What follows is an email exchange I had with a self-proclaimed Christian man by the name of Frank. I usually don’t respond to the Franks of the world, but my mood being what it is (see below), I thought I would take a few moments and tell Frank what I thought of his email. Enjoy!
Email #1 From Frank
You have an unsubscribe but when I go there it says that is NOT an active web site. I bet if I offered to send money it would be received!!!!!!!! The problem with your message is that bottom line is you are after FREE money!!!!! Get real!!!!!!
Email #1 From Bruce
I am so very berry hairy sorry that you are a technologically challenged buffoon and an asshole to boot. These diseases must be difficult for you to live with. I suggest you pray to your God and ask him to deliver you from your afflictions. Surely your God is able to help you not only unsubscribe from my mailing list, but also to become a decent human being. Are you offended by my response? I’m just following the Bible where it says to answer fools according to their folly.
Now, I must get back to counting all the money that has come in from kind, loving, supportive blog readers. A wealthy lot they are, providing me with enough ill-gotten gain for me to buy a brand spanking old 1985 Chevette. Woo Hoo! Ain’t Satan awesome!
Reverend Bruce Gerencser, thrice ordained, all praise be to Hymn
Email #2 From Frank
Thank you so much. The GOD I serve is a GREAT god. You can be a witness by your actions, and I don’t mean HAMMERING FOLKS with emails after they have asked you to kindly STOP!!!!!
P/S I am taking your word that you are stopping the emails.
Email #2 From Bruce
Your email was anything but fine. You might want to go back and read the nasty words you wrote about me asking — in a non-offensive, low key manner — people to consider supporting my work. I assume you attend a local blood cult church. Do they collect offerings? Do they ask members to support their work? These are rhetorical questions, by the way.
Your words were mean spirited, intentionally so. Your email is yet another reminder of why I am so glad to be free from Christianity. All praise be to Zeus and Loki.
Your MailChimp profile says you are unsubscribed. I had nothing to do with it. You unsubscribed yourself, and when you tried to do it a second time it returned an error message. You have NOT received numerous emails from me, and you most certainly did not ask me to stop emailing you (but I pinky swear to not email you again). You do know the difference between a mailing list and direct email, right? YOU voluntarily signed up for The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser email mailing list. This mailing list sends subscribers an email each day containing the posts I have written for that day. That goes out at 1:00 AM EST. At the bottom of each mailing list email is a clickable link for unsubscribing. Remember YOU signed up, so if you don’t want to receive the daily emails, all you have to do is click unsubscribe — which you did. You then decided to email me, and I responded. You then emailed me again, and this email serves as my response to you. As you can see Frank, you have received one mailing list email, and, once this is sent, two personal emails. I have not HAMMERED you with emails. Normally, I don’t respond to assholes like you, but today I am in a snarky, Godless, eating-fried-babies, Satanist mood.
Have a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious day.
Bruce Gerencser, AKA Bruce Almighty
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.
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What follows is a comment received today on the post Why I Hate Jesus. The man who left this comment read the following posts before he began his rant against me. These posts are listed in the order the commenter accessed them.
From these five posts, Bill, the Fundamentalist — the son of a pastor — concluded:
Bruce, I scorn you. For over 25 years, you were a Christian leader. You loved your Rolexes, Lear Jets, and expensive suits. By your own definition of yourself, you either enjoyed these things or joined in the pursuit of them and weren’t clever enough to attain them. SHAME on you! My own father, a humble pastor, has NEVER owned a new car in his life. He gave up his career in early life to pursue what you NEVER did–the Jesus of the Bible. The jesus you described is not the American Jesus. Nope. He was the Bruce-Gerencse-Jesus. And, unarguably, there are many of your type out there to be sure. In fact, the pastors that I’ve sat under have continually warned me all my life about your type of pastor that you were. Now you’ve made your pile of money and decided to get out of the American-Bruce-Gerencse-Jesus business, and mock those still in it.
By your own admission, you spent at least 25 years as a horrible fiend. You served a personal version of jesus that a normal, decent Christian would have abhorred. You claim that you saw the multitudes and turned your back on them, and you were only concerned with those who said and believed “the right things.” Buddy, you are to be scorned.
You looked at Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Universalists, Secularists, Humanists, and Skeptics, and believed that they would burn forever in the Lake of Fire, yet you settled yourself down in cushy Ohio, Texas, Michigan–places where you could enjoy the praise of your fellow Gerencserites who, according to your own testimony, subjugated women, told widows it was their fault, and ignored the cries of orphans. You were one sick man.
You never left your comfy home and go to Africa or Asia or South America where you truly believed people had no access to what you believed was the only remedy that could spare them from eternal damnation. You and other “Christians” of your type disgust me. You were so heartless. Of course, you would one day cash out of enjoy your hard earned payoff and walk away from you “jesus,” now you gloat in the life you lived and lump everyone else in with you nasty old self. Your guilt and self-loathing has filled you with hate for the jesus got you your car
How could you repeatedly threaten to abandon your wife and children if they didn’t kowtow to you and your jesus? What an awful life you shoved their faces into! I couldn’t image my dad doing something to us like you did to your family. You were a monster!
Many of the ways you describe the jesus you served for over 25 years–TWENTY-FIVE YEARS!–is worthy of derision, mockery, and hate.
At your request, I shower on you the DERISION and MOCKERY you so richly deserve. Be a man, pal, and return all that money your bilked from all those widows and poor families.
Who am I? I am a little man who has spent the past decade living in a third-world country spreading the message that you refused to spread while claiming to believe that your negligence was damning precious souls to eternal fire. While you admittedly made a full career of lusting after fancy cars, palaces and cathedrals and of oppressing women, immigrants, orphans, homosexuals, and atheists, I have made a simple career of reading my Bible and trying–quite poorly–to emulate the Jesus who I found there. I have never asked anyone or any church for a penny. I work an honest job. More importantly, I am acquainted with many, many more folks who are the opposite of what you described yourself to have shamefully been for over a quarter of a century.
I hate the Gerencser jesus far more than you now claim to. Now your lifelong disingenuousness has morphed into a sly insistence that the Gerencser jesus represents all of us. You. Are. A. Liar.
I have no comment. I must go now. My Lear Jet is idling on the tarmac, ready to take me to the island where I have deposited the millions I made while in the ministry.
These and other verses were the guiding principles of my life for many years:
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:24-34
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10
I was a Baptist. Not just any old generic, run-of-the-mill Baptist either. I was an Independent, Fundamentalist, the-Bible-is-the- inerrant-inspired-Word-of-God Baptist. There were five things that every good Baptist church member was expected to do:
Read the Bible every day
Pray every day
Attend church every time the doors of the church were open
Tithe and give offerings above the tithe
I will come back to the last of these, tithe and give offerings above the tithe, in just a moment, but before I do I need to write a bit about how I looked at life in general.
I was a committed follower of Jesus. I believed God spoke to me individually through the Bible, prayer, and the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. I believed that God led me or directed me to do certain things. It was important to “wait on the Lord.”and NOT trust my own understanding. My life verse was Proverbs 3:5.6:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
I knew God had saved me and called me to the ministry. For every church I ever pastored I believed God led me to that specific church. It is important to understand this point because this line of thinking permeated my entire thought process.
When a small church came calling and wanted me to be their pastor, I never concerned myself with how much they could pay me. I thought, “If God wants me to pastor this church he will make a way for me to do it.” As a result, I developed a willingness to live in poverty if it meant doing what God had called me to do. No matter how much suffering and difficulty it caused my family, the only thing that was important was being in the center of the will of God. I now see that God’s will was actually my own will and that the passivity that led me to “wait on God” wreaked financial havoc in our lives, a havoc from which we have not recovered to this day.
The most I ever made as a pastor was $26,000 a year. Most years my pay was more in the $10-12,000 range. I never had health insurance or any of the work related benefits that almost every church member had. I am not complaining as much as I am explaining. I sincerely thought this is how God wanted me to live. I gladly sacrificed my financial well-being for the sake of THE CALL.
I did work secular jobs on and off over the years. Pumped gas. Sold insurance. Delivered newspapers. Managed restaurants. I always made significantly more money in the world. I viewed these jobs as a means to an end. Out of the 25 years I was in the ministry, I worked secular jobs for about 7 years.
Even when I worked a secular job, I still worked full-time at whatever church I was pastoring. I was of the opinion that every pastor should be full-time regardless of whether he had a secular job. I was taught this way of thinking in Bible college and it was a drove me to burn the candle at both ends for most of the time I spent in the ministry. When I was wasn’t working a secular job, I would take the extra time I had and devote it to the church. Either way, I was a consummate workaholic, rarely taking a day off or taking a vacation.
My view of life, God, and my call to the ministry deeply affected how I viewed money and material things. God was first in my life, the church second, the souls of others third, and my family came in a distant fourth. As a sold-out lover of Jesus I knew I was expected to die to self and live only for the glory of God.
Keeping the church going so it could be a light on a hill in the community was very important. My personal finances and well-being didn’t matter. All to Jesus, All to Jesus, All to Him I freely give...the song went and I was quite willing to give everything to make sure the work of God continued on (and I taught my children to do the same). We tithed. We gave love offerings. We supported missionaries. We gave money to people who were poorer than we were. We gave cars, appliances, computers, and clothing to people in the church. We sold household goods so we could give the money to missionaries, evangelists, or help with some need in the church. We were givers…and we shouldn’t have been.
About year 20 in the ministry I began to see how foolish this kind of thinking was. I started looking around and I noticed that while I was busy sacrificing and giving most other Christians were busy building their kingdom on earth. They were buying houses, land, and cars, contributing to their child’s college fund, and preparing for retirement. I was living in the here-and-now; with no thought of tomorrow, no thought of retirement. I had planned to die with my boots on. I realized I had been a fool. I came to see that neither God, Jesus, nor the church was going to take care of me or my family. (I was still a Christian and a pastor when I came to this conclusion.) If the church didn’t care about my financial well-being while I was their pastor, they sure as hell weren’t going to care about it when I retired. (I could tell numerous stories of pastors and their families who were left destitute by churches who promised to care for them when they were old)
After realizing the error of our ways, the first thing we did was stop tithing. If the church couldn’t pay me a living wage it made no sense to give money to the church so I could have less of an unlivable wage. The second thing we did was that Polly went to work so we could have a better income and health/dental/life insurance. By the time we made this decision I was already starting to have health problems.
These two decisions dramatically improved our lifestyle. For the first time in our marriage we were able to enjoy life a bit. It was refreshing not to have to sacrifice our financial well-being for the sake of the church. Either the church stood on its own two feet or it didn’t. We still gave money to the church, but not like we used to. No more Sundays when the offering was bad…telling the treasurer…don’t pay me this week…I’ll be fine. I expected the church to pay me. After all, a laborer is worthy of his hire.
Decades of living at the bottom of the economic ladder have hurt my wife and I greatly. Low or no wages means a lower social security check when we retire. I never had a retirement program so there is no extra money come retirement. We will have to adjust and try to make it on social security. Hopefully, Polly will be able to work for another 10-12 years and perhaps my in-my-head-book will become a reality and make it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. All we know to do is move forward and do what we can. We have no choice but to play the cards we’ve been dealt. Hindsight is a great teacher, but it can’t undo a lifetime of ignorance and stupidity in the name of God.
As an atheist, I have no God that is coming to rescue me or see me through to the end. I know that financial security comes through hard work and making a good, livable wage.(and a good bit of luck) I know planning for the future is important. While there is not a lot we can do about our own affairs, Polly and I have tried to teach and show our children a better way. We are quite happy about how they have taken to this better way. All of them are light years ahead of where we were when we were their age.
I am sure some well-meaning Christian is going to say, it seems Bruce that becoming an atheist has made you selfish and more focused on your family and not others. Yep, and I make no apology for it. I am still a giving person. I go out of my way to help others, BUT I am not going to sacrifice my financial well-being for the sake of a deity that doesn’t exist or to meet a need in the life of people I do not know. I do what I can, but I now realize that my wife, children, grandchildren, and yes. myself, come first.
A family we know very well is an excellent case study. They are lifelong Christians with 40 years in the ministry. They are retired now, and their health is declining. Their house is falling in around them and it is in a neighborhood that is now all rental properties. Their house has lost 50% of its value. Month to month, they barely make it. Yet, no matter how tough things are they tithe, give offerings, and contribute to every cockamamie financial appeal their pastor comes up with. What do they need to do? Stop giving to the church. They have sacrificed enough. They have given enough. Let others pay the freight now. Take that tithe and offering money and fix the house or buy medicine. But, I know they won’t. Jesus and the church come first. After all, the Bible says:
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:8-10)
For many years, I shuddered at the thought of robbing God. These days I think…God deserves to be robbed. He has all he needs. He has become a robber-baron who cares not for the suffering of his peasants. If he did care he would pass a note along to all those preachers who say God talks to them and tell them to STOP fleecing the flock. Maybe they could tell their congregations that God doesn’t need any money in 2015. Maybe they could tell their congregation God doesn’t need a new building, gymnasium, the latest AV equipment, or the latest, greatest sure-to-make-the church-grow magic trick. How about emptying the church’s bank accounts and giving a rebate to every person who has sacrificially given their money so the pastor could have the best of everything.
I feel Polly shaking me…Bruce, Bruce wake up…you’re dreaming.