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Tag: COVID-19 Virus

Understanding the Pastors Who Refuse to Close Their Churches During the Coronavirus Pandemic

pastor-mark-falls
Mark Falls, pastor of the Newark Baptist Temple, Heath, Ohio

I have watched more cable news in recent weeks than I have over the past ten years. My wife can say the same. Like it or not, our lives are consumed by the Coronavirus Pandemic, COVID-19, suffering, death, and the incessant, child-like tantrums of one Donald Trump. Our feelings run the gamut from anger to despair. We have done all we can to stay home and avoid contact with outsiders, yet we fear that the virus is still hunting us, and it is only a matter of time before it finds us. And when it does — and it may have already — how will our bodies respond? Will we end up in the hospital on a ventilator, dying alone.

These are dark, difficult times. Yes, the United States and world will come out on the other side of this pandemic, but the carnage left in its wake will take years to overcome. And until there is a vaccine readily available, we could see the continued spread of the virus months or a year down the road. There’s so much we don’t know, yet we do know that social distancing works. We know that masks and gloves offer some protection against spreading the virus.

Most Americans recognize that we are facing an existential threat; that it is crucial that we all do our part by distancing ourselves from other people. We know the large gathering of people can and do become super-spreaders of the virus. Churches, in particular, have played a significant part in the spread of the virus. Thus, governors across the country have asked churches to stop holding in-person services. Most churches have put the health and safety of congregants and communities first, and have prudently closed their doors. However, a small percentage of churches refuse to stop holding services. Why do they refuse to do the right thing?

As I look at the denominational and theological connections of these rebellious churches and their pastors, something becomes very clear to me. Almost every church fits into one of two categories:

  • Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches
  • Charismatic churches

What is it about IFB churches that make them more likely to refuse government orders to cancel their services?

IFB churches typically are anti-government. In fact, they hate the government. IFB pastors believe that the government has no power, control, or authority over them. “How dare the government tell us what to do or when and wherever we can have services!” IFB preachers say. Even those who have canceled their services are likely sitting at home seething over what they perceive is governmental control and overreach.

I have written about four IFB churches that refused to close their doors: First Baptist Church, Bryan Ohio (Local Church Continues to Meet on Sundays Despite the Coronavirus Pandemic), North Platte Baptist Church, North Platte, Nebraska (Dear Pastor Reeves, Let Me Explain to You Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself), Newark Baptist Temple, Heath, Ohio (IFB Pastor Mark Falls Tries to Use Bible Verses to Guilt People into Attending Church during Coronavirus Pandemic, and Maryville Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky (IFB Pastor Jack Roberts Refuses to Close the Doors of his Church). First Baptist finally saw the light. but the Baptist Temple, North Platte Baptist, and Maryville Baptist continue to hold services.

Easter Sunday, the Newark Baptist Temple gathered together to worship their God. You can watch a video of the service below. What you will quickly see is that no one is wearing masks or gloves, many people are ignoring the six-foot social distancing guideline, and congregants seem generally clueless of the fact that their singing, talking, and even breathing can and does expel the virus into the air.

What is it about Charismatic churches that make them more likely to refuse government orders to cancel their services?

While Charismatic churches can and do have anti-government sentiments, their refusal of governmental orders to cancel their services are more theological in nature. Charismatic preachers such as Tony Spell, Rodney Howard-Browne, and others, believe that their God is bigger than the Coronavirus; and that God will protect them from the virus; or God will heal them if they are infected.

Spell bussed people into his Easter service, effectively telling the State of Florida to go fuck themselves. Howard-Browne’s church found their insurance canceled, so they were unable to physically meet. Evidently, God is not better than property and liability insurance companies.

pastor tony spell
Tony Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church: The Apostolics of Baton Rouge

Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church: The Apostolics of Baton Rouge in Louisiana had this to say about holding in-person church services:

Satan and a virus will not stop us God will shield us from all harm and sickness. We are not afraid.

Like any zealot or like any pure religious person, death looks to them like a welcome friend. True Christians do not mind dying. They fear living in fear.

I cannot baptize people in a livestream. I can not lay hands on people in a livestream. I cannot pray for people in a livestream, and this is our biblical command — to lay hands on the sick and when they recover baptize them by immersion in water, which we do every day.

