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Tag: Michelle Tucker

Letter to the Editor: My Response to Michelle Tucker, A Local Evangelical Christian

letter to the editor

Last week, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Defiance Cresent News about the wall of separation of church and state, and how Lifewise Academy is a trojan horse used by Evangelicals to demolish this wall. Lifewise, a sectarian Evangelical parachurch organization, holds weekly release time religious instruction classes for most local school districts. Its goal is to establish Fundmentalist beachheads in every American public school.

Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Editor,

Public education is foundational to success and progress. While parents are free to homeschool their children — as my partner and I did — or send them to a private school, we must not starve, neglect, or demonize public schools.

Public schools are government institutions, governed by local, state, and federal laws. Children from all walks of life attend public schools. Tolerance and inclusion are expected when our children or grandchildren attend school. My partner and I have sixteen grandchildren attending the Stryker, Tinora, Fairview, and Defiance school districts. We expect our grandchildren to receive well-rounded educations, taught by teachers who understand the importance of secular education and the concept of separation of church and state. Alas, a few teachers and administrators have attempted to proselytize our grandchildren or push their Evangelical beliefs. This, of course, should never happen. Christians are free to be school teachers and school administrators, but their personal beliefs should play no part in instructing students.

Recently, I attended a high school graduation — one sponsored and directed by a local school district. What a proud day for our family as one of our older grandchildren graduated with honors. In the space of three generations, we have gone from me being the first person to go to college, to our grandchildren going off to study at major universities. We owe their success to our public school system and its dedicated teachers.

As a non-Christian, I am accustomed to school districts trampling over the First Amendment and the wall separating church and state. I recently told a lawyer for the Freedom From Religion Foundation when speaking with her about the increasing encroachment of Lifewise Academy in Ohio’s schools, that there were enough church-state violations in rural northwest Ohio for FFRF to set up a full-time litigation office in this area.

The graduation ceremony featured a local clergyman who felt duty-bound to put in a good word for Jesus and his peculiar version of Christianity. Using the J-O-Y acronym, he reminded graduates of the importance of putting Jesus first. Never mind the fact that many of the graduates and attendees are not Christians. To be told that rightly ordering one’s life requires Jesus is beyond offensive. Such talk belongs in church, not secular public school graduations. I told a family member later that I live by the Y-O acrynym: yourself first, others second — no Jesus needed.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Michelle Tucker, an Evangelical Christian who lives in rural Defiance, took umbrage with my letter. Here’s what she had to say:

I am compelled to talk about Bruce Gerencser’s observation of LifeWise programs. Although the leaders of LifeWise are too kind to comment on this, I will.

His words about LifeWise brainwashing the children is ludicrous. Would you rather the children grow up to be intellectuals with no commonsense for living? And would it be better for children to grow up and go to universities and colleges only to come out acting like heathens, following the herd that demonstrates in our streets today, causing all kinds of havoc and destroying the very fabric of our society, not to mention burning down parts of American history?

Foundations are important to not only build buildings, but to build lives. LifeWise is creating a safe place for children to learn the basic necessities of life.

Perhaps Mr. Gerencser failed to mention he was a pastor. I guess he wanted to make up his own rules regarding God. Perhaps he wanted something from God, maybe for someone to be healed and they weren’t healed and now he hates God and decides now He is God. Even in our misinterpretation of God He still loves us.

Exodus 20 says, “I am the Lord God who brought you up and out of Egypt.” Egypt was a place of protection and refuse, and also a place of wickedness and oppression.

1. You shall have no other gods before me.

2. You shall make no other images before you.

3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

10. You shall not covet.

So which of these 10 commandments are you having trouble with? The one about you shall have no other gods before me? Because the other nine and the first commandment are non-negotiable.

You have free speech (for now) and that’s your right and mine. The truth is you can’t change truth, no matter how hard you try. Today people say, “it’s my truth or your truth.” How ridiculous. Truth is truth, by it’s very nature. There is only truth.

People of God we need to stand up for the truth of God’s word. If we don’t, who will?

Michelle Tucker

As readers can readily see, Tucker’s response had nothing to do with the content of my letter. Instead, she decided to attack my character, making unfounded claims about my moral beliefs. I have been writing letters to the editor of the Crescent News for seventeen years. More than a few local Christians have taken a similar approach as Tucker, choosing to demean and debase the man instead of engaging his arguments. I am used to such abuse. As a public figure, I know such ill-bred behavior from Evangelicals comes with the territory.

What follows is my response to Tucker’s letter.

Dear Editor,

This is my response to Michelle Tucker’s letter to the editor. My letter was about the separation of church and state. Tucker never addresses this issue, choosing to attack me personally instead.

Tucker asserts that I said Lifewise was brainwashing children. You will search in vain for my use of this word in my letter, and in the over 5,000 posts I have written for my blog. I have been clear: Lifewise indoctrinates and conditions children. There’s an academic difference between these terms and brainwashing. Evangelical churches and parachurch organizations are known for evangelizing children as young as nursery age. They know the importance of indoctrinating children when they are young. Get them when they are young and you will have them for life. That’s why Lifewise focuses on elementary-age children. Young impressionable minds are more likely to believe things such as young earth creationism, Noah’s flood, the tower of Babel, and other mythical stories.

Parents should be informed as to what Lifewise, a sectarian Evangelical organization, will actually teach their children. Ask them what students will be taught about the origin of the universe, cosmology, biology, archeology, human sexuality, and the exclusivity of Evangelical Christianity.  Ask them what students will be taught about marriage, divorce, and self-esteem. I’ve personally viewed internal Lifewise documents. If you think this is all about “character building,” you might want to investigate further. The goal is to make your children loyal soldiers in God’s army.

Tucker wants people to know that I used to be a preacher. Why? I have no idea. Yes, I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I was also a restaurant manager, auto mechanic, grant writer, factory worker, and insurance salesman. How is my resume relevant to a discussion of Lifewise Academy and the separation of church and state?

Tucker wants to portray me in a negative light, as someone who is morally lacking. How she knows this is beyond me. According to Tucker, what keeps her and other Christians from murdering their neighbors or robbing a bank is their faith in God. If that’s the case, I hope they keep on believing. However, for those of us who are unbelievers, we don’t need a deity to keep from committing crimes. I have murdered as many people and robbed as many banks as I want to — none.

As for rebutting Tucker’s scurrilous claims about morality and truth, I will need more words than the newspaper allows.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

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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Bruce Gerencser