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Tag: Libertarianism

The Rise of Conservative Atheists

atheist dan piraro

Most atheists tend to skew to the left socially and politically. However, that doesn’t mean all atheists are liberals/progressives. Atheists are not a homogenous group. There’s a diversity of opinions on all sorts of things. Some atheists voted for Donald Trump and think his present legal troubles are a witch hunt. Other atheists are hardcore libertarians. Atheists as a demographic comprises all sorts of people with diverse beliefs.

In recent years, I have noticed a rise in conservatism among atheists. Just today I read a rant by an atheist who attacked “wokeism,” particularly transgender ideology and people who refuse to stand for the playing of the National Anthem. This particular atheist believes that there’s no such thing as transgender people. Another atheist was glad the U.S. women’s team lost their World Cup match. Why? Many of them refused to participate in singing the national anthem. Jesus, some of them didn’t put their hands over their hearts!

Many atheists have had to deal with Evangelicals who deny that they are atheists; that atheists don’t really exist. Want to piss an atheist off? Just tell her you deny and reject her self-identification. When someone tells me she is an atheist, agnostic, Christian, Buddhist, or some other self-identifying label, I believe her. If someone tells me he is gay, bisexual, pansexual, heterosexual, asexual, or transgender, I believe him. How someone identifies himself doesn’t materially affect me in any way.

Yet, some atheists refuse to live and let live. They revere Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, and J.K. Rowling for their stands against “transgender ideology.” While it is certainly true that transgender people are more visible now in the United States, this does not mean this is something new. Transgender people have always lived among us. Much like the other letters in the LGBTQ acronym, transgender people have long had to live in the shadows. It seems some atheists don’t like the fact that transgender people are no longer willing to suffer in silence, locked in a prison not of their own making. I am sixty-six years old. Throughout my lifetime, various people groups have rebelled against being marginalized and being treated as less than or inferior. Once they gain some semblance of justice and equal protection under the law, these marginalized people have no intention of returning to their closets. And that’s exactly what some atheists advocate. They want icky transgender people to voluntarily return to their closets — out of sight, out of mind. And if transgenders refuse to do so? Conservative atheists support politicians, policies, and laws that will force them to do so.

It seems that these anti-trans atheists don’t care if their words and actions cause harm to transgender people (and their families). No longer interested in thoughtful discussions around the intersection of transgender people and sports/medicine, these atheists call names and post memes. One atheist said that anyone who thinks biological sex and gender are not one and the same is anti-science.

Other atheists view themselves as flag-waving patriots, not much different from the faux patriots found among Trump supporters. Some of these atheist patriots voted for Trump twice — an action I will never understand. These atheists demand all Americans stand and sing the Star Spangled Banner — that people who refuse to do so are unAmerican. Some of them even think everyone should put their right hands over their hearts and say the Pledge of Allegiance — maybe skipping the mention of God. Evidently, freedom of expression and free speech doesn’t apply when it comes to masturbating to American imperialism.

I don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance, nor do I sing the Star Spangled Banner. Often, I don’t stand for either. The reasons for this are many (and not the primary focus of this post), but to suggest that my refusal to mouth a Christian nationalist pledge and sing a War of 1812 song means I am unpatriotic is laughable.

One atheist suggested that the women’s soccer team “embarrassed” the United States on a world stage by refusing to fully participate in the national anthem ritual. I didn’t feel embarrassed one bit, and I suspect many other Americans didn’t either. How about we have serious discussions about a plethora of embarrassing American actions and inactions that should cause thoughtful people to hang their heads in shame? Quite frankly, there’s not a lot to cheer about these days. Maybe you disagree. Fine, but suggesting that I am not patriotic or that I am not a loyal American if I don’t support your political and social agenda is not only absurd, it is un-American.

