Tag Archive: Fundamentalism

The Infamous Fundamentalist Susan-Anne White Has Given Up on Blogging

susan ann white quits blogging

Susan-Anne White, an aging British Fundamentalist politician and blogger, has decided to hang up the spurs she uses to ride homosexuals bareback. No longer will she bless the world with her anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion screeds. No longer will she parade before all the world her bigotry and hatred for anything and everything that doesn’t align with her narrow Evangelical worldview. Susan-Anne — dare I be so familiar? she hates it when I am — has been featured several times on this site, and she has graced us with her comments on more than one occasion.  Please check out Susan-Anne White Thinks I’m a Despicable, Obnoxious, Militant, Hateful AtheistBritish Fundamentalist Susan-Anne White’s List of Politically Correct Words, and The BRCA1 and BRCA2 Gene: Susan-Anne White Condemns Women Who Have Preemptive Surgery.

For those of you who are not familiar with White, here is what Wikipedia has to say about her:

Susan-Anne White (born 21 April 1959, Belfast, Northern Ireland) is a Christian activist in County Tyrone. She stood for election to the local council in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council election, 2014 and only got 67 votes. She contested the West Tyrone constituency in the 2015 General Election, but came ninth out of nine candidates with 166 votes, behind Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol.

Originally from Newtownabbey, she moved to Trillick in 1997. Her campaign is based on 10 principles drawn up by Dr Alan Clifford, a Norwich based minister whose anti-gay and anti-Islam rants have led to police investigations in the past.

She has aroused attention because of her strong and isolating views. She describes herself as biblically correct, not politically correct.

She says she would “recriminalise homosexuality”, given the chance and claims that gay people “are not born that way, they are out to recruit. We are in danger. One demand after another.” She is opposed to the idea of gay people being allowed to donate blood. She would also make adultery a criminal offence, and is critical of rock music because “The lyrics are promoting immorality, the noise is deafening, and they also promote anarchy.”

Her 2015 manifesto promises to “oppose the global warming fanatics and their pseudo science” and “restore the concept of a family wage with the father as the breadwinner.” She told the Belfast Telegraph: “I don’t consider myself extreme – not at all. “It is society that has moved. Not so far in the past, most people would have shared my views.My views are extreme because society has moved away from God’s principles.” She opposes feminism “with all her might”, and says it is to blame for the recession. “They [feminists] are responsible for the economy – they destroyed the whole concept of a family wage with the father as the bread-winner and the stay-at-home mother. Women feel they have to be out in the workforce.”

On 25 October 2017, White appeared on Nolan Live in which she expressed her opinion regarding abortion laws in Northern Ireland. White was criticised in the press following her appearance, with the BBC also facing criticism for giving her a platform.

In 2015, White released her Manifesto — a statement of religious and political beliefs :

susan-anne-white-manifesto

Here’s the text of her Biblically Correct, NOT Politically Correct Manifesto:

  • Close Marie Stopes Abortion clinic
  • Oppose the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland
  • Remove state-sponsored amoral sex education from schools
  • Restore corporal punishment to schools
  • Uphold parental rights to discipline children, including the right to smack
  • Raise the age of consent to 18
  • Make it an offense for doctors to give contraceptives to underage children
  • Oppose the LGBT agenda, while showing compassion to those who struggle with gender confusion
  • Oppose the redefinition of marriage
  • Ban gay pride parades and recriminalise homosexuality
  • Stop the state funding of LGBT organisations
  • Make adultery a punishable offense
  • Abolish the Equality Commission NI and the Human Rights Commissions NI and give all the money they receive to the NHS.
  • Oppose feminism and restore dignity to the stay at home mother
  • Restore the concept of a family wage with the father as the breadwinner
  • Oppose the legalisation of dangerous drugs
  • Protest the NHS and increase funding by abolishing unnecessary and money wasting bureaucrats and quangos
  • Withdraw from money wasting and decadent Europe
  • Oppose the global warming fanatics and their pseudo-science
  • Imprison those found guilty of animal cruelty including those involved in dog fights
  • Install CCTV in all abattoirs
  • Ban halal slaughter
  • Oppose the Islamisation of British culture- no more mosques and no more extensions
  • Restore capital punishment for murder, including terrorist murder

White and I do agree on animal cruelty. Woo Hoo!

Susan-Anne White, a True Christian, So True She Can’t Find Any Church Pure Enough For Her

In 2016, White shared her thoughts with The Newsletter — a British (Northern Island) publication. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

An evangelical Christian, self-styled moral crusader and would-be politician, Susan-Anne White is on a mission to stem what she sees as the polluted tide of the permissive society.

Mrs White became a target of ridicule when she stood as an independent candidate in the recent Assembly elections with a manifesto which featured pledges to jail gay people and adulterers, oppose abortion, uphold parents’ rights to smack their children and abolish the Equality Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

It also reflected her opposition to sex education in schools, the ‘Islamification of British culture’, the LGBT agenda and her support for the reintroduction of capital punishment for murder.

It’s an eyebrow-raising list which many found outmoded and inflammatory; at the time social media went into overdrive, portraying Mrs White as a meddling, narrow-minded, Bible-thumping, battle-axe. I was intrigued to meet this seemingly formidable lady and she agreed on certain provisos: that I would ‘‘dress modestly’’ for the interview (make-up and revealing clothes are major bugbears); I would not paint her as a ‘‘figure of fun’’; and she wanted assurances that I was not out to promote a feminist agenda (the name of this section, ‘Woman to Woman’, caused her some concern).

Dressed demurely in a floaty, ankle-grazing skirt, Mrs White, 57, welcomed me into her modest Trillick home with tea and biscuits. She lives on a small farm with her husband Francis, a helpmate in her campaigns, and 17-year-old daughter Abigail, who is home-schooled and passes the time doing jigsaw puzzles and drawings of Disney characters.

….

The White’s lead a modest, quiet life, with no television, only a screen for DVDs, and no alcohol. Sundays are sacrosanct, although they rarely attend a church, preferring instead to listen to sermons on the internet. ‘‘Once strong Bible-believing churches are more often than not going the way of the world, they are watering down the message to please people, not to cause offence, they are so afraid today of telling it like it is because of hate crimes laws,’’ she says. ‘‘If I was worried about people’s delicate sensibilities I would never open my mouth.’’

Of the Catholic church, and others, she is unequivocal.

‘‘I do not consider it a Christian church and yet it was the church I was born into. But I am not singling out the Catholic church, there are many so-called Christian sects or denominations, but they are not Christian, because they have deviated from the Bible. Mormonism is not a Christian church, they are a cult. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians, the Seventh Day Adventists are not Christians.’’

….

‘‘For people to treat me as some dimwit and to laugh and mock and think they are going to get some collateral out of me by poking fun at me, I feel righteous anger at that, because I am no fool.

‘‘I believe I’m in a war, a spiritual war and I believe there are enemies out there, they are enemies of God and because I’m on the Lord’s side they are my enemies also.’’

Mrs White said she would ‘‘recriminalise homosexuality tomorrow’’ if she had the power, adding her stance is quite soft compared to some.

‘‘I can point you to pastors and ministers in the United States of America who are calling for the death penalty.’’

Is that something she would like to see?

‘‘No, but it actually was a death penalty offence. In the Old Testament under the law of Moses adulterers were executed and homosexuals were executed.

‘‘I wouldn’t call for their execution, but I would call for their imprisonment,’’ she says firmly.

Mrs White does not believe someone is born gay, but that people are ‘brainwashed’ or ‘recruited’ into homosexuality, or have even been ‘‘molested as children’’.

‘‘I don’t like that word ‘gay’. To me gay means happy. They have hijacked that lovely word; they have ruined language.

‘‘Behind closed doors they are killing each other…..the sexual proclivities of homosexuals is so abhorrent and damaging to the human body that it hardly bears description. Sodomy is such an unnatural act, the body was not made for sodomy.’’

Despite these fervent views, she says she does not hate homosexuals.

‘‘No, I don’t hate them, I pity them. I know they hate me. I actually have tremendous compassion for them, especially the young ones caught up in that lifestyle.’’

You can read the entire article here.

White has what I call the “Elijah Syndrome.” I mentioned her in a 2016 post titled Evangelical Preachers and the Elijah Syndrome:

Every time I think of this story [ 1 Kings 19] I am reminded of the fact that a lot of Evangelical preachers see themselves as some sort of modern-day Elijah. And like Elijah, each thinks he is the one remaining prophet in the community standing up for God, the Bible, and Evangelical morality. Such preachers delude themselves into thinking that they alone are standing true, that they alone are preaching the right message. Some of these preachers, men such as Robert Lyte and AW Pink, think that the Christian church is so morally compromised that they can no longer in good conscience be a part of it (Susan-Anne White would another example of this, even though she doesn’t claim to be a preacher).

Video Link

Please do take the time to watch the video. It’s only 3 minutes long, and it perfectly explains what I write next.

Much like twentieth century Evangelical preacher A.W. Pink who secluded himself in a coastal British community because he couldn’t find a church pure enough for him, White rarely attends church, finding fault with the lot of them. White will go to her grave believing that she was right; that she was a standard bearer for Jesus; that her beliefs constitute THE way, THE truth, and THE life. I truly feel sorry for her, missing out on so much of what life has to offer; missing out on befriending wonderful LGBTQ people; missing out on the wonders and pleasures of life, all because she thinks an ancient religious text (the Bible) and a little voice in her head (the Holy Spirit) tell her not to.

White started blogging in 2012.  In a July 7, 2018 post, White said she was ending her blogging career:

We are closing our blog with immediate effect.

We will, from now on, watch with aching hearts God giving society over and giving it up to vile affections.

Society is doomed and divine judgement is sure.

We will no longer “cast our pearls before swine.”

We trust our labours in the Lord were not in vain.

We will now take our leave.

White has given up, choosing instead to stand on the sidelines and watch as God judges a world given over to vile affections. (Romans 1) According to White, people such as myself are swine and she refuses any longer to cast her wisdom-filled blog posts our way. White hopes that her “labours in the Lord” were not in vain. This is what Evangelical preachers and Christian zealots say when their works have had no effect. Well, Praise Jesus, God’s keeping record, and come judgment day he will reward me for faithfully preaching hate and bigotry. Countless Evangelical Christians wrongly believe that their God is going to reward them for being nasty, judgmental people. Look at me Lord, I stood true as rail for your Word and your cause. And Jesus will say to them on that day (Matthew 25:31-46):

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

The late Keith Green said it best in his song Matthew 25:

Video Link

Bruce, aren’t you an atheist? You don’t believe there is a God, judgment, or afterlife. No, I don’t. But, White does, and I want her to think about her life from a Christian perspective and how she has wasted it hating and trying to harm people different from her. White wasn’t born this way; her religion turned her into what she is today. All too soon, White will go the way of all men, joining atheists, LGBTQ people, Catholics, Episcopalians, liberal Christians, abortionists, and Muslims in the dirt of the earth, serving up food for the worms that will slowly eat her body. Left behind will be White’s nineteen-year-old daughter. She has, I am sure, been deeply affected by her parent’s violent Christian Fundamentalism. It’s not too late to keep her from turning into her mother. If Susan-Anne would only repent and change her ways, she could put an end to her abominable legacy — much as my wife and I did when we left Christianity. The Evangelical curse was broken, and now our children free. To Susan-Anne I say, think of your daughter and set her free.

It is only in this life we can effect change. Once we die there are no second chances, no do-overs. There’s no God, no afterlife, no eternal rewards in Heaven or judgment in Hell; just eternal, endless death and nothingness. White admits her words and behavior have not elicited societal change. Perhaps there’s a messaging problem. Maybe, just maybe, White is worshiping the wrong God. I understand her not wanting to be an atheist like me, but there’s all sorts of Christianities out there that promote love, kindness, decency, and respect. Susan-Anne, for the sake of your daughter, please change your ways.

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.

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Calvinist David Leach Says I Am a Morally Bankrupt Reprobate Who Hates Jesus

Jose Maldonado Bruce Gerencser Pat Horner 1994

Jose Maldonado. Bruce Gerencser, Pat Horner, Somerset Baptist Church

David Leach, a Fundamentalist Calvinist from Texas, recently left the following comment on a post titled Gone but Not Forgotten: 22 Years Later San Antonio Calvinists Still Preaching Against Bruce Gerencser:

That you consider me an “ill-informed judgmental ass” will not be keeping me up nights. The moral and spiritual assessments of reprobate, morally bankrupt, angry men never moves me much. You hate Christ, why would I expect better than abuse from you? In fact, I do not. The ugliness and darkness you hid as you feigned Christian faith is no longer concealed. You dropped your disguise when via some dark inner prompting, or preference you decided to quit pretending. So, you are free (for a season) to spew your absurd and putrid nonsense as pleases you.

You say ” I want the telling of my story to be a warning,” In a small, sad way your wish is granted. You do serve as a warning. Your departure is a grim reminder of the veracity of I John 2:19. You are a warning against spiritual smugness, pretentiousness and presumption. You are an object lesson of reprobation. I shall seize on your example, as God gives opportunity – of how deceived the human heart is capable of being. This is not gloating or some childish tit-for-tat – indeed, I am grieved for you, for your family, for the sin and destruction you leave in your unholy wake. Yours is a sad, tragic story. No matter how bitter, and mean-spirited and nasty you are – I am indeed sorry for you. How dreadful will eternity be for you.

….

Finally, you indicate you and your Jesus (whoever that “Jesus” might be) got a “divorce.” Well friend, it seems to me that you and the true Jesus were never married….no matter your complaint, objection and obfuscation to the contrary.

Now know I will not again reply. I will never again visit this creepy little anti-Christian, anti-God blog. Rail against me as pleases you. Mock me among your equally pathetic God-hating companions. It’s of no consequence.

….

The Lord have mercy on your blighted soul.

In 1994, I moved from Ohio to Texas to become the co-pastor of Community Baptist Church. You can read about my experiences at Community in the series titled I Am a Publican and a Heathen. Pat Horner, the founder of Community, was my fellow pastor. Joe Maldonado, a former member of Community, pastored nearby at Hillburn Drive Grace Baptist Church. Through Pat, I became friends with Joe. Tim Conway, a man who hailed from Michigan, was a fairly new member of Community. Tim, along with his fiancée Ruby, helped me start new churches in Floresville and Stockdale, Texas. I also encouraged Tim to start preaching. Tim is now the pastor of Community Baptist Church in San Antonio.

tim conway

Tim Conway, preaching at nursing home. Conway is now pastor of Grace Community Church in San Antonio.

David Leach is friends with the aforementioned pastors. Evidently, he is greatly offended by me daring to tell my story; daring to write about my experiences with Community Baptist Church, Pat Horner, Joe Maldonado, and Tim Conway. Leach also doesn’t like that I labeled him an “ill-informed judgmental ass.” I stand by my comment. Leach has made no effort to read my story or attempt to understand how someone such as myself might end up where I am today. Instead, Leach has taken the few facts he thinks “knows” about me and my time at Community and has judged me wanting. As Fundamentalists are wont to do, Leach takes his rigid theological dogma, adds what he has “heard” about me, sprinkles in a few posts on this site he has bothered to read, and out of the oven comes the bullshit pie comment above.

Posts that Mention Pat Horner, Jose Maldonado, or Tim Conway

I Am a Publican and a Heathen Series

Why I Became a Calvinist Series

Catch-All Bible Verses: I Will Set No Wicked Thing Before My Eyes

Gone but Not Forgotten: 22 Years Later San Antonio Calvinists Still Preaching Against Bruce Gerencser

Taking Off the Sheep Clothes — the Musings of a Wolf

Jose Maldonado Says I Never Was a Christian

Bruce, You Were Religious, but Lost

Comparing Fundamentalist Religions

fundamentalism

A Guest Post by ObstacleChick

What is religious fundamentalism? Typically, it is an unwavering and unapologetic belief in the absolute authority of a religious text or texts. Adherents believe their religion is the one true religion and that its precepts should govern all aspects of life. The ultimate goal is the governance of everyone’s lives under the rules and standards of the religion’s holy book(s). Rules are comprehensive, encompassing behavior, dress, gender roles, and access to information, media, and technology. Adherents believe that their religious beliefs and practices should be exempt from criticism, and any form of criticism is labeled as heresy or persecution. There are many types of religious fundamentalists throughout the world, but here in the United States we are most familiar with fundamentalist evangelical Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, orthodox and Hasidic Jews, and Old Order Amish (which are fundamentalist in their adherence to their religious text, but not with regard to forcing their beliefs on those outside their community).

As disparate as these groups may seem on the surface, they have much in common. Each group believes that its holy text is an absolute, inerrant authority for all aspects of life. It is not uncommon for these groups to separate themselves from their surrounding communities, focusing almost exclusively on staying within their religious communities with regard to their worship activities, leisure activities, and even employment. Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, for example, must be work for an employer that is flexible with regard to Jewish holy days and for leaving work early on Fridays for Shabbas. Not in all cases, but frequently children are sent to sect-approved/operated schools. In Amish communities, education is forbidden past 8th grade, and in communities that have their own schools, the teachers are young women within the community who have no education past 8th grade. For Hasidic Jews, girls and boys attend gender-segregated schools. Boys attend yeshivas where the focus of education is on studying the Talmud. Little attention is given to other subjects, and evolution is not taught. Among Evangelicals, it is popular to either home school one’s children or to send them to a fundamentalist Christian school, where, again, evolution is not taught to children. Fundamentalist Muslims often send their children to madrasas where the focus is on religious education. In some Muslim-controlled countries, girls are not educated.

Fundamentalists of all stripes give great authority to religious leaders who often dictate the rules of each separatist community. In Amish communities, there is a bishop, two or three ministers, and a deacon. Each must be nominated, but lots (similar to drawing straws) are drawn to determine which man receives which position. The leaders are responsible for the spiritual education of their congregation as well as making sure the Ordnung — the set of rules specific to each community — is followed. Each church district’s leaders set specific rules for its community, which is why there can be slight differences from one Amish community to another. In Evangelical sects and churches, great authority is given to pastors. Bruce has spoken about this a number of times, so there’s no need for me to expound on the matter here. In Orthodox or Hasidic communities, the rebbe is the authority, and he sets the rules specific to that local community. Rules may include color of stockings women are required to wear or what books are allowed in the Hasidic libraries. In fundamentalist Muslim communities, the imam is the ultimate authority, and he may issue fatwas or rules specific to his community. (Please note that all leaders are male.)

In each of these fundamentalist religions, gender roles are specifically defined in traditional ways. Men are considered to be the leaders of the family, the breadwinners, the final authorities in the household; the ones who commune most closely with their deity. Women are considered to be the nurturers, the caretakers of children, submissive to the authority of their husbands. Typically, women are not allowed to work outside the home in many fundamentalist sects/churches. Amish women are, however, permitted to sell their goods at markets or operate roadside stands for home-grown and home-baked goods. Women are not allowed any positions of leadership beyond teaching women or young children. Marriage is considered to be between one man and one woman, and these communities are not known for acceptance of LBGTQ people.

Dress codes are important among these communities. The Amish are easily identified as their clothing styles have not changed in centuries. They are referred to as “Plain People” because their styles are simple, solid colors typically limited to black, brown, burgundy, blue, purple or green (though some communities may allow other colors). Women wear dresses and aprons secured with straight pins (no buttons, which are considered vain), and they wear a white kappe (head covering) so they may pray at any time. Men wear dark suits with hook & eye closures (no buttons and no fancy belt buckles), suspenders, and a black or straw hat.

For fundamentalist Christians, there is often no exact standard of dress other than “modesty” for women, though many fundamentalist Baptist churches have complex, exacting dress codes. Many fundamentalist Christian women wear skirts or dresses at least knee length, no low-cut tops, and they typically wear sleeves. Women will be shamed for showing too much skin or wearing something too tight.

Hasidic communities have strict hair and clothing rules as well. Married women must keep their hair short and wear a sheitel wig; women wear dresses or skirts; their sleeves must be at least three-quarter length; they must wear thick, opaque stockings (often black, occasionally flesh colored though that is forbidden in some communities); and a lot of black, loose clothing, though blouses or sweaters may be colorful. Married men must sport a beard and side curls (payot) which they can never cut. Most men wear a white button-down shirt and black pants and jacket. A yarmulke must be worn at all times, and when praying, men wear a tallit, or prayer shawl, with tzitzit, or fringe, to remind them of God’s commandments.

Fundamentalist Muslim women must be covered in mixed company, and the culture determines how much covering is required. The most extreme version is the burqa with the niqab (face covering). Men may wear a taqiyah or cap when praying.

Each of these fundamentalist religions believes secularism is the greatest threat to their sect, churches, and beliefs. Access to secular libraries or media may be prohibited, restricted, or discouraged. Often, only books approved by church leaders are permitted to be read. The Amish prohibit technology altogether, though they are allowed to check out elder-approved books at public libraries. Fundamentalist Christians are generally admonished to limit their media access to “G-rated” or Christian-published format. Many Hasidic communities forbid access to secular libraries. In fundamentalist Muslim-controlled countries, all media are controlled by the religious leaders, thus preventing people from accessing any non-approved content. Each of these groups limits media access for “moral” reasons, but they also want to prevent community members from accessing any knowledge that may contradict their sect’s teachings.

While some of Amish people vote, they do not seek public office, and their pacifism prevents them from joining the military. They also are not visibly active in campaigning. Myriads of articles have been written — particularly before and after the 2016 presidential election — concerning the political activism of evangelical Christians. Orthodox and Hasidic Jews are known for their political activism for candidates sympathetic to their communities, particularly as it is an “honor” for Jewish men to collect welfare and food stamps so they can exclusively focus their time on Talmudic studies. As far as fundamentalist Islam is concerned, there are many countries in which fundamentalist Islam controls government.

In Bruce’s recent post Life After Jesus: Moving from a God-Shaped Hole to a Knowledge-Shaped Hole he talks about restrictions that fundamentalist Christian authorities put on secular influences. Indeed, venturing beyond fundamentalist-bubble-approved media is considered a temptation by Satan and demonic forces, potentially leading someone to everlasting torment in hell. Pastors try to scare their flocks into not watching the latest season of “Cosmos” or “Game of Thrones”; that rock music leads to the “Highway to Hell”; that evolution is Satan’s greatest deception. Amish and Hasidic communities threaten members with excommunication if they do not adhere to community standards. For the skeptical or curious in these communities, fear of being cut off from family and friends is a real concern. In addition, many members (particularly women) are poorly educated and lack job skills, so escaping these communities is, at best, a risky venture.  Mission to Amish People (MAP) and Charity Christian Fellowship are organizations that help Amish people leave their communities, and Footsteps is an organization that helps Hasidic Jews leave theirs. Organizations such as these offer practical and emotional support to deconverts. Those of us in the real world realize that knowledge is power, and fundamentalists do their best to limit knowledge, thus limiting the power of their flocks.

fundamentalist religion comparisonI look at all these groups and think, there’s no way I could live in one of those communities. After I graduated from high school, I did my best to escape the clutches of fundamentalist Christianity. Fortunately, I possessed a college degree from a highly ranked secular university and developed marketable skills, so I was able to support myself financially. Many in these communities, particularly women, are purposely raised without these skills, ensuring reliance on the community. It is my firm conviction that any group that purposefully restricts access to knowledge and education and discourages contact with outsiders is inherently harmful and potentially abusive. Those in power may thrive within these systems, but the systems themselves are designed to benefit those in power at the expense of the powerless.

(If you are interested in finding out more about the Old Order Amish, I recommend the book Amish Society by John A. Hostetler for a comprehensive examination. For those who have access to Netflix and are interested in deconverts from Hasidic Judaism, I recommend the documentary One of Us regarding the Hasidic community in Brooklyn and in Rockland County, New York. Both are communities with which I am familiar as I live in proximity to both).

Now, for a bit of levity: Amish Paradise by Weird Al Yankovic

Video Link

Was Fundamentalist Pastor Bruce Gerencser Mentally Ill?

bruce gerencser 1991

Bruce Gerencser, 1991, Somerset Baptist Academy. Surely everyone can see from this picture that I was a real Christian.

Telling my story often leads people to surmise that they only way someone could believe and behave as I did was to be mentally ill; that nobody in his right mind would live as I did; that only a crazy person would stand on a street corner and preach at passersby; that only a lunatic would sacrifice his life and that of his family to a non-existent God. Dismissing these things with the wave of a Freudian hand is far too easy, and it allows non-Christians to avoid thinking about how their own behavior might be deemed mental illness by those who do not have their beliefs. For example, countless people believe that essential oils can cure all sorts of diseases, as can chiropractic care. Evangelists from the First Church of Essential Oils and First Subluxation Church of the Spine use blogs, social media, newspapers, and face-to-face encounters to preach their gospel, hoping to convert people to their respective religions. The same could be said about homeopathy, iridology, acupuncture, and herbal cancer cures. Consider also that many political systems of thought, much like Christian Fundamentalists, demand fidelity, purity, and obedience. And we must not forget the God-above-all-Gods, American sports — particularly football and basketball. Spend some time around people whose lives revolve around this or that sports team, and it’s hard not to conclude that these people are delusional members of a cult. Yet, all of these beliefs and behaviors EXCEPT Christian Fundamentalism are considered “normal.” Why is that?

It is not helpful to lazily attach the “mentally ill” label to all Christian Fundamentalists. Now, that’s not to say that some Christian Fundamentalists aren’t mentally ill — they are. What troubles me is when non-Fundamentalists look at Evangelical beliefs and practices and conclude that only insane people would believe and live that way. This is a patently false conclusion. We must either conclude that all humans — yes you — have, to some degree or the other, a mental imbalance, or there are other explanations for why all of us believe and practice the things we do. I would posit that we humans are complex creatures, and our ways of life are shaped, molded, and controlled by our genetics, parents, childhood, environment, economic status, physical health, social strata, and a host of other exposures and variations. Thus, when someone reads one or more of my blog posts — say, posts such as My Life as a Street Preacher, I Did It For You Jesus: Crank Windows and Vinyl Floor Mats, and How the IFB Church Turned My Wife Into a Martyr — without thoughtfully and humbly considering the variables mentioned above, they will not come to a reasoned conclusion.

Part of the problem is that each of us has our own definition of “normal,” and we use that definition as the standard by which we judge the beliefs and practices of others. We rarely ask who it was (God?) that made us the “normal” police or why our standard of normality should be the inerrant, infallible rule (get my point now?) by which we determine whether someone is mentally ill or has a “screw loose.” Atheists love to say “each to his own,” except for religion, of course. Fundamentalists, in particular, have heaped upon their heads by atheists judgment and derision, without atheists making any attempt to understand. No need, many atheists say. Fundamentalists are delusional nut jobs — end of story.

Much of my writing focuses on my past life as a Fundamentalist Christian, especially the twenty-five years I spent pastoring Evangelical churches. I have willingly and openly chosen to be honest about my past, including my beliefs and behaviors. In doing so, I hope my story brings encouragement and understanding, and that doubting Christians or ex-Evangelicals might see that there is life after Jesus. What I don’t want my writing to be is exercises for non-Christians, ex-Christians, liberal Christians, or atheists to practice armchair psychology. Psychoanalyzing me — past and present — is best left to my counselor. Whether I was, in the past, mentally ill is impossible to know. I’m more inclined to think that my past is a reflection of someone who sincerely and resolutely believed certain things, little different from the countless other beliefs embraced by humans.

I have suffered with depression most of my adult life. The reasons for my struggle are many. Certainly, religion plays a part, but I would never say that the blame for my depression rests with Christianity alone. Again, I am a complex being, and the “whys” of my life are many. I left Christianity ten years ago. I pastored my last church fifteen years ago. Yet, here I am long removed from God, Jesus, the church, and all of trappings of Christianity and I still battle depression. Why is that? If Christianity is the root of psychological difficulties, one would think that I would have regained mental health once I was freed from my marriage to Jesus. However, that hasn’t proved to be the case. I have learned that depression can affect believer and unbeliever alike.

I hope readers will see my writing as an opportunity to understand, and not judge. When the day comes that I feel that that is no longer the case, I will have written my last blog post.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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.

Quote of the Day: The High Cost of Fleeing Fundamentalist Religion by Andreea Nica

 

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According to a recent study, those who have a stable religious or secular identity generally report greater well being; however, those who consider leaving religion but stay, tend to experience poorer mental health over time, compared to those who are more consistent in their religious and nonreligious identities. Which begs the question of how leaving impacts well being—particularly for those raised in a religion.

By now many of us are familiar with the data on the “nones.” Nearly four in ten (39%) young adults (18-29) are religiously unaffiliated, and they’re nearly four times as likely as young adults a generation ago to identify as religiously unaffiliated. The primary reasons are skepticism in the teachings of religion (60%), a less religious upbringing (32%), or issues with religious teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people (29%).

But a subset of these growing religious nones has lacked examination—those who have left fundamentalist religions. Underexplored is how disaffiliation from fundamentalist groups impact family relations and friendships, as well as the stressors involved in ‘coming out’ as a nonbeliever.

Important to clarify, is that strict, fundamentalist, or “high-cost” religious groups have distinct characteristics of absolutism, fanaticism, and conformity. Absolutism means that religious individuals have a high commitment to and willingness to sacrifice on behalf of the religious group’s goals or beliefs; Conformity entails obedience and discipline of religious members; and Fanaticism is conceived of as one-way communication versus a dialogue between leadership and members.

Leaving fundamentalist, strict religions can have negative health consequences, both perceived and actual, that manifest in the body and mind. Research shows that individuals who come out to family members, specifically as an atheist—a strongly stigmatized identity in the U.S., only slightly more popular than Muslims—report that families often react with anger and rejection, as communication deteriorates and distrust grows. While research is somewhat limited on individuals’ experiences leaving religion more broadly, and coming out to family and friends, it’s generally assumed that there are significant stressors involved that impact well being.

I interviewed individuals who left fundamentalist religious groups, or, what I call, ‘exiters,’ and found that they all have complex stories of ‘exiting’ and ‘coming out’ out to their families. These individuals left religion for different reasons, but some common themes included pursuit of personal freedom not found in the religion, shifts in ideological values that put them at odds with religion, and lack of acceptance for who they were or who they wanted to become in their religious communities.

Religious immersion

The ‘exiters’ I interviewed described their experience in religion as immersive, consisting of a significant time commitment, a high degree of participation, and intense involvement.

Heather, a 29-year-old female exiter of evangelical Christianity, explains her religious experience as deeply connected to family and friends in the community:

I was raised in the church, attending services as far back as I can remember. As a child, we would attend Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and mid-week services. As a teenager, I became highly involved in the youth ministry and served on the leadership team, where I continued to attend Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and mid-week services. The church was a significant part of my family’s identity. It was our primary form of community and where I built many lasting friendships.

Lena, a 29-year-old, female, and exiter of The Church Universal and Triumphant, a new age religious cult, echoes:

There were three weekly important Church services of about 2-3 hours each that I attended with my parents. My school was run by the Church so every day was started with a 30-minute services. I took Holy Communion classes every Sunday afternoon for 2 months one summer when I was 8 or 9. There were four major holy events—“Conferences”—when everyone would gather on the main Church campus and spend a week purely in Church praying and listening to the Church leader. On my own, I prayed every night before bed, blessed my food, prayed whenever I was driving in a car, and did rosaries every night for a good 6 or 7 years. I listened to the Church leader on audiotape in the background when doing homework or falling asleep after about 10 years old and the sound of prayer was constant.

Katie, a 34-year-old, female, exiter of a charismatic, non-denominational Christian religious group highlights:

The church services were known for extreme emotional highs. Worship would last several hours and would be used to work the church members into an emotional frenzy. Often people would dance while waving large flags, some would kneel, some would openly cry, some would be seized with uncontrollable laughter. These behaviors were thought to be the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Losing family and friends

A 30-year-old male, former devout member of an evangelical Christian community, as well as former music leader and church staff member, shares his experience leaving religion and coming out as gay. Ted expressed that although most of his family members are no longer religious, his friendships were deeply effected.

I experienced a certain degree of shunning from several very close friends. We still communicate, but they have definitely put a wall between our relationship. They no longer include me as one of their own. I’m familiar with that guarding because I used to put similar walls up with people who were not part of my religious community as well, so I recognized it right away.

Lena described for me coming out as a nonbeliever to family and friends as a gradual process:

I still haven’t come out to my mother though I imagine she suspects or knows…We used to be close and talked every day into my twenties. Now I call her maybe every three months and talk to her for less than 30 minutes. I find that talking to her and hearing the language of the Church in all her sentences produces a great deal of anxiety. I talk to my sister even less. Whenever I speak with my mother at any length she tells me I am on the wrong path…Lots of microaggressions that often devolve into crying. My sister has let me know that she’s given up on me and she hopes someday I wake up. I think she pities me… I told my father never to speak to me again when I was 24 and have had no contact with him since then, though every few years or so I Google his name to see what he is doing.

Lena’s experience coming out to friends shared a similar sentiment with Ted’s narrative:

I have lost contact with an entire friend group of 10 years. I simply stopped contacting them and not a single one of them has reached out to me either by phone or Facebook to see how I am. There were a good 5 people in that friend group that I thought I was very close to, but since I stopped attending Church events, none of them have contacted me though I know they are all still involved in the Church.

Heather describes her coming out as a nonbeliever to family as “difficult and still a work-in-progress” and further explains:

During my several years [in] transition from religious to nonreligious, I didn’t feel comfortable talking about my beliefs with family and friends. Since discussing matters of faith had been a focal point of these relationships (i.e., praying for each other, encouraging each other with scriptures, etc.), my silence created feelings of distance among family members where strong connections used to exist. My mother expressed disappointment that she could no longer pray with me and longingly recalled the days when I would share scriptures and words of encouragement with her.

Katie shares her departure from a charismatic, non-denominational Christian religious group:

In the last two years that I was a Christian, I struggled with depression and panic attacks. I often received prayer and anointing of oil for my depression and panic. I found myself crying at church, not because I was feeling the ecstasy of God, but because I was overwhelmed with the fact that God would not heal me. I tried everything, including paying hundreds of dollars to have one-on-one healing sessions to expel demons and cut demonic ties from and my family’s past sins. These things still didn’t work and I began to have suicidal thoughts, which I eventually admitted to my primary doctor. I was started on anti-depressants, and for the first time in years, I felt happy. My faith was shaken. God didn’t heal me but these pills did. I quit going to church.

Katie’s relational losses echoes others’ narratives:

The majority of my friend network was from my church and when I stopped going to church, my Christian friendships stopped. I just stopped hearing from them, and it was as if I did not exist at all. I lost most of my friends, and that was extremely painful. I realized that the friendships, based on deep spiritual experiences together, had no foundation like a normal friendship did…I was able to come out to friends who had also left their faith, and we were able to create an actual friendship based on our mutual experiences.

….

— Andreea Nica, Religion Dispatches, The Forgotten Nones: The High Cost of Fleeing Fundamentalist Religion, March 12, 2018

Why Do People Attend Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Churches?

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IFB Preacher Phil Kidd

Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches are known for their commitment to literalism, Biblical inerrancy, and strict codes of personal conduct. Demographically, IFB churchgoers tend to be white, Republican, and middle to lower class. IFB churches also have anti-culture tendencies, as revealed in their support of the Christian school and home school movements. The IFB church movement has spawned numerous colleges, including Hyles-Anderson College, Tennessee Temple, Midwestern Baptist College, Baptist Bible College, Pensacola Christian College, Clarks Summit University, Maranatha Baptist University, Massillon Baptist College, Crown College of the Bible, Faith Baptist Bible College, and West Coast Baptist College. Though not explicitly IFB institutions, Bob Jones University, Liberty University, Cedarville University, and Cornerstone University are sympathetic to IFB beliefs and practices, and attract a number of IFB students. You can find a comprehensive list of IFB secondary institutions here.

Millions of Americans attend IFB churches. Add to this number those Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches who hold similar Fundamentalist theological and social beliefs, and IFB churches are a sizeable minority within the broad Evangelical tent. While some IFB apologists trace the movement’s genesis to the Modernist-Fundamentalist battle of the 1920s, most would say that the IFB church movement was birthed out of opposition to liberalism in the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of the fathers of the movement were Southern Baptist pastors who pulled their churches out of the Convention. I attended numerous Sword of the Lord conferences in the 1970s and 1980s where big-name IFB preachers trumpeted the astronomical numerical growth of their churches while delighting in spouting statistics that showed the SBC was in decline. I heard Jack Hyles, then the pastor of the largest church in the world — First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana — run down the list of the largest churches in America, pointing out how many of them were IFB churches. Hyles, along with countless other IFB preachers of that era, believed that their churches’ growth and the SBC’s decline were sure signs of God’s approval and blessing.

Today, the IFB church movement is in steep numerical decline. Churches which once had thousands of members are now closed or are a shell of what they once were. IFB colleges have also seen drops in enrollment due to the fact that the feeders for these institutions — IFB churches — aren’t sending as many students to their schools. The Southern Baptist Convention, on the other hand, has been reclaimed from liberalism and many of the largest churches in America are affiliated with the Convention. (The SBC is the first denomination that I am aware of that has reversed its course and returned to its Fundamentalist roots. The Convention is now home to a burgeoning Calvinistic movement. Many liberal/progressive SBC churches broke away in the 1991 (1,900 churches) and formed the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Liberals who remain will either seek out friendlier associations or be excommunicated.)

For countless Christians, the IFB church movement is all they have ever known. Their entire lives, from baby dedications to graduation from an IFB college, have been dominated and controlled by Baptist Fundamentalism. In many ways, the IFB church movement is a cult that shelters families from the evil, Satanic outside world. All that congregants are required to do is believe and obey. Is it any wonder that the hymn Trust and Obey is a popular hymn in many IFB churches? Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. For those born and raised in the IFB bubble, all they know is what they have been taught by their parents, pastors, and teachers. Encouraged to make professions of faith at an early age, these cradle Baptists know little about the world outside of the IFB bubble. The bubble protects them from outside, worldly influences and helps to reinforce IFB beliefs and practices. (And when IFB youths run afoul of the strict rules found in IFB churches, they are sometimes sent off to IFB group homes and camps so they can be “rehabilitated.”)

The video below graphically (and beautifully) illustrates how deeply and thoroughly Fundamentalist beliefs dominate the thinking of those raised in Fundamentalist churches. Sung by Champion Baptist College (now Champion Christian University) tour group, the song I Have Been Blessed, is a compendium of IFB beliefs. The young adults singing this song really believe what they are singing. Outsiders might label these singers ignorant — and they are — but I choose to be more charitable, knowing that their singing of this song is simply a reflection of the tribal religion they have been a part of their entire lives.

Video Link

I have great sympathy for people who know only what they have been taught in IFB churches and institutions. From the early 1960s to the mind-1990s, I was one such person. My parents were saved at an IFB church in the 1960s and from that day forward we religiously attended IFB churches. When my parents divorced in the early 1970s, I continued to attend IFB churches. In many ways, these congregations became my family, giving me love and structure. After high school, I attended an IFB college, and from 1979 to 1994 I pastored IFB churches. (One church, Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas, would not call itself an IFB church due to its Calvinistic beliefs, but its social practices and anti-culture beliefs put it squarely in the IFB camp.) I was, in every way, a true-blue believer, never questioning my beliefs until I was in my 40s. I know firsthand how IFB indoctrination affects a person intellectually and psychologically.

Not everyone, of course, is born into the IFB church movement. Others become members due to the movement’s aggressive evangelistic efforts and methodology. Particular targets are people who have messy, unhappy lives or have drug/alcohol addictions. Wanting deliverance from their present lives, these people are often quite receptive when they come in contact with IFB preachers and church members who promise them that, if they will believe the IFB gospel, then Jesus will make their lives brand new and deliver them from their chaotic, broken lives. Once saved, these newly minted Christians are encouraged to join the churches that cared enough about them to share the Good News® with them. And many of these people do indeed join IFB churches, but unlike those raised in such churches, these outsiders often have a harder time accepting IFB social strictures. More than a few of them stop attending church or seek out congregations that aren’t as extreme.

And then there are the people who deliberately seek out IFB churches to attend. Drawn to such churches by their need for doctrinal purity, certainty, and a safe haven from the world, they are thrilled to find churches that believe the Bible from cover to cover (even though, as anyone who has studied the IFB church movement knows, IFB preachers and congregants pick and choose beliefs just as non-IFB Christians do). Perfectionists, in particular, find IFB churches quite appealing. If IFB churches and their pastors are anything, they are certain that their beliefs and practices come straight from the mouth of the Christian God (God wrote the Bible, so its words are his). Perfectionists — as I know firsthand — love structure, control, and order.

Perfectionists make the perfect members. They joyously buy into the go-go-go, do-do-do, work-for-the-night-is-coming-when-no-man-can-work, better-to-burn-out-than-rust-out thinking that permeates IFB churches. There’s no time for rest and comfort. The Bible is true, judgment is sure, hell is real, and there are billions of lost souls who need to hear the IFB gospel. How dare anyone who truly loves Jesus live a life of ease while sinners are dying in their sins and going to hell. On and on go the clichés. I suspect that most successful IFB preachers have perfectionist tendencies.

Video Link

Many IFB church members were once members of Evangelical or mainline churches. Concerns over perceived liberalism drive them to seek out churches who still believe in the Book, the Blood, and the Blessed Hope. Tired of pastors who refuse, they believe, to preach the whole counsel of God or to stand against worldliness, these disaffected Christians often find that IFB churches believe what they believe, so they leave their churches and join with the Baptists.

While I could give other reasons people attend IFB churches, those mentioned above cover the majority of people who attend Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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.

Christian Fundamentalist Shares the Sweet, Sweet Love of Jesus on Facebook

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Earlier today, I stumbled upon the Facebook wall of a Fundamentalist Christian woman my wife and I attended church with in the late 1970s. After reading her loved-filled words about liberals, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, I took a few screen clips to share with readers of this blog. Enjoy.

 

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David, the Fundamentalist Catholic Attempts to Slay Bruce Almighty

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Religious Fundamentalism is not alone the domain of Evangelicalism. Take David, a recent commenter on this blog and on my Facebook page. Here’s how the conversation with David started:

David: Jesus is real. He is God. And, He is alive. To deny that, is to deny the Truth.

Bruce: *sigh* So glad you stopped by to let us know that your flavor of ice cream is the one true ice cream. Now take your ice cream truck and keep on moving down that narrow, straight road you mentioned on Facebook. Blessed be the God of reason, forever and ever, amen. [At this point I thought David was an Evangelical.]

David: Sir, you claim you are not evangelizing for atheism. However, by posting these reports of alleged christian molesters, you are in fact, evangelizing for atheism, otherwise, you would also post stories of molesters from other beliefs. I don’t see that you are publishing reports of any muslim molesters, or atheist molesters, or hindu molesters, or Democratic party molesters, or any molesters from any other groups. No, you focus only on professing christians, because you want to harm the Church of Jesus Christ and more particularly Him and cause others to abandon the faith or never become a believer to begin with. You know what you are doing. So, you see, you are in fact, a liar. And, that would make you the son of you know who…

Becky added several comments.

Bruce: Funny that you are more concerned with my posting the reports than you are the reports themselves. Evidently preachers molesting children doesn’t bother you as much as an atheist making the public aware of such vile things. This blog focuses on Evangelicalism–as I told you on Facebook. I can’t be all things to all men, so I don’t try. I focus on Evangelicalism because it is the dominant American religion and one that I am most familiar with. If, through my writing, someone leaves Evangelicalism, good for them. However, I do not evangelize. I don’t go to Christian blogs/Facebook pages and leave atheistic comments/sermons (unlike you). That you impugn my character says more about you than it does me. I’m quite proud of the fact that my writing causes hemorrhoidal inflammation for people such as you.

David: Looks like I struck a nerve with you Bruce. Truth has a way of doing that to antichrist agenda driven people like you.

Bruce: Davey, my man, I hate to disappoint you, but you are little more than buzzing gnats swarming around my head on a warm summer day. Smack, end of annoyance. I presume, by now, you have read the comment rules. Please act accordingly.

David: Bruce. I notice in your blogs you have one concerning a molesting Catholic Priest. So, I caught you in another false statement. You said you are only concerned with reaching evangelicals. But, then you undermine that assertion by your Roman Church priest blog. So, I am proven right again. You are on the warpath against Christianity, the Church and Jesus Christ. Why not tell the truth Bruce? Why maintain the facade of honesty when you are not being honest?

Bruce: The focus of my blog is Evangelicalism — like 99% of my posts. On occasion I write about other things: sports, photography, politics, family, technology, and yes priests who rape/molest children. That you would rather impugn my character than understand what should be easily understood by anyone with a fifth-grade education, reflects poorly on you and the Christ you say you serve. By all means, keep commenting. Your words are preaching a far louder sermon than any atheist could preach.

David: Bruce, the more you attack and deny, the more you prove my assertions. I wonder why you can’t see that. And, laughably you resort to the time dishonored atheist reaction of attacking the intellect of those with whom they disagree. Atheists cannot be gracious. They ALWAYS resort to personal attack of the intelligence of the Christians, alleging by implication that intelligence and intellect are a contradiction to belief in Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of all, Who is God.

Bruce: I’m not gracious to assholes, nor do I need to be. And I don’t need to let them fill the comment section with bullshit. Bye, bye Davey. All further comments will be deleted.

Bruce: I should make it clear to readers that you are a Fundamentalist Catholic, not an Evangelical, proving that Fundamentalism can be found in all religious sects.

Geoff, Justine, and Suzanne added comments.

On to Facebook. It is harder to recreate the conversation flow on Facebook because David DELETED all of his comments. Yep, deleted every last comment.  What follows is, at best, a partial transcript of what transpired on Facebook. Fortunately, Suzanne captured many of David’s comments for her Jerks4Jesus page.

David sent me the following message:

What is the point of these reports. Jesus said that wolves in sheeps clothing would infiltrate the Church. Paul wrote the same thing. So, no surpirse. And, anyone who does these things, has ceased being a follower of Jesus Christ at that point. Sinners can repent and be saved again. But, an apostate cannot. See Hebrews. Sir, you may feel smug at this point, thinking you are doing good in the humanist sense, but your real objective is to try to harm Christianity since you are no longer a believer, and have fallen away. My question is: were you ever a true believer, or was being a pastor merely a way to make a living? If you were a true believer, what caused you to fall away from the truth? Do you have some sinful behavior that you were not able to give up? Was it pride? Jesus is real, He is alive, and He is God. I know this for a fact. And, you probably do also, but you choose not to submit to Him.

I responded by telling David to read my blog.

Here’s some of the comments left by David that he has since deleted. Unfortunately, by deleting his comments, David also deleted some of my responding comments too.

David: Bruce, as you well know, the public is already well aware of the matter. The atheist media has had a field day and non stop reports and is reporting on how these non Christians posing as Christians have infiltrated the Church and committed these acts… But, you are fine with muslims and politicians doing the same. Interesting dichotomy. How do you intellectually justify that.  And, by the way, they could not have been Christians when they committed those crimes. By definition, they ceased to be Christians or never were to have committed those acts. Read your Bible and you will see that it is impossible for a true follower of Jesus Christ to do such things. You must have bought into the once saved always saved lie when you were a pastor.  Good night, pee wee. It must be way beyond your bedtime over there in never never land.

Bruce: They were Christians when they committed their crimes. Consensual adult sexual behavior is fine in my book. I don’t care one bit who fucks who, when, where and how. I do, however, despise men who use their places of authority to rape, sexually assault, and sexually manipulate children, teenagers, and adult congregants.

Bruce: No I’m not, but there are other sites that focus on Islam. Hey, here’s an idea….why don’t YOU start a blog and write about atheists and Muslims? Do something productive instead of trolling my page/blog.

David: Bruce, baby, you are one challenged individual. Do you ever tire of your childish antics?

David: Coward, you could not answer nor counter the truth of my assertions, so you blocked my posts on your blog page. That is so atheist of you. Another truth challenged professing atheist bites the dust. LOL

David then took to attacking Suzanne.

Realizing that I was quite snarky in our exchange, I thought I would make one, and only one, good faith effort to answer whatever questions David wanted me to answer.

Bruce: David Collins, second request, “So, here’s your chance. Give me your top five questions/challenges and I’ll answer them on my blog. No more bullshit from you, David. This is your one and only chance. Take it or go fornicate with yourself. “

And, in classic Fundamentalist fashion, David responded this way in an email to me:

Listen, Satan. I have already blown your assertions to smithereens on facebook. If you like, go get that dialogue and post it, including the ones you deleted like the coward you are. My facebook responses on your facebook page,  to your assertions, taunts and lies,  completely obliterated you and your false paradigm. You lost. Deal with it. I have no reason to repeat myself in your ludicrous blog. I have already exposed you for the liar and hypocrite you are. Deal with it.

What lesson have I learned from my “discussion” with David, the Fundamentalist Catholic?  That it is almost always a waste of time to engage Fundamentalists. Their minds are shut off from anything that doesn’t fit their narrow, defined “Biblical” worldview. Their goal is to evangelize, not engage and learn. In David’s mind, I am an anti-Christ, a false prophet. I am worthy of death, punishment, and the Lake of Fire. I KNOW they think all these things about me, yet I still, at times, allow myself to be drawn into foolish, fruitless discussions.

David is a good example of why I have a one-and-done rule on comments from evangelizing Christians — particularly Evangelicals. In David’s case, he is an outlier — a Fundamentalist Catholic.

As I type this post, Terry, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher, is fouling up the comment section. I’ll take care of him in just a moment. It never ends. My writing draws out the worst Christianity has to offer. The good news is that these commenters are preaching a sermon that is being heard loud and clear.

Fundamentalist Tony Breeden Returns to Deconstructing My Life After a Four-Year Absence

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On February 12, 2012, a man calling himself Preacher started an anonymous blog, How to Fall Down, so he could methodically deconstruct my past and present life. I did a bit of digital snooping, hoping to find out who this Preacher guy was, and it took me all of a few days to discover that it was the one and the only Reverend Tony Breeden. Breeden used to comment on a previous iteration of this blog until I banned him. Breeden’s deconstruction of my life lasted all of one month and thirteen posts.

Four years later, unable to get visions of me naked out of his mind, Breeden has decided to continue his voyeuristic peeking into my closet. While I don’t like his doing so, I know, as a public figure, that I must endure such inquiries into my life, beliefs, and motives. The difference between four years ago and now is that I no longer feel the need to correct those who view my life as a pornographic centerfold while they play with their Bible tool. Readers who have followed along with me over the years know the kind of man I am, as does my friends and family. That’s all that matters.

You can check out Breeden’s latest post here. I hope you will read it.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Godly Women Don’t Fart, Burp, or Stick Out Their Tongue by Lori Alexander

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Our youngest granddaughter, who sticks her tongue out because Grandpa is sticking out his. Little did I know that by our little tongue game I was turning her into someone Lori Alexander finds disgusting.

What follows is a perfect illustration of what happens when Fundamentalism so permeates your mind that you see “sin” in the smallest of behaviors; even natural ones such as farting and belching. Of all the things Lori Alexander could write about, she decides to tackle the evil of sticking out your tongue. What’s next, the evil of nose picking, butt scratching, or pulling up your underwear?

As many of you know, I have two new granddaughters. One was born in July and the other in August. They are beautiful and fun to watch. We laugh when their little tongues come continually out of their mouths. When they toot, we think it’s funny. When they burp, we all laugh and are happy they got their air out so it won’t cause a tummy ache. All of their noises are so sweet to all of us. However, when grown women are doing these things, they aren’t funny or cute anymore. It is disgusting and they are not being discreet.

Sticking out your tongue for pictures and having tooting and burping contests are common among women today. I hear it directly from them. They think it’s funny. The Bible tells us otherwise: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11) Even as our children grew older, they never stuck their tongues out or looked like the girl in the picture. We would never have allowed this. They didn’t burp or toot on purpose in front of us either. (I actually never heard them burp since they had healthy gallbladders.) We taught them from a young age to have manners.

Godly women are called to be discreet and not do anything to draw attention to themselves. They are not children anymore and should not do childish things. It’s amazing that I even have to teach younger women this today. When I was growing up, we never did such things. We would have been mortified! If we had to pass gas, we held it until we were alone. (If you have a lot of gas, you need to find out to heal your digestive system and I am sure less sugar and more real foods with probiotics will help.)

I don’t ever remember having a problem with burping….I would have never stuck out my tongue for pictures, ever. When I see women do this, it looks disgusting. Tongues are meant to help us talk and eat to enjoy our food, not show off to other people, especially when they are coated with a thick white film which usually means they eat too much dairy and other unhealthy foods…

Be a godly feminine woman. Show discretion in all that you do and don’t try to gain attention by doing something that is ugly….

— Lori Alexander, Always Learning, Taking Pictures With Tongues Out, September 29, 2016

The Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) Indoctrinates Children to Obey Church Leaders

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What follows is a video put out by The Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), a “Christian religion whose primary purpose is to worship the Almighty God based on His teachings as taught by the Lord Jesus Christ and as recorded in the Bible. The Church of Christ is a church for every one who will heed the call of God and embrace its faith — regardless of his or her nationality, cultural background, social standing, economic status, and educational attainment.” (website)

Video Link

The sect’s executive minister is Eduardo V. Manalo. According to Wikipedia,The Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) is an ” international Christian denomination that originated in the Philippines.” The sect is now in 102 countries, including the United States, comprising over 5,000 congregations. Wikipedia states that Iglesia ni Cristo is the third largest religious sect in the Philippines, behind only Roman Catholicism and Islam. You can read more about  Iglesia ni Cristo’s extreme religious beliefs here. I say extreme, but not really.  Similar beliefs can be found in numerous American Evangelical churches. In fact, The Iglesia ni Cristo  can be traced back to nineteenth and twentieth century missionary work done by Evangelical missionaries to the Philippines.

If you care about children and how Fundamentalist religion affects them, I am sure you found this video to be quite troubling. These children, at a very early age, are taught to explicitly obey church leaders. A common cult-like practice, also found in sects like the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, indoctrinating children is a crucial component in the continued growth of Fundamentalist sects. The inquisitive minds of children must be destroyed and then reanimated with authoritarian beliefs. A failure to do this often results in church children, when they come of age, leaving the sect. This is why every Fundamentalist sect I know of targets children. Such sects are religious pedophiles, grooming children for a lifetime of submission and abuse.

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent News Concerning Recent Spate of Letters from Creationists

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What follows is a letter I submitted today to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News. It should be published in a few days. I encourage readers to read a letter to the editor I wrote in 1999 about the same the subject. You will quickly see that my viewpoint has changed a wee bit over the past 17 years.

Dear Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio