Menu Close

Tag: Pastor John MacFarlane

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: The Bible Hasn’t Changed in 2,000 Years

first baptist church bryan ohio

By John MacFarlane, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bryan, Ohio, Truth? or TRUTH!

Though worldly ideas and “truths” may change, the truth of God’s Word never changes.  For the truth of God’s Word to change, God would have to change.  His nature would have to change and that’s never going to happen.

….

God tells us in Malachi 3:6, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Since His attributes and nature never change, God is ALWAYS truth, therefore, His WORD is always truth and that truth “endureth forever.” (Psalm 117:2)

There will never come a time where better or more current information will rectify some previous Biblical error.  What God’s Word taught 2,000 years ago will be the same, valid truths needing to be taught 2,000 years from now, should the Lord tarry.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: IFB Pastor John MacFarlane Reminds Congregants That They Are Worthless Without Jesus

first baptist church bryan ohio

Recently, John MacFarlane, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio, reminded congregants that they are worthless without Jesus as their Lord and Savior:

Today is considered a day of empowerment. Self-affirming statements beginning with “I am” are to spoken to yourself. [I AM Bruce Almighty! Man, that’s empowering.] 🙂

….

Interestingly, I preached a sermon a month ago that addressed this issue.  The purpose of self-affirmation is to remind those who may be considered weak, insignificant, or less than others in society that they are not and to provide a dose of encouragement.  There’s one huge, significant problem, though, with worldly self-affirmation. [In other words, we should treat people like shit because God treats them like shit.]

Humanity is glorified.  Man affirms the goodness OF man and IN man while ignoring the truth found in Romans 3:10-12.  “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  (11)  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  (12)  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

By making these humanistic affirmations, it comes dangerously close to elevating man to the place of God. [OMG! Humanism!!!!!!]

When I make a self-affirming statement and say, “I am,” it is falling into the psychological trap of affirming man whereas theology and the Christian life is about affirming God.  Either MAN gets the credit or GOD gets the credit, but you cannot simultaneously credit both. (Please see Giving Credit to Whom Credit is Due.)

Remember, dear Christian, that we are NOTHING apart from God and the salvation provided by His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is the Lord who makes “all things work together for good.”  Self-affirmation is a sinful, prideful maneuver to stroke our egos.

Affirm GOD. Credit GOD. Glorify GOD. Praise GOD. Amen! [except when something “bad” happens. then it is your fault; the flesh’s fault; Satan’s fault]

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

One IFB Preacher’s Self-Serving View of The Golden Rule

ulterior motives

If there’s one subject I have written about numerous times it is how Evangelicals almost always have ulterior motives when it comes to their interaction with the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. Evangelicals are taught from an early age to be aware of the unsaved people around them; to always be looking for opportunities to sell them a new sweeper, uh, I mean share the gospel with them. In many Evangelical churches, congregants are reminded of the importance of daily seeking out sinners in need of salvation. Keep in mind Evangelicalism is an exclusivist sect which believes that many of the people who lay claim to the Christian label are actually unsaved. The average American Evangelical has been told that the vast majority of their fellow citizens are headed for Hell, and that it is their duty to keep that from happening.

I attended an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) in the 1970s. One song we frequently sang in chapel went like this:

Souls for Jesus is our battle cry

Souls for Jesus, we will fight until we die

We never will give in while souls are lost in sin

Souls for Jesus is our battle cry

For most of my Christian life, my concern for lost souls was an ever-present reality. Everywhere I looked I saw lost people, similar to Haley Joe Osment in the movie The Sixth Sense where he said “I see dead people.” I saw “dead” people everywhere I looked; people dead in trespasses and sin; people standing on the precipice of Hell and eternal damnation. I thought at the time, how could Christians NOT be passionate about winning souls? While my zeal certainly waned as I aged (and became more cynical), as a young preacher, I was in the soul-saving business.

The problem with being so zealous is that it perverts your view of the world and how you interact with unbelievers and even Christians not of your tribe. It becomes hard to just love people as they are without thinking of what they could be if they only knew the wondrous, matchless grace of Jesus. That’s why when Evangelicals contact me offering friendship I always decline, knowing that lurking behind their offer is their pathological need to evangelize me. I know who and what I am. I know everything I need to know about the Bible, God, Jesus, and salvation. I don’t need to hear the gospel again. What could someone possibly say that I don’t already know? I am not an atheist because of a lack of knowledge. I’m an atheist because I don’t think the central claims of Christianity are true.

I suppose I could befriend an Evangelical if he or she were content to let me go to Hell in peace. This would require compartmentalization; not talking about Christianity (or atheism, for that matter) unless asked. I am sure that some Evangelicals and I have many things in common. You know, the stuff we all have in common. Unfortunately, hardcore religious beliefs, along with right-wing political beliefs, make such friendships impossible. I am capable of compartmentalizing my beliefs for the sake of maintaining friendships, but the Evangelicals I have met so far are not. (I am talking about real friendships here, not acquaintances or Facebook “friends.)

Recently, John MacFarlane, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio, recently wrote a daily devotional titled Like a Good Neighbor. I have known John most of his life. He was raised in First Baptist, attended an IFB college, and has spent his entire adult life working for IFB churches. It is likely that John will be a cradle-to-grave Fundamentalist Baptist. I read his devotionals and follow his ministry from afar. I have seen nothing that suggests John had moderated one bit over the years.

John wrote:

State Farm Insurance has the motto, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”  Good neighbors are what we are supposed to be.  As Christians, we have been given a very clear instructions concerning this.

Matthew 7:12 says, Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  The Golden Rule.  Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.  This is the simplest thing to figure out.  Perhaps a person says, “I just don’t know what to do for my neighbor.”  Yes, you do.  If you were in their situation, what would you want done for you?  Now, go do it for them.

This is a great opportunity to create open doors for sharing the Gospel.  When people see the love of Jesus coming out in our actions, while they may not understand our motivation, they can see that something is different.  The more we DO for someone, the more we can build a sidewalk from our house to theirs.  Eventually, the ends connect, a friendship and trust have been established, and the door bursts open to share about the Lord and His saving grace.

John started out well, telling readers to follow the Golden Rule; doing unto others as you would want done to you. That’s a principle we should all live by. Where John goes off the rails is when he says that the motive for doing unto others as you would want to be done to you is their salvation; that treating others as you would want to be treated is just a means to an end. Good deeds become a lure on the end of a fishing line. The fisherman keeps gently pulling on the string giving the appearance of food to a fish, hoping the fish will bite. The “food” if swallowed, is anything but. It’s death, fileted and fried for the fisherman’s family.

That’s what good deeds become for many Evangelicals; bait used to attract and hook unwary fish. Instead of offering genuine friendship, Evangelicals offer friendship with strings attached. They aren’t interested in who and what people are. They are interested in what they can become if they only swallow the bait.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

IFB Pastor John MacFarlane Says Non-Christians Manufacture Hope and Good Feelings — True Christians Don’t

hopeless without jesus

John MacFarlane is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio — a church I attended in the 1960s and 1970s when Johnny was a little boy running around the church. First Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation. I have written about MacFarlane in the past:

Sadly, MacFarlane is a gift that keeps on giving. So deeply immersed in Baptist Fundamentalism and right-wing politics, the good pastor cannot comprehend, understand, or appreciate any other worldview or viewpoint but his own. So much so, that he doesn’t even try. Operating from a simplistic worldview — the Bible is TRUTH and Jesus is the answer to every problem — MacFarlane shows contempt for any other view but his own. As I have stated before, Fundamentalism breeds certainty, and certainty breeds arrogance. And MacFarlane is certainly that.

On August 30, 2022, MacFarlane wrote a post titled Grief Galore. What follows is an excerpt from McFarlane’s post (which is emboldened) and my lengthy response.

I wish that I could say that her [Angie Cartwright] life was changed by Jesus. However, nothing in her biographical story talks about anything remotely spiritual. Instead, she found others on social media her were hurting and she used her grief to start support groups that would help others through their pains and hurts. Getting people to open up and talk about their grief and feelings rather than burying them and covering them up with drugs and alcohol is cathartic.

