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Tag: Pro-Life

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

preaching anti abortion gospel lexington kentucky (5)

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

In 2017, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker struck down an Alabama law that “enabled judges to put minors seeking abortions through a trial-like proceeding in which the fetus could get a lawyer and prosecutors could object to the pregnant girl’s wishes.” (CBS News)

According to CBS News:

Alabama legislators in 2014 changed the state’s process for girls who can’t or won’t get their parents’ permission for an abortion to obtain permission from a court instead. The new law empowered the judge to appoint a guardian ad litem “for the interests of the unborn child” and invited the local district attorney to call witnesses and question the girl to determine whether she’s mature enough to decide.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker sided Friday with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, writing that the law unconstitutionally and impermissibly imposes “an undue burden on a minor in Alabama who seeks an abortion through a judicial bypass,” and violates the girl’s privacy rights by enabling a prosecutor to call witnesses against her will.

Both the judge and the ACLU said they were aware of no other state with such a law.

Every state requiring parental consent for abortions involving minors must also have a “judicial bypass” procedure so that girls can get a judge’s approval in a way that is effective, confidential, and expeditious, the ACLU said.

The state had argued that the law was intended to allow a “meaningful” inquiry into the minor’s maturity and the process was still a “confidential, and expeditious option for a teenager who seeks an abortion without parental consent.”

The civil rights organization said it had the opposite effect, by enabling lawyers for the state or the fetus to subpoena the minor’s teacher, neighbor, relative or boyfriend to testify she’s too immature to choose an abortion, or that continuing the pregnancy would be in her best interest.

It is unclear how many such proceedings have happened since the law was enacted. Walker noted that a district attorney this summer opposed the abortion request of a 12-year-old girl who had been impregnated by a relative.

That Alabama legislators — most of whom worship the Evangelical Christian God — enacted such a draconian, anti-woman, anti-abortion law should surprise no one. Anti-abortionists will not rest until they have banned abortion, criminalized its practice, and granted personhood to human zygotes. In fact, most anti-abortionists object to abortion for any reason — including rape and incest. Some anti-abortionists even go so far as to oppose abortion even if the life of the mother is at stake, believing that God is the giver and taker of life, and if he wants the mother to live he will make it so.

Not only do anti-abortionists oppose abortion for any reason, an increasing number of them object to the sale and distribution of birth control, believing that God alone opens and closes the womb. These zealots, knowing that access to birth control reduces the need for abortion services, choose to let their peculiar interpretations of an ancient religious text trump what is best not only for women, but for the unwanted children they will bring into the world if they don’t have access to birth control.

Previously, I wrote that I no longer use the phrase pro-life to describe those who oppose abortion. The reason is simple. Anti-abortionists are only pro-life when it comes to the unborn. They will go to the ends of the earth to protect human zygotes and unborn fetuses, but once babies are born, anti-abortionists lose all interest in their welfare outside of throwing a few diapers and cans of formula the way of new mothers. Anti-abortionists are overwhelmingly Republican, supporting policies that harm countless people, including mothers and newborns. Anti-abortionists are overwhelmingly pro-war, pro-capital punishment, anti-euthanasia, anti-single payer/universal health care, and a host of other positions that should, in my mind, be inconsistent with people who hold a pro-life viewpoint. While I am sure that more than a few anti-abortionists are not as I describe here, the loudest voices in the movement support policies that are anti-family.

This is why it is impossible for those of us who support a woman’s right to an abortion to find common ground with anti-abortionists. Theologically driven, anti-abortionists will accept no compromise. Supporting abortion rights is, in the anti-abortionist’s mind, akin to supporting murder. I find it hard to work with people who think that, because of my views on abortion, I am a murderer. Even my support of morning-after drugs is viewed as advocating murder. In the eyes of anti-abortionists, the moment sperm and egg unite in the wombs of women, the results are human beings that should have the same constitutional and legal protections as I have. Insane! you say. Yes, but make no mistake about it, if anti-abortionists have their way, aborting a fetus will be considered premeditated murder, worthy, ironically, of the death penalty. Currently, anti-abortionists, as they continue their incremental assault on Roe v. Wade, are attempting to pass state laws that require burials for aborted or miscarried fetuses. According to the Guttmacher Institute, anti-abortionists continue to make it harder and harder for women to receive abortions. Currently:

  • Physician and Hospital Requirements: 38 states require an abortion to be performed by a licensed physician. 19 states require an abortion to be performed in a hospital after a specified point in the pregnancy, and 17 states require the involvement of a second physician after a specified point.
  • Gestational Limits: 43 states prohibit abortions after a specified point in pregnancy, with some exceptions provided. The allowable circumstances are generally when an abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health. 
  • Partial-Birth” Abortion: 21 states have laws in effect that prohibit “partial-birth” abortion. 3 of these laws apply only to post-viability abortions.
  • Public Funding: 16 states use their own funds to pay for all or most medically necessary abortions for Medicaid enrollees in the state. 33 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the use of state funds except in those cases when federal funds are available: where the patient’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. In defiance of federal requirements, South Dakota limits funding to cases of life endangerment only.
  • Coverage by Private Insurance: 12 states restrict coverage of abortion in private insurance plans, most often limiting coverage only to when the patient’s life would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term. Most states allow the purchase of additional abortion coverage at an additional cost.
  • Refusal: 45 states allow individual health care providers to refuse to participate in an abortion. 42 states allow institutions to refuse to perform abortions, 16 of which limit refusal to private or religious institutions.
  • State-Mandated Counseling: 18 states mandate that individuals be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (5 states), the ability of a fetus to feel pain (13 states) or long-term mental health consequences for the patient (8 states).
  • Waiting Periods: 25 states require a person seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, usually 24 hours, between when they receive counseling and the procedure is performed. Twelve of these states have laws that effectively require the patient make two separate trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure.
  • Parental Involvement: 37 states require some type of parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion.  Twenty-seven states require one or both parents to consent to the procedure, while 10 require that one or both parents be notified.

Here in Ohio, most abortions are banned after twenty weeks. As of January 2021, Ohio law requires:

  • A patient must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins, thereby necessitating two trips to the facility.
  • Health plans offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion in cases of life endangerment, or in cases of rape or incest.
  • Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • Medication abortion must be provided using the FDA protocol.
  • The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • Most patients will undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion, since the provider must test for a fetal heartbeat. The patient will be offered the option to view the image.
  • An abortion may be performed at 20 or more weeks postfertilization (22 weeks after the last menstrual period) only in cases of life endangerment or severely compromised health. This law is based on the assertion, which is inconsistent with scientific evidence and has been rejected by the medical community, that a fetus can feel pain at that point in pregnancy.
  • The state requires abortion clinics to meet unnecessary and burdensome standards related to their physical plant, equipment and staffing.

Since 2011, Ohio Republican governors John Kasich and Mike DeWine have signed into law scores of anti-abortion laws, resulting in the closure of most of Ohio’s abortion clinics. Nine remain. Showing that they will not be satisfied until ALL abortion is outlawed, Ohio anti-abortionists are attempting to pass a fetal heartbeat bill that, if enacted, will effectively ban all abortions in Ohio. 

Adopting a scorched earth policy where no quarter will be given, anti-abortionists despise anyone who dares to deviate from their extremist views. Those of us who support a woman’s right to choose have no hope of finding ways to meaningfully work with anti-abortionists to reduce the number of abortions. So, we go it alone, advocating for easy, free access to birth control and comprehensive sex education in public schools. Realizing that there will always be unwanted/accidental pregnancies — for whatever reason — we believe that access to morning-after drugs is essential.

Dark is the hour for those of us who support a woman’s right to choose, but we must not give in or lose hope. We must continue to fight, pushing back at every turn, until the gains made by anti-abortionists are overturned — either through legislatures or the judicial system.

Recently, according to the Guttmacher Institute, the U.S. Supreme Court [announced it] will hear a case to decide whether states can ban at least some abortions before fetal viability—directly challenging its decision in Roe v. Wade. The announcement to hear the case on a 15-week Mississippi abortion ban comes as abortion rights are already under unrelenting assault around the country, with states on pace to enact a record number of abortion restrictions this year.

Other posts on abortion

Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Why Doesn’t God Hear and Answer the Prayers of Pro-Life Christians?

pray to end abortion

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Tens of millions of Christians, Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons are praying for the end of the “murderous” practice of abortion, yet fetuses continue to be aborted. Surely, millions of prayers from millions of Christians would get God’s attention, yes? Why is God ignoring these prayers? If God is pro-life, why doesn’t he do anything to stop abortion? If God is all-knowing, he knows who is going to have an abortion. If God is all-powerful, he has the capability to stop abortion. Millions of prayers are prayed by millions of Christians every day to an all-knowing, all-powerful God, yet abortion doctors continue to perform abortion procedures. Why?

It’s been almost fifty years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion, and despite non-stop attempts by right-wing Christians to force Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics out of business, women continue to have abortions. Billions upon billions of prayers have been uttered, yet abortion continues unabated. Pro-life yard signs. Pro-life billboards. Pro-life newspaper ads. Pro-life websites. Pro-life videos. Pro-life pickets. Pro-life marches. Pro-life sermons. Pro-life laws. Pro-life politicians. Yet, women continue to have abortions.

Based on the evidence at hand, God is either dead, not listening, or is pro-choice. Christians claim that the one true God is the Bible God, and that they are God’s chosen people, yet he has turned a deaf ear to their prayers. If abortion is the abomination Christians say it is and God does nothing about it, doesn’t this mean that he is either dead, powerless, or indifferent?  Perhaps it is time for Christians to accept the fact that their God is like Baal in 1 Kings 18. Elijah, when challenging the prophets of Baal to a God-duel, had this to say about Baal:

 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

Perhaps the reason the Christian God hasn’t answered the earnest pleadings of pro-life Christians is that he is on vacation, sleeping, or taking a shit. Or perhaps the Christian God is a fiction, and the only way to put an end to abortion is to work to make abortion safe, legal, and rare. Instead of waiting for God to do something, perhaps pro-lifers should embrace policies that drastically reduce the need for abortion. Instead of demonizing those of us who are pro-choice, how about working with us to make sure that teenagers and young adults have comprehensive sex education and access to free birth control?  How about making sure every woman in the United States has free access to birth control, thus eliminating the need for abortion? Or, you could just keep uttering prayers that make absolutely no difference.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Birth Control Paved the Way for All Sorts of Evil Says Rusty Thomas

rusty thomas

Once the church was seduced by Margaret Sanger, the angel of death and founder of Planned Parenthood, to embrace birth control, which separated sex from procreation, it paved the way for the world to embrace abortion on demand and all its adjacent evils (homosexuality, child molestation, the rape culture, and other deviant immoralities).

Sex with no commitment produces a people who treat their spouses or sinful partners (sex outside of marriage) as mere sex objects. Most, in this compromised state, refuse to muster the responsibility necessary to raise children.

Perhaps, it is past time for Christians to put the ax of God’s truth to the root of this bloody idolatrous tree. The church must first repent of the anti-child mentality inspired by the Devil himself, who came to kill, steal, and destroy.

The same reason why the world murders their offspring is the same reason why some Christians do the same or falsely believe that a barren womb is now the blessing and a fruitful womb is now the curse.

The American church, for the most part, rejects the Biblical truth that children are gifts, blessings, and God’s reward to faithful parents (Psalms 127:3-5). No, they believe children are burdens that interrupt our hectic American lifestyles that seeks personal fulfillment without being encumbered by the sacrificial love necessary to advance God’s Kingdom in the earth.

— Rusty Thomas, The Transformed Wife, PLEASE, Repent of the Anti-Child Mentality!, April 27, 2019

Thomas is the national director of Operation Save America, an anti-abortion “ministry.” He also operates Elijah Ministries

Abby Johnson is a Hypocrite When it Comes to Abortion

abby johnson anti abortion hypocrite

Evangelical and Roman Catholic blogs and news sites are buzzing with posts about the anti-abortion movie “Unplanned.” Starring Abby Johnson, a former clinic director for Planned Parenthood, the movie supposedly reveals the deep, dark, evil agenda of those who are pro-choice. According to the movie, Johnson had a come-to-Jesus moment and left Planned Parenthood after seeing an ultrasound of 13-week fetus and concluding that it was a baby. Anti-abortionists have turned Johnson into their latest saint, but as the following excerpt from Texas Monthly will show, her story contains omissions, contradictions, and outright lies. Nate Blakeslee writes:

As it happens, the discrepancy between Johnson’s account and Planned Parenthood’s records is just one of many problems with her story. Johnson describes my piece as the “sole source for every other abortion-supporting website to try and debunk my story.” This is flattering but far from true. My report followed on the heels of an account from the online magazine Salon, which was the first to report on an alternative reason Johnson may have quit her job: She had been disciplined by her boss shortly before she had her alleged conversion experience. Johnson, who was in her late twenties when she became clinic director, had been placed on a “performance improvement plan,” a fact she did not deny when I interviewed her not long after the Salon report came out. Johnson claimed she had fallen out of favor because she was resisting pressure to increase the number of abortions the clinic performed (a claim Planned Parenthood denies) and that she was never afraid she was going to be fired. But Salon discovered another curious fact. Johnson did not show up at the offices of the local anti-abortion organization, led by an activist named Shawn Carney, until nine days after she says she had her crisis of conscience. Oddly, she gave a local radio interview attacking Carney’s organization the day after she says she witnessed the disturbing ultrasound. (Johnson told me back in 2009 that she was still struggling with how to handle her crisis of conscience and wanted to keep up appearances.)

Then there was the Texas Observer story, which came out shortly after mine. Observer reporter Saul Elbein managed to land an interview with Johnson’s close friend Laura Kaminczak, who had remained tight with Johnson since college and who had been an assistant director at another Planned Parenthood clinic. The interview is more devastating to Johnson’s credibility than any set of records could ever be. Kaminczak knew all about Johnson’s troubles at work because she had the same troubles herself. She told the Observer that an email exchange between the two friends—one that discussed their respective coworkers in a highly inappropriate fashion—was discovered by one of Kaminczak’s subordinates, who took it up the chain of command. Kaminczak was fired, and Johnson was required to begin reporting to her own boss on a weekly basis.

According to Kaminczak, Johnson was upset, and she lashed out in a way calculated to cause the most harm she possibly could. “This whole thing is really just about a disgruntled employee,” Kaminczak told the Observer. “That’s all. It’s all just her way of getting back at [her boss].” Kaminczak said that Johnson did in fact mention seeing an abortion performed on an ultrasound not long before she quit but that she wasn’t at all upset about it. In fact, Johnson said the clinic’s increased use of ultrasound was likely to result in more effective procedures that were easier on the patient. There was certainly no description, replete with gruesome details, like the one she would later give. That story, Kaminczak said, was “bullshit.”

Johnson’s decision to join the Coalition for Life, the same anti-abortion group that had picketed her clinic for years, was “completely opportunistic,” Kaminczak told the Observer.

“She called me two weeks before this whole thing broke,” Kaminczak said, “and she told me she was thinking about going to the coalition. She had been having serious money problems—she’d been talking about bankruptcy—and she told me that Shawn [Carney] had promised her $3,000 speaking gigs if she came over.”

When Elbein questioned Johnson about Kaminczak’s account, she didn’t deny that the email exchange had occurred, but she insisted that it was not why she had been disciplined, and she denied having told her friend that she was considering declaring bankruptcy.

Johnson did go public with her story and was booked on Bill O’Reilly’s show shortly thereafter. From there the story of the converted clinic director began snowballing and never stopped—despite the investigative reporting done by myself and others.

Much as she did with Texas Monthly, Johnson has dismissed the Texas Observer, which has a long history of award-winning reporting, as a “liberal publication.” (Full disclosure: I worked there sixteen years ago.) But Elbein’s reporting speaks for itself. Kaminczak, who had, after all, just been fired by Planned Parenthood, had no incentive to come to her former employer’s defense. Nor did she have anything to gain by talking to the Observer; sometimes people just tell the truth because it is in their nature to do so.

And sometimes it is not. If you don’t want to believe Johnson’s close friend, how about Johnson herself? As I reported in my original story, Johnson’s own contemporaneous account on Facebook of her decision to leave the clinic does not line up well with the story she began telling publicly a month later. This is what she wrote on the night she quit:

Alright. Here’s the deal. I have been doing the work of two full time people for two years. Then, after I have been working my whole big butt off for them and prioritizing that company over my family, my friends and pretty much everything else in my life, they have the nerve to tell me that my job performance is “slipping.” WHAT???!!! That is crazy. Anyone that knows me knows how committed I was to that job. They obviously do not value me at all. So, I’m out and I feel really great about it!

Johnson never mentioned being pressured to increase abortions, witnessing the ultrasound-guided procedure, or suffering a moral crisis.

I confronted Johnson with these posts in the winter of 2009 in an interview at the offices of the Coalition for Life, which was just down the street from the clinic. Johnson sat on a couch with a cushion in her lap, not far from where she had sat when she told her conversion story for the very first time, to her erstwhile adversary Shawn Carney. He was perched nearby as I questioned Johnson, nodding supportively. Johnson told me, in essence, that the Facebook account was a cover story she cooked up until she could figure out what she really wanted to say.

One of Johnson’s conflicting explanations for why she left has to be false. How are we supposed to judge whether or not Johnson is telling the truth now? Well, in addition to the discrepancies outlined above, she also told me that abortions were performed by a for-profit company at Planned Parenthood (they are not), that local anti-abortion activists had never threatened physical violence (they had), and that she never made plans to go public with her story (she did).

And, of course, there are the records of the procedures performed—or not performed—on that fateful day in Bryan. Johnson seems to feel the version held by the Department of State Health Services—the ones the agency has refused to share with reporters—will vindicate her account. Unless the department changes its current policy, we may never know. But a person could be forgiven for asking if the release of the records would really change anything. If you view Abby Johnson’s story as an inspiring parable of redemption, there’s likely very little that would change your mind. Likewise, if you don’t think the government—or anyone else—should be telling women not to have abortions, are you really going to go see this movie?

The Abby Johnson story is a rabbit hole. I, for one, am climbing out. Enjoy the film.

Johnson, a Baptist-turned-Lutheran-turned-Episcopalian-turned Catholic, had two abortion herself before giving birth to her daughter. Johnson and her husband have seven children.

13 week fetus
13 week fetus

 

Recently, Johnson was quoted as saying, “I don’t believe in punishing women who seek to have abortion services.”  When asked if she supports abolishing abortion in Texas, Johnson replied, “Of course. But I don’t support bills that criminalize women.” Johnson believes women who have abortions are “victims,” not criminals. And therein is revealed the hypocrisy of Abby Johnson and many of her fellow anti-abortion zealots. If life begins at fertilization and abortion is murder, then those who materially participate in aborting a fetus are guilty of capital murder. Johnson wants abortion doctors prosecuted for murder, but not the women having the abortions. Of course, she has to believe this due to her own abortions. To say that women should be prosecuted for murdering their “babies” means that Johnson, herself, should be arrested and charged with a capital crime; a crime, by the way, that carries the death penalty in Texas.

In Texas, you don’t have to actually pull the trigger to be charged with murder. If you materially participate in a murder, in the eyes of the law you are just as guilty as the person who snuffed out a person’s life. If, as anti-abortionist say, abortion is murder, then everyone who participates in the procedure: doctor, nurse, clinic staff, and patient, are guilty of homicide. Is this not the logical conclusion of believing life begins at conception? Why do anti-abortionists such as Johnson refuse to own this fact? The same goes for anti-abortionists who make exceptions for rape and incest. The only rationally sound anti-abortion — I refuse to use the term pro-life since most pro-lifers are only concerned with the pre-born — position is one that outlaws and criminalizes abortion regardless of the reason.

Let me conclude this post with one further observation about the “abortion is murder” position. If it is God who opens and closes the womb, and Jesus holds in his hand the keys to life and death, doesn’t this make the Christian God the greatest abortionist and murderer since Adam and Eve got off the Ark? Far more inseminated eggs/fetuses are miscarried than are aborted. Who is culpable for these miscarriages? Damn, theology is a bitch, isn’t it? God alone is to blame for miscarriages, thus he is the greatest abortionist of all time. And if this is true, shouldn’t God be arrested, charged with murder, and executed? Most Evangelical anti-abortionists are pro-death penalty. These immoral hypocrites believe serial killers, mass murderers, and abortion doctors should be executed. Fine, but shouldn’t God face the same punishment? Or are his “murders” somehow different from those committed by mere mortals? Perhaps it is time for God to be strapped to a gurney and given a lethal injection. If abortion is murder, how can Evangelicals arrive at any other conclusion but this one?

Other posts on abortion

Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Abortion and the Religious Right

Quote of the Day: Why Women Have Abortions After 24 Weeks by Dr. Jen Gunter

Quote of the Day: The Facts About Late-Term Abortions by Dr. Jen Gunter

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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How My Political and Social Beliefs Evolved Over the Years

john birch society

A recent letter writer asked:

Were you always socially liberal and progressive “on the inside” or did that develop after deconverting? For example, were you always pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, and pro-transgender, and every time you read a bible verse got triggered, or did your social and political beliefs genuinely differ between being a Christian and being an atheist?

These are great questions. I believe the letter writer is asking if I always had liberal/progressive political and social beliefs or did these beliefs develop over time? I believe he is also asking if my political and social beliefs were different as a Christian from the beliefs I now have as an atheist? The best way to answer these questions is to share a condensed version of my life story.

In the early 1960s, my Dad packed up his family and moved from Bryan, Ohio to San Diego, California in search of riches and prosperity. While in California, my parents were saved at Scott Memorial Baptist Church, a Fundamentalist Baptist congregation pastored by Tim LaHaye. As members of Scott Memorial, Mom and Dad joined the right-wing, uber-nationalist John Birch Society. Mom, in particular, immersed herself in right-wing political ideology. She campaigned for Barry Goldwater, and would later actively support the presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon and George Wallace.

As was common for people of their generation, my parents were racists. They believed Martin Luther King, Jr. was a despicable man, a Communist. Mom was an avid writer of letters to the editors of the newspapers wherever we happened to be living at the time. She considered Lieutenant William Calley — the man responsible for the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War — to be a war hero. She also thought that the unarmed Kent State students gunned down by Ohio National Guard soldiers got exactly what they deserved.

It should come as no surprise then, that their oldest son — yours truly — embraced their religious and political views. From the time I was in kindergarten until I entered college at age twenty-one, I lived in a right-wing, Fundamentalist monoculture. The churches I attended growing up only reinforced the political and social beliefs taught to me by my parents.

In the fall of 1976, I enrolled for classes at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. Midwestern was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution founded in the 1950s by Tom Malone. While I don’t remember any “political” preaching, Biblical moral beliefs were frequently mentioned in classes and during chapel. I heard nothing that would challenge the political and social beliefs taught to me by my parents and pastors. While at Midwestern, I met a beautiful dark-haired woman who would later become my wife. She had similar political and social beliefs, so from that perspective we were a perfect match.

All told, I spent twenty-five years pastoring Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. For many of these years, I was a flag-waving, homophobic, theocratic pro-lifer who believed Democrats, liberals, progressives, Catholics, mainline Christians, and a cast of thousands were tools used by Satan to attack and destroy Christian America. Over time, I theologically moved away from the IFB church movement and embraced Fundamentalist Calvinism. While my theology was evolving, my political and social beliefs remained the same — that is, until 1990.

In late 1990, American tanks, aircraft, and soldiers invaded Iraq, causing tens of thousands of civilian deaths. I was appalled by the universal support Evangelicals gave to the Gulf War. I remember asking congregants if it bothered them that thousands of men, women, and children were slaughtered in their name. Not one of my colleagues in the ministry opposed the Gulf War. None of them seemed troubled by the bloodshed and carnage. Try as I might to see the Gulf War through the eyes of the Just War Theory, I couldn’t do so. It was at this point in life that I became a pacifist. I didn’t preach pacifism from the pulpit, but I did challenge church members to think “Biblically” about war and violence — “Biblically” meaning viewing the Gulf War and other wars through the eyes of Jesus and his teachings.

From this point forward, my political beliefs began to evolve. By the time of the Y2K scare, I had distanced myself from groups such as Focus on the Family, the Moral Majority, and the American Family Association. I thought, at the time, that these groups had become political hacks, shills for the Republican Party. In 2000, I voted for George W. Bush. He would be the last Republican I voted for. In 2004, I vote for John Kerry; 2008 and 2012 I voted for Barack Obama; 2016 I voted for Hillary Clinton, though I was a big Bernie Sanders supporter.

In 2005, I left the ministry, and in 2008 I left Christianity. At that time, my political and social beliefs were far removed from when I entered the ministry decades before. I began as a right-wing Republican and I left the ministry as a progressive. Embracing atheism, humanism, rationalism, and science has allowed me to challenge and rethink my beliefs about homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex-marriage, LGBTQ people, sex, marriage, birth control, capital punishment, labor unions, environmentalism, and a host of other hot-button issues. As long as I was in the Evangelical bubble, these things remained unchallenged. Once the Bible lost its authority and control over me, I was then free to change my beliefs.

The Bruce Gerencser of 1983 would not recognize the Bruce Gerencser of today. A man who was a member of one of the churches I pastored in the 1980s and remained a friend of mine until 2009, told me that I had changed teams. And he’s right. My change of beliefs has been so radical that this man told me he could no longer be friends with me. Why? He found my atheism and political beliefs to be too unsettling.

I understand how the trajectory of my life, with its changing religious, political, and social beliefs, troubles people. I try to put myself in their shoes as they attempt to reconcile the Pastor Bruce they once knew with the atheist blogger I am today. How can these things be? former congregants, friends, and colleagues in the ministry want to know. How is it possible that Bruce Gerencser, one of the truest Christians they ever knew, is now an atheist? Some people think there’s some secret I am sitting on, some untold reason for my deconversion. No matter how much time I invest in explaining myself, many people still can’t wrap their minds around my current godlessness and liberal political beliefs. I’ve concluded that there is nothing I can do for them as long as they remain firmly ensconced in the Evangelical bubble.

My political and social beliefs are driven by the humanist ideal; that we humans should work together for the common good; that every person deserves peace, health, happiness, and economic security. I support political and social beliefs that promote these things and oppose those that don’t. I certainly haven’t arrived. My beliefs continue to evolve.

For readers not familiar with humanism, let me conclude this post with the Humanist Manifesto. Atheism doesn’t provide for me a moral foundation. Atheism is simply the absence of belief in gods. It is humanism that provides me the foundation upon which to build my life:

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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Bruce Gerencser