I have lost readers over the years due to my politics. Not much I can do about that. I am not going to change what I believe. I am a committed liberal/progressive/socialist/pacifist. I’m convinced that these political views best fit with my humanist beliefs. I am sure some readers will disagree with me. That’s fine. What pisses me off is when these disagreements are turned into attacks on my character. The same goes for my support of transgender people. If I dare suggest that they have the same rights and freedoms as other Americans, I am somehow supporting an immoral agenda. That these attacks come from atheists is troubling, but not surprising. There’s a rightward drift among some atheists and that will bring me into increasing conflict with them. This is unavoidable. Atheists are growing into a diverse cohort, and that will bring disagreement and conflict. What matters is how we interact and engage with people with whom we have political and social disagreements. Unfortunately, we live in the era of memes, and not friendly, thoughtful discussion.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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Silicon Valley Bank: Oh, How Quickly Libertarians Become Socialists

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Over the weekend, Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, putting billions of dollars in customer deposits at risk. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures deposits up to $250,000. This means that deposits over $250,000 could be lost, causing harm to depositors. All of a sudden, libertarian venture capitalists and entrepreneurs — people who despise regulation and handouts/bailouts — are pleading for the Biden Administration to come to the rescue and bail out SVB.

Derek Thompson, a writer for Current Affairs, had this to say:

Silicon Valley Bank was widely used, as you might expect, by tech industry startups (as well as a bunch of California winegrowers), and startup types are not generally known for their belief in generous government handouts to those screwed by the free market. But libertarians quickly become socialists when they’re the ones who end up on the losing end of one of capitalism’s frequent crises. Billionaire Mark Cuban swiftly went from denouncing regulators to asking “Where were the regulators?” Tech industry leaders immediately started calling for the FDIC to ditch its $250,000 cap on guaranteed deposits and guarantee everything including the nearly $500 million that Roku held at SVB. Venture capitalist David Sacks said it was unfair for depositors to be punished for opening a bank account at an institution that failed, and that he wasn’t asking for a bailout but merely for the government to “ensure the integrity of the system.” CNBC reported on those noting “the irony as some VCs with notoriously libertarian free-market attitudes are now calling for a bailout.” (At Slate, Edward Ongweso Jr. has more on the “tantrum” thrown by venture capitalists who demanded that the government step in when SVB went under.) 

One of those notorious for his “free-market attitudes” is Larry Summers, the former Clinton treasury secretary and Jeffrey Epstein associate. Summers has previously had harsh words for those advocating a bailout for underwater student loan debtors. But when it came to Silicon Valley Bank, Summers said that the government should step in and “this is not the time for moral hazard lectures or for lesson administering or for alarm about the political consequences of ‘bailouts.’”

At Slate, Edward Ongweso Jr, opined:

If the technological innovation coming out of Silicon Valley is as important as venture capitalists insist, the past few days suggest they haven’t been very responsible stewards of it. The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank late last week may have resulted from a perfect storm of ugly events. But it was also emblematic of a startup ecosystem and venture-capital apparatus that are too unstable, too risky, and too unmoored from reality to be left in charge of something as important as the direction of our technological development.

As the startups that make up Silicon Valley Bank’s customer base scrambled to figure out whether they would be able to make payroll, a group of extremely online venture capitalists spent four days emoting on Twitter, ginning up confusion and hysteria about the threat of a systemic risk if depositors didn’t get all their money back, pronto. All weekend, they screamed that there would be an economic collapse, that they were concerned about the workers, that the Federal Reserve was responsible, that-that-that … until finally, on Sunday evening, they got what they wanted: the government promising full account access to all Silicon Valley Bank depositors.

By now, it is relatively clear what happened at Silicon Valley Bank. A pandemic bull run inflated the value of tech startups and the funds of investors, resulting in a tripling of deposits at the regional bank that specializes in the industry’s fledgling companies, from $62 billion at the end of 2019 to $189 billion at the end of 2021. SVB wanted to put that money to work, so it bought up U.S. Treasury and mortgage bonds that would take years to mature but serve as a relatively safe place to park its cash—as long as interest rates didn’t rise. They did rise, however, multiple times.

For over a decade, low interest rates have allowed venture capitalists to accumulate huge funds to give increasingly unprofitable firms with unrealistic business models increasingly larger valuations—one 2021 analysis found that not only were 90 percent of U.S. startups that were valued over $1 billion unprofitable, but that most would remain so. Give me tens of billions of dollars and a $120 billion valuation and someday, somehow, I will replace every taxi driver with gig workers paid subminimum wages—or robot taxis paid no wages—while charging exorbitant fares for rides, increasing pollution, and adding to traffic. Or not, and I will sell off all the science-fiction projects I’ve promised, but still fail to make a profit.

Over the last year, rising interest rates to combat inflation have meant less free money for science-fiction projects, pressuring investors to change their entire approach and actually fund realistic ventures at realistic valuations with realistically sized funds and deals. Drops in valuations meant smaller checks, which meant smaller deposits at Silicon Valley Bank, and more and more withdrawals as startups ran out of cash themselves. It also meant the bonds SVB bought were now worth less than when purchased, so they’d have to be sold at a loss to generate some liquidity, so that clients could withdraw their deposits.

….

This was dramatic, but in fact it should have calmed down everyone who had money there—SVB serviced every level of the tech ecosystem, from venture capitalists who stashed their Smaugian hoards there to startups that kept operational cash or payroll or reserves there. The FDIC, after all, has a clear protocol for this that it reiterated in a statement Friday morning: Get all the federally insured depositors their money by Monday, search for a buyer of the bank over the weekend, and if none was found, then auction off the bank’s assets and segments of operation.

And yet what followed were increasingly baffling online tantrums from prominent investors who either didn’t seem to understand the well-established process or were trying to shift blame for the momentary crisis onto anyone they could.

Early Saturday morning, the famous activist investor Bill Ackman used his Twitter Blue subscription to pen a 649-word rant predicting an economic apocalypse if every single depositor was not made completely whole. Mark Cuban expressed frustration with the FDIC insurance cap that guarantees up to $250,000 in a bank account as being “too low”; he also insisted the Federal Reserve buy up all of SVB’s assets and liabilities. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, joined the chorus, tweeting that “We must make sure all deposits exceeding the FDIC $250k limit are honored.”

That’s what federal regulators spent the weekend doing, invoking something called the “systemic risk exception” in order to get every depositor their money. (Stockholders in SVB will take a bath, and the institution’s leadership were all fired.)

And yet you still saw famous venture capitalists like PayPal co-founder and Elon Musk buddy David Sacks begging the Federal Reserve to force a merger or a bailout, then insisting he was not asking for a bailout while again asking for a bailout. This may have seemed a bit strange considering Sacks’ previous disparaging of handouts (specifically to Ukraine) and reactionary vitriol for liberalism itself. But then again, Sacks is a longtime associate of investor Peter Thiel, who believes in free markets but not in competition—in capitalism so long as the rules are attuned to satisfy his own interests first and foremost. It was Thiel’s Founders Fund, by the way, that helped kick off the bank run that sank SVB in the first place.

….

Venture capitalists tout themselves as investors who take on big risks by finding value—they provide capital to entrepreneurs lacking the revenue or credit to get traditional financing, but whose big ideas promise to change the world (and make some money along the way). In their self-conception, they would be entitled to white-glove service from the federal government in the wake of this massively inconveniencing event.

The reality, however, is that VCs are herd animals. The industry is overconcetrated—enmeshed, as Geri Kirilova at venture capital firm Laconia Group puts it—and structurally drives capital into a few well-connected hands who pile it into larger funds, cut it into larger checks, and hand it off to a tightly knit network of entrepreneurs and startups. This overreliance on established actors or social networks may seem like a shortcut when you’re risk-averse or unable (and unwilling) to vet every single prospective investment, but it has at times left venture capitalists unable to weed out well-connected or charismatic charlatans.

In a comprehensive case study of the VC industry, UC Davis law professor Peter Lee argues that these are structural deficits that fundamentally undercut venture capital’s ability to actually provide social utility. But venture capital isn’t just wearing blinders. It uses capital as a weapon to crush the competition and corner a market. It works to rewrite laws and regulations, as VC-backed firms tried to do for the gig economy and the crypto industry. Sometimes that means lobbying, as the industry did in the 1970s and 1980s to achieve reforms that cut capital gains taxes, made stock-based compensation attractive, and loosened pension regulations that give VCs access to new funds (and secure a massive subsidy from the government). Being loud and emphasizing their role in creating value has worked for VCs in the past. This past weekend was another example.

What does all of this have to do with SVB? By all accounts, SVB was the beating heart of the valley. In 2015, the New York Times reported that it serviced 65 percent of “all existing start-ups and many of the most prominent venture capital firms.” The bank’s collapse came out of a panic and a bad bet on interest rates, but it got into this situation because everyone involved seems to have helped build a risky system. VCs required portfolio companies to bank with SVB, SVB offered mortgages and wealth management services to VCs, and if SVB offered services similar to other banks serving Silicon Valley, then it likely made the terms of those deals incredibly attractive. First Republic Bank, for example, gave Mark Zuckerberg a mortgage at an interest rate that was below inflation—essentially offering a loan for free.

The risk introduced to SVB by overreliance on low interest rates in both its depositor base and portfolio investments is the same risk embedded in the core of the venture capital model. Profligate fundraising and investment have operated on the assumption that money would be cheap, allowing it to make increasingly exotic bets. Venture capitalists have had a decade of negative to zero real interest rates to build the future through their intrepid noses for value, so what did they give us? We got benefits largely limited to the realm of consumer goods and services, like cheap on-demand delivery and ride-hail (so long as you ignored the exploitation that powered them) and cheap streaming services (until they began hiking prices), namely. But what were the costs? Startups that revolutionized the militarization of our border and our migrant deportation operations, helped weaponize robots, offered A.I. services that exploit invisible underpaid workers in the Global South, and roiled urban transit, rental, and restaurant markets. These projects and others generated billions for investors who got in on an early fundraising round, but they also degraded the quality of life for people across the world.

Here’s the title for the Current Affairs article: Every Libertarian Becomes a Socialist The Moment The Free Market Screws Them. Ain’t that the truth?

Biden, of course, plans to make SVC whole, adamant that it is not a bailout. Sure, Joe, sure. And when more banks fail, as they most certainly will, their bailouts will deplete the FDIC fund. Then what? Biden will be forced to use taxpayer money to rescue failed banks.

Perhaps, we should be asking why SVB failed to start with. The very libertarians demanding socialistic remedies for SVB’s failure are the very same people who promoted and facilitated the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the gutting of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Both Republicans and Democrats are complicit in the current spate of bank failures. They removed the regulatory guardrails meant to keep banks from failing. Will capitalists and the political class learn anything from SVB’s failure? Of course not. Regulation is the only solution to financial mismanagement. Congress should immediately restore the Glass-Steagall Act and restore Dodd-Frank to health. They won’t, because way too many of them are suckling on the corporate teat.

In the real world, libertarianism is a failed political philosophy. It fails the moment corporations fuck up and need taxpayers to bail them out. SVB will be made whole because not doing so would harm far more people than rich venture capitalists, bankers, stock brokers, and entrepreneurs. That’s what happened in 2008, and will continue to happen until we realize the financial sector will only do what they are made to do.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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What’s Happening to the Social Contract?

new social contract

Remember all outrage over Evangelical cake decorators and photographers being “forced” to decorate cakes for same-sex couples or take photographs for their weddings? I am of two minds on these issues. I generally think businesses should be free to serve or not serve whomever they want. If I were an atheist photographer, I should be able to discriminate, choosing not to photograph Evangelical weddings. Same goes if I was a gay cake decorator — I should be able to choose whom I want to serve. I shouldn’t be forced to decorate cakes for heterosexual Evangelical couples. My inner libertarian says I should have the right to choose with whom I want to do business.