MacFarlane’s “devotional” posts are formulaic. He takes a story from the “world” and makes a spiritual application. For this post, MacFarlane chose Angie Cartwright as his foil. Cartwright is the founder of National Grief Awareness Day, which is celebrated on August 30th each year. Cartwright suffered untold trauma in her life, including the suicide of her drug-addicted, alcoholic mom. MacFarlane goes to great lengths to catalog the sins of Cartwright and her mom, saying: “I wish that I could say that her life was changed by Jesus.  However, nothing in her biographical story talks about anything remotely spiritual.” In other words, Cartwright is headed for Hell unless she believes in MacFarlane’s peculiar version of God. No matter how much good she does trying to help people who have experienced trauma, all that matters to MacFarlane is whether she mentally assents to a set of theological propositions and prays the IFB-approved sinner’s prayer. This is the world MacFarlane lives in, a world where everything is reduced to Jesus.

It’s evident, at least to me, that MacFarlane sees no value in support groups and talking about trauma. In his mind, Jesus and a few prooftexts are all people need. Imagine going to such a man (who has no professional training in counseling outside of what he was taught at Bible college) when going through difficulties in your life and being told, JESUS! JESUS! JESUS! Let’s pray.

First Baptist congregants have been treated this way long before MacFarlane became pastor. Before him, Jack Bennett pastored the church for fifty years. Jack was married to Creta, sister to two of my uncles, Paul and Ed Daugherty. Creta’s parents, Mom and Pop Daugherty started the church in the 1950s. As a teen and young adult, I attempted to talk to Jack about things that were going on in my life. His response to me was the same as MacFarlane. Jack made no effort to help me. Worse, when I was trying to determine what Bible college to attend, I went to Jack for advice. He refused to give me any, leaving me with the impression that he didn’t think I was preacher material. Every summer I would come home from Midwestern Baptist College to my mom’s home. While there, I typically worked two jobs. I faithfully attended church and weekly tithed. Other young preachers who came home for the summer were given opportunities to preach. Not me. It became clear to me that I wasn’t wanted; that I was being judged for who my mother was.

It was during my time at First Baptist that my uncle raped my mother; the same uncle whom, decades later, MacFarlane would preach into Heaven. Jack knew the trauma I had experienced in my life: my mother’s repeated suicides, constant moves, and horrific dysfunction. Yet, I faithfully showed up for church Sunday after Sunday. I loved Jesus and the Word of God. Jack could have offered me a helping hand, but he did nothing. The only people in the church who genuinely tried to help me were Marv and Louise Hartman. And even then, after Louise got wind of my deconversion in 2008, she sent me a scathing letter, saying I was under the influence of Satan. Her words deeply wounded me. Our four-decade friendship did not survive.

MacFarlane, who has never experienced life outside of the narrow confines of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Christianity, evidently has no idea why Cartwright — if she indeed does — doesn’t believe in God. He’s seemingly unaware of the various arguments against the existence of God. I was asked yesterday to list the primary reasons I don’t believe in God. I replied: the problem of evil, the problem of suffering, and the hiddenness of God. People who have experienced trauma in their lives will often say that these things (and others) are reasons why they don’t believe in the existence of the Christian deity. MacFarlane pays no mind to these powerful arguments against the existence of God. Just “believe” and all will be well.

Many of the people I knew back in my First Baptist days are dead and gone or have moved away. That said, I do know a few people that currently attend the church. I can confidently say that MacFarlane’s “all you need is Jesus” prescription has miserably failed. The lives of the people he pastors (and perhaps his own) are just as messy as those of the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the World.

I am glad that people have others to talk to when they are hurting. Friendship goes a long way in helping us find stability in rocky times. But, how much better would it be if a person was able to go to JESUS, their Lord and Savior, and cry out to Him in their time of need?

….

Saved and lost alike experience grief, whether it be by death from natural causes or terrible tragedy. The difference is that the lost have to emotionally manufacture hope and good feelings. Their grief is placated through talking, counseling, medications, addictions, and a host of other things.

While MacFarlane grudgingly admits talking to a “friend” can be helpful, he asserts it would be much better if everyone cried out to Jesus in their time of need. MacFarlane, of course, mentions nothing about seeking help from competent secular counselors. He doesn’t believe in such things. JESUS is the answer to every question, the solution to every problem.

Following MacFarlane’s dangerous, harmful advice, people cry out to Jesus, pleading and begging for help. And when Jesus does what he always does — nothing — then what? Pray harder? Read more Bible verses?

MacFarlane says that non-Christians “emotionally manufacture hope and good feelings; that they placate their grief through talking, counseling, medications, addictions, and a host of other things.” In what way are Christians any different? Don’t they use religious beliefs and practices to manufacture hope and good feelings? In 1843, Karl Marx wrote:

The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

Isn’t this exactly what religion provides for people, including MacFarlane and the members of First Baptist Church? I subscribe to a utilitarian view of religion; that as long as people find value in beliefs, rituals, and practices, they will continue to worship their chosen deity. Once the cost outweighs the benefits, people will abandon religion and seek other beliefs that help them get through the grind of human existence.

Christians, including Independent Fundamentalist Baptists, are no different from the people they consign to the flames of Hell. I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I counseled countless church members and people who didn’t attend one of the churches I pastored. Murder. Manslaughter. Incest. Sexual assault. Embezzlement. Theft. Domestic Violence. Child Abuse. Adultery, Fornication. Child Molestation. You name it, I heard it all. These people were good Christians; people who loved the Lord their God; people who faithfully attended church; people who tithed and gave offerings; people who daily read the Bible and prayed; people who tried to live according to the teachings of the Bible (as interpreted by their preacher). Yet, they had dark secrets, criminal secrets. And don’t get me started about preachers and their secrets or my own, for that matter. (Don’t read too much into that. I have been very open about my past, but I do withhold a few things that would be embarrassing to me and wife. None of us is an open book.) If Jesus is a cure-all, the end-all, the sum of everything, why are Christians so “sinful”?

People all around us are hurting and in pain. This is grief AWARENESS day. We need to be aware of the masses of people hurting and take them the comfort that Jesus offers.

It is true that people all around us are hurting and in pain — the “masses,” MacFarlane calls them. Instead of taking to them the “comfort that Jesus offers,” how about trying to offer real, tangible help? First Baptist is a well-to-do church with a couple hundred members. The church has the means to provide help to the “least of these.” They have the means to help the sick, lonely, crippled, hungry, hurting, and homeless. What do they do? Nothing. All they offer are empty religious platitudes. Believe! Pray! Trust! Rinse, wash, repeat. The church has no outreach into the community except through programs and ministries that are geared towards making fat sheep fatter. It’s all quite incestuous. And I am not suggesting that MacFarlane and First Baptist are special. They are not. Sadly, few Evangelical churches give a shit about the people Jesus cared about. In their minds, all people need is Jesus. Better to go to Heaven hungry than go to Hell on a full belly.

For any local preacher who is offended by my words, I ask that you provide two things: a list of community-focused ministries funded by your church and a copy of your church’s budget which reveals how much money actually goes towards ministering to the material needs of people outside of the church. I have been making this challenge to Evangelical churches since I started blogging in 2007. As of today, not one pastor responded. Why? Because each knows doing so will reveal how little his church does in the community; that his church is little more than a sheep pen for market-ready sheep.

Yes, people are hurting. Do something besides offering them a Jesus sandwich. People need REAL help. How about being the hands and feet of the Jesus you say you follow?

I am glad that Angie [Cartwright] was able to take her grief and use it to help others. But, more than anything, I hope that she has given her life to Jesus. That’s the source of real, genuine healing to all of our hurts.

MacFarlane compliments Cartwright for using her trauma to help others. I do the same. By telling my story, I give voice to countless other people who have had traumatic experiences in their lives — especially religious trauma. Readers know that I have first-hand experience with trauma. And for those who have corresponded with me privately, they know I listen. No platitudes. No easy, cheap solutions. Life is messy. Sometimes, the messes of our lives look like a hurricane went through them. When in the middle of such messes, the last thing we need is for someone to self-righteously tell us, “you know, if you just prayed to Jesus . . . .”

