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Tag: Roman Catholic Church

Update: Black Collar Crime: Catholic School Teacher Samantha Brasses Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison for Sexting

samantha brasses

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In 2019, Samantha Brasses, a teacher at St. John Nepomuk Catholic School in Yukon, Oklahoma, was accused of unlawfully communicating with a minor by use of technology.

Fox-25 reported at the time:

On May 9, 2019, officers responded to 600 Garth Brooks Blvd. to a private Catholic school in reference to an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student.

Samantha Ann Brasses, 30, was arrested for unlawfully communicating with a minor by use of technology. Officers seized the victim’s phone and conducted forensic evidence to find the inappropriate conversations. Brasses and the 14-year-old victim reportedly communicated through Instagram, sharing inappropriate proposals, pictures, and referring to each other as “babe.”

In June 2021, Brasses pleaded guilty and was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Fox-25 reported:

A former Yukon Catholic School teacher is now a convicted sex offender for using Instagram to seek sex with a teenage student.

Samantha Ann Brasses, 32, pleaded guilty on June 18 to unlawful communication with minor using technology.

District Judge Jack D. McCurdy accepted the guilty plea and sentenced Brasses to 10 years in custody of Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections.

In her guilty plea, Brasses admitted in May 2019 she had used the Instagram messaging service “for the purpose of soliciting sexual conduct with a minor.”

The underage victim’s parents contacted school officials in May 2019 after they discovered the sexually charged text messages between Brasses and their 14-year-old son, according to a Yukon police report.

A forensic examination of the boy’s cell phone uncovered descriptive remarks about Brasses’ intentions with the alleged victim.

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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.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Quit Wear “Sexy” Clothing, Women. You Are Causing Christians to Sin!

sexy nuns

The reason I have dedicated myself to putting together the small book, Christian Fashion in the Teaching of the Church is because I am convinced that a life lived in a Christian way—and consistently so, especially for a woman—is partly expressed by the way one dresses, and that this is particularly important in today’s world. I will try to explain this briefly.

Allow me to present you with an image. In these summer days, not only holiday resorts, but also big cities like Rome or London are invaded by people—men and women—dressed in the most indecent manner. In my opinion, this phenomenon represents a brutal violence against Christians, because it jeopardizes one of the most important but also most fragile virtues of our faith: chastity.

In the streets and squares of large cities, scenes are imposed on passers-by that disturb the eyes, feed curiosity, provoke disordered desires and, in this sense, constitute a real assault. Yet we cannot deny that there is a certain consistency in this indecent attire: it corresponds to the dominant philosophy of life, which is materialism, hedonism and the dissolution of all values. Everything is permitted, and the pursuit of pleasure is the ultimate goal. There is a consistency in this scene.

….

The transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, and humanism, can also be traced in the fashions of those times. Fashion was also the great vehicle to transmit the ideas of the French Revolution.

Fashion made the agitated year of 1968 into a radical turning point in Western social life. The criteria of beauty, decorum, harmony and elegance, which were already in crisis, were overcome by the egalitarian and anarchic spirit which was the very soul of the student movement. In 1968, most of the girls at demonstrations were in trousers. Jeans became a sort of uniform for the youth, the quintessential symbol of the new egalitarian fashion.

….

Along these lines, gender studies developed within American feminism in the seventies. Its advocates placed the denial of an authentic difference between men and women at the center of their conceptual approach. The notion of a fluctuating and subjective identity based on a social construction of gender replaced the objective reality of biological sex.

….

The concept holds that the male—female difference is merely a cultural and not a natural fact. Since culture can change, the next step is to suggest interchangeability in practice. Thus, the medical establishment offers surgical operations to make a man “a woman” and a woman “a man.” To make this utopian idea a normality, it must be imposed in schools, indoctrinating children from an early age.

Clothing is once again a revolutionary tool. In kindergartens and schools where gender ideology is applied, boys dress as girls and girls as boys. Boys can have their nails painted and are being taught embroidery and crocheting, whilst girls devote themselves to disassembling engines or playing with toy cars.

Fashion is therefore a formidable revolutionary weapon and needs to be opposed when it threatens to overthrow the principles of Catholic morality and the core values ​​of Western culture.

….

That such danger is to be found everywhere today is a warning repeated, not only by the Church, but even by men who are outside the Christian faith; the most clear-sighted thinkers, those solicitous for the public good, strongly denounce the sinister threat to the social order and to the future of nations; the poisoning of the roots of life by the present multiplication of incitements to impurity; while the indulgence (which we would do better to call a denial) of an ever-more-extensive part of the public conscience, blind to the most reprehensible moral disorders, slackens the brakes even more.”

….

In the years immediately after the Second Vatican Council, many sought to separate doctrine from the modus—the style or form in which doctrine is expressed. Thus, these people expressed themselves differently from the past and brought about a cultural transformation that is deeper than it may seem. The way in which we presents ourselves—the styles in which we expresses ourselves—reveals a way of being and of thinking.

Fashion is basically a person’s style. Style expresses the ideas which guide us. Through our clothing we express a world vision. If it is true that examples count as much as ideas, then the way we dress also can express our “lived Christianity.”

Virginia Coda Nunziante, Return to Order, The Way Christians Dress Expresses Their Lived Christianity

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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.

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Black Collar Crime: Catholic Youth Director Arnold DiBlasi Charged with Possessing and Distributing Child Porn

Arnold DiBlasi

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Arnold DiBlasi, a youth director at Holy Eucharist Parish in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and a grandfather, stands accused of possessing and distributing child pornography.

The Trentonian reports:

Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw and Evesham Township Police Chief Walt Miller have announced that a 71-year-old Marlton man has been charged with possessing and distributing child sexual abuse material.

Arnold DiBlasi, of the first block of Prince Charles Court, was charged with four counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (three First Degree and one Second Degree).

DiBlasi, who is the former youth group director at Holy Eucharist Parish in Cherry Hill, was taken into custody on July 26 at his residence following the execution of a search warrant. Electronic devices seized during the search will be examined by detectives from the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit. A preliminary review of DiBlasi’s cell phone revealed the presence of child sexual abuse material.

He was lodged in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly and released following a detention hearing in Superior Court. The case will now be referred to a grand jury for possible indictment.

The investigation began in May after the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit received information regarding DiBlasi’s online activities from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation revealed that DiBlasi, utilizing an online chat room, distributed more than 11,000 files of child sexual abuse material to 30 people.

CBS adds:

DiBlasi worked with kids as youth director at Holy Eucharist Parish in Cherry Hill.

In a statement, Pastor Jason Rocks says officials assured him “no parish youth were involved in the materials, none of the activities took place on parish property, nor were any parish electronics used.”

Father Rocks also went on to say DiBlasi completed all required training and criminal background checks before being hired.

Sorry, Father Rocks. Your assurances carry very little, if any, weight on this site. We’ve seen too much.

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.

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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.

A Tale of Two Prelates

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Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

Two priests rose to positions of power in large American dioceses. After attaining their positions, one went on to become the Archpriest of Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the major Papal basilicas in Rome.  The other would be laicized and therefore a pariah in the Church community, not to mention among his former clerical colleagues.

Oh, and being laicized was the latter priest’s punishment for, in part, doing what the other priest should have done: namely, calling out priests’ and other church officials’ sexual abuse of children.

Two decades ago, the Boston Globe (behind paywall) published a series of articles—which became the basis of the 2015 film “Spotlight”–documenting allegations, which were later proved, of sexual abuse by priests and lay members of religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church. Although there were reports and warnings about such abuse as early as 1985, it took the Globe report to call attention to the problem, in part because the Boston Archdiocese has long been one of the largest and most influential in the United States, while the 1985 report focused on incidents in Louisiana. Also, by the time the Globe series came out, the language, culture and attendant attitudes about sexual victimization were changing: Although the “Me Too” movement was another decade and a half in the future, public awareness, and victims’ willingness to speak of, sexual violence was growing, however slowly. Also, the Church was losing—again, however slowly—its grip on public discourse.

The Globe reports revealed not only the identities of some predatory priests, it also showed how Archdiocese and Church officials—including Archbishop (and Cardinal) Bernard Francis Law— helped to cover up the abuse by, among other things, moving offending priests from parish to parish and intimidating victims into silence. 

 Not long after the Globe exposé was published, Law—arguably the most powerful American priest after Cardinal/Archbishop O’Connor of New York—was forced to resign his post. But, being the resourceful executive he was, he landed on his feet—in Rome, where Pope John Paul II appointed him the Archpriest of Santa Maria Maggiore. That made him a citizen of Vatican City, and therefore immune to prosecution by American authorities.

In contrast to Law, a priest in Oakland, California did what secular law (ironic, isn’t it?) and basic human decency dictated: He called attention to the sexual abuse his administrative superiors claimed not to know about or denied. In 2005, Tim Steir refused an assignment in the Oakland Diocese over its handling (or, perhaps, lack thereof) of sexual abuse claims. For more than a decade, he spent every Sunday outside the Diocese cathedral calling for church accountability and justice for its victims.

Although he hoped for the best, he wasn’t naïve: he wasn’t surprised when, earlier this year, the Vatican came for his collar. Still, he said, “it felt like a blow.” He was sad and angry because, “If I’d been raping kids, I wouldn’t have been thrown out of the club.”

Perhaps no more damning indictment—or truer observation–of any organization has ever been made. I know: the priest who abused me as a child died long before I, or any of his other victims, could speak of our experiences, and he enjoyed all of the post-mortem benefits of a man who “dedicated” his life to God—or, more precisely, the institution of the Church. When, a few years ago, he was listed—like two other priests from that same parish—as a sexual abuser, some members of that church—who include some of my classmates from that church’s school—branded his victims as “liars” and “opportunists.” (Mind you, I have not benefited, except in terms of my emotional well-being, from speaking of my abuse.) 

For his honesty and forthrightness, Father Steir was rewarded by—having “Father” removed from his name. In the ranks of the Roman Catholic clergy, he became a persona non grata earlier this year. As his “parting gift,” if you will, to the church—but, more specifically, to his former colleagues and any Church members who are paying attention—he wrote an open letter to them. In addition to denouncing the ways in which the worldwide Church and its individual Archdioceses, Dioceses, and parishes have denied or covered up abuse, he made a clarion call for more tolerant attitudes toward LGBTQ and other non-conforming people, and called for the Church to restore a right priests had until the 12th Century: marriage. While I don’t think allowing priests to wed would eliminate pedophilia (plenty of married men molest children) or change the priesthood’s status as a haven for closeted gay men, it would at least give priests a more realistic idea of the challenges faced by the married couples they counsel. 

Call me cynical, but even under the current Pope, I don’t envision the changes Steir recommends coming to pass. I also fully expect that after the current Pope leaves his office, voluntarily or otherwise, the College of Cardinals—the Church’s real power, much as the Supreme Court in the United  States—will appoint someone more reactionary, not only than the current Pontiff, but also his predecessor. People such as Tim Steir will be ex-priests—and prelates like Bernard Law will be even more privileged than they were under Popes John Paul II and Benedict.

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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.

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The Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church Kept Us in the Same “Closet”

lgbtq

Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

A week and a half ago, Southern Baptist Convention leaders released a list of alleged sex-abuse offenders that had been kept secret. Perhaps it is not fair of me to say that I am not surprised, as I have never had any connection with the SBC. On the other hand, having experienced childhood sexual abuse while serving as an altar boy in the Roman Catholic Church—and hearing whispers about sexual harassment of women and teenaged girls in the Evangelical church of which I was later a part—I don’t think I was being cynical in saying to myself, “Well, what does anybody expect?” upon reading about the SBC report.

Perhaps even less surprising, to me, was the accompanying revelation: victims who alerted church authorities, at whatever level, were advised to “be quiet” or, worse, intimidated into silence. It sounded like an alternate-universe version, if you will, of my own story. Decades passed, and the priest who abused me died, before I spoke or wrote about my experience. For one thing, I had neither the language nor other cultural contexts for telling about what was done to me: there was no open discussion about such matters in the time and place in which I grew up, and priests and other church officials were seen as beyond reproach. In such an environment, even if I knew the names of the parts of my body that priest touched, I could not have told of my ordeal in a way that would have been more credible, in the eyes of my community, than anything that priest—or the priests to whom he reported—could have said. I can’t help but to think that if I could have described what the priest did to me—beyond that “it felt weird”—someone, whether a relative or a father in the church, would have told me to keep my story to myself.

That nobody had to tell me not to tell—at least at that time in my life—is a testament to, not only the esteem in which priests in the church were held in my community, but also the power the Church has wielded. It also says something about how powerless I was. Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned from carrying my sexual abuse, alone—and, years later, seeing children bearing their burdens without a champion or mentor—is that nothing is more damaging than inculcating, or allowing a child to grow up, with a sense that their reality—or, more importantly, what they have to say about it—is not to be trusted or believed.

For that matter, invalidation of the fear, anger or whatever else one might feel about having been violated—which, by definition, is done by someone with more power or, at least, credibility—serves only to further traumatize the victim. That is what SBC officials did when they told people to “be quiet.” That is what my parish, and larger Church officials, could just as well have done after I was abused by a priest. 

So, while the abuse I experienced as an altar boy in a Roman Catholic parish in Brooklyn, New York in the 1960s is different from what girls and women in the Southern Baptist Convention endured, we have this much in common: we suffered in silence for too long as a result of churches that were more interested in preserving their “institutional integrity” than in helping those of us who have been victimized. That silence—my “closet,” if you will—hindered my development in so many ways, not the least of which is that I didn’t affirm my identity as a woman until my mid-40s. I can only wish that those whom the SBC told to “keep quiet” didn’t lose as much—time, or anything else—by remaining in a “closet” I know all too well.

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.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Bill Donohue Says Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal Over

bill donohoe

There is no on-going crisis. In fact, there is no institution, private or public, that has less of a problem with the sexual abuse of minors today than the Catholic Church.

— Catholic Apologist and Right Wing Extremist Bill Donohoe

CWR: The subtitle is “Clarifying the facts and causes of the abuse scandal”. So do you discuss that misinformation, disinformation, misunderstanding? What is it exactly that needs clarified?

Donohue: There’s no question that the media has convinced the public. I call it the poisoning of the public mind. They’ve convinced the public, and many Catholics as well, that the scandal is ongoing. In fact, the scandal is largely over and it’s been over for about a half a century. The worst damage that was done in the Catholic Church by molesting priests, almost all of whom were homosexual, was done between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s.

We still have cases of it here and there. What you’ll typically see in the media are reports of an old case, but a lot of times, people won’t read past the headline. And if you do, you find out this is back in 1963, 1971, 1985. And, by the way, they don’t bother to tell you almost all the molesting priests are either dead or they’ve been thrown out of ministry. The idea that the priests are walking around looking for kids is simply a lie, and it’s a vicious lie. So I wanted to set that straight.

The other thing is, we’ve made tremendous progress. We are down to single digits now in terms of the average number of substantiated accusations made against approximately 50,000 members of the clergy. There is no organization in the United States, secular or religious, which has a better record today in maintaining the safety of minors than the Catholic Church.

Yes, we dropped our guard—particularly in the 1970s. It was a terrible, terrible decade. And the Church deserves criticism for what happened then. But also, if we’re going to be fair about it, we have to give credit where credit is due: the Dallas reforms, as well as many other reforms that were taking place. We’ve made tremendous progress and I’m very proud of that. The Catholic Church has largely turned the corner on this issue.

CWR: Why do you think public perception is that the problem of sexual abuse of minors lies primarily within the Catholic Church? People hear about child sexual abuse and they think of priests. Why is that?

Donohue: That’s the perception. Well, it’s really not hard for me to figure out at this point. As someone who has a doctorate in sociology, the Catholic Church is hated by secular militants within the activist organizations, many of them legal organizations, non-profits, and large segments of the media, in large segments of education (particularly in higher education), as well as in other quarters.

And the reason for that is because we live in a society obsessed with sex. It’s not the Catholic Church which is obsessed with sex. It’s the secular militants who are. They don’t want any restrictions on anything they do, no matter how many people have wound up with STDs and in the grave as a result of practicing liberty-ism (liberty with license, without any restraints). They never seem to learn.

The Catholic Church—like our Jewish friends, and for that matter, Mormons and Muslims, evangelical Protestants—we all agree to an idea of sexual reticence, of a sexual ethics which emphasizes restraint. And marriage and sexuality should be entered into by a man and a woman—a biological man and a biological woman. And that other forms of sexuality are not really well-accepted. We live in a society today where the three most dreaded words in the English language are “Thou shalt not…”

So when they see bad news about the Catholic Church, they’re going to drum it up. They don’t want to let it go. They want to convince the public that the scandal will never end because they want to weaken the moral voice of the Catholic Church. And after they do that, they’ll go after the Orthodox Jews, evangelical Protestants, Mormons and Muslims and everybody else who agrees to a more traditional understanding of sexual morality. That’s why this is happening.

CWR: The public, for the most part, seems to ignore or deny the role that homosexuality and the sexual revolution in general have played in the abuse crisis, in the Church and across society. Why do you think that is?

Donohue: Well, the denial is in the Catholic Church as well. The denial is in the Vatican. Let me be very explicit about it: in the book, I talk about the Vatican summit in 2019. Everyone from the Pope on down, all the Cardinals: all they talked about was clericalism as the driving force of sexual abuse.

Clericalism, or a sense of elitism, certainly may have something to do with why some bishops were enablers, but has absolutely zero to do with why a priest would molest a minor. Nothing. They don’t want to talk about homosexuality.

….

Pedophiles are about three and a half percent. When a man has sex with a post-pubescent—an adolescent or above—man, that’s homosexuality. I am not saying that all homosexuals are molesters. That would be gay bashing. What I’m saying is that gays, more so than heterosexuals, are more likely to abuse minors. And this is clearly the case in the Catholic Church.

Why? Because of the emotional and sexual immaturity that marks so many homosexuals—not all of them, but so many of them. And it is immaturity—sexual and emotional immaturity—that leads to this kind of sexual abuse, because these guys are stunted, and their psycho-sexual development hits a plateau. They can’t identify with anybody beyond adolescent age, which is why they associate with them. And, in some cases, molest them. That’s the God’s honest truth.

— Bill Donohoe, The Catholic World Report, “We’ve been lied to.” Bill Donohue on clergy sexual abuse, homosexuality, and the media, May 26, 2022

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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.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Catholic Michigan State House Candidate Jacky Eubanks Wants to Ban Birth Control

jacky eubanks

… You cannot have a successful society outside of the Christian moral order. And things like abortion, and things like gay marriage, are outside of the Christian moral order. And they lead to chaos and destruction and a culture of death…

[VORIS: How do you answer the local press person, who might be your age and just sees you as some loony who… that she wants to take away your birth control… in the state of Michigan?]

Sure, so, I guess we have to ask ourselves: Would that ever come to a vote in the Michigan state legislature? And if it should, I would have to side with: It should not be legal. And I think that people that birth control is… better… because, “Oh, then you won’t get pregnant and you won’t need to have an abortion.” But I think it gives people the false sense of security that they can have consequence-free sex. And that’s not true! And it’s not correct!

… Sex ought to be between one man and one woman in the confines of marriage… and open to life. Absolutely.

Jacky Eubanks, a Michigan Republican running for State House, Quotes from an interview Eubanks did with Michael Voris of the Catholic site Church Militant

From Eubank’s policy page:

Education

As a graduate of Hillsdale College, I recognize the supreme blessing it was to receive a classical liberal arts education based on the seminole works of Western Civilization. I also recognize the damage done to young Americans indoctrinated by falsified Leftist “history” like the 1619 Project. I will write legislation implementing the 1776 Curriculum into Michigan’s K-12 public schools. I will also write legislation banning Critical Race Theory, as well as pen a version of Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill which would prevent teachers from discussing radical sex & gender theory with students. I will also pen legislation mandating students in K-12 public schools use the bathroom & locker room of their biological sex and prohibit them from playing on sports teams of the opposite sex based on “gender identification”. 

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement is the cornerstone of a law-abiding, peaceful, thriving community. I am not in favor of “defunding the police,” especially not in the wake of violent riots. I am in favor of designating ANTIFA as a terrorist organization, and apportioning law enforcement funds for the investigation and prosecution of this organization in the state of Michigan. 

No Tax-Payer Subsidies for Green Energy or Big Business

Manufacturers, the heart and soul of Michigan’s economy, are fleeing to states with lower energy costs. Why are our energy costs so high? A key issue is the state’s subsidizing “green energy” sources such as wind farms and solar panel fields. These sources of energy do not provide the power needed to keep our manufacturers in our state. I would not support taxpayer dollars subsidizing the farce of green energy. I would instead offer tax breaks to nuclear, gas, oil, & coal-burning plants, which have significantly higher energy outputs at a lower cost. At the same time, this would make subsidizing major corporations with taxpayer dollars unnecessary. I do not support corporate welfare, which is inherently anti-free market. 

School Choice

Affording private school tuition is a struggle for most families, and parents who wish they could send their children to private schools are often priced out of the market. I intend to fix this by implementing a tax break system for parents who choose to send their children to private schools or to homeschool. I propose a tax break for parents equivalent to the cost per student in a given school district, because the parents have eased the burden on taxpayers who would otherwise have to pay for their child’s education. 

Constitutional Carry & Pro-Gun Legislation

I am against red flag laws of any kind and will always vote “no” on anything that restricts Michiganders’ Second Amendment rights. I will pen constitutional carry legislation, and I will push for “gun-free zone” reform. I believe good guys with guns are the best solution to bad guys with guns, and that a public which is generally armed makes for a safer community with lower crime.

Pro-Life Legislation

I am uncompromising in my belief that human life begins at conception and ends at natural death. I will introduce legislation banning abortion in the state of Michigan. I will always vote to restrict abortion, and if a heartbeat bill came to a vote, I would vote “yes”. I also will never budge on physician-assisted suicide & euthanasia. If legislation ever comes to a vote which would expand or allow these anti-life acts, I will unequivocally vote “no”.

Child Abuse & Human Trafficking

I will write legislation classifying surgery and hormone therapy for the purpose of “gender reassignment” for anyone under 18 years of age as child abuse. 

Michigan is also the state with the highest human trafficking rate in the United States. I will pen legislation requiring every law enforcement agency undergo human trafficking awareness training, based on the DHS Blue Campaign.

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.

The Leak: A Spin of Bishop’s Roulette?

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— Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

A few days ago, I wrote “Bishop’s Roulette.” Since then, the draft of Supreme Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion on striking down Roe v. Wade has been leaked. 

To many — actually, the majority — of us, the “leak” was like the first bomb dropped in an attack that “everybody knew” was coming. The particular blow surprised us simply because, like the first shot of a war, nobody can anticipate the moment it comes, even if its aftermath is what everyone expects.

As I am neither a political scientist nor reporter, I can’t add much to the analysis that the end of Roe v. Wade wouldn’t be the “will of the people.” More than one poll has shown that the overwhelming majority of people support the right to safe and legal abortion. That we now have a Supreme Court “packed” with Justices who seek to do the opposite of what most Americans want is a result of a political system that has allowed vocal, virulent, and often violent groups of people who claim to be motivated by faith to gain majorities in state legislatures and governorships — and may usher them into a Congressional majority later this year.

The same folks who organized to elect lawmakers who enacted laws outlawing abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and deputized citizens to sue anyone who received, performed, or “enabled” a procedure also voted for Donald Trump, who promised exactly what’s come to pass, and may regain the Presidency in two years.

While some of those voters didn’t disguise the fact that their support of Trump and his political allies was borne from their hatred of liberals, gays, immigrants, and anyone else whom they don’t see as fitting into their notions of a White, Christian, and male-dominated nation, others couch their support in a system of faith that, they believe, tells them to love their neighbors as they love themselves. Some, mainly men, among them claim to “respect women” because they are mothers, nurturers, and partners.

If they actually “respect” women, how can they support a President, Supreme Court justices, governors, state legislators, and mayors who are doing everything they can to ensure that women (and girls) don’t get vital medical care at the exact moment they need it.

You see, in striking down Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court would leave abortion rights to the states.  Some had already all but outlawed abortion before Justice Alito wrote his opinion; others have enacted “trigger laws” that will do the same, or ban it outright, once Roe v. Wade is struck down.  It’s hard not to believe, as some legal and political analysts have pointed out, that such moves will also enable states to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act and enact their own rules on the availability of health care. 

Think about it:  If a state can tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies, can it also decide who does or doesn’t get health care, or what is or isn’t “appropriate” care for someone? Could it make such decisions on who is more “deserving” in a hierarchy that places people who are most likely to make “nuclear” families (i.e., straight cisgender) above, say, LGBTQ people? Or native-born citizens above immigrants, especially those who are here illegally? 

 I also can’t help but wonder whether striking down Roe v. Wade will give states more power to decide how health care and insurance are meted out. Given that concentrating power in fewer hands, especially if those hands are affluent White Christian cisgender males or their allies, all but inevitably leads to “privatization”— which often means nothing more than “getting government out of it” — it’s not hard to imagine more states in which people who need help are subject to a “Bishop’s Roulette.”

Now, even if you object to abortion on religious or other moral grounds, or simply think that the women who need them should have been “more careful,” here is something else to consider: prenatal care, and women’s healthcare in general, while far from perfect, have improved since Roe v. Wade. Some of that, of course, has come about because of medical and technological developments. Just as important, though, is the change in the way pregnancy and women’s bodies are seen. For one, doctors and other providers now better understand how pregnancy changes a woman’s body. Some of those changes, like high blood pressure, were previously linked to women’s pre-pregnancy lives and were not seen as consequences of pregnancy itself. Those conditions, and sometimes the pregnancy itself, can degrade the quality of, or even end, a woman’s life. 

Another reason, I believe, women’s health care has improved since Roe v. Wade is that as women gained more agency over their bodies and lives, they were seen — at least by some — as worthy of care for their own sake, and not simply to enhance their ability to bear and rear children. That development goes hand-in-hand with the separation of health care (and government) from religion, especially of the fundamentalist variety. 

In brief, Roe v. Wade did more to foster the respect for women than religious and other opponents of the decision claim to have.  Repealing it, as Justice Samuel Alito’s draft threatens, will do much to destroy that respect by degrading the quality of women’s health care and subjecting too many of us to some version of a “Bishop’s Roulette” to obtain it.

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.

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

The ONE True Church of Jesus Christ

catholic one true church

The Churches of Christ, along with the Baptists and the Roman Catholic Church, consider themselves to be the one true church of Jesus Christ. According to catholic365.com, there are five reasons the Roman Catholic Church is the true church:

1. Authority- Jesus gave specific instructions regarding dealing with members of the Church who were in sin. Matthew 18:15-18 says “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” What Evangelical/Protestant Church has the authority to remove someone completely from the church? None. If an individual is removed from a ‘congregation’ then he/she can go down the street and join another ‘congregation’ of the same denomination. The congregations are individualized and have no authority outside their own denomination. That is not true with the Catholic Church. If removed from the Catholic Church, one cannot go to another city and join another Catholic Parish.

2. History- The Roman Catholic Church is the oldest and original Christian Church, therefore, the beliefs and teachings of the Church were directly passed onto the leaders of the Catholic Church by the apostles. The Catholic Church began with the teachings of Jesus Christ, around 1st Century AD in the province of Judea of the Roman Empire. The Catholic Church is the continuation of the early Christian community established by Jesus and no modern Christian Church can make that claim. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods and to correct doctrinal and policy issues and by the time the 3rd century came around, the Bishop of Rome (Pope) served as the decisive authority, kind of like a court of appeals, for problems and issues the bishops could not resolve. This is identical to the Bible’s teaching. In Exodus 18 we see where the children of Israel brought their disputes to Moses and Moses settled those disputes. However, it also shows where leaders appointed by Moses also worked to settle disputes.

The Catholic Church remained the only Christian Church until the East-West Schism of 1054, which caused medieval Christianity to split and become two separate branches. The greatest division, however, came during the Reformation from 1517-1648, led by Martin Luther. The East-West (Great) Schism was caused by Patriarch Michael I. According to Titus 3:9-11, the divisions led by Patriarch Michael I and Martin Luther were sin. “Avoid foolish arguments, genealogies, rivalries, and quarrels about the law, for they are useless and futile. After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned..”

3. The Catholic Church gave Christians the Bible- The first official list of books contained is what is the Bible was done at the Council of Hippo in 393 and then again in Carthage in 397 and 419. However, the Council of Trent in 1556 was the first time the Church infallibly defined these books as ‘inspired’ because it was questioned by Reformers. We have to admit, the apostles did not walk around with nice leather bound Bibles in their hand. There are many parts of the Bible that are oral tradition which was written down because when early believers attended the Synagogue or church, the scripture was read. They did not have their own copy with their name engraved on the front. Oral tradition was the norm of practice long before writing and reading was a part of life. The Jews followed the Old Testament before Jesus was born and Jesus is pictured in Scripture reading from the Old Testament in the Synagogue. There were multiple writings from this time but it was only after the list of books determined to be the ‘inspired Word of God’ by the Catholic Church first with the Council of Hippo in 393 that the world had what is called “The Bible”. The Bible remained the original 73 books determined by the Catholic Church until the Reformation, when Martin Luther threw out 7 books of the Old Testament that disagreed with his personal view of theology…the same Old Testament adhered to by the Jews. He threw these 6 books out in the 16th Century. Luther also attempted to throw out New Testament books James, Hebrews, Jude and Revelation. In referring to James, he said he wanted to ‘throw Jimmy into the fire’ and the book of James was ‘an epistle of straw’ with no usefulness. After Pope Damasus I approved the 27 New Testament Books however in 382 AD, Luther agreed with the Pope and accepted the New Testament books but denied the Old Testament books …which remained out of his Bible. Non-Catholics will accept the Biblical books which are contained in the Protestant Bible but do not acknowledge they are accepting and trusting the authority of the Catholic Church because the Catholic Church was the one who proclaimed the entire list, as a whole, as ‘inspired’. The letters within the Bible are not the only letters and materials written by the Apostles so, as a result, those contained within the Bible had to be declared ‘inspired’ and it was the Catholic Church which did that duty.

4. The Sacraments are Biblical- The Apostles were given the power to ‘forgive sins’ in John 20:23, Peter taught in I Peter 3:21 that ‘baptism now saves you’, ‘anointing the sick with oil was shown in James 5:14-15, laying on of hands in Acts 8:17 and 2 Timothy 1:6, marriage in the Lord in I Corinthians 7:39 and Jesus stated numerous times that the disciples should participate in the breaking of bread (Eucharist) by stating ‘he who eats my flesh has eternal life’.

5. Sola Scriptura is not supported in the Bible- It is difficult to make a claim such as Sola Scriptura (The Bible Alone) when, in its very essence, the claim must be written within the Bible in order to be Biblical. The concept of “Bible Alone” says it is not truth if it is not contained in the Bible, therefore removing ‘tradition’, but the Bible refutes that principle. Jeremiah 25:3 says the “Word of the Lord” is “spoken”, not just written. Paul told us to hold to our traditions, which are taught by word and mouth or by letter, according to 2 Thess 2:15. The Bible also portrays where a Council was held to settle doctrinal disputes in Acts 15. (Who else has a Council to settle doctrine disputes and holds the authority to do such other than the Catholic Church?) The Bible also warns about ‘twisted’ interpretations of Scripture in 2 Peter 3:16 and I Timothy 3:15 says THE CHURCH is the pillar and the bulwark of the truth. The Catholic Church has one teaching…one unified teaching…as opposed to the now 43,000 evangelical (Protestant) groups currently established, with 2.3 added each day. Their views on everything from the Trinity, homosexuality, abortion, and salvation all contradict each other. Truth cannot be false at the same time and Truth cannot contradict each other.

trail of blood

Many Baptist churches also consider themselves to be the one true church. These Baptists believe that they can trace their lineage all the way back to Jesus and his apostles. In 1931, Baptist pastor J.M. Carroll published a booklet titled The Trail of Blood. This booklet detailed what is commonly called Landmarkism or Baptist Successionism — the belief that some Baptist churches are the one true church founded by Jesus Christ. Carroll gave ten infallible marks of a true church:

1. Christ, the author of this religion, organized His followers or disciples into a Church. And the disciples were to organize other churches as this religion spread and other disciples were “made.”

2. This organization or church, according to the Scriptures and according to the practice of the Apostles and early churches, was given two kinds of officers and only two–pastors and deacons. The pastor was called “Bishop.” Both pastor and deacons to be selected by the church and to be servants of the church.

3. The churches in their government and discipline to be entirely separate and independent of each other, Jerusalem to have no authority over Antioch–nor Antioch over Ephesus; nor Ephesus over Corinth, and so forth. And their government to be congregational, democratic. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

4. To the church were given two ordinances and only two, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These to be perpetual and memorial.

5. Only the “saved” were to be received as members of the church (Acts 2:47). These saved ones to be saved by grace alone without any works of the law (Eph, 2:5, 8, 9). These saved ones and they only, to be immersed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). And only those thus received and baptized, to partake of the Lord’s Supper, and the supper to be celebrated only by the church, in church capacity.

6. The inspired scriptures, and they only, in fact, the New Testament and that only, to be the rule and guide of faith and life, not only for the church as an organization, but for each individual member of that organization.

7. Christ Jesus, the founder of this organization and the savior of its members, to be their only priest and king, their only Lord and Lawgiver, and the only head of the churches. The churches to be executive only in carrying out their Lord’s will and completed laws, never legislative, to amend or abrogate old laws or to make new ones.

8. This religion of Christ to be individual, personal, and purely voluntary or through persuasion. No physical or governmental compulsion. A matter of distinct individual and personal choice. “Choose you” is the scriptural injunction. It could be neither accepted nor rejected nor lived by proxy nor under compulsion.

9. Mark well! That neither Christ nor His apostles, ever gave to His followers, what is known today as a denominational name, such as “Catholic,” “Lutheran,” “Presbyterian,” “Episcopal,” and so forth–unless the name given by Christ to John was intended for such, “The Baptist,” “John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11 and 10 or 12 other times.) Christ called the individual follower “disciple.” Two or more were called “disciples.” The organization of disciples, whether at Jerusalem or Antioch or elsewhere, was called Church. If more than one of these separate organizations were referred to, they were called Churches. The word church in the singular was never used when referring to more than one of these organizations. Nor even when referring to them all.

10. I venture to give one more distinguishing mark. We will call it–Complete separation of Church and State. No combination, no mixture of this spiritual religion with a temporal power. “Religious Liberty,” for everybody.

In the 19th century men such as Barton StoneThomas Campbell, and Alexander Campbell took it upon themselves to restore Christian churches to their First Century Apostolic purity. Firmly rooted in Baptist soil, the Restoration movement caused numerous fractures and splits, leading to the establishment of groups such as the Churches of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). While Landmark Baptists and Churches of Christ have similar doctrinal beliefs, neither considers the other part of the true church. These two groups have spent much of the last 160 years fighting over whether baptism is required for salvation. Put a Church of Christ evangelist in the same room with a Baptist elder and they will spend their time together arguing over the Greek word eis (for) in Acts 2:38:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The evangelist will argue that the word for means that a sinner must be baptized in order to have their sins to be remitted. The elder argues that the word for means because of. Christians are baptized, not to have their sins remitted, but because their sins have already been washed away.

church of christ

Al Shannon is a Churches of Christ preacher who displays his theological prowess on the Biblical Proof website. In a May 20, 2016 post titled Are There Any Christians in Denominational Churches?, Shannon makes sure his readers understand that the only true Christians are those who are a member of a Churches of Christ congregation. Shannon writes:

Are there good people in all denominational churches? Are there any Christians once named among them? It’s a fundamental question because denominations profess to be Christians, yet they deny what it requires to become a Christian.

Most Christians understand that when someone obeys the gospel (Rom. 6:17) the Lord adds him to His church (Acts 2:47), of which is the only blood-bought (Acts 20:28) institution the Bible speaks. This is the “church” which Christ built (Mt 16:18).

The Bible speaks often of the Great Apostasy (2 Thess. 2:3-4 f; 2 Tim. 4:3-4). This manifested itself in Roman Catholicism, from which every denomination in the world today sprang (Rev. 17:5). Error truly does begat error.

The Bible also speaks of (and condemns) sectarianism and division, which is what denominationalism really is, as each term stands firmly against the Bible-based unity declared in Ephesians 4:4.

In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul lists “factions, parties, and  divisions” as being “works of the flesh,” and warned all men everywhere and for all time that “they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

In trying to understand why there are no Christians in any denomination, let us consider three points. First, there was division at Corinth. Just a mere six years after the Corinthian church was planted some of these brethren had developed a sectarian spirit. In 1 Corinthians 1:11 Paul begs his brothers in Christ there to free themselves from all contentions.

….

Secondly, the overwhelming bulk of the denominations in the world today subscribe to most of the views of John Calvin, in particular the false doctrine of “faith only” (that they are saved at the point of belief, separate and apart from further obedience, regardless of what John 3:5 may say).

Therefore, those in the denominations have never obeyed the gospel. They have deceived themselves into believing a lie (2 Thess. 2:11-12), and will, therefore, be destroyed at the Lord’s coming (2 Thess. 1:7-9).

….

Finally, New Testament Christians must be careful not to make man-made laws for our brethren (as some sought to do in Acts 15:1-2). When such happens, a sectarian spirit will develop and will result in something other than New Testament Christianity (Psa. 127:1).

Based on what I have shared above, the Catholics, Baptists, and the Churches of Christ all claim to be the one true church of Jesus Christ. What makes things even more difficult is that there are numerous other groups that claim they are the one true church. How are people supposed to know which sect is the one true church? The Catholics, Baptists, and Churches of Christ all point to the Bible (and history) as proof for their true church declaration. In Ephesians 4:5,6 the Apostle Paul wrote:

One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Paul seems to be saying that there is only one true church. While Protestants will say (Baptists and Churches of Christ do not consider themselves Protestants) the one true church is comprised of the true Christians found in the various Christian sects, the Churches of Christ and many Baptists reject what is commonly called the Universal Church or the Invisible Church. They believe that the only church is local churches, each an independent franchise of the One True Church Club®.

So what are sinners to do? Which church is the one true church? How can anyone know whether any sect is the one established by Jesus and the Apostles? You’d think Jesus would come down from Heaven and make clear which group is his Church®. Better yet, why not rain fire down from the skies and destroy every church that is not a part of the One True Church Club®. Surely unbelievers can’t be expected to figure out which church is the right one. Come on God, help us out.

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