Spell reveals his theological motivation for holding in-person services: prayer, the laying on of hands, and the healing of the sick. Spell’s Biblical basis for doing so is this:

  • They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:18)
  • Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:14)

According to Life Tabernacle Church’s website, divine healing is part of their apostolic DNA. Here’s what their doctrinal statement has to say:

God has made Himself known through the ages by miraculous healings and has made special provisions in the age of grace to heal all who will come to Him in faith and obedience. Divine healing was purchased for us by the blood of Jesus Christ, especially by His stripes (Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 8:16-17; I Peter 2:24). Jesus went everywhere healing those who were sick (Matthew 4:23-24), and He commanded His disciples to do the same (Matthew 10:8). He said concerning those who believe the gospel, “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18). Mighty healings and miracles followed the disciples wherever the gospel was preached.

There is no sickness or disease too hard for God. Any of us, our children, or our friends can be healed by the power of God. “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall raise him up: and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:14-16).

“There’s no sickness to hard for God,” Tony Spell believes, and that includes Coronavirus and COVID-19. In Spell’s alternate reality? It’s God, not science that heals sickness and disease. Of course, the true test of such ignorance comes when Spell, a family member, or congregant gets sick and religious mumbo jumbo recited over them doesn’t work. What do they do? Run to the doctor/ emergency room/hospital for treatment. What happened to God being the mighty healer and deliverer? What happened to no sickness being too hard for God?

The refusal of IFB pastors and Charismatic pastors to morally do what’s right is belief-driven, and even if their haughty ignorance leads to people being infected with the virus, they will find ways to spin their rebellion against authority as some principled stand for God and country. What most people will see, however, is pigheaded preachers who have no regard for their churches or communities; preachers who put beliefs and positions over public health and safety.

Gerald O. Glenn, pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Richmond, Virginia

Let me conclude this post with the stories of Gerald O. Glenn, pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Richmond, Virginia, and itinerant preacher and musician Landon Spradlin. Both were Evangelicals.

Glenn had this to say in a March 22 sermon:

I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that, you can quote me on that. I am essential, I’m a preacher — I talk to God!

Glenn believed that he was “essential” and that God was larger than the Coronavirus. Sadly, Glenn learned that he was not essential and God was NOT bigger than COVID-19. Glenn died a week after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

coronavirus hoax
Cartoon by Bill Bramhall

Landon Spradlin said the Coronavirus was not big deal; that it was overhyped by the media. Spradlin found out the hard way that COVID-19 is a big deal, and no, the media was not overhyping the pandemic. Spradlin went about preaching and singing, giving no regard to social distancing and avoiding groups of people. Spradlin said the virus would “come and go,” but what came and went was Spradlin. Twelve days after preaching at Mardi Gras and saying the virus would come and go, Spradlin died from COVID-19.

Sadly, the only way for recalcitrant IFB and charismatic preachers to see the danger of COVID-19 is infection and death, if not of them personally, then of someone dear to them. As long as these pastors can avoid the consequences of their sins, they will continue to act in ways and promote ideas that harm not only to church members but communities at large. Sadly, it’s going to take a few preachers getting infected and dying before the so-called men of God mentioned in the post and others see the light.

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

You can 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.

IFB Pastor Jack Roberts Refuses to Close the Doors of his Church

pastor jack roberts

A small number of Evangelical pastors, showing no regard for the health and safety of their congregants and communities, refuse to cancel their services. One such man is Jack Roberts, pastor of Maryville Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Roberts, in his 70s, started Maryville Baptist in 1968. In 1980 he started Maryville Independent Christian Academy of Hope (M.I.C.A.H.). Roberts is a self-described Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher. His church bio page states:

Dr. Jack Roberts was saved at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Fairdale, KY. He was licensed to preach by Oak Grove Baptist Church. In April 1966 he was ordained and accepted the pastorate position at Immanuel Baptist Church in Shepherdsville KY.

He has a B.A. and M.A. from Heritage University and a Doctor of Divinity from Victory Baptist Institute. In 1981 he received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Sacramento Bible College.

In June 1968 after conducting an evangelistic crusade at Overdale School in Hillview, KY, he agreed to help start a local church in the Community. With the help of several preacher friends, the church was organized and he accepted the responsibility to serve as pastor of Maryville Baptist Church. In 1980 he led the congregation to begin a Christian school that is named Maryville Independent Christian Academy of Hope (M.I.C.A.H.). This became a vital part of Maryville Baptist Church since that time.

Dr. Roberts was a vital part of the Ten Commandments issue in Classrooms in Bullitt County School System. After Mr. Hatfield, superintendent of Bullitt County schools at that time, agreed to have them taken down due to pressure from the A.C.L.U.; Dr. Roberts led a three day prayer vigil. Several hundred students stayed out of school and attended one of the three sites around the County where the prayer meetings were held. Dr. Jack Roberts was also involved with the fight for church related Christian School movement in the early 1980’s. That Eventually led to change of legislation law. This led to the end of the Board of Education taking individual schools to court to try and close them.

Dr. Roberts and his wife Tootsie have five children, many grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren. His eldest son Denver, is an ordained pastor at Star Baptist Church in Williamsburg KY.

“Dr.” Roberts doesn’t have an earned doctorate from an accredited institution. Like many IFB preachers, his doctorate is an honorary degree. (Please see IFB Doctorates: Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Everyone’s a Doctor.) Such degrees are little more than statements of dick size among IFB preachers.

Marysville Baptist’s website describes the church this way:

Maryville Baptist Church is dedicated to bringing the Gospel of Christ to our community and the world.  We are an Independent, Fundamental Baptist Church using the authorized King James Bible as our final authority. Take a look around and see the work God is doing at M.B.C. We have been blessed to be a part of the Lord’s work and wish to share with you some of the exciting things here. We ask that you please keep us in your prayers, that God will use this site to bring more people to the Christ!

Maryville Independent Christian Academy of Hope, the brainchild of Roberts, uses Abeka curriculum — a ministry of Pensacola Christian College. The Academy’s general information page states:

The school day begins at 8:30 a.m. and dismisses at 3:00 p.m.  Students must wear the appropriate uniforms listed in our Student Handbook. MICAH stands firm on orderly behavior in the classroom, modesty in attire and in conduct.  All of MICAH’s rules and guidelines are taken from the King James Holy Bible.  Our standards are not from man but from God.

Got all that? Their rules and guidelines are straight from God and the one, true Bible, the KJV. Based on Internet reviews, I learned that teachers are not required to have degrees. No surprise, I suppose, when you have the KJV Bible. Written in 1611 and revised in 1769, the KJV Bible is all twenty-first-century Christian children need. Or so Pastor Roberts and his church think, anyway.

Roberts is a typical IFB preacher — arrogant, hardheaded, with little regard for anything or anyone but his infallible beliefs. As virtually every church around him wisely closed their doors to protect their congregants and larger communities from COVID-19 exposure, Roberts dug his heels in and said intends to keep holding services, even if state officials arrest him. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Roberts views himself as a fighter, a defender of the true faith, a warrior waging war against secular government authority. Roberts has spent most of his life fighting the government, so it should come as no surprise that he continues to do so now.

When asked about his refusal to stop holding services, Roberts stated, “It’s my life, and I feel like the Gospel is more important than anything else.” “It’s my life,” this troglodyte says. What a narcissist. It’s all about him, and not the lives of his congregants and neighbors. Roberts stubbornly refuses to understand that what he does personally can and will affect others. In fact, his careless actions could kill people.

Kentucky governor Andy Beshear has publicly chastised Roberts for his illegal behavior. Roberts replied:

I might not ought to say it this way — whatever you put on the air is what I’m saying, all right — but our stupid governor says you can’t get together with your family for Easter. What are they going to do stand at my front door and see how many people goes in?

Roberts also said, and I quote, “I know everybody thinks I’m crazy. Maybe I am.” I will leave it medical professionals to ascertain whether Roberts is “crazy.” I am more inclined to believe that Roberts is just a garden variety IFB preacher; a man so immersed in his own personal narrative that he is indifferent towards everyone but himself. He is an IFB example of Donald Trump. If Roberts truly cared about his congregation, school children, and the people of Bullet County, he would immediately stop holding in-person services at Maryville Baptist Church. Of course, he will never do this. He has too much invested in his stand against the government and its Satanic emissaries. To do the right thing requires Roberts to admit that he is wrong. And that ain’t gonna happen, even if his self-righteous arrogance kills people. Fortunately, many of Roberts’ congregants have wised up to their pastor’s behavior. Last Sunday’s service according to the Courier-Journal, attracted a whopping fifty people. Wednesday’s service drew 40 people.

Here’s hoping come Easter Sunday, the people in the above video realize that their risen Savior commanded them to “love their neighbors,” and the best way to show that love is to stay home.

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

You can 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.

Prophet Jeremiah Johnson: Dr. Tony Fauci is a Rat Who Must be Silenced

prophet jeremiah johnson

One of the most searched for and widely read posts on this site, is a post titled, Holy Spirit Tells Jeremiah Johnson That Donald Trump is the Trumpet of God. Written in July 2015, I quote Johnson as saying:

Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election. You must listen to the trumpet very closely for he will sound the alarm and many will be blessed because of his compassion and mercy. Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger.”

I said at the time:

Well, one thing is for sure . . . Donald Trump is a blowhard, the next Herb Alpert of God’s brass band of fools.

Trump, of course, went on to become President of the United States.

Shortly after the November 2016 election, I wrote:

Shortly after Donald Trump was named the winner of the 2016 presidential election, scores of Evangelicals came to this site looking for Jeremiah Johnson’s prophecy about Trump, one that stated that he would become president. Johnson “prophetically” farted and now Evangelicals are stopping by to let me know how sweet it smells. Sadly, it is impossible to reason with people who believe God speaks through prophets, telling us what will happen in the future. It does not matter to them that these prophets are wrong most of the time and, according to the Bible, should be stoned to death. Looking for confirmation of their political, social, and religious beliefs, Evangelicals scour the internet searching for God sightings.

These are the same people who believe that, thanks to their prayers, the Christian God interceded in the presidential election, making sure that the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, pussy-grabbing orange-skinned Trump was elected. What evidence do they have for this? None. Much as in the case when Evangelicals pray over lost keys and God leads them to the exact place they left their keys, there is no evidence answered prayers were instrumental in the election. White Evangelicals voted and this is one of the reasons, come January, that the New York Clampetts will take up residence in the White House.

If God answered Evangelical prayers for a Trump presidency, what does this say about the master Puppeteer? It says that the Evangelical God thinks that the behaviors and policies espoused by Christian Donald Trump and his traveling troop of imbeciles are copacetic. This means that the Evangelical God is fine with demeaning and sexually assaulting women, deporting millions of hardworking undocumented workers, torturing prisoners, and raining death upon the heads of helpless civilians who live in countries that “baby” Christian Trump deems to be anti-American.

If it is God who put Donald Trump in the White House, then surely it is fair to hold God accountable for the deeds of HIS presidential choice. If Evangelicals want me to believe that there is a God in the heavenlies whom they have on speed dial, then I am going to hold that same God accountable for what happens on Donald Trump’s watch.

Jeremiah Johnson — not related in the character with the same name in the 1972 movie featuring Robert Redford — is a self-described prophet and apostolic overseer of Heart of the Father Ministry in Lakeland Florida. Johnson is also the founder and director of Maranatha School of Ministry, a full-time, two-year, five-fold ministry training center that equips and sends out end-time messengers.

According to Johnson’s website:

In 2012, Jeremiah had an encounter in my church office where God said, “I am sending you”. A national and international itinerant ministry was birthed that has now taken him to more than 40 states and 25 nations around the world. The ministry receives more than 400 invitations a year for speaking engagements. JJM is a separate ministry organization with a separate office and staff that’s completely separate from Heart of the Father Ministry.

Since 2015, Johnson has been an unapologetic sycophant — look the word up, Evangelicals — of Donald Trump. For Evangelicals too lazy to look up the definition of sycophant, THE SAGE dictionary defines the word this way:

A person who tried to please someone in order to gain a personal advantage. Synonym: Ass-kisser, crawler, lackey, toady. Hypernym: adulator, flatterer. Hyponymn: apple polisher, booktlicker, fawner, goody-goody, groveler, truckler.

On March 30, 2020, Johnson unleashed another prophetic utterance on the world. Here’s what Johnson had to say on Facebook:

IS THERE A RAT IN THE WHITE HOUSE?

Prophetic Dream on 3/30/20

Last night in my dream, I found myself at a White House briefing with Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Dr. Anthony Fauci. The President was making an announcement to the United States regarding COVID-19. As he began to encourage the people with a message of hope and promise, suddenly, Dr. Fauci turned into a big rat the size of a human being. Alarmed, I ran to the side of the stage and saw a line of men dressed in fine clothes, many of them not American, who were standing behind the doctor handing him large sums of cash.

God spoke to me immediately in the dream and said, “Even now, there is a plot to turn the President into a political puppet when I have given him a prophetic anointing to decree with authority. The month of April will determine the re-election of Donald Trump as there is a satanic agenda being loosed upon the USA to cripple the economy and turn the people against the President. There are timeframes that will seek to be stretched and moved far beyond My plans”, says the Lord.

God continued to speak to me, “Watch the states! COVID-19 has opened up the door for great division and mutiny in the United States. Governors will oppose the President in the days ahead and there will be a great spiritual battle for this nation. You must understand that this battle is concerning ‘authority’. You must pray that Donald Trump does not receive any counsel except by those whom I have sent to him. For I will expose every agenda and every plot of the enemy in the coming season. Jezebel will be thrown down in Washington DC. That controlling, conniving, divisive, and seductive spirit that comes to castrate this President will not win. They could not impeach him, so now they will attempt to publicly assassinate him through trapping him in his words and speech. He will decree and then they will try to disarm. What comes out of the mouth of My people in these days will determine many days and seasons, says the Lord.”

I woke up from this dream and God speaking audibly to me at 3:30 am. I was gasping for air and immediately received an open vision in my bedroom of a muzzle being put on President Trump. I wrestled in the spirit realm for several hours fighting for the authority that God has given him to be manifested in the United States. I then wrote down several prayer points that I would like to share now for your consideration”

1. We must pray that any voices that President Trump is currently receiving counsel from concerning COVID-19 that are not from God would be silenced and exposed.

2. We must pray that any agenda, whether it be economic or political that is trying to attach itself to the COVID-19 pandemic would be torn down.

3. We must recognize that there is a fight for “authority” in the spirit realm. God has anointed this President and the decrees that he makes must not be disarmed and reversed by the enemy. Donald Trump made a decree that by Passover, many sectors and spheres would open up. Days later, that prophetic decree was overturned and reversed. The enemy is at work and an alarm must be sounded. Keep your eyes and ears specifically on this battle for his “words”.

4. We must pray that any muzzle trying to be placed upon Donald Trump’s mouth be broken. We are currently in the Hebrew year 5780 which is the year of the open mouth. May the President’s mouth be open and may he make righteous and wise decrees in the United States. May the Church open up their mouth and speak forth the word of God.

5. We must pray for the spirit of Jezebel to be thrown down in Washington D.C. This public assassination attempt on President Trump will not succeed. We must declare that any financial crisis and hardship that the USA endures will not turn people unnecessarily against him.

6. We must pray for our Governors and local authorities. Beware of the spirit of division and mutiny that will seek to cause confusion and chaos in the months ahead.

7. We must carefully guard our own mouths and choose to speak life, blessing, and prosperity over our cities and nation.

May we remember that our wrestle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

One online source comments and says, “Rats in dreams symbolize slavery and financial loss. It is believed that rats were programmed by Satan to put people into debt and commit great sin.” The intent is not to demonize Dr. Anthony Fauci, but rather we must recognize an agenda at work that is clearly contrary to the purpose and plans of God.

Johnson dares to say with a straight face:

It is believed that rats were programmed by Satan to put people into debt and commit great sin.” The intent is not to demonize Dr. Anthony Fauci, but rather we must recognize an agenda at work that is clearly contrary to the purpose and plans of God.

Of course Johnson demonizes Dr. Fauci. Johnson recognizes that Fauci is a direct contradiction to the lies which spew daily from President Trump’s mouth and the mouth of Vice President Mike Pence. Johnson has way too much religious capital invested in Trump’s presidency to call out the president’s lies. Johnson is all in, and that’s why he viciously goes after Dr. Fauci.

Let me conclude this post by warning Evangelicals. Your behavior during the Coronavirus Pandemic is on display for all the world to see. From vile utterances such as Johnson’s screed against Dr. Fauci to pastors who refuse to close their churches, it is clear that what really matters to many (not all) Evangelicals is political power. There is a payday coming, Evangelicals; that is, if the COVID-19 virus doesn’t kill you. History will not be kind to you. You are hastening your decline, and furthering the hatred many Americans have for Evangelical Christianity. Just remember, the Bible says in Hosea 8:7:

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

You have sown to the wind, and you will, in time, reap a whirlwind. Consider this a prophecy from Bruce Almighty; one, that unlike Johnson’s, will most certainly come to pass.

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

You can 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.

Evangelical Pastor Matt Trewhella Defies Government Order to Close His Church

matt trewhella and family

Most Evangelical pastors have prudently shut down their churches due to the Coronavirus pandemic. While this blog features critiques of Evangelicalism and often ridicules the excesses found within Fundamentalist Christianity, I do want to thank these pastors for putting the health and welfare of their congregants and communities first. Even some of the churches who, at the start of the pandemic, refused to close their doors, have now caved to the reality that their continued obstinance was putting people’s lives at risk. Better late than never, but I am not inclined to forget the churches and pastors who put their politics and theology about the health of family, friends, and neighbors.

A handful of Evangelical pastors continue to hold church services despite government suggestions or orders that they refrain from doing so. One such man of God is Matt Trewhella, pastor of Mercy Street Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I learned about Trewhella’s behavior from a blog post written by uber-Fundamentalist and anti-government extremist Susan-Anne White. I have written about Ms. White several times in recent years:

That White thinks Matt Trewhella is a “courageous” pastor should come as no surprise. White thinks that the Coronavirus pandemic is much ado about nothing; a government plot to meant to take away civil liberties. On March 11, 2020, White posted a link to an article that suggested the coronavirus was little more than “fake news.” It is clear, at least to me, that Trewhella and White are two peas in a pod; fellow conspiracy theorists who are watching the world burn while pretending there’s no fire.

Trewhella operates the Defy Tyrants website. Trewhella, father of eleven children, calls himself a missionary to the pre-born.

Trewhella’s church bio page states:

In addition to being pastor of Mercy Seat Christian Church (founded in 1989) in the Milwaukee, WI area, Pastor Trewhella is also founder of the pro-life organization Missionaries to the Preborn, author of the book The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates: A Proper Resistance to Tyranny and a Repudiation of Unlimited Obedience to Civil Government, and lectures frequently on righteous resistance and the lesser magistrate doctrine.

Pastor Trewhella has been a passionate leader and laborer within the body of Christ since his conversion at age 17 in the inner city of Detroit. His integrity and innovative leadership within the pro-life movement [and now within the abolitionist movement] have inspired a generation to “love their neighbor as themselves”.

Though much maligned in the liberal media for his effective pro-life work, Pastor Trewhella’s reputation as a man of principle and great courage shine brightly to a generation so desperately in need of godly leadership. He and his wife Clara live in the Milwaukee, WI area. They have eleven children.

While the governor of Wisconsin has wisely ordered all churches to close their doors, Trewhella refuses to abide by the order. Instead of meeting at their normal gathering place, the Zoofari Conference Center, Trewhella has moved his carnival act to his home. You can, if you dare, view Trewhella’s recent sermon on the COVID-19 virus below.

Video Link

Just today, the good pastor said on Facebook:

God’s Word speaks to all matters of life, including the matter of quarantining. The Lord speaks of this in His law in Leviticus 13. And when we look at the law of God we see one thing that comes through loud and clear – you do NOT quarantine the whole of society – rather you quarantine the sick.

There is also a process in God’s law to follow to determine who is sick. You do not abridge the rights and freedom of everyone and shut down the whole of society. In this we see the goodness and grace of God’s law. God’s law is more gracious and protects freedom more than man’s law. God’s law doesn’t destroy the economy and lives of others. God’s prescription was intended to protect society not only from the disease, but from economic hardship upon those who weren’t diseased. You don’t abridge every other person’s freedom – you quarantine the sick.

Perhaps it time for me to pray an atheist imprecatory prayer:

Dear Lord,

We live in a day and hour of extreme ignorance and stupidity. Countless Evangelical and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist pastors are putting the lives of their congregants, families, and neighbors at risk Lord, all because they hate the governments you have ordained (Romans 13) and think you are commanding them to keep the doors of their churches open.

Since it is evident that these so-called men of God are immune to reason, science, and common sense, Lord I ask that you inflict them with the COVID-19 virus. Don’t kill them Lord, just make them wish they were dead. Please protect everyone around them from their Trumpian stupidity, Lord. No need for others to suffer due to their ignorance. May everyone see their affliction, Lord, as your judgment upon their lives. And when these monuments to ignorance recover Lord, may they testify to the world that they were wrong and that Lord Science and his Son Reason alone rule this earth.

To your name, I give all the glory,

Amen.

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.

How the Coronavirus has Affected Us

coronavirus
Cartoon by Phil Hands

Everyone has a Coronavirus Pandemic story to tell. I hope you and yours are surviving and doing what you can to maintain your sanity during this time of unprecedented social and economic upheaval. I do think about the readers of this blog. I worry about their health, finances, and families. I wonder if I am focusing too much on the pandemic, and not enough of positive, happy stories. I don’t want to further depress people or add to their stress levels, yet I suspect that most readers want me to continue to open, honest, and matter of fact. In other words, my house might be on fire and my wheelchair is out for repairs, but I am going to do what I can to maintain some sort of normalcy.

A number of readers have asked how things are going for me and my family. I appreciate everyone’s kind, thoughtful comments, and emails. Rather than send out form letters or take on the laborious task of responding individually, I thought I would answer the various inquiries I have received in this post. After this, I won’t mention our personal plight until things change for us in a significant way. All of us have our own burdens to bear right now, so there’s no need for me to endlessly talk about my own.

First, let me mention Polly. She was scheduled to have bowel reconnection surgery at the end of March. That surgery has been postponed until at least the end of June. Which is fine. Polly can get along okay as she is, colostomy bag and all. Not what she wanted, but she understands why her surgery had to be canceled.

Polly was laid off from her job — a first in our marriage. Initially, her employer thought it would be a brief furlough; now the talk is that her layoff may last into late April or early May. On Monday, Polly tried to file for Ohio unemployment online. The state’s website crashed during the process, leaving her application incomplete. This has led to an infuriating comedy of errors. The bottom line is this: Polly has to call the Ohio Jobs and Family Services to “fix” her application. Much like resisting assimilation into the Borg, reaching someone at the state office has proven futile. We call four to six times a day, without success. Please try again later. 

Second, our children are either working from home, on drastically reduced hours, or laid off. We are quite close, so it has been difficult to not see most of them. Our youngest daughter has stopped by several times with here munchkins, and our oldest son briefly stopped in two days ago with his oldest daughter. We stayed in the back yard for the duration. To say that we miss our children and grandchildren would be a gross understatement.

Third, we had been saving money to cover Polly’s month off work for her surgery. We are now repurposing that money to pay our current living expenses. This, of course, will lead to difficulties for us when Polly does have her surgery in late June. We have enough money on hand to pay all our living expenses for two months. By then, we should receive the stimulus check and somebody, anybody, will pick up the damn phone at the unemployment office, allowing Polly to successfully complete her unemployment application.

Six weeks ago, we bought a new car. Awesome, wonderful car. However, it’s not a good time to be purchasing a new car. We can’t unring the proverbial bell, so all we know to do is move forward. I made the first payment yesterday. We will worry about the next one when it’s due.

Fourth, food-wise we are in good shape. We always have three to four weeks of food on hand, so we didn’t need to make a run to the store lest we run out. We have gone to the grocery twice in the past three weeks. We are good to go, even if we may not necessarily have everything we want. Growing up poor and spending much of our married life on the bottom of the economic scale, taught us how to make do. We are survivors. Polly is a wizard when it comes to making groceries stretch. 

Fifth, our biggest concern is what will happen insurance-wise if Polly’s layoff continues long-term. Right now, her employer is paying all the premium costs; however, I suspect there will come a time when they will no longer be able to do so. The company she works for employs 2,000 people, but they are a private, family-owned business. Their ability to absorb long-term financial losses is limited. The company was already under financial stress before the pandemic, so I do worry about their future. The owners are wonderful people. I know they will do everything they can to keep the business running and their employees working.

Finally, my health pretty much remains the same. Chronic pain and debility are ever with me. As most readers know, I have a massive cyst between my breast and shoulder. I have had this cyst drained twice over the past four months. Unfortunately, it keeps coming back and will continue to grow until it is drained again. It really needs to be drained now, but the risk is just too great. I don’t plan on going anywhere near a hospital unless it is an emergency. Not draining the cyst has several risks. First, as it grows, it presses on nerves in my shoulder, cutting off feeling to my arm. Second, the cyst could hinder blood flow in a nearby artery. This, the radiologist told me, could cause a stroke. So many decisions. For now, I do nothing. 

Stay safe, friends. 

Bruce

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.

Bruce Gerencser