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Tag: Socialism

Is Joe Biden the Pro-Labor President?

rail workers

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

Rank-and-file rail workers voiced frustration and anger late Monday after Joe Biden—a self-described “pro-labor president”—urged Congress to pass legislation forcing unions to accept a contract agreement without any paid sick days, a step that would avert a looming nationwide strike and deliver a win for the profitable railroad industry.

“By forcing workers into an agreement which doesn’t address basic needs like healthcare and sick time, President Joe Biden is choosing railroads over workers and the economy,” said Ross Grooters, an engineer and co-chair of Railroad Workers United, an inter-union alliance that supports public ownership of the national rail system.

Another worker was more blunt in a text message to labor reporter Jonah Furman: “Words cannot express how fucking livid I am at this administration… people in power, LIKE HIM, would rather screw workers than stand up to fucking robber barons.”

While Congress could put forth legislation that would improve the tentative White House-brokered contract deal announced in September, Biden made clear he wants lawmakers “to pass legislation immediately to adopt the tentative agreement between railroad workers and operators—without any modifications or delay—to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown.”

That agreement, which has been rejected by more than half of the country’s unionized rail workforce, does not include a single day of paid sick leave and would only allow three penalty-free days off per year for medical visits. But even that time off is heavily constrained: It’s unpaid; can only be taken on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday; and must be scheduled at least 30 days in advance.

“These agreements were rejected because the quality of life rail workers and their families have today is abysmal,” Ash Anderson, a member of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED)—one of the unions that voted against ratifying the tentative deal—wrote on Facebook. “There were no provisions to improve the quality of life for rail workers, who continue to be exploited by companies that are earning record-breaking profits while their service suffers and they cut their workforce to the bone.”

Anderson continued:

I just want Americans to see the stories of these men and women, the stories of their families. I want Americans to recognize that these workers are being driven out of their chosen profession by the continued harsh conditions, callous discipline, long hours far from home, and basic lack of respect and dignity in the work that President Biden just stated was too important to allow to stop, regardless the cost.

The railroads’ record profit margins are safe, their exorbitant stock buybacks and shareholder returns are secured. Americans will have all the conveniences available this busy shopping season. Rail workers will work sick to make sure it’s all done, because that’s what they have to do.

Shortly following Biden’s statement, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her chamber will move this week to take up legislation requiring rail workers to accept the tentative deal and denying them their right to strike. Without a contract deal or congressional action, a strike could begin early next month.

Echoing Biden, Pelosi insisted that lawmakers are “reluctant to bypass the standard ratification process” and declared that “we must recognize that railroads have been selling out to Wall Street to boost their bottom lines, making obscene profits while demanding more and more from railroad workers.”

“But,” the Democratic leader added, “we must act to prevent a catastrophic nationwide rail strike, which would grind our economy to a halt.”

The White House’s intervention answers the call of rail giants and corporate lobbying groups—including the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce—that have been pushing for and banking on congressional action as contract talks remain at a standstill, with rail companies refusing to drop their opposition to workers’ basic sick leave demands.

Rail unions had originally pushed for 15 days of paid sick leave, a policy that rail companies estimated would cost around $688 million a year—less than what billionaire Warren Buffett, the CEO of BNSF Railway’s parent company, added to his net worth in a single day last week.

The unions have since moved down to asking for four paid sick days, but rail companies remain opposed even as they rake in huge profits and enrich their executives and shareholders. The Lever reported in September that “the CEOs of five of the largest railroad conglomerates have been paid more than $200 million in the last three years, and company shareholders have been boosted by nearly $200 billion in stock buybacks and dividends over the last dozen years.”

Matthew Weaver, a carpenter with BMWED, told The New York Times that Biden’s decision to step in and force workers to accept a contract agreement opposed by a majority of rail union members “seems to cater to the oligarchs.”

“All of rail labor is going to suffer because of this,” said Weaver.

Grooters of Railroad Workers United argued that Congress “should ignore White House shortsightedness and introduce the labor-friendly version of a railroad bill”—but it’s not yet clear whether progressive lawmakers in the House or Senate will attempt to force amendments to the tentative agreement.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), an outspoken supporter of rail workers, told reporters Monday that any legislation preventing a strike must guarantee workers sick leave.

Citing unnamed sources, CNN reported late Monday that “following House passage, Senate action could occur later this week or next.”

“The Senate is expected to have the votes to break a filibuster on the bill to avert a potential railway strike, according to those sources,” the outlet noted. “There are likely to be at least 10 Republicans who will vote with most Senate Democrats to overcome a 60-vote threshold. The only question is how quickly the bill can come to the floor since any senator can object, dragging out the process and delaying a quick vote.”

“Sources are watching Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders closely to see if he upends an effort to get a quick vote,” CNN added. “A Sanders spokesman declined to comment.”

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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The One Reason I Might Quit Writing

writing a letter

Polly and I have been married for forty-four years. We are blessed to have six children and thirteen grandchildren. In 2004, we moved back to Ohio from Yuma, Arizona so we could be closer to our children. We had moved to Yuma for health reasons. My sister thought the weather would be better for me. She graciously bought a home for us to live in, charging us rent well below the market rate. It was, by far, the biggest and nicest house we have ever lived in.

I started working for Allegro Medical, managing their Yuma office. I also managed the network and serviced the computers for my sister’s husband’s cardiology practice. Additionally, Polly and I cleaned the practice’s offices. By this time, my fibromyalgia had progressed to an ever-present reality, leaving me in pain and frequently tired and fatigued. This would be the last full-time job I would hold.

We lived in Yuma for seven months. We visited scores of churches, never finding a place to call home. While we thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent with my sister and her husband, after seventh months, we decided to move back to Ohio. Why? We missed our children. While I would have been better off physically (and economically) staying in Yuma, the emotional pull of home was too much to overcome. In September of 2004, we moved to Newark, Ohio — the home of Polly’s parents.

After living in Newark for ten months, we packed up our belongings and returned to rural Northwest Ohio. After living in Bryan and Alvordton for a bit, in 2007, we bought a fixer-upper in Ney — where we live today. All of our children and grandchildren live within thirty minutes of our home. All of them are gainfully employed and all of them except one own their own homes. Our grandchildren are enrolled in schools in four different local school districts. Polly and I are both in the sunset years of our lives. We knew when we moved to Ney that this would be our last move. This is home.

I am known locally for my atheism and liberal/socialist politics. I have written numerous letters to the editors of the Defiance Crescent-News and the Bryan Times. I have a unique name, so when locals talk about “Bruce Gerencser,” they are talking about one person: me. Out of eight billion people, I am the only “Bruce Gerencser.”

As my children and wife can attest, I have always been outspoken, a passionate crusader, and defender of others. This was true when I was an Evangelical pastor, and it is true today. Because I am so well-known locally, my children over the years have been accosted by people who disagree with me and want them to defend something I have written or said. This has happened at the local community college and their various places of employment.

I told my children that they are free to say that they don’t know me. I don’t want them to have to carry my burden. When locals accost me in public or flip me off as they drive by my house, I understand that this is the price I must pay for being who and what I am. I just wish that people wouldn’t expect my children to defend me. I am not hard to find. My email address, street address, and blog are but a click or two away. Why not go to the source instead of going after my children? So far, none of my children has disowned me. 🙂

Some of our grandchildren are now high school age. Two of them are in eleventh grade, another in ninth grade, and two of our granddaughters are in middle school. They, too, must now bear the burden of being Bruce Gerencser’s grandchildren. Several of my grandchildren have had teachers and administrators ask if they are related to me — and not in a good way. It seems that my letters to the editor and infrequent blog posts on local issues irritate the hemorrhoids of some teachers and administrators. Instead of talking to me directly, they quiz my grandchildren. To what end? Are they judging my grandchildren based on something I have written, never considering that they might not agree with me? You see, in the Gerencser family, we are freethinkers. Family members hold a variety of opinions, many of which I disagree with. I don’t expect my children or grandchildren to toe some sort of ideological line. I am a passionate, opinionated, educated curmudgeon. I make no apologies for being who I am.

I recognize that my liberal/progressive politics, socialism, pacifism, atheism, and humanism are out of step with the beliefs of most local residents. Evangelicalism and right-wing Republican politics rule the roost. Seven out of ten voting locals voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. Not one Democrat holds a local political office. Often, Republican candidates run unopposed. Why should Democrats bother to run for office, knowing it is impossible for them to win.

When your religion and your political party have dominated the local scene for what seems like forever (I am old enough to remember when union Democrats were major players in local politics) you forget that there might be people who think differently from you. Or maybe you don’t care. This is the case for a history/government teacher at Defiance High School.

Last week, one of my granddaughter’s teachers decided to go after me by name while she was sitting in his class. He has mentioned my letters to the editor to her before, but this time he took class time to personally attack me. What upset him, you ask? My letter to the editor about the feral cat problem in Defiance. (Please see Letter to the Editor: Defiance Has a Feral Cat Problem, Mayor Mike McCann Says Killing Them is the Solution.) This teacher thought my letter was silly, suggesting that I should find better things to do with my time. His behavior was inappropriate, but not surprising.

Evidently, this teacher didn’t read any of my letters on religion, atheism, humanism, politics, war, marijuana legalization, sexual abuse, and other issues. He evidently is also unaware of my blog and my weighty writing on a variety of subjects. For whatever reason, he wanted to publicly take me down a notch or two.

Part of me wants to make an issue of his boorish behavior, but I have my grandchildren to think of. I don’t want them to be judged or harmed for something I have said or written. If that ever becomes the case, then I will stop writing. I don’t think that will ever happen. My older grandchildren are proud of the work I do, even when they don’t always agree with me.

I do want to make an offer to the teacher in question:

  • Invite me to one or more of your classes to talk to them about my political, religious, and social views. I will gladly answer any questions they might have.
  • I will publicly debate you on any issue — even the designated hitter rule for Major League Baseball. Please have your people contact my people and we will set it up.

It’s easy to take cheap swipes at an old man from the safety of your high school classroom. I am more than happy to defend and debate my beliefs anywhere, any time.

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.

What’s Happening to the Social Contract?

new social contract

Remember all outrage over Evangelical cake decorators and photographers being “forced” to decorate cakes for same-sex couples or take photographs for their weddings? I am of two minds on these issues. I generally think businesses should be free to serve or not serve whomever they want. If I were an atheist photographer, I should be able to discriminate, choosing not to photograph Evangelical weddings. Same goes if I was a gay cake decorator — I should be able to choose whom I want to serve. I shouldn’t be forced to decorate cakes for heterosexual Evangelical couples. My inner libertarian says I should have the right to choose with whom I want to do business.

My inner socialist and progressive, says that if a person opens a business, he or she agrees to play by the applicable rules and laws: Civil Rights Act; Equal Opportunity Employment Act; Americans with Disabilities Act; building codes; health codes; employment laws; tax laws; and specifics codes and laws that govern particular types of businesses. Don’t like these laws, rules, and codes? Tough shit. These things are the price of admission. Want to operate a business? You must play by the rules. Thus my inner libertarian must submit to the needs and demands of an ordered society governed by the rule of law.

The same goes for Evangelical doctors and pharmacists who refuse to treat certain people, prescribe certain drugs, perform certain procedures, or fill certain prescriptions because doing so is contrary to their religious beliefs. Again, tough shit. If you agree to accept employment, you are expected to play by the rules.

Thanks to unprecedented accommodations to people of faith, Christians (and Muslims and Mormons) now think their jobs, schools, and communities, in general, should cater to them; that their religious beliefs take precedence over the rights of others or their participation in what is commonly called the social contract.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with businesses accommodating the sincere beliefs of their employees. I say “sincere.” We know that Evangelicals routinely lie about their “sincere” beliefs when they don’t want to do something. During the pandemic, anti-vax Evangelicals lied about their religious beliefs so they could get religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccinations. (For the record, I am opposed to ALL exemptions for vaccinations.) Evangelical preachers often lie about their religious objection to social security so they can be exempted from paying social security taxes. That’s exactly what I did in the 1980s, and I know other preachers who did the same.

Evangelicals are generally anti-government. They love sticking it to the man. That’s why so many of the 1/6/2021 insurrectionists were Evangelicals. What better way to stick it to Biden, the Democrats, and the state than trying to overthrow the government? Why are most private religious schools Evangelical? Why are most home-schooling families Evangelicals (or conservative Catholics)? By withdrawing their children from public schools (and society, in general), Evangelicals are using their libertarian ideology to tell government that they “will not have this man rule over us.”

Here’s the funny thing . . . Evangelicals only want these alleged freedoms and rights for themselves. As you well know, Christian Nationalism is on the rise in the United States, and around the world. Millions and millions of Evangelicals believe that the United States is a Christian nation, founded according to the teachings and principles of the Bible — even though history teaches no such thing. Many Evangelicals want to see Christianity codified into law. They want the Bible to be the law of the land. In their minds, either the separation of church and state is a myth or it was only meant to protect Christians from government encroachment. Recently, I have noticed an uptick in Evangelical writers and speakers saying that the separation of church and state does not guarantee separation FROM religion; that the United States is, by default, a Christian nation, and atheists, agnostics, and other unbelievers should not expect to have freedom from religion.

Recently, Jorge Gomez, senior writer for First Liberty Institute, took to the Christian Post to whine about “woke” Chase Bank canceling the bank account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom. I have no idea why Chase canceled NCRF’s account. What strikes me as funny is Gomez’s outrage over Chase making a decision to not do business with NCRF, yet he thinks Evangelical cake decorators, photographers, and other business owners should have the absolute right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. I suspect Gomez would be fine with Chase not doing business with adult entertainment businesses, escort services, and marijuana retailers. You see, Gomez wants preferential treatment for Evangelicals. He wants different rules for his tribe.

A society only works if we all play by the same rules. Sadly, many Evangelicals (and others too) don’t want to play by mutually agreed-upon laws and rules. When we disagree with a law or a rule, we can either use the political process to change it, refuse to obey it, risking punishment, appeal to the courts for redress, or turn to violence to get our way. What I fear we are seeing today is that when a group of people believe (or know) the political process no longer works or the courts are unwilling to give them what they want, they turn to rebellion and violence. I fear this is where we now are: a dangerous day and hour when it is considered justifiable to beat an old man with a ball-peen hammer, threaten to murder the vice president of the United States and the Speaker of the House, scream at school boards, invade the U.S. Capitol — causing death, physical harm, and property damage — and violently threaten people with physical harm. I have no doubt that we are headed toward violence in the streets; not a civil war, necessarily, but local pockets of tribal violence. We are armed to the teeth, and if the Insurrection taught us anything it is this: given the right circumstances and provocations, people can and will do anything, including murdering their neighbors. One need only look at Germany in World War II, the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda in 1994, or countless acts of violence and murder perpetrated during war, including the United States’ wars to see how this plays out.

People of good will must use non-violence to turn back our tribal tendencies. Social media makes it easy for all of us to congregate according to tribal designation. Certainly, it is natural for us to do so. However, when the only people we see, hear, and interact with are just like us, we can be easily led astray; we can easily engage in behaviors we might not normally engage in. Sometimes, we can turn to violence, and when that happens, our society collapses. When tribe is all that matters, it is easier to cause harm to “others.” I live on Main St. in Ney, Ohio. The other day, I looked at the voter registration records for voters who live on Main St. My wife and I are the only registered Democrats. Worse, it is well-known in town that we are atheists. Our front yard has three progressive, pro-choice signs. Last Thursday, the village had its annual trick-or-treat. I can only imagine how irritated some parents were as they walked by our house with their children. How dare we expose their kiddies to God-hating evil? Locals know I am the guy who writes letters to the editor of the newspaper “attacking” (their word) their religion or politics. Is it a stretch of the imagination to think that given the right circumstances, some of God’s chosen ones might try to destroy our signs (they have been stolen before), cause property damage, or even physical harm? When tribal passions are engaged, who knows what might happen.

Evangelicals are so drunk with political power, having abandoned the gospel as a means of societal transformation, that they will not rest until they have taken Christian Nationalism to its logical conclusion: the obeisance of non-Christians to Jesus and the Bible — actually, to their peculiar interpretation of the Bible. Those who refuse to bow to the Evangelical God will be punished and ostracized — much like Japanese-Americans and communists/socialists were in World War II. As Hitler’s Germany and the Tutsi genocide taught us, neighbors can and will turn on their neighbors if they deem them a threat, or even if they merely belong to the “wrong” tribe.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Atheist-Socialists Are Trying to Destroy the United States From Within

atheism

“It happened gradually, and then it happened suddenly, as Hemingway would put it,” Pete Hegseth explained.                                                  

Hegseth is a best selling author, and co-host of Fox and Friends Weekend. His co-author, David Goodwin is president of the Association of Classical Christian Schools. They write that educational reformer John Dewey advocated progressive teaching in the 1920’s. And in 1935, after they fled Nazis Germany, Marxists from the Frankfurt School of Social Research introduced their views to students at New York’s Columbia University.

“These were all atheists. These were all socialists, or almost all of them were and their goal was social change, and they knew the schoolroom was the place they could do it. And it started with the removal of God,” Hegseth said.

David Goodwin believes the biggest change sidelining Christian education occurred when the U.S. Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, removed God from the classroom.

“They gradually took prayer out of school, they then took the Bible out of school, and they then forbid really any teaching of Christian instruction in school, ” explained Goodwin. “But that was the kind of the capstone of a long effort. It wasn’t the beginning, it was really the end.”

Also, Goodwin and Hegseth contend that progressives intentionally replaced classical Christian education with American nationalism. 

“We look at our Pledge of Allegiance – at least we do as conservatives and patriots and say, ‘Hey, that’s a great thing under God.’ Well, the original pledge was written in the late 19th century by a socialist who ultimately wrote it without under God, because the pledge was meant to shift kids away comfortably from God at the center of the class, from the cross, at the center to the flag at the center of the classroom, which was an easier sell to parents at the time,” Hegseth explained. “And now, of course, fast forward to today, and they’re happy to get rid of the flag.”

So, do Hegseth and Goodwin believe that America’s elites possess a well-devised spiritual strategy that transcends politics? 

“You see, we fight in terms of politics now and may win incremental battles here or there. What the left understood is they had to go to the heart of what made us who we are. What do we value? What’s our vision of the good life? What do we consider our virtues?” Hegseth explained. “And when they targeted that, they targeted at the foundation of who we really are, really the current underneath the top waters of the stream of cultures, the top waters, the current is paideia underneath, and they targeted that.” 

— Gary Lane, CBN News, ‘It Started with the Removal of God’: How Atheist-Socialists Have Fought America from Within, July 5, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Socialism Leads to Sexual Perversion

e calvin beisner

Back in 1987, World magazine published an article by veteran journalist Garry John Moes that asked, “Is there a connection between Socialist doctrine and the homosexual rights movement?”

That striking lead disturbed me. While the article presented clear evidence that there is, in fact, such a connection, it didn’t answer a corollary question: Why is there a connection between homosexuality and socialism?

Why, for instance, did Plato endorse both socialism and homosexuality? Why, today, are many homosexuals — and others in the LGBTQIA+ movements — also socialists?

Back then I set out to answer that question in another article in World titled “Denial of Distinction: Socialism’s Roots and Sexual Deviance.” Its lessons are even more relevant today than they were 35 years ago.

….

A fundamental biblical doctrine revealed here is that there are real, abiding, basic distinctions in this world. Some religions — Hinduism and Buddhism, animism and spiritism — believe that all is fundamentally one, that there are no distinctions at the root of reality. Not Biblical Christianity. For the Bible, one is not two; evil is not good; light is not darkness; bitter is not sweet.

When God’s vineyard becomes indistinguishable from the wild vines around it, He tears down its hedge or wall. He will not permit a false distinction to remain. That is why God insists that evil and good, light and darkness, sweet and bitter not be confused with each other.

To those who deny such distinctions — who say that the Church can be like the world, who obscure the distinction between good and evil — to them, God says, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight!” As if to say, “They may be wise in their own eyes, but not in Mine. I am the Judge before whom they must stand. They may overlook distinctions, but I will not!”

What joins socialism with homosexuality and all forms of sexual perversion? They all run against, consciously or subconsciously, of the biblical doctrine of fundamental distinctions.

Biblical thinking recognizes a distinction between Church and world. The church is God’s private property, “a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9), and it has a hedge or wall of doctrines and ethics built around it to distinguish it from the world. It must not do what the world does, but must perform God’s judgments and statutes, in which it finds life (Leviticus 18:3-5).

Just as the Bible insists that God has property in the Church, so it insists in the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” that people have property that must be distinguished from everyone else’s property. Socialism denies that distinction, claiming that everything belongs to everyone. In so doing, it breaks down a wall of distinction by which God orders reality, and to avoid chaos it reverts to another kind of order: totalitarianism. The Bible also insists that property is a just reward for work, not to be divided equally among all people regardless of their contribution to its production (Luke 19:12–26; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). Again, socialism denies this fundamental distinction, insisting on an impossible equality of economic condition.

What of sexuality? The Bible insists that God made man male and female, and that the distinction must be upheld. Neither adultery (Deuteronomy 22:22), nor fornication (Deuteronomy 22:23-29), nor transvestism (Deuteronomy 22:5), nor homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22), nor bestiality (Leviticus 18:23), let alone transgenderism, may be condoned among the people of God. Adultery and fornication, polygamy and polyandry, and polyamorism, deny the distinction between one’s spouse and all other members of the opposite sex. Homosexuality and transgenderism deny the distinction between male and female. Bestiality, with its religious roots in polytheistic evolutionary doctrines of the origin of the world and mankind, denies the distinction between human beings and animals.

Socialism and all forms of sexual perversion have this in common: they attack fundamental distinctions God has built into creation. Where they come into closest ideological contact is in denying the exclusivity of certain relationships. Socialism denies the exclusivity of property as belonging to one person or family and not to others. Sexual perversion denies the exclusivity of sexual relations to marriage between one male and one female.

Distinctions are fundamental to biblical thought: distinctions of order and chaos, light and darkness, good and evil, animal and human, female and male, saved and damned, Church and world, holy and unholy. So are distinctions of work and sloth, individual and community, private and communal property, freedom and slavery, lawfulness and unlawfulness, variety and uniformity.

Each in its own way — socialism and sexual perversion — denies such distinctions. They rebel against the fundamental orders of God’s creation. They must not be countenanced among God’s people — now, any more than 35 years ago.

— E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.,Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, The Christian Post, Denying the binary: Why socialism and sexual perversion go hand in hand, June 24, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Why I Could Never Be a Republican

just say no republicans

I am politically progressive and liberal. I make no attempt to hide my democratic socialistic tendencies. I am a registered Democrat and a supporter of Bernie Sanders. I am an inconsistent pacifist. I am of the opinion that the United States has not fought a just war since the two world wars. And even with these wars, the United States, with its immoral nuclear bombings of Japan and its firebombings of Germany, has shown itself to be as violently ruthless as its enemies. The same goes for the United States’ use of napalm during the Vietnam War. (Please read Napalm: An American Biography by Robert Neer.)  Americans love to think of themselves as kind, goodhearted people who only resort to violence when backed into a corner, when in fact the United States, thanks to its colonialist, imperialistic, and nationalistic tendencies, is a nation whose history is steeped in the blood of innocents. (Please read The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America 1500-2000 by Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton.)

Prior to the turn of the 21st century, I was a registered Republican — the party of my tribe and religion. The reasons I am no longer a Republican are many. Let me list a few of them. These statements reflect my understanding of the Republican Party at the national level.  I realize that not all Republicans believe/support the positions that follow.

The Republican Party is and I am not:

  • Pro-life
  • Pro-Christian
  • Pro-gun
  • Pro-NRA
  • Pro-war
  • Pro-Israel
  • Pro-big business
  • Pro-Chamber of Commerce
  • Pro-dark money political contributions
  • Pro-unrestricted campaign contributions
  • Pro-charter schools
  • Pro-unregulated religious schools
  • Pro-Pledge of Allegiance
  • Pro-Christian nationalism
  • Pro-American expansionism
  • Pro-American imperialism and colonialism
  • Pro-military as the world’s policeman
  • Pro-Patriot Act(s) and other government intrusions into privacy
  • Anti-welfare
  • Anti-Environmental Protection Agency
  • Anti-Department of Education
  • Anti-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Anti-affordable college
  • Anti-separation of church and state
  • Anti-LGBTQ
  • Anti-affordable healthcare
  • Anti-single payer option health insurance
  • Anti-immigrant
  • Anti-undocumented worker
  • Anti-Palestinian/Iranian/Afghan/Iraqi/Muslim/Russian
  • Anti-regulation
  • Anti-abortion
  • Anti-euthanasia
  • Anti-global warming/climate change
  • Anti-science
  • Anti-evolution
  • Anti-minimum wage
  • Anti-Black Lives Matter
  • Anti-atheism

And Best Hits of the Republican Party keep on playing.

And if these things aren’t enough, Republicans committed the biggest political crime of the modern era — electing Donald Trump president. And . . . four years later, knowing that Trump was a criminal who caused the deaths of thousands of people from COVID-19, and was unfit for office, Republicans tried to elect him again.

From 2016 to today, what have we learned about the Republican Party? With lips dripping with the blood of injustice, unfairness, and unequal protection under the law, the Republican Party has waged an all-out war against LGBTQ people, people of color, and anyone else who doesn’t fit in their narrow, defined ideological box. Whatever moderate, centrist politicians that once existed in the Republican Party no longer exist. Republicans are now the party of Trump, the fomenters of insurrection, culture warriors intent on turning the United States into a violent theocratic state.

It is for these reasons, and others, that I could NEVER, EVER be a Republican. They are the antithesis of everything I believe and stand for.

Readers should not assume from this post that I am pro-Democrat. I am not. I held my nose and voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020 for one simple reason: they weren’t Donald Trump. Neither Clinton nor Biden was my first, second, or third choice. (I voted for Bernie Sanders both times in the primaries.) Currently, I am considering leaving the Democratic Party, registering as an independent voter. I’m done with voting for the “lesser of two evils.” The Democratic Party is weak, feckless, and cowardly, given over to extremism instead of getting things done for the American people. Is there no whack-a-doodle position too extreme for Democrats? Evidently not. In many ways, extremists in the Democratic Party are not much different from right-wing extremists in the Republican Party. The two-party system is irreparably broken, controlled by corporate money and career politicians. The “house” needs to be razed so a just, equitable system can be built. The upcoming midterm elections will go a long way in helping me decide whether I am finally done with the Democratic Party. Here in Ohio, both at the state and local level, the Democratic Party is as dead and missing as Jimmy Hoffa.

Maybe none of this will matter. If warmongers in the Republican and Democratic Parties have their way, we could be living in a nuclear wasteland by Christmas. Thinking a war with Russia is “winnable,” and the use of tactical nuclear weapons will show the world we are still the only true superpower, our political leaders are leading us down a path that leads to heartache and devastation. Coming soon will be a push to expand funding for the military and security industrial complexes. To some degree, this already happened before the war in Ukraine. I can only imagine how much money the people who allegedly “keep us safe” and “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” will be clamoring for now that we are sending billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine and NATO. Nothing like a military conflict — and make no mistake about it, we are waging war against Russia and Belarus — for the bottom line.

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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If You Could Only Vote for a Conservative Atheist or a Liberal Christian, Who Would You Choose?

questions

Jack who blogs at Atheist Revolution, recently asked the following question:

If I had to vote for one of two hypothetical candidates, would I be more likely to vote for a liberal Christian or a conservative atheist?

Jack answered:

The liberal Christian would almost certainly be a better fit with my stance on most political issues than the conservative atheist. That would be a compelling reason to select them. But of course, the conservative atheist would not be a victim of the sort of superstition afflicting the liberal Christian. That would be appealing, especially considering how rare this is. So who would I choose if I had to pick one?

My answer to this question reveals something about my priorities. Were I to say that I’d pick the conservative atheist, it might mean that atheism was more important to me than most political issues. And picking the liberal Christian might mean that atheism was a lesser priority for me than these political issues. I suppose there could be other explanations for these decisions that wouldn’t necessarily support either of these interpretations.

So which candidate would I pick? I’d pick the liberal Christian. It might not be an easy decision, especially if this was someone who seemed to be actively promoting Christianity during the campaign. But I think I’d be much more likely to pick the liberal Christian because I’d be a lot more interested in how the person would govern than what they believed about gods.

I’m with Jack on this one. As a liberal/progressive/socialist/pacifist, I am always going to vote for the liberal or progressive candidate. Currently, I am a registered Democrat, having voted for Democratic candidates since 2000. From 1976 to 2000 I always voted Republican, except in 1976 when I voted for born-again Democrat Jimmy Carter.

These days, I am what I call a disaffected Democrat. It remains to be seen how I will vote in 2022 and 2024 — if I am still alive, that is. If I am dead, I will leave it to Polly to cast my vote. 🙂 I am somewhat of a reactionary voter. I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020 for one simple reason: they weren’t Donald Trump. Neither were my first, second, or third choice. I voted both times in the primary election for Bernie Sanders.

I am a dues-paying member of the Democratic Socialists of America. It is with this group my affections lie. That said, I am a pragmatist. Until we overthrow our broken, dysfunctional two-party system, there’s no chance we will elect a socialist. (And no, neither Joe Biden nor Barack Obama is a socialist. If you say they are, you are a fucking idiot who has zero understanding of socialism.)

How would you answer the question posed by Jack? Please leave your answer in the comment section.

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.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Socialism Is Evil and Jesus was a Capitalist

jesus was a socialist

Socialism is a cancer that ultimately destroys every society where it’s allowed to fully matasticize [sic]. It’s appalling to see so many young people fooled by its thinly-veiled deceptions. And one of the biggest reasons why Socialism is evil is because it’s immoral. And it’s especially evil in this regard because it’s so deceptive.

Socialism’s ideologues prey on people’s sense of fairness and compassion when it’s quite the opposite in practice. Here are just a few of the many reasons why Socialism is immoral.

Socialism is a false anti-Christ religion. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating here: Socialism is an anti-Christ religion that replaces dependence upon God with dependence upon the State. And this was the intent of its founders.

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This anti-Christ aspect of Socialism has been proven in history, as Christianity and other religions are suppressed, or outlawed, wherever Socialist regimes are allowed to flourish.

Socialism advocates theft.  Under the pretense of being “fair,” Socialism says its okay to redistribute wealth. But it’s fundamentally immoral to steal from people, even if you voted to steal from people (Democratic Socialism).

….

By preaching equal outcome instead of equal opportunity, Socialism justifies stealing from the wealthy under the pretense that some rich people exploit the poor.

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While we all have equal value to God, and are loved equally by Him, we were not created equal in abilities, gifts, or outcomes.

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Socialism is prejudicial. For instance, Socialists condemn wealthy people for being rich because they assume that they got rich by exploiting the poor (one of Karl Marx’s main arguments). With the Postmodern Neo-Marxist Social Justice movement, they’ve just switched class with race or gender. So, now, people are no longer judged by the content of their character but by the color of their skin.  This is not only racist, it’s definitive prejudice, which is immoral.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t care for the poor or marginalized, we just don’t do so by stealing from other people. That would be immoral in any world.

Socialism advocates coveting your neighbors goods. This sin is similar to the last one. Socialism says it’s good to covet your neighbor’s possessions simply because it’s unfair that they have more than you. But God calls this idolatry.

Socialism forces compliance rather than incentivising doing the right thing. Forcing people to do the “right thing” is the opposite of the teaching of Christ who told us to serve others out of love.

While government can create laws that incentivize charity and compassion from those with financial means, whenever the State forces it on them it’s going down the road toward tyranny. And I think we’ve seen the disastrous effects that the welfare state has had on the poor. It has not helped them but made them dependent upon the State, which is a form of slavery, and that’s immoral.

Socialism is intolerant to those with different views. This is rather ironic since Socialists often view themselves as tolerant, but no one is more intolerant than the radical left. The “Woke” movement is a cold and pitiless religion, they’re the 21st century witch hunters—an unforgiving cult that shames and ostracizes, even erases, anyone who does not live up to their woke standard.

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Socialism foments division. Socialism thrives by pitting one group against another, making them either the “oppressed” and the “oppressors.” But there is no class, race, or gender division in the Kingdom of God

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God shows no partiality, and it’s immoral for us to do so.

Socialists often advocate violence to advance their cause. This isn’t true with all Socialists, but it’s most definitely true with the fathers of Socialism (Marx, Lenin, Mao, etc.)

We do see this justification with the neo-Marxist BLM organization and the “anti-fascist” fascists who call themselves Antifa.

Socialism creates dependence instead of freedom.

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In contrast, Jesus died for us to live in freedom.

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Beloved, don’t be fooled by this deceptively immoral ideology. Let’s educate ourselves and our children with the truth that makes us free. And the truth is, while there are corrupt people who do immoral things under Capitalism, Socialism is immoral by design.

— Mel Wild, In My Father’s House, Why Socialism is Immoral, September 14, 2021

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.

2015-2020: A Look at My Writing — Post Christianity

letter to the editor

What follows is a sampling of the letters to the editors of the Bryan Times and the Defiance Crescent-News I wrote between 2015 and 2020. These letters were written after I deconverted from Christianity in November 2008.

March 2015

It’s Time to End the Death Penalty in Ohio

Dear Editor:

It’s time for Ohio legislators to put an end to the death penalty. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 2003, twenty Ohio inmates have been removed from death row “through exonerations, clemency, or sentence reductions because of intellectual disabilities.” In December 2014, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer testified before the House Criminal Justice Committee. Justice Pfeifer stated “The death penalty in Ohio has become what I call a death lottery…It’s very difficult to conclude that the death penalty, as it exists today, is anything but a bad gamble. That’s really not how a criminal justice system should work.”

Currently, Ohio legislators are working on bills that would prohibit the execution of those with severe mental illness, create an indigent defense fund, require crime labs and coroners to be certified, and prohibit the execution of anyone convicted solely on the testimony of jail house snitch. While these are great steps in the right direction, it is time for Ohio to altogether abolish the death penalty.

As Justice Pfeifer rightly noted, the death penalty has become a death lottery. Those of means have the ability to hire competent defense attorneys, often resulting in the death penalty being taken off the table. The poor, who can’t afford to hire an attorney, must rely on proper representation from a public defender. In many rural areas, the poor are often assigned an attorney with little capital case experience. While many public defenders do a great job defending indigent clients, there are times when they are not up to the task, lacking the necessary skill and time to adequately defend their client.

When a person’s life hangs in the balance, they deserve competent, aggressive representation. Attorneys who defend an indigent client are paid a pathetic fee and must often wait for months or years to be reimbursed by the state. If we are going to continue to use execution as the means to punish those convicted of a capital crime, then it is morally imperative that we make sure that those facing death have the same access to attorneys, expert witnesses, and crime labs, regardless of their ability to pay.

Currently, 140 men and one woman are awaiting execution in Ohio. Due to controversy over the drugs used in lethal injections, it is unlikely that there will be any executions until 2016. I would encourage Ohio legislators to use this time to find a way to bring an end to executions.

Killing someone because they committed a crime is rooted in the barbaric eye for an eye justice of the Old Testament. While many Christian sects now oppose the death penalty, Evangelicals and conservative Christians continue to demand death for those convicted of a capital crime. I ask, what happened to following in the footsteps of Jesus? Would Jesus, the Prince of Peace, approve of a criminal system that disproportionately punishes the poor and people of color? If Evangelicals, who overwhelmingly vote Republican, would get behind abolishing the death penalty, we can end this abhorrent practice.

Bruce Gerencser

May 2015

Why is the Evangelical God Silent?

Dear Editor:

There seems to be no end to the sermons printed in the editorial section of the Crescent-News. Intractable warriors for the Evangelical God preach against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, and the evils of socialism, humanism, secularism, and atheism. Letter writers claim to know the mind and will of God on every matter, warning that failure to heed their preaching will result in God pouring out his judgment and wrath on the United States. They warn that two people of the same sex marrying will bring an end to Western civilization. Yet, it seems that their preaching is falling on deaf ears.

Several months ago, St John’s United Church of Christ came out of the closet and declared themselves to be an open and affirming church. This means gays and same-sex couples are welcome at St. John’s. When I read the news report, I could hardly believe it. I thought, have I been beamed away to an alternate universe, to a county where people are not judged for who they love or how they express intimacy? No, right here in Defiance County, a church that is not ashamed to welcome one and all.

Young adults are increasingly gay-friendly and are no longer interested in the bigoted, homophobic religion of their parents. Some of them join the ranks of the nones, those who are atheists, agnostics, or indifferent towards organized religion. On many of the issues that seem to cause Evangelicals great consternation, young adults show that they think love, fairness, justice, and compassion are more important than dogma and literalism.

When I read the letters from Evangelicals, I see an aging group of people desperately trying to regain power and control over a culture that has little interest in what they are selling. Forty years ago, instead of focusing on personal piety and good works, Evangelicals sold their soul to groups like the Moral Majority and the American Family Association. They traded their place in the community for political power. They abandoned reason and rationality and became the purveyors of ignorance and bigotry. And now they are being weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Come June, despite millions of Evangelical prayers, conferences, rallies, and sermons, it is likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will set aside state laws forbidding same-sex marriage. I wonder how Evangelicals will respond? Will they turn to the heavens and ask God why he turned a deaf ear to their prayers? Will they point the finger at their homophobic rhetoric and bigotry? I doubt it.  It will be atheists such as myself, liberals, socialists, and the Kenyan-born usurper in the White House who will be blamed for their inability to return America to the love, joy, and peace of the 1950s.

Evangelicals are like the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. They call out to the heavens asking their God to show his power and act on their behalf. Yet, from my seat in the atheist pew, it seems their God is either deaf or on vacation.

Bruce Gerencser

June 2015

Medical Marijuana and Relieving Pain and Suffering

Dear Editor:

Rarely a week goes by when there is not a letter to the Editor from a fundamentalist Christian demanding their moral code and peculiar interpretation of the Bible be accepted by all.  Even when they aren’t quoting the Bible or reminding local unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of their impending doom, their letters reflect an addled worldview, one shaped by an ancient book they think offers them unchanging truth. If their beliefs were kept in the church house, non-Christians would care little and hope that one day they would see the light. However, their beliefs are not kept in the church house, and because of this people of science, reason, and common sense must continue to push back as Christian fundamentalists try by legal and political means to force people to live by a worldview that is better suited for the dustbin of human history.

Take a recent letter writer who vehemently opposes legalizing the use of medical marijuana in Ohio. Even though they didn’t mention one Bible verse, their letter dripped with the fundamentalist presupposition that suffering and pain are in some way noble and good for us. Numerous Bible verses would certainly lead one to conclude that suffering and pain have probative value and make us closer to God and keeps us from clinging too closely to this life. If we buy into this kind of thinking and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, a life after death that is free of suffering and pain awaits us.

Sounds sublime, right? But what if there is no life after death, no divine payoff for trudging through life suffering for Jesus and enduring pain because it will make us stronger? What if the only life we have is this one? Well, that changes everything. If this life is it, and I think it is, then we should try to relieve not only our own pain and suffering, but that of others. As a committed humanist, I would never want to withhold from anyone that which would relieve or end their suffering and pain. Whether it is narcotic pain medications, medical marijuana, or physician-assisted suicide, I want all humans to have at their disposal the means to lessen their suffering and pain.

Any religion that values suffering and pain is one that should be roundly criticized and rejected. And if Jesus were alive today, I suspect he’d agree with me.

Bruce Gerencser

July 2015

The Hypocrisy of Christian Government Officials Refusing to Issue Same-Sex Marriage License

Dear Editor:

Evangelical Christians are infuriated over the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Granting U.S. citizens equal protection under the law and affording them the same civil rights heterosexuals have is seen as an affront to God, the Bible, and true Christians everywhere. As a result, a handful of Christian government officials are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

Should government officials be required to violate their religious beliefs in the execution of their duties? They serve the public, and when they walk in the door of their respective place of duty, what God, the Bible, or their pastor has to say has no authority or relevance. The United States is a secular state, and the highest court in the land has determined that marriage laws discriminating against same-sex couples are unconstitutional. Every government official is duty-bound to obey the law, and if they can’t they should either quit, be fired, or removed from office.

Evangelicals and their counterparts in the Catholic and Mormon church have at their disposal all the means necessary to undo same-sex marriage. If they feel the Court acted unjustly, the proper recourse is to work towards a constitutional amendment that establishes marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Empty threats of second amendment remedies, secession from the union, and Sodom and Gomorrah-like judgment from God change nothing. If Christians want real change, a return to Ozzie and Harriet’s 1950’s, then they should work to amend the Constitution. They won’t do this, of course, because they know they don’t have sufficient numbers to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision.

Why is it Christian government officials issue marriage licenses to adulterers and fornicators, but draw the line at same-sex couples? The Bible sure has a lot to say about adultery and fornication, yet these “sins” are routinely ignored. Only homosexuals and same-sex couples are singled out for discrimination and abuse. Why is this?

This question is not hard to answer. Having spent the first 50 years of my life in the Evangelical church, 25 years as a pastor, I know firsthand the rampant hysterical bigotry and homophobia within Evangelicalism. Evangelicals are now known as the religion of hate, and every time people such Franklin Graham, Tim Wildmon, Al Mohler, Ken Ham, or James Dobson open their mouth, the public is reminded of this fact.

Bruce Gerencser

January 2016

Letters from Creationists

Dear Editor:

If I didn’t know any better, based on recent letters to the editor and church advertisements touting young-earth creationism, I would think that we are living in the 1920s — the era of the great creationist-versus- evolution debate.

We are almost 100 years removed from the Scopes monkey trial, yet Christian fundamentalists are still trying to hoodwink unwitting people into believing creationism is a scientific theory. Not only do they want the scientifically ignorant to believe that creationism is a scientific theory, Fundamentalists also want them to believe that it is the only explanation for the biological world.

Readers of the Crescent-News need to understand exactly what Christian fundamentalists are saying. According to them, the universe was created by the Christian God 6,020 years ago, in six 24-hour days. They also want you to believe that 2,000 years later God, in a genocidal rampage, killed every living thing with a flood, save Noah, his family, and two of every animal.

While these stories