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My Response to Keith Myers’ Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News

letter to the editor

In June, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News about a letter the paper published from Patrick Holt, the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Grover Hill, Ohio. You can read my letter here. Holt quickly responded, and I rebutted his letter. Several local Fundamentalist Christians (members in Holt’s church?) responded to my rebuttal, including Keith Myers. (See other posts about Patrick Holt.)

Before I get to Myers’ “response” to me, let me first post the letter he is responding to:

Dear Editor,

What follows is my rebuttal of Patrick Holt’s recent letter to the editor.

I never mentioned Pastor Holt’s school shootings “argument” because it is absurd. Holt sees a connection between banning school prayer, Bible reading, and the Ten Commandments in public schools, and school shootings. When he and I were in school, cell phones had not been invented. There were few school shootings. Now virtually every public school student has a cell phone and we have frequent school shootings. Using Holt’s logic, I could easily conclude that cellphones caused the increase in school shootings. I can make the same argument with birth control. Absurd, right? Holt should stop reading the Bible, and read up on the “correlation implies causation” fallacy. Holt wrongly thinks that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between prayer/Bible reading/Ten commandments and school shootings. He provides no evidence for this claim other than he thinks it’s true.

Holt forgets the discussion we had on my blog. He is not a stranger to me. Further, Holt is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher. I am generally considered an expert on the IFB church movement. I was raised in the IFB church, attended an IFB college, married an IFB pastor’s daughter, pastored IFB churches, and I continue to closely follow the machinations of the IFB church movement. I know Holt’s beliefs quite well. Holt made no attempt to rebut my claims. I assume, then, that my assessment was spot on.

Holt’s soteriological and eschatological beliefs force him to see the world as fallen, in a continued state of decline. I reject his beliefs out of hand. The current attack by the religious right on women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and the separation of church and state rests squarely on the shoulders of Holt and his ilk. The “godless” have no power. While we “godless” are rapidly increasing in number, seven out of ten Americans identify as Christian. If Holt is looking for someone to blame, I suggest he look in the mirror. As a humanist, my goal is to make the world a safer place to live. Instead of blaming atheists for school shootings, put the blame where it belongs: non-existent gun laws, easy access to weapons of mass carnage, and our nation’s continued worship of the AR-15. The solution to school shootings is right in front of us. Or we could just keep praying . . .

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Now to Paul Myers’ letter. My response is indented and italicized.

The letter to the editor in the July 5 Crescent-News by Bruce Gerencser puzzled me. The author blames Pastor Holt and the religious right for society’s problems and makes fun of Pastor Holt’s theory of cause and effect. The author then uses the cause and effect theory to suggest a solution to mass shootings.

Please read my letter above and see if you can find any place where I “blamed Pastor Holt and the religious right for society’s problems.” All I did was point out the absurdity of his arguments and suggested that he look in the mirror if he is looking for someone to blame. Holt sees a cause and effect where there is none. As I clearly showed, there’s no connection between school shootings and school prayer/Bible reading. None, nada, zip. I tried to show how absurd Holt’s claims were, but my attempt to do so was lost on Holt and Myers. Logic meets cement.

Where is his evidence that his theory is correct other than his beliefs that it is true? By his own standard if Pastor Holt’s belief is absurd, then Mr. Gerencser’s belief is equally absurd.

Sigh. (Please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh.”) Myers totally missed my point. I offered up no comprehensive solution for school shootings. I have one, but that wasn’t the point of my letter. My goal was to challenge Holt’s religious Fundamentalism and his faulty moral foundation.

What is the answer to these mass shootings? Maybe we should start with one of God’s commandments “thou shalt not kill.” That commandment has been so popular that most societies have made it a law, but Mr. Gerencser doesn’t want that taught in schools.

Myers and Holt would have us believe that if public school students were just forced to read and recite and memorize the Ten Commandments, school shootings would be a thing of the past. These men provide no evidence for their claim outside of “the Bible says _________,” and “it seems right to me.” I can’t think of any possible way that reciting “thou shalt not kill” in public schools will in any way make a difference when it comes to school shootings. Offer real solutions such as gun control, strict licensure, universal background checks, and banning assault rifles/high-capacity magazines, and Myers and Holt will be screaming about their Second Amendment Rights. In their minds, the Bible is some sort of supernatural book with magical powers, including stopping mass shooters and high-velocity bullets. Talk about absurd.

According to Mr. Gerencser, we must keep a “separation of church and state,” even though that phrase is not found in our constitution or its amendments.