MacFarlane, one of the keepers of the Book of Life, subtly suggests that Cartwright is not a Christian, and as a result, she’s never experienced “true” healing. If only she had prayed to Jesus all would be well. In what way? What could Jesus have materially and physically done for her?

In a post titled, Dear Jesus, I wrote:

I was told by my pastors, Jesus, that you know and see everything. Just in case you were busy one day and missed what went on or were on vacation, let me share a few stories about what happened while we lived in Lima.

One night, Mom was upstairs, and I heard her screaming. She was having one of her “fits.” I decided to see if there was anything I could do to help her — that’s what the oldest child does. As I walked towards Mom’s bedroom, I saw her grabbing shoes and other things and violently throwing them down the hallway. This was the first time I remember being afraid . . .

One day, I got off the school bus and quickly ran to our home. I always had to be the first one in the door. As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed that Mom was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. She had slit her wrists. I quickly ran to the next-door neighbor’s house and asked her to help. She summoned an ambulance, and Mom’s life was saved.

Mom would try again, and again to kill herself: slitting her wrists, overdosing on medication, driving in front of a truck. At the age of fifty-four, she succeeded. One Sunday morning, Mom went into the bathroom, pointed a Ruger .357 at her heart, and pulled the trigger. She quickly slumped to the floor and was dead in minutes. Yet, she never stopped believing in you, Jesus. No matter what happened, Mom held on to her tribe’s God.

Halfway through my fifth-grade year, Mom and Dad moved to Farmer, Ohio. I attended Farmer Elementary School for the fifth and sixth grades. One day, I was home from school sick, and Mom’s brother-in-law stopped by. He didn’t know I was in my bedroom. After he left, Mom came to my room crying, saying, “I have been raped. I need you to call the police.” I was twelve. Do you remember this day, Jesus? Where were you? I thought you were all-powerful? Why didn’t you do anything?

From Farmer, we moved to  Deshler, Ohio for my seventh-grade year of school. Then Mom and Dad moved us to Findlay, Ohio. By then, my parent’s marriage was in shambles. Dad never seemed to be home, and Mom continued to have wild, manic mood swings. Shortly before the end of ninth grade, Dad matter-of-factly informed me that they were getting a divorce. “We don’t love each other anymore,” Dad said. And with that, he turned and walked away, leaving me to wallow in my pain. That’s how Dad always treated me. I can’t remember a time when he embraced me or said, “I love you.” I would learn years later that “Dad” was not my biological father. I wonder, Jesus, was this why he kept me at arm’s length emotionally?

After moving to Findlay, Mom and Dad joined Trinity Baptist Church — a fast-growing IFB congregation pastored by Gene Millioni. After Mom and Dad divorced, they stopped attending church. Both of them quickly remarried. Dad married a nineteen-year-old girl with a baby, and Mom married her first cousin — a recent prison parolee. So much upheaval and turmoil, Jesus. Where were you when all of this was going on? I know, I know, you were there in spirit.

Mom and Dad may have stopped going to church, but I didn’t. By then, I had a lot of friends and started dating, so there was no way I would miss church. Besides, attending church got me away from home, a place where Dad’s new and improved wife made it clear I wasn’t welcome.

….

Jesus, you were my constant companion, my lover, friend, and confidante. I sure loved you, and I believed you loved me too. We were BFFs, right?  Sometimes, I wondered if you really loved me as much as I loved you. Our love affair was virtual in nature. We never met face-to-face, but I believed in my heart of hearts you were the very reason for my existence. When I doubted this, I attributed my doubts to Satan or me not praying hard enough or reading the Bible enough. I never thought for one moment, Jesus, that you might be a figment of my imagination, a lie taught to me by my parents and pastors. I was a true believer. That is, until I wasn’t.

At age fifty, I finally realized, Jesus, that you were a myth, the main character of a 2,000-year-old fictional story. I finally concluded that all those times when I wondered where you were, were in fact, true. I couldn’t find you because you were dead. You had died almost 2,000 years before. The Bible told me about your death, but I really believed that you were resurrected from the dead. I feel so silly now. Dead people don’t come back to life. Your resurrection from the dead was just a campfire story, and I had foolishly believed it. I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Everyone I knew believed the same story. All of us believed that the miracles attributed to you, Jesus, really happened; that you were a virgin-born God-man; that you ascended to Heaven to prepare a mansion for us to live in after we die.

It all seems so silly now, Jesus, but I really did believe in you. Fifty years, Jesus. The prime of my life, I gave to you, only to find out that you were a lie. Yet, here I am today, and you are still “with” me. My parents, pastors, and professors did a good job of indoctrinating me. You are very much “real” to me, even though you lie buried somewhere on a Judean hillside. Try as I might, I can’t get you out of my mind. I have come to accept that you will never leave me.

MacFarlane is a product of his environment, so while my words may be harsh, I do genuinely feel sorry for him and the people he pastors. I can’t magically make their suffering, trauma, and grief go away. And neither can MacFarlane. Life is hard, and then we die. All he offers his people are band-aids to put over their gaping, bleeding physical and psychological wounds. Thanks, preacher, church members say, as their wounds continue to drain their life. Isn’t Jesus grand? MacFarlane says, and after quoting the prescribed verses from the King James Bible, he bows his head and says, let’s pray. And with that, Jesus has “helped” the sick, hurting, and dying. With that kind of help available, doctors, psychologists, social workers, and counselors might as well quit their jobs. Aint Jesus “grand,” indeed.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

IFB Pastor John MacFarlane Threatens Liberal Politicians, Overturning Roe v. Wade was Just the Beginning

first baptist church bryan ohio

Recently, John MacFarlane, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio, warned liberal politicians that he and his fellow Bible thumpers are coming for them; that overturning Roe v. Wade is just the start. MacFarlane wrote:

Now, almost 50 years later, we can see where and how this country is divided.  It’s not about political parties and red v. blue.  We are a nation divided over the Bible and God, the One in whose image we are created.  And this division is getting deeper every day!  To call a ruling that supports life as cruel, outrageous, and heart-wrenching is egregious in and of itself.

Such statements from our national leaders ought to cause every blood-bought born-again believer to stand up and say, “This ruling isn’t the only change that’s happening.  There’s going to be more.  A LOT more!”

Is this devotional political?  Absolutely — and I make no apology for it.  The reason that it’s political is because the politicians have insisted on sticking their noses into issues of values, morality, and truth.  Rather than accepting what God says, they’ve chosen to go against it, forcing the Christians to rise up and to take some stands.  We MUST obey God rather than man.

Dear liberal politician, you have given the Christians no choice.  Edmund Burke’s famous statement is true.  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  It’s time for GOOD men and women – especially GOD’s men and women to arise and do the right thing!

MacFarlane is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher, a Trumpist who supports and defends every plank in the culture war agenda. Along with his fellow forced birthers, MacFarlane had the orgasm of a lifetime when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing states to effectively ban abortion. I suspect MacFarlane makes no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother; that, if he had his way, certain birth control methods and in-vitro fertilization would be outlawed too. MacFarlane’s goal is to facilitate returning the United States to the glory days of the 1950s; the days when abortion and birth control were illegal; the days when women were barefoot and pregnant; the days when blacks knew their place, Mexicans went back to where they belonged after picking our crops, and homosexuals never left their pitch-dark closets; the days when public school teachers led their students in prayer and read the Bible to them; the days when Joseph McCarthy spent his waking hours ferreting out commies; the days when IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the pledge and currency; the days when “Biblical” Christianity ruled supreme.

Based on what MacFarlane has written here, he either rejects or has a faulty understanding of the separation of church and state. The United States has a secular government. No amount of quotes from professional liar David Barton will change this fact. While it is likely MacFarlane opposes the Taliban and other extremist Islamic governments, he seems to be okay with Sharia law in America as long as it follows his interpretation of the Protestant Christian Bible.