My inner socialist and progressive, says that if a person opens a business, he or she agrees to play by the applicable rules and laws: Civil Rights Act; Equal Opportunity Employment Act; Americans with Disabilities Act; building codes; health codes; employment laws; tax laws; and specifics codes and laws that govern particular types of businesses. Don’t like these laws, rules, and codes? Tough shit. These things are the price of admission. Want to operate a business? You must play by the rules. Thus my inner libertarian must submit to the needs and demands of an ordered society governed by the rule of law.

The same goes for Evangelical doctors and pharmacists who refuse to treat certain people, prescribe certain drugs, perform certain procedures, or fill certain prescriptions because doing so is contrary to their religious beliefs. Again, tough shit. If you agree to accept employment, you are expected to play by the rules.

Thanks to unprecedented accommodations to people of faith, Christians (and Muslims and Mormons) now think their jobs, schools, and communities, in general, should cater to them; that their religious beliefs take precedence over the rights of others or their participation in what is commonly called the social contract.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with businesses accommodating the sincere beliefs of their employees. I say “sincere.” We know that Evangelicals routinely lie about their “sincere” beliefs when they don’t want to do something. During the pandemic, anti-vax Evangelicals lied about their religious beliefs so they could get religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccinations. (For the record, I am opposed to ALL exemptions for vaccinations.) Evangelical preachers often lie about their religious objection to social security so they can be exempted from paying social security taxes. That’s exactly what I did in the 1980s, and I know other preachers who did the same.

Evangelicals are generally anti-government. They love sticking it to the man. That’s why so many of the 1/6/2021 insurrectionists were Evangelicals. What better way to stick it to Biden, the Democrats, and the state than trying to overthrow the government? Why are most private religious schools Evangelical? Why are most home-schooling families Evangelicals (or conservative Catholics)? By withdrawing their children from public schools (and society, in general), Evangelicals are using their libertarian ideology to tell government that they “will not have this man rule over us.”

Here’s the funny thing . . . Evangelicals only want these alleged freedoms and rights for themselves. As you well know, Christian Nationalism is on the rise in the United States, and around the world. Millions and millions of Evangelicals believe that the United States is a Christian nation, founded according to the teachings and principles of the Bible — even though history teaches no such thing. Many Evangelicals want to see Christianity codified into law. They want the Bible to be the law of the land. In their minds, either the separation of church and state is a myth or it was only meant to protect Christians from government encroachment. Recently, I have noticed an uptick in Evangelical writers and speakers saying that the separation of church and state does not guarantee separation FROM religion; that the United States is, by default, a Christian nation, and atheists, agnostics, and other unbelievers should not expect to have freedom from religion.

Recently, Jorge Gomez, senior writer for First Liberty Institute, took to the Christian Post to whine about “woke” Chase Bank canceling the bank account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom. I have no idea why Chase canceled NCRF’s account. What strikes me as funny is Gomez’s outrage over Chase making a decision to not do business with NCRF, yet he thinks Evangelical cake decorators, photographers, and other business owners should have the absolute right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. I suspect Gomez would be fine with Chase not doing business with adult entertainment businesses, escort services, and marijuana retailers. You see, Gomez wants preferential treatment for Evangelicals. He wants different rules for his tribe.

A society only works if we all play by the same rules. Sadly, many Evangelicals (and others too) don’t want to play by mutually agreed-upon laws and rules. When we disagree with a law or a rule, we can either use the political process to change it, refuse to obey it, risking punishment, appeal to the courts for redress, or turn to violence to get our way. What I fear we are seeing today is that when a group of people believe (or know) the political process no longer works or the courts are unwilling to give them what they want, they turn to rebellion and violence. I fear this is where we now are: a dangerous day and hour when it is considered justifiable to beat an old man with a ball-peen hammer, threaten to murder the vice president of the United States and the Speaker of the House, scream at school boards, invade the U.S. Capitol — causing death, physical harm, and property damage — and violently threaten people with physical harm. I have no doubt that we are headed toward violence in the streets; not a civil war, necessarily, but local pockets of tribal violence. We are armed to the teeth, and if the Insurrection taught us anything it is this: given the right circumstances and provocations, people can and will do anything, including murdering their neighbors. One need only look at Germany in World War II, the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda in 1994, or countless acts of violence and murder perpetrated during war, including the United States’ wars to see how this plays out.

People of good will must use non-violence to turn back our tribal tendencies. Social media makes it easy for all of us to congregate according to tribal designation. Certainly, it is natural for us to do so. However, when the only people we see, hear, and interact with are just like us, we can be easily led astray; we can easily engage in behaviors we might not normally engage in. Sometimes, we can turn to violence, and when that happens, our society collapses. When tribe is all that matters, it is easier to cause harm to “others.” I live on Main St. in Ney, Ohio. The other day, I looked at the voter registration records for voters who live on Main St. My wife and I are the only registered Democrats. Worse, it is well-known in town that we are atheists. Our front yard has three progressive, pro-choice signs. Last Thursday, the village had its annual trick-or-treat. I can only imagine how irritated some parents were as they walked by our house with their children. How dare we expose their kiddies to God-hating evil? Locals know I am the guy who writes letters to the editor of the newspaper “attacking” (their word) their religion or politics. Is it a stretch of the imagination to think that given the right circumstances, some of God’s chosen ones might try to destroy our signs (they have been stolen before), cause property damage, or even physical harm? When tribal passions are engaged, who knows what might happen.

Evangelicals are so drunk with political power, having abandoned the gospel as a means of societal transformation, that they will not rest until they have taken Christian Nationalism to its logical conclusion: the obeisance of non-Christians to Jesus and the Bible — actually, to their peculiar interpretation of the Bible. Those who refuse to bow to the Evangelical God will be punished and ostracized — much like Japanese-Americans and communists/socialists were in World War II. As Hitler’s Germany and the Tutsi genocide taught us, neighbors can and will turn on their neighbors if they deem them a threat, or even if they merely belong to the “wrong” tribe.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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Dear Pastor Mark Falls, My Wife’s Mother Doesn’t Have Nine Lives

newark baptist temple heath ohio

Over the past fifteen months, I have written several posts about how the Newark Baptist Temple and its pastor Mark Falls has ignored the Coronavirus, allowed COVID-19 to repeatedly spread through the congregation, leading to infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. (Please see IFB Pastor Mark Falls Tries to Use Bible Verses to Guilt People into Attending Church during Coronavirus Pandemic, No Need to Wear a Face Mask: When it’s My Time to Die, I’m Ready to Go, and An IFB Funeral: Fundamentalist Christianity Poisons Everything.) Pastor Falls refuses to demand church members wear masks and practice social distancing. While family members swear on a stack of Bearing Precious Seed Leather Bound King James Version Bibles that Pastor Falls takes the virus seriously, video evidence suggests otherwise. Sure, Falls wears a mask (he and his family were infected last year), as do other church members, but by and large, the congregation continues to have unprotected sex with COVID-19. As of today, more than a dozen people have currently tested positive for COVID-19, including Polly’s eighty-five-year-old mother. (Please see My Wife’s Mother Has COVID-19 and Her IFB Church is to Blame and Bruce, How Do You Know Your Wife’s Mom Was Infected with COVID-19 at Church?)

On Sunday evenings, Pastor Falls leads the congregation in prayer for people who are sick and dying. The sheer number of people who attend the church and have COVID-19 is astounding. In any other setting, the Ohio Department of Health would step in and shut down the Baptist Temple. Unfortunately, thanks to Governor Mike DeWine’s ignorant and foolish interpretation of the first amendment and the application of the separation of church and state, churches are exempt from state and county health mandates. As a result, Falls, a hardcore Independent Fundamentalist Baptist and Ayn Rand Libertarian has refused to cancel church services, or demand congregants wear masks and practice social distancing (let alone refusing to encourage church members to get vaccinated).

On Sunday, May 2, 2021, speaking of the super spreader event occurring at 81 Lickingview Drive, Pastor Falls said:

Pray, and please consider others, please consider others. I’m not telling you how you need to do that, but be mindful of someone who might not fare as well as you do.

Polly’s Mom is home, under quarantine for eight days. Last Sunday evening, Pastor Falls asked the congregation to lift Polly’s mom up in prayer. Here’s what he had to say:

Bonnie Shope [Polly’s Mom] had a heart attack this week, and she had no symptoms of COVID, but when they tested her at the hospital, they found out she had COVID. So, she is at home recovering. You know Bonnie. Miss Nine Lives. She doesn’t even have a cat, but she seems to have nine lives. But, she is at home recovering. Just pray that she will not have any complications with COVID.

You can listen to the prayer requests here, starting at the 8:33 mark:

Video Link

There’s so much I could say right now, but I want to focus on one thing: the notion that Polly’s mother has nine lives. Mom doesn’t have nine lives — no one does. Mom has one life, twill soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last, scratch that drivel, and then she will be dead. That’s why Pastor Falls is morally obligated to do everything he can to make sure church members are safe. Sure, Mom is culpable too. She has a duty to act responsibly, to act in her own best interest. Instead, she thinks Jesus is going to protect her, and that she won’t die one moment before the date and time God has appointed for her death (Hebrews 9:27). As a result, fatalism drives much of her life (and Evangelicalism, at its core, is fatalistic).

I know that nothing I write will change what is happening at the Newark Baptist Temple. Mom has already violated the quarantine rules, and come a week or two, she will be right back in church praising Jesus (and the powerful prayers of the saints) for her victory over COVID-19. All Polly and I can do is weep. And scream . . .

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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The True Agenda of the Ayn Rand-fueled, Koch Brothers-funded, Evangelical-empowered, Paul Ryan-controlled Wing of the Republican Party

letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News. Submitted on March 24, 2017

Dear Editor:

The recent attempt to pass what Donald Trump and Republicans dubbed the American Health Care Act has finally exposed for all to see the true agenda of the Ayn Rand-fueled, Koch Brothers-funded, Evangelical-empowered, Paul Ryan-controlled wing of the Republican Party. The white sheets have been torn away, exposing ideological hatred for minorities, the working class, and what the Bible calls the least of these. We now know that these shills for the one-percenters want to destroy the Federal government, roll back the New Deal, and cut the bottom out of social safety net. Their ultimate goal is to return our society to the days of the wild, wild West – days when every man controlled his own destiny; days when the capitalist with the fastest draw and surest aim or the robber baron with the quickest fists ruled the land.

As of the writing of this letter, Republicans have twice cancelled votes on the AHCA. Facing outrage from all corners of the political spectrum, Paul Ryan is increasingly aware of the fact that he never should have made public his agenda to destroy America. While I thoroughly enjoy watching Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and their surrogates get the public caning they so richly deserve, my joy is tempered by the fact that at the state level Republican extremists  are quietly and effectively rolling back much of the social progress of the past century.  More frightening than the AHCA debacle is the Koch Brothers-funded plan for a Constitutional Convention. And once a Constitutional Convention is convened, Tea-Party, Libertarian, and Evangelical theocrats will finally have the tools necessary to dismantle the Federal government and turn America into dog-eat-dog capitalist state ruled by men only concerned with their stock portfolio and return on investment. While Evangelicals will certainly make sure that their God is returned to his rightful place as America’s potentate, the real God of these extremists is laissez-faire capitalism.

One positive to come out of electing Donald Trump is the exposure of the true agenda of many Republican officeholders. Now it is up to Democrats, liberals, progressives. democratic socialists, and all who value social progress to coalesce into a movement willing to take on Paul Ryan/Koch Brothers/Ayn Rand Republicans. What lies ahead is a no-holds-barred fight to the death for the future of our Republic. I am ready for the fight. Are you?

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

 

Bruce Gerencser