increasing number of Americans DO hate Evangelicals. Evangelicals are now the face of bigotry, homophobia, and misogyny. Evangelicals oppose all forms of sexual expression except virgin-before-marriage, monogamous, married, heterosexual, only-with-a-Christian, missionary-position, God-glorifying intercourse. Evangelicals are anti-abortion, anti-immigration, anti-social-progress, and  anti-science. Granted, I am painting with too broad a brush, but Evangelicals need to understand that this is how they are perceived by non-Evangelicals. If Evangelicals want to change how they are viewed by others, I suggest that they shut the hell up and devote themselves to ministering to “the least of these.”

Pastor Clendenen was a Ted Cruz supporter, as were many of his fellow Evangelicals. Cruz is an arrogant, bigoted Christian nationalist, yet Clendenen thinks Cruz would have made a wonderful President. Can he not see that his support of Cruz is yet another reason non-Evangelicals despise the people who claim to be the purveyors of True Christianity®? And now many Evangelicals are supporting fascist Donald Trump. Trump is the most unqualified man to ever run for President, but Evangelicals have backed themselves into a corner with their fawning support of all things Republican, and they are now obligated to vote for a misogynistic, racist, narcissistic, KKK-approved blowhard.

So yes, many Americans hate Evangelicals, and the Pastor Clendenens of the world have no one to blame but themselves. Instead of following in the footsteps of Jesus, Evangelicals spread their legs wide and gave themselves to the Republican Party. Impregnated with power, Evangelicals brought to life a hateful ideology that has caused untold harm. Over the past year, Americans have watched as Evangelicals hysterically attacked gays, immigrants, same-sex marriage, and Transgenders. Oozing revulsion from every orifice, Evangelicals, along with their Republican overlords, have become the party of hate. And to this I say, to quote Evangelical Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick:

dan patrick quote

Tweet sent out after massacre at gay club in Florida. Fifty people died and dozens more were injured.

If you have not already done so, Please read Why I Hate Jesus.

Here’s the Reason Many Evangelicals are Hateful Bigots

truth is hate

Spend any time swimming in the septic tank called Evangelical Christianity and you will likely come in contact with hateful bigots. Why are so many Evangelicals so nasty? While the reasons are many, one major reason for their hatefulness is that they believe that being a Christian is all about BELIEVING the right things, not DOING the right things. Let me illustrate this point with a few comments from Megyn Kelly’s Facebook page —The Kelly File. Last Friday, Montel Williams appeared on Kelly’s show and had this to say about Evangelical outrage over Transgender bathroom laws:

“What is the basic premise of every religion on this planet? You get judged by what you do for the least of us when you pass on. How dare you try to judge them now… and claim to be a Christian.”

Here’s how some of Kelly’s followers responded:
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As you can clearly see, these Evangelicals see no connection between Christian salvation and good works. And this is the reason why many Americans now consider Evangelicals hateful bigots. Evidently, these verses are missing from the bibles Evangelicals dust off and carry to church on Sunday:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:8-26)

Self-righteous Evangelicals will say that these verses don’t mention Transgenders, so there! Other Evangelicals will say these verses only apply to their treatment of fellow believers, so there! Fine, I say. Please share how and to what degree you are helping fellow Evangelicals who are in need. *silence* That’s what I thought. You see, what the Transgender bathroom issue reveals is Evangelical hatred for anyone who doesn’t bow to their moral (and political) demands. Transgenders are just the latest in a long line of people Evangelicals hate: liberals, mainline Christians, atheists, secularists, agnostics, Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans, undocumented workers, Barack Obama, abortion doctors, and gays, to name a few. Evangelicals need to stop preaching love, joy, and peace, when all  people can see is hatred and bigotry.

If you have your hip waders on, I encourage you to check out the comments on The Kelly File’s Montel Williams segment (April 29, 2016). Be prepared to be sickened by what Evangelicals say in the name of their God. Even if I believed in the existence of the Christian God, there’s no way in heaven or hell that I would ever want to go to church with people who think like many of Kelly’s Evangelical followers. Their words betray who and what they really are.

 

The Bob Jones III Non Apology Apology

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Recently, thanks to a petition by the gay rights activist group BJUnity, Bob Jones III, chancellor of Bob Jones University, was forced to apologize for saying that homosexuals should be stoned to death. In 1980, Jones III told  the Associated Press (link no longer active):

“It would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice today that was brought in Israel’s day against murder and rape and homosexuality. I guarantee it would solve the problem post-haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands.”

According to WXLT, Jones III made this statement while “attending a meeting at the White House with other fundamentalist leaders to deliver a petition to protest extending the protections of the Civil Rights Act to homosexuals.”

While Jones III indeed apologizes for what he said, have his beliefs about homosexuality and same-sex marriage changed? Of course not. While this is certainty a small, hard-fought victory for BJUnity, the apology is meant to a be band-aid covering up the bigotry that is prevalent on the Bob Jones University campus. I am quite certain that, belief wise, the Jones’s and the administration of the University believe just like they always have. I am certain that they do not support equal protection under the law for gays. They remain steadfastly opposed to homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

BJUnity had this to say about the statement:

“This means a lot to us because it represents the beginning of a change in the rhetoric and conversation.”

I really wish this was true, but alas it is not. Bob Jones III, like his father and grandfather, remains a hateful bigot. He will certainly pay closer attention to what he says and where he says it, but any thought of the Jones’s or the University moving away from their beliefs about homosexuality is naïve. They remain unabashedly fundamentalist. They remain committed to inerrancy and literalism. In their mind, the Bible is THE standard for morality, and the Bible is clear: homosexuality is an abomination and the mark of a reprobate mind.

Does Racism Exist in Rural Northwest Ohio?

etch a sketch

The Etch-a-Sketch is made by Ohio Art, a Bryan Ohio Company. Once Manufactured in Bryan, it is now Made Overseas.

I am a member of the Growing Up in Bryan, Ohio Facebook group. The group is made up of people who live/lived in Bryan, Ohio. Recently, the subject of racism was brought up and this provoked a lively discussion about the state of race relations in Bryan. This got me to thinking: does racism still exist in rural NW Ohio and Bryan? Have we reached a place where we live in a post-racial era? Before I answer this question, I want to spend some time talking about demographics and my own experiences as a resident of northwest Ohio.

My father grew up on a farm three miles south of Bryan and attended Bryan High School. My mother moved to Bryan as a teenager. Both of them worked for local Bryan businesses such as K&R Cleaners, The Hub, Carroll Ames, and Bryan Trucking. My father was part of a close-knit ethnic Hungarian group that settled in the Bryan area. My parents considered Bryan home and in 1957 it became my home. My brother and sister were also born in Bryan.

Even though I have spent most of my life living other places, Bryan is home for me. Try as I might to flee the boring flatlands of Bryan and rural northwest Ohio, I consider Bryan my home. Over the years, I’ve lived in California, Michigan, Texas, Arizona, and southeast Ohio. I’ve also lived in or near the northwest Ohio communities of Farmer, Deshler, Harrod, Alvordton, Mt. Blanchard, and Findlay. Currently, I live in Ney, six miles south of Bryan.

Bryan was settled in 1840 and is the seat of Williams County. In 1950, the population was 6,365 people. In 2010, the population was 8,545 people.  Bryan saw a 12.9% population growth between 1970 and 1980 and 5.9% growth between 1980 and 1990. Since 1990, the population has grown 8.2%.

According to the 2010 US Census:

  • 94.3% (8,056) of Bryan residents are white
  • .6% (47) Black
  • .9% (73) Asian
  • .2% (14) Native American
  • .1% (5) Pacific Islander
  • 2.0% (170) Mixed Race
  • 5.1% (436) Hispanic or Latino

Statistics taken from 2010 US Census Report

The Bryan of today is more racially diverse than at any time in its 175 year history. While this is good news, the reason for the diversity is non-white medical professionals moving to Bryan to work for the local hospital and medical group and white-collar professionals moving here to work for local companies. This diversity is primarily driven by economics.

The Bryan of my youth was 100% white. I was five years old before I saw a black person for the first time, a porter at the Chicago train station. As a teenager, I was told by one proud and ignorant Bryanite that Bryan was 100% white and proud of it. According to him, any black caught in town after dark was run out of town. I suspect his attitude was quite common

In the 1970s, I attended high school in Findlay, Ohio, a community 75 miles southeast of Bryan. The 1970 population of Findlay was 35,800 people. Like Bryan, Findlay was as white as white could be. There were two black students who attended Findlay High School and they were brother and sister. Today, .3% (886) of Findlay residents are black.

In the mid-1970s, I attended a Baptist church in Bryan. I can still remember the day that a woman who once attended the church and moved away, returned home with her new black husband. Oh, the racist gossip that ran wild through the church: why, what was she thinking…marrying a black man! Think of the children! It was not long before she and her husband moved on to another church.

It was not until I moved to Pontiac, Michigan to attend Midwestern Baptist College that I came into close contact with blacks. Freshman year, one of my roommates was a black man from Philadelphia. The college was connected with nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church. Emmanuel ran numerous bus routes into Pontiac and Detroit, busing in thousands of blacks. Most of the children from Detroit attended B Sunday school. The B was the designation given for the afternoon Sunday school. It was not long before I figured out that the B stood for black. When an overtly racist man became the bus pastor, one of the first things he did was stop running the buses to Detroit. We were told this was due to budget restraints, but many of us thought the real reason was race.

The college and church were located in a bad part of Pontiac. (Some might argue, is there a good part of Pontiac?)  The projects were nearby and the area east of the college was decidedly black. My experiences with the local black community, with its rundown housing and rampant crime, helped to reinforce the racist stereotypes I had been taught by my parents. It didn’t help that gangs of black youth repeatedly broke into the dormitory and ransacked the place while everyone was at church. A few years back, the college relocated to an overwhelmingly white community.

My parents, typical of their generation, were racists. It is impossible to paint the picture any other way. Whether their racism was from their own upbringing or their membership in the John Birch Society, they made no apology for their fundamentalist Christian-driven racism. They had a special hatred for Martin Luther King, Jr. My mother thought King got exactly what he deserved when he was assassinated in 1968. Like it or not, this is my heritage.

In the 1980s, Polly and I lived in southeast Ohio. For a number of years we were foster parents. One of children we cared for was black. We had made arrangements to rent a house outside of Somerset, Ohio where I was pastoring at the time, from a retired school teacher. When we looked at the house we did not have our foster child with us. Several days before we supposed to move in, the matronly pillar of the community called and said that she decided to not rent the house. We found out later that she told people that she was not going to have a nigger living in her house.

We moved to New Lexington, Ohio and enrolled our foster child in the local public school, thinking little about how hard it might be for her to be the only black kid in the school.  Needless to say, she was subjected to daily racial taunts. One day, the principal called us and said our foster child had created a disturbance in class. One of her classmates had called her a nigger and she threw her book at her taunter and stormed out of class.

I was quite upset at her behavior. Having never walked in her shoes, I had no way of knowing what it was like to be singled out and taunted. I gave her the stern Pastor Gerencser lecture, reminding her that she was accountable for behavior and that she couldn’t respond this way every time someone called her a nigger. While my words had a ring of truth to them, they were quite insensitive and showed that I didn’t have a clue about how difficult it was for her.

In the mid-1980s, the church I pastored had a black missionary come and present his work. I took the missionary on a tour of area and we stopped at the Somerset Snack Bar for lunch. The Snack Bar was where locals hung out and it was always a busy hive of storytelling and news. The Snack Bar was quite noisy when we walked in the door, but as patrons glanced up to see who was walking in, the noise quickly dissipated. I later learned that several of the locals were upset over the Baptist preacher bringing a nigger into the Snack Bar.

In 1995, I moved back home to northwest Ohio, pastoring a church in Alvordton for a short time and pastoring a church in West Unity for seven years. Polly and I have lived in this area now for 17 of the last 20 years. This is our home. Our six children and ten grandchildren all live within 20 minutes of our home.

It was during my time as pastor of Our Father’s House in West Unity, that I began to address my own latent racism and the racism that percolated under the surface of the local community. As my politics began to move to the left, my preaching took on a social gospel flavor and this included preaching on race, racism, and race relations.

When a church member would talk about colored people I would ask them, so what color were they? Oh you know what I mean, preacher! Yes, I do. So, how is the color of their skin germane to the story you are telling? I did the same when members talked about “those” people, those meaning blacks, Mexicans, or welfare bums.

What made things difficult was that we had a black man attending the church. He was a racist’s dream, the perfect stereotype. He was on welfare, didn’t work, lived in Section 8 housing, had an illegitimate child, and spent most of his waking hours trying to figure out how to keep from working. The church financially helped him several times and we brought him groceries on numerous occasions. One time he called me and told me he needed groceries. I told him that I would have someone bring over some groceries. He then told me, preacher, I’m a meat and potato man, so I don’t want no canned food. Bring me some meat. He’s still waiting for those groceries to be delivered.

As I read the comments on the Growing Up in Bryan, Ohio Facebook group, I noticed that there was an age divide. Older people such as I thought Bryan was still, to some degree, racist, while younger people were less inclined to think Bryan residents were racist or they thought local racists were a few bad apples. I think that this reflects the fact that race relations are markedly better now this area.

The reasons are many:

  • Older generations, those raised in the days of race riots, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jim Crow are dying off.
  • Local residents are treated by doctors who are not white.
  • Interracial couples now live in the area.
  • Migrants workers, once a part of the ebb and flow of the farming season, are now permanent residents.
  • Younger adults and teenagers no longer think race is a big deal.
  • Music and television have brought the world to our doorstep, allowing us to experience other cultures.
  • Sports, in which the majority of athletes in the three major professional sports — football, basketball, and baseball — are non-white. Cable and satellite TV broadcast thousands of college and professional games featuring non-white players.

Exposure breeds tolerance. Bigoted attitudes about gays and same-sex marriage are on prominent display in rural northwest Ohio. These attitudes remind me of how things once were when it came to race. Time and exposure to people who are different from us can’t help but change how we view things like race and sexual orientation. My children are quite accepting and tolerant of others, and I hope that these attitudes will be passed on to my grandchildren. We are closer today than we ever have been to Martin Luther King’s hope of “a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

We haven’t arrived. Latent, subtle racism must continue to be challenged. Unfortunately, on both sides of the political divide, there are those who use race and fear to stoke distrust and hate of those who are different. We  must forcefully marginalize those who want to return America to the 1950s. We must also be willing to judge our own attitudes about race. We enlightened liberals gleefully look at the extreme right and we see racism and bigotry in all its glory. Yet, if we are honest, such things exist in our own backyard. None of us can rest until we have achieved a post-racial world. We have much work to do.

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