Lots of things aren’t mentioned in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights: God, church, church tax exemption, clergy housing allowance, homeschooling, and a plethora of other things Myers cherishes. There was a day when Baptists without exception believed in the strict separation of church and statement. Today, such believers are hard to find. Christian nationalism has infected countless Evangelical churches. Theocrats know that the separation of church and state stands in the way of their overthrow of our secular society. So, they rewrite history, quote disgraced author David Barton, and pretend that the original framers of our Constitution wanted a theocracy all along. Such people are an existential threat to our democracy.

We wouldn’t want good wisdom like that to guide our children to care about others. We must totally remove God and those who believe in Him from society. We must stop reading our Bibles so that man can live in peace and harmony. That is according to the self-proclaimed humanist.

Myers evidently is unfamiliar with my writing and my letters to local newspapers over the years. Had he bothered to educate himself, he would have learned that I support teaching the Bible to middle school and high school students. Damn, Bruce, didn’t see that coming. Every public school student should be required to take a comparative religion class and a religious literature class. Of course, Myers and Holt don’t want this. They know that teaching children about the various world regions and holy texts would put a real dent in the supremacy of Christianity. Myers and Holy only want one religion taught in public schools: theirs.

For the record, I think students should be required to take logic and philosophy classes too. I even think they should be taught creationism, not in a science class, but in a literature class, right next to other creation and flood myths.

Knowledge is power. The sooner students are exposed to Christianity, the better. The same goes for Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Paganism, Satanism, atheism, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, to name a few.

It’s obvious the letter has only one purpose like all of Mr. Gerencser’s letters: to try to persuade Christians to give up their faith in God and join his “humanism” as they skip and dance on their merry way to their reward.

I am just one man with a story to tell, yet Myers sees me as an existential threat to Christianity; that my goal is to persuade Christians to deconvert. Nothing could be further from the truth. Would the world be better off if it embraced humanism (both secular and religious)? Absolutely. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon. When I write letters to the newspaper, I do so because someone has to be a voice of reason, science, and common sense. Letters from Trumpists and Christian Fundamentalists fill the editorial page of the Crescent-News. I want readers to know that these neanderthals don’t speak for everyone; that there are people out there who are moral and ethical without God; that not everyone voted for Trump; that not everyone is trying to burn down sixty years of social progress.

I love how Myers subtly suggested that I am headed for Hell. Oh, he didn’t say this directly, but he meant it with his line “skip and dance on their merry way to their [humanist] reward.” I can’t skip or dance these days, and the only reward coming my way is death. Sorry, but I’m immune to threats of Hell and eternal torture.

I’m curious when Mr. Gerencser was a pastor did God exist because he believed in Him or was he just lying to his congregations?

Ah, yes, Myers shows that he is a card-carrying member of the Christian Asshole Club. Of course, I believed in the existence of God. I believed in the existence of the Christian deity for fifty years. To suggest that I was lying to the churches I pastored is just Myers’ way of smearing my character. He’s one of these Christians who can’t or won’t understand (or accept) that beliefs can and do change. That’s his problem, not mine.

Saved by Reason,

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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.

My Response to IFB Pastor Patrick Holt’s Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News

bible baptist church grover hill ohio (1)

Earlier this week, the Defiance Crescent-News published Patrick Holt’s response to my letter about his previous letter.

Here is what I had to say:

Dear Editor,

Patrick Holt is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher. Stuck in the 1950s, Holt thinks America would be great again if we just returned to the homophobic, racist, misogynistic 50s; a return to the days when Evangelical Christianity ruled the roost. Holt looks at our culture and sees decline, decay, and godlessness. He blames these failures on the removal of Bible reading, prayer, and the Ten Commandments from public schools. If only our progeny were led in daily prayer and Bible reading by their teachers and taught the Ten Commandments, our culture would magically return to the glory days of the 1950s.

That ship has sailed, never to return. The 1950s were hardly what Holt intimates them to be. Racism. Homophobia. Misogyny. Patriarchalism. McCarthyism. Criminalization of birth control and abortion. Shall I go on? Those of us who value social progress, equality, and equal protection under the law have a very different view of the world. We intend to push back when Evangelicals try to drag us back to the “good old days.” Evangelical Christianity is dying on the vine. Younger Americans are abandoning organized religion in record numbers. The number of atheists, agnostics, and nones continues to grow, now equaling Evangelicals as a voting bloc.

Holt would have us believe that the only thing keeping him from being a thief and murderer is Jesus. Is that not the conclusion we must come to when he says “Godlessness leads to lawlessness?” I don’t know about Holt, but I murder all the people I want to. I burglarize as many of my neighbors as I want to. I just don’t want to. The unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world have moral and ethical values — no God needed.

This Saturday, Defiance will have its first Pride Walk. I have no doubt that Holt will see this event as yet another sign of decay and depravity, a sign of the soon return of the dead Jesus. I plan to be at the Pride Walk. I am sixty-five years old, by all accounts a curmudgeon. Yet, I know that a better tomorrow requires justice and equality for all. I have thirteen grandchildren. I want a better future for them. I understand Holt’s beliefs. I once was an IFB preacher, an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I also know that it is possible to break free from the narrow, bigoted, anti-human beliefs of Evangelical Christianity.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Holt, the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Grover Hill, Ohio, replied:

Dear Editor,

I recently wrote a letter concerning the past and recent mass shootings in schools. I mentioned that when I was in school that there were no shootings and that prayer, the Bible and the Ten Commandments were then present. People wanted those three removed and now our schools have mass shootings.

Also mentioned was the attempt at removing those three from our society. The published response never mentioned anything about the school shootings, just a number of accusations that the writer perceived in his mind.

The author did a “Wizard of Oz” trick. Remember when Toto pulled back the curtain? The wizard said something similar to this: “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Otherwise, divert attention away from the obvious.

The author, a former preacher and pastor, claims to know what I think and believe. Sorry, that’s not possible, unless you are prophet, a mind reader or the Lord Jesus. What do we have now? Mass shootings everywhere. Murder and crime are increasing rapidly.

The author states that Christianity is dying and that those without God are taking control. So in his words what we have today is a result of those without God taking control.

Remember you can decide what you want or do not want, but you cannot change what the result will be. Look around you folks. What is going on, according to the author, is a result of those without God.

Patrick Holt
Grover Hill

Tonight, I submitted a rebuttal to the newspaper.

Dear Editor,

What follows is my rebuttal of Patrick Holt’s recent letter to the editor.

I never mentioned Pastor Holt’s school shootings “argument” because it is absurd. Holt sees a connection between banning school prayer, Bible reading, and the Ten Commandments in public schools, and school shootings. When he and I were in school, cell phones had not been invented. There were few school shootings. Now virtually every public school student has a cell phone and we have frequent school shootings. Using Holt’s logic, I could easily conclude that cellphones caused the increase in school shootings. I can make the same argument with birth control. Absurd, right? Holt should stop reading the Bible, and read up on the “correlation implies causation” fallacy. Holt wrongly thinks that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between prayer/Bible reading/Ten commandments and school shootings. He provides no evidence for this claim other than he thinks it’s true.

Holt forgets the discussion we had on my blog. He is not a stranger to me. Further, Holt is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher. I am generally considered an expert on the IFB church movement. I was raised in the IFB church, attended an IFB college, married an IFB pastor’s daughter, pastored IFB churches, and I continue to closely follow the machinations of the IFB church movement. I know Holt’s beliefs quite well. Holt made no attempt to rebut my claims. I assume, then, that my assessment was spot on.

Holt’s soteriological and eschatological beliefs force him to see the world as fallen, in a continued state of decline. I reject his beliefs out of hand. The current attack by the religious right on women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and the separation of church and state rests squarely on the shoulders of Holt and his ilk. The “godless” have no power. While we “godless” are rapidly increasing in number, seven out of ten Americans identify as Christian. If Holt is looking for someone to blame, I suggest he look in the mirror. As a humanist, my goal is to make the world a safer place to live. Instead of blaming atheists for school shootings, put the blame where it belongs: non-existent gun laws, easy access to weapons of mass carnage, and our nation’s continued worship of the AR-15. The solution to school shootings is right in front of us. Or we could just keep praying . . .

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

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.

Letter to the Editor: My Response to IFB Pastor Patrick Holt

bible baptist church grover hill ohio

Recently, Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher Patrick Holt, who pastors Bible Baptist Church in Grover Hill, Ohio, wrote a letter to the Defiance Crescent News decrying the decline and depravity he sees everywhere he looks. He blames these things on “liberals,” saying if we just allowed school teachers to lead children in (Christian) prayers and (Protestant Christian) Bible readings and taught them the Ten Commandments (which Holt doesn’t keep), the United States will magically return to the glory days of the 1950s. Never mind the fact that most Americans are Christians, so if he wants to place blame, I suggest he look in the mirror.

Here’s what Holt had to say:

Liberals got what they wanted

It is definitely a tragedy with the recent and past mass shootings at our public schools. Debate continues on about guns being the problem.

I graduated in 1967. Guys driving their pickup trucks to school may possibly have had a gun rack with a shotgun or a rifle in the back glass. Semi-automatic guns had been invented by that time. But there were no mass shootings in our public schools.

During the 12 years of my schooling, the day would start as a student read a Bible verse and then followed by another student reading a prayer over the PA system. Then Mr. Dunlap would make the announcements. But along that time there was the liberal left party which said it didn’t want the Bible, prayer and the Ten Commandments in our public schools. And they got their wish.

Shortly after that they said they didn’t want those terrible three in our society. And they have been fairly successful at that. So what they were asking for was a godless school system and a godless society.

Now you have the right to choose what you want or don’t want, but you cannot choose what the outcome will be. You can choose to drink and to drive, but then you shouldn’t complain about the results of your choice.

The liberal, leftist party said, “We don’t want that commandment that says, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ taught to our children in school.” Toss it out. You got your request and the results.

Remember when you point your finger and say, “guns are the problem,” you have three fingers pointing back at you. Those three fingers are: no Bible, no prayer and no Ten Commandments. You got your wish and the results.

You see, if we are godless, then we are lawless. Own up to who is at fault. The problem is not what is in a person’s hand, but what is in their heart.

Patrick Holt

Grover Hill

Here’s my response, which I submitted to the newspaper today.

Dear Editor,

Patrick Holt is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher. Stuck in the 1950s, Holt thinks America would be great again if we just returned to the homophobic, racist, misogynistic 50s; a return to the days when Evangelical Christianity ruled the roost. Holt looks at our culture and sees decline, decay, and godlessness. He blames these failures on the removal of Bible reading, prayer, and the Ten Commandments from public schools. If only our progeny were led in daily prayer and Bible reading by their teachers and taught the Ten Commandments, our culture would magically return to the glory days of the 1950s.

That ship has sailed, never to return. The 1950s were hardly what Holt intimates them to be. Racism. Homophobia. Misogyny. Patriarchalism. McCarthyism. Criminalization of birth control and abortion. Shall I go on? Those of us who value social progress, equality, and equal protection under the law have a very different view of the world. We intend to push back when Evangelicals try to drag us back to the “good old days.” Evangelical Christianity is dying on the vine. Younger Americans are abandoning organized religion in record numbers. The number of atheists, agnostics, and nones continues to grow, now equaling Evangelicals as a voting bloc.

Holt would have us believe that the only thing keeping him from being a thief and murderer is Jesus. Is that not the conclusion we must come to when he says “Godlessness leads to lawlessness?” I don’t know about Holt, but I murder all the people I want to. I burglarize as many of my neighbors as I want to. I just don’t want to. The unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world have moral and ethical values — no God needed.

This Saturday, Defiance will have its first Pride Walk. I have no doubt that Holt will see this event as yet another sign of decay and depravity, a sign of the soon return of the dead Jesus. I plan to be at the Pride Walk. I am sixty-five years old, by all accounts a curmudgeon. Yet, I know that a better tomorrow requires justice and equality for all. I have thirteen grandchildren. I want a better future for them. I understand Holt’s beliefs. I once was an IFB preacher, an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I also know that it is possible to break free from the narrow, bigoted, anti-human beliefs of Evangelical Christianity.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Previous articles about Patrick Holt

IFB Pastor Patrick Holt Thinks I Hate Christians, God, and the Bible

2009-2019: Local Responses to My Letters to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News (search for Patrick Holt or Grover Hill)

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.

Dear Mrs. C, a Guest Post by ObstacleChick

prayer in schools
Cartoon by David Horsey

A guest post by ObstacleChick

Mrs. C: Recently, you posted on social media a statement to which I really wanted to respond, but I chose to refrain. Why? Because I know that social media is a poor place to debate political, religious, or social issues, so I remained silent. Your post is as follows: “How to fix America….put Jesus back in all the places you asked Him to leave: Home, School, Government, Church and Your Heart.”

For four years, you were my high school math teacher at a K-12 fundamentalist Christian school. Starting my senior year, you had just retired, yet when your replacement — a former student with a master’s degree in math — could not handle five preparatory classes and quit after six weeks, you came back to finish the school year. In fact, I heard that you continued to teach for fifteen years after your originally planned retirement date. You were committed to teaching students, and I’m sure you could have told us a lot about your religious beliefs had women been allowed to speak in chapel services at school. As it was, all teachers were required to be Christian and to follow certain rules of conduct even outside school (like not going to movie theaters), so there was no doubt that the “witness” of the teachers for Jesus was apparent to students both inside and outside campus boundaries.

With regard to your post, I’m sure that the sentiment makes complete sense to you, living in a suburb of Nashville where the majority of your neighbors identify as some sort of Christian – specifically Evangelical Christian. Sure, you may disagree on finer points of doctrine such as whether musical instruments should be used in worship service, or whether women should wear skirts/dresses to worship services, but I suspect that the vast majority of your neighbors would agree (or at least state that they agree) that Jesus should be present in all aspects of private and public life, and that America is going to hell in a handbasket because the Evangelical God is not a mandatory part of public life.

I would like you to think about other areas of the country, areas which are more diverse in population. For example, I live in a town in New Jersey, just 20 minutes from Manhattan. Our town was settled by mostly Italian Catholic families. As time went on, more and more residents moved in with names like Torres, Patel, Silverstein, and Qureshi. Today, about thirty percent of the town is populated by families with names like Kim, Takahashi, and Chang. While the majority of residents are still Catholic, there is a large demographic of protestant Asians, a smaller demographic of Jewish residents, and a handful of Hindus and Muslims, as well as a few non-religious or atheists like my family. Our elementary school used to start teaching Italian to students beginning in third grade, but parents petitioned the school to begin teaching the arguably more useful Spanish instead. Our school district is made up of seven towns with demographics similar to our town, and we have a large enough Jewish population that the school district is closed on Jewish holidays.

Mrs. C, you speak of bringing Jesus back to the schools, and I assume you mean you would like to see mandatory prayer in the schools. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that mandatory prayers would occur during homeroom, and the prayers are supposed to be prayed to generic “God” and not specifically to Jesus. Under this scenario, Mrs. Shapiro or Mr. Elqariani could lead prayers to a generic “God” and not necessarily feel offended. However, I’m not sure to whom Ms. Patel would pray as Hindus have many gods. Would she just pray to a generic “God” even though her gods have many names? Maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe just a generic prayer over the loudspeaker system each morning would suffice. But, I’m not sure that solves your issue of putting Jesus specifically back into schools.

Definitely, I AM overthinking this. Since I’ve been out of Evangelical Christianity for twenty-five years, I almost forgot the number one rule of Fundamentalist l Christianity: that it is imperative to proselytize anyone who doesn’t believe in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is, no matter how devout or moral people of another religion or no religion might be, if they have not made a confession of sin and profession of faith in the life, substitutionary atonement of Jesus and his resurrection three days later, they are lost and require evangelistic intervention from believers. Without Jesus, they are destined for eternal torment in hell. I was going through different scenarios where prayers could be given in public schools, thinking of allowing Muslim students to pray to Allah, allowing Buddhist students to offer prayers as they wish, and for Hindu students to pray as their belief allows. But that isn’t what you want, is it, Mrs. C? When you say that Jesus should be put back into schools, that is LITERALLY what you mean. Not that students of other religions should be mandated to pray, either in general or to the deity of their choosing. Not that volunteer imams or priests or rabbis should visit the school and offer prayers. No, those clerics are unsaved or apostates. You believe that the number one priority of Evangelical Christians is to witness to the “lost.” And while you may grudgingly permit those of other faiths to pray in an occasional gesture of ecumenicism, what you really want is your version of Christianity to be the one faith to which everyone is exposed. Most of all, you want public school students to hear prayers to YOUR deity –the Evangelical Christian God.

How about we look at a different scenario, Mrs. C? Let’s say your grandson goes to my district’s high school. He plays soccer and really wants to make the varsity team. He goes to tryouts and notices before practice that most of the boys who were on the team last year are kneeling on prayer rugs and praying to Allah with Mr. Assad, the coach. Your grandson notices this happens every day. He and the other boys really want to be favorably noticed by Mr. Assad in order to secure a spot on the team, so your grandson goes home and asks his parents to buy him a prayer rug. I suspect, Mrs. C, that you would have a fit.

Maybe these questions are part of the reason why judges saw the merit in upholding the establishment clause in our Constitution. Why don’t we leave Jesus where he belongs — in the privacy of your home, heart, and church — and let our public spaces be free of religion.

Do School Shootings Happen Because the Evangelical God is Banned From Public Schools?

god banned atheist pigEvangelicals often claim that the reason for school shootings is that the Christian God has been banned from public schools. According to Evangelicals, all sorts of maladies afflict our society due to the fact that prayer, Bible reading, and the Ten Commandments have been litigated out of public schools. If only people would see the importance of the Christian God (and only the Christian God) in educating children and return him to his rightful place, why all sorts of societal ills would disappear overnight. The same argument is made for banning abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage and any of the other hot-button issues Evangelicals deem a threat to their God and way of life.

This argument, of course, is patently false. God isn’t banned from public schools. I attend several local high school girls’ basketball games each week in the winter month. Many of these games have prayer times by led by players before and after the games. Such student-led prayers are legal. I don’t care for the prayers, and I refuse to stand silently in the stands until the prayers are done. Not my God, so I am not going to give my approval to such bawdy displays of religiosity. That said, students are free to pray, read the Bible, and have a Ten Commandments book cover. Teachers are free to do the same during their breaks or other times when they are not teaching their students. What schools and teachers are not permitted to do is advance or evangelize for sectarian religious beliefs.

Most local schools have Christian student groups, including groups associated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (an Evangelical ministry whose goal is to “present to coaches and athletes, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church”). Youth for Christ has an active presence in many schools. Local churches are free to rent/use school facilities. Over the years, new church plants have used local school buildings as their meeting places. Local school boards are dominated by Christians, and I suspect most teachers profess some form of Christian faith. It seems, then, that the Christian God is alive and well in public schools.

What upsets Evangelicals is that they can no longer demand preferential treatment for their religious cult. If Satanist, atheist, or secular students want to start student-led clubs, they are free to go so. If Satanists on school sports teams want to offer a prayer up to Beelzebub before the start of the game, they are free to do so. Evangelicals want exclusivity and it irritates the heaven out of them that other sects and groups are given equal status.

What kind of God allows children to be murdered, all because his adult followers aren’t allowed to proselytize public school students? What a vindictive, petty God this is, akin to a man who burns down a house with his ex-wife and children in it, all because his ex wouldn’t let him in the door. Such a God is not worthy of worship. Worse yet, are Evangelicals of a Calvinistic bent who believe school shootings are all part of some sort of perverse cosmic plan. According to Calvinists, these children were murdered because God willed it to be done. It is God who ultimately fires the bullet that kills us all.

Such a God is an abomination, one unworthy of worship, love, and devotion. This is one of the things that makes it clear such a God does not exist. A moral, loving God would neither be an instrument of murder, nor would it stand by while children (and teachers) are killed by deranged gunmen. What the school shootings tell us is that the Christian God is either a work of fiction or he is too busy to be bothered with the pain and suffering of his creation. If God has the powers Evangelicals say he does, he could have stopped Nikolas Cruz from killing seventeen and wounding four of his fellow students (including several school staff members). That God did nothing is a sure sign that he doesn’t exist. Evangelicals love to tell us mere humans that we are sinners deserving judgment from their God and eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire. Yet, I suspect many of us sinners, if given the opportunity, would have done all we could to protect children from murder. Unlike God, we value life, especially that of those who are in the early years of this wonderful experience we call life. That it was humans, not God, who tried to protect children from slaughter is yet another reminder of the fact that God is, at best, an absentee father who has no interest in his children.

If the root cause of mass shootings is the Evangelical God being kicked out of our culture and schools, how then do Evangelicals explain the shooting at an Evangelical Baptist Church that claimed the lives of twenty-six God-fearing souls? How then do Evangelicals explain Dylan Roof’s murder of nine Christians while they were praying at church? Surely, the people killed in these shootings were devoted followers of Jesus, yet God, as he does in EVERY case, stood by and did nothing. In fact, based on demographics, it is likely that many of the students murdered in the school shootings over the past three decades were believers in the Christian God. What possible reason could be given for the Christian God — he who holds the keys of life and death — wiping these people off the face of the earth?

Well, you know Bruce, God’s ways are not our way.

No shit, Sherlock. And you wonder why atheism is growing?

God is not going to fix the school shooting problem. It’s up to us, just as is everything else in life. Waiting for God to act is a fool’s errand, one that leads to countless heartaches. We are the Gods in this morality play, and it is time we exercise our divine powers and put an end to gun violence. It’s time to run the NRA and their Republican lackeys out of town. It’s time we recognize that guns are instruments of death, and a country without 300 million of them would be a better place to live. While a total gun ban will never be implemented in the United States, we can ban weapons capable of causing horrific bloodshed in short amounts of time.

Or we can put prayer and Bible reading back in the public schools….

Bruce Gerencser