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Tag: Leaving Christianity

Is Bruce Gerencser Demon Possessed?

The “real” Bruce Gerencser

Twice in the past week, Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers have told me that I am demon possessed; that I never was a Christian; that I was a deceiver and false prophet. Today, in an article for The Christian Post titled Can Christ-worshipers turn into demon-worshipers? Evangelical Calvinist John Piper had this to say about people like me:

No genuinely called and justified Christian ever falls away into demon worship — not permanently, anyway.


[Piper said the question pertained to people] who’ve been in the church for years and are outwardly identifying as Christian and yet are not truly born again and end up being swept away into the teaching of demons.


The danger of seduction by deceitful spirits and teachings of demons is always present throughout this fallen age, from the time of Jesus till Jesus comes back. They’re always there. But there will be a greater temptation as the end of the age approaches and the Lord draws near.


Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

In other words, the mystery of lawlessness will have a huge impact on nominal Christians, whose love for Christ is shallow and unreal. They will grow cold. Their resistance to the deception of demons will give way and they will not endure to the end.

Devout followers of Jesus are leaving Evangelicalism in droves; people who were pastors, evangelists, missionaries, youth leaders, worship leaders, and college professors, to name a few. These folks dedicated their lives to worshipping and serving Jesus. Everything in their lives said to the world, “I am a born-again child of the living God.” When critics are asked for evidence to justify their harsh criticisms, none is provided. Instead, unsubstantiated accusations are leveled against former servants of the Most High.

The root problem is theological. The IFB preachers mentioned above believe that once a person is saved, he can never, ever lose his salvation. Piper, a Calvinist, believes this too, but with this caveat: a believer must endure (persevere) to the end (death) to be saved. The first fifty years of my life testify to faith in Christ; to devotion to God, the Word, and the church. Years ago, a family member said to another, upon hearing of my deconversion, “If Butch isn’t a Christian, nobody is.” I have had former congregants tell me that they could no longer be friends with me; that they find my story disconcerting, causing them to doubt their own salvation. Fourteen years ago, a dear preacher friend of mine begged me to keep quiet about my loss of faith. He feared that some people upon learning of my deconversion, could become so troubled that they too would lose their faith.

People who knew me are left with an irreconcilable conundrum. They listened to my preaching and observed my behavior. They know I was a Christian in every way. Yet today, I am an outspoken atheist; an enemy of God; a mocker of all things holy and true. My writing repudiates everything I once believed. Some former associates believe I am still saved — just backslidden; that I will either one day return to the faith or God will severely chastise or kill me. Other associates, those of Arminian persuasion, believe I have fallen from grace; that I once was saved, and now I am not.

Preachers such as the aforementioned IFB pastors and John Piper take a different tack. Instead of acknowledging my past devotion to Jesus and the testimony of scores of people about my love for God, they dismiss my story out of hand, saying that I was never what I and others say I was. These critics only know me from afar, yet they feel more than qualified to render judgment. What they are, in effect, saying is that I am lying about my past and that the people who speak glowingly about my preaching and love and care for others are misinformed or deceived. In their minds, I have always been a deceiver, someone who, at the very least was and is influenced by the Devil and demons, or actually possessed by demons.

I get it. My story and those of other ex-preachers and church workers are troubling and challenge the assumptions many Evangelicals have about people who leave Christianity. “How can these things be,” they say to themselves, and instead of taking a hard look at their theological beliefs and presumptuousness, they take the easy way out by calling former believers names or claiming they are demon-possessed. Anything except wrestling with why an increasing number of devoted followers of Jesus are exiting the church stage left, never to return.


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.

Who is Bruce, Anyways? Asks Not-a-Real Doctor David Tee

bruce gerencser
This is Bruce 🙂

Not-a-Real-Doctor David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, has returned to his previous ways, writing posts about me and using my writing without proper attribution. His latest post titled, The Bible IS What it Claims to Be — 2 is his latest attempt to smear my character. Before I address what Thiessen wrote, I want to point out Thiessen’s post title; particularly his use of the word IS in ALL CAPS. Every time Thiessen does this, I think of this:

jumping man

YES, IT IS! YES, IT IS! YES, IT IS! All caps is how people shout digitally, hoping to make a point. Thiessen has spent his entire life in Christian Fundamentalism; a movement where shouting and pulpit pounding is used to say “BLESS GOD, I AM ABSOLUTELY, 100% RIGHT! CAN I GET AN A-M-E-N? So when Thiessen uses ALL CAPS, he’s just screaming, with index fingers in each ear, I’M RIGHT!

Now to Thiessen’s latest attempt to portray me in a bad light:

To be frank, who is Bruce anyways? What has he accomplished that anyone, including unbelievers, should listen to what he says? he quit on just about everything in his life except his marriage and what does a quitter have to offer anyone?

When Simone Biles quit on her Olympic team you should have read the comments under every article about her. They were not nice and most dismissed her and her opinion, etc. Quitters do not get the brass ring nor do they get any influence.

The moment former Christians quit the faith, they lose access to the truth and help from the only person who can get them to the truth and explain it correctly to them Also, when people quit the faith, they are not moving from an inferior god to a superior one.

Nor are they moving to a better religious faith that actually stops people from committing crimes or sinning, and they are not moving to a greater moral code. What they have done is moved from a faith that has all of those elements and moved to NOTHING.


We do not care what the owner of that website says nor do we care what any atheist or unbeliever says. They have nothing to offer anyone because they either reject something and stay in nothing or moved from something to nothing.

They are not correct and never will be. Plus, they have no hidden information that shows that God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the Christian faith, and so on is a hoax. They have nothing.

Thiessen “frankly” asks, “Who is Bruce, anyways?” Who I am can easily be ascertained by reading my autobiographical writing. Thiessen’s question is rhetorical. What he is really saying is that Bruce Gerencser is a nobody. Why would anyone listen to a “nobody”? I am sixty-six years old, yet he dismisses my entire life. Why? Well, in Thiessen’s mind, I am a “quitter.” I have “quit” everything in my life, except my marriage. This is rich coming from a man who is no longer a pastor; a man who divorced or left his wife; a man who abandoned his baby. Talk about a quitter. Of course, I would never disparagingly call him a quitter. Shit happens. Things change. Jobs, ministries, and marriages come and go.

Thiessen, of course, knows these things. Why he beats the “quitter” drum over and over and over again is beyond me. I have tried through this blog to give an honest account of my life. Thiessen has made no attempt to do the same. He hides in a foreign country, using several aliases over the years. His readers, all ten of them, know little to nothing about him. He parades around proud as a peacock as a “Dr.” yet refuses to say where he earned his degree or make his doctoral thesis available to the public. He is free, of course, to do these things, but personal attacks on me and my honest telling of my life carry no weight. I really wish he would stop with the quitter” schtick. He won’t because he knows it bothers me. Color me human, but I don’t like it when people lie about me.

Thiessen uses the horrible abuse Simon Biles received after dropping out of the Olympics as justification for attacking my character. As a quitter, I shouldn’t expect to be treated nicely by others. According to Thiessen, quitters such as Simon Biles and I shouldn’t have any influence over others, nor should we get the brass ring — whatever the Hell that means. In other words, leaving Christianity undoes everything I have done in my life. Nothing I do going forward will have meaning and value. Since Thiessen delusionally thinks his words = God’s words, all I can say is this: Derrick Thiessen worships a horrible God.

According to Thiessen, on the last Sunday of November in 2008 — almost fifteen years ago — every bit of knowledge and truth in my brain disappeared. From that day forward, I could no longer know and understand “truth.” Why? Because all “truth” comes from Jesus, an uneducated traveling preacher who died 2,000 years ago. It is Jesus alone who can explain truth to us.

Thiessen says he doesn’t care what I say, yet he has written almost one hundred posts about me or in response to something I have written. I’d say based on this fact that Thiessen has an unhealthy obsession with me. I’ve repeatedly offered to send him my Stripper Santa Pole Dancing® photo, but so far he refuses to provide me with his mailing address. His loss. 🙂

Thiessen ends his harangue about me with a number of personal attacks, all meant to belittle and demean me.

Perhaps Thiessen has forgotten that Jesus told him how to treat the atheist Bruce Gerencser and others like him:

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:27-38)

Jesus said it, Derrick, I didn’t.


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.

Twenty Years Ago, I Left the Ministry

20 years

From 1995-2002, I pastored Our Father’s House — a nondenominational church in the small rural Ohio community of West Unity. I had started the church in a storefront in downtown West Unity — the former library building. We eventually bought the building for $20,000. For seven years, I pastored a delightful group of people. Outside of three older families leaving the church over our use of praise and worship music (they wanted hymns only with a smattering of southern gospel music), Our Father’s House was a kind, loving, unified body. The church never grew much, peaking attendance-wise in the 50s.

I have lots of stories to share about my time in West Unity, but none about conflict or disgruntled congregants. If I ever pastored a Kumbaya church, Our Father’s House was it. I could have easily pastored the church for decades. Unfortunately, as a driven church planter, I became bored. Everything was fine, but nothing of substance was happening. In 2002, I decided it was time for me to move on to new, more exciting experiences. The church body decided that if I wasn’t going to be their pastor, they didn’t want to continue. So in July 2002, we closed the church’s doors, sold the building, and everyone moved on to other congregations. Today, most of them are still involved with conservative Christian churches.

After seven months away from the pulpit, God (I) decided it was time for me to get back on the proverbial horse and find a church to pastor. I decided to see what churches were available with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Ohio and Michigan. I sent my resume to several SBC associations. In a matter of days, I received calls from twelve different churches that were looking for a pastor. Most of them were small churches that were seeking a bi-vocational pastor. Bi-vocational is Greek for working your ass off, burning the candle at both ends for the sake of God and his kingdom.

One of the first churches to call me was Victory Baptist Church in Clare, Michigan — a congregation running 30 or so in attendance. On the Sunday before Easter 2003, we drove two and a half hours north to Clare so I could preach for the church. My preaching and our family were well received. I returned two weeks later, at which time church leaders told me that they were interested in me becoming their next pastor. I told them that “God” was telling me the same thing. Two or so weeks later, we moved to a beautiful home in a gated community near Farwell, Michigan, and I became the next pastor of Victory Baptist Church. Seven months later, tired, worn-out, and disillusioned, we returned to our family in rural northwest Ohio.

What happened? I saw Victory Baptist as a fixer-upper, of sorts; a church that needed the magical touch of Pastor Bruce. I had been successful in the past in resurrecting churches and helping them to grow, so I thought Victory was just another church that I could bring back to life. And sure enough, attendance began to grow. We remodeled the entire church building; “we” meaning my family and a couple of men in the church. We constructed a new auditorium, added Sunday school classrooms and offices, added a nursery, and laid carpet throughout. Before, the church looked like a cluttered, messy, disorganized warehouse. Now it looked like a real church; complete with a fancy new sign.

I was busy working in God’s vineyard. The church paid me a paltry salary, while Polly worked full-time for a local dry cleaner. We kept our heads above water — barely. I loved being “busy.” That had been my way my entire life. Work, work, work, do, do, do. Preach, teach, study, win souls, visit church members, and do it all over again week after week. Though that Bruce still lives inside of me, health problems have robbed me of the physical ability to continue on my workaholic path.

Seven months in, I had a disagreement with a woman in the church (who wanted to be a preacher and had been a member for years) over toys in the nursery. Her daughter had some toys she couldn’t sell at a yard sale, including those children could climb upon. She wanted to donate them to the church nursery. I took a look at the items and declined her offer. I told her that were not well suited for young children; that they could cause injury and harm. I thought that was the end of the matter.

The next day, I found out the toys had been put in the nursery, anyway. Pissed off, I removed them. This, of course, led to outrage and demands that I put the toys back. I said, no, telling people that we could not have unsafe toys in the nursery. Sometimes, pastors have to protect church members from themselves. The “noise” became so loud that I resigned from the church. A meeting was held to discuss the matter. Members showed up who hadn’t been to church in months. Nothing like a business meeting to bring members to church. I reminded the church that I had told them that I wouldn’t fight with them; that I no longer had it in me to deal with church cliques and power brokers. I had become a lover, and not a fighter.

At the close of the meeting, one member — a pastor’s wife — told me, “Bruce, your vision was never our vision,” Her words cut me to the quick, but she was right. The church was fine with wallowing in their dysfunction. They had no interest in being anything other than what they were. I had cleaned up their mess, balanced the church books that hadn’t been reconciled in five years, removed members from the roll who no longer attended the church, refinanced the church mortgage, cut their payment by a third, and brought a sense of order to church services. What I should have done is pay attention to their dysfunction and cliquishness. Instead, I minimized these things, thinking I could fix what ailed them. I thought all the church needed was fresh air. I should have known that all the fresh air in the world won’t bring a rotting corpse back to life.

No one spoke to us after the church meeting. Not one person called or offered to help us load our U-Haul. I had spent 40-60 hours a week trying to build a successful SBC work in Clare. None of that mattered. One elderly man by the name of Bob said that I was the best preacher he had heard in fifty years, but I had gone too far with removing the toys. If I was compiling a resume today, I would list Victory Baptist Church in Clare, Michigan. Where it says “reason for leaving,” I would write: toys.

As we were driving by the church for the last time, the toy lady was out front scraping my name off the sign with a paint scraper. This would be the last church I pastored. I was done. Done with the fussing and fighting and constant pettiness. I loved preaching and teaching the Bible. I loved ministering to others, and helping the “least of these,” but the petty bullshit? I put my shovel away.

After we left Victory, several other families decided to move to other Baptist congregations. Two years later, the church closed its doors.

In 2005, I would briefly consider re-entering the ministry. We were now living in Newark, Ohio. I sent out my resume to several SBC associations in West Virginia and Kentucky. And just like before, fifteen churches called to request my services. By then, I had become quite particular with what I required from churches: a living wage, medical insurance, vacation, and a parsonage. This quickly narrowed the list down to one church, Hedgesville Baptist Church in Hedgesville, West Virginia. I preached for the church, but I knew that my heart was no longer in the work. Hedgesville checked all my boxes. They were a growing congregation, in proximity to Hagerstown, Maryland, and Washington D.C. This could have been my dream church, but I suspect I already had one foot out of the door. This would be the last sermon I preached Forty-two months later I left Christianity and became an atheist.


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.

Dr. David Tee “Explains” Why People Leave Christianity

angry preacher

Dr. David Tee — who is neither a Doctor or a Tee — mounted his Internet pulpit recently to opine on why people leave Christianity. Here’s an excerpt from his post:

People have all sorts of excuses and they have all sorts of motivating triggers that help them make a decision. One thing that bothers us about the reasons they give is that there is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Yet, these people who have turned away from different religions, mostly those that claim to be Christian., have decided to toss all of their faith away instead of moving to a different church (non-cultic) that meets their needs and shows them what Christianity is all about.

We are not going to list the reasons here. . .

Your eternal destination is on your shoulders, it is your responsibility, not the other people in the church.

Yes, many people do not follow Jesus and act in a way that is consistent with biblical instructions or commands. But you get to rebuke them if they err. using other people’s behavior to leave the church, Christ, and other religious organizations is simply making an excuse for your decision and failing to take responsibility for that momentous occasion.

Most of the reasons read like excuses. They have little legitimacy and point the finger towards the idea ‘I do not like what you did so I will punish you by leaving the church.’ Not a very smart or common sense decision.


But as we said, most are excuses and it looks like people did not want to be in the church anyway and were looking for a face-saving way to leave the church.

Evil is hard at work in destroying people so it is somewhat understandable why these illogical and non-common sense decisions were made. People seem to like doing knee-jerk reactions when it comes to church and religion overall.

What is ironic is the fact that you do not see people saying the same type of things about how non-believers or non-religious people treated them and their families. If they like to be treated well why then do they not leave unbelief when they or their families are treated in horrendous ways?


However, leaving the church or your faith over those incidents is not a smart thing to do. Those decisions say a lot about the people making those excuses:

#1. They are not looking to God to meet their needs. They are looking at pastors, etc and when they do not get what they want they take it out on God and punish him.

#2. They are holding the pastors and churches to a standard they do not hold themselves to. Are those people who deserted the faith, etc., doing what they expect other religious people to do?

#3. They are selfish and only want a one-way street their way.

#4. Their own claims to be a believer were not based on a strong foundation and they were weak, toppled over the first situation that provided negative input. They were superficial believers and probably like the seeds that were scattered on rocky or hard soil according to the parable Jesus told.

#5. They do not give God much credit or really cared about him. They were turned off of God for very petty acts that could have been overcome with prayer and a change in churches. This does not say much about them and their commitment to God or their religions.

Tee’s real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, so I will use his legal name in the remainder of his post.

Thiessen’s post is a theological trainwreck. Thiessen supposedly has a Bible college education and was a pastor, but many of his posts reveal that his theology can be best described as paint-by-number; except for the fact that when a number corresponds to a particular color, Thiessen uses whatever color he wants; regardless of how doing so makes the painting look. Thanks to his literalist, inerrantist, “it means what it says” view of the Protestant Christian Bible, Thiessen has beliefs that are, at times heterodox, or even heretical. I have concluded that he doesn’t really understand the Christian gospel, as he vacillates from salvation by grace to salvation by works to salvation by right beliefs to an admixture of these beliefs. I don’t doubt that Thiessen is a Christian, but damn, I’m not certain that he understands the gospel or has an in-depth understanding of Christian — particularly Evangelical — soteriology. While it would be fun to shred Thiessen’s theological beliefs, I am more concerned about the lies he continues to spread about people who left Evangelical Christianity and embraced atheism, agnosticism, paganism, or non-Christian religions. I say “lies” because Thiessen has been reading my writing for several years. He has written uncounted posts about me personally, Ben Berwick, and the readers of this blog. His unhealthy, creepy obsession with me is well known. No matter how many times I tell Thiessen that I am NOT interested in hooking up with him, he continues to write about me, uttering lies and half-truths as effortlessly as does disgraced congressman George Santos.

I have repeatedly talked about the reasons why I deconverted. I have, time after time, responded to Evangelical apologists who, much like Thiessen, think they know the “real” reasons people walk away from Christianity; people who attack the character of the deconverted and malign their motives for doing so. These scurrilous attackers of former Evangelicals often pontificate on the whys of deconversion without meaningfully and extensively talking to those who have actually deconverted. God condemns such behavior in Proverbs 18:13: Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.

Thiessen says that people like me are excuse-makers; that we blame others for our loss of faith; that the church hurt us, so we left, with feelings hurt, never to return. Thiessen later says that those who leave Christianity are selfish, people who want their way, and when they don’t get it, they take it out on God and punish him (there’s some of that famous Thiessen theology). Thiessen suggests that people who deconvert are superficial Christians or even fake believers; that they never cared much for God or gave credit to him (for what, exactly, Thiessen doesn’t say).

I ask you, dear readers, do Thiessen’s reasons for why people leave Christianity reflect why you are no longer a Christian? Thiessen knows better. He knows exactly why people deconvert. I have explained this to him numerous times in my writing and email responses to him. It is evident, at least to me, that Thiessen is not an honest interlocuter; that his goal is to demean and defame, and not honestly and humbly understand.

What do you think about Thiessen’s post? Please share your erudite thoughts in the comment section. I am sure “Dr.” Tee will appreciate your responses. I would suggest that you comment on his blog, but he doesn’t allow comments.


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, You Are Headed for Hell, You Never Were a Christian, Please Pray This Prayer

Two weeks ago, my interview with Tim Mills, The Harmonic Atheist, was published on YouTube. As of today, over 20,000 people have watched our interview.

Video Link

With the interest in hearing my story have come scores of Evangelical Christians telling me that I am headed for Hell; that I never was a Christian; that I just needed to pray a simple prayer to Jesus and he would save me. Numerous zealots have weighed in on my story, certain that they know exactly what is “wrong” with me and what I must do to avoid being eternally tortured by their peculiar version of God. Several Calvinists weighed in, saying that it is evident I am a reprobate — one who is beyond the grace of God and cannot be saved. One man simply said, “Bruce is full of horseshit.”

Such is the nature of YouTube. Most content creators don’t moderate comments, so Evangelicals can and do bully and attack people who run afoul of their theology, beliefs, and practices. Tim did delete several comments that were over the top. I appreciate him doing so. On this site, I have strict commenting rules, which Evangelicals routinely ignore. If I had the same comment policy as YouTube, I would be overrun with abusive comments (as was the case years ago). There was a time when hateful comments really got under my skin and caused harm both to me and to the readers of this blog. Sometimes the hostile comments got so bad that I stopped blogging. Those days are long gone. I returned to blogging in December 2014. I made sure that I instituted strict policies governing Evangelicals. I also let Evangelicals know that if they sent me hateful emails I would publicly expose them for doing so. This has dramatically cut down the negative emails and comments I receive, but, as regular readers know, Evangelicals still feel led by the Holy Spirit to “share” with me what Hey-Zeus has laid upon their hearts.

I was raised in the Evangelical church, attended Bible college, and pastored churches for twenty-five years. I preached countless sermons about Hell. I fully understand what Evangelicals believe about Hell, the Lake of Fire, and eternal, everlasting punishment. And my critics KNOW that I know these things. Yet, over the past fifteen years, Evangelicals have told me I am headed for Hell more times than I can count. What do they hope to gain by telling me this? Or is the real issue that they find my story threatening; a reminder of the fact that if someone such as I can lose their faith anyone can? So they hurl hellfire and brimstone my way, hoping to quell their own questions and doubts. That’s why they rarely engage in meaningful discussions with me. Questions and pushback from someone who knows the Bible inside and out threatens their spiritual security, so they stand on the corner across the street from my house and chuck rocks.

Many Evangelicals try to discredit me by saying that I never was a Christian; that I was deceived; that I met a false Jesus. By doing this, they can, with a wave of their hand, ignore my story. The problem with this approach is that they have no evidence for their claim. Evangelicals cannot provide one church member or colleague of mine in the ministry who, at the time I was a pastor, believed I was a “false Christian.” Not one. They can, however, find numerous people who will tell them that I was a devoted follower of Jesus; that I took seriously God’s calling on my life. I wasn’t perfect, to be sure. I am sure my wife, Polly, and our six grown children could share plenty of stories about their husband and father being less than Christian. However, they would likely testify that the bent of my life was certainly toward holiness and love for God.

Many Evangelicals can’t square my story with their soteriology and interpretation of the Bible — especially Baptists — so they assuage their theological confusion by saying I never was a Christian. Instead of questioning their theology or trying to make my story fit their beliefs, they lazily decree that I was a false Christian.

I hate it when people say I never was a Christian. By doing this, Evangelicals discredit fifty of my six-six years of life on planet earth. They pretend that those years and how I lived my life don’t exist. When someone tells me their story I generally believe them. If I have doubt about some aspect of their story — say Evangelicals who say they were atheists before they got saved — I ask questions. I don’t automatically assume they are lying. When someone tells me they are a Christian, I believe them. It is their life, their story. Who I am to say that their experiences are invalid? I may think that some of their experiences won’t survive rational, skeptical examination, but unless they are directly interacting with me or trying to use their subjective experiences as evidence for the existence of God, I am inclined to accept their stories at face value. Life is too short for me to spend much time deconstructing the lives of others. I wish Evangelicals would take the same approach with me. Read my story, ask questions, and I will respond. Read my story and threaten me with Hell or discredit my life? I am likely to gut you like a fish.

The strangest approach comes from Evangelicals who think that prayer is some sort of magic spell; that if I would just sincerely pray a prayer they prescribe (which often contains heretical theology), Jesus would hear my prayer, save me from my sin, and give me a home in Heaven when I die. Every time an Evangelical takes this approach with me, I stop what I am doing and pray their prescribed prayer. I have done this countless times, yet I remain an atheist. Either prayer doesn’t work the way they think it does, or God is a myth. My money is on the latter.

As many Evangelicals-turned-atheists/agnostics have done, when I began having doubts about Christianity and the Bible, I pleaded with God to show me the truth. I begged him to show me a way to remain a Christian. One former friend and a colleague in the ministry told me that I needed to stop asking questions and just faith-it. A former church member told me that I needed to stop reading books. “Just read the Bible, Bruce,” she told me. Of course, I couldn’t do that. I had always been a voracious reader who was willing to change my beliefs if warranted. As congregants and pastor friends, they admired my intellectualism, but now they wanted me to return to an ignorant, child-like faith. My best friend, at the time, took a different approach with me. He wrote me a blistering email that said I was under the influence of Satan, unstable in all my ways. He made no attempt to pull me back from the abyss. Instead, he castigated me for ruining my family. None of these people, and others like them, were willing or able to honestly, openly, and without reservation, interact with me. Would their intervention have made a difference? No. I knew that their answers were no match for my questions. I was reading non-Evangelical scholars and theologians. I was also reading books by prominent unbelievers. I had spent twenty-five years reading books by Evangelical authors, so there was no need to re-read their books. Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun,” and that is especially true when it comes to Evangelical theology.

As my knowledge increased and the truth came into better focus, I once again asked God to step in and save me from myself. Alas, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was silent, and he has remained silent until this very moment. I have concluded, then, that either God doesn’t give a shit about me or he doesn’t exist. All the evidence suggests to me that he doesn’t exist.

There’s nothing I can do to stop Evangelicals from doing what Evangelicals do. All I am saying in this post to Evangelicals is this: you might want to try a different approach with me (and atheists, in general). Threats of Hell fall on deaf ears. Suggesting that I was never a Christian only brings laughs and incredulity. And finally, asking me to pray shallow, often heretical prayers is making you look bad. How you frame the gospel in your prescribed prayers suggest that you really don’t understand the Christian gospel at all. Instead of asking me to pray a prayer, you might actually want to read your Bible and seriously study Christian soteriology. Maybe you are the one who isn’t saved. 🙂


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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Some Atheists Think I was Stupid for not Deconverting Sooner


Several days ago, an atheist told me I must have been pretty “stupid” if it took me fifty years to realize that Christianity was false. He proudly told me that he figured out as a child that God was a myth, and from that point forward he was an atheist. He added that “God” was no different from Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. In other words, he was saying that I must have been pretty dull if it took me five decades of my life to figure out what he figured out as a mere child.

Most atheists who take this approach with me grew up in nominal Christian homes Typically, they have little to no understanding of Evangelical theology and practice. Lacking knowledge and understanding of that which they criticize, these atheists set themselves up as the standard for deconversion. In their minds, anyone with any sense at all should be able to figure out there’s no God by the time he reaches sixth grade.

These hyperbolic atheists seem to not understand how Fundamentalist religious indoctrination and conditioning make it impossible for people to “see” the truth about God, Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity. I grew up in a dysfunctional Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) home. God, church, and the Bible permeated every aspect of my life. One-hundred-eighty times or more a year, I attended services and events that reinforced IFB theological and social beliefs and practices. That’s one service every other day. And then there were private acts of personal piety: daily prayer and Bible reading.

At the age of five, I told my mom that God wanted me to be a preacher when I grew up. Ten years later, I got saved and baptized, and two weeks later I stood before the church and told them God was calling me to preach. Several weeks after that, I preached my first sermon. At the age of nineteen, I enrolled at Midwestern Baptist College to study for the ministry. I married a preacher’s daughter. Together, we spent twenty-five years in the ministry. My life was all about the Evangelical God.

I spent almost fifty years in the Evangelical bubble. In the bubble, everything made sense; everything was internally consistent. Imagine a world where everyone has similar beliefs and moral values. Imagine where everything modeled to you as a child by adults and people in positions of authority reinforces IFB beliefs and practices. Imagine being part of a sect that separated itself from the “world”; from everything contrary to their version of “truth.” Imagine long lists of rules and regulations (church standards) that governed virtually every aspect of your life, from the length of your hair to the clothing you wear. Imagine being taught that God is all-knowing and all-seeing, and he will punish any deviations from church standards. All of these things taken together make one thing very clear: I couldn’t have been anything other than what I was.

My path in life was predetermined by my upbringing and intense religious conditioning and indoctrination. By the time I was old enough to understand life, it was already too late. Both counselors I have had over the years have told me that it is remarkable that I escaped the Evangelical bubble — especially as a preacher. By the time people reach the age of fifty, they rarely are willing to abandon beliefs they have held their entire lives. For me personally, I had invested my entire life in servitude to God and the church. I had sacrificed my financial and physical well-being seeking spiritual fulfillment and eternal life. The sunk costs were so great that it was almost impossible for me to walk away (and for Polly to walk away with me). Yet, I did. Why? Because I valued intellectual honesty. So stupid I was not. When my beliefs were challenged by evidence I couldn’t overcome, I changed my beliefs. And that’s why I am an atheist today.


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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Most nominal religious homes.

An Evangelical Pastor’s Wife Loses Her Faith and Finds Herself

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A Guest Post by Sarah

I was raised in a Fundamentalist Baptist church. I was saved and baptized at about the age of six. Throughout my youth, I remember being wholly devoted to Christianity. I remember family praising me as a young child for the example I set because I wouldn’t eat a bite at meals until I made sure everyone prayed together. I also remember being the “good Christian girl” through high school and college. I prayed, faithfully attended church — even by myself after I started driving — and read the Bible voraciously. I sought to be completely devoted to Jesus. I said all the right things and did all the right things. I sang, led Bible studies, and served God. All my extracurriculars were associated with the church or faith-based things, other than being involved in my community arts organization as a teenager, mostly acting in plays. I was so certain about Christianity until the moments in which I wasn’t. In my late teens, I began to incorporate the following story into my salvation testimony to prove I had truly been born again and to use it to allay any doubts I or anyone else might have about the authenticity of my faith.

Baby Sinner

My mom has always talked about how I was such a headstrong young child, so much so that she didn’t know how to parent me. Mom told me she once went to our pastor crying about me because she didn’t know what to do with me. Recently, she told me a story I had never heard before — that she remembers the first time she really connected with me was in a Pizza Hut when I was about four years old. It made me sad because my daughter is almost four.

My daughter is so much like me. My relatives who knew me as a child say being around my daughter is like being around me again when I was her age. Even though she’s headstrong and hard for me to manage sometimes, I feel we have more moments of connection than I can recount from my own childhood. To hear my mom say she distinctly remembers not having a real moment of connection with me until I was four years old makes me question what was really going on with me back then.

Mom said I was difficult until I “asked Jesus to come into my heart” then it was like a switch was flipped on in me and I became “better.” Now that I’m a parent of a toddler, I realize that my issues as a toddler and young child weren’t the spiritual issues of a hell-bent sinner, but that I was lacking something somewhere, stability or attention or love or something. I was well cared for as a kid and I had a good childhood. I don’t think I was neglected or abused, but whatever was lacking, the problem wasn’t spiritual or that I needed Jesus, but it was behavioral, that I needed something real from my parents, whatever it may have been.

Seeds of Doubt

In my teens, and especially college years, I struggled with doubt. I have a lot of questions. My mind dissects things, deconstructs things to the minutest details, and rebuilds them to understand what’s happening, how things work, and what is the logic behind them. But I’m also naturally loyal. I was loyal to the presuppositions of my faith that were ingrained in me since before I can remember. I questioned, but I never sought answers outside of my faith community, even in college.

One of my biggest regrets is that in college I did not lean into and explore all kinds of thinking. I dabbled in things because I went to a state school. I couldn’t get away from it in mandatory philosophy classes and English classes where I was introduced to secular ideas. I learned what ideas were out there, but I never truly considered them. I observed them from behind the hazmat suit of Fundamentalist Christianity I wore. In fact, I remember driving two hours to my home church to attend a special service where a visiting preacher preached a sermon he called “Babylon University.” He used the story of Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Babylonian captivity to set a principle for those of us going to college to be “in the world, but not of the world.”

Marriage Obsession and Denied Sexuality

As a teenager, I was obsessed with getting married. My church’s worldview, and being a child of divorce, as well as my dad dying from suicide two years after my parent’s divorce when I was 13, caused me to desire stability that was foundational to my obsession with marriage, along with my natural sexual desires that wouldn’t be satisfied until I got married.

Even though I was raised by a single mom who dated and had boyfriends with whom she was having sexual relationships, I was sexually and relationally conservative because I held so closely to the teachings of the church, even more so than to my mother’s parenting. I remained a virgin — mostly — until I got married at 28.

At 18, I began a “courtship” (think Josh Harris “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and Elisabeth Elliot’s romance with Jim Elliot) with a man in my church who was 15 years older than I. He was 33 at the time. This was my first serious relationship. This relationship was supposed to be a “courtship” overseen by our parents, but considering he was 33 and my only parent was a single mom who, along with her boyfriend, (eventually my stepdad), thought the whole thing was super weird, it was mostly overseen by my youth pastor and his wife and my church’s pastor and his wife. By the way, the whole thing top to bottom makes me cringe today and I’m so grateful I did not marry that guy.

I became engaged or “betrothed” (ugh!) but thankfully my mom, and eventually, my church, helped me end the relationship before it got to marriage. After our engagement, my husband-to-be began acting strange — overbearing and potentially abusive. My mom and youth pastor encouraged me to move away to live on campus at the college I was currently attending.

I didn’t want to move away, but I heeded my mom. Living on campus, this was the first time I became depressed. However, I got involved with a church and made good friends and when I left campus for the summer, I realized I was sad to leave and couldn’t wait to go back. I had a great college experience. My friend group grew beyond the church. I became a resident assistant and really enjoyed my friendships with my fellow housing employees. Looking back, I have some regrets about missed opportunities, but nothing that makes me hate my time there. I didn’t date anyone in college, but I wasn’t without my crushes. I literally fell in love with one man, but we never dated, surprisingly. At one point I did feel like God told me I would marry a pastor. Good to know, God.

Not long after college, I moved back to my small town because I missed my church. I eventually connected with a former high school classmate that ended in another broken engagement after three years of an on-and-off-again relationship. After one final rebound boyfriend to whom I nearly lost my virginity, I met my husband.

My husband and I have an amazing relationship and chemistry. If I have any belief left in miracles, then the one miracle I have in my life is Matthew. When I lost belief in God, I felt free to say, “I believe in Matthew and in our love,” but also, I believe in myself and my place in the world.

During that strange time, especially as an unmarried, 20-something, between graduating college and meeting Matthew at age 28, I fell into a deep depression that lasted years; I don’t think it ever fully lifted. This is when I started to lose my faith, though I didn’t talk about it. I had suicidal thoughts. The loneliness facilitated by my church’s beliefs as I waited for marriage was debilitating and I believe denying my sexuality gave me sexual frustration that contributed to my depression. I suspect if I had a different worldview at the time that would have allowed me healthy sexual expression outside of marriage, then I would have carried a lot less shame and guilt about masturbation, which I discovered in college.

Meeting my husband lifted my depression. We had a quick romance. We met and were married between February and November of the same year. I was so happy. Within three years we had two children. My life up until I met Matthew felt so slow and especially those last few years in my 20s felt like a slow grind. Since meeting Matthew, change keeps coming and coming. Big stuff — marriage, babies, becoming a pastor’s wife, losing my faith as a pastor’s wife, moving from a very rural area to a city. When we got engaged, we were looking at a decent combined annual income, but halfway through our engagement, we both lost our jobs. We started marriage and had babies living in extreme poverty and mutual depression over our situation. It was traumatic, but our relationship remained strong.

Loss of Faith

In October 2019, I remember really struggling with doubts about my faith, and that’s the first time the thought entered my head, “I’m not a Christian.” I thought God gave me that thought. The next day, I was emotionally moved by a sermon my husband preached to respond with a recommitment to my faith and I was baptized again.

But doubts resurfaced and I began struggling with deep depression again. Around January 2022, I told my husband that I wanted to take some breaks from attending church, like maybe one Sunday a month, I don’t go, or I visit another church. He was supportive of me doing that. However, I never followed through on it because someone in the church broke her back and I stepped in to fulfill her responsibilities. It put my plan to take a break from church on hold as I needed to be there for these things. I didn’t mind it. It helped me a little because I felt I had more purpose with church than just getting the kids dressed to go and wrestle them into a pew and fight to keep them quiet.

Then in May 2022, my stepdad asked my mom for a divorce after 15 years of tumultuous marriage. It was with this backdrop that I just got tired of pretending that prayer did anything, that faith had any meaning, that Christianity was true, or that maybe God was even real, and if he was real, that he (or she or them) even cared about things the way my church said God did.

At the end of July 2022 and with the help of Bruce’s blog, I told my husband I considered myself a Christian agnostic. Christian in that I am content to practice a social Christianity for the sake of his ministry. I sincerely don’t want my faith status to disrupt his profession and passion and I sincerely love my Christian friends. I don’t want to cause him controversy and pain within the church.

I would be socially Christian in the outward trappings, but I told him that I refused to pray privately. I decided to act as if God didn’t exist, and if he did, then let him reveal himself clearly to me. So far, God hasn’t. I haven’t been struck by lightning. I’m the same person I’ve always been. I cuss more and pray less. My thoughts on abortion and sexuality are changing. But I’m essentially the same person. Better, I think, in how I treat others and how I treat myself.

I’m happier and more at peace with myself and the world as I face depression as essentially an atheist. I would much rather face depression without faith than face it with faith, as if I’m thrown into a fight with a demon with a bag over my head.

Moving Forward

I don’t know what the future holds for me as a non-Christian married to a devoted Christian who still feels a special call to be in church ministry. We have toddlers so we have many years ahead of raising children. My husband has resigned from the ministry for the time being for reasons not related to me. He is excited about finding a new church to join in our new city. I told him that I don’t think I’m eligible to become a new member of a church and that I don’t intend to hide the truth about my faith status from people we meet in churches. I don’t mind attending church with him some, because I enjoy having that connection with the whole family, but I’m also looking forward to exploring slow Sundays with no expectations except to truly rest.


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