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You Are Welcome Here, Evangelical Churches Say, But do They Really Mean It?

you are welcome here

On January 23, 2018, I wrote the following:

A tagline often used by Christian churches to advertise themselves to non-Christians is this: YOU ARE WELCOME HERE! This statement is meant to convey to people that their church is friendly and accepting of everyone. When mainline churches use this line, they often are just that: friendly, accepting, and welcoming. Years ago, Polly and I, along with our three youngest children, visited the Episcopal church in Defiance. On our first visit there, an older woman — whom we learned later was a pillar of the church — came up to us and said, WELCOME! We don’t care what you believe, you are welcome here. This congregation sincerely didn’t care what you did or didn’t believe, though there were several members of a Fundamentalist persuasion who likely were not as indifferent about our beliefs, especially our pro-choice view on abortion. There’s another church in Defiance, St. John’s United Church of Christ, that advertises the fact that they are a welcoming church. St. John’s caused quite of bit of controversy when they came out in support of same-sex marriage. Both of these churches genuinely accept people as they are, where they are, and don’t try to evangelize. They are more focused on good works than right doctrine.

However, when Evangelical churches, such as the one outside of Ney, say, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE!, I chuckle, knowing that they mean something far different when they say this than do the aforementioned Episcopal and UCC churches. Evangelical churches want to be perceived as welcoming places where anyone and everyone can walk through their doors and feel at home. Little do first-time visitors realize that this friendliness is a con; that the church has an ulterior motive: to evangelize them and turn them into more soldiers in God’s Fundamentalist army. Evangelicals will piously say that they love everyone, just as God loves everyone. Sounds good, right? We all want to feel loved and accepted. With Evangelicals, however, their love is a means to an end. They might feign love for you for a time, but their objective is to save you, baptize you, get your checking account number, and add you to the church roll. Yes, Evangelicals say, we love you as you are, but we love you enough to not leave you there.

Some Evangelical churches are content to leave sinners alone, trusting that the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Word will bring them to repentance. Week after week, congregants will “love” on sinners (also called “love bombing”), leading them to believe that they are loved and accepted as they are. Little do they know that there is no way for them to gain membership in the club until they first change their ways. This is why I laugh when I hear Evangelicals say that their churches LOVE and ACCEPT LGBTQ people. Sure they do. Oh, they love and accept them enough to let them take two feet of real estate in one of the church pews, but let someone living in “sin” try to become part of the club and they will be told, sorry, only saved, sanctified, heterosexual people are allowed to be members. Want to sing in the choir, play in the church band, teach Sunday school, or work in the nursery? REPENT and believe the gospel. REPENT and stop being who and what you are. REPENT and realize you are a filthy, vile, broken sinner in need salvation.

It is really easy for anyone to test whether a particular Evangelical church is as welcoming as its members claim it is. Ask the pastor if you and your lesbian partner — whom you legally married last year — can join the church. Or, ask the pastor if you can recruit church members to work at the local Planned Parenthood. Take any of the hot-button social issues or any of the “bad” sins Evangelicals are obsessed with and work them into your life story. Ask the pastor if the church will accept you as a member as you are, with you not planning to change your ways. I guarantee you that Evangelical churches will let you in the gate so they can preach at you, but they sure as heaven aren’t going to let you be a club member unless you first go through their particular club’s membership rituals.

So, when Evangelical churches put on their advertising signs, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE! don’t believe them. When Evangelicals tell you that their churches love people unconditionally, feel free to snort, chortle, and laugh. They don’t love anyone unconditionally, and, according to the Bible, neither does their God. (Please read Does God Love Us Unconditionally?  Does God Hate? and Evangelicals Say They Love LGBTQ People, But do They Really?) I am sure Evangelicals reading this might say, Well, Bruce, you aren’t welcoming of everyone. You don’t love unconditionally. So there! Here’s the thing: I have never made such claims. I don’t live in a mythical world of cheap clichés. While I go out of my way to be kind to and respect everyone, some people are assholes and I have no interest in being, nor do I have the energy to be fake friends with such people. The same goes for unconditionally loving everyone. While I am generally a nice guy — just ask anyone who knows me — there are some people who don’t deserve my love. One of the joys of unbelief is that I no longer have to fake-love people. As a pastor, I had to feign love towards countless boorish, nasty people. What would Jesus do, right? Now that Jesus isn’t in my way, I am free to choose whom I want to love and whom I don’t. I spent decades putting up with relatives such as my grandparents, all because I thought that the Bible taught me to do so. Now I am free to say to them, I have no interest in you being a part of my life. (Please read Dear Ann.) Goodbye, good riddance, have a happy death.

Perhaps it is time for Evangelical churches to be honest in their advertising. Stop lying to the public. Stop feigning acceptance and admit that the only people who are truly welcome are those who believe the right things and live a certain way. And that’s okay. It’s your club, Evangelicals. You have every right to have membership rules and obligations. But, please quit with mimicking the small print at the bottom of an infomercial. Tell people the truth about what you demand and expect of them. Hiding your true agenda behind clichés and word salads only turn people off, especially when they find out you lied to them. Don’t tell LGBTQ people you love and accept them, when, in fact, you intend to do everything possible to turn them into Jesus-loving heterosexuals. Jesus said in John 8:32, the TRUTH shall set you free. It’s time for Evangelicals to put their Lord and Savior’s words into practice.

— end of original post —

Several questions were raised about what I wrote above, so I thought I would take a stab at answering them and better explaining how I view Christian churches.

Churches can best be described as membership clubs. As clubs, these churches have their own beliefs, rules, and practices. The club alone determines who can be a member. Members are expected to embrace the beliefs and practices of the club. No one should expect to be a club member without adhering to the beliefs and practices of said club.

I am a diehard Cincinnati Reds fan. Every spring I say to myself, this is the year. The Reds are going to make it to the World Series. And by August the Reds will be out of the pennant race, just as in virtually every other year. This year, the team will likely end up with a franchise record number of losses. Yet, I continue to cheer and root for the Redlegs. So it is with Christians. Their systems of beliefs have no rational foundation. Based on ancient religious texts, Christian beliefs find their foundation in the myths and hysteria of a pre-enlightenment world. Such beliefs, to put it simply, make no sense to me. (Please read The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.) And they don’t need to. The particular beliefs and practices of a church (or other social clubs) are immaterial to me, and it matters not that I think Christian beliefs are fantastical myths. Thanks to the U.S. Constitution and federal/state law, people are free to believe whatever they want. It’s 2022, and countless Americans believe the earth is flat, evolution is a myth, the Moon landing was faked, the Holocaust didn’t happen, and 9/11 was an inside job. Still others believe that Donald Trump was the greatest president ever to sit in the oval office. I have long since stopped arguing with the supporters of the Orange-Haired Toddler. No amount of rational discussion will change their minds about Donald Trump. That most of the former President’s supporters also happen to be Evangelicals is telling — a double-dose of delusion.

When I struggle to understand how such-and-such a person could be a Fundamentalist Christian, I remind myself of the fact that people join churches for all sorts of reasons: family, social connection, absolution of sin, certainty of moral beliefs and worldview. I find it helpful to view Christianity from an economic perspective; particularly from a cost-benefit point of view. Yes, joining a Christian club costs the member. Club members are expected to give money to the club. They are also expected to submit to the club’s leaders and obey their teachings. If the club believes certain human behaviors are verboten, new members are expected to willingly and happily not do these things. At the same time, the club is expected to benefit its members. Club members expect to be welcomed and respected. They expect to have meaningful relationships and social connections. As long as the benefits outweigh the costs, most members will remain in the club. For those of us who are Evangelicals-turned-atheists, one of the reasons we left Christianity is that the costs outweighed the benefits.

Many Christians believe that people such as myself should respect their beliefs. How dare you criticize my God/beliefs/church, Christians say. They wrongly think that religious beliefs are special and should never be critiqued, criticized, or, if warranted, mocked. I completely reject such a notion. I don’t expect anyone to respect my beliefs. I expect my beliefs to be tested and tried in the public square. I do, however, respect Christians as individuals, as fellow citizens on Planet Earth. This respect of person I grant to others means I won’t criticize or condemn their club memberships. Want to join a Christian club? Want to join a Satanist club?  Want to belong to the Moose, Elks, or the Masonic Lodge? I don’t care one whit about which, if any, clubs people join. Each to his own.

What I do expect is that Christian clubs be honest in advertising what it is they believe and practice. I expect clubs to be clear about their membership requirements. And therein lies the problem, and the reason I wrote the first post. Evangelical churches love to advertise that everyone is welcome, when, in fact, this is not true. Inquiring prospective members deserve to be told the truth about what will be expected of them if they become a part of the church. Saying that LGBTQ people are WELCOME sounds wonderful, but Evangelical churches are being dishonest when they don’t disclose the fact that to be members, non-heterosexuals will be forced to deny their sexuality and embrace heterosexuality. In some Evangelical churches, new members will be expected to dress a certain way, abstain from certain foods/beverages, and only attend club-approved entertainment events. More than a few people have gotten saved at the “friendliest church in town,” only to find out that once they were baptized and became members, club leaders expected them to change their behavior.

Evangelicals love to say that they leave it up to the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives, but rarely is this actually practiced. Using sermons, Bible studies, and other means of coercive indoctrination, Evangelical churches expect newly minted believers to change, and if they don’t, they are branded as sinful, rebellious, backslidden, and out of the will of God. In some instances, misbehaving members are cast out of the club, returned to the world from whence they came. Such actions are fine as long as there was a full disclosure of expectations. It is dishonest for churches to say to people that their assemblies are open to everyone and they let the Holy Spirit change people, when in fact they are only open to people who believe the “right” beliefs and live their lives a certain way.

What I am saying here is that Evangelical pastors and churches need to be honest and tell the truth to prospective members. Surely, if Christian beliefs and practices are as honorable and wonderful as Christians say they are, full disclosure should cause no harm. I suspect, though, that more than a few Evangelical pastors know that if they told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, their club memberships would be much smaller. Some Evangelical colleges refuse to give new students the conduct handbook until after they are on campus. Why do they do this? College administrators know that if they tell the truth before students are on campus, it is likely that more than a few of them will choose not to enroll. Students come to the college looking forward to freedom and fun, only to find out that the college is actually a prison work camp. It is scandalous that colleges such as Pensacola Christian College do not fully disclose to new students their draconian (and silly) rules. Yet, these same colleges expect students to be truthful in all things.

Cable and satellite TV companies hide taxes/fees/equipment costs from prospective customers so it seems that the service is cheaper than it actually is. So it is with many Evangelical churches. It’s the hidden beliefs and practices that I object to. Churches wait until new members have signed on the dotted line to tell them, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story. If Evangelical churches are upfront about everything and someone decides to join their respective club, fine. Lying, however, about expectations is always wrong, whether through omission or commission, and Evangelical pastors and churches shouldn’t be upset when this practice is exposed to the light of day. Just tell the truth, Evangelicals, and you will not hear a peep from me.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Southern Baptist Denny Burk Says Monkeypox Divine Judgment on Gay People

denny burk

Those who engage in this activity [homosexual sex] receive in their own person the due penalty of their error. There are consequences to sexual immorality. The most severe consequences are eternal for those who do not repent and turn to Christ. But there are temporal consequences as well, and diseases like Monkeypox are evidence of that. This does not mean that Monkeypox will only affect those who engage in homosexual immorality. No doubt, its ravages will extend outward from that community to people who are otherwise innocent of such behavior. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that the spread of this disease is being driven largely by those who have been given over to “degrading passions.”

I don’t know how bad the Monkeypox outbreak will get. I don’t wish it on anyone. In fact, my prayers are quite the opposite. I’m praying that in wrath the Lord would remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:2). Mercy on those who are innocent of sexual immorality and mercy on those who aren’t. I hope others are praying that way as well. But as we do, we must have moral clarity about what is happening. God made this world, and he made us. The structure of reality, therefore, is entirely according to His design and purpose. Anyone who impenitently defies that structure should expect painful consequences in this life and in the next. This latest plague is a reminder of that inexorable truth. We do no one any favors to pretend otherwise.

— Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, Denny Burk, Homosexual Immorality Driving a World Health Emergency, July 23, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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A Transgender Reader Responds to Evangelical Andrew T. Walker, an “Expert” on Transgenderism

guest post

A guest post by Sage

I have been trying so hard to be more kind and not so confrontational. I try to be understanding and know Christians are told lies, led by ignorant leaders, and misguided by prejudice, fear, and hate. Don’t get me wrong, I still stand strongly against all bigotry against LGBTQIA+ people, but there are days where my righteous anger starts to rise . . .

Recently an article by Andrew  T. Walker was posted on Bruce’s blog. You can see the full article here: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-transgender-fantasy. I suggest you go read this article. Unlike many Christians, I have enough confidence that I do not fear the writings of others. 

Andrew is yet another religious person spewing bigotry and transphobia in the name of their particular god. Yet another Christian who claims to love, and supposedly wants to fix, trans people (who he thinks are broken due to mental illness), by helping them “flourish” through his belief system. His form of love means telling someone that he believes them to be wrong, then changing them so they fit his standards. This enables them to become the right kind of person who will properly live in the world, within the boundaries he sets.

And he is an expert because he has “written a book on transgenderism.” What can I — a poor, non-flourishing, mentally ill, non-existent, non-binary person who is caught up in “gender identity” and is “embracing the transgender worldview”– have to say against an associate professor, Fellow, Managing Editor, godly man? Obviously, his research is far more informed and intelligent than my lived experience as a non-binary person.

How can I say anything about such a wonderful, intelligent, god-fearing, real man? Surely I am just an “angry activist” who is trying to “suppress” or “coerce” him and others into accepting a godless worldview so I can spread my abhorrent agenda.

I know this because I read his post. It is the typical anti-trans contempt (expressed in love, of course) from a supposed Christian expert who bases his analysis on his sect’s particular form of biblical interpretation. He hit all the typical anti-trans bigotry and ignorance, and used his bible belief to support his prejudice.

These include, in order of use:

  • I did the research, I am an expert, and I wrote a book, so I know better than anyone else, especially trans people
  • Trans people are “unnatural.”
  • You are not supposed to talk about trans people because someone will be offended, and you will be canceled, but I won’t bow to their agenda.
  • The Bible only defines 2 sexes, nature only defines 2 sexes, and only foolish people argue against true nature and science and the Bible.
  • Focus on male to female trans people because Christian men seem to find this most abhorrent.
  • Everything must be defined by my biblical understanding. So that the other non-Christian 68% of the world must live and believe as I say, no other option. 
  • Culture cannot define gender, only my Bible can define gender and provide the answer to life, the universe and, well, everything.
  • The transgender worldview defies nature, god, and male patriarchy, and trans people are foolish and delusional to believe otherwise.
  • Transgender people do not exist; once again, people who say they are trans are delusional.
  • Being trapped in the wrong body is fake, and my Bible says so to prove it.
  • Trans people are not really happy and cannot flourish because you can only be happy following my god and my rules.
  • Trans people think they are happy, but like drug addicts, they are caught up in their addiction and are only fooled.
  • Trans people will only be happy if they do what my Bible tells me to tell them to do.
  • The prevalence of depression, anxiety, and suicide in trans people is due to their denial of nature and god’s plan, and not because society, in particular Christianity, treats them like a scourge and tries to legislate and berate them into non-existence.
  • Some people detransition, which proves all trans people are wrong. Yes, the number is low but that’s because they are bullied and not allowed to speak without being canceled. There will literally be millions of people detransitioning — you just wait and see. Remember, I am an expert.
  • We must speak the truth in “love.” They will call us bigots, but if that’s what it takes to save them, then we will be bigots for god. We must persist to show them our hate is really love.
  • Some trans people are angry, but many are vulnerable and easy prey for Christian guilt and scare tactics. Just get them into conversion therapy and they will be broken . . . er . . . fixed.
  • If you take a stand against these evil trans people, you will be silenced, bullied, lose jobs, and suffer greatly. Christians are the true victimized group here. 
  • Thank god we have bigots in leadership who are making laws to keep us safe from these sickos.

But, while I don’t exist or have dozens of titles that I wield to show my intelligence, I will just say this hateful man is full of bullshit. He doesn’t really care about trans people, he just wants to eliminate them. Trans and nonbinary people, hell, all of LGBTQIA+ are an abomination, are delusional, sick, dangerous, and must be fixed and made nonexistent.

As he says, “ From privacy issues, safety issues, and equality and fairness issues, the world may be slowly coming to grips with the truth that its commitment to transgender ideology has outpaced its commitment to reality, sound thinking, and true human flourishing.” This is simply horrid bigotry spoken in pretty words. Privacy issues just mean he wants to be able to discriminate based on his personal belief system. Safety issues are a nice way to say keep trans people in their proper place to protect women and children from their predatory, disgusting, perversion. Equality means he wants equality based on his standards, where straight white Christian males make the rules and all weak men, women, children, and non-Christians stay in their place. Then he says anyone who supports trans people are just disconnected from reality, are delusional or dumb, and are not really happy anyway. 

That, by my understanding, is the heart of Christian hatred that is displayed against not only the trans community, but the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole. What is it about us that makes Christians react in this way?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Transgender People Do Not Exist Cuz the Bible Says They Don’t

andrew t walker

This is where the true debate resides. Christianity views reality through the lens of Scripture, which speaks of male and female as beings defined by their anatomical and reproductive organization (Genesis 1:26–28). Hormones or surgery cannot override the underlying realities of our genetic structure. If culture tries to define male and female apart from anatomy and reproductive organization, male and female become fluid, absurd categories. Hence where we are as a culture.

The transgender worldview is an active thwarting of one’s nature. It is akin to defying limits or swimming upstream against a current: you might try, but eventually limitations and the strength of the current are going to sweep you up against your will.

This reality of nature leads to one of the most important truths: actual transgenderism does not exist. Sure, there are people who may have genuine confusion over their “gender identity” (a concept itself riddled with problems), but the idea that there are persons truly “trapped” in the wrong body is false. Scripture does not allow for such a dualism between the body and the “self.

— Andrew T. Walker is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Desiring God, The Transgender Fantasy, July 23, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Dr. David Tee Goes to a Gay Bar

dr david tee

Fake Dr. David Tee, whose real name Derrick Thomas Thiessen, recently confessed that he went to at least one gay bar, watched men having sex with each other, and even went home with them to see what they did (what did they “do,” David?) behind closed doors.

Here’s what Thiessen had to say:

He [Ben Berwick] has never been to a homosexual bar or nightclub. We [I] have and we [I] have had many friends who were homosexual even though we [I] were and are not that type of person. We [I] know what goes on in those places as well as behind closed doors in private homes. 

If we [I] spoke about what we [I] witnessed you would be sick to your stomach. It is not natural, it is debauchery and it is sin.

Thiessen says that he is not that “type” of person, but I suspect he doth protest too much. What was he doing in a gay bar? What was he doing in a gay man’s bedroom? Doesn’t the Bible say that Derrick Thomas Thiessen should “abstain from the very appearance of evil; that he should not fellowship with unbelievers and their works of darkness?

Here’s a general rule you can use to properly judge Evangelical preachers. Pay attention to what “sins” they harp on all the time. Pay attention to what “sins” rile them up, causing them to use inflammatory, hateful language. Typically, Evangelical preachers live guilt-ridden lives. They rail against “sin,” promising love, grace, and forgiveness to all who will forsake their wicked ways, yet these so-called men of God often practice the very things they preach against. I know I did, and I know countless other on-fire, bought-by-the-blood, Holy Ghost-filled, sanctified pastors, evangelists, youth directors, and missionaries who did the same. I know IFB preachers I went to college with who chastise young adults in their churches for having sex (or even touching one another, for that matter), yet these preachers of righteousness seem to forget that they went to the shagging shack as dorm students with their girlfriends or routinely broke the college’s no personal contact rule. Talk about hypocrites.

What “sins” is Thiessen obsessed with? This tells us much about what kind of man he really is. Forget his unhealthy obsession with gay sex, for a moment. If Thiessen wants to have consensual sex with a man, two men, three women, or a transgender person, who am I to object? Of greater concern is his continued defense of rapists, child molesters, wife-beaters, child abusers, and other miscreants, including preachers who used their power to take sexual advantage of women.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Dr. David Tee Says Transgender People Should be Grateful They Don’t Live in Old Testament Times When it was Okay to Kill Them

dr david tee

Fake Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, recently shared how much he despises and loathes transgender people. No commentary is necessary from me. I am sure readers might have a thing or two to say. 🙂

Thiessen writes:

They [transgender people] do not want to be seen as perverted or wrong or even abnormal, so they demanded special rights to help them seem normal. Going to the bathrooms is one prime example. Transgenders do not accept their birth gender but that denial of who they really are is not grounds to change the rules of normality to fit their denials.

This demand for new bathroom rules is a special right as the transgender had the right to use the bathroom of their birth gender. They did not want to follow the rules thus they demand special privileges. They are wrong not the people who oppose them.

….

The transgender people and their supporters are just operating under a delusion. They cannot change who they are as science has confirmed that the specific chromosomes that make up men and women cannot be changed.

The transgender is the person with the problem as they cannot accept who they are and demand that everyone else participates in their delusion. That is wrong as the LGBTQ and atheists, etc., have complained long and hard about Christians forcing their views on them.

Well, those groups are doing the exact same thing to those who disagree with them. They have no argument. Transgenders or people who think they are transgender can play dress-up all they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are wrong, in need of help, and disobeying God when he said men and women are not to wear the other gender’s clothing.

Delusion is not right nor is it from God. God wants his creation to be as he created them not some freak show.

….

The ‘oppressed’ has become the oppressor. They need to stop attacking Christians, making false legal claims, and stop bashing those who do not accept them. But they can’t live without prejudice because they flaunt their preferences in people’s faces (gay pride parades), in the classroom in front of children not their own (we have read different news stories where homosexual teachers who got in trouble say ‘we just want to share our personal lives with our students), those teachers are wrong and should not be discussing such topics with children not their own.

Most of the time, they bring the abuse upon themselves because they can’t keep their mouths shut. They are lucky they are living in the New Testament world as in the OT it was okay to kill LGBTQ people.”

I am sure Revival Fires will share his support for Thiessen as soon as this post is published. Transphobes of a feather, flock together. When Revival Fires agrees with you, you can rest assured you are wrong.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Pride Month is the Worship of Sex Says Evangelical Robby Lashua

robby-lashua

Scripture says that pride comes before a fall (Prov. 16:18). In America, pride comes before July—for an entire month. I don’t know how your June was, but mine was permeated with a steady stream of multi-colored imagery. It’s the time of year when companies, sports teams, and politicians change their branding to incorporate the new religious icon of our time, the rainbow.

I know this month-long celebration of sin can be discouraging for you. It discourages me. It’s sad to watch our culture glorify the rejection of God’s design for human sexuality and for human flourishing. On top of that, it’s so in your face. Even going to the grocery store requires maneuvering a minefield of rainbow propaganda.

Staying discouraged won’t help us. What we need instead is clear thinking from a biblical perspective to help us move away from discouragement and toward compassion. Here are three observations that might help.

First, Pride Month confirms Romans 1. Paul gives us a compact explanation of what happens when societies reject God. They become futile in their thinking, they become foolish in their hearts, and they exchange worship of God for worship of idols. Then God gives them over to homosexual sin (Rom. 1:21–27). Sound familiar?

Humans are worshipers. It’s a trait inherent in all of us. We cannot help but worship. But who or what will we worship? According to Romans 1, there are only two options: the Creator or the creation. When people reject the Creator, then something in his creation fills the void.

Sex is one of the most popular idols of all time. Our culture is obsessed with it. Pride Month is not merely the worship of sex, though. June has become a month-long celebration of sexual identities completely contrary to God’s design. All hail the idol of LGBTQIA2S+. Futile, foolish, idol worship—Romans 1 proven true again.

Second, Pride Month is nothing new. Pagans have confiscated calendar months before.

Roman Emperor Julius Caesar instituted huge reforms to the calendar. Proud of his effort, he decided to rename his birth month after himself, changing the name from Quintilis to Julius. We call it July.

Not to be outdone, Caesar Augustus renamed a month after himself, too. Sextilis has ever since been called August. Just when you thought you were done with month-long celebrations of pagan idols, you now have two more months to go.

My point is that the identification of pagan rulers, pagan causes, and pagan idols with calendar months is nothing new. Pride Month is exactly what prideful human beings do when they deny their Creator. They mark the passage of time with the thing their hearts worship—usually themselves.

Third, Pride Month can’t compete with Jesus. Jesus is not merely celebrated once a year on Christmas or even twice a year if we include Easter. Jesus is celebrated every Sunday—the Lord’s Day—as Christians worldwide worship Christ and commemorate his resurrection. But there’s more.

The Gregorian calendar, which most of the world accepts, has Jesus at the very center of time. When I was a kid, we called it BC (before Christ) and AD (anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of our Lord”). Even with the current, religiously neutral BCE (before common era) and CE (common era), the world’s calendar is still centered on Jesus’ life.

Jesus himself tells us that all time is about him: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13). Jesus is responsible for the beginning of history, and his second coming will be the conclusion of history. As much as people rage against him, Jesus is Lord over all the days and all the ages of mankind.

With these points in mind, we should be less discouraged with the dates of pagan worship and more concerned with the impending judgment our calendar days are leading to.

There is a day coming when Christ will dominate not only the calendar, but also the culture: “So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:10–11). Not Caesar, not sex, and not identity—Jesus is Lord.

There is a day coming when people will no longer suppress the truth, but instead they’ll be overwhelmed by the truth. This should move us to compassion for those who worship created things instead of the Creator.

Let’s spend the time we have left directing people to the Creator of time. We have the message of reconciliation that Pride Month worshipers need to humbly believe before time runs out.

— Robby Lashua, Apologist at Stand to Reason, Don’t Be Discouraged by Pride Month, June 29, 2022

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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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Sounds of Fundamentalism: Joe Biden and His Fellow Atheists Are Trying to Take Over the United States Says Rep. Glenn Grothman

The Sounds of Fundamentalism is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Rep. Glenn Grothman claiming President Biden and his fellow atheists are trying to take over the United States.

Video Link

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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.

My Journey From Homophobia to a Supporter of LGBTQ People

bruce gerencser pride two

Recently, a friend of mine — also a former Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher — asked me about my journey from homophobia to a supporter of LGBTQ people:

How long did it take you to come around to your current views of acceptance of homosexual folks, not simply tolerating or being kind to them? Also, if there was one, what was the “catalyst” that led you to become as accepting and even accommodating as you now are?

I ask because while I no longer consider it damming or “evil” I simply have a hard time wrapping my head around it and / or not being grossed out by those I come in contact with who I learn are of that lifestyle.

My friend asks several questions I hopefully (and adequately) can answer. I will attempt to do so, as I often do, by telling my story.

I was born in 1957. As was common for men of generation, I was homophobic. I didn’t meet my first gay person until I was thirty-eight years old. Oh, I “knew” gay men in the sense that, based on their mannerisms, I considered them to be a fag, queer, light in their loafers. Polly’s single uncle was a gay man, as was one of my cousins. I knew these men from distance. As far as lesbians are concerned, I didn’t meet a lesbian until I was in my forties.

In ninth grade, we were taught how to square dance in gym class. My pastor threw a fit over me dancing, and this led to me sitting in the bleachers while my fellow classmates danced. Sitting with me were two boys who refused to shower at the end of class. It was assumed by me and my fellow students that these boys were “faggots.” I have no idea whether they were actually gay. Just being different was enough to get one labeled with the “faggot” label.

In the mid-seventies, I casually knew a man my age who was gay. It was believed that he was preyed upon by a much older gay man who ran one of the local funeral homes. This young man, in the 1980s, died of AIDS.

I never heard much preaching about homosexuality as a teen. Oh, I heard the typical talking points about “queers” or “sodomites” having tattoos or wearing earrings in their left ears — both stereotypes of which were patently untrue.

By the time I left Bible college in 1979 and started pastoring IFB churches, I was a full-blown homophobe, a man who reveled in his heterosexuality and excoriated LGBTQ people. On several occasions, gay people visited one of the churches I pastored. I made sure they felt unwelcome. I viewed them, at the time, as child predators — another untrue stereotype.

This brings me to 1995.

In March of 1994, I left a church I had pastored for almost twelve years and moved to San Antonio, Texas to co-pastor Community Baptist Church. This move proved to be a disaster, and in the fall that same year, we packed up our belongings and moved to Frazeysburg, Ohio. With the help of Polly’s parents, we bought a newish manufactured home — a $25,000 upgrade from our previous mobile home.

We lived in Frazeysburg for six months. Needing immediate employment, I turned to restaurant management. I was hired by Charley’s Steakery (now called Charleys Philly Steaks) to be the general manager of their franchise at the Colony Square Mall in Zanesville. I continued to work for this restaurant until March 1995, when I assumed the pastorate of Olive Branch Christian Union Church in Fayette.

bruce gerencser pride

The restaurant I managed had a drink refill policy for mall employees. If employees stopped at the restaurant with their cups, we refilled them free of charge. Some employees would stop every day they worked to get their large plastic cups refilled. One such employee was a man who worked at a nearby store.

This man was in his twenties. The first time I personally refilled his cup for him, my infallible, never-wrong (I am joking) gaydar went off. I thought, “OMG, this guy is gay. What if he has AIDS?” Quite frankly, I am surprised he didn’t see the disgust on my face. Maybe he did, but ignored it. I dutifully put ice in his cup, filled it with pop, and handed it back to him. After he walked away from the service counter, I would quickly run to the kitchen and thoroughly wash my hands, fearing that I might catch AIDS.

Over time, this man and I struck up casual conversations. He was quite friendly, and truth be told, I liked talking to him. As I got to know him better, I found that I no longer was disgusted or worried about getting AIDS. I even stopped washing my hands after serving him. What changed?

My theology didn’t change. And neither did my irrational fear of gay people. Coming to where I am today, a supporter of LGBTQ rights with numerous gay and transgender friends, took years. What needed washing was my proverbial heart, not my hands.

My first step, then, in moving away from homophobia was actually getting to know an LGBTQ person. The more gay people I met, the less I could continue to hate them. I also learned that at least five children raised under my preaching were gay. These poor children had to listen to me rail against LGBTQ people. There was nothing I could do about the past. I apologized to them, and, thankfully, they completely forgave me. Does this mean I was finally free of homophobia? Nope.

The past decade has brought numerous LGBTQ people into my life, forcing me to confront what my friend called “wrapping his head around it [gay lifestyle] and/or not being grossed out by those he comes in contact with who are LGBTQ.” First, I had to learn that being gay was not a “lifestyle,” any more than being heterosexual is a “lifestyle.” We are who we are. A decade of intense counseling has taught me a lot about “self.” Good, bad, and downright ugly. Second, I came to believe that ALL people, regardless of their sexual orientation, were deserving of justice and equal protection under the law. Thus, when it came to same-sex marriage, I found that there was no rational, ethical reason to prohibit gay people from marrying. Not one. I also realized that I had to make my pro-same-sex marriage view public. Public sins require public penance. I did so by writing letters to the editor, publishing blog posts, and putting LGBTQ-friendly signs in my front yard — a heavily trafficked state highway.

Over time, I became more and more open about my unreserved support of LGBTQ people. I even offered to perform same-sex marriages. Over the weekend, Polly and I attended Defiance’s Pride Walk, proudly walking with LGBTQ family, friends, and acquaintances.

Video Link

What a day! Does this, however, mean that I am finally free of homophobia? While I am not far from the kingdom, I know that buried deep in the recesses of my mind rests bigotry of all sorts. As is common for all of us, we struggle to understand people “different” from us. I am an alpha male, 100% heterosexual, a Type A workaholic and sports addict. I am a typical man for my generation. However, I know I don’t want to be a “typical” sixty-five-year-old man. People like me ARE the problem. Quite frankly, we need to die off, and soon.

The struggle that remains for me is truly, without reservation, accepting and embracing people who are different from me. I must work on this every day, pushing my bigotry farther back into the recesses of my mind. I will never “arrive.” All I know to do is to be better today than yesterday.

I would encourage my friend to genuinely befriend LGBTQ people — without reservation. When homophobia rears its ugly head, ask yourself, how would you feel if gay people treated you this way? Confess your “sin,” and do better. Practice what you preach. Participate in groups and events that challenge your bigotry. This is hard work, and you will fail many times. If, however, you believe in justice and equality for all, then you must try again.

I’ve been blogging for fifteen years. I have met countless LGBTQ people. Some of them I consider friends. Listening to their stories — the harm caused to them by homophobic preachers (seeing myself squarely in the mirror), churches, and families — helped me not only confront my own bigotry but also develop genuinely empathy for LGBTQ people. Understanding someone’s journey will go a long way in combating homophobia

Here’s what I am saying to my friend: becoming a tolerant, accepting man requires a lot of pain and struggle. We must not rest until we have rooted every last bit of bigotry out of our lives. While we will never “arrive,” we can be better men (and women) than we were yesterday.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce Gerencser