MacFarlane says the Federal government should accept what God says in the Bible and govern accordingly. Of course, MacFarlane is quite selective about what laws, precepts, and commands he wants the government to follow. Not one Evangelical zealot wants the government to enforce all 613 Biblical laws. Does MacFarlane want the adulterers, fornicators, child molesters, and disobedient children among his congregation executed? Does he want atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, and all other non-Evangelicals arrested, tried, convicted, and executed? Shall I go on?

The Bible is a dangerous book in the hands of theocrats such as John MacFarlane. They must NOT be trusted with the reins of government. If theocrats are allowed to gain control, freedoms will be lost and people will die. When the MacFarlanes of the world say that overturning Roe v. Wade is just the beginning, we should believe them. If the January 6th insurrection has taught anything, is that MacFarlane and his fellow theocrats are dangerous and will use violence to achieve their goal of a Christian nation.

What, exactly, have Evangelicals been forced to do? I can’t think of one thing. No, what’s going on here is that Evangelicalism is in numerical freefall. NONES are on the rise. Young adults are leaving Evangelical churches in droves. Evangelicals have lost their dominance and control, and they don’t like it. So, instead of loving God and loving their neighbors as themselves — you know, the two great commandments — Evangelicals have turned to raw, naked political power to advance their agenda. How else can we explain so many Evangelicals voting for Donald Trump — twice?

Sixty years ago, Barry Goldwater said:

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

An unattributed quote says:

When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

Make no mistake about it, the Christian nationalist horde is at the gate, and Pastor John MacFarlane is standing there with them. John is a well-respected pastor. By all accounts, he is a friendly, winsome man. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is promoting beliefs and practices that are materially harmful not only to me and my family personally but also to hundreds of millions of non-Evangelical Americans.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Local IFB Pastor John MacFarlane Says Atheist Bruce Gerencser is a Vile Man, a Hater of God

first baptist church bryan ohio

John MacFarlane is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio. First Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation. I’ve known John since he was seven years old. I attended First Baptist in the 1960s and 1970s. Its pastor at the time was Jack Bennett. Jack’s wife, Creta Daugherty, was the sister of two of my uncles, Paul and Ed.

John writes a daily blog devotional for his church. Typical Fundamentalist stuff, but, on occasion, John will say something that gets my attention or angers me:

John probably wishes I would stop paying attention to him. 🙂 Do better, John, do better.

Yesterday, John wrote a “devotional” titled Problems on the 50-Yard Line, detailing his support for football coach Joe Kennedy. Kennedy, you may remember, is the coach who held prayer meetings after games at the fifty-yard line. Kennedy was asked by school officials to stop doing so. He refused and was subsequently fired. Kennedy sued, and the case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The “evil” Freedom From Religion Foundation — whom I support — had this to say about Kennedy’s case:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, joined by a coalition of secular organizations, has filed a compelling amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of a praying football coach who has achieved national notoriety. 

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had last year ruled in favor of Washington’s Bremerton School District, which did not renew Coach Joe Kennedy’s contract after he defied reasonable requests to stop praying with students on the 50-yard line right after games. Kennedy had been singled out for praise by then-President Trump, including in a speech from the Oval Office on Religious Freedom Day, and has been a darling of Christian nationalist organizations and extremist members of Congress. 

Joining FFRF on the brief are other national organizations that represent nonreligious Americans, including the Center For Inquiry, the American Humanist Association and the Secular Coalition for America.

The Supreme Court mystifyingly agreed to hear the case, which FFRF is arguing is moot, mandating that the court dismiss the case. After losing in the district court, Kennedy sold his home in Washington and moved approximately 2,800 miles to Pensacola, Fla., FFRF explains. Kennedy and his wife are no longer employed in Washington. The assistant football coach position at Bremerton High School is a year-round commitment that pays just $5,304. These changed circumstances are problematic for Kennedy because a Florida resident cannot sue a Washington school district over its policies. 

“Under the court’s precedents, the case is moot,” states the brief. “This is reinforced by the principle that a plaintiff who removes himself from the threat of allegedly unconstitutional policies has mooted his claims for prospective relief.” 

After documenting many instances in which atheist and non-Christian plaintiffs have faced procedural hurdles when seeking judicial relief, FFRF asserts that the Supreme Court must apply jurisdictional doctrines uniformly, otherwise it manipulates its jurisdiction in order to benefit preferred litigants.

“If the court asserts it has jurisdiction to decide such cases, it must apply its jurisdiction uniformly to all litigants, and not only to cases involving preferred litigants,” says the brief. “A review of the court’s cases involving religion highlights the need for the court to adopt an even-handed approach to jurisdiction.”

And if the court is inclined to review the merits of this case, it must take into account the harm caused to students who are nonreligious or who are religious minorities when coaches instigate prayer, FFRF stresses. The unique features of the coach-student relationship coerce students to participate in coach-led prayers. This type of religious activity, as FFRF demonstrates with many cogent examples, has harmed students in numerous respects, including by marginalizing nonreligious students and making them susceptible to attacks from other students and members of the community. 

Plus, school athletic teams foster an atmosphere of both communal activity among players and also allegiance to the coach. These features, combined with the social pressures exerted when an authority figure engages in religious practices, coerce non-Christian students to participate in Christian prayers. 

Coach Kennedy’s religious activity on the 50-yard line was a team activity. He intended to continue to pray with students on the field, as was his prior practice. Kennedy’s post-game prayers were anything but private. They were intended to be team prayers, FFRF emphasizes. This is problematic for students who would otherwise choose not to participate. 

Because this case is moot, the Supreme Court should dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, FFRF concludes. Alternatively, as “it is improper and a gross violation of freedom of conscience to coerce or even encourage student athletes to pray in order to play,” FFRF urges the high court to affirm the ruling of the 9th Circuit against Coach Kennedy.

FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott is the lead drafter and counsel of record for the brief.

In his “devotional,” John had this to say about FFRF, atheists, agnostics, and, in his words, haters of God and religion:

Throughout the USA, we have seen religious freedoms erode as a small faction of atheists, agnostics, and haters of God and religion rear their vile heads. Even in Washington, a group of preachers and priests joined with the Freedom From Religion crowd to voice opposition to Kennedy. One of those voices was the “Right Reverend Douglas Avilesbernal, executive minister of the Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches, which includes Bremerton.”

John is a Trumpist and a white Christian Nationalist. He believes the United States is a Christian nation. Thus, he has no problem with the Kennedys of the world violating the separation of church and state or the establishment clause. If Joe Kennedy was a Muslim, John would be outraged. But, he’s not, so Kennedy trampling all over the separation of church and state is fine, by him. Go, Jesus, Go!

jesus football

John is befuddled by pastors who voiced opposition to Kennedy. I am sure he doubts their “salvation.” However, these ministers rightly understand that we cannot have freedom of (and from) religion without there being a strict, inviolable wall of separation between religion and government. John, seemingly, is fine with mixing church and state as long as it is his religion that is given preferential treatment.

I want John to know that when he goes on rants as mentioned above, I take his words personally. When you attack FFRF, atheists, and agnostics, you are attacking me. You are attacking my family, friends, and neighbors. You are attacking my wife and some of my children and grandchildren. Do better, John, do better. Try acting like a Christian. Jesus said in Luke 6:27-28:

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

How many atheists and agnostics have you loved today, John?

Repent!

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Local IFB Pastor John MacFarlane’s Latest on “Reverse Racism” and “Miscegenation”

trump im not a racist

John MacFarlane is the pastor of First Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation in nearby Bryan, Ohio — the place of my birth. I attended First Baptist Church in the 1960s and 1970s. I was attending First Baptist when I left in August 1976 to study for the ministry at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan.

MacFarlane writes a public daily devotional on First Baptist’s website. I have featured his prose on this site several times. Last July, MacFarlane posted a devotional titled “Racism.” As you shall see, MacFarlane thinks race and ethnicity are one the same:

I am writing today’s devotional on June 10 while sitting in a Hampton Inn & Suites hotel room in Louisville, KY

…..

