Tag Archive: Evangelicalism

Selling Jesus

going steady with jesus

Two weeks ago, on a cold, wet Ohio winter day, a door-to-door hustler for Erie Construction knocked on our door, asking if we would be interested in receiving a vinyl siding estimate. I said, “sure.” We either have to side or repaint our home this year, so I thought, here’s my opportunity to get our first estimate.

Last Friday, two Erie Construction salesmen showed up at 1:20 p.m. for our 1:00 p.m. estimate. STRIKE ONE. Don’t be late. I have plenty of things to do on any given day, and if I set time aside to hear your sales pitch, BE ON TIME!  Neither salesman apologized for being late. I gave them a pass, though it is not uncommon for me to tell tardy salesmen, “sorry, you missed your window of opportunity. Maybe later.” Of course, this usually pisses them off. And I care how much? Not at all. BE ON TIME!

Having spent most of my adult life selling Jesus, I am quite familiar with the techniques used by salesman to get me to sign on the dotted line. The only difference between selling religion and siding/vacuüm cleaners/automobiles is the product. The goal is the same. Get the customer to buy your product, be it Jesus with an eternal warranty or Erie Construction premium siding with an original owner lifetime warranty.

The salesmen entered our home and sat down at our dining room table. One man carried the props, and the other, the alpha-closer, carried a portfolio of “magic” papers with which he would later attempt to WOW us. The alpha-closer did ninety-nine percent of the talking. He asked us questions about our backgrounds, family, and employment. It was Sales 101. Get to know the prospective mark. Attempt to befriend them. Use the information given to you to develop a bond. I used this very technique hundreds and hundreds of time as I traveled the highways and hedges of the communities in which I pastored, seeking to sell salvation to people I considered “lost.”

One humorous moment occurred when the salesman asked us what we did for a living. After Polly recited her résumé, the salesman turned to me and asked what I did for a living. I gave my typical answer: “I am retired and I own a photography business.” Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, this answer satisfies salesmen and busybodies alike. Not this time. The salesman asked, “Bruce, what did you do before you retired?” Remember, the word “retired” in my vocabulary means “I left the ministry and Christianity.” The word covers up shit I don’t want to talk about to strangers. I paused for a moment, thinking how best to answer the man’s question. I was already irritated by their tardiness, so I thought, how about a bit of snark?  I said, “I was a pastor for twenty-five years. I pastored churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan.” I then continued, saying, “don’t read anything into that. God and I had a falling out and we are not on speaking terms.”

When salesmen find out I was a pastor, it is common for them to change their behavior. Anything to make a sale, right? As I often do, I made sure I used several swear words during our discussion. This was me saying, “I ain’t one of THOSE preachers, God dammit!” Fortunately, no further questions were asked. Both salesmen asked if they could measure the outside of our home. I said “sure.” Off they went, returning ten or so minutes later, measurements in hand, ready to present to us the best siding deal on planet earth.

The alpha-salesman continued his pitch by telling us the benefits of doing business with a AAA company such as Erie Construction. Evidently, he never thought an old curmudgeon such as I would bother to fact-check his claims. After they were gone, I consulted GOD — the Internet — and found out that Erie Construction was NOT a AAA company. I am sure they have thousands of satisfied customers, but they also have customers who were not satisfied with their work due to missed job start/finish dates, shoddy workmanship, and poor warranty work.

As a seller of Jesus, I too shared with prospects the wonders of the Son of God. Evangelicalism was, in my mind at the time, a AAA company, offering the forgiveness of sin, eternal life after death, and peace, purpose, and direction in this life. Who wouldn’t want to buy what I was selling, right? Most of my evangelizing took place pre-Internet. I didn’t have to worry about negative reviews of Jesus, Evangelicalism, me personally, or the church I was pastoring at the time. I relied on people taking my word for it. Today? Thanks to the Internet, Evangelicalism has been exposed for what it is: a psychologically harmful con-job; a system of belief that robs people of their humanity and their money.

The alpha-salesmen breathlessly shared with us the wonders of Erie Construction’s premium grade one-hundred percent vinyl siding. He spent significant time dissing his competition and their inferior siding, even though he later admitted Erie sells “inferior” siding too. “Buy cheap siding and it only last five to eight years,” he told us.  The salesman also discounted the value of repainting our home. Polly and I painted it ourselves over two summers — 2007, 2008.  I told the salesman that we were thinking about hiring someone to paint our home. Eleven years have passed since the Mrs. and I painted our home. The past decade has not been kind to us health-wise. We are still able to do some of the painting, but we would have to hire someone to do the ladder work.

The salesman sensed that we were weighing “siding versus paint,” so he quickly pulled out his “magic” papers and showed us why painting our home was not cost-effective. His statistics were grossly inflated for the area we lived in. I told him, “look, I am not in good health, so I am not going be around twenty years from now.” The salesman quickly rebuffed my mortality claim, saying, “oh you’ll be around for a long time!” STRIKE TWO. I replied, “no, really, I am on the short side of life.” The salesman wouldn’t hear of it, telling me that I had a long life ahead of me. At this point, I almost said, “Look dude. You need to listen to me. I am not long for this life. If I make it to seventy, I’ll be happy.” I said nothing, deciding that I wanted to get their price for siding our home.

As a salesman for Jesus, I reminded prospects that my Jesus was the one true God, and that the salvation I was selling was the only one to promise true forgiveness of sin and eternal life after death. My “siding” was superior to that which other sects and churches were selling. I often told people, “has anyone else ever cared about you enough to knock on your door and share the Good News® with you?” Of course, I knew it was unlikely anyone but the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses had ever tried to evangelize them. Those sects were cults. I was representing the white American Jesus and Christianity. No one had a product like mine.

Finally, it came to time for the salesman to close the deal. He started using heavy-handed sales techniques, hoping that he could entice us into biting. His price? $25,000! Keep in mind, we already have new windows, doors, soffits, and gutters, so his estimate was just for the siding. His estimate, astoundingly, did not cover our small outbuilding. He asked us what we thought of the price, and I replied, “that’s a good bit more than we expected. I had thought the estimate would come in closer to $12,000-$15,000.”  “Quality costs,” the salesman told us. He proceeded to use the fact that we drive a newer car as a reason why we should have Erie side our home. “It’s evident you value quality in an automobile. Surely, you want the same for your home!” I thought, “yeah and your siding almost costs as much as our car!”

The alpha-salesman attempted numerous times to get us to sign on the dotted line. Each time, I told him, we are not prepared to make a decision today. Evidently, he was hard of hearing, because no matter how often I said, “not today,” he came back at us with a slightly different angle, hoping we would say “yes.” Somewhere in this process, I said to myself, “STRIKE THREE!” I wasn’t going to do business with Erie regardless of their price. The salesman even tried to appeal to my vanity, saying I could take photos before and after and Erie would pay me to use them on their website. “What,” I thought, “$500?” I said nothing, and the salesman finally intuited that we weren’t going to buy siding from him. His demeanor was that of the air being let out of a balloon. And with that, he and his sidekick packed up their props and exited stage right.

As a seller of the Evangelical Gospel, I pressured people into praying the sinner’s prayer. I warned them of the dangers of delay. “No one knows what might happen tomorrow,” I said. “Do you really want to risk God’s judgment and eternity in Hell?” I would remind them that this might be the only time they had an opportunity to buy God’s miraculous covers-everything siding, uh I mean salvation. Whether from the pulpit or at their front door, I reminded sinners of the urgency of covering up their sinfulness with Jesus’ premium salvation, complete with an eternal warranty. Most people said, “no thanks,” but over the course of twenty-five years, hundreds and hundreds of people said, “yes!”  Some of them found great value in what I was selling. Most converts, however, found out that the “siding” I was selling was not as good as I said it was. The storms of life came their way and often ripped their “siding” away, exposing the fact that Jesus was NOT the “friend who never will leave you” as I promised he was. What they found, instead, was a religion that demanded their fealty and money. Most of them, eventually, said, as we did to Erie Construction, “no, thanks!”

About Bruce Gerencser

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

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

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

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

Guest Post: #ExposeChristianSchools Part 1

exposechristianschools

#ExposeChristianSchools, created by ex-evangelical Chris Stroop, has been trending on social media since Second Lady Karen Pence accepted a position at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. Readily available on the school’s website is the agreement which parents of admitted students must sign. Included in the agreement is the paragraph as follows:

I understand the biblical role of Immanuel Christian School is to partner with families to encourage students to be imitators of Christ. This necessarily involves the school’s understanding and belief regarding biblical morality and standards of conduct. I understand that the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches. This includes, but is not limited to, contumacious behavior, divisive conduct, and participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity, or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school. (Lev. 20:13 and Romans 1:27). I acknowledge the importance of a family culture based on biblical principles and embrace biblical family values such as a healthy marriage between one man and one woman. My role as spiritual mentor to my children will be taken seriously.

As a parent of a student, one must sign an agreement that one does not even condone homosexual or bisexual activity upon threat of expulsion. Additionally, the school teaches creation mythology instead of evolution, and of course, the school teaches typical Evangelical doctrines regarding sin and salvation through grace, along with “the rapture” eschatology.

I attended a fundamentalist Christian school much like this in grades 5-12 (1981-1988). My mom and grandparents heard a rumor that students living in my district would be bused to a mostly-minority community, so they acted fast to enroll me in the private (almost completely white) Christian school. Entering the school, all students were subject to a gender-based dress code and a comprehensive code of conduct. Girls were to “appear as God made them — feminine” (yes, I distinctly remember that description from the student handbook). There were strict guidelines for skirt length and sleeve length, and when we entered 6th grade the female teachers taught us how to go through physical contortions in front of a mirror to determine whether our clothing would properly cover us if we bent over or reached over our heads. Girls’ dress code also allowed for pants/slacks/culottes to be worn to extracurricular activities such as ballgames (but we were never to wear jeans – somehow denim is fine in the form of skirt, dress, jumper, or jacket, but it transforms into pure evil if it is cut into the form of women’s pants). Boys’ dress code included strict guidelines for hair length including a diagram in the handbook and the requirement for a belt to be worn and shirt tucked in at all times. No one was allowed to wear anything with obscenities, racial slurs, or the American flag.

We had a strict code of conduct that allowed the school to suspend or expel students for activities outside the school. Students could be suspended or expelled for having sex, for smoking, for drinking alcohol, for profane language, and for playing rock music on school grounds. There was a year when anyone caught going to the roller-skating rink would be suspended. During my tenure at the school, three boys were expelled for attending a party that served alcohol. A girl overheard the boys talking about it and turned them in. Naturally, we were in a culture that encouraged us to report behavior of other students to the administrators. Additionally, two girls were expelled for getting pregnant. One would think that pro-lifers would commend the girls for giving birth to their babies, but for some reason the administration thought that the correct course of action was to expel the girls. I suppose they wanted to remove the quite-visible reminder that the girls had participated in sexual activity.

To be fair, I was never told that I could not excel academically or take a class because I was female. It was clear that females were not allowed to preach, but we had a female high school principal. However, there were other things that we learned about being female. First, of course, was the emphasis on the dress code as described previously. Girls were sent home from school if their skirts were too short, too tight, or if their shirt was “too revealing” in some way. When I was in 6th grade, our health and physical education teacher taught us that the “perfect female form” had the dimensions of equal measurements of bust and hips with waist measuring ten inches less. Homework required that we take our measurements, and the next day she asked girls to raise their hands who had the “perfect female form” measurements. Three girls raised their hands — we all knew they were liars, but I remember feeling like a loser because at age twelve I had nowhere near the “perfect female form.” My entire life, I never had those measurements, though I have always been fit and active except while pregnant and postpartum. Those measurement parameters and their association with the “perfect female form” have stuck in my mind my entire life though.

Another traumatizing moment at school was in preparation for our senior class trip to Florida. Girls were allowed to bring one-piece swimwear on the trip, but we were only allowed to bring pieces approved by female faculty. I will never forget having to put on my two one-piece swimsuits while my female teachers examined them to determine if they were modest enough. They approved both suits, wrote down their descriptions which would be available to the female chaperones, and they told me I looked good. There are few incidents in my life that were as mortifying as this. I do not know what the requirements were for boys’ swimwear.

Our school had a culture of pointing out misbehavior/sin. Among students, people would comment upon other students’ failings “in a spirit of love” but really, we all knew it was just an opportunity for people to judge others and to highlight things they didn’t like to other students. As teachers were the authorities and in charge of correcting misbehavior, they were allowed to point out misbehavior at any time. There was a lot of watching, observing, and judging going on. Faculty sometimes even tried to prevent dating situations from occurring. One of my friends was a PK — preacher’s kid — whose father was friends with the headmaster of the school. The headmaster did not approve of my friend’s boyfriend (also a student at the school), so he approached my friend’s father who broke up the relationship.

Yet there was, of course, rampant hypocrisy. Teachers as part of their employment contract were not allowed to attend movie theaters. It was explained that observing students would not know whether a teacher was entering or exiting a rated-R movie, so in order to protect the testimony of the teacher, the teacher could not attend the movie theater. However, all the young teachers had memberships to the local video store, and they openly discussed movies with students. I never understood how it was acceptable for the teacher to rent movies from the video store, as by the same reasoning that students would not know whether a teacher was attending a rated-R movie, how could we know whether the teacher was renting a pornographic film? Additionally, I always found it odd that two female students married teachers from the school and wondered if any dating was going on while the girls were students.

Students were told that we received the best academic education available, but I learned when I went to a top ranked secular university that this was not necessarily the case. (One could argue that my education was good enough to gain admission to a top ranked secular school.) Of course, as a fundamentalist Christian school whose statement of beliefs included inerrant, inspired, and literalist view of the Bible, evolution was not taught in science courses. Our science textbooks were from Bob Jones University Press, and they included some odd rebuttals of evolution. One of the main rebuttals was that radiocarbon dating was contaminated and inaccurate on the magnitude of millions of degrees of error. The curriculum taught that the earth was only 6,000-10,000 years old and that God had created the earth with the appearance of age. Fossils existed due to upheavals that occurred during (the story of) Noah’s Worldwide Flood. I remember the explanation that spontaneous generation of life does not occur because rotten meat that produced maggots and flies meant that flies laid eggs in the meat, not that the rotting meat generated flies; therefore, evolution is false. It’s a fair analysis that flies lay eggs in rotting meat, but it has nothing to do with spontaneous generation of life – it just means that ignorant people who thought that rotting meat gave rise to maggots and flies had no understanding of the reproduction and gestation of flies. As for mathematics, our course path was a year behind the honors track at public or private secular schools, so those of us who were “advanced” students were a year behind other top students. History courses were taught from a Christian inclination, and I do not remember much mention of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or of the civil rights movement. Our foreign language curriculum was not very rigorous, and I was required to repeat basic French in college in order to fulfill the foreign language requirement. What the school considered Advanced Placement courses were not the true Advanced Placement courses one finds in other schools in which an AP exam is administered for which one can earn college credit. On the positive side, our writing skills were impeccable as the school focused on constructing proper paragraphs and essays. My college literature professor pulled me aside after our first composition and asked me if I was sandbagging his course because my writing skills were beyond the level of other students in the class. I told him I was not offered another option and explained I had attended a private Christian school. I think he felt sorry for me as he allowed me to take a leadership role in the class.

Many of my teachers were kind, compassionate people who were dedicated to educating students. However, most newer, younger teachers did not last long at the school due to the low pay and the heavy course load — each middle school and high school teacher was required to teach a minimum of four individual classes, each with a separate course prep. The shortest tenure I recall is 5 weeks; a couple of teachers lasted through the first half of the year; the majority quit after the first year. The teachers who made it past the first two years generally stayed for a long time. Male teachers were required to prepare and preach sermons on chapel days (Tuesdays and Thursdays) in addition to teaching courses. A few teachers coached sports or drove school buses in order to make a little extra money, and all had summer jobs. The teachers chose life in a Christian school whereas most of the students did not — our parents and guardians chose for us.

Stay tuned for more about #ExposeChristianSchools.

#ExposeChristianSchools Guest Posts Wanted

exposechristianschools

Chris Stroop, an ex-evangelical, recently launched the #ExposeChristianSchools hashtag on Twitter in response to “Vice President Mike Pence and conservative commentators like David French lambasting liberals over legitimate criticism of Second Lady Karen Pence for choosing to teach art at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia—a K-8 school that explicitly discriminates against members of the LGBTQ community.” Needless to say, Stroop’s effort has caused a tornado-level shit-storm. You can read Stoop’s article on the fallout from #ExposeChristianSchools here.

ObstacleChick sent me a two-part guest post detailing her experiences attending an Evangelical Christian school. As I read her submission, I thought, maybe there are other readers who would like to share their Christian school experiences. If you would like to do so, please email me via the contact form. Anonymous submissions are fine, as are pseudonyms. I hope some of you will consider adding your voice to the discussion. I plan to write a series of posts detailing my experiences as a pastor who started an Evangelical Christian school. Several months ago, the local school superintendent and I were chit-chatting and he asked me, “so where did your children go to school?” I chuckled and responded, “well, that’s a long, convoluted story I will have to share with you some day when we have time.” I hope this series will provide a vehicle by which I can share my past experiences and readers can understand why I, today, oppose the anti-culture, anti-human beliefs and practices used by many, if not most, Evangelical Christian schools and home schoolers.

Stay tuned. I have lots to share, and I hope other readers of this blog will too. Your voice is important. I look forward to hearing from you.

About Bruce Gerencser

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

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

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

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Shush, Evil Spirits Might be Listening

satan

Familiar spirits and generational spirits target our families and situations that are familiar to us. These spirits have been assigned to our genealogy and know our families’ past mistakes and weaknesses. We also need to be aware of the word curses and generational curses in our family members’ lives so that we don’t repeat the past and bring what is dead, buried, and gone into the future. We need to make sure that we are speaking life and freedom and not cursing and bondage. By the words we speak, we can replant and build what the enemy has stolen of our past.

What curses are you putting on yourself? What generational curses are you putting on your children? Statements such as the following should not be spoken:

  • “She can’t read.”
  • “She sings off key.”
  • “He always drops something.”
  • “My kids are loud and obnoxious.”
  • “Her middle name is Troublemaker.”

Don’t curse your children and spouse with your words. If it doesn’t edify, encourage, or exhort, don’t say it. Find a way to speak about a condition or happening that is not going to speak against anyone. Better yet, don’t speak it at all if you aren’t trying to find a solution to the problem.

How many times do we speak over ourselves and aren’t even aware of it?

  • Never say, “That makes me sick,” when someone tells you something. It can open a doorway to sickness. You are speaking or claiming that something makes you sick!
  • Never say, “She’s driving me crazy” or “I can’t take it anymore.” Such statements can lead to emotional doors being opened. Do you really want to lose your mind and go crazy? How many times have you spoken that out over the years? Remember the law of sowing and reaping.
  • Never say, “My daughter has the flu, and I’ll catch it next.” We are redeemed! We don’t have to get the flu or a virus. Don’t claim that it’s going to attack you. Expectation is the breeding ground for miracles. Expect not to get sick; don’t expect to get sick!
  • Never say, “I can’t afford to tithe!” Change your poverty mentality; you can’t afford not to tithe.
  • Never say, “Over my dead body,” “I’m going to kill you for that,” or “You’re going to kill me for this.” Such statements open a door for spirits of death to come in.
  • Never say, “They irritate me.” That statement leads to a spirit of irritation. When you say that you are irritated or frustrated, you can’t get rid of it in a few days because you opened the door to those spirits by speaking it. Now you need to cast out a spirit of irritation or frustration.
  • — Kathy DeGraw, Charisma News, Are You Cursing Your Family With Generational Spirits Without Realizing It, February 2, 2019
  • Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Strick Strickland Accused of Sex Crimes

    pastor strick strickland

    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.

    Strickjavvar “Strick” Strickland, pastor of Second Baptist Church (church’s website is down) in Kalamazoo, Michigan stands accused of paying teenagers for sex acts.

    TV-8 reports:

    Reverend Strick Strickland, 36, is pastor at Kalamazoo’s Second Baptist Church on North Rose Street. His wife Jazmonique Strickland, 25, was a paraprofessional at Phoenix High School in Kalamazoo until she resigned last fall, one day before police executed a search warrant at the family’s home.

    After a four-month investigation by Michigan State Police, several sources confirmed to Target 8 that detectives found Strickland had paid teenagers to engage in sexual acts at his family’s home on Prairie Avenue in Kalamazoo.

    That property is owned by Second Baptist Church, where Strickland has been pastor since 2012.

    Of the four alleged victims police have identified, one was 14 years old at the time. All were under 17.

    “At this point, with everything we have done, we believe that it occurred over a period of time on more than one occasion,” MSP Detective 1st Lt. Chuck Christensen told Target 8 in an interview Thursday.

    Strickland called the allegations against him and his wife “absolutely 100 percent false” when reached by phone Thursday.

    “Wow,” Strickland responded when a Target 8 investigator detailed the accusations against him and his wife.

    ….

    The investigation isn’t the pastor’s first negative publicity. In an unrelated case last summer, murder suspect Donnovan Lewis told police he killed his girlfriend Aniya Mack, a Western Michigan University student, over her growing relationship with Strickland, her pastor.

    Christensen of MSP said while the investigation is ongoing, detectives have turned over their findings to Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting, who will make a charging decision. Getting declined to comment on the case Thursday.

    An August 2018 WWMT-3 news report alleges that Strickland had a sexual relationship Aniya Mack. Mack was later murdered by her boyfriend, Donnovan Lewis. Strickland released the following statement, denying the allegations against him:

    All of the things that I am being Accused of are ministry related!

    1. Second Baptist under my leadership has helped more than 30 families with transportation barriers Aniya’s situation was no different.

    2. We have shared thousands of dollars of resources to help members with rent, utilities, food…

    3. The All Expenses Paid trip was a choir trip with 50 other people. This trip was also all expenses paid for all College Students of which there was 6-8 more! Who all shared rooms together. My family wife and kids where with us…

    lastly, this is an attempt to discredit the church, the NAACP, and the black leader. However, I’m not running from this story. I am rather trying to be sensitive to the source of your information (A young man I don’t know at all. Who has killed his ex-girlfriend and is declaring himself insane!) his family deserves peace and my response to the propaganda will only disrupt their peace!

    Ultimately and finally, I have no control over people’s dreams and feel that it is extremely unfair that I be held accountable for was a person thinks or imagines is happening!

    In this particular case we have a young man who has confessed to murder and I’m sure that had I been a white leader here in Kalamazoo that would be no story especially based solely upon the word of a confessed killer and self-proclaimed insane suspect.

    Aniya Mack’s memory deserves to be left in tack! Here is a young lady that has already lost her life and future and now she is being denigrated to nothing more than her pastor’s mistress! That’s the biggest injustice of all!

    Stickland’s church bio page (a cached copy) says:

    Pastor Strick Strickland succeeds Rev. Matthew W. Wright as pastor of Second Baptist Church and was elected January 22, 2012. Strickland has been preaching since age 19, a year after he got saved. He says that although he grew up in the church in Warren Hill, Mississippi, he didn’t really accept Christ until age 18. Apart of what helped him make his decision in the end was seeing his peers struggle on the streets where he grew up. In fact, he mentions that he had strayed away from church for a while. He got into trouble and landed in an alternative school. However, even there he excelled academically and tested in the top 5 percentile of students across the nation. He was in a gang and was labeled “Expected to fail”. Thus, Pastor Strickland’s story is one of how God is still a God of miracles, even today.

    When asked how he knew he was called to preach, he replied, “Because it was the last thing I wanted to do”. He says that it was not only that he didn’t want to preach, but it was also that he didn’t relish the lifestyle of a preacher.

    Prior to accepting the position as Pastor at Second Baptist Church, Pastor Strickland pastored at Pen Oak Missionary Baptist Church from 2005-2008, then went on to lead Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Collins, Mississippi. Second Baptist Church and the city of Kalamazoo hopes this is the beginning of a long stay at Second Baptist. Prior to accepting the position as Pastor at Second Baptist Church, Pastor Strickland pastored at Pen Oak Missionary Baptist Church from 2005-2008, then went on to lead Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Collins, Mississippi. Second Baptist Church and the city of Kalamazoo hopes this is the beginning of a long stay at Second Baptist.

    Pastor Strickland is also a national recording artist and the lead singer for a group called the True Believers. We hope that through his preaching and singing many souls will be won for the Kingdom of God. Since his election at Second Baptist Church, he has been involved in the Spiritual Awakening Services at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the Jump Start Revival at his church, and spoke on 95.5 FM radio. As a young pastor, this is an example other young people that want to become pastors, ministers, singers or entrepreneurs can learn from.

    Pastor Strickland relocated to Michigan, while most of his family lives in Mississippi where he was raised by his grandmother as an only child. His grandmother was a spiritually-oriented woman who helped him with his homework every night. He was in junior high school when he found out that his grandmother could not read or write. The way Strickland learned, however was heeding her advice to “sound out the words”. His mother Ida M. Turner resides in Joliet, Illinois along with his uncle, aunt, and a host of other relatives. Strickland says he is excited to be closer to his mother as he is her only child and she is his biggest fan.

     You Can’t Believe Something Just Because Someone Else Desperately Wants You To . . .

    please get saved

    Evangelicals are known for pleading with non-Christians to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Evangelicals have a very narrow view of the world and who will make it to Heaven after they die. Evangelicals are clear on the matter: Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Liberal Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, humanists, pagans and, well, anyone who is not an Evangelical, will end up in Hell after death. Unless these people, by faith, repent and believe the Evangelical gospel, they are doomed for the Lake of Fire. This is why Evangelical zealots plead with non-Christians to ask Jesus to save them. Evangelicals genuinely don’t want non-Christians to be tortured by God for eternity. Well, most Evangelicals, anyway. I have received countless emails and blog comments from Evangelicals who find it quite satisfying that I will one day meet Jesus face to face and be punished for my sin. Several of them have even prayed for my soon demise. Sooner in Hell the better for Bruce Gerencser, right?

    So Evangelicals beg and plead with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, hoping that they will be convicted by the Holy Spirit and ask Jesus to save them. Yet, despite this pathos, we unbelievers can’t or won’t embrace Evangelical Christianity. Just because Evangelicals really, really, really want us to be saved doesn’t mean that we lay reason aside and get saved. What kind of salvation would it be if we could be argued, badgered, or emotionally manipulated into believing?

    You would think that Evangelicals would support the full disclosure of what becoming a Christian requires. Shouldn’t unbelievers have all the evidence and facts before deciding whether to believe? As with many con artists, however, Evangelicals frequently withhold truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead, evangelization targets are given just enough information — Four Spiritual Laws, The Romans Road — to get them to pray the sinner’s prayer. (Please see The Top Five Reasons People Say the Sinner’s Prayer) All the other stuff is withheld until converts can be thoroughly indoctrinated. Why not disclose everything upfront? Simple. Evangelical pastors and churches know that doing so would result in far fewer converts. Telling people upfront that they will be required to give ten percent of their gross income to the church, along with other offerings, would quickly run off most prospective Christians. Better to tell them AFTER they are saved that the church and pastor, I mean GOD, requires ten percent of their income each and every Sunday, no questions asked.

    For those of us who spent years and years in the Evangelical church, this withholding of information doesn’t work. I was part of the Christian church for fifty years, an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five of those years. I know all there is to know about Christian theology and church history. I know what goes on behind closed doors, and I know where the proverbial bodies are buried. My unrepentant unbelief is not due to a lack of knowledge. I know all I need to know, and it is for that reason I reject the Christian gospel. I know there are people who really, really, really want me to believe, but I can’t. Doing so, would run contrary to what I know about Christianity in general and Evangelicalism in particular. I have weighed Christianity in the balance and found it wanting. And so it is for many of the thousands of people who read this blog.  (Please read The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.)

    Winning me over to Jesus requires more evidence than what Christians currently possess. I know my believing would make everyone from Polly’s parents to lurking Evangelicals happy, but I can’t violate my conscience. I know what I know, and until new evidence is presented, I will remain an unwashed, uncircumcised Philistine. (Please see the WHY page for other posts about why I am no longer a Christian.)

    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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    Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Ernest Angley Accused of Having Sexual Relations With a Man

    ernest angley
    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.

    Ernest Angley, pastor of Grace Cathedral in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio stands accused of having coercive sexual relations with men, including church employees. According to an old recorded conversation, Angley’s confesses to having sex with an unnamed man. You can listen to it here. It’s six minutes long. Please take the time to listen to the recording. It provides real insight into how some Evangelical pastors and churches operate. It’s disgusting, to say the least.

    The Akron Beacon Journal reports:

    The person who provided the tape did so for a promise of anonymity. That person felt called to action after reading about an exchange of lawsuits between Angley and another former Grace Cathedral pastor, the Rev. Brock Miller. Miller sued Angley in August, claiming that sexual abuse Angley inflicted upon him has caused permanent damage. Angley has countersued for defamation.

    The source believed releasing the tape would show that Angley, who has preached vehemently against the “sin” of homosexuality, has a history of sexual abuse involving his employees.

    The assistant minister on the tape is the Rev. Bill Davis, who left the church after learning about Angley’s activities. Although Davis made the original recording, he did not provide the tape and had absolutely nothing to do with initiating this story. In fact, he only reluctantly agreed to talk about the tape after praying about the decision and consulting his wife and his attorneys.

    ….

    The existence of the recording had been rumored for decades and is often cited by former members as the reason Grace Cathedral suffered a significant drop in membership in 1996. Estimates of the number of parishioners who left what was then a megachurch range from 100 to 300. (The church has long declined to release information about the size of its membership.)

    It is unknown how many copies of the recording exist, or how many people have heard it. But the Beacon Journal spoke with five people with former ties to the church who said they had listened to it.

    ….

    The person who offered the tape to the Beacon did so because that person read a two-part Beacon Journal series about the Rev. Miller published early last year, then later read about Miller’s lawsuit against Angley. The source believes Miller is telling the truth and thought releasing the tape might help his cause.

    In last year’s articles, Miller said he had been sexually abused by Angley on and off for nine years and left the church in 2014 because he just couldn’t take it anymore. At least a dozen times, Miller said, his boss required him to disrobe and masturbate in front of him.

    Miller said he grudgingly acceded because, having grown up in the church, he believed Angley was “the man of God” and wouldn’t ask him to do something that wasn’t right.

    Starting in 2006, Miller said, Angley would summon him to his home for what he called a “special anointing,” in which Miller would be required to strip and lie on a circular bed while Angley massaged him.

    For those of us who have followed Angley for decades, it comes as no surprise that he’s caught up in a homosexual sex scandal. If you are unfamiliar with Angley, here’s a 1980s two-minute interview that will tell you all you need to know about the man and his sexuality.

    Video Link

    Want more? Here’s a recent one hour video of Ernest Angley in operation, complete with music, preaching, healings and, of course, fund raising.

    Video Link

     

    Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Children’s Pastor Matt Tonne Accused of Sex Crime

    matt tonne

    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.

    Matthew “Matt” Tonne, associate children’s pastor at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, stands accused of indecent contact with a child. The alleged contact took place at the Mt. Lebanon Retreat and Conference Center in Cedar Hill, Texas. The Village Church is pastored by Southern Baptist luminary Matt Chandler.

    Baptist Press reports:

    Matthew David Tonne, the 35-year-old accused, was dismissed as associate children’s minister from the Southern Baptist megachurch on an unrelated matter in June, senior pastor Matt Chandler said Jan. 24 in video and printed comments at thevillagechurch.net. The alleged crime occurred at the Mt Lebanon Retreat and Conference Center, a Baptist ministry in Cedar Hill, Texas.

    “We want to state clearly that there are no persons of interest in this investigation that have access to children at The Village Church,” Chandler said. “We would not let anyone who is under investigation for a crime like this be near any of our children at TVC.”

    Tonne, a husband and father of three, had been out of jail since Jan. 9 on $25,000 bond. His original court date of today (Jan. 29), has been rescheduled to Feb. 7, based on documents filed in Dallas County District Court.

    The Village Church is making at least one change in its ministry to children, Chandler said in the website comments.

    “We have decided to no longer do overnight events with elementary children based on counsel from MinistrySafe,” Chandler said, referencing the ministry founded by attorneys to help churches, camps and ministries protect children from sexual abuse. Additionally, the church has hired a director of care, Summer Vinson Berger, whom Chandler described as a licensed professional counselor skilled in trauma care.

    “She is helping us evaluate all of our current practices and will help us further strengthen our ministry here,” Chandler said. “We view physical and emotional safety as a top priority and will continue to pour resources into that area.”

    ….

    No details of the 2012 incident were available, other than a statement about the health of the victim and the victim’s family.

    “Earlier this year, the minor came to a place where it was possible to verbalize the memory of what happened for the first time through ongoing therapy. (Cedar Hill Police) Detective (Michael) Hernandez has been investigating the case since that time,” Chandler said. “It took courage and strength for the child and the family to share this information, and we want to support them in any way possible.”

    The church has no other reported incidents of abuse at the 2012 camp event, Chandler said.

    “We have been working with the family and Detective Hernandez to do all that we can to bring healing and the light of justice to this situation,” he said, “including the decision to make this investigation public now.”

    Parents and children at The Village Church have no need to fear for their safety from sexual predators at church events, Chandler said.

    “We are committed to doing all that we can to protect our children,” he said.

    Pastor Chandler might want to pay attention to the news (or this website). Parents have EVERYTHING to fear when it comes to entrusting Evangelical churches with their children. Sexual predators are deeply embedded within Evangelical congregations. Thoughtful, protective parents ought not to let their children out of their sight. Chandler can’t know for sure if there are other predators lurking in the shadows of the Village Church. Is his “word” good enough?

    You can read the church’s press release here.

    Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Cordell Jenkins Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking

    pastor cordell jenkins

    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.

    Last year, three Toledo, Ohio pastors were accused of child sex trafficking. Since then, one preacher has pleaded guilty and the other two await  a January trial date. You can read my previous articles here, here, here, here, and here.  Tuesday, another one of the pastors pleaded guilty. Cordell Jenkins, pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in Toledo, Ohio, pleaded guilty in Federal court to two counts of child sex trafficking and one count of sexual exploitation of children. Jenkins faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

    The Toledo Blade reports:

    A former prominent Toledo pastor pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to having sex with two teenage girls and receiving nude photos of one of them.

    Cordell Jenkins, 48, pleaded guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of children and one count of sexual exploitation of children during an appearance in U.S. District Court in Toledo. He faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison. Other counts against Jenkins will be dismissed.

    His plea comes prior to an anticipated child-sex trafficking conspiracy trial, which was scheduled to begin next week.

    ….

    In 2016, a 16-year-old girl and her guardian attended services at Jenkins’ church, Abundant Life Ministries. Shortly after meeting the girl, Mr. Haynes allegedly called Jenkins to say she was “out there,” referring to her sexually, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Freeman.

    Jenkins’ and the girl’s sexual relationship lasted from December, 2016, to March, 2017, federal prosecutors said.

    Jenkins communicated with the girl via text message and their conversations were often sexual in nature, Mr. Freeman said. Jenkins arranged to have sex with her numerous times at his church office, his home, and a hotel, and often gave her money following the act. In total, the girl received approximately $400, prosecutors said.

    The former pastor also persuaded the girl to send explicit photographs to him.

    Also in February, 2017, Jenkins asked the girl to find a teenage friend to be involved in a threesome. The three went to the Red Roof Inn in Holland, where they engaged in sexual conduct, Mr. Freeman said.

    Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Ronald Mitchell Sentenced to Prison For Sexual Assault

    pastor ronald mitchell

    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.

    Ronald Mitchell, pastor of Body of Christ Church (no Internet presence) in Magnolia, Texas was convicted Tuesday on five counts of sexual assault and sentenced to seventy-five years in prison.

    The Houston Chronicle reports:

    “Today, jurors let it be known that when a child finds the courage to come forward – our community will carefully weigh the facts and convict even without DNA or scientific evidence,” Chief Prosecutor Nancy Hebert said.

    Mitchell was the pastor of the Body of Christ Ministry, a small church which moved around the region before being housed at the pastor’s Magnolia home.

    Members of the church moved in with Mitchell, and their children were homeschooled. A search of the residence found that up to seven families lived there, Hebert said.

    The victim told her mother about the abuse in October 2016, later telling investigators that she was fondled and raped from 2015 to 2016.  She was 15 at the time.

    The pastor told the teenager that if she ever told anyone about the abuse, that “she would be killed by God and it would be her fault that ‘the movement’ was destroyed,” according to the district attorney’s office.

    Mitchell allegedly took the girl on trips to Galveston, San Antonio and Las Vegas, according to a Houston Chronicle report. And sheriff’s deputies said the preacher’s wife took her to a Conroe health clinic, posing as her mother to authorize birth-control injections.

    Other former church member’s corroborated accounts of Mitchell’s allegedly controlling behavior and said he wouldn’t allow them to have contact with people who weren’t members of the church. One family member of a churchgoer told the Houston Chronicle in November 2016 that the church was like a cult, and that many of the church members were financially unstable.

    2016 Houston Chronicle news report.

    Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Why Men Want Their Wives to Work

    lori alexander

    1. They’ve been brainwashed by decades of feminist social engineering into believing that a wife not working full time outside the home is a freeloader not contributing to the household.

    2. Related to number 1, they realize that their own ability to adequately provide for a family on their income alone has been deliberately undermined and destroyed by the existing feminist order, which has saturated the workplace with women, thus driving wages downward to levels incapable of supporting a family. For this reason, they’re determined that their wives should “live the ‘feminist dream’” and work full time (“you and your feminist sisters have made your – and our – beds hard, now sleep in them!”).

    3. They know how miserable, “unfulfilled,” and “oppressed” their wives will feel having to stay at home and raise the children they’ve spat out because they felt some vague societal obligation to do so (“I gave birth to them, isn’t that enough?! … What, you want me to RAISE them too??!! Are you nuts???!!!”). These men know that they’ll be in for nothing but misery, contentiousness, and marital strife if they “oppress” their wives by making them stay at home, so they make them go to work in the (vain and misplaced) hope of ensuring some domestic tranquility.

    4. Sadly, most husbands today don’t seem to give significantly more thought or priority to their children’s long-term spiritual and emotional well-being than do their wives. Children, in the modern western world, and for both sexes, are a commodity, an abstraction, and ultimately a burden, not joys or treasures to be delighted in, cared for, and nurtured to grow up in God’s image. Making mom stay at home to raise them is just not an option for most dads, for all the reasons cited above.

    — Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Why Men Want Their Wives to Work, January 30, 2019