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Did You Know I am a Traitor, Communist, Marxist, a Danger to America, and an Awful Writer Too?

adam stockford facebook

Last month, I wrote a post titled MAGA Mayor Adam Stockford Says Hillsdale, Michigan is a “Traditional Values” Community. Stockford is the mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan. Over the weekend, Stockford posted my article on his Facebook page. Of course, his MAGA-loving followers were quick to go for my jugular. One such neck-slitter was a retired soldier named Ronald Cook.

Cook made no attempt to interact with what I wrote, choosing instead to hurl invectives my way. I gave his comment and private messages the gravitas they so richly deserved. Enjoy! 🙂

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Here are several other comments left by Stockford’s devotees.

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All told, 90 people from Hillsdale read my post. Only three of them read more than one page. Not one of them clicked on the ABOUT page or the WHY? page. In fact, some of them couldn’t bear to finish reading my article. Yet, by reading one post about Adam Stockford and Hillsdale College, people such as Cook concluded I am a traitor, communist, Marxist, anti-American anti-Christ. And I am a bitter, piss-poor writer too. Let me give these fine folks a bit of the Bible: Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. (Proverbs 18:13)

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Why Evangelical Culture Warriors Don’t Really Believe in Freedom of Religion

the bible rock of gibraltar

Uncritically listen to Evangelical culture warriors and you will wrongly think they are strong supporters of religious freedom. They talk a good line when it comes to the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. They may grudgingly admit that Article VI of the U.S. Constitution: no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States, forbids a religious test for political office. However, they also say that the United States is a Christian Nation; that its laws are based on the Bible. Their theological and political beliefs put them in direct opposition to the Constitution. Their goal is nothing short of anarchy; the overthrow of the established political and social order. Abandoning evangelization and piety as the means of social transformation, these culture warriors have turned to politics to “save” America, and in the twice-impeached Donald Trump, they found the Lord and Savior. In 2016 and 2020, the overwhelming majority of white Evangelical voters voted for Trump. And if he runs in 2024, they will most certainly vote for him again.

On January 6, 2021, a violent mob tried to overthrow the U.S. government. Many of these treasonous “patriots” were Evangelical Christians. Their failed attempt does not mean Evangelicals have stopped trying to bring down the government and establish Jesus as King and Ruler and the Bible as the law of the land. Trump has become a useful idiot. If he is indicted and imprisoned — and he most certainly should be — other MAGA candidates such as Ron DeSantis and Ted Cruz will arise as antichrists, hoping to reclaim America for the glory of God, and destroy what’s left of our democracy. Once they gain a firm grip on federal, state, and local governments, they will use their newfound power to advance their theocratic agenda. Once this happens, freedoms will be lost and people will die.

Reversing Roe v. Wade was never the end game. Next up is banning birth control and in vitro fertilization (IVF), abolishing same-sex marriage, criminalizing homosexuality, and legalizing teacher-led prayer and Bible reading in public schools. One need only to look at what’s going on in Texas with the allowing of donated “In God We Trust” posters to be hung in school classrooms to see what Evangelical culture warriors have in mind. Next it will be posters of the Ten Commandments. And then the Gideons will be let back in the doors to hand out Christian propaganda. From there, creationism will be taught in science classrooms, Biblical morality taught in health classes, and Christian rules of conduct required of all students. Currently, local schools here in rural northwest Ohio have given Lifewise Academy — an Evangelical “ministry” — unfettered access to elementary-aged students so they can indoctrinate them. Someone affiliated with Defiance City Schools said only seven students refused to attend the “voluntary” release-time classes.

Culture warriors are making noise about Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in schools — a bald-faced lie. They are calling for LGBTQ-friendly books to be removed from school libraries. Transgender people are also in their sights. No longer content to homeschool their children or send them to private schools, Evangelicals want to reclaim public schools for their God. How do they plan to do this? By electing like-minded candidates to school boards; by becoming missionary teachers and aides; by infecting every aspect of school life with their pernicious beliefs.

If people don’t wake up to their agenda, it will be too late. One need only look at the reversal of Roe v. Wade to see what can happen when Evangelical culture warriors get their way. Or look at what is going on in Florida where Governor Ron DeSantis is requiring teachers to teach alternative American History and civics. What’s next, a real-life portrayal of the Man in the High Castle or The Handmaid’s Tale?

The next time an Evangelical culture warrior tells you that they believe in “religious freedom,” don’t believe them. Their version of “freedom” is much like their idea of “love”; one rooted in the belief that the United States is a Christian nation; that Jesus is the sovereign Lord of all things; that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God and is the moral, ethical standard for everyone; that the world would be a better place if everyone worshipped their peculiar version of God.

Evangelical culture warriors may smile at you and be the friendliest people in town, but behind their “I Love Jesus” facade lurk dangerous fascist beliefs. Atheists, agnostics, liberal Christians, pagans, and other non-religious people are enemies of God. LGBTQ people are deviants, as are fornicators and adulterers. For the love of reason and freedom, read the Bible! Evangelical culture warriors really believe what it teaches. We should treat them as the threats they really are.

Unlike Evangelicals, I happen to actually believe in religious freedom. I also believe in a strict separation of church and state. People are free to worship whomsoever they want. Personally, I worship reason, skepticism, and Polly. However, when it comes to government, God and the Bible have no place. Certainly, people are free to have religious beliefs and hold political offices, but what they “believe” theologically and morally should play no part in governance. I mean none. I live in a small town of 356 people. The local council and mayor hold strong religious beliefs. I went to church with some of them back in the day. A medical marijuana dispensary enquired about establishing a business in town. The council and mayor quickly said no. Why? While no official statement was issued, I have no doubt their personal religious and moral beliefs played a big part in them saying no thanks. All that should have mattered is whether it was a legal business and how much tax revenue it would provide. Instead, the business was tentatively established down the road in a different community.

My eyes are wide open to what Evangelical culture warriors are doing. Are yours? They are hiding in plain sight, and I fear that many liberals and progressives are not paying attention or think Evangelical culture warriors are just a nuisance that will soon pass. They are not, they will not and our future depends on us identifying our enemy and fighting back.

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Quote of the Day: Guns Now Have More Rights Than Women in Ohio

Wade Kapszukiewicz

We now live in a state where guns have more rights than women. Ohio doesn’t trust women to make smart decisions about their own bodies, but yet it does trust 18-year-olds to make smart decisions about their AR-15s. This is both hypocritical and unacceptable.

— Wade Kapszukiewicz, mayor of Toledo, Ohio, ABC-13

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Women Shouldn’t be Allowed to Vote

Women come unglued when I try to convince them that giving women the right to vote has been so destructive to this nation. They try to convince me that they are Christian Conservatives, so it’s great for them to vote! Look at the big picture, women! Women overwhelmingly vote Democrat. There would have been few Democrat Presidents if any elected if women didn’t vote! Women vote for abortion and large government. These are both highly damaging to our nation. Men tend to see the big picture far better than women do. They see the damage that big government has done and is doing to this nation. THIS is the big picture!

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Look at the Big Picture, Women, March 11, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Quote of the Day: How Good Was the Federal February 2022 Employment Report

job numbers

By Frank Stricker, Democratic Socialists of America

The Labor Department’s Employment Situation report for February included pretty good numbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that job totals for the month of February were up significantly from the previous month—up 678,000 for non-farm businesses and government organizations The official unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percent to 3.8%. These numbers suggest that January’s fairly good job totals were not a freak of seasonal adjustments. Also, it is clear that the unemployment rate did not fall as a result of more people dropping out of the labor force. The labor force grew by 304,000, employment increased substantially and the ranks of the unemployed dropped by 243,000.

By Sector–Some Recoveries, Some Far From It

            The employment situation was a mixed bag. Restaurants and other leisure and hospitality businesses gained 179,000 positions. Open Table reported that reservations had surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Yet there were 824,000 fewer restaurant jobs than in February 2020. It is a plus that pay in leisure and hospitality jobs rose 14% in one pandemic year. But that brings it to just $17.12 an hour, the lowest average wage of any sector.

  The endangered retail sector regained enough jobs to surpass pre-pandemic levels. That is hard to believe. Health care employment is 306,000 jobs below its February 2020 level, and local government jobs, including education workers, are 598,000 jobs below the February 2020 level.

 Negatives also apply to other sections of the jobs report. As the National Jobs for All Network’s (NJFAN) Full Count shows, Black unemployment was, as usual, two times the white unemployment rate. Fuller employment with good jobs would help here but won’t solve the problem. Racism–institutional, structural, and personal–is deeply rooted, so Black unemployment is always much higher than white. And the official Black rate underestimates the problem. Hundreds of thousands of African Americans are in prison or have prison records—a red flag to employers. Many unemployed Black workers can’t find a reason to look for work. Only an all-out package of solutions will bring Black unemployment levels down to white rates.

 The government undercounts unemployed African Americans, and it undercounts total unemployment. Millions of job-wanters aren’t considered unemployed. While the official number of unemployed was 6.3 million, 4.1 million part-timers could not find full-time work, and 5.4 million people wanted a job but had not recently searched for one–at least not in ways the BLS accepts. When these groups are added to the total, NJFAN found that the number of unemployed in February was 15.8 million, not 6.3 million: The real unemployment rate was 9.3%—not the official 3.8%. Perhaps labor demand was not as high as employers claim. Effective demand would include more good jobs.

Nothing New: Too Many Lousy Jobs

 Wage levels are one index of job quality. We have heard a lot about worker shortages and employers lifting pay to attract people. It’s true that the dollar amounts an average employee sees in her pay packet have increased. But so has inflation. For most workers, after-inflation pay has not grown steadily during the pandemic. From January 2020 through January 2021, real hourly pay advanced 4%. From January 2021 through January 2022, real hourly pay fell 1.3%. There was a net gain in real pay, but not by much, especially if we widen our lens for a minute. The history of real pay is a dreadful tale. How much did the purchasing power of hourly pay increase from 1972 through February 2022?  The answer: 4%. That’s the total increase in the purchasing power of an hour of work for an average employee over half a century.

 Even prior to the pandemic, employers normally had an adequate supply of labor. And that is despite the fact that the U.S. has relatively low labor force participation rates (people working or looking for work). The aging of the population plays a role here. But more oldsters would work if compensation and conditions were better. And even if we focus on prime working ages (25-54), we find that the participating share of the population fell from 85% to 81% between 2000 and 2015. (It rose again and is currently at 82.2%.)

Some prime-age people are not participating due to sickness, disability, and child care issues. Many are staying out because there aren’t enough jobs with livable wages, good benefits, and supportive bosses. Conservatives like to think the reason is that government benefits are too rich for the working class (but never rich enough for the super-rich). But benefits can be very low. For example, if you have a long-term illness or disability and you receive a monthly disability benefit of $1200, you won’t be getting more than you’d earn working 30 hours a week in a low-wage state for $10 an hour. Why not raise pay instead of cutting benefits?

We do not precisely know what labor markets will look like if COVID becomes less consequential. We can expect that more people who are rejecting lousy jobs will have to go back to work. Fewer people will quit their jobs, and the number of job vacancies will fall at a rate of millions a month from their historic highs. Without a union surge, without higher minimum wages, without federal good-job programs, and without truly affirmative action, the lousy job situation will continue.  More people will be back at miserable jobs. We hope more will be organizing for collective action at the workplace. Some already are.

I am a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. Want to join your fellow comrades as they work towards a better tomorrow? Join here.

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Your Questions, Please

i have a question

Greetings, earthlings and residents of other galaxies.

It’s been a while since I asked readers to submit questions for me to answer, so I thought I would, once again, open the call lines and ask readers to submit their questions, along with $66.66 donations to help me reach Evangelicals throughout the universe. Reason — praise be to Reason! — has called me to evangelize Evangelicals, and your donations will help me take the gospel of critical thinking and skepticism to infinity and beyond. Just kidding. While donations are always appreciated, what I really want are questions; your pithy, short, erudite questions. Please try to ask questions that you think I haven’t answered before.

If you have a question you would like me to answer, please ask it in the comment section of this post. I will answer questions in the order they are received; that is unless you are a bigly donor. Readers who shower me with cash, checks, gold bullion (ouch), Bitcoins, and restaurant gift cards just might be moved to the front of the line or be sent a 13×19 glossy photo of me pole dancing at the Big Bear Strip Club — “might” being the operative word. (Long-time readers who know and understand my humor, sarcasm, and snark know whether I am speaking factually. Everyone else? Keep on dreaming of Bruce Almighty swinging on a brass pole wearing only his shorts, suspenders, and wingtips.)

You can also email your questions to me via the contact form.

Please do not answer the questions. In the past, well-intentioned commenters have answered the questions, making my responses moot. Once I answer the questions, feel free to give your own answer.

Let the fun begin.

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

RBG: Her Faith in Justice

ruth bader ginsberg

Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s pioneering work will be long remembered. But the visual image of her that most of us have, and will retain, is of her diminutive frame draped in a robe d’avocat adorned with jabots chosen for agreements, dissents or other occasions of a jurist’s life.

Her sartorial choices, while distinctive, were also fitting (pardon the pun): They, like modern feminism, originated in France. So did the Enlightenment, which inspired notions of les droits l’homme et du citoyen—and, if indirectly, la laicite, the policy that, while not expressly prohibiting religious expression, has had the effect of eliminating public religious remarks by politicians and most other French public figures.

Justice Ginsburg never disavowed the Jewish faith in which she was raised. In fact, she sometimes cited Old Testament verses such as “Justice, justice shall you pursue” as guiding principles. She did not, however, try to shape the law or society in her, or anyone else’s, interpretation of a holy text. Rather, her faith seemed to be a fire within her that fueled her efforts at bringing about justice.

Another, perhaps more important, difference between the role religion plays in the words and actions of many American public figures and the role it played in Bader Ginsburg’s life is this: While public figures who are overtly Evangelical (and most other kinds of ) Christians are acting from privilege they don’t realize they have (in brief, entitlement), Ginsburg, as a daughter of people who fled pogroms only to face anti-Semitism in America, was acutely aware of her status as an underdog and outsider—yet did not share the “persecution complex” that afflicts too many who don’t realize their favored status.

Now I am going to share something I never would have understood had I not spent the first part of my life as male: It is too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that other people are being gifted with “special” privileges or treatment when they are simply getting the same rights everyone else has. I know I was guilty of it; perhaps I still am, sometimes. As a woman who attended an Ivy League school on full scholarship and graduated at the top of a law school in another Ivy League institution, Bader Ginsburg couldn’t help but to understand as much: Law firms wouldn’t hire her because she was a woman: A man “needed” the job more than she did.

One thing that makes Bader Ginsburg a hero is that she didn’t allow the intentional or unwitting sexists to destabilize her sense of herself. I have no doubt that any number of people tried to “gaslight” or sexually harass her. (About the latter, she mused, “What woman of my age hasn’t experienced it?”) I can’t get into her mind, but I don’t think I’m inaccurate in thinking that she understood that, ultimately, one cannot attain personhood, let alone equality, without a sense of one’s self, defined by one’s self and no one else.

That, as I understand it, is a core principle of the Enlightenment—and of the Founding Fathers of the United States, at least as they understood what it means to be a human being (i.e., white, male and a property owner). If you cannot define who you are, on your own terms, there is simply no way to have sovereignty over your mind or body. As someone who came to terms with childhood sexual abuse (by a priest) and sexual harassment and assault as an adult, at a late date in her life, this knowledge is now as vital to me as air, water and food.

In short, if you do not have the freedom to think and come to conclusions based on the evidence before you, and to say “No” when those rights are being denied to you, your mind and body are in someone else’s power. In other words, you are a slave. And when you are a slave, there is no justice.

So, whatever role her inherited faith played in her personal and professional life, her defense of rape victims, the right to an abortion and equal pay for equal work, and her fight against any and all forms of discrimination—and for the right to follow or reject her faith, or any other– are all part of a quest for justice. For that, I am grateful. And, I am sure, Theodore Herzl would approve just as much as Simone de Beauvoir or Voltaire would.

Unlike too many American legislators and public figures, she did not use her position to ram her religious beliefs down other people’s throats. Rather, her faith in the justice she pursued guided her work. For that, I am grateful.

Quote of the Day: Donald Trump’s Rules of Life and Leadership

evangelical support for donald trump
Cartoon by Dan Wasserman

Here are the Trump Rules, distilled from conversations we have had with countless people close to the president, some of whom have studied him for years:

  • Your brand should piss someone off. The worst thing you can be is milquetoast, bland. He wants some people to have a viscerally negative response to him and what he’s doing, because he bets that’s going to harden support on the other side.
  • Crisis is a powerful weapon — fire it indiscriminately. “Forget planning,” a source said. “Wake up every morning, survey the battlefield, let your gut instinct lead you to a crisis to exploit, bet that no one else can thrive in the chaos the way you can. Ratchet up the pressure until everyone else’s pipes burst.”
  • You can create your own truth. Just keep repeating it.
  • Accuse the accuser. A source who’s spent hundreds of hours working with Trump puts it this way: “He has a history of accusing people of whatever he’s being accused of. Collusion? Democrats colluded on the dossier! Blue wave? Red wave coming!”
  • Fear trumps friendship. Trump wants his inferiors to fear him and hold him in awe. He likes watching them duke it out in front of him.
  • Loyalty trumps talent. Case in point: Michael Cohen. No serious person would employ Michael Cohen as their personal attorney — a point Trump has belatedly acknowledged himself. But as Cohen used to say, he’d “take a bullet” for Donald Trump. Oops.
  • Never admit you are — or did — wrong.  Trump’s #MeToo advice, per Bob Woodward’s “Fear”: “You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women. If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead.”

— Jonathan Swan, Mike Allen, Jim VandeHei, Axios, The Trump Rules for Life and Leadership, September 11, 2018

Quote of the Day: Churches Are Becoming Organizations by Robert Ingersoll

robert g ingersoll

Churches are becoming political organizations… It probably will not be long until the churches will divide as sharply upon political, as upon theological questions; and when that day comes, if there are not liberals enough to hold the balance of power, this Government will be destroyed. The liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church. Wherever the Bible and sword are in partnership, man is a slave. All laws for the purpose of making man worship God, are born of the same spirit that kindled the fires of the auto da fe, and lovingly built the dungeons of the Inquisition. All laws defining and punishing blasphemy — making it a crime to give your honest ideas about the Bible, or to laugh at the ignorance of the ancient Jews, or to enjoy yourself on the Sabbath, or to give your opinion of Jehovah, were passed by impudent bigots, and should be at once repealed by honest men. An infinite God ought to be able to protect himself, without going in partnership with State Legislatures. Certainly he ought not so to act that laws become necessary to keep him from being laughed at. No one thinks of protecting Shakespeare from ridicule, by the threat of fine and imprisonment. It strikes me that God might write a book that would not necessarily excite the laughter of his children. In fact, I think it would be safe to say that a real God could produce a work that would excite the admiration of mankind. Surely politicians could be better employed than in passing laws to protect the literary reputation of the Jewish God.

— Robert Ingersoll, Some Mistakes of Moses, 1879

Bruce Gerencser