The culture of Kentucky is definitely different than the culture of Ohio.  I didn’t say wrong and I didn’t say worse.  I said different and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  But I want to share with you a very politically incorrect observation.  Bear with me as I set this up.

In the little dining area of the hotel, the television has the morning news running to provide those enjoying their breakfast with some indigestion.  News is never good, it seems.  The news today featured:  the millions of ransom dollars paid by a company to someone who had taken their computer systems hostage; issues on the border and a Vice-President who has yet to act as the border czar;  Presidential missteps and mistakes; millions of COVID vaccines rapidly reaching their expiration dates;  race riots, BLM, protests, white privilege, and apologizing for our race.  That’s where my observations come in.How much of this is made up, contrived by those who aren’t content unless they are fighting?!?  

How much of this is stirred up by people whose nickname should be Maytag – always agitating?

Oh, please don’t misunderstand.  I believe racism is out there.  There are places where it is practiced in some despicable ways.  But deal with it there.  Don’t bring it where I’m at and introduce it like another strain of the Wuhan plague.  I have yet to be in a place where I’ve felt that tension and I don’t want to be in that place.  Get rid of it THERE…deal with it THERE…and certainly don’t bring it around me!

Let me introduce you to Betty, Earl, Millie, and Carl.   Every one of them had a much darker tan than I have!  In fact, this was true throughout the facility.  The Hampton Inn & Suites of Louisville, KY was an ethnic melting pot.  So what?They were the kindest people.

….

The Asian housekeepers were courteous and polite, smiling and accommodating if you asked a question.

There were mutual niceties and respect.  I didn’t feel treated or looked at differently because of the color of my skin and I certainly didn’t treat or look at them differently because of the color of their skin.  Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?

….

I never once felt uncomfortable or threatened.  I saw blacks treating whites respectfully, openly talking with each other.  I saw whites treating blacks the same way.  Never did I see anything that made me think that I needed to hide in fear.  Doors were opened for one another.  Common courtesies and manners were demonstrated between ethnicities

…..

We cannot deny our history and pretend that there are not some very shameful events from the past.  But I’m not living there.  If the past continues to shade our present – if we allow it to do that – we will never move on and achieve the equity that is allegedly sought.  Yes, atrocities were done.  However, the people that deserve the strongest apology and acts of restitution have been in graves for many years.

Is it possible that some people aren’t happy unless they are stirring a pot, creating a fight, and spreading animosity and hatred?  Once again, please hear what I’m saying.  I know racism exists.  But creating a national narrative that teaches racism is everywhere and that if you’re white, you’re automatically a racist is nothing more than a vicious, vulgar lie and I personally resent and am angered by the accusation.

Genesis 1:27 tells us, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  From this original couple sprang every ethnicity there is.  There are not multiple races.  We are all of one race and that race is humanity.  Ethnicities are just the spices of life that the Lord has added to keep us from becoming dull and boring.

Celebrate the ethnicities.  Respect them.  Refuse to place one above another.  Make the playing field level.  That’s the way God does it.

….

The cure to the violence, hatred, and fighting in the world is NOT to give any ethnicity advantage over another.  We definitely don’t need sensitivity training.  It’s for EVERY ethnicity to be brought before the cross of Jesus and together, we humbly kneel in gratitude for the blood that covers our sins and the power of the resurrection that makes us alive.If it’s a fight people want, take them to the cross where the greatest fight ever was fought and won – by a JEW, nonetheless!  Praise the Lord!

You can read my pointed response here.

You would think that MacFarlane would recant his previous post and make amends for his overtly racist language. Alas, he is an IFB preacher, so no honest reflection is forthcoming.

Today, MacFarlane doubled down on his (deliberate) misunderstanding of race and ethnicity:

Where do I begin with Biblical application?!?  Let’s start by addressing the obvious – racism.  I know.  We are sick to death of hearing about this because of the media hype and the cancel culture.  But we have to acknowledge and admit that racism does exist.  There is a rapidly growing Antisemitic spirit in America.  Jews in large cities like NYC are targeted for violence.  There is racism against blacks.  And there is a reverse-racism against whites.

….

Let’s add to this by talking about miscegenation.  The vast majority of you reading this are the product of miscegenation.  I am a product of miscegenation.  From what I understand, my grandmother was a full-blooded German.  She married a Scotsman who was part Irish.  They had my dad.  He married a woman who was part Irish, British Anglo-Saxon, and hillbilly!  That combination had me.

What is my “cultural identity?”  What is my heritage.  I really don’t have one.  I’m Heinz 57.  I’m a mutt.  I’m a mixed breed.  And my culture/heritage is mine.  It’s new.  Better yet, I’m saved!  That’s an entirely different culture/heritage that doesn’t fit with any that are in this world.

As I read Scripture, one heritage and cultural identity was to be protected and that was the Jew.  Amazingly, it has been preserved through the centuries so that during the Tribulation, 12,000 from each tribe will still have their heritage intact and will make up the 144,000.

As I noted in my previous post about MacFarlane’s views of race and ethnicity, the good pastor doesn’t believe racism exists in rural Northwest Ohio (please see Does Racism Exist in Rural Northwest Ohio?). Oh racism exists “somewhere,” just not here in white/Republican/Evangelical Northwest Ohio. Today, MacFarlane mentions for the first time “reverse racism” against whites. I thought, yet again, OMG, John, did you really say this out loud?” MacFarlane is an avid Trump supporter — the man who has done more to advance the intellectual bankrupt idea of “reverse racism” than David Duke.

MacFarlane defines “miscegenation” as people of different ethnicities marrying each other. I am beginning to wonder if MacFarlane has access to a dictionary. Had he bothered to look up the word miscegenation, he would have learned:

miscegenation

Wikipedia defines “miscegenation” this way:

Miscegenation is the interbreeding of people who are considered to be members of different races.The word is derived from a combination of the Latin terms miscere (to mix) and genus (race) from the Hellenic “γένος”. The word first appeared in “Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro,” a pretended anti-Abolitionist pamphlet David Goodman Croly and others published anonymously in advance of the 1864 U.S. presidential election. The term came to be associated with laws that banned interracial marriage and sex, which were known as anti-miscegenation laws.

Interbreeding of different races John, not whites marrying whites. Surely MacFarlane knows this, so I assume his fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between race and ethnicity (and I understand “race” is a complex issue) is driven by his right-wing theological and political beliefs; that and the fact that he has spent most of his life living in white-as-a-KKK-sheet rural northwest Ohio.

Unfortunately, I will likely be the only local person to call into question MacFarlane’s harmful misunderstanding of race and miscegenation — along with many other political and social issues.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

OMG Pastor MacFarlane, Did You Really Say There’s No Racism in Rural Northwest Ohio?

trump im not a racist

John MacFarlane is the pastor of First Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation in nearby Bryan, Ohio — the place of my birth. I attended First Baptist Church in the 1960s and 1970s. I was attending First Baptist when I left in August,1976 to study for the ministry at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. I attended First Baptist during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. This would be the last time I regularly attended the church. After Polly and I married, left Midwestern, and moved to Bryan, we chose not to attend First Baptist. Instead, we joined Montpelier Baptist Church, upsetting many of the people at First Baptist. In their minds, First Baptist was the “family” church. Mom Daugherty, the mother of three of my uncles, told me in no uncertain terms that I belonged at First Baptist. Interestingly, the church’s pastor at the time, Jack Bennett (married to my uncles’ sister), made no effort to retain us as members. Due to my mother’s mental health problems and “sinful” lifestyles, Bennett always treated me like the ugly, redheaded stepchild. Given the opportunity to become the assistant pastor at Montpelier Baptist, I took it.

John MacFarlane was a nine-year-old boy when I went off to Midwestern in 1976. John grew up, felt the call of God, and enrolled in classes at Tennessee Temple, graduating in 1991. After pastoring Twining Baptist Church in Twining, Michigan for three years, John returned home to work as Jack Bennett’s assistant. After Bennett retired, John became the pastor of First Baptist, a position he has held ever since.

John is White. He grew up in a White family, attended a White church, and spent K-12 in a White school. John is a lifelong resident of Williams County, Ohio. According to the 2010 US Census, Williams County is 95.9% White. And this is progress compared to Williams County demographics in the 1950s-1970s, I didn’t know of one Black person who lived in the county. Bryan, Ohio is one of the most White cities in America. Rural Northwest Ohio is the epitome of whiteness and White privilege. This is the world John MacFarlane (and Bruce Gerencser) was born into, grew up in, and lives in today.

I have sketched MacFarlane’s history for readers to provide context for what follows. MacFarlane publishes a daily “devotional” for church members and others to read. I am one of those “others.” Remember, John is a lifelong Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB). He lives, breathes, and shits IFB beliefs and practices. John is a product of IFB indoctrination, as was I for many years.

Today, MacFarlane wrote a “devotional” titled Racism. As I read John’s post, I stopped and said, “OMG, John, Did you REALLY say this out loud?” I couldn’t believe he said what he did. As you shall see, his post is racist, bigoted, and ignorant. I am not shocked by what MacFarlane believes. Thousands and thousands of White rural Northwest Ohio residents believe as he does. I doubt that he will have one church member object to what he wrote. What I AM shocked by is that MacFarlane actually said what follows out loud on a public blog.

Here’s what MacFarlane had to say:

I am writing today’s devotional on June 10 while sitting in a Hampton Inn & Suites hotel room in Louisville, KY.

….

The culture of Kentucky is definitely different than the culture of Ohio.  I didn’t say wrong and I didn’t say worse.  I said different and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  But I want to share with you a very politically incorrect observation.  Bear with me as I set this up.

In the little dining area of the hotel, the television has the morning news running to provide those enjoying their breakfast with some indigestion.  News is never good, it seems.  The news today featured:  the millions of ransom dollars paid by a company to someone who had taken their computer systems hostage; issues on the border and a Vice-President who has yet to act as the border czar;  Presidential missteps and mistakes; millions of COVID vaccines rapidly reaching their expiration dates;  race riots, BLM, protests, white privilege, and apologizing for our race.  That’s where my observations come in.

How much of this is made up, contrived by those who aren’t content unless they are fighting?!?  How much of this is stirred up by people whose nickname should be Maytag – always agitating?

Oh, please don’t misunderstand.  I believe racism is out there.  There are places where it is practiced in some despicable ways.  But deal with it there.  Don’t bring it where I’m at and introduce it like another strain of the Wuhan plague.  I have yet to be in a place where I’ve felt that tension and I don’t want to be in that place.  Get rid of it THERE…deal with it THERE…and certainly don’t bring it around me!

Let me introduce you to Betty, Earl, Millie, and Carl.   Every one of them had a much darker tan than I have!  In fact, this was true throughout the facility.  The Hampton Inn & Suites of Louisville, KY was an ethnic melting pot.  So what?

They were the kindest people. 

….

The Asian housekeepers were courteous and polite, smiling and accommodating if you asked a question.

There were mutual niceties and respect.  I didn’t feel treated or looked at differently because of the color of my skin and I certainly didn’t treat or look at them differently because of the color of their skin.  Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?

….

I never once felt uncomfortable or threatened.  I saw blacks treating whites respectfully, openly talking with each other.  I saw whites treating blacks the same way.  Never did I see anything that made me think that I needed to hide in fear.  Doors were opened for one another.  Common courtesies and manners were demonstrated between ethnicities.

….

We cannot deny our history and pretend that there are not some very shameful events from the past.  But I’m not living there.  If the past continues to shade our present – if we allow it to do that – we will never move on and achieve the equity that is allegedly sought.  Yes, atrocities were done.  However, the people that deserve the strongest apology and acts of restitution have been in graves for many years.

Is it possible that some people aren’t happy unless they are stirring a pot, creating a fight, and spreading animosity and hatred?  Once again, please hear what I’m saying.  I know racism exists.  But creating a national narrative that teaches racism is everywhere and that if you’re white, you’re automatically a racist is nothing more than a vicious, vulgar lie and I personally resent and am angered by the accusation.

Genesis 1:27 tells us, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  From this original couple sprang every ethnicity there is.  There are not multiple races.  We are all of one race and that race is humanity.  Ethnicities are just the spices of life that the Lord has added to keep us from becoming dull and boring.

Celebrate the ethnicities.  Respect them.  Refuse to place one above another.  Make the playing field level.  That’s the way God does it.

….

The cure to the violence, hatred, and fighting in the world is NOT to give any ethnicity advantage over another.  We definitely don’t need sensitivity training.  It’s for EVERY ethnicity to be brought before the cross of Jesus and together, we humbly kneel in gratitude for the blood that covers our sins and the power of the resurrection that makes us alive.

If it’s a fight people want, take them to the cross where the greatest fight ever was fought and won – by a JEW, nonetheless!  Praise the Lord!

Do you see why I said “OMG, John. Did you REALLY say this out loud?” He did, and what follows is my response.

First, there is a difference between ethnicity and race. Black and White are not ethnicities; they are races. John parrots young-earth creationist Ken Ham on race, and biologically, he’s right. However. MacFarlane wants to de-colorize our world. In his uber-White mind, we are all the same; that racial and ethnic diversity is harmful.

Second, John admits that racism exists out there, somewhere (cue Fox Mulder of the X-Files), but not in the lily-white enclave of rural Northwest Ohio. In 2020, I wrote a post titled, Does Racism Exist in Rural Northwest Ohio? Having spent most of my life in White rural Ohio, I can say with a high degree of certainty that racism not only exists in rural Northwest Ohio, but that White privilege and systemic racism are very much a part of our culture. Oh, we are nice country folks who will bake you an apple pie and help put a tire on your car, but underneath our niceness lurk racist ideas and beliefs. (Please see Typical Example of Racism in Rural Northwest, Ohio.)

I could share scores of stories that would illustrate my point: that racism and white privilege abound in rural Northwest Ohio. But, instead, let me share one story from my teen years at First Baptist:

In the mid-1970s, I attended First Baptist Church in Bryan. I can still remember the day that a woman who once attended the church and moved away, returned home with her new Black husband. Oh, the racist gossip that ran wild through the church: why, what was she thinking . . . marrying a Black man! Think of the children! It was not long before she and her husband moved on to another church.

In 2008, months before Polly and I deconverted from Christianity, we visited the Methodist Church in Farmer. We had been attending the Ney United Methodist Church — which would be the last church we attended before leaving Christianity; but since the Farmer and Ney churches were on the same charge, we thought we would visit the Farmer church.

As was our custom, we arrived at the church early, so much so that we caught the last ten or so minutes of the adult Sunday school class. Teaching the class was a matronly White woman. She was telling a story about her grandson who played football (at college, I believe). She complained that her White grandson was not getting much playing time. Why? The coach gave the “Black” players more playing time. The inference was clear: her grandson wasn’t playing as much because he was White (not because the Black players had better skills).

I am shocked that in his 50+ years in rural Northwest Ohio, MacFarlane hasn’t seen racism or White privilege. Evidently, if the KKK is not burning a cross on the Williams County Courthouse square, no racism exists. John is truly colorblind. The only color he sees is White.

Third, MacFarlane thinks that racism is in the past, that all those racists are dead. Time to move on. Unfortunately, our racist forefathers’ beliefs live on in the lives of White residents of rural Northwest Ohio. I was a racist for many years. I have worked hard to cleanse my mind of racist thinking. While I like to think I am no longer a racist, I am still a White man in a White community with little interaction with people of color (unless I go to Fort Wayne or Toledo). Unlike MacFarlane, I believe the United States has yet to come to terms with its racist past. I support Black Lives Matter (not necessarily the group, but the idea) because I believe many people of color continue to be oppressed and marginalized. I own the fact that my White privilege can and does cause harm to people of color.

Fourth, MacFarlane regales us with stories about the “nice” Blacks and Asians. Why, they were “courteous and polite, smiling and accommodating.” Why did the race (ethnicity, to use John’s word) of these people matter? Was it surprising to MacFarlane that Blacks and Asians were respectful and treated him well? JFC, John, it was their job. I worked in the service industry for years. I also pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years. As a result, I became an expert at smiling at rude, nasty assholes, helping them with their needs. The Blacks and Asians who waited on and helped Pastor MacFarlane and his family were just doing their jobs. Their race had nothing to do with their treatment of the MacFarlanes.

Finally, MacFarlane posits a solution for racism (that doesn’t exist in rural Northwest Ohio):

The cure to the violence, hatred, and fighting in the world is NOT to give any ethnicity advantage over another. We definitely don’t need sensitivity training. It’s for EVERY ethnicity to be brought before the cross of Jesus and together, we humbly kneel in gratitude for the blood that covers our sins and the power of the resurrection that makes us alive.

MacFarlane posits that the answer for racism is Jesus and his substitutionary blood atonement for human sin. If everyone would just get saved, why, racism (and violence, hatred, and fighting) would simply and magically disappear. Racist White Christians wouldn’t need sensitivity training, and Blacks — thanks to J-E-S-U-S — would then be equal. No need for anti-discrimination laws. No need for marches and speeches. No need for an honest reckoning over our racist past. No economic or educational help for people of color who have been marginalized and harmed for four centuries. Jesus paid it ALL, time to move on to the 1950s.

MacFarlane forgets that most American Blacks are Christian, many of whom are Evangelical. If Jesus is the cure for racism and marginalization, why haven’t things changed for people of color (in general)? The White Jesus is not the answer for what ails us, we are. Until Whites own their racist past, White privilege, and the systemic racism that plagues our country, it is impossible for us to truly become a land ruled by justice, equality, and equity.

MacFarlane wants us to deal with racism and White privilege where it exists. I am, John, and I am looking right at you. You may sincerely believe what you have written here, but your words reveal a bigoted, racist “heart.”

Note: MacFarlane is a Trump supporter, thus the out-of-right-field mention of “Wuhan plague.” I don’t know if John is an anti-vaxxer.

Other posts about John MacFarlane and First Baptist Church:

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

IFB Pastor John MacFarlane Says Showing Skin in Public Reveals a Sinful Heart

naked adam and eve
Cartoon by Hilary Price

As I have repeatedly publicized his daily “devotionals,” I am sure local Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor John MacFarlane wishes I would stop doing so. MacFarlane, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio — a church I attended in the 1960s and 1970s — writes daily devotional articles for First Baptist members. Since he is publishing these devotionals on a public blog, I assume he wants people outside of the church to read them and practice what he is preaching.

Here’s a list of previous posts features Pastor MacFarlane:

Today, MacFarlane wrote a “devotional” titled An Un-BARE-able Devotion! about nudity. Being the good IFB pastor that he is, MacFarlane is against women showing “skin” in public.

MacFarlane states:

Let’s go back to the original National Nude Day.  Genesis 2:8, 22, 25 says, “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed… And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man… And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”  That’s the way it was originally.  This fact cannot be refuted.  So why did clothing get invented?

Genesis 3 records the sin of Adam and Eve.  Eve ate of the fruit first, gave it to Adam, he ate of the fruit, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” (Genesis 3:7)  The moment that sin enters the picture and their eyes were opened, they saw their own nakedness and recognized that walking around just in what God gave you was sinful.  They did their best to cover up but it was inadequate.

After the Lord pronounces the curse of the damages brought on by their sin, the Lord reinforces their first inclination.  “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)  God was the first fashion designer.  He gave us our original pre-sin garments made of flesh and then, after sin enters the picture, He designs the first real set of clothing.

National Nude Day thumbs its collective noses at what God’s Word clearly teaches.  In Philippians 3:18-19, we read, “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  (19)  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”  Isaiah pronounces “woe” upon those who call evil good and good evil.  The celebration and encouragement to publicly shed clothing is ungodly and heathenish.

In certain parts of the world, missionaries will encounter tribal nations that are nude.  The moment they trust Jesus as their Savior, they recognize their nudity and start to cover it up.  As we are in the depths of summer, so many in our world are walking around nearly nude without shame or a concept of decency.  Their nudity, though it be partial, is a revelation of their heart.

Our nudity is necessary for showering and bathing.  It is God-blessed and sanctioned between husband and wife.  A degree of it may be necessary when going to a doctor, a profession God uses in the healing and care of our bodies.  But beyond that, PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!  Cover up with modesty and decency.

Otherwise, there’s more than your body being exposed.  Your heart is being exposed.

Where, oh where, do I begin.

First, MacFarlane is a presuppositionalist and a Bible literalist. Second, he is King James-only. Third, he is a young-earth creationist. Thus, he genuinely believes the universe is 6,023 years old, and all humans descend from Adam and Eve. Fourth, MacFarlane believes what is recorded in Genesis 1-3 which was meant to be a mythical story, is scientifically and historically true. *sigh* MacFarlane believes Genesis 1-3 is a true accounting of human origin, written by God himself. When someone believes as MacFarlane does, no amount of evidence to the contrary will change his mind.

I spent five decades in the Christian church. I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. For most of the years I spent in the ministry, my beliefs on Genesis 1-3 were indistinguishable from MacFarlane’s. No amount of evidence would have changed my mind. As long as I believed the Bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, my mind was walled off from reason, skepticism, and science. It was only when I learned that the Bible was NOT inerrant that I could consider that maybe, just maybe, my beliefs about the beginning of the universe and human origin could be wrong. Until MacFarlane entertains the possibility of being wrong, there’s no hope for him. Realizing that Genesis 1-3 is a mythical story forces Christian Fundamentalists to rethink their entire worldview. I know it did for me.

MacFarlane uses an oft-repeated lie to “prove” that getting saved leads new converts in clothing-optional tribes to start wearing clothes. Once filled with the Holy Ghost, these newly minted Christians know that not wearing clothing is sinful. I have read many of the same missionary stories MacFarlane has. Here’s what I know: new Christians were coerced by Western Christian missionaries to put on clothes. God didn’t have anything to do with it. Missionaries manipulated tribes to change all sorts of behaviors — all in the name of obedience to the Christian God.

I know how the game works. Through my preaching, private admonitions, and personal testimony, I successfully manipulated church members and new converts. Suddenly, women stopped wearing pants and revealing tops. Men stopped, well . . . I never preached on proper attire for men. People indoctrinated by me stopped swearing, smoking, drinking beer, watching TV, and countless other human behaviors. What I did at Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan is no different from what missionaries did in faraway jungles.

While MacFarlane gives no proscriptions to women (or men) about how they should dress, make no mistake about it, he expects congregants (and everyone else, for that matter) to follow IFB modesty standards. I have written about these standards numerous times since 2007, so I won’t do so again. Women should cover themselves from head to toe. Men? Well, um, uh . . . wear pants and shirts. But, remember, the focus of most IFB modesty preaching is women.

Surprisingly, women at First Baptist are permitted to wear pants. MacFarlane is “liberal” in this regard. I vaguely remember church squabbles in the 1970s over this issue. It looks like the pants crowd won the day.

MacFarlane believes that what you wear reveals the true condition of your heart. Women? Wear short skirts; wear tight jeans; show a bit (or a lot) of cleavage; wear a thong; wear short shorts; wear halter tops; wear tube tops; got out in public braless you are a harlot and a Jezebel, a temptress and a seductress. Men? Keep your shirt on, unless you are playing a shirts and skins basketball game.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Frankly, Pastor MacFarlane, I Just Don’t Give a Damn

frankly my dear I dont give a damn

John MacFarlane is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio. First Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation. I’ve known John since he was a child running the aisles of First Baptist. While we had a distant, but cordial relationship when I was an Evangelical pastor, that is no longer the case.

MacFarlane writes a daily blog post for the church’s website. Typically, MacFarlane takes a story/date in the news and uses it to preach the gospel or make some sort of spiritual application. Several days ago, MacFarlane used the classic movie Gone With the Wind to admonish his congregation about swearing. Titled The Slippery Slope of Swearing, MacFarlane states:

On June 30, 1936, Margaret Mitchell’s book Gone With The Wind was published.

….

Now, for those of us who have never watched the movie, there is one iconic line that everyone seems to know.  The movie version was released in 1939 and on today’s date, that famous scene was filmed.  The scene was shot using two different lines.  The alternate version featured Rhett Butler telling Scarlett O’Hara, “Frankly, my dear, I just don’t care.”

Film censors were on hand to preview the filming.  There was nothing wrong with this line.  However, film director Victor Fleming wanted the scene to have more bite and he threw in the infamous curse.  He was accessed [sic] a $5,000 fine by the censors.

….

I have to admit that this little piece of history surprised me.  Cursing is common in commercials today but who would have thought that it was something found in books and movies to that era?  We tend to think of the early-20th c. being a little bit more pristine – or, at least, I do.

We are told in Philippians 3:17-19, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.  (18)  (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  (19)  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”

Swearing should be shameful.  It’s certainly not today, though, and it evidently wasn’t shameful then.  Instead, there is “glory” in it.  Mr. Fleming had to pay $5,000 just to slip in one cuss word.  And what did that do for the movie?  Nothing!  Even if he could argue that it increased the sales, that is taking glory in something that is sinful and shameful.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  Cursing is corrupt communication.  Nobody denies that.  Yet, it’s done freely and the movie/television industry is doing its best to desensitize young people to the shamefulness of the words.

As kid-friendly movies are released, you will notice that more and more are incorporating a blatant swear, plenty of slang swears, and the obligatory misuse of God’s name.  What is the point?  Did it make the movie better in any way?  Absolutely NOT!

June 27, 1939 put the budding movie industry on a slippery slope.  The last few years have angled the slippery slope towards the kids.

As Christians, we can take a stand against this.  We can refuse to watch or buy any movie with profanity – even if it is just one.  And we can (we must!) guard our own tongues to make sure nothing rolls across our lips that would be shameful.

MacFarlane is outraged over the use of the word damn in movies, along with other words he has deemed curse words. He calls on church members to take a STAND against movies with profanity. MacFarlane believes saying swear words is sinful and shameful.

MacFarlane is right, in one regard, there IS more swearing in movies and by people in general. I swear multiple times every day. As I write this post, I am listening to the Cincinnati Reds game on 700 WLW. The Reds give me ample opportunities to curse. On the other hand, broadcasters announced that Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos, corner outfielders for the Reds, both made the National League All-Star team. My response was a hearty “fuck, yeah!”

MacFarlane is obsessed with the language of others. In a May 2021 post, MacFarlane said that people who swear have “dirty hearts.” (Please see People Who Swear Have “Dirty Hearts” Says IFB Pastor John MacFarlane.)

MacFarlane is waging a losing battle. Swearing is common in our culture, including by fine, upstanding pastors and members of IFB churches.

In 2020, I wrote a post titled Evangelical Swear Words. Here’s an excerpt from this article:

A dear friend of mine from back in the days when we both were part of the Trinity Baptist Church youth group, laughs every time she hears me utter a swear word. She often replies, “I never thought I’d see the day when Bruce Gerencser said a swear word.” From the time I was saved at the age of 15 until I left the ministry, I never uttered one swear word, outwardly anyhow. I thought plenty of swear words but never verbalized them. To do so would have branded me as a sinner and as a man who didn’t have his emotions under control.

Evangelicals are every bit as emotional and angry as their counterparts in the real world. Knowing that telling someone to “fuck off” would bring them rebuke and shame, Evangelicals have developed what I call Christian swear words. Christian swear words are expressions such has:

Shucks

Shoot

Darn

Dangit

Freaking

Crap

Gosh darn it

Son of a gun

Frigging

Shucky darn

As you can easily see, these words are meant to be replacements for the real swear words. This way, angry or emotionally upset Evangelicals can express themselves without running afoul of God’s FCC.

Years ago, a preacher who considered himself totally sanctified (without sin), was known for using the phrase, taking it to the hilt. He and I were quite good friends, and one day when he repeated his favorite phrase, I told him, you know that taking it to the hilt can be used as a sexual reference for sticking the penis all the way in up to its base (hilt). He was indignant that I would dare to suggest such a thing. He later learned I was right and apologized (Do you suppose it ever dawned on him that he had sinned by using this phrase after he said he no longer was a sinner?)

….

Many of us who use curse words use them when we are angry or upset. Sometimes, we use swear words to ameliorate a serious pain that we are having. After hitting my finger with a hammer, I’ve learned that saying “Goddammit!” really loud tends to lessen the pain. According to research presented to the British Psychological Society, swearing is an emotional language, and using it can make a person feel better. Perhaps the use of 506 expletives in 179 minutes as actors did in the movie Wolf of Wall Street is a tad bit excessive, but I know firsthand that cursing can, and does, have a cathartic effect on a person. While certainly, those who swear must be aware of proper social conventions, swearing at the referee on TV who just hosed your favorite football team can be emotionally satisfying, and I highly recommend it.

….

Swear words are just that: words. Social conventions dictate their use. I am a card-carrying member of the Swearers Club. I make liberal use of curse words, especially when speaking to officials from afar on a televised sporting event. Even Polly, sweet, sweet Polly, my wife, has devolved to my level. While I am careful when using swear words in public or around those who are easily offended, I refuse to be bullied into submission by the word police. I rarely use swear words in my writing, but I do so on occasion. It’s up to the individual readers to decide if a well-placed malediction is offensive enough to stop them from reading.

MacFarlane is free to swear or not swear. However, when he says that people who swear have “dirty hearts,” and that swearing is “sinful” and “shameful,” I am not going to let it slide. Instead of policing the language of others, perhaps he might want to focus on things that matter. MacFarlane is outraged over the word “damn” in a movie, but he had no problem preaching my rapist uncle into Heaven a few years ago.

In 2020 post titled Dear Pastor, Do You Believe in Hell?, I wrote about my uncle’s funeral at First Baptist:

I have come to the conclusion that most preachers really don’t believe in Hell. Preach as they might about Hell, when it comes time to put their theology into practice, they cower and refuse to proclaim their Hell belief.

….

Let me tell you a story about a man named Bob. (Bob is a pseudonym, but all the details that follow are real.) Bob was raised in a Fundamentalist Baptist home. His parents were stern, devout, Christians who helped start several local Baptist churches.

At the age of 17, Bob attended a revival meeting at the local Baptist church. When the invitation was given, Bob walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and at that moment became a born-again Christian.

A short time after his conversion, Bob had a falling-out with his family and moved out of his parents’ home. Bob never attended church another day in his life apart from an occasional funeral or wedding.

Bob lived to be 83 years old. From the time Bob was 17 until he died, he lived a life of sin and infamy. Bob was a child abuser. Bob beat his wife. Bob was a drunk. No woman was safe from Bob’s leering eye and his groping hands.

Bob was a nasty, vulgar kind of drunk.

Bob raped a woman while her 12-year-old son was home from school sick. He was never prosecuted because his victim was a mentally troubled family member.

Bob died recently.

Bob’s funeral was held at the same Baptist church he once attended.  His family still attends the church. The funeral was the first time that Bob had been to church in over 60 years.

The preacher mentioned what an ornery man Bob was. And then the preacher spent the next 20 minutes preaching AT Bob’s friends. The funeral service was not about Bob at all, it was all about Jesus. Maybe that was better because it was probably hard to find much good to say about Bob.

Mercifully, the preacher brought his Jesus talk to a close with an invitation to trust Jesus as savior.

Why? So they too could be in Heaven someday with Bob. The Bob, who at age 17 walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and became a Christian.

….

According to the preacher at First Baptist, Bob is safe in the arms of Jesus. Pity all the women he raped, abused, and molested over the years. Pity all those he terrorized when he was drunk. The fire insurance Bob bought at age 17 covered everything he would ever do. This gave him immunity from prosecution for all his debauchery.

It matters not that he did not attend church in the past 60 years. He never prayed; never read the Bible. In fact, he cursed God, hated God, and lived as if there is no God.

But, at age 17 . . . well, you get the gist of the story.

The pastor in this story? John MacFarlane. Instead of being worried about people saying damn, fuck or shit, he might want to focus on things that matter.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser