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Evangelicals Try to Distance Themselves From the January 6, 2021 Insurrection

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Evangelical apologist Michael Brown wants the world to know that it wasn’t Jesus-loving Evangelicals that fomented insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Ignore the Evangelical rally that preceded the insurrection. Ignore the incendiary words for months by prominent Evangelical leaders, preachers, and writers. Ignore the Jesus flags, crosses, and Christian apparel. Ignore the Christian music that wafted across the concourse. Ignore the social media posts from Evangelicals who proudly shouted, I WAS THERE! Brown wants everyone to know that the violent, murderous insurrectionists were not real Evangelicals. This was not, according to Brown, a Christian insurrection.

David French calls bullshit on Brown’s disingenuous, facts-challenged denial. (And Brown ignores his own culpability in stoking the flames of Trumpism over the past four years.)

French writes:

We have to be clear about what happened in Washington D.C. on January 6th. A violent Christian insurrection invaded and occupied the Capitol.

Why do I say this was a Christian insurrection? Because so very many of the protesters told us they were Christian, as loudly and clearly as they could.

….

I saw much of it with my own eyes. There was a giant wooden cross outside the Capitol. “Jesus saves” signs and other Christian signs were sprinkled through the crowd. I watched a man carry a Christian flag into an evacuated legislative chamber.

I could go on and on. My colleague Audrey Fahlberg was present at the riot, and she told me that Christian music was blaring from the loudspeakers late in the afternoon of the takeover. And don’t forget, this attack occurred days after the so-called Jericho March, an event explicitly filled with Christian-nationalist rhetoric so unhinged that I warned on December 13 that it embodied “a form of fanaticism that can lead to deadly violence.”

Are you still not convinced that it’s fair to call this a Christian insurrection? I would bet that most of my readers would instantly label the exact same event Islamic terrorism if Islamic symbols filled the crowd, if Islamic music played in the loudspeakers, and if members of the crowd shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they charged the Capitol.

If that happened conservative Christians would erupt in volcanic anger. We’d turn to the Muslim community and cry out, “Do something about this!” How do I know we’d respond in that manner? Because that’s what we’ve done, year after year, before and after 9/11. And while there were many times when Christians painted the Muslim world with an overly-broad bigoted brush, it is true that violent insurrections do not spring forth from healthy communities.

That’s true abroad, and it’s true at home. During this summer’s riots, I wrote multiple posts detailing the extraordinary difficulty in quelling urban unrest once violence starts. Sometimes the unhealthy community is suffering from the effects of systemic injustice. Sometimes it’s dominated by outrageous and unreasonable grievances. Sometimes it’s infested with unhealthy fears and grotesque ambitions. Often there’s a combination of all these factors in play. But the violence always has a cause.

….

The problem is that all too many Christians are in the grips of two sets of lies. We’ll call them the enabling lies and the activating lies. And unless you deal with the enabling lies, the activating lies will constantly pollute the body politic and continue to spawn violent unrest.

What’s the difference between the two kinds of lies? The enabling lie is the lie that makes you fertile ground for the activating lie that actually motivates a person to charge a thin blue line at the Capitol or take a rifle to a pizza parlor.

Here’s an enabling lie: America will end if Trump loses. That was the essence of the Flight 93 essay in 2016. That was the core of Eric Metaxas’s argument in our debates this spring and fall.

Here’s another enabling lie: The fate of the church is at stake if Joe Biden wins.

And here’s yet another: The left hates you (this sentence sometimes concludes with the phrase “and wants you dead.”)

I could go on, but the enabling lies that have rocketed through the church for years share important characteristics. They not only dramatically exaggerate the stakes of our political and legal disputes, they dramatically exaggerate the perfidy of your opponents. Moreover, when the stakes are deemed to be that high, the moral limitations on your response start to fall away.

After all, when people believe our national destiny hangs in the balance, they often respond accordingly. Or, as I said in a December 4 newsletter warning about potential violence, “if you argue that the very existence of the country is at stake, don’t be surprised if people start to act as if the very existence of the country is at stake.”

….

And so the enabling lies spread. They poison hearts. They poison minds. They fill you with rage and hate, until along comes the activating lie, the dangerous falsehood that pushes a person towards true radicalism. How does a person come to the conclusion that cannibal pedophiles dominate Hollywood? Or that a vast conspiracy of politicians, lawyers, journalists, and tech executives (including conservative politicians, lawyers, and journalists) brazenly stole a presidential election?

You believe that when you know your enemy is evil. You believe that when you know they will destroy the country. In that context, fact-checks and rebuttals aren’t just wrong, they’re naïve. All too often, when you’re arguing with the person who believes the activating lie—the falsehood that immediately motivated them to take to the street—then you’ve already lost.

If the church plays whack-a-mole against Q and Stop the Steal while it tolerates and spreads enabling lies, expect to see the insurrection continue. Expect to see it grow. After all, “they” hate us. “They” will destroy the country. “They” will stop at nothing to see the church fall.

Rebutting enabling lies does not mean whitewashing the opposition. It does not mean surrendering your values or failing to resist destructive ideas. It does mean discerning the difference between a problem and a crisis, between an aberration and an example. And it means possessing the humility to admit when you’re wrong. It means understanding that no emergency is ever too great to stop loving your enemies and blessing those who persecute you.

And the rebuttal has to come from within. The New York Times isn’t going to break this fever. Vox won’t change many right-wing minds. But courageous Christians who love Christ and His church have a chance. 

While I do not agree with everything French writes in his article, his central premise rings true. Central to the events of January 6, 2021 is American Evangelical Christianity.

Emma Green describes the connection between Evangelicalism (and Conservative Catholicism) and the insurrection in an Atlantic article titled, A Christian Insurrection.

Green writes:

The name of God was everywhere during Wednesday’s insurrection against the American government. The mob carried signs and flag declaring Jesus saves! and God, Guns & Guts Made America, Let’s Keep All Three. Some were participants in the Jericho March, a gathering of Christians to “pray, march, fast, and rally for election integrity.” After calling on God to “save the republic” during rallies at state capitols and in D.C. over the past two months, the marchers returned to Washington with flourish. On the National Mall, one man waved the flag of Israel above a sign begging passersby to Say Yes to Jesus. “Shout if you love Jesus!” someone yelled, and the crowd cheered. “Shout if you love Trump!” The crowd cheered louder. The group’s name is drawn from the biblical story of Jericho, “a city of false gods and corruption,” the march’s website says. Just as God instructed Joshua to march around Jericho seven times with priests blowing trumpets, Christians gathered in D.C., blowing shofars, the ram’s horn typically used in Jewish worship, to banish the “darkness of election fraud” and ensure that “the walls of corruption crumble.”

The Jericho March is evidence that Donald Trump has bent elements of American Christianity to his will, and that many Christians have obligingly remade their faith in his image. Defiant masses literally broke down the walls of government, some believing they were marching under Jesus’s banner to implement God’s will to keep Trump in the White House. The group’s co-founders are essentially unknown in the organized Christian world. Robert Weaver, an evangelical Oklahoma insurance salesman, was nominated by Trump to lead the Indian Health Service but withdrew after The Wall Street Journal reported that he misrepresented his qualifications. Arina Grossu, who is Catholic, recently worked as a contract communications adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services. (Weaver and Grossu declined to comment. “Jericho March denounces any and all acts of violence and destruction, including any that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021,” a PR spokesperson for the March wrote to me in an email after the publication of this article.) Still, they will have far more influence in shaping the reputation of Christianity for the outside world than many denominational giants: They helped stage a stunning effort to circumvent the 2020 election, all in the name of their faith. White evangelicals, in particular, overwhelmingly supported Trump in 2016 and 2020. Some of these supporters participated in the attack on the Capitol on Wednesday. But many in the country hold all Trump voters responsible—especially those who lent him the moral authority of their faith.

….

“This is bigger than one election,” Grossu says on the Jericho March website. “This is about protecting free and fair elections for the future and saving America from tyranny.” Paranoid thinking abounded among the protesters in D.C.; the QAnon conspiracy has circulated within some evangelical circles. On Wednesday, the Jericho March account tweeted a screenshot of Trump condemning Vice President Mike Pence for not stopping the certification of the Electoral College votes. “A sad day in America,” it said, along with prayer-hands emojis. The march organizers were not mourning the attack on the Capitol. They were mourning the vice president’s refusal to help the president overturn the election.

Were all the insurrectionists Evangelicals? Of course not. That said, Evangelicalism was on prominent display, and those of us who have been following and writing about Evangelicalism for years knew that the baby birthed on January 6th was conceived decades ago in the rhetoric of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and the Moral Majority. Over time, culture warriors dropped all pretenses of spirituality, trading their Biblical beliefs for a bowl of political power. In 2016, 82% of voting White Evangelicals voted for an immoral, godless New York con-man named Donald Trump. In 2020, most white Evangelicals — knowing all they now know about Trump — voted once again for him.

Early in Trump’s presidency, Evangelicals tried to convince the American people that Trump was a Christian. James Dobson called the President a “baby Christian.” Trump gathered together prominent Evangelicals — led by crazed charismatic Paula White — and presented them as his “spiritual” advisory board. These preachers sold their souls for bowls of pottage. Trump, of course, was using them for political gain. He knew he needed Evangelicals to vote for him again if he hoped to win re-election.

Evangelicals have pretty much given up on calling Trump a Christian. All that mattered to them is that Trump delivered culture war victories on issues such as abortion and restoring Evangelicals to the head of the cultural table. Decades of separation of church & state progress went out the window, with Christianity being granted unprecedented access to government services and programs. Numerous federal agencies and cabinet positions were headed by Evangelicals and Conservative Catholics.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 vote, voted to require:

a pill used in medication abortions must be distributed to patients directly by health providers and not by retail or mail-order pharmacies. A lower court temporarily suspended this requirement during the pandemic; the Supreme Court’s decision effectively reinstates the requirement.

Thanks to Trump, the Supreme Court now has a solid conservative Christian majority. It is likely, that the Roberts court will, in time, overturn Roe v. Wade — fulfilling the wet dream of millions and millions of Evangelicals, Mormons, and Catholics. We can also expect to see frontal assaults on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. Trump may have lost the election, but he’s given Evangelicals historic victories in the culture war; victories that will negatively affect us for decades.

It should come as no surprise, then, that millions of Evangelicals who recently voted for Trump believe that the election was stolen from Trump; that the “deep state” is out to destroy all they hold dear. While they certainly weren’t the sum of the insurrectionists, they made up a substantial percentage of the white Americans who stormed the Capitol eight days ago. Apologists such as Brown are living in denial of what happened on January 6th. And until such men and women are willing to admit that they are a cancer eating away at the heart of our democracy, there can be no forgiveness or unity. I find it laughable to hear Evangelicals who encouraged sedition now calling on Democrats and people of color to ignore their treasonous behavior and unify with them for the “good” of our Republic.

What’s good for the United States is the arrest and prosecution of those who invaded the Capitol. Hundreds and hundreds of prosecutions should be forthcoming. Members of Congress that helped foment the insurrection should be immediately expelled, and, if warranted, prosecuted. Many of the shrillest voices promoting conspiracies in the Senate and House of Representatives were card-carrying Evangelicals. Ted Cruz? A Southern Baptist. Josh Hawley? A Fundamentalist Calvinist. Evangelicals are everywhere if you dare to pay attention.

There was a day when the religion of a politician was off-limits. We can no longer afford to ignore the connection between theological beliefs and political ambition. Josh Hawley, for example, is a Rousas Rushdoony-loving theocrat. His theological beliefs are a direct threat to our Democracy. And he is not the only Senator or Representative with such beliefs. We must not play nice with such people, all because we supposedly shouldn’t criticize the religious beliefs of others. Their beliefs are fair game, as are the beliefs of all of us. If beliefs affect how we think and act, should we not pay attention to them? After the events of January 6th, the answer to this question should be obvious.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Christian Privilege Storms the Capitol

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A guest post by MJ Lisbeth

Even though I’ve experienced a few things no one should have to, I have had privilege and still enjoy some privileges. I have lived a bit more than a decade and a half as a woman and have experienced “mansplaining” and all manner of microaggressions, in addition to outright discrimination and a sexual assault. But I realize that even though I grew up working-class and used a couple of scholarships, a few part-time jobs and the US Army to finance my post-secondary education, my path almost certainly would have been more difficult had I not been living as a male. (Mind you, I say that as someone who experienced a sexual assault in the Army a decade after experiencing serial sexual abuse from a priest.) Or if my skin had been a few shades darker. Or if someone could tell that the first language I spoke wasn’t English.

I was, and am, privileged in yet another way: I have visited twenty countries and lived in two. Of those countries, only two (including one in which I’ve lived) had not—until yesterday–experienced a violent overthrow of a sitting government or a violent attempt to prevent a newly-elected government from taking its place. Seeing how some people, decades or even generations later, still carry the trauma of successful and attempted coups helped me to understand—as corny as this sounds—what a privilege it had been to live in a country that had never experienced a coup, and had gone more than two centuries without its capital being sacked.

When the hordes of Trump-election-loss-deniers stormed the Capitol, I couldn’t help but to think about the privilege I’ve lost, and what I still have. The latter—or, perhaps more precisely, my awareness of my privilege—is the reason why I never could cast my lot with those who felt aggrieved enough to attack the seat of American democracy. On the other hand, the fact that I’ve lost some privilege in my life allows me to understand, to some degree, why those mobs behaved as they did.

Privilege makes your life easier but it doesn’t make your life worth living. However, at the moment you lose–or feel as if you’re losing–your privilege, it feels as if you are losing your rights. And, in such a wounded, vulnerable state, it’s too easy to see that others getting the same rights you’ve always had (voting, marriage, not getting fired or evicted–or denied a job or housing in the first place–because of your race or gender identity or expression) as having “special privileges” bestowed upon them, and to see those who would grant those rights as “enemies” or “aliens.” It’s easy to see the “others” as “taking” from you.

In other words, you feel like a victim. In other uprisings and insurrections, the rabble-rousers had legitimate reasons to feel victimized: They worked and paid their taxes, but they were still hungry and some leader said, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.” Or they were harassed, imprisoned or tortured for being poorer or darker, being of a different religion or not following the gender norms mandated by their ruling classes. Or they were taxed but not represented.

Nearly all the President’s storm troopers at the Capitol were white, and most were male. From what I could see, not many were hungry. (In my experience, hungry people don’t pose for many selfies.) Moreover, they seemed a bit older than the participants of other disruptions to the normal order. So, I believe that I’m making another reasonable guess in assuming that relatively few of them are burdened with student debt or have had their futures foreclosed by the economic upheavals of the past generation or so. While their wages may not have kept pace with those of, say, tech entrepreneurs and executives, they are not where they are because they were denied opportunities on account of their race, gender identity or expression—or religion.

Which brings me to this: another educated guess I can make about the mobs that stormed the Capitol is that most of the people involved were Christians in some fashion or another; many were Evangelicals. I can say this because, during the past few decades, utterly reactionary interpretations of the Bible—or, more accurately, fanatical, cultish devotion to the personalities offering said interpretations of the book they believe to have come directly from the mouth of God—have become one strand of the far-right’s DNA. (The other is White nationalism.) So, really it is no surprise that at least some in those mobs believed, with a certainty rarely seen among anyone else, about anything in the Western world, that they are carrying out the Will Of God, not to mention their Constitutional rights.

Anyone who is so fanatical believes that those who question, let alone try to stop them are persecuting them, and anyone who dies in the course of carrying out their fight is a martyr. So, if they are beaten, arrested, imprisoned or killed, it is proof that the powers-that-be are against them, and that they are as endangered as, supposedly, the early Christians were

The problem with their position is that it simply has no basis. No Christian can claim to be a “persecuted minority” in the United States, any more than a white cisgender heterosexual male can. If their preferred candidate didn’t win, it’s not the fault of the system, just as if they didn’t realize their youthful dreams of becoming professional athletes, entertainers or simply wealthy, they weren’t held back by some conspiracy funded by George Soros. Likewise, if they lost their old jobs because factories shut down or headquarters relocated, their black or brown or yellow neighbors aren’t to blame. Rather, they simply didn’t have the talents, skills or simply luck to fulfill their hopes and dreams: in other words, to leverage the privilege they have.

As someone who has had and lost privilege, I am conscious of what privilege I still have. I believe I can also recognize it in others. Most of the mob in the Capitol (which included, by the way, at least a few cops) have no idea of how much they still have, which is why they feel “their” country has been “stolen” from them when people different from themselves simply out-organized and out-voted them.

Speaking of voting: It’s not a privilege; it’s a right. And it’s not granted by God; it’s guaranteed in the Constitution. The only way to lose that right is (in at least some states) to be convicted of a felony, as those mob members may be when they are found. Whatever your privilege—and whether or not you believe in God, or at least the protesting mob’s vision of His Kingdom On Earth—you have it and I have it, as they do, even if they lose their privilege—of living their lives outside a prison cell.

In brief, the folks who stormed the Capitol were not victims. They also benefit from privilege they don’t realize they have but impute to others. Some of that privilege comes, for many, from accepting a paleolithic interpretation of a collection of late Bronze Age myths. The rest comes from being of (at least in their eyes) the right race, gender, and sexual identity. Until they understand as much, they will see themselves as victims and some will perpetuate the violence fomented by a public figure they worship as they exalt their God.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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A Few Thoughts About Donald Trump and the Insurrection

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Much like every thinking American, I was struck with horror as the supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, forcing Congress members to flee for their lives. I was sitting on the couch watching MSNBC when Polly left for work at 5:15 PM, and I will still there when she returned at 2:30 AM. Then both of us watched as Congress certified the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, finally retiring at 4:00 AM.

I am sixty-three-years old. I have lived through Watergate, Vietnam, the killing of President John F. Kennedy, the 1968 race riots, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, 9/11, and a host of smaller world-shattering events. None of these compared to what I witnessed yesterday happening in Washington DC. Perhaps time has softened how I view the effects of past events on my life, but in this moment, I thought our democracy was going up in smoke from a fire fueled by President Trump, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and other Trumpist Republicans. In the midst of this nightmare, Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff won their congressional races in Georgia, giving Democrats control of the Senate for the first time since 2004. A glimmer of hope, to be sure, but not enough to assuage my palatable fear as I watched armed white supremacists, Nazis, militia members, and other right-wing extremists take control of our temple of democracy, making a mockery of the rule of law.

The events of January 6, 2021, taught us how quickly people can be caught up in mass delusions; how Hitler-like charismatic leaders such as Donald Trump can inspire millions of people to do despicable things. That many of these insurrectionists were Evangelical Christians, should not be ignored. It’s clear to me that one mass delusion helped fuel another. These same people believe that Christianity is under attack, there’s a war on Christmas, and secularists and atheists are out to take over “their” country. On prominent display were followers of QAnon; people who are at war with the deep state; people who believe the US government is controlled by baby-eating pedophiles. Throw in a plethora of anti-science beliefs, and the mob that took over the Capitol yesterday is beyond reason. Anyone who has tried to reason with such people knows that they are beyond reason and facts. If people can uncritically believe that a virgin had a baby, a man resurrected from the dead three days after died, and the Bible is the very words of God and every word in it is true, it is not hard for them to embrace irrational (and dangerous) political ideologies. About all else, we have a truth crisis. Tens of millions of Americans have already bought into alternative explanations for what happened on Wednesday, including believing that the insurrection was fueled by ANTIFA masquerading as Trump supporters. I have several family members who have already bought into alternative explanations for what happened. No amount of evidence or facts will change their minds. Jesus is Lord, Donald Trump is God, and Democrats and secularists are Satanic.

I have no doubt that more violence from Trump supporters lies ahead. It’s only a matter of time before one of these people shoots a prominent politician or a group of them kill people whom they believe are evil, anti-patriotic socialists or communists (even though most Trump supporters couldn’t rationally define these ideologies). I have proudly worn the atheist and Democratic socialist labels for years. Recent events have caused me to question whether it is safe to continue to do so. Trumpist locals by and large know me as an outspoken heathen and liberal. These people, including one family member, are armed to the teeth. If rabid Trump supporters can do what they did in Washington DC on Wednesday, it is not far-fetched to think that local white supremacists and militia groups might commit acts of violence here in America’s heartland. Recent events have me seriously reconsidering owning a firearm; if for no other reason than to protect me and my family from harm. “What if” has now become reality.

I call on Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s cabinet secretaries to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the President from office. Donald Trump provoked insurrection; a violent attempt to take over the U.S. government. While I am, in the main, a proponent of free speech, Trump has crossed the line, as have some members of Congress. They must be held accountable for their crimes.

If Trump’s cabinet is unwilling to do what’s right, Congress has the duty and responsibility to impeach President Trump. They cannot just “let it go.” Trump committed seditious acts against the Federal Government. Congress and the Justice Department must make sure that no future President can attack the pillars of American democracy with impunity. Doing nothing says to the American people that such behavior is okay; that attempting to violently overthrow the government is an accepted form of protest. It’s not, and that needs to be made clear to every American, especially those who are flag-waving Trump supporters.

It is evident that the insurrection was well planned and that some members of the Capitol Police Department helped to facilitate the takeover of the Capitol. These police officers must be prosecuted for their crimes against the American people. That so few insurrectionists were arrested is nothing short of scandalous. The various law enforcement agencies must immediately use all their available resources to identify those responsible for what happened on Wednesday and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

It is also evident — as if we didn’t know this already — that there are two standards of justice in the United States. That thousands of white Trump supporters can take over the Capitol and only 53 people are arrested — mostly for curfew violations — while (for the most part) peaceful black protesters are met with overwhelming government-sanctioned violence shows how we are treated depends on the color of our skins. Imagine what would have happened if it were the supporters of Black Lives Matter who stormed the Capitol and took it over. Why, there would be blood flowing both outside and inside of the Capitol building. It’s time for thoughtful white people to understand that we have a systemic racism problem in America. I call on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the newly Democratic-controlled Congress to take immediate steps to put an end to violence against people of color. No band-aid approach. It’s time to make extensive, comprehensive, and just changes to virtually every aspect of law enforcement and the justice department.

While I want to believe that better days lie ahead, I do fear that our beloved country will spin into chaos if we do not firmly deal with the events of January 6 and then work hard to end the injustices that have plagued our country since its inception. It remains to be seen if President Biden, Vice President Harris, and a Democratic Congress are up to the task. Will we have four years of FDR or four more years of the same old shit, new day. The ball is in our court, Democrats. We have the power necessary to effect true, lasting societal change. And the first thing Senate Democrats must do is return majority rule to the Senate by eliminating the filibuster rule. This is your time Democrats. Don’t squander it as you did during President Obama’s first two years in office. Your actions will show whether or not you have the courage of your convictions; whether you are willing to put the American people first.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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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 Black Death of the Church

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A guest post by MJ Lisbeth

It sickened and killed its first victims in China. Italy was the stage for its European arrival; from there, it spread to Spain, France, Germany, England, Scandinavia and the Balkans. Urban dwellers of means fled to their countryside manses. In the meantime, leaders insisted that things were normal, blamed their enemies and racial groups who were already experiencing suspicion and scorn, and, perhaps worst of all, recommended “treatments,” “cures” and other courses of action that, they claimed, had remedial powers but, in fact, had no empirical foundation.

So far, this sounds like an outline of the COVID-19 trajectory and the response to the pandemic, doesn’t it? Would that we were living in such interesting times, to paraphrase an ancient Chinese (!) curse. Instead, this recounting of a pandemic feels, if anything, more like the “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

The chronology I outlined in the first paragraph is, in fact, a rough sketch of the Black Death’s trajectory—with a slight variation. Nearly everyone who has studied the 14th Century spread of the plague agrees that it started, or at least was first noticed, in east-central Asia: somewhere in what is now Mongolia or, perhaps, westernmost China. Those same scholars say that it spread along the “Silk Road” and maritime trade routes while the current pandemic most likely spread in planes, trains, cars and buses.

What is all-too-depressingly-familiar, though, is the response of rulers—and said leaders’ relation to a “higher” authority. In late-medieval Europe, the church was all but inseparable from monarchies and the noble classes. Likewise, the heads of state in the United States, Russia, Brazil and other countries glean much of their support from vocal religious groups who, in many cases, deny the findings of scientists, ignore the recommendations of health care professionals and eschew intellectual inquiry. Thus are we advised that COVID-19 is “just a flu” that will “pass” with warm weather or the re-election of the leader making the claim. The US President bellows his prescription of injecting one’s self with cleaning products over the warnings of one of the world’s leading infectious disease experts, much as medieval authorities prescribed chopping up snakes and rubbing the pieces on one’s body (the snake, associated with Satan, was supposed to attract and draw away the “evil” of the disease) or drinking potions made from a unicorn’s horn. The President also insists that religious fundamentalists, vital to his re-election, can congregate, sing, dance, hug, kiss and share meals with hundreds of other fellow worshipers, just as the medieval Church continued to encourage mass gatherings, a source of its power.

That same symbiotic relationship between political and ecumenical authorities is a reason why the former can so easily blame people who are not part of the dominant culture or religion for the pestilence spreading across the land—or for any number of actual or imagined evils and tragedies. In a world where Jews were said to poison wells, kidnap and kill Christian children and perform all manner of evil rites, it wasn’t hard for the Church and Court to promulgate the belief that Jews caused the plague—and to justify murdering them. Likewise could, and did, the President marshal the xenophobic resentments of his supporters to call COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” or “Kung Flu,” just as leaders of other countries could, and did, blame the epidemic on religious and racial minorities or LGBTQ and other “deviant” people. The “Leader of the Free World” also fuels (or at least does nothing to tamp down) rumors that members of those same groups—or his political enemies—run pedophilia rings that—you guessed it—kidnap innocent white children and force them into unspeakable acts .

(In my admittedly-amateur reading of history, I’ve noticed this: When deranged minds and empty hearts fill clerical robes, gaudy uniforms or expensive suits, they use—or encourage others to use—the need to protect the supposed innocence of their children or purity of their women to rationalize all sorts of thuggery.)

If the parallels I’ve drawn, so far, are grim, I can offer a more hopeful comparison. While the Black Death brought the worst kinds of religious bigots out of the woodwork—as the COVID-19 pandemic is doing in the US—it also was, arguably, the first event to cause some people to question the authority of the church, and even the power of their god. It’s almost impossible for anyone in a secular Western country to imagine just how deeply monarchs and secular officials were in thrall to Church authority. (The closest analogues we have today are probably countries such as Saudi Arabia that are ruled by one interpretation or another of Sharia law.) While religious authorities held sway over secular ones at least until the Enlightenment, their influence lessened, however gradually, beginning with the Black Death.

One reason the church lost some of its authority was attrition: Priests and bishops were no more immune than illiterate field laborers to the ravages of the bubonic plague; soon, there weren’t enough prelates to conduct masses or other rites. Nearly all religious institutions act from a premise they dare not articulate: It’s harder to keep people in the fold when you can’t gather them. That, I believe, is why some religious groups, particularly Evangelical Christian and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish congregations, are pressuring or even defying local officials who have banned or restricted large gatherings.

Oh, and in some places, there weren’t enough attendees to keep churches open—even though the Catholic church, like most Christian churches today, doesn’t have a requirement equivalent to that of the minyan. And, even though the social pressure to attend mass was much greater than it is today (save in some conservative homogenous communities), some people stayed away. Although they knew nothing about how the plague was transmitted, much less of epidemiology in general, they noticed that, most often, people got sick when they gathered in large groups. (That, of course, is the reason why affluent urbanites fled to more pastoral settings.)

There is also evidence that some might have stayed away from church—or simply waned in their commitment to it—because they wondered, if only to themselves, about a God who visited such suffering on people who did nothing to deserve it:

For God is deaf and deigneth us not to hear That girls (children) for their guilts (sins) he forgrint (destroys) them all.

William Langland embedded those lines in Piers Plowman, his epic poem that is an allegory of the narrator’s quest for a “true” Christian life—or, if you like, a thinly-veiled critique of a medieval Catholic church that, too often, exploited the Black Death to stoke smoldering hatred of Jews, gypsies and other “infidels.”

Similar developments are unfolding today. While the most extreme congregations of Christianity and Judaism have shown that they are willing to disregard the health and safety of others in the name of “religious freedom,” the pandemic seems to be accelerating a trend, particularly among the young, away from organized worship and religious institutions. They don’t expect prayer or other rituals to protect them from COVID-19 any more than they believe that it’s “God’s will” for them or anyone else to suffer and die from it. If the churches and synagogues never open again, Gen X-ers and Millennials probably won’t miss them. They—and their more educated and rational elders—are leaning in so they can listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci or Deborah Birx over the bellowing of self-appointed (or selected-by-the-Electoral College) messiahs.

During the past few months, all sorts of parallels have been drawn between the 14th Century Black Death and the current COVID-19 pandemic. Some should serve as warnings, but others—such as the erosion of faith in religious institutions—might offer some hope for the future, as long as we allow ourselves to get there.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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2015-2020: A Look at My Writing — Post Christianity

letter to the editor

What follows is a sampling of the letters to the editors of the Bryan Times and the Defiance Crescent-News I wrote between 2015 and 2020. These letters were written after I deconverted from Christianity in November 2008.

March 2015

It’s Time to End the Death Penalty in Ohio

Dear Editor:

It’s time for Ohio legislators to put an end to the death penalty. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 2003, twenty Ohio inmates have been removed from death row “through exonerations, clemency, or sentence reductions because of intellectual disabilities.” In December 2014, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer testified before the House Criminal Justice Committee. Justice Pfeifer stated “The death penalty in Ohio has become what I call a death lottery…It’s very difficult to conclude that the death penalty, as it exists today, is anything but a bad gamble. That’s really not how a criminal justice system should work.”

Currently, Ohio legislators are working on bills that would prohibit the execution of those with severe mental illness, create an indigent defense fund, require crime labs and coroners to be certified, and prohibit the execution of anyone convicted solely on the testimony of jail house snitch. While these are great steps in the right direction, it is time for Ohio to altogether abolish the death penalty.

As Justice Pfeifer rightly noted, the death penalty has become a death lottery. Those of means have the ability to hire competent defense attorneys, often resulting in the death penalty being taken off the table. The poor, who can’t afford to hire an attorney, must rely on proper representation from a public defender. In many rural areas, the poor are often assigned an attorney with little capital case experience. While many public defenders do a great job defending indigent clients, there are times when they are not up to the task, lacking the necessary skill and time to adequately defend their client.

When a person’s life hangs in the balance, they deserve competent, aggressive representation. Attorneys who defend an indigent client are paid a pathetic fee and must often wait for months or years to be reimbursed by the state. If we are going to continue to use execution as the means to punish those convicted of a capital crime, then it is morally imperative that we make sure that those facing death have the same access to attorneys, expert witnesses, and crime labs, regardless of their ability to pay.

Currently, 140 men and one woman are awaiting execution in Ohio. Due to controversy over the drugs used in lethal injections, it is unlikely that there will be any executions until 2016. I would encourage Ohio legislators to use this time to find a way to bring an end to executions.

Killing someone because they committed a crime is rooted in the barbaric eye for an eye justice of the Old Testament. While many Christian sects now oppose the death penalty, Evangelicals and conservative Christians continue to demand death for those convicted of a capital crime. I ask, what happened to following in the footsteps of Jesus? Would Jesus, the Prince of Peace, approve of a criminal system that disproportionately punishes the poor and people of color? If Evangelicals, who overwhelmingly vote Republican, would get behind abolishing the death penalty, we can end this abhorrent practice.

Bruce Gerencser

May 2015

Why is the Evangelical God Silent?

Dear Editor:

There seems to be no end to the sermons printed in the editorial section of the Crescent-News. Intractable warriors for the Evangelical God preach against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, and the evils of socialism, humanism, secularism, and atheism. Letter writers claim to know the mind and will of God on every matter, warning that failure to heed their preaching will result in God pouring out his judgment and wrath on the United States. They warn that two people of the same sex marrying will bring an end to Western civilization. Yet, it seems that their preaching is falling on deaf ears.

Several months ago, St John’s United Church of Christ came out of the closet and declared themselves to be an open and affirming church. This means gays and same-sex couples are welcome at St. John’s. When I read the news report, I could hardly believe it. I thought, have I been beamed away to an alternate universe, to a county where people are not judged for who they love or how they express intimacy? No, right here in Defiance County, a church that is not ashamed to welcome one and all.

Young adults are increasingly gay-friendly and are no longer interested in the bigoted, homophobic religion of their parents. Some of them join the ranks of the nones, those who are atheists, agnostics, or indifferent towards organized religion. On many of the issues that seem to cause Evangelicals great consternation, young adults show that they think love, fairness, justice, and compassion are more important than dogma and literalism.

When I read the letters from Evangelicals, I see an aging group of people desperately trying to regain power and control over a culture that has little interest in what they are selling. Forty years ago, instead of focusing on personal piety and good works, Evangelicals sold their soul to groups like the Moral Majority and the American Family Association. They traded their place in the community for political power. They abandoned reason and rationality and became the purveyors of ignorance and bigotry. And now they are being weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Come June, despite millions of Evangelical prayers, conferences, rallies, and sermons, it is likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will set aside state laws forbidding same-sex marriage. I wonder how Evangelicals will respond? Will they turn to the heavens and ask God why he turned a deaf ear to their prayers? Will they point the finger at their homophobic rhetoric and bigotry? I doubt it.  It will be atheists such as myself, liberals, socialists, and the Kenyan-born usurper in the White House who will be blamed for their inability to return America to the love, joy, and peace of the 1950s.

Evangelicals are like the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. They call out to the heavens asking their God to show his power and act on their behalf. Yet, from my seat in the atheist pew, it seems their God is either deaf or on vacation.

Bruce Gerencser

June 2015

Medical Marijuana and Relieving Pain and Suffering

Dear Editor:

Rarely a week goes by when there is not a letter to the Editor from a fundamentalist Christian demanding their moral code and peculiar interpretation of the Bible be accepted by all.  Even when they aren’t quoting the Bible or reminding local unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of their impending doom, their letters reflect an addled worldview, one shaped by an ancient book they think offers them unchanging truth. If their beliefs were kept in the church house, non-Christians would care little and hope that one day they would see the light. However, their beliefs are not kept in the church house, and because of this people of science, reason, and common sense must continue to push back as Christian fundamentalists try by legal and political means to force people to live by a worldview that is better suited for the dustbin of human history.

Take a recent letter writer who vehemently opposes legalizing the use of medical marijuana in Ohio. Even though they didn’t mention one Bible verse, their letter dripped with the fundamentalist presupposition that suffering and pain are in some way noble and good for us. Numerous Bible verses would certainly lead one to conclude that suffering and pain have probative value and make us closer to God and keeps us from clinging too closely to this life. If we buy into this kind of thinking and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, a life after death that is free of suffering and pain awaits us.

Sounds sublime, right? But what if there is no life after death, no divine payoff for trudging through life suffering for Jesus and enduring pain because it will make us stronger? What if the only life we have is this one? Well, that changes everything. If this life is it, and I think it is, then we should try to relieve not only our own pain and suffering, but that of others. As a committed humanist, I would never want to withhold from anyone that which would relieve or end their suffering and pain. Whether it is narcotic pain medications, medical marijuana, or physician-assisted suicide, I want all humans to have at their disposal the means to lessen their suffering and pain.

Any religion that values suffering and pain is one that should be roundly criticized and rejected. And if Jesus were alive today, I suspect he’d agree with me.

Bruce Gerencser

July 2015

The Hypocrisy of Christian Government Officials Refusing to Issue Same-Sex Marriage License

Dear Editor:

Evangelical Christians are infuriated over the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Granting U.S. citizens equal protection under the law and affording them the same civil rights heterosexuals have is seen as an affront to God, the Bible, and true Christians everywhere. As a result, a handful of Christian government officials are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

Should government officials be required to violate their religious beliefs in the execution of their duties? They serve the public, and when they walk in the door of their respective place of duty, what God, the Bible, or their pastor has to say has no authority or relevance. The United States is a secular state, and the highest court in the land has determined that marriage laws discriminating against same-sex couples are unconstitutional. Every government official is duty-bound to obey the law, and if they can’t they should either quit, be fired, or removed from office.

Evangelicals and their counterparts in the Catholic and Mormon church have at their disposal all the means necessary to undo same-sex marriage. If they feel the Court acted unjustly, the proper recourse is to work towards a constitutional amendment that establishes marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Empty threats of second amendment remedies, secession from the union, and Sodom and Gomorrah-like judgment from God change nothing. If Christians want real change, a return to Ozzie and Harriet’s 1950’s, then they should work to amend the Constitution. They won’t do this, of course, because they know they don’t have sufficient numbers to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision.

Why is it Christian government officials issue marriage licenses to adulterers and fornicators, but draw the line at same-sex couples? The Bible sure has a lot to say about adultery and fornication, yet these “sins” are routinely ignored. Only homosexuals and same-sex couples are singled out for discrimination and abuse. Why is this?

This question is not hard to answer. Having spent the first 50 years of my life in the Evangelical church, 25 years as a pastor, I know firsthand the rampant hysterical bigotry and homophobia within Evangelicalism. Evangelicals are now known as the religion of hate, and every time people such Franklin Graham, Tim Wildmon, Al Mohler, Ken Ham, or James Dobson open their mouth, the public is reminded of this fact.

Bruce Gerencser

January 2016

Letters from Creationists

Dear Editor:

If I didn’t know any better, based on recent letters to the editor and church advertisements touting young-earth creationism, I would think that we are living in the 1920s — the era of the great creationist-versus- evolution debate.

We are almost 100 years removed from the Scopes monkey trial, yet Christian fundamentalists are still trying to hoodwink unwitting people into believing creationism is a scientific theory. Not only do they want the scientifically ignorant to believe that creationism is a scientific theory, Fundamentalists also want them to believe that it is the only explanation for the biological world.

Readers of the Crescent-News need to understand exactly what Christian fundamentalists are saying. According to them, the universe was created by the Christian God 6,020 years ago, in six 24-hour days. They also want you to believe that 2,000 years later God, in a genocidal rampage, killed every living thing with a flood, save Noah, his family, and two of every animal.

While these stories make for wonderful bedtime readings to children, they have no business being taught, outside of a comparative religion class, in the public school classroom. Creationism, along with its gussied-up sister intelligent design, is religious dogma, not biological science. I am of the opinion that any public school teacher found to be teaching creationism should immediately be removed from the classroom. We owe it to our children to make sure that they are taught sound scientific principles. God did it, is not such a principle.

I am sure my letter will bring howls and gnashing teeth from local Christian fundamentalists. They will, as they always do, cut and paste supposed rebuttals of evolution from bastions of ignorance like Answers in Genesis or The Institute of Creation Research. What they will fail to produce is peer-reviewed studies supporting their creationist claims. If creationists want to overthrow evolution, then I suggest they start publishing papers in non-Evangelical science journals. When the weight of the arguments become so overwhelming that they cannot be ignored, I have no doubt that scientists will declare creationism the winner.

This will never happen, of course, because creationism is theological in nature, not sound biological science. If people want to believe that a mythical God created the universe 6,020 years ago, fine. Ignorance is a permitted vice in a free society. But we should insist that public school children be taught science, and not long-discredited religious myths.

Bruce Gerencser

April 2016

Is the Bible the Objective Standard of Morality?

Dear Editor,

Recently, Cal Thomas pontificated about the need for an objective standard of morality. Of course, Thomas, an Evangelical, believes the moral code found in the Bible is the true standard of morality. Thomas believes America is mired in a moral quagmire. Blaming liberals, secularists, and atheists, Thomas believes America’s only hope is for Americans to once again prostrate themselves before the Bible and promise resolute fealty to its author — God.

What exactly is the Bible’s objective moral standard? The Ten Commandments? Or is it the Nine, since most Christians no longer “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy?” Or, as dispensational Evangelicals suggest, is just the New Testament the standard for morality? If it is just the New Testament, then why do Evangelicals continue to condemn homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and abortion — none of which is mentioned in the New Covenant? And why do Evangelical pastors continue to collect tithes and offering each Sunday, a practice not found anywhere in the New Testament?

While Evangelicals will point their peculiar interpretation of the Bible to justify the notion that they are the holders of God’s standard of morality, any careful examination of their churches shows that Evangelical moral beliefs are every bit as subjective as their atheist/agnostic/secularist neighbors. There are more than one hundred churches in Defiance County, and not one of them agrees with another about what is considered moral behavior.

On matters of greater importance: salvation, baptism, and communion, local churches fight among themselves, each believing that it has the keys to the kingdom. One church has been running weekly ads in the Crescent-News to remind locals that their church — a Campbellite congregation — preaches the true gospel. Down the street Baptists preachers remind congregants that the heretical followers of Alexander and Thomas Campbell were thrown out the Baptist church mid-19th century. It is the Baptists who have the true gospel. And so the internecine wars continue unabated since the day Jesus was buried in a pauper’s grave.

Atheists such as myself laugh when Evangelicals suggest that the Bible is the standard for morality. Seeing the utter confusion and contradictory beliefs among the various Christian sects, how can anyone know for sure who is right? My money is on none of them being right. As a humanist, I believe it is up to people — not religions — to determine the standards by which we want to govern our lives.

Bruce Gerencser

April 2016

Evangelical Hysteria Over Transgender Bathroom Use

Dear Editor,

Recent news stories have highlighted Evangelical outrage and hysteria over Transgenders using public restrooms. I suspect most Americans at one time or another have taken care of business while in proximity to someone whose sexual identity or orientation is different from theirs. Why all the outrage now over such a banal issue as who and where someone pees?

At the heart of this issue lies Evangelical hatred and disgust, not only for Transgenders, but also for anyone who dares to be different from the God-approved, heterosexual-only, virginal, monogamous-sex-only-within-the-bonds-of-marriage Evangelical belief concerning sexuality. As a Baptist teenager, I vividly remember sermons and admonitions warning teens of the dire consequences of fornication and masturbation. All the scare-tactic preaching did was make us feel guilty when we acted upon normal, healthy human sexual desire.

Evangelicalism is now widely considered a hateful religion by many Americans. Why is this? In the 1970s, Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich birthed The Moral Majority — an Evangelical group dedicated to reclaiming America for the Christian God. Along the way new groups such as Focus on the Family and the American Family Association joined with the Moral Majority to fight the war against what they perceived to be the takeover of America by Godless liberals, Satanic secularists, atheists, and humanists. In the 1980s these culture warriors sold their souls to the Republican Party, joining church and state and producing the ugly monster now on display for all to see.

During this same time frame, secularists, their numbers increasing thanks to a growing number of Americans who no longer are interested in organized religion, began to push back at Evangelicalism’s message of hate and bigotry. Atheist groups such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists began challenging governmental preferential treatment given to Evangelicals. Now, thanks to a rising swell of secularism, Evangelicals feel threatened. No longer are they given special treatment. No longer are their blatant assaults on the First Amendment ignored. The more Evangelicals are marginalized, the greater their outrage.

Evangelicals must accept the fact that progress has brought us to place of inclusion and acceptance of those who are different from us. Evangelical preachers are certainly free to keep preaching against what they believe are sinful behaviors. But they might want to notice that many Americans — particularly millennials — are no longer listening.

Bruce Gerencser

July 2016

Ken Ham’s Latest Monument to Human Ignorance

Dear Editor,

Four or so hours away from Defiance, a man by the name of Ken Ham has built a $100 million monument to human ignorance — The Ark Encounter. This monument is a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark. As one who was raised in the Evangelical church and pastored churches for 25 years, I heard and preached countless sermons about Noah and the Ark. Regrettably, I was in my forties before I learned that this story and many others were myths, having no basis in historical or scientific fact.

According to Ham and his fellow Evangelicals, the universe is 6,021 years old. Everything we see, both on earth and in the skies, was created by God in six literal 24-hour days. According to creationists, the book of Genesis is a science textbook, one that emphatically teaches young earth creationism. Indeed, the entire Bible is infallible and without error, and should be, with rare exception, interpreted literally.

I am sure, just as Muslims who make a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mecca, Evangelicals will flock to Kentucky to Ham’s monument to scientific ignorance. Adults will pay $40 for the privilege of touring Ham’s Ark, children $26. While there, Evangelicals will be taught “truths” about the historicity and reliability of the Bible and young earth creationism. I am sure most visitors will be awed by Ham’s Ark, ignoring that much of what Ham has constructed is built upon speculation. If Ham built a boat according to Biblical specifications, I highly doubt Kentucky officials would grant it an occupancy permit, and it is doubtful such a boat would safely float.

Ken Ham also operates the Creation Museum, another monument to ignorance. When it first opened, Evangelicals flocked to Kentucky to witness the wonders of the young earth creationism lie. Once witnessed, Evangelicals moved on to other entertainments, resulting in decreasing revenues for Answers in Genesis. Following the script of Field of Dreams, Ham built his Ark believing Evangelicals would visit if he did. And they will, for a time. The problem for Ham lies in the fact that Evangelicals easily bore. Once Evangelicals have seen the Ark, will they return? Probably not, especially if Ham continues to charge King’s Island-like admission prices. Perhaps Ham knows this, and this is why he is already planning a new entertainment venture — a replica of the Tower of Babel. Those who love reason and science can only shake their heads.

Bruce Gerencser

October 2016

Local Evangelical Support of Donald Trump

Dear Editor,

Local Evangelicals often use the Crescent-News editorial page to wage war against sins they believe will cause the destruction of America. If these sins — abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, same-sex marriage, driving while Democrat — are allowed to continue, they believe God will judge our country and remove his blessing. These same writers have spent years reminding readers that electing Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and now Hillary Clinton will result in the United States turning into a Communist/socialist/atheist/humanist state. Only God and the Christian Bible will do, they tell us. Ignore their words, pay the price.

During the primaries, these same people wrote letters extolling the virtues of various Republican candidates. When the dust settled, Donald Trump was left standing. Donald Trump is a misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, sexual predator with the acumen of a third grader. He offers no policy positions other than his plan to make America great again. Recently, Trump fat-shamed women, calling them names, and last week, a recording of Trump admitting that he sexually assaulted women surfaced for all to see. “Locker room talk,” they say, “just boys being boys.”

Many Evangelicals have decided that while Donald Trump’s a vile, disgusting human being, he’s exactly the kind of person God uses for his glory. “What a testament to God’s wondrous grace that God can even use someone like Donald Trump,” they say. Some believe that Trump is a “baby” Christian and will grow in the knowledge of the Lord. What, I ask, do these people see that the rest of us cannot? Here’s a man who told the world that he’s never asked God for forgiveness, yet we’re supposed to believe he’s a Christian? Please, stop insulting our intelligence.

If God really can use anyone to accomplish his purpose, cannot he use Hillary Clinton just as easily as Donald Trump? According to Evangelicals, Clinton’s the Antichrist. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God used Clinton to accomplish his purposes? Dare Evangelicals stand in the way of God’s plan for America?

Trump and his followers want to return America to the 1950s — a time when there was no God but the Christian God, Joseph McCarthy found Commies under every bed, men in white sheets ruled the South, abortion was illegal, blacks knew their place, women stayed at home, and gays stayed in the closet. Those of us who believe in progress must not let this happen.

Bruce Gerencser

March 2017

The True Agenda of the Ayn Rand-fueled, Koch Brothers-funded, Evangelical-empowered, Paul Ryan-controlled Wing of the Republican Party

Dear Editor:

The recent attempt to pass what Donald Trump and Republicans dubbed the American Health Care Act has finally exposed for all to see the true agenda of the Ayn Rand-fueled, Koch Brothers-funded, Evangelical-empowered, Paul Ryan-controlled wing of the Republican Party. The white sheets have been torn away, exposing ideological hatred for minorities, the working class, and what the Bible calls the least of these. We now know that these shills for the one-percenters want to destroy the Federal government, roll back the New Deal, and cut the bottom out of social safety net. Their ultimate goal is to return our society to the days of the wild, wild West – days when every man controlled his own destiny; days when the capitalist with the fastest draw and surest aim or the robber baron with the quickest fists ruled the land.

As of the writing of this letter, Republicans have twice cancelled votes on the AHCA. Facing outrage from all corners of the political spectrum, Paul Ryan is increasingly aware of the fact that he never should have made public his agenda to destroy America. While I thoroughly enjoy watching Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and their surrogates get the public caning they so richly deserve, my joy is tempered by the fact that at the state level Republican extremists are quietly and effectively rolling back much of the social progress of the past century. More frightening than the AHCA debacle is the Koch Brothers-funded plan for a Constitutional Convention. And once a Constitutional Convention is convened, Tea-Party, Libertarian, and Evangelical theocrats will finally have the tools necessary to dismantle the Federal government and turn America into dog-eat-dog capitalist state ruled by men only concerned with their stock portfolios and return on investments. While Evangelicals will certainly make sure that their God is returned to his rightful place as America’s potentate, the real God of these extremists is laissez-faire capitalism.

One positive to come out of electing Donald Trump is the exposure of the true agenda of many Republican officeholders. Now it is up to Democrats, liberals, progressives. democratic socialists, and all who value social progress to coalesce into a movement willing to take on Paul Ryan/Koch Brothers/Ayn Rand Republicans. What lies ahead is a no-holds-barred fight to the death for the future of our Republic. I am ready for the fight. Are you?

Bruce Gerencser

November 2017

I Support the Kneeling Defiance College Football Players

Dear Editor:

I write to lend my support to the Defiance College football players who have knelt during the playing of the national anthem. I commend them for their courage, knowing that most local residents oppose their actions. Their continued protest has brought calls for discipline, including expulsion from school. I commend college administrators and coaches for not bowing to public pressure to silence protest. These students, along with their counterparts in professional sports, need to be heard. Their protests have nothing to do with respect for the military or flag.

What lies behind their kneeling is inequality, injustice, and racism. While these issues might seem to locals to be the problems of urban areas, the truth is that we denizens of rural Northwest Ohio have our own problems related to these things. I recently participated in a forum discussion on racism in Northwest Ohio. Having lived most of my sixty years of life in this area, I can say with great certainty that we are not immune from charges of racism and injustice. We may hide it better, covering it with white, middle-class Christian respectability, but it exists, nonetheless.

Years ago, my family and I walked into a church towards the end of the adult Sunday school class. Teaching the class was a matronly white woman — a pillar of the church. She was telling the class that her grandson was not getting playing time on the college football team because blacks got all the playing time. She reminded me of a retired white school teacher I knew when I lived in Southeast Ohio. At the time, we had a black foster daughter. I had just started a new church in the area, and we were looking for a house to rent. This school teacher had a house available, so we agreed to rent it. When it came time to pick up the keys, she told us she decided to rent to someone else. We later learned that she said she wasn’t going to have a ni***r living in her house.

These stories are apt reminders of what lies underneath our country respectability. It is time we quit wrapping ourselves in the flag, pretending that racism, inequality, and injustice doesn’t exist. Our flag and anthem represent many things, but for many Americans, they represent oppression and denial of human rights; and it is for these reasons, among others, that players kneel.

Bruce Gerencser

March 2019

Why Aren’t Chronic Pain Sufferers Considered Stakeholders When Discussing the Opioid Crisis?

Dear Editor:

Every week articles appear in the Crescent-News about the current opioid crisis. Medical professionals, substance abuse counselors, law enforcement, local government officials, and former addicts routinely are asked for comments or input on how to deal with drug abuse. There is, however, one stakeholder who is never asked to participate in these discussions – the chronic pain sufferer who takes opioid-based medications. Instead, the aforementioned groups speak as if chronic pain sufferers don’t exist. How else to explain the comments by authority figures about medical marijuana? Here’s a drug that can help people with chronic pain, yet law enforcement and government officials in particular go out of their way to make it hard or impossible for chronic pain suffers to access medical marijuana. Republican state legislators, in particular, are doing their best to make it nigh impossible for chronic pain sufferers to access and affordably buy medical marijuana. Local communities, giving into irrational hysteria, have caused harm to suffering locals by banning medical marijuana sellers. Imagine the outrage there would be if local governments banned cancer treatment drugs. Why, they would be voted out of office. Yet, it seems okay to demean, diminish, and harm chronic pain sufferers. Why is this?

One reason for these actions is that chronic pain sufferers are not part of local discussions about opioid abuse and use. Chronic pain sufferers who use narcotics as part of their pain management regimen are now treated like drug addicts. Chronic pain sufferers must jump through numerous hoops put in place by doctors, pharmacies, and government to get their prescriptions filled. Not one time have chronic pain sufferers been asked to have a seat at the discussion table. Instead, they suffer indignity in silence, fearing they will be looked down on if they dare to complain about the increasingly complex process required to get prescriptions filled.

I have read comments by Defiance Mayor Mike “Medical Marijuana is Not Part of Our Brand” McCann that reveal he is clueless about what chronic pain sufferers (and the handicapped) go through every day. The only way to change such ignorant perceptions is to include chronic pain sufferers in discussions about opioid abuse, medical marijuana, and pain treatment in general. Excluding them paints an inaccurate picture, leading to uneducated, ignorant, and irrational conclusions. Thanks to the war on opioids, chronic pain suffers have been pushed into the shadows. We deserve better.

Bruce Gerencser

September 2019

Does President Trump Really Care About “Religious Freedom?”

Dear Editor:

President Donald Trump knows he has no hope of winning the 2020 election without white Evangelical Christians. In 2016, eighty-two percent of voting white Evangelicals cast their votes for Trump. For the President to win the upcoming general election, his conservative Christian base must come out in force. While some of Trump’s moral faux pas have caused base erosion, for the most part, Evangelicals continue to stand by their man.

Why do Evangelicals continue to support President Trump? I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. There was a time when Evangelical churches and pastors took resolute stands on moral virtue and ethics — especially for elected leaders. I remember my outrage over President Clinton’s sexual misbehavior and lying while in office. From the pulpit and in letters to the editors of local newspapers, I demanded his immediate removal from office. Twenty years later? Evangelicals now turn a blind eye to the behavior of a president who paid off porn stars, allegedly sexually assaulted women, possibly committed treason, and doesn’t go a day without factually and materially lying to the American people. What changed?

In the 1970s, Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich birthed the Moral Majority. This small, innocuous group morphed into Hydra — a multi-headed monster. Gaining critical mass in the 1990s, these groups forsook their moral underpinnings, choosing instead to imbibe the sewage water of raw political power. All that matters now is keeping control, outlawing abortion, shoving LGBTQ people back in the closet, and establishing a Christian theocracy. Evangelicals even go so far as to paint themselves as a persecuted religious minority. One need only listen to Trump’s recent incoherent “religious freedom” speech at the United Nations to know he has heard his Evangelical base loud and clear.

While it is undoubtedly true that religious persecution happens in many places — including North Korea and Saudi Arabia — Trump blocking the immigration of the primarily Muslim Rohingya people reveals that his recent “religious freedom” speeches are little more than reminders to Evangelicals that he has their back. I entered the ministry in the 1970s. I didn’t know of a preacher who didn’t believe in the separation of church and state. Today? Scores of Evangelicals deny this wall even exists. For this reason, people who genuinely value religious freedom for all — including unbelievers and non-Christians — must fight the religious right’s attempt to redefine “religious freedom.

Bruce Gerencser

August 2020

The Rotting Corpse of American Capitalism

Dear Editor:

Jerry Bergman’s latest letter to the editor about Karl Marx, Marxism, and atheism would be hilarious if it wasn’t for the fact that his distortions of history are believed by millions of Evangelical Christians. Marxism, socialism, and atheism are the new boogeymen used by preachers to foment outrage and fear among the faithful. Worse yet, many of these same preachers tell congregants that Donald Trump, a fascist, is the only thing standing between them and the socialist/Marxist horde taking over America.

Bergman takes one line from Marx, using it to paint a distorted view of 20th-century history. Here’s the rest of the quote:

“Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”

As readers can see, Marx’s view of religion is more nuanced and complex than Bergman suggests.

Marx believed that religion provides a fantasy of sorts for the poor and disenfranchised. Economic realities prevent the poor from finding happiness in this life, so religion promises them happiness in the life to come. This Faustian bargain chains the poor to the rotting carcass of immoral American capitalism. It is only when the poor and disenfranchised see beyond the false promises of eternal life and heavenly prosperity that they see their only hope of a better tomorrow rests in casting off the chains of religion and resolutely standing against the political and social status quo.

It is clear to anyone who is paying attention that American capitalism is a failed economic system. Is Democratic Socialism the answer? Maybe. One thing is certain: capitalism is not the answer. Once Trump and his robber baron cronies are voted out of office in November, we can then begin anew to not make America great again, but to make her more fair, equitable, and just for all Americans.

Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Dear Trump Supporters: My Opposition to You is Not Just a Difference of Opinion

truth
Cartoon by Mike Luckovich

I have recently had several Trump-supporting relatives tell me that our respective candidates are just differences of opinion. In their minds, facts are opinions, and the only difference between us is that we hold differing opinions. No matter how I try to explain the irrationality of their beliefs, their retort is just the same: that’s your opinion. Which is then followed by: we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

In Trump’s world, facts and evidence don’t matter. No matter how many lies Trump tells, his supporters either believe his falsehoods or find some fantastical way to “explain” them away.

I have reached a place in life where I simply cannot stomach being around such people, either in person or on social media. As a result, I have unfriended a small number of people on Facebook, including several close family members. Surely, blood is thicker than water, someone is going to say, but I have come to the place that I can no longer be associated with people who support politicians and policies that cause me material and physical harm. These beliefs have real life consequences. I wonder, do Trump supporters bother to consider how his words, actions, and policies affect others; how they affect their parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren?

What I find even more troubling are people who think that Trump/Biden, Republicans/Democrats are equally bad. I’ve seen countless false equivalence arguments made on social media about the recent Presidential Debate. I thought, did you watch the fucking debate? Did you watch Trump spend 90 minutes bullying and talking over Joe Biden and Chris Wallace? Did you hear all of Trump’s bald-faced lies? Yet, because Biden called Trump a clown and told him to shut up, Biden is just as bad Trump. You know that’s not true, and from my perspective, this is lazy thinking.

Put yourself in Biden’s shoes. How would you have responded to being constantly bullied and harassed by Trump? I am of the opinion that Biden was too polite, as was Hilary Clinton in 2016. Imagine what might had happened if, when Trump was leering at Clinton, she turned around and said, “Mr. Trump, please stop acting like a sexual predator!” Trump gets by with this behavior because no one calls him on it.

Donald Trump is not fit to be President of the United States. He is, by far, the worst President our country has ever had — yes, worse than Hoover and Nixon. Yet, millions of Americans will gleefully vote for Trump. And if he loses? These same people will claim the election was stolen from the “best” President in American history. Trump knows he could lose in November, and that’s why he is laying the groundwork for contesting the election, alleging widespread voter fraud. Never mind the fact that none of this will be true. In the minds of Trump’s supporters, everything is just personal opinion.

When you say you support Donald Trump and will vote for him in November:

  • I hear you say lying doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say cheating on your SAT doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say rape doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say sexual assault doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say misogyny doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say grabbing women by their genitals against their will doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say tax fraud doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say paying off porn stars doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say people of color don’t matter.
  • I hear you say poor people don’t matter.
  • I hear you say old people don’t matter.
  • I hear you say big cities don’t matter.
  • I hear you say properly funding social security doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you saying the post office doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say affordable universal healthcare doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say it’s okay to put children in cages.
  • I hear you say the international community is our enemy.
  • I hear you say that countries in Africa are shit holes.
  • I hear you say COVID-19 is a hoax.
  • I hear you say face masks are unnecessary.
  • I hear you say social distancing is unnecessary.
  • I hear you say science doesn’t matter.
  • I hear you say the CDC and the WHO are agents of China.
  • I hear you say peaceful protesters are thugs and terrorists.
  • I hear you say that white supremacists are your kind of people.
  • I hear you say that the United States is a Christian nation.
  • I hear you say that separation of church and state is a myth.
  • I hear you say the media is fake news.
  • I hear you say it’s okay to use racist, bigoted language.
  • I hear you say that soldiers killed in action or captured by the enemy are suckers and losers.
  • I hear you say global warming is a hoax.
  • I hear you say the law doesn’t apply to you.

Every time you voice your support of Donald Trump, you are telling me that turning a government by the people and for the people into the president’s personal fiefdom doesn’t matter; that turning the executive branch into a family-owned and -operated business doesn’t matter; that the justice department exists to harass and prosecute the president’s enemies and protect his friends; that everything is all about him.

Every time you post memes about communism and socialism, it tells me you don’t understand what communism and socialism are; that truth doesn’t matter to you; that you have no interest in truly understanding why an increasing number of Americans support democratic socialist policies; that the United States has ALWAYS had socialist programs and policies.

So, you see, I can’t agree to disagree. An arsonist by the name of Donald Trump is trying to burn down my family, my home, my community, my state, my country, and the world I live in. I love my neighbor as myself, and hope for a better tomorrow for my wife, children, and grandchildren. As long as Donald Trump and his enablers control our government, we have no promise of a better tomorrow, no hope of peace and prosperity.

These things are not matters of opinion. Anyone who can read knows the threat Donald Trump poses to the human race. That YOU, dear Trump supporter, refuse to see this, is the problem. Why do you continue to embrace, support, and enable ignorance? Surely, truth matters, right? By all means, convince me that despite all these things Donald Trump is the better candidate for president. By all means, convince me that our great republic can withstand four more years of Trump. And let me ask you one last question, are we really better off today than we were when Barack Obama was president? Be honest . . .

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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James Dobson Tries to Scare Evangelicals into Voting for Trump Again

james dobson monster

James Dobson, 84, is an Evangelical Christian, psychologist, and author. In 1977, Dobson founded Focus on the Family. For those of us raised in Evangelical churches, Focus on the Family was very much a part of our lives. Dobson’s books and radio broadcasts were wildly popular. Many Evangelical families read or owned Dobson’s most popular books, Dare to Discipline (1970) and The Strong-Willed Child (1992).

According to its 2019 Annual Report, Focus on the Family had almost $100,000,000 in revenue. This number is been static for a least a decade, reflecting the fact that Focus on the Family has been unable to grow its donor base. In 2017, to protect the confidentiality of their donors, Focus on the Family declared itself to be a church. Astoundingly, the I.R.S. did not object to the organization’s reclassification as a church.

In 2010, Dobson left Focus on the Family and established Table Talk — an Evangelical non-profit. Dobson also started a new radio program that is currently heard on 300 stations.

Dobson is known as a strident culture warrior. Reflecting his Fundamentalist theological and social beliefs, Dobson opposes LGBTQ rights, same-sex marriage, abortion, and premarital sex, to name a few. Over the years, Dobson has become increasingly political, a shrill the-sky-is-falling, doom-and-gloom prognosticator of the destruction of America unless it returns to God.

In 2008, in an attempt to discourage Americans from voting for Barak Obama, Dobson wrote his infamous “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America. Today, this letter is difficult to find, so I have reproduced it below in its entirety. (Focus on the Family “disappeared” the letter. I found it in PDF format on World News Daily.)

Begin Letter

October 22, 2012

Dear friends,

I can hardly sing “The Star Spangled Banner” any more. When I hear the words, O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

I get tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Now in October of 2012, after seeing what has happened in the last four years, I don’t think I can still answer, “Yes,” to that question. We are not “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Many of our freedoms have been taken away by a liberal Supreme Court and a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate, and hardly any brave citizen dares to resist the new government policies any more.

The 2008 election was closer than anybody expected, but Barack Obama still won. Many Christians voted for Obama – younger evangelicals actually provided him with the needed margin to defeat John McCain – but they didn’t think he would really follow through on the far- Left policies that had marked his career. They were wrong.

The Supreme Court

On January 20, 2009, President Obama’s inauguration went smoothly, and he spoke eloquently of reaching out to Republicans who would work with him. Even in the next month, when Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens announced they would step down from the Supreme Court, nobody was very surprised – Ginsburg was already 75 years-old and in ill health, and Stevens was 88. President Obama nominated two far-Left, American Civil Liberties Union-oriented judges, and the Democratic Senate confirmed them quickly. They are brilliant, articulate and in their early 40s, so they can expect to stay on the court for 30 or 40 years. But things seemed the same because the court retained its 4-4 split between liberals and conservatives, with Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote.

The decisive changes on the Supreme Court started in June, when Justice Kennedy resigned – he was 72 and had grown weary of the unrelenting responsibility. His replacement – another young liberal Obama appointment – gave a 5-4 majority to justices who were eager to create laws from the bench. The four conservative justices who remained — John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — were suddenly in the minority.

Then in August 2009, two months after Kennedy resigned, Justice Scalia unexpectedly announced his resignation due to health reasons and by October 2009 another Obama appointment took his oath and joined the court.

The three remaining conservatives (known as “originalists” because they hold that the meaning of the Constitution is its “original public meaning”) kept objecting that the role of the Supreme Court should not be to create laws but only to interpret the Constitution and the laws that had been passed by Congress and the state legislatures. But the six liberal justices paid no attention. They decided cases in light of their understanding of the needs of society, and they took more and more precedents not from the U. S. Constitution but from international laws.

From the end of 2009, Justices Roberts, Thomas, and Alito have been constantly outvoted 6-3, and they are essentially powerless. It might be 20 or 30 years before enough new appointments could be made to change the far-Left dominance of the Supreme Court.

Finally the far-Left had the highest prize: complete control of the Supreme Court. And they set about quickly to expedite cases by which they would enact the entire agenda of the far Left in American politics – everything they had hoped for and more took just a few key decisions.

Same-sex “marriage”

The most far-reaching transformation of American society came from the Supreme Court’s stunning affirmation, in early 2010, that homosexual “marriage” was a “constitutional” right that had to be respected by all 50 states because laws barring same-sex “marriage” violated the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Suddenly, homosexual “marriage” was the law of the land in all 50 states, and no state legislature, no state Supreme Court, no state Constitutional amendment, not even Congress, had any power to change it. The Supreme Court had ruled, and the discussion was over. This was a blatant example of creating law by the court, for homosexual “marriage” was mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, nor would any of the authors have imagined that same-sex “marriage” could be derived from their words. But it just followed the precedents that had been set by state supreme courts in Massachusetts (2003), California (2008) and Connecticut (2008).

President Obama repeated his declaration that he personally was against same-sex “marriage”, but he told the nation there was nothing he could do. The Supreme Court had ruled, and it was now the law of the land. The president asked the nation to support the decision.

After that decision, many other policies changed, and several previous Supreme Court cases were reversed rather quickly — raising the question, “Is America still the land of the free?”

(1) Boy Scouts: “The land of the free”? The Boy Scouts no longer exist as an organization. They chose to disband rather than be forced to obey the Supreme Court decision that they would have to hire homosexual scoutmasters and allow them to sleep in tents with young boys. (This was to be expected with a change in the court, since the 2000 decision Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, which affirmed the right of the Boy Scouts as a private organization to dismiss a homosexual scoutmaster, was a 5-4 decision, with Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter and Breyer dissenting even then.)

It had become increasingly difficult for the Boy Scouts to find meeting places anyway, because in 2009 Congress passed and President Obama signed an expansion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which extended federal civil rights protections to people engaging in homosexual behavior. So the Boy Scouts had already been kicked out of all public facilities.

(2) Elementary schools: “The land of the free”? Elementary schools now include compulsory training in varieties of gender identity in Grade 1, including the goodness of homosexuality as one possible personal choice. Many parents tried to “opt out” their children from such sessions, but the courts have ruled they cannot do this, noting that education experts in the government have decided that such training is essential to children’s psychological health.

Many Christian teachers objected to teaching first-graders that homosexual behavior was morally neutral and equal to heterosexuality. They said it violated their consciences to have to teach something the Bible viewed as morally wrong. But state after state ruled that their refusal to teach positively about homosexuality was the equivalent of hate speech, and they had to teach it or be fired. Tens of thousands of Christian teachers either quit or were fired, and there are hardly any evangelical teachers in public schools any more.

Non-Christians found this hard to understand. “Why not just teach what the school says even if it’s not your personal opinion? So what? We can’t have every teacher deciding what he or she wants to teach, can we?”

But the Christian teachers kept coming back to something Jesus said: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). And they quit by the thousands, no matter the personal cost, rather than commit what they believed to be a direct sin against God.

In addition, many private Christian schools decided to shut down after the Supreme Court ruled that anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation extended to private institutions such as schools, and that private schools also had to obey the law and teach that homosexuality and heterosexuality are both morally good choices.

(3) Adoption agencies: “The land of the free”? There are no more Roman Catholic or evangelical Protestant adoption agencies in the United States. Following earlier rulings in New York 7and Massachusetts, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 ruled that these agencies had to agree to place children with homosexual couples or lose their licenses. Just as the Catholic Charities adoption agency had closed down for this reason in Massachusetts in 2006, so all similar agencies across the United States have now closed down rather than violate their consciences about the moral wrong of homosexual behavior.

Christian parents seeking to adopt have tried going through secular adoption agencies, but they are increasingly excluding parents with “narrow” or dangerous views on religion or homosexuality.

(4) Businesses with government contracts: “The land of the free”? All businesses that have government contracts at the national, state or local level now have to provide documentation of equal benefits for same-sex couples. This was needed to overcome “systemic discrimination” against them and followed on a national level the pattern of policies already in place in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle.

(5) Public broadcasting: “The land of the free”? The Bible can no longer be freely preached over radio or television stations when the subject matter includes such “offensive” doctrines as criticizing homosexual behavior. The Supreme Court agreed that these could be kept off the air as prohibited “hate speech” that is likely to incite violence and discrimination. These policies followed broadcasting and print restrictions that were in place prior to 2008 in Canada and Sweden.

(6) Doctors and lawyers: “The land of the free”? Physicians who refuse to provide artificial insemination for lesbian couples now face significant fines or loss of their license to practice medicine, following the reasoning of a decision of the California Supreme Court in North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group v. Superior Court of San Diego County (Benitez), which was announced August 18, 2008. As a result, many Christian physicians have retired or left the practices of family medicine and obstetrics & gynecology. Lawyers who refuse to handle adoption cases for same-sex couples similarly now lose their licenses to practice law.

(7) Counselors and social workers: “The land of the free”? All other professionals who are licensed by individual states are also prohibited from discriminating against homosexuals. Social workers and counselors, even counselors in church staff positions, who refuse to provide “professional, appropriately nurturing marriage counseling” for homosexual couples lose their counseling licenses. Thousands of Christians have left these professions as a result.

(8) Homosexual weddings: “The land of the free”? Church buildings are now considered a “public accommodation” by the Supreme Court, and churches have no freedom to refuse to allow their buildings to be used for wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples. If they refuse, they lose their tax-exempt status, and they are increasingly becoming subject to fines and anti- discrimination lawsuits.

(9) Homosexual church staff members: “The land of the free”? While churches are still free to turn down homosexual applicants for the job of senior pastor, churches and parachurch organizations are no longer free to reject homosexual applicants for staff positions such as part- time youth pastor or director of counseling. Those that have rejected homosexual applicants have had their tax-exempt status revoked, and now the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has begun to impose heavy fines for each instance of such “discrimination,” which, they say, is “contrary to the U.S. Constitution as defined by the Supreme Court.” These fines follow the pattern of a precedent-setting case in February 2008, in which the Diocese of Hereford in the Church of England was fined $94,000 (47,000 UK pounds) for turning down a homosexual applicant for a youth ministry position.

(10) Homosexuals in the military: One change regarding the status of homosexuals did not wait for any Supreme Court decision. In the first week after his inauguration, President Obama invited homosexual rights leaders from around the United States to join him at the White House as he signed an executive order directing all branches of the military to abandon their “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and to start actively recruiting homosexuals. As a result, homosexuals are now given special bonuses for enlisting in military service (to attempt to compensate for past discrimination), and all new recruits, and all active-duty and reserve personnel, are compelled to take many hours of “sensitivity training” to ensure they demonstrate positive attitudes toward those with different sexual orientations and practices. Anyone who seems hesitant or who objects is routinely passed over for promotion. In addition, any chaplain who holds to an interpretation of Scripture that homosexual conduct is morally wrong and therefore does not espouse “mainstream values,” is dismissed from the military. This is not “the land of the free” for them.

Religious speech in the public square

(11) High schools: “The land of the free”? High schools are no longer free to allow “See You at the Pole” meetings where students pray together, or any student Bible studies even before or after school. The Supreme Court ruled this is considered speech that is both “proselytizing” and involves “worship,” special categories of speech which, as liberal Justice John Paul Stevens argued in his dissent in Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001), should not be allowed in public schools, since it is in a different category from other kinds of speech. (Justice Souter filed a similar dissent, which Justice Ginsburg joined). The new 6-3 liberal majority on the Supreme Court followed his reasoning and outlawed any use of school property for any kind of religious meeting, even outside of normal school hours. In addition, Christian students cannot raise religious objections to curriculum material that promotes homosexual behavior.

(12) Church use of school property: “The land of the free”? Tens of thousands of young churches suddenly had no place to meet when the Supreme Court ruled that public schools in all 50 states had to stop allowing churches to rent their facilities — even on Sundays, when school was not in session. The court said this was an unconstitutional use of government property for a religious purpose. Most of these churches have been unable to find any suitable place to meet. Public libraries and public parks are similarly excluded from allowing churches to use their facilities. Once again, the reasoning of liberal Justices Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg in 2001 in Good News Club (see above) was able to garner 6-3 support with the new court.

(13) Campus ministries: “The land of the free”? Campus organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ, InterVarsity, Navigators, Baptist Campus Ministry, and Reformed University Fellowship have shrunk to skeleton organizations, and in many states they have ceased to exist.

After the Supreme Court ruled that “proselytizing” speech and “worship” speech did not have the same First Amendment protection as other speech, and after it declared same-sex “marriage” to be the law of the United States, a subsequent Supreme Court decision predictably ruled that universities had to prohibit campus organizations that promote “hate speech” and have discriminatory policies. Therefore these Christian ministries have been prohibited from use of campus buildings, campus bulletin boards, advertising in campus newspapers, and use of dormitory rooms or common rooms for Bible studies. Their staff members are no longer allowed on university property. The only ministries allowed to function on campuses are “non- discriminatory” ministries that agree to allow practicing homosexuals and members of other religions on their governing boards. With the new Supreme Court appointed by President Obama, the long years of liberal opposition to these evangelical ministries finally bore fruit, and only liberal ministries are left on campuses.

(14) Pledge of Allegiance: “The land of the free”? Public school teachers are no longer free to lead students in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States. The 9th CircuitU. S. Court of Appeals heard a new challenge to the phrase “under God” in the Pledge, and, as it had in 2002 in Newdow v. United States Congress, Elk Grove Unified School District, et al., it held the wording to be unconstitutional. Now the Supreme Court has upheld this decision.

Abortion

(15) Freedom of Choice Act: Congress lost no time in solidifying abortion rights under President Obama. In fact, Obama had promised, “The first thing I’ll do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act” (July 17, 2007, speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund).

This federal law immediately nullified hundreds of state laws that had created even the slightest barrier to abortion. States can no longer require parental involvement for minors who wish to have an abortion, waiting period, informed consent rules, restrictions on tax-payer funding or restrictions on late-term abortions. The act reversed the Hyde Amendment, so the government now funds Medicaid abortions for any reason. As a result, the number of abortions has increased dramatically. The Freedom of Choice Act also reversed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, so infants can be killed outright just seconds before they would be born. States whose laws were overturned challenged the law in court but it was upheld by the Obama Supreme Court. “The land of the free”? There is no freedom for these infants who are killed by the millions.

(16) Nurses and abortions: “The land of the free”? Nurses are no longer free to refuse to participate in abortions for reasons of conscience. If they refuse to participate, they lose their jobs, for they are now failing to comply with federal law. Many Christian nurses have left the health care field rather than violate their consciences. A number of Christian nurses challenged their loss of jobs in court, but the Supreme Court ruled that medical professionals do not have the freedom to refuse nonessential, elective care on the basis of conscience. In its decision, the Supreme Court followed the reasoning of the California Supreme Court in the 2008 Benitez case (see section (6) above).

(17) Doctors and abortions: “The land of the free”? The same restrictions apply to doctors: Doctors who refuse to perform abortions can no longer be licensed to deliver babies at hospitals in any state. As a result, many Christian doctors have left family medicine and obstetrics, and many have retired.

Pornography

(18) Pornography: “The land of the free”? It’s almost impossible to keep children from seeing pornography. The Supreme Court in 2011 nullified all Federal Communications Commission restrictions on obscene speech or visual content in radio and television broadcasts. As a result, television programs at all hours of the day contain explicit portrayals of sexual acts. The court applied more broadly the “Miller test” from the 1973 decision in Miller v. California, by which a work could not be found obscene unless “the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, and scientific value.” In the 2011 decision, the court essentially found that any pornographic work had some measure of “serious artistic value,” at least according to some observers, and thus any censorship of pornographic material was an unconstitutional restriction on the First Amendment. In addition, all city and county laws restricting pornography were struck down by this decision. As a result, pornographic magazines are openly displayed in gas stations, grocery stores and on newsstands (as they have been in some European countries for several years).

Gun ownership

(19) Guns: “The land of the free”? It is illegal for private citizens to own guns for self- defense in eight states, and the number is growing with increasing Democratic control of state legislatures and governorships. This was the result of a 6-3 Supreme Court decision in which the court reversed its 5-4 decision that had upheld private gun ownership in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). In the new decision, a response to test cases from Oregon, Massachusetts, and Vermont, the court adopted the view of the Second Amendment that had been defended in Heller by the four liberal justices, Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.

In this new decision, the court specified that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” was limited to that purpose specified in the Second Amendment, namely, to those people who were part of a “well regulated militia” in the various states. To those who argued that this view was not the “original intent” of the framers, they pointed to a long history of dispute over the interpretation of the expression and then said that, in any case, the Constitution was an “evolving” document that must change with the times, and so what may have been applicable in 1790 need no longer be decisive. Therefore they allowed cities and states to limit gun ownership to active-duty military personnel and police officers. Citizens in those areas who are discovered owning guns have been subjected to heavy fines and imprisonment. Inner-city violent crime has increased dramatically.

Education

(20) Home schooling: “The land of the free”? Parents’ freedom to teach their children at home has been severely restricted. The Supreme Court, to the delight of the National Education Association, followed the legal reasoning of a February 28, 2008, ruling in Re: Rachel L by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in California (although that ruling was later reversed). In the later case, the Supreme Court declared that home schooling was a violation of state educational requirements except in cases where the parents (a) had an education certificate from an accredited state program., (b) agreed to use state-approved textbooks in all courses, and (c) agreed not to teach their children that homosexual conduct is wrong, or that Jesus is the only way to God, since these ideas have been found to hinder students’ social adjustment and acceptance of other lifestyles and beliefs, and to run counter to the state’s interest in educating its children to be good citizens. Parents found in violation of this ruling have been subject to prosecutions for truancy violation, resulting in heavy fines and eventual removal of their children from the home. Thousands of home schooling parents, seeing no alternative in the United States, have begun to emigrate to other countries, particularly Australia and New Zealand, where home schooling is still quite prevalent.

President Obama’s response to the Supreme Court

After many of these decisions, especially those that restricted religious speech in public places, President Obama publicly expressed strong personal disapproval of the decision and said that the Supreme Court had gone far beyond what he ever expected. But he has also stated repeatedly that he had sworn to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” and, now that the Supreme Court had ruled, he had no choice but to uphold the law, for these decisions were the law of the land.

Military policy

In his role as commander in chief, President Obama has been reluctant to send our armed forces to any new overseas commitment.

(21) Iraq: “The home of the brave”? President Obama fulfilled his campaign promise and began regular withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, completing it in the promised 16 months, by April 2010. All was peaceful during those months, but then in May 2010, Al-Qaida operatives from Syria and Iran poured into Iraq and completely overwhelmed the Iraqi security forces. A Taliban-like oppression has taken over in Iraq, and hundreds of thousands of “American sympathizers” have been labeled as traitors, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. The number put to death may soon reach the millions.

Al-Qaida leaders have been emboldened by what they are calling the American “defeat” and their ranks are swelling in dozens of countries.

(22) Terrorist attacks: “The home of the brave”? President Obama directed U.S. intelligence services to cease all wiretapping of alleged terrorist phone calls unless they first obtained a warrant for each case. Terrorists captured overseas, instead of being tried in military tribunals, are given full trials in the U.S. court system, and they have to be allowed access to a number of government secrets to prepare their defense.

Since 2009, terrorist bombs have exploded in two large and two small U.S. cities, killing hundreds, and the entire country is fearful, for no place seems safe. President Obama in each case has vowed “to pursue and arrest and prosecute those responsible,” but no arrests have been made. However, he has challenged the nation to increase foreign aid to the poorer nations that were the breeding grounds for terrorism, so people could have an opportunity to escape from the cycles of poverty and violence in which generations had been trapped.

(23) Russia: “The home of the brave”? As Vice President Joe Biden had predicted on Oct. 20, 2008, some hostile foreign countries “tested” President Obama in his first few months in office. The first test came from Russia. In early 2009, they followed the pattern they had begun in Georgia in 2008 and sent troops to occupy and re-take several Eastern European countries, starting with the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. President Obama appealed to the United Nations (UN), taking the same approach he had in his initial statements when Russia invaded Georgia in August 2008: “Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war,” and “All sides should enter into direct talks on behalf of stability in Georgia, and the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should fully support a peaceful resolution to this crisis,” But Russia sits on the Security Council, and no U.N. action has yet been taken.

Then in the next three years, Russia occupied additional countries that had been previous Soviet satellite nations, including Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, with no military response from the U.S. or the U.N. NATO heads of state have severely condemned Russia’s actions each time but they could never reach consensus on military action. Liberal television commentators in both the U.S. and Europe have uniformly expressed deep regret at the loss of freedom of these countries but have also observed that “the U.S. cannot be the world’s policeman.”

President Obama’s popularity dropped somewhat after each of these crises, but media criticism was remarkably muted. And Vice President Joe Biden reminded the nation that on October 20, 2008, he had predicted that Russia might be one of “four or five scenarios” where an “international crisis” would arise. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy,” he said. And Obama will have to make “some incredibly tough decisions,” and that “it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.”

(24) Latin America: President Obama has also moved to deepen U.S. ties and U.S. trade with communist regimes in Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, regimes that had long enjoyed the favor of far-Left factions in the Democratic Party. Several other Latin American countries seem ready to succumb to insurgent communist revolutionary factions funded and armed by millions of petrodollars from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

(25) Israel: “The home of the brave”? In mid-2010, Iran launched a nuclear bomb that exploded in the middle of Tel Aviv, destroying much of that city. They then demanded that Israel cede huge amounts of territory to the Palestinians, and after an anguished all-night Cabinet meeting, Israel’s prime minister agreed. Israel is reduced to a much smaller country, hardly able to defend itself, and its future remains uncertain. President Obama said he abhorred what Iran had done and he hoped the U.N. would unanimously condemn this crime against humanity. He also declared that the U.S. would be part of any international peacekeeping force if authorized by the U.N., but the Muslim nations in the U.N. have so far prevented any action.

Health care

(26) Health care systems: The new Congress under President Obama passed a nationalized “single provider” health care system, in which the U.S. government is the provider of all health care in the United States, following the pattern of nationalized medicine in the United Kingdom and Canada. The great benefit is that medical care is now free for everyone — if you can get it. Now that health care is free, it seems everybody wants more of it. The waiting list for prostate cancer surgery is 3 years. The waiting list for ovarian cancer is 2 years. Just as the Canadian experience had shown prior to 2008 with its nationalized health care, so in the U.S. only a small number of MRIs are performed — down 90% from 2008 — because they are too expensive, and they discover more problems that need treatment, so they are almost never authorized.

(27) Limited care for older Americans: “The land of the free”? Because medical resources must be rationed carefully by the government, people older than 80 have essentially no access to hospitals or surgical procedures. Their “duty” is increasingly thought to be to go home to die, so they don’t drain scarce resources from the medical system. Euthanasia is becoming more and more common.

Taxes, the economy and the poor:

Many Christians who voted for Obama did so because they thought his tax policies were fairer and his “middle-class tax cuts” would bring the economy out of its 2008 crisis. But once he took office, he followed the consistent pattern of the Democratic Party and his own record and asked Congress for a large tax increase. He explained the deficit had grown so large under President Bush, and the needs of the nation were so great, that we couldn’t afford to cut taxes.

And several of Obama’s economic policies have hurt the poor because they have decreased production and increased inflation and unemployment. Here is what happened:

(28) Taxes: Tax rates have gone up on personal income, dividends, capital gains, corporations, and inheritance transfers. The amount of income subject to Social Security tax has nearly doubled. The effect on the economy has been devastating. We have experienced a prolonged recession. Everyone has been hurt by this, but the poor have been hurt most. In dozens of cities, there are no jobs to be found.

It turns out that the people President Obama called “the rich” were not all that rich. They were just ordinary people who worked hard, saved, and built small businesses that provided jobs and brought economic growth. They kept inventing new and better ways to produce things and bring prices down. They produced the goods and services that gave us the highest standard of living in history. They provided the competition that kept prices low. And the top 50% of earners were already paying 97% of income taxes collected by the U.S. government in 2006.

President Obama increased their tax burden so much that many business owners decided they didn’t want to work any harder when the government was taking so much away. “The land of the free?” Not for the most productive workers in the American economy. Just as nearly 2 million citizens in the decade prior to 2008 had moved out of California and New York when the Democrats had control and kept raising state taxes, many of these entrepreneurs have moved their money, their factories, and often themselves, overseas. So many jobs have been lost that welfare rolls have swelled, and President Obama is calling for more taxes to meet the needs of those without work.

However, Obama’s tax bill still included “tax credits” for the lowest 40% of earners, who were said to “need the most help.” Since the bottom 40% were not paying any federal income taxes in the first place, these “tax cuts” were actually a gigantic redistribution of income, a huge welfare payment, a way to “spread the wealth around,” as Obama told “Joe the Plumber” on October 13, 2008.

When critics objected that Obama’s tax policies were leading to inflation and unemployment, he responded that our goal should not be merely to increase America’s materialism and wealth and prosperity, but to obtain a more just distribution of wealth, even if it costs everybody a little to achieve that important goal.

(29) Budget deficit: The federal budget deficit has increased dramatically under President Obama, in spite of higher tax rates. Increasing tax rates on “the rich” did nothing to reduce the deficit because the economy shrank so much with reduced investment that the total dollars collected in taxes actually decreased — even though most people’s tax rate is now higher. As numerous economists had predicted, higher tax rates meant that the government took in less money. When reporters asked Obama why he still favored higher taxes on the rich when it brought in no more money, he replied that it was important that the rich pay their fair share.

(30) Union organizing: “The land of the free”? In 2009, Congress passed and President Obama quickly signed a “card check” program that nullified the requirement for secret ballots when voting on whether workers wanted a union shop. Now the union has to get signatures from a majority of workers in any business, and unions around the country are using strong-arm tactics to intimidate anyone who stands in their way. Several industries are completely unionized, and prices of goods produced by those industries have shot up as a result.

(31) Energy: World demand for oil continues to climb, and prices keep going up, but President Obama for four years has refused to allow additional drilling for oil in the United States or offshore. Gas costs more than $7 per gallon, and many Democrats openly applaud this, since high prices reduce oil consumption and thus reduce carbon dioxide output. But working Americans are hit hard by these costs.

Nuclear energy would provide a substitute for oil in some cases, and could generate electricity to power electric cars, but environmentalist legal challenges have prevented the construction of nuclear plants, and the courts have been leaning so far in a pro-environmentalist direction that nobody expects the construction of nuclear plants for several decades, if ever.

Obama keeps reminding people we cannot guarantee it will be safe.

As for coal, President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to implement strict new carbon emission standards that drove many coal-powered electric plants out of business. The country has less total electric power available than in 2008, and periodic blackouts to conserve energy occur on a regular schedule throughout the nation. The price of electricity has tripled in places like California, which also faces rolling blackouts during peak energy periods. The impact on our economy, and our homes, has been devastating.

Talk radio

Through the actions of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Congress, Democrats were able to largely silence the largest source of conservative opposition: talk radio.

(32) Fairness Doctrine: “The land of the free”? By the summer of 2009, the five-member FCC was controlled by Democratic appointees – including a chairman appointed by President Obama. The “Fairness Doctrine” became a topic of FCC consideration following pressure from Democratic congressional leaders who initially did not have sufficient votes to pass the measure. The FCC quickly implemented the “Fairness Doctrine,” which requires that radio stations provide “equal time” for alternative views on political or policy issues.

As a result, all radio stations have to provide equal time to contrasting views for every political or policy-related program they broadcast by talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Dennis Prager, Janet Parshall, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt, and broadcasters like Dr. James Dobson. Every conservative talk show is followed by an instant rebuttal to the program by a liberal “watchdog” group. Many listeners gave up in frustration, advertising (and donation) revenues dropped dramatically, and nearly all conservative stations have gone out of business or switched to alternative formats such as country or gospel or other music. Conservative talk radio, for all intents and purposes, was shut down by the end of 2010.

In order to solidify the Fairness Doctrine at the FCC, Congress in 2010 passed, and President Obama signed, legislation making it permanent.

Many legal scholars had predicted the Fairness Doctrine would be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. But the liberal Obama court upheld it easily. Of course, this bill fit the deeper purpose of the liberal-Left wing of American politics, which trumps all other purposes, and that is getting and increasing its power so as to impose its agenda on the nation. It was not surprising the liberal Supreme Court went along.

Christian publishers

(33) Christian books: After the Supreme Court legalized same “sex marriage,” homosexual-activist groups targeted three large Christian book publishers that had publications arguing that homosexual conduct was wrong based on the teachings of the Bible. The activists staged marches and protests at Barnes & Noble stores around the country, demanding the stores remove all books published by these “hate-mongering” publishers. Barnes & Noble resisted for a time, but the protests continued, there was vandalism and secret defacing of books, and eventually the cost was too great and Barnes & Noble gave in. The same thing happened at Borders and other chains. Then they staged a massive nationwide computer attack on Amazon.com, with the same demands, and the same result. As a result, those evangelical publishers could no longer distribute any of their books through any of these bookstore chains. Any Christian publisher that dares to print works critical of homosexual behavior faces the same fate. As a result, several Christian publishers have gone out of business.

Prosecution of Bush administration officials

(34) Criminal charges against Republican officials: In his first week in office, Obama followed President Clinton’s precedent and fired all 93 U.S. attorneys, replacing them with his own appointments, including the most active members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). President Obama argued this was not a selective political action like what President Bush had done, because Obama had fired all of them, conservatives and liberals alike.

The Justice Department soon began to file criminal and civil charges against nearly every Bush administration official who had any involvement with the Iraq war. During his campaign, Senator Obama said, “What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that’s already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued.” In order to facilitate these proceedings, President Obama rescinded President Bush’s executive order that had prevented presidential papers from being released, and millions of pages of previously secret White House papers were posted on the Internet. ACLU attorneys have spent four years poring over these papers looking for possible violations of law. Dozens of Bush officials, from the Cabinet level on down, are in jail, and most of them are also bankrupt from legal costs.

Where is the opposition?

Has America completely lost God’s favor and protection as a nation? If it has, is this surprising? How can God continue to bless a nation whose official policies promote blatant violation of God’s commands regarding the protection of human life, and sexual morality? Why should God bless any nation that elects officials who remove people’s freedom of religion and freedom of speech and freedom even to raise their own children? His Word says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).

Many brave Christian men and women tried to resist these laws, and some Christian legal agencies tried to defend them, but they couldn’t resist the power of a 6-3 liberal majority on the Supreme Court. It seems many of the bravest ones went to jail or were driven to bankruptcy. And many of their reputations have been destroyed by a relentless press and the endless repetition of false accusations.

The same question written in “The Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key in 1814 rings in the air: O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Now in October 2012, after seeing what has happened in the last four years, the answer to that question is “No.” Our freedoms have been systematically taken away. Many of “the brave” are in jail. We are no longer “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

How did this happen?

When did this all start? Christians share a lot of the blame. In 2008, many evangelicals thought Senator Obama was an opportunity for a “change,” and they voted for him. They did not realize Obama’s far-Left agenda would take away many of our freedoms, perhaps permanently (it is unlikely the Supreme Court can be changed for perhaps 30 years). Christians did not realize that by electing Barack Obama — rated the most liberal U.S. senator in 2007 — they would allow the law, in the hands of a liberal Congress and Supreme Court, to become a great instrument of oppression.

Many people thought he sounded so thoughtful, so reasonable. And during the campaign, after he had won the Democratic nomination, he seemed to be moving to the center in his speeches, moving away from his far-Left record. No one thought he would enact such a far-Left, extreme liberal agenda.

But the record was all there for anyone to see. The agenda of the ACLU, the agenda of liberal activist judges in their dissenting opinions, the agenda of the homosexual activists, the agenda of the environmental activists, the agenda of the National Education Association, the agenda of the global-warming activists, the agenda of the abortion-rights activists, the agenda of the gun-control activists, the agenda of the euthanasia supporters, the agenda of the one-world government pacifists, the agenda of far-Left groups in Canada and Europe – all of these agendas were there in plain sight, and all of these groups provided huge support for Senator Obama. The liberal agenda was all there. But too many people just didn’t want to see it.

Christians didn’t take time to find out who Barack Obama was when they voted for him.

Why did they risk our nation’s future on him? It was a mistake that changed the course of history.

What about our faith?

Personally, I don’t know how we are going to get through tomorrow, for these are difficult times. But my faith in the Lord remains strong. I still believe that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). I still believe “kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28). I still believe our salvation comes from no earthly government for “there is salvation in no one else” than Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). I still believe God is sovereign over all history, and though I don’t know why he has allowed these events, it is still his purpose that will ultimately be accomplished. He alone can say of all history, “There is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

Sincerely,

A Christian from 2012

End Letter

As you can see — that is if you read this far — Dobson attempted to stoke mass homophobic, nationalist hysteria. Of course, he failed to do so. Barack Obama was elected to office in 2008 and 2012.

If anything, this letter provides a snapshot of the core ideas that drive the Evangelical war against secularist social progress.

james dobson donald trump

Dobson continues to foment hysteria among Evangelicals. Here’s what he had to say in his August 2020 newsletter:

As I write this newsletter, voters across this nation are only a few short months away from the next general election. What an ominous time this is for our 244-year-old republic. Its future hangs in the balance. The choices we make on November 3rd will send this nation down one of two dramatically different paths. The wrong decision will be catastrophic. I agree with former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, who said recently that the next election will be “the most important since 1860.” He also warned that if we appease or ignore the violence and anarchy occurring in the streets, it might be the end of civilization as we have known it. Those are sobering words coming from a man who has stood at the pinnacle of national power.

….

Why have I recounted our Civil War history and the election of 1864 at this time in our history? It is for two reasons. The first is to consider some striking similarities between then and now. Our nation is divided like no time since the Civil War. Lawlessness and anarchy stalk the cities as angry mobs riot, burn, loot, rob, and kill innocent bystanders. Cultural monuments are being destroyed. Scores of people have been shot. Our courageous police officers are being brutally attacked by the same people they have vowed to protect. A man and his son stopped to ask for directions, and he was gunned down on the spot. A one-year-old baby was shot in the stomach while he sat in his stroller. The child died at the hospital.

What began as a justified and lawful protest in response to George Floyd’s senseless murder by a rogue police officer has morphed into violence for the sake of violence. Hatred flows in the streets, including vitriol directed at the President of the United States or anyone who dares to support him or his policies. Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religious liberty are being trampled.

There is also widespread belief that violence and anarchy are being organized and funded by powerful forces that are maneuvering America toward a socialist dictatorship. There is always a kingmaker behind such lawlessness. Most disturbing is open talk of another civil war. It is troubling to even utter those words. The last time Americans faced off against each other, 600,000 soldiers died. May God forbid it from happening again.

During the revolution of the 1960s, I recall a ubiquitous bumper sticker that read, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” It was a catchy phrase that made sense to those who opposed the Vietnam War. But my reaction to it then and now is “What if they gave a war and only one side came?” That question keeps me awake at night. There are multiple millions of passive Americans out there today, many of them Christians, who are clueless about what is happening to their homeland. They are losing something precious and irreplaceable. Do they not understand that their children and those who are yet to be born will live in tyranny if we fail them on our watch? Countless young men and women have laid down their lives on battlefields around the world to protect liberty and our way of life. Now, what they purchased for us with their blood is slipping away. Disengaged people won’t lift a finger to preserve this great land. They won’t take even a few minutes to go to their polling places to vote. There are also thousands of pastors who won’t allow voting registration tables in the lobbies of their churches. Don’t they know or care that America is on the ropes? Hordes of angry anarchists are salivating over the next election, hoping to push America over a cliff. If they succeed, as Newt Gingrich said, Western civilization will never recover. Is there anyone left who believes some things are worth dying for? Aren’t there patriots out there such as Patrick Henry who said in defiance of British tyranny, “Give me liberty or give me death!”? That was the spirit during his day. The Declaration of Independence closed with these words endorsed by the signers, “We pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” They knew they would be hanged if they lost the war. Why did they do it? Because they loved their country enough to die for it.

How I pray for the emergence of silent, intimidated Americans who will come out of their hiding places to let their voices be heard on Election Day 2020. There must be tens of thousands of ministers in our midst who, like the Black Robed Regiment of the Revolutionary War, will strip off their clerical garb and fight valiantly for religious liberty. If these men and women of faith and conviction don’t come to the rescue of their country, it is doomed.

During the Civil War, untold soldiers gave their lives to preserve the integrity of the United States of America and to end the tragedy of slavery. Here is the question of the hour: Are you and our brothers and sisters willing to carry the bloodstained banner around which our predecessors rallied? We will know the answer on November 3rd.

That brings us to the second reason I have addressed the Civil War and the election of 1864. It is to remind us that voting matters. Each presidential campaign has been important, but some have had jaw-dropping and nation-shaping consequences. I believe we are at such a pivotal moment now. You can be certain that America will be forever changed by the political party that gets its supporters to the polls. They will win the day—and the future.

Unfortunately, the majority of Christians have a record of not showing up on Election Day. It is unbelievably sad. As many as 75 percent of them sit on their hands, apparently assuming that their votes don’t matter. They are wrong. Voting ALWAYS matters. George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 by 537 votes in a nation of 130 million registered voters. Many down-ballot contests have been won or lost by a single vote.

I plead with you to register and vote in this presidential election. I won’t try to tell you who to vote for because you can figure it out for yourselves. But I will suggest how you might evaluate the situation we face. I’ll close with seven critical issues that have stunning significance for the nation. Please think hard about them, and then go to the polls.

1. The Next Generation

There is a fierce battle being waged now in the nation’s classrooms for the hearts and souls of our children and grandchildren. Those of us who are passionately committed to the Judeo-Christian system of beliefs are losing our kids right before our eyes. They are being force-fed a radical curriculum that is godless, anti-American, and sexually perverse. Make no mistake, the left and secular culture are manipulating the minds of your sons and daughters every day of the year. I urge you to be extremely careful about those whom you set in power over your children. Protect them with your very lives.

2. The Sanctity of Human Life

All life is sacred and is a gift from Almighty God. But as you know, America has the blood of innocents on its hands. Since 1973, more than 60 million babies have been murdered through abortion and countless lives have ended by euthanasia. This is the most tragic holocaust in the history of the world! Some states have even passed laws allowing wounded and suffering infants to lie alone on porcelain trays after somehow surviving unsuccessful abortions. They will die without the comfort of their mothers’ breasts. If that doesn’t touch your heart, you are without compassion. I hope you will not cast a single vote for any politician who supports such wickedness.

3. Marriage and Family

The family is God’s original building block for society. Marriage continues to serve as the foundation for every dimension of human life. Everything of value rests on it, including procreation and the care and training of children. If that ground floor is weakened or undermined, the entire superstructure of civil society will come crashing down. But listen carefully: powerful and highly funded forces, including LGBTQ and other leftist entities, are determined to destroy the family as an institution. It is already on its knees, and its future is grim. Before you vote, find out what position the candidates have taken on this issue. Then vote accordingly.

4. Religious Liberty

The first item listed in the Bill of Rights addresses the issue of religious liberty. All the other enumerated rights flow from that fundamental freedom. That is why it is alarming to recognize that this right to worship and honor God as we choose is under vicious attack today. The courts have done the greatest damage, but now an entire sub-culture is trying to bring down the Christian faith. Whether it has invaded your private world or not, it is at your front door. It was this primary concern that led to the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War in 1776. We can’t compromise one jot or tittle within that fundamental right. Fight for it with every ounce of your strength and determination. Don’t let the government close the doors of your church or tell you when you can sing praises to the Lord Almighty. They have a devious agenda, and it is dangerous. Be ready to go to the mat in defense of what you believe. And let this passion influence how you cast your ballot in November. Here I stand. Will you join me?

5. Capitalism v. Socialism

It is difficult to believe that for the first time in American history, our nation appears to be thinking about trading our democratic way of life for the tyranny of socialism. I can hardly catch my breath. Could we really consider abandoning the beloved system of government that was designed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people? Is it true that up to 40 percent of millennials and others are prepared to surrender their liberties in exchange for the absolute authority of the state? Democracy and capitalism have made ours the most powerful and successful nation in the history of the world. Are we really considering scuttling the system that has served us for 244 years in exchange for what some people call “free stuff?” I pray not! But that option awaits you in the polling booth.

6. The Judicial System

Given recent rulings, we know that judicial overreach has almost ruined this great nation. Justices and judges are constitutionally charged to interpret the law, not make law. But again, and again, they have overstepped their authority and brought us atrocities such as abortion on demand, same-sex marriage, and the so-called “separation of church and state,” which doesn’t appear in the Constitution. Most recently, the Supreme Court handed down one of its most egregious rulings since Roe v. Wade. It is the case of Bostock v. Clayton County. This decision was not based on constitutional law but on the whims of six justices. It created a new legal definition of sex out of thin air. Lawyers tell us that this ruling will affect every dimension of culture and haunt the nation as long as it endures. Please don’t vote for politicians who will expand, rather than limit, the power of the judiciary.

7. The Nation of Israel

Scripture tells that those who bless Israel will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Our prayer is that the next Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. will continue to promote and cultivate a vibrant bond of friendship with the nation of Israel, which is our only ally in the Middle East. Anti-Semitism and all forms of racial discrimination are inherently evil, and we condemn them categorically. We are a nation that is dedicated to “freedom and justice for all” (The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance).

I could list dozens of other issues that should be considered as we vote on November 3rd. I will end with this final statement from Abraham Lincoln.

Dobson is, at the very least, consistent. The difference between 2008 and today is that our culture has moved on from Dobson and his fellow preachers of bigotry, Christian nationalism, and American exceptionalism. Now, this doesn’t mean the Evangelical dog has no bite. It does. Come November, the American people have the opportunity to defang the Evangelical dog, rendering it unable to cause further harm to our Republic. In other words, we must VOTE, setting in motion the process of undoing our march towards fascism. Our nation will not survive four more years of Dobson’s junk-yard dog, Donald Trump.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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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.

Sounds of Fundamentalism: Pastor Greg Locke Loses His Mind Over Being Required to Wear a Mask

pastor greg locke

The Sounds of Fundamentalism 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 Greg Locke, pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee whining about being required to wear a mask at Dunkin Donuts. Locke somehow, some way compares mask wearing to abortion.

Video Link

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.