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Tag: Evangelicalism

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Daniel Owens Pleads Guilty to Medicare Fraud

pastor daniel owens

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.

Daniel Owens, pastor of Life Springs Dream Center in Sanford, North Carolina, and the director of the Dream Center, an affiliate of the church that combats human trafficking, addiction, and homelessness, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to medicare fraud. Owens is expected to be sentenced next week.

WRAL reports:

Court documents state Pastor Daniel Owens netted more than $10,000 in kickbacks and bribes as part of a Medicare fraud scheme.

Owens is a pastor at Life Springs Dream Center in Sanford. He is also the director of the Dream Center, an affiliate of the church that combats human trafficking, addiction and homelessness.

In November 2021, Owens pleaded guilty to federal Medicare fraud charges.

Owens is set to be sentenced federally on Jan. 23. The maximum penalty for the crime is 10 years in prison.

….

Court documents show between January 2020 and April 2020, Owens is accused of conspiring “to offer, pay, solicit and receive illegal heath care kickback payments in exchange for the referral of patients for cancer tests that were submitted to Medicare for reimbursement.”

“We’ve known about that for two years,” Sauls said of Owens. “He’s walked. He’s cooperating with authorities. He’s admitted what he did. He didn’t know he was doing anything wrong.”

Federal documents detail a scheme to recruit people to undergo unnecessary cancer screening tests.

The Rant adds:

The Life Springs Dream Center posted a Facebook video Thursday acknowledging the organization’s leadership had been aware that pastor Daniel Owens – who has been central in Life Springs Church’s effort to obtain $500,000 in county funding for the center – pleaded guilty to federal Medicare fraud charges in 2021 and will be sentenced later this month.

Owens appeared in the video with lead Pastor Dale Sauls, who did most of the speaking. Sauls said the situation was “not fortunate” and “bad.”

“We found out that on social media, has surfaced some information about my twin brother Pastor Daniel that has been less than flattering to say the least. So we felt like that we needed to give some sort of explanation about that,” Sauls said. “In this particular situation, we knew about this situation before it happened, during it happened, and after it happened.”

Neither Sauls nor Owens responded Wednesday to multiple attempts by phone and email to reach them for comment about Owens’ November 2021 guilty plea in a Philadelphia federal court. Questions posed by email included “if you or the church in general were aware of the guilty plea, why was the information that a leader of your efforts had recently pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges not disclosed at the time of LSAT’s application for funding?” and “do you feel like the taxpayers and commissioners from whom your organization was soliciting money deserved to know that you’ve pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges?”

Those questions were not addressed in the video.

Instead, Sauls explained that Owens was deceived by a previous employer and that it was “too late” to avoid charges by the time he learned he’d broken the law.

Explaining that Owens was working part time with Life Springs because “we were not in a position in those days to pay him full time,” and that he eventually found employment through the website Indeed.com, Sauls said “the job involved helping people get pre-cancer screening. So he began to work for the company, they said you do this and we’ll pay you this. Didn’t make a lot of money but, nevertheless, that was his job. Come to find out later on that the company he was a part of, while he was very well intended, his idea was ‘I’m helping people,’ they were not so well intended. And they were doing things illegal, and when he found out about it, it was too late. He immediately said ‘yes I work for the company, yes I did what they said, and they said ‘okay well if you will cooperate with us during this, then we’re gonna take care.’”

The charging document in the case doesn’t mention what company Owens was working for at the time of his fraud – which prosecutors say involved recruiting people to undergo unnecessary cancer screening tests, sending them to a lab out of state and then receiving a kickback after the testing was billed to Medicare – but it does say that Owens is “the owner of People Loving People, a corporation located in Sanford, North Carolina that purportedly provided marketing and consulting services.” Owens is listed on the North Carolina Secretary of State website as the registered agent for People Loving People.

The November vote to award funding to the Life Springs Dream Center has since come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons – first, its speed (the grant was approved the night it was introduced, even after County Manager Dr. John Crumpton recommended further study), and later because it was determined that LSAT did not have necessary IRS approval as a nonprofit entity. That means the county is unable to enter into a contract on the Dream Center proposal until nonprofit status is approved.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Dustin Spillers Accused of Child Molestation

dustin spillers

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.

