Tag Archive: Evangelicalism

The Voices of Atheism: Christopher Hitchens on The Old Testament

christopher hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

This is the eighth installment in The Voices of Atheism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. Know of a good video that espouses atheism/agnosticism or challenges the claims of the Abrahamic religions? Please email me the name of the video or a link to it. I believe his series will be an excellent addition to The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Today’s video features Christopher Hitchens. Enjoy!

Video Link

Songs of Sacrilege: Holy Man by Shelley Segal

shelley segal

This is the two hundred and third installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Holy Man by Shelley Segal.

Video Link

Lyrics

Who is the holy man and what does he believe?
That we must cover up our bodies
We must show humility
I believe my body is beautiful and it belongs to me

What makes a holy man? What does he decree?
There is an order to this place and he’s atop the hierarchy
I believe there’s no one above me and no one underneath

But I’m a sinner I’m a whore
I’m rotten to the core and you’re the holy man
It’s to you that He confides
You have god on your side
And you’re the holy man
Yeah you’re the holy man

I hear the holy man
He’s calling for our souls
That we must kneel, beg forgiveness like it’s something that we owe
I believe our only stipulation is the kindness that we show

But I’m a sinner I’m a whore
I’m rotten to the core and you’re the Holy Man
It’s to you that He confides
You have god on your side
And you’re the Holy Man
Yeah you’re the holy man

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Philip Grandine Convicted of Manslaughter

philip grandine

Philip Grandine, pastor of Ennerdale Baptist Church in Toronto, Canada, was convicted earlier this month of killing his pregnant wife. Grandine’s first conviction was overturned on a technicality. The CBC reports:

A former Toronto pastor accused of secretly sedating his pregnant wife before she drowned in the bathtub was found guilty of manslaughter Thursday, his second conviction in a case that has spanned more than seven years.

Jurors convicted Philip Grandine Thursday after deliberating for just over a day.

The man, who has been out on bail for more than six years while the case wound its way through the justice system, looked straight ahead as the verdict was read.

Prosecutors alleged Grandine drugged his wife with the anti-anxiety medication lorazepam, better known as Ativan, so she wouldn’t be as vigilant while he continued an affair with her friend.

The Crown alleged he then did not prevent Anna Karissa Grandine from getting in a bath in her incapacitated state one night in October 2011.

Anna Grandine was 20 weeks pregnant when she died. Tests later revealed she had lorazepam in her blood despite never being prescribed the drug.

Defence lawyers had argued Anna Grandine took the medication herself and either slipped in the tub, hitting her head and drowning, or took her own life.

….

The Crown alleged Grandine was behind the searches, noting some occurred roughly at the same time as searches for escorts and other sex-related topics. Prosecutors also said lorazepam was not a drug that should be used by pregnant women and Anna Grandine was conscientious about the health of her baby.

The defence argued it was Anna Grandine who looked up lorazepam, suggesting she sought to self-medicate in light of the recent upheaval in her life.

Court heard Philip Grandine stepped down as pastor after it came to light that he was having an affair with a parishioner, who was also his wife’s friend. The congregation, to which Anna Grandine belonged, was also told of the affair, court heard.

Another pastor agreed to give them marriage counselling if Philip Grandine stopped cheating and gave up pornography, conditions the couple accepted, court heard.

But Grandine quickly resumed the affair and over time, his wife became suspicious, even challenging him on the issue in an early October counselling session, court heard.

Then, in mid-October, Anna Grandine suddenly experienced dizziness, fatigue and other symptoms, prompting her husband to take her to hospital, court heard. Her sister said Anna Grandine was afraid; her mother testified the 29-year-old asked her husband if he had given her a pill, which he denied.

Three days later, Anna Grandine drowned in the bathtub. Court heard toxicology tests detected Ativan in her system and then checked the samples taken during her hospital visit, where they also found the drug.

 

Christians Says the Darnedest Things: Democrats Hate God

ten commandments

While their animosity [Democrats] toward God is easily demonstrable (who doesn’t know that Democrats typically hate Him?), it’s the Democratic Party’s platform contrast with the Second Table that might need closer inspection.

Consider the 6th Commandment: “You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13)This seems simple enough, yes? The Hebrew word is רָצַח (ratsach) and means, “the unjust taking of innocent human life.”

And yet, the Democratic Party platform promotes . . .  Abortion on demand, murdering babies for the sake of convenience.

Consider the Seventh Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14)

Jesus interpreted this command for us in the Sermon on the Mount, in which he equated any kind of sexual impurity as a Seventh Commandment violation (Matthew 5:28). Any of the Bible’s lists of sexual sins – including the desire itself, acted upon or not – fit under the condemnation of the Seventh Commandment.

And yet, the Democratic Party promotes: The special protected status and special rights (including marriage) for homosexuals and others with perverse sexual desires.

….

Consider the 9th Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16)
We are not supposed to lie. A “lie” is something that is demonstrably untrue. God is truth. To not speak truth is to misrepresent God as his image-bearers.

The Democratic Party platform promotes: Reinforcement of the idea that it’s possible to transition gender, and that a man can be a woman, and a woman can be man.

….

After comparing the Democratic platform to the Second Table of God’s Law it becomes apparent that it’s not so much a platform as just a list of things that God hates.

While the Democratic Party may try to convince the public that they are the compassionate party of love and kindness, in reality it’s God’s Second Table of law that tells us how to love our neighbor. And if that’s the case, the Democratic Party breaks each and every command that teaches us how to love our neighbor.

Being a Republican does not make you a Christian, but being a Democrat probably means you aren’t.

— Unnamed Author, Pulpit & Pen, Love Thy Neighbor: How the Democratic Party Platform Breaks God’s Laws, March 22, 2019

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Larry Mullins Found Guilty of Sexual Abuse

pastor larry mullins

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Earlier this year, I posted a story about Larry Mullins, pastor of Apostolic Christian Ministries in Nebraska City, Nebraska being arrested and charged with sexually abusing a minor.  On Wednesday, Mullins was found guilty of two counts of first degree sexual assault of a child and six other charges.

The Sandhills Express reports:

In closing arguments, Defense Attorney Robert Schaefer said the 70-year-old Mullins has been afflicted with hip and back problems leading to surgery and said he suffers from long-term troubles in balance and personal mobility.

He said Mullins was physically incapable of performing the acts as alleged by an 11-year-old girl, who was in the courtroom as the verdict was read.

Deputy Otoe County Attorney John Palmtag told the jury that “disability is a weak defense.”

Palmtag: “The claim that he was not able of performing these ‘not rigorous’ sex acts, I think holds no water. The jury should find it holds no water.”

At trial, the prosecution showed a two-hour video of the girl’s interview at the Child Advocacy Center. Palmtag said the girl was truthful in the video, in a deposition with lawyers and on the stand during trial.

Palmtag: “There’s not anyone in her extended family that would tell her to do this stuff, would sit down with her and concoct this incredibly intricate story to take down Larry Mullins. There’s just no reason. There’s no motive.”

Palmtag also offered an explanation for why the girl did not come forward earlier, over the four-year period. She did not alert her parents until March of last year, when she said Mullins hit her after she resisted his attempt to put his hand under her shirt.

Pamtag: “She was confused, she was scared. Larry Mullins was telling her she would be hurt. He was telling her that she would lose her family. He was telling her not tell anyone. He’s a trusted adult.

 

Tales From the Appalachian Foothills: Bruce Goes to a Faith Healing Service

somerset baptist church 1989

In July 1983, I started a new Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in Somerset, Ohio. I would remain the pastor of Somerset Baptist Church until March 1994. Somerset was a community of 1,400 people located in Perry County — the northernmost county in the Appalachian region. It was here that I learned what it meant to be a pastor; to truly involve yourself in the lives of others.

The membership of Somerset Baptist was primarily made up of poor working-class people. Most church families received some form of government assistance — mostly food stamps and Medicaid. In many ways, these were my kind of people. Having grown up poor myself, I knew a good bit about their struggles. I deeply loved them, and they, in return, bestowed their love on me.

From time to time, I want to share a few short stories from the eleven years I spent pastoring Somerset Baptist. I hope you’ll enjoy them. Today’s story is titled, Bruce Goes to a Faith Healing Service.

I grew up in a religious monoculture. The only churches I attended were Evangelical/Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregations. I attended a Methodist church one time, but that’s only because I was chasing a girl who went to that church. I was twenty-six years old before I attended the services of any other church beside a Bible-preaching Evangelical church.

One of my responsibilities as an IFB pastor was to preach against false pastors and teachings. On Sundays, I would preach against Catholics, Southern Baptists, Charismatics, Mainline churches, and any other sect I deemed heterodox or heretical. As a fully certified, circumcised, and lobotomized IFB preacher, I had a long list of things I was against. The goal, of course, was to make sure that congregants didn’t stray. They were members of the “best” church in town. Why go elsewhere, right? I saw myself as a gatekeeper, a divinely called man given the responsibility to protect people from false teaching. And protect them I did — from every false, harmful teaching but my own.

One Sunday afternoon, I decided to attend a Charismatic faith healing service at the Somerset Elementary School gymnasium. I thought, “if I am doing to preach that Charismaticism is from the pit of Hell, I’d better at least experience one of their services.”

I arrived at the service about fifteen minutes early. I brought one of the “mature” men of the church with me, a man who wouldn’t be swayed by the false teachings we were going to hear. There were 50 or so people in attendance. Songs were sung, a sermon was preached, and an offering was collected. Pretty standard Baptist stuff. But then it came time for people have the pastor lay hands on them and deliver them from sickness and demonic possession. People started speaking in tongues as the preacher walked down the front row “healing” people. According to the preacher, numerous people were being healed, though I saw no outward evidence of this. This so-called man of God would stand in front of people, ask them their needs, lay his hand on their heads, and pray for them. And just like that, they were “healed.”

Near me was sitting a dirty, scraggly woman. Her black hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in weeks. It had a sheen that said, “last washed with used motor oil.”  When it came time for the preacher to lay his hand on top of woman’s head, he refused to touch her greasy, dirty head. Instead, he held his “healing” hand just above her head, prayed for her, and quickly moved on to the next mark. I thought, “what a fraud. Why not put your hand on this woman’s head? What’s a little grease on your hands?

I attended other Charismatic services during my eleven years as pastor of Somerset Baptist, but there’s nothing like your first one, right?

About Bruce Gerencser

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

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

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

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Songs of Sacrilege: Faithless by Rush

rush

This is the two hundredth and second installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Faithless by Rush.

Video Link

Lyrics

I’ve got my own moral compass to steer by
A guiding star beats a spirit in the sky
And all the preaching voices –
Empty vessels ring so loud
As they move among the crowd
Fools and thieves are well disguised
In the temple and marketplace

Like a stone in the river
Against the floods of spring
I will quietly resist

Like the willows in the wind
Or the cliffs along the ocean
I will quietly resist

I don’t have faith in faith
I don’t believe in belief
You can call me faithless
But I still cling to hope
And I believe in love
And that’s faith enough for me

I’ve got my own spirit level for balance
To tell if my choice is leading up or down
And all the shouting voices
Try to throw me off my course
Some by sermons, some by force
Fools and thieves are dangerous
In the temple and marketplace

Like a forest bows to winter
Beneath the deep white silence
I will quietly resist

Like a flower in the desert
That only blooms at night
I will quietly resist

Songs of Sacrilege: For the Love of God by Mindless Self Indulgence

mindless self indulgence

This is the two hundredth and first  installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is For the Love of God by Mindless Self Indulgence.

Video Link

Lyrics

I was doing just fine
‘Til the son of God had saved me, now
And I sin all of the time
Living life begging forgiveness

Sweet religion
Blood is spilling, blood is spilling
Sweet religion
Persecute the weak and willing
I’ve been here so long
For the love of God

(Come here, I got somethin’ to tell you, Jesus!)

My flesh is so weak
And my spirit is not so willing, baby
Turn the other cheek
And I’ll spank you right on your ass, baby

Sweet religion
Help me, Satan! Help me, Satan!
Sweet religion
Drag me down into your basement
I’ve done nothing wrong
For the love of God

Sweet religion
Blood is spilling, blood is spilling
Sweet religion
Help me, Satan! Help me, Satan!
I’ve been here so long
For the love of God

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Volunteer Jim Arnold Accused of Child Molestation

jim arnold

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Jim Arnold, a youth ministry volunteer at Big Valley Grace Community Church in Modesto, California, stands accused of child molestation. The Modesto Bee reports:

Jim Patrick Arnold, 40, is accused of the continuous sexual abuse of a family member.

Arnold was a part-time volunteer youth ministry worker at Big Valley Grace Community Church. He has not been charged with any crimes associated with a child outside his family.

A week after Arnold’s Feb. 19 arrest, Senior Pastor Rick Countryman sent a letter to the parents of children in grades 5 through 12 saying Arnold had been removed from the ministry and is no longer allowed on the Big Valley Grace campus.

“We perform interviews and background checks on all employees and volunteers who work with children and youth …” the letter says. “Jim Arnold passed all background checks without report of any past indiscretions.”

The letter goes on to say the allegations occurred off campus with a relative, not with a Big Valley Grace student, but asks anyone with information about “inappropriate behavior … on the part of Jim Arnold” to first notify the Modesto Police Department, then Executive Pastor Bobby Kirchner.

In an email to The Bee Tuesday, Kirchner said he could not say in what capacity Arnold worked with children, if he ever accompanied them on any overnight trips, how long he’d been volunteering there and if he only worked with children in grades 5 through 12.

“I hope you can appreciate that Big Valley Grace cannot and will not comment further on an ongoing criminal case,” he said.

The alleged abuse by Arnold occurred on three different occasions between March 2018 and February 2019, according to a criminal complaint. He has been charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child, possession of an image of a minor engaged in sexual conduct, exploitation of a minor and using a concealed camera to secretly videotape another person.

….

In an email to The Bee Wednesday Reilly [Arnold’s attorney]  said, “Mr. Arnold not only promptly admitted culpability and accepted responsibility for his actions, he did so under circumstances in which he was suicidal. Law enforcement contact resulted entirely from Mr. Arnold’s own regret and shame, rather than as a result of a complaint by the minor.”

Judge Shawn Bessey kept Arnold’s bail at $100,000 but added a condition to his release that he have no unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18, in addition to the terms of a restraining order granted to his wife.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor William Oswald Accused of Sex Crimes

william oswald

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

William Oswald, the former pastor of Dunn’s Chapel Church in West Columbia, South Carolina, stands accused of sexually assaulting two minors numerous times over the space of several years. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

WBTV-3 reports:

A former pastor of Dunn’s Chapel Church in South Congaree is charged with 12 counts of criminal sexual conduct with a child, after two victims came forward last week.

William Oswald, 56, was denied bond on Wednesday morning and remains jailed at the Lexington County Detention Center ahead of his next court appearance in May.

According to investigators, two victims allege the sexual abuse took place between 1996 and 2001 at Dunn’s Chapel Church, where Oswald was a pastor. According to the incident report, the victims described in graphic detail the alleged sexual assaults, each stating they were assaulted more than a one hundred times during the time period. The victims said the alleged abuse began when they were around the age of eight and continued until their early teens.

he two victims were inside the courtroom Wednesday morning during Oswald’s bond hearing. One said she feels empowered by stepping forward and reporting the alleged abuse.
“I just finally feel safe because he’s not going to be able to touch me again or get out,” she said. “Over the years he just always manipulates the situation so no matter how many boundaries you try to put up he ends up getting back in and he can’t do that anymore, I hope.”
The victim said she knows of other victims that have yet to come forward. South Congaree Police said there are likely other victims in different jurisdictions.

….

“I know of several already, some that are still too afraid to speak,” she said.

She said she wanted to speak in hopes of encouraging other victims to step forward.

“There’s hope and it’s okay to speak and even if it takes you a while and years to feel safe and be separated enough it’s okay to speak, you can feel safe again,” she said.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Anthony Haynes on Trial for Child Sex Trafficking

anthony haynes

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Previous posts about Cordell Jenkins, Anthony Haynes, and Kenneth Butler: Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Cordell Jenkins Accused of Sex Trafficking Children, Black Collar Crime: Another Toledo Evangelical Pastor, Kenneth Butler, Accused of Sex Trafficking, Black Collar Crime: Three Toledo, Ohio Evangelical Pastors Indicted on Child Sex Trafficking Charges, Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Kenneth Butler Pleads Guilty to Child Sex Trafficking Charges, Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Cordell Jenkins Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking, Black Collar Crime: Wife and Stepdaughter of Pastor Anthony Haynes Accused of Kidnapping Victim

In late 2017, Evangelical pastors Cordell Jenkins, Anthony Haynes, and Kenneth Butler were indicted on charges of conspiracy to sex traffic children. The indicted men were affiliated with Abundant Life Ministries and Greater Life Christian Center, both in Toledo, Ohio.

Since then, Jenkins and Butler pleaded guilty. Haynes, on the other hand, decided to roll the dice and take his case to trial. The Star Tribune reports:

A minister who promised a woman he’d take care of her daughter began having sex with the teenager daily and later encouraged two other pastors to have sex with her as well, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Anthony Haynes could face up to life in prison if he’s convicted of child sex trafficking and other charges. The two other Toledo-area pastors charged in the investigation have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Prosecutors said during the opening of Haynes’ trial that he first had sex with the girl when she was 14. They said the evidence against him includes text messages, photos, voice mails and DNA evidence from his church where the girl said they often had sex.

Haynes’ attorney told jurors that the allegations are shocking, but there’s not enough evidence to prove the trafficking and conspiracy charges he faces.

Attorney Pete Wagner also said Haynes may have had a questionable relationship with the girl, but he didn’t coordinate or take part in trafficking her to the other ministers. He also said there was no paying for sex.

Prosecutors say the girl had a difficult childhood and was sexually abused by a relative.

Haynes pledged in front of his congregation to protect her and serve as a father figure, but he began grooming her for sex when she turned 14 and first forced her to perform sex acts in front of him, said Michael Freeman, an assistant U.S. attorney.

They had sex day after day, often at a motel or his church, the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo, and Haynes would give her cash, Freeman said.

After about a year, Haynes introduced her to Kenneth Butler, another pastor, and he also began having sex with her, Freeman said.

Sometimes, the two men joked about the arrangement, prosecutors said. One text shown in court that prosecutors say was sent by Butler to the girl said: “You better be nice and naked when I get there.”

Prosecutors said the girl next met Cordell Jenkins, a minister who founded his own church in Toledo and built a large following until it closed after his arrest.

The FBI has said in court documents that Jenkins had sex with two girls at his home, church office and a motel and often recorded the acts with his phone.

Haynes, prosecutors said, encouraged the relationship with Jenkins.

Today, Haynes took the stand. The Toledo Blade reports:

Anthony Haynes sobbed as he took the stand in federal court Wednesday, claiming he was manipulated by a teenage girl and he took the fall for sexual relationships between her and two other pastors.

….

Federal prosecutors rested Wednesday morning and the case was turned over to Mr. Haynes’ defense attorneys, Peter Wagner and John Thebes, calling Mr. Haynes to the stand — where he denied having a sexual relationship with the girl or encouraging her to have sex with the other pastors.

Mr. Haynes testified Wednesday that the girl threatened the pastor, saying she would tell people he was molesting her if she did not get things — like a cell phone.

….

dditionally, he said he knew the girl was having sexual relations with Butler and Jenkins, and he lied to federal investigators because he “was covering up for people,” he said. He previously told investigators that he had sexual relations with the teenage girl, took nude photos of her, and sent nude photos of her — but that was a false statement, he testified on Wednesday.

“I was tired. People don’t know what I was dealing with. Outside looking in, I look like the biggest monster,” Mr. Haynes said.

“I’m not no freak, I’m not a pervert. I’m an innocent family man with flaws and issues and I’m trying to get back to my family and children,” he added before breaking down into tears.

Mr. Haynes testified he eventually closed his church because the “secrets” of Jenkins and Butler were becoming too much. He said he never reported the incident to police.

….

Federal prosecutor Alisa Sterling asked Mr. Haynes how his and Butler’s sperm both got onto a small carpet sample. Mr. Haynes said he and his wife had sexual relations at the church and Butler also had a key to the building.

Ms. Sterling also showed Mr. Haynes a series of text messages between him and the girl, including ones referencing them having sex at the church and her being sore following the act.

He could not recall sending her sexually explicit photos and said some messages were taken out of context. He also claimed his social media account was hacked when a conversation between the two consisted of a conversation about a threesome.

….

Earlier this week, prosecutors called a series of FBI agents involved in the case; the victim’s school guidance counselor; a family friend who purchased her an iPhone for her 17th birthday; Mr. Haynes’ co-defendant, Kenneth Butler; and the victim.

The now 19-year-old woman in the case outlined a lengthy history with the pastors beginning with Mr. Haynes when she was 14, she said Tuesday. She moved in with the Haynes family in 2014, she testified.

The woman — who provided poised and direct answers during questioning — said Mr. Haynes began having sex with her at his church when she was a teenager before later introducing her to pastors Kenneth Butler and Cordell Jenkins, encouraging her to engage in sex acts with them.