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Tag: QAnon

I’m a Satanic, Gay, Atheist, Former Pastor

peanut gallery

Last Fall, Vice News came to our home here in Ney, Ohio, to interview me for a video titled QAnon Conspiracies Are Tearing Through Evangelical America. So far, the video has been viewed 1,500,000 times.

Video Link

As one might expect, the comments, 11,000+, have been quite entertaining. Evangelicals have attacked me in every way possible. (And there have been a number of complementary, supportive comments too.) I knew this would happen. After all, the video exposed Trumpist Pastor Greg Locke as a nutjob and conspiracy theorist. YouTube comments can be vicious. Jesus’ followers seem to set their Lord’s commandments aside when commenting on social media. That’s why they find Locke so appealing. He’s a vicious, nasty, violent liar. Personally, I find their comments quite entertaining (and sad), reminders of what lies in the heart of many Evangelicals.

Recently, a man (maybe a woman) left the following comment:

satanist gay atheist

I am a former pastor who is a Satanic, gay atheist. 🙂

I AM a former pastor, and I am an atheist, but gay and Satanic? I am an atheist, so not only don’t I believe God exists, I don’t believe Satan/demons exist either. As far as being gay? Evidently, my rainbow-colored suspenders are a sure sign I’m g-a-y. 🙂 (I do occasionally wear them because I know they irritate the Hell out of Evangelicals. Other times, I wear them to show my support for the LGBTQ community. And, quite frankly, I like these suspenders. I have thirteen pairs of Perry Suspenders. I am a fashionista.) 🙂

Calling me “gay” is meant to be a slur, a way to personally attack me. Juvenile behavior by middle school boys who think it’s okay to call people fags, queers, or pussies. When, oh when, will God’s chosen ones grow up?

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.

If You Wear Rainbow Suspenders, It’s Proof You Are Gay

Two weeks ago, my interview with Vice News was posted on YouTube. As of the writing of this post, it has been viewed 652,000 times and received almost 7,000 comments.

Video Link

Most of the comments were about Greg Locke, but some commenters had a problem with my rainbow suspenders or the fact that I am an atheist. Here are seven of those comments:

vice news comments (1)
vice news comments (2)
vice news comments (3)
vice news comments (4)
vice news comments (5)
vice news comments (6)
vice news comments (7)

Such is the nature of social media. People can say whatever they want, regardless of whether what they are saying has any factual basis. For the record, I wear my rainbow suspenders for three reasons:

  • I like them
  • They drive Fundamentalists insane 🙂
  • They show my support for LGBTQ people
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.

Vice News Interview: QAnon Conspiracies Are Tearing Through Evangelical America

somerset baptist church 1989

My video interview with Vice News was released today. You can watch it below. Earlier, Vice News published a print story featuring an interview I did with David Gilbert about QAnon and Evangelical Christianity. You can read it here.

Please let me know what you think of the interview and the content of the video in the comment section.

Video Link

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.

VICE News Story on the Intersection of Evangelical Christianity and QAnon

qanon

Regular readers of this blog likely remember that VICE News came to my home in August to film a story on the intersection of Evangelical Christianity and QAnon (which should be released soon). Earlier today, David Gilbert, a journalist for VICE News published a print story titled Meet the Pastors Fighting Back Against QAnon. I was one of the pastors interviewed for this article:

Bruce Gerencser was raised in an evangelical household, was educated in an evangelical school, married the daughter of an evangelical Baptist minister, and soon became a fundamentalist Baptist preacher himself.

He freely admits that the gospel he preached, at times, was extreme.

“Our beliefs were quite fundamentalist. We were young Earth creationists—you know, the Earth was 6,000 years old,” Gerencser told VICE News. “We had a long list of rules and standards that govern human behavior, everything from premarital sex and adultery. We were certainly homophobic, or at least I was personally homophobic. Everything was strictly controlled.”

But in 2005, after 25 years as a pastor, Gerencser gave it all up. Three years later, he renounced Christianity and became an atheist and a humanist, after becoming disillusioned with the church’s lurch to the right. 

Now in his mid-70s [actually, I’m 64], Bruce lives with his wife of 43 years just outside the small town of Bryan, Ohio, and he spends his time fighting back against the ills he sees within the church. Most recently that fight has seen him highlight and take on those spreading the gospel of QAnon.

What he didn’t expect was that one of the people he’d be up against was his own son.

Gerencser describes his adult son, whom he didn’t want to name, as a “good kid, polite kid” and an “awesome son,” but he recalls that in January 2020 something changed, and soon he was having discussions about apocalyptic forces of evil and a coming storm. 

“Next thing I know, he’s buying a large number of firearms and ammunition and a bulletproof vest and warning that he’s preparing for what’s coming next,” Gerencser said. “And, you know, and I would say that what’s coming next, what we’re going to have open warfare in the middle of Bryan, Ohio.”

Like many who’ve fallen into QAnon conspiracy theories, Gerencser’s son has also embraced even more violent extremist groups, joining the Three Percenters militia group and espousing support for the leader of the Proud Boys.

But aside from the guns and militias, what shocked Gerencser the most was when his son one day turned around and said he’d returned to the church, joining a local Southern Baptist congregation.

When Gerencser asked his son why he’d rejoined the church, his son told him: “Because that pastor believes the same things I do.”

Gerencser is part of a small but dedicated group of current and former pastors attempting to counter the threat posed by the spread of QAnon within the evangelical community, something that’s happening from the pulpit and in congregations. While the number of pastors and churches openly embracing QAnon is limited, the conspiracy is spreading silently and quickly within the community, taking hold at a time when the church is hemorrhaging parishioners. Despite the dangers posed by QAnon within the church, very few are speaking up about the threat, preferring to bury their heads in the sand and hope the danger passes.

You can read the entire article here. Please do so, and then let me know what you think.

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.

Dying for Your Beliefs

guest post

A Guest Post by ObstacleChick

I have started and discarded this post several times as it’s painful to write. The world has changed dramatically in the past few years, with some of those changes being long overdue while others are incredibly backward and damaging.  It has been difficult for me to process and accept that things in our country were not as I had believed them to be. The ascension of the Trump administration and the covid-19 pandemic have exposed the ugliness that had previously been covered with a sheer veneer of respectability. It’s an exposure of my privilege that I have been blind to so much that is reprehensible in our country. I feel that the United States is like the Pharisees whom Jesus admonished, calling them “whited sepulchres”:  “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27 KJV) The ascension of the Trump administration allowed the people who are racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, authoritarian, bigoted, and patriarchal, to openly emerge into the light of day, loudly proclaiming their putrid rhetoric. Dog whistles have been replaced by blaring trumpets.

Sometimes it feels like our country is falling apart. I used to take for granted that women had the right to our bodily autonomy – was that not hashed out by our Supreme Court in 1973? I took for granted that black people had equal rights – was that not codified by amendments to our Constitution, and further reinforced by the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s? I took for granted that finally LGBTQ people could marry whom they loved – was that not declared by our Supreme Court in the 2010s? I took for granted that we were a nation of people who work hard, who are for the most part educated, who are becoming increasingly diverse, and who are part of a world-leading nation.

But I have come to see something quite different. I see large swaths of people who embrace anti-intellectualism, who believe conspiracy theories, who think the QAnon conspiracy theories are real, and that a Satan-worshiping cabal of Democrats, Hollywood elites, and name-your-favorite Bogeyman are baby-killing, blood-drinking pedophiles who are trying to take over the U.S. Government, and our Great White Hope is . . . Donald J. Trump, a former reality-TV “star” who runs his businesses like a mafia boss, steamrolling over anyone who gets in the way of his profit. I see white supremacists coming out of the woodwork, fighting to keep their Confederate statues that were erected during an era in which white people were afraid that black people might be able to exercise freedoms. I see people protesting over wearing a mask in order to prevent the spread of a disease that is much more fatal than the common seasonal flu. I see that people are actively working against their own self-interest to promote their distorted version of freedom: a freedom that allows them to carry hand-held killing machines in public without much restriction, that allows them to force their religious symbols and statements onto others, that allows them to prevent people from having access to basic healthcare, housing, child care, and other needs. (If you have an opportunity to read Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan M. Metzl, I urge you to do so.) A political party has convinced nearly half of our country — many of whom profess to follow Jesus who urged that the greatest commandment is to love one’s neighbor as oneself — that leaving everyone to their own devices is the good and right thing to do.

How do we reach these people? I honestly do not know. They live in a different ecosystem from the one I do. They consume different sources of media from those I do. They wholeheartedly embrace untruths, believing them to be “true,” and they go around spreading their lies and their covid-19 infections to the innocent. The term “compassion fatigue” aptly describes how I feel right now. Part of me wants to leave them to their own devices — if they don’t want to protect themselves from covid-19, let them die. Yet, real people are being hurt.

One of the real people who was hurt was a colleague and friend of mine, a 38-year-old woman whose father is a retired police officer and an ardent Trump supporter. When the pandemic started, she was terrified that she would contract covid-19, and due to her chronic asthma and history of issues with bronchitis, pneumonia, and other pulmonary issues, she was very careful about where she went, wearing a mask, and washing her hands. Then things changed. Then Fox “News” and the Trump Administration promoted the notion that covid-19 wasn’t so bad and that people weren’t really dying from covid-19. Even after rolling out covid-19 vaccines through Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration foolishly did not capitalize on a marketing campaign that could have convinced thousands and thousands of their supporters to get vaccinated. Instead, they left it up to people to do whatever they felt like doing. And guess what? More lies abounded regarding the efficacy and safety of vaccines. 

My friend believed stories that people were dying from the vaccine, that it was more dangerous than covid-19. She started going out in public more often, leaving her mask at home. She bragged at work that she only wore her mask at work because we mandated it, but that everywhere else she would not wear it. She and her husband started going to restaurants and clubs and hanging out with friends, many of whom were also resistant to getting the vaccine. Then one day, she came into work saying that her husband was sick and was getting tested for covid-19 — just in case. That afternoon, he texted her that his test was positive. We sent her home immediately with instructions not to return until both she and her husband were in the clear. She got a rapid test that came back negative. Several of our employees who had already experienced covid previously encouraged her to get tested again as it may take a few days for the viral load to build up enough to test positive. Sure enough, she tested positive a couple of days later.

While her husband started recovering, my friend got sicker and sicker. She joined in a few work calls, and she was coughing so much that we suggested that she focus on resting. It wasn’t long before she let us know that she was hospitalized. Unbeknownst to her, when her husband checked her into the hospital, the staff told him that they waited too late and there was little they could do. We kept texting and calling her, and she kept telling us that she was getting treatment but that it would be a long road. The night before she died, I was texting with her, and she just kept saying that she still didn’t feel well, but she never let on how bad it was. She passed away the following day, with her husband and parents by her side. I will leave out the awful details that her husband and parents told us; let’s just say that dying of covid-19 is not a good way to go.

I want someone to blame: the GOP, Trump, the science-deniers, people’s stubbornness, Fox “News” and other far-right outlets, American individualism, my friend’s parents & friends, my friend herself . . . Does it matter? It matters to my friend’s family (most of whom apparently went out and got vaccinated after her death), to her friends, to our company (her department is understaffed by 25% with her passing), to all she touched in her 38 years. Actions have consequences, and unfortunately, I do not see any magic deities coming in to save the day. If your doctor says that you are eligible, PLEASE get vaccinated.

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.

Bruce Gerencser