Dustin Spillers, a former youth pastor at Abba’s House in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and president of the PTA at Wolftever Elementary School in Ooltewah, Tennessee, stands accused of child molestation and aggravated sexual battery. Based on scant news reports, the alleged crimes did not take place at the church or school. Spillers was extradited to Georgia to answer the charges against him.

WJAC-6 reports:

A former youth pastor at the Abba’s House church in Chattanooga, Tennessee who was also a former PTA president at an elementary school in Hamilton County is facing child molestation charges and aggravated sexual battery charges, according to court documents.

Online records show Hamilton County deputies arrested 34-year-old Dustin Spillers.

Spillers was extradited to Troup County, Georgia, where he faces the charges.

Abba’s House Lead Pastor Dr. Ronnie Phillips, Jr. confirmed Spillers was once associated with the church as a volunteer youth pastor and left the church in 2015.

“Dustin Spillers moved to Chattanooga from Louisiana in 2008 following a former youth pastor, Chris Brooks,” Phillips told WTVC in an email. “He was never on staff nor received any financial compensation from Abba’s House. He left the church in 2015. There were no inappropriate actions by Dustin Spillers known by Abba’s House while he attended here. We are praying for the Spillers family, any alleged victims, and all other churches, individuals, and families that may be affected by the alleged actions.”

Several posts on the Abba’s House Students Facebook page from 2012 share events that list Spillers’ involvement.

Spillers was also the president of the PTA at Wolftever Creek Elementary School.

In a Facebook post on January 2, Principal Gail Huffstutler told parents that Spillers “stepped down from his role on the PTA.”

Hamilton County Schools said Spillers resigned as PTA president during the holiday break.

Sydney Moore, a friend of the Spillers family, told WTVC she met Spillers during his time at Abba’s House and knew him for several years.

This has been a complete shock to us,” Moore said. “He has been living a double life his entire life.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor John Kim Accused of Sexual Assault

pastor john kim

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.

John Kim, the Korean church youth pastor at Salvation Army Mayfair Community Church in Chicago, Illinois, stands accused of sexually assaulting someone under the age of eighteen.

The Korea Daily reports:

47-year-old Korean pastor in Chicago has been indicted on three counts of sexual assault against minors, local broadcaster CBS 2 News reported on the 15th.

According to the police, Pastor John Kim, who served at the Salvation Army Mayfair Community Church in Chicago, was indicted on three counts of felony sexual assault on minors under the age of 18.

Based on the video posted by the church, Pastor Kim worked at the church for a long time.

A police official also explained that Pastor Kim does not currently work at the church and that it was an incident that occurred while he was in office in the past. The arrest was reported to have been made on the 11th.

CBS 2 News apparently reached out to the church to hear their position, but did not get a response.

Instead, the Salvation Army confirmed in a statement sent to CBS 2 News that “the Salvation Army is now aware that local police are investigating.” “The allegations of employees who worked in the past directly contradict with our beliefs and values, which also aligns with our efforts to immediately respond, detect, and prevent reports of misconduct.”

According to local Korean media, Pastor Kim has been in charge of youth English-speaking worship for more than 10 years since 2005 at the Mayfair Community Church of the Salvation Army.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Songs of Sacrilege: He Flies by Whitney Avalon

whitney avalon

This is the latest 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 He Flies by Whitney Avalon.

Video Link

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Songs of Sacrilege: Dechristianize by Vital Remains

vital remains

This is the latest 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 Dechristianize by Vital Remains.

Video Link

Lyrics

[Intro]
Trembling to its fall
Putting and end to it all
By storm, by force
With might, without remorse
We are here to conquer this world

[Verse 1]
Like cancer, our hate consumes the light of elysium
Unstoppable force of demonic supremacy
All destroying, all devouring
Heaven now ravaged; scarred and empty
Strike the death knell of the pandemonium
Imbrue one’s hands in the blood of christ
Washing away all filth of righteousness
The dimming of the light
Engulfing the trinity

He raped the culture of mankind
He raped the pride of the ancient ways
He raped all thought of freewill
I who will watch you fall into obscurity

Washing away all filth of righteousness
The dimming of the light
Engulfing the fucking trinity

I spit upon your deity
Supposed creator of all things
Idol of irreverence you worship above
Show your true face, the image of prevarication

Unhallowed be our twilight
Thy grace untriumphant
Mourn the crowning of unconquerable profanation

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Songs of Sacrilege: Atheists Don’t Have No Songs by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

steve martin and steep canyon rangers

This is the latest 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 Atheists Don’t Have No Songs by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

Video Link

Lyrics

You know, religious people have such beautiful music and art
And atheists really have nothing…

Until now!

A little tune called “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs”

Christians have their hymns and pages.
(Hymns and pages)
Hava Nagila’s for the Jews.
(For the Jews)
Baptists have the rock of ages.
(Rock of ages)
Atheists just sing the blues.

Romantics play Claire de Lune.
(Claire de Lune)
Born agains sing He is risen.
But no one ever wrote a tune.
(Wrote a tune)
For godless existentialism.
(For godless existentialism)

For Atheists,
There’s no good news.
They’ll never sing,
A song of faith.

In their songs,
They have a rule.
The “he” is always lowercase.
The “he” is always lowercase.

Some folks sing a Bach cantata.
(Bach cantata)
Lutherans get Christmas trees.
Atheist songs add up to nada.
(Up to nada)
But they do have Sundays free.
(Have Sundays free)

Pentecostals sing, sing to heaven,
(Sing to heaven)
Gothics had the books of scrolls,
(Numerologists count)
Numerologists count, count to seven,
(Count to seven)
Atheists have rock and roll.

For atheists,
There’s no good news.
They’ll never sing,
A song of faith.

In their songs,
They have a rule.
The “he” is always lowercase.
The “he” is always lowercase.

Atheists
Atheists
Atheists
Don’t have no songs!

Christians have their hymns and pages.
(Hymns and pages)
Hava Nagila’s for the Jews.
(For the Jews)
Baptists have the rock of ages.
(Rock of ages)
Atheists just sing the blues.

Catholics,
Dress up for mass.
And listen to,
Gregorian chants.

Atheists,
Just take a pass.
Watch football in their underpants.
Watch football in their underpants.

Atheists
Atheists
Atheists
Don’t have no songs!
(Don’t have no songs)

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Sounds of Fundamentalism: Atheists are Stupid Says Evangelical Zealot Logan Joy

logan joy

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 six-minute video clip of Evangelical apologist Logan Joy sharing with his supporters why he thinks atheists are stupid.

Video Link

Joy had this to say about atheists on his Facebook page (all spelling and grammar in the original):

Let’s just keep it real, atheism is the belief in nothing, that nothing randomly formed everything for no purpose or reason. A bunch of random people, random events, all living and dying for no reason. No morality, just ignorance and hatred for the one who created it all. Yet Christian’s are stupid? Atheists beg on their deathbed for mercy from a God they claim to not believe in, when in reality, it’s because they hate God. Most people hate God. There’s different forms of hating him. One is to worship the God that fits your lifestyle because the God of the Bible doesn’t cut it for you. Another is to be embarrassed of God and his word. There’s also just unbelief. Not believing and mocking others changes nothing. God has healed me, redeemed me, saved me, change me. If you’ve never felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit, once you do, you’ll never be the same.

We teach evolution as fact in schools when it’s undoubtedly a lie. It’s a lie. Well who knows, right? We’ll see when we die? I can pull up hundreds of testimonies of people declared dead for periods of time who will tell you just how real Heaven and Hell are. Oh but can we trust that? Go ahead, trust in nothing. Or be the Christian that believes God raised the dead but no longer raises the dead. Because He’s somehow changed.. Which is impossible. (Malachi 3:6)

Believe in what you want, God gives you free will but this life is fading fast for all of us. And one day, you may wish you listened to the crazy guy named Logan on Facebook.

Repent. Repent. Repent.

That goes for me as well. Pride kills more souls than any other sin. You’re not already forgiven, repentance is not optional.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Dr. David Tee Just Wants to “Help” Evil, Sinful, Mentally Ill LGBTQ People

david thiessen
David Thiessen is the tall man in the back

Transgender and other LGBT preferences are the result of spiritual problems. Not from God but from evil. But since most of the unbelieving world does not believe in or accept evil exists, they continue to harm people who could have been healed.

Instead, they attack God and blame him, which is wrong since it is not God who brought corruption and mental illness into this world. Point the accusatory finger in the right direction and you can see where the source lies and know how to deal with these problems.

Transgenderism, homosexuality, bisexual behavior, and other perversions are not from God nor accepted by him. The problems the LGBTQ people face are not because of the Evangelical Christian. 

Instead, they have problems because the unbelievers on their side of sin are, one, stopping them from getting the right help, and two, encouraging the LGBTQ people to pursue sinful behavior.

The Evangelical Christian is trying to help them solve their problems by bringing the truth to this community and helping them find a way out. Blame evil and unbelievers, not God or Christians for the troubles the LGBTQ face.

….

The church has to keep telling the truth to all who will listen. There is no one else to do this task. God will use your work if you do it right and in obedience to his commands and word.

— Dr, David Tee (whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen), TheologyArcheology: A Site for the Glory of God, Many in the Secular World Have Lost Their Minds, January 20, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

The Threat of Nuclear War: Why Evangelical Eschatology is so Dangerous

atomic war japan

Originally written in 2017. Edited and Expanded.

When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil. In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un. I’m heartened to see that our president — contrary to what we’ve seen with past administrations who have taken, at best, a sheepish stance toward dictators and oppressors — will not tolerate any threat against the American people. When President Trump draws a red line, he will not erase it, move it, or back away from it. Thank God for a President who is serious about protecting our country.”

Robert Jeffress, Southern Baptist megachurch pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas

Jeffress holds typical Evangelical eschatological (end times) beliefs — that the rapture of Christians from the earth is imminent (any moment), as is the seven years of holy terror (The Great Tribulation) that God will rain down everyone left on earth after the rapture. Jeffress, a premillennial, pretribulational, dispensationalist Baptist believes the next must-see TV program will be when Jesus returns to earth a second time and wages war against Satan and his followers — Satanists, Humanists, Atheists, Agnostics, Pagans, Buddhists, Shintoists, Muslims, Roman Catholics, and anyone else who doesn’t embrace Jeffress’ soteriology (doctrine of salvation) — in the battle of Armageddon. Millions upon millions of Americans hold the same eschatological beliefs as Jeffress, and it is for this reason that Evangelical eschatology is so dangerous.

Evangelicals such as Jeffress believe that life on planet Earth will continue to spiritually and morally deteriorate until God has had enough and tells Gabriel to blow his trumpet, signaling to Jesus that it is time for him to return to earth and safely carry away all the True Christians®. For the Jeffresses of the world, the rapture will be the mother of all middle fingers, telling us God-haters that we are in for it now; that God is going to literally do to us what is recorded in the book of Revelation.

trump jong un dick wagging

This kind of thinking should scare the shit out of rational people, not because Jesus is going to return to earth — he’s not — or that a mythical God is going to turn the earth into a dystopian novel of epic proportions — she’s not. What should scare us is that people who believe these things have the ear of the toddler-in-chief, Donald Trump. As anyone with an ounce of discernment knows, President Trump has no impulse control. He is megalomaniac who will go to any lengths — including destroying all life on our planet — to get his way. That the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, a man who believes he is a god, is metaphorically waving his big dick in Trump’s face is sure to cause the President to throw caution to the wind and order a large-scale military strike on North Korea. Worse yet, Trump has even threatened to use nuclear weapons, answering a question he asked during the election: what good are nuclear weapons if you can’t use them? That the Evangelicals who have the President’s ear are encouraging him — using Biblical and theological justifications — to wage war against North Korea (and Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia and anyone else deemed a threat to God’s chosen nation, the United States) is truly frightening.

Threats of nuclear annihilation have only increased now that Joe Biden is president. During his first two years in office, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China have all warned the United States to stop their military expansionism and threats — or else.

Atheists and other rational people dismiss Bible thumpers such as Jeffress as quaint relics from a bygone era. Silly Evangelicals. They believe the Bible is a supernatural book written by a supernatural God. Don’t they know that science has thoroughly discredited much of the Bible? However, despite scientific progress and the advancement of humanist principles, Evangelicals still hold fast to the belief that the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible, never-been-proven-wrong religious text. Its word are true, and those who ignore the Bible, do so at their own peril. The fact that millions of Americans think just like Robert Jeffress means that we cannot, at such a dangerous, perilous time as this, ignore the pronouncements of Evangelical false prophets — especially when they have regular sleep-overs at the White House.

Like it or not, the Bible still matters, and how Evangelicals interpret it matters even more. We can augh all we want at their stone-age beliefs, but as long as Evangelicals have access to the highest levels of government, they are a threat that must be taken seriously. As long as we have a pussy-grabbing, lying “Christian” presidents and Evangelical congressmen, there is always a danger that theology will trump reason. Believing that God is on your side and will vindicate you is a sure recipe for disaster. No need to worry about consequences, right? God will take care of things. The most vocal climate change deniers in Congress are men and women who believe the Bible is the Word of God and worship at the feet of the Evangelical Jesus. In their minds, God is in control of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, so there is no need to worry about carbon emissions and rising temperatures. God has a divine plan —just read the Bible. According to Evangelicals, everything is going exactly going according to God’s perfect, unchanging plan, and if that plan includes nuking North Korea, so be it.

Evangelicals wrongly believe that God will protect his people — as he supposedly did when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. No need to worry about nuclear fallout. God will make sure it doesn’t affect his chosen ones. And if he doesn’t? Well, that just means that God has a better plan and Evangelicals just need to “trust” him. Lost in all their “trust” of Jehovah is the fact that the overwhelming majority of earthlings do not worship the Evangelical God. We are being dragged into a murderous drama that is not of our own making. There is not much we can do about it except working to remove theocrats from office and flushing from Congress anyone who puts God, the Bible, and theology over the safety and welfare of the American people. As of today, the theocrats are winning and Jesus is the speaker of the House.

The late Walter Wink, a progressive Christian theologian, wrote:

In short, the Myth of Redemptive Violence is the story of the victory of order over chaos by means of violence. It is the ideology of conquest, the original religion of the status quo. The gods favour those who conquer. Conversely, whoever conquers must have the favour of the gods. The common people exist to perpetuate the advantage that the gods have conferred upon the king, the aristocracy, and the priesthood.

Religion exists to legitimate power and privilege. Life is combat. Any form of order is preferable to chaos, according to this myth. Ours is neither a perfect nor perfectible world; it is theatre of perpetual conflict in which the prize goes to the strong. Peace through war, security through strength: these are the core convictions that arise from this ancient historical religion, and they form the solid bedrock on which the Domination System is founded in every society.

Long before the ascension of The Donald to the throne, Evangelicals embraced the false notion that the United States is a city on a hill overlooking the earth, ever vigilant, seeking to advance God’s kingdom on earth. Believing that the United States is “special” and has some sort of manifest destiny has led Americans to commit all sorts of atrocities — beginning with the genocidal destruction of Native Americans and reaching its zenith with the firebombings of Germany and the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our elected leaders and military have shown that they will do whatever is necessary to preserve America’s capitalistic way of life. Buying into the most horrific lie ever told — that war brings peace — the United States has shown it is willing to maim, kill, and destroy to preserve the American dream.

Thomas Merton, in an essay titled A Devout Meditation in Memory of Adolph Eichmann, wrote:

The sanity of Eichmann is disturbing. We equate sanity with a sense of justice, with humaneness, with prudence, with the capacity to love and understand other people. We rely on the sane people of the world to preserve it from barbarism, madness, destruction. And now it begins to dawn on us that it is precisely the sane ones who are the most dangerous. It is the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missile, and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared… They will be obeying sane orders that have come sanely down the chain of command. And because of their sanity they will have no qualms at all. The ones who coolly estimate how many millions of victims can he considered expendable in a nuclear war, I presume they do all right with the Rorschach ink blots too.

….

Ponder for a moment Merton’s words:

It is the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missile, and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared. They will be obeying sane orders that have come sanely down the chain of command. And because of their sanity they will have no qualms at all. The ones who coolly estimate how many millions of victims can he considered expendable in a nuclear war…

trump jong un nuclear war

We want to believe that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense will, when it comes to launching nuclear weapons, stand up to the President, refusing to obey his orders. Wishful thinking, as Merton makes clear. Soldiers obey. When our nation’s sovereignty and Christian way of life is threatened, history shows that the U.S. military can and will use any and every means necessary to preserve our republic.

Merton, in an essay on war that was not published until after his death, wrote:

The Romans, to speak generally, rely on force in all their enterprises and think it incumbent upon them to carry out their projects in spite of all, and that nothing is impossible when they have once decided upon it.

NOTHING is impossible when they — the powers that be — have decided to wage war. Once the United States commits to turning Iran into a parking lot or wiping North Korea off the face of the earth, NOTHING is impossible. Think that the United States would never use nuclear weapons again? Think again. There are most certainly statisticians and military “geniuses” holed up somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon working on reports and charts detailing the likely outcomes of nuking a foreign adversary. There are sane, rational military and government leaders who really do think that nuclear war is winnable. Lunacy, to be sure, but so is believing, as Robert Jeffress does, that Jesus is coming soon. That many of our military leaders are card-carrying Evangelicals should cause rational people to fear for their lives. Just imagine for a moment, a general or two who believe that Jesus wants them to help usher in the Great Tribulation. No worries for us, they think. We will be raptured away.

Let me conclude this post with an excerpt from Thomas Merton’s essay: War and the Crisis of Language. Written during the Vietnam War, Merton shows how reason and the meaning of words are turned on their heads during times of war. Merton writes:

A classic example of the contamination of reason and speech by the inherent ambiguity of war is that of the U.S. major who, on February 7, 1968 shelled the South Vietnamese town of Bentre “regardless of civilian casualties . . . to rout the Vietcong.” As he calmly explained, “It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.” Here we see, again, an insatiable appetite for the tautological, the definitive, the final. It is the same kind of language and logic that Hitler used for his notorious “final solution.” The symbol of this perfect finality is the circle. An argument turns upon itself, and the beginning and end get lost: it just goes round and round its own circumference. A message comes in that someone thinks there might be some Vietcong in a certain village. Planes are sent, the village is destroyed, many of the people are killed. The destruction of the village and the killing of the people earn for them a final and official identity. The burned huts become “enemy structures”; the dead men, women, and children become “Vietcong,” thus adding to a “kill ratio” that can be interpreted as “favorable.” They were thought to be Vietcong and were therefore destroyed. By being destroyed they became Vietcong for keeps; they entered “history,” definitively as our enemies, because we wanted to be on the “safe side,” and “save American lives”–as well as Vietnam.

The logic of “Red or dead” has long since urged us to identify destruction with rescue–to be “dead” is to be saved from being “Red.” In the language of melodrama, our grandparents became accustomed to the idea of a “fate worse than death.” A schematic morality concluded that if such and such is a fate worse than death, then to prefer it to death would surely be a heinous sin. The logic of war-makers has extended this not only to the preservation of one’s own moral integrity but to the fate of others, even of people on the other side of the earth, whom we do not always bother to consult personally on the subject. We weigh the arguments that they are not able to understand (perhaps they have not even heard that arguments exist!) And we decide, in their place, that it is better for them to be dead–killed by us–than Red, living under our enemies.

The Asian whose future we are about to decide is either a bad guy or a good guy. If he is a bad guy, he obviously has to be killed. If he is a good guy, he is on our side and he ought to be ready to die for freedom. We will provide an opportunity for him to do so: we will kill him to prevent him falling under the tyranny of a demonic enemy. Thus we not only defend his interests together with our own, but we protect his virtue along with our own. Think what might happen if he fell under Communist rule and liked it!

The advantages of this kind of logic are no exclusive possession of the United States. This is purely and simply the logic shared by all war-makers. It is the logic of power. Possibly American generals are naive enough to push this logic, without realizing, to absurd conclusions. But all who love power tend to think in some such way. Remember Hitler weeping over the ruins of Warsaw after it had been demolished by the Luftwaffe: “How wicked these people must have been,” he sobbed, “to make me do this to them!”

….

So much for the practical language of the battlefield. Let us now attend to the much more pompous and sinister jargon of the war mandarins in government offices and military think-tanks. Here we have a whole community of intellectuals, scholars who spend their time playing out “scenarios” and considering “acceptable levels” in megadeaths. Their language and their thought are as esoteric, as self-enclosed, as tautologous as the advertisement we have just discussed. But instead of being “coiffed” in a sweet smell, they are scientifically antiseptic, businesslike, uncontaminated with sentimental concern for life–other than their own. It is the same basic narcissism, but in a masculine, that is managerial, mode. One proves one’s realism along with one’s virility by toughness in playing statistically with global death. It is this playing with death, however, that brings into the players’ language itself the corruption of death: not physical but mental and moral extinction. And the corruption spreads from their talk, their thinking, to the words and minds of everybody. What happens then is that the political and moral values they claim to be defending are destroyed by the contempt that is more and more evident in the language in which they talk about such things. Technological strategy becomes an end in itself and leads the fascinated players into a maze where finally the very purpose strategy was supposed to serve is itself destroyed. The ambiguity of official war talk has one purpose above all: to mask this ultimate unreason and permit the game to go on.

Of special importance is the style of these nuclear mandarins. The technological puckishness of Herman Kahn is perhaps the classic of this genre. He excels in the sly understatement of the inhuman, the apocalyptic, enormity. His style is esoteric, allusive, yet confidential. The reader has the sense of being a privileged eavesdropper in the councils of the mighty. He knows enough to realize that things are going to happen about which he can do nothing, though perhaps he can save his skin in a properly equipped shelter where he may consider at leisure the rationality of survival in an unlivable world. Meanwhile, the cool tone of the author and the reassuring solemnity of his jargon seem to suggest that those in power, those who turn loose these instruments of destruction, have no intention of perishing themselves, that consequently survival must have a point. The point is not revealed, except that nuclear war is somehow implied to be good business. Nor are H-bombs necessarily a sign of cruel intentions. They enable one to enter into communication with the high priests in the enemy camp. They permit the decision-makers on both sides to engage in a ritual “test of nerves.” In any case, the language of escalation is the language of naked power, a language that is all the more persuasive because it is proud of being ethically illiterate and because it accepts, as realistic, the basic irrationality of its own tactics. The language of escalation, in its superb mixture of banality and apocalypse, science and unreason, is the expression of a massive death wish. We can only hope that this death wish is only that of a decaying Western civilization, and that it is not common to the entire race. Yet the language itself is given universal currency by the mass media. It can quickly contaminate the thinking of everybody.

trump nuke or tweet

Listen closely in the days ahead as our political leaders and Evangelical preachers turn language and decency on its head in their justifications of annihilating Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and anyone else who dares to “threaten” the mighty US of A. There will be hell to pay, Kim Jong-Un, but just remember we are killing your people because we love you and God has a wonderful plan for your life. And when hellfire and brimstone rain down on defenseless Americans, the Evangelical warmongers among us will learn — right before they are vaporized — that the God they thought was on their side is actually Korean.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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War and Peace: Think of the Children

drones kill children

Americans love to think of themselves as morally virtuous, people who are, at heart, decent and kind. Yet our history paints a vastly different picture, one of a violent people prone to bloodshed, often at the slightest provocation.

Our forefathers, not long after they landed on America’s shores, turned to violence to rid the land of indigenous people who stood in the way of “progress.” For the two next centuries, American soldiers systematically hunted those we call Indians, indiscriminately killing indigenous men, women, and children. Our political leaders rightly point out the genocidal horrors in other places, all the while ignoring our own dark, shameful history of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Several years ago, the United States government dropped the mother of all bombs on Afghanistan, hoping to destroy ISIS tunnels. Steps were taken to limit “collateral damage,” we were told. I wish government spin doctors would be honest. Saying “collateral damage” hides the truth of American military actions. “Collateral damage” really means women, children, and aged men. What’s the limit when it comes to dead children? How many dead children does it take before the American government changes their death and hell from the skies bombardments?

We Americans are insulated from the human cost of war because we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here. American children and their mothers don’t have to worry about lethal drone strikes, missiles, bombs, or machine gun fire, but children and their parents in places such as Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Israel, and the West Bank spend their days worrying about being marked for destruction. While American children gleefully play in their yards, children in the Middle East carefully watch the skies, worried that a nameless U.S. drone pilot safely ensconced in a military facility has decided that it is their day to die.

In June, I turn sixty-six years old. The United States has been at war my entire life. My grandparents and parents lived through the World Wars and the Korean Conflict. Millions of civilian men, women, and children were slaughtered by America’s military machine. From the firebombing of Dresden to dropping incendiary and atomic bombs on Japan, the United States showed it was willing to kill anyone anywhere to achieve its political and economic objectives.

Vietnam was my generation’s war. Upwards of two million people died in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia as the United States unleashed its mighty arsenal of killing machines on peasants and soldiers alike. And who can forget — we dare not — America’s use of napalm on the Vietnamese people? Scores of children were roasted alive, and those who survived were left wishing they hadn’t.

Since Vietnam, the United States government has embroiled itself in numerous military conflicts, including ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and many points in between. Currently, we are spending billions of dollars and providing support to fight a proxy war in Ukraine against Russia. Make no mistake about it, the U.S.A. is at war.

The U.S. military sees civilian deaths, including children, as a necessary cost of war. I wonder if these hawks would deem the cost too high if it were their children and grandchildren who were being killed? As long as the children being slaughtered are brown or black, and live in a faraway land, their deaths are considered necessary sacrifices for the spread of capitalistic democracy.

Flag-waving, war-mongering patriots want blood, any blood, as long as it isn’t American. These God-loving killers lament the death of brown- and black-skinned children, and perhaps even shed a tear, but when American exceptionalism and national pride are at stake, what’s the murdering of a few Middle-Eastern children, right?  What makes matters worse is that justification for the mayhem unleashed from the skies on unsuspecting civilians is found in the pages of the Christian Bible. America, according to Evangelicals, is a chosen people, a city set on hill, a people with a manifest destiny given to us by God. God is on America’s side because American Christians say he is. Proof for these calls for bloodshed can be found in the Bible. Look at how violent, maniacal, and genocidal the Christian God was, as any honest reading of the Old Testament will reveal.

The American government doesn’t care one whit about children in faraway lands. The darker their skin, the less politicians care. While American leaders might shed an opportunistic tear, their goal is the advancement of America’s domination of the world, and if that means killing children, so be it.

Think of the children, the pictures tell us, but don’t think too hard about who it is that is killing children and why they are doing so. Hurry, new photos to view. Dammit, can’t we stop just for a moment and think about the lunacy of war; that war always ends up killing children and innocent civilians; that no war has ever brought peace?

Let that last line sink in — no war has EVER brought peace.

Cessation of hostilities, yes, but never peace.

Americans need to ask themselves: what has all this violence, bloodshed, and massive expenditures gotten us? Until we are willing to honestly account for the true costs of war, we will continue to think that killing children and innocent civilians is just the cost of doing business.

We say it is about the children, but it’s not.

Let’s quit kidding ourselves.

If it really is about the children, be they Syrian, Pakistani, Ukrainian, Russian, Palestinian, or American, we would stop the violence and bloodshed and find a way to world peace. As long as the United States has sufficient weapons to kill everyone on the face of the earth ten times over and make it uninhabitable for thousands of years, no one will take seriously our calls for peace and disarmament. We are a people who say to the world do as I say, not as I do.  Surely I am not alone in thinking it hypocritical that the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons (on primarily civilian targets) is demanding other nation-states get rid of their nukes while the United States hangs on to theirs.

Perhaps someday it will be about the children, but for now they are just props in deadly games being played by power-hungry men who are desperately determined to show the world who has the biggest cock. And once we find out, it will be too late — our world will cease to exist. The means of war that powerful men have at their disposal are such that, unless demands for disarmament and peace are heard and obeyed, we run the risk of not having to worry about global warming because we all will be dead from radiation and economic collapse.

Cynical?

Dystopian?

Perhaps, but what other conclusion can we come to as we watch the United States and North Korea and the United States and Russia play dangerous games of chicken that could result in the destruction of every living thing on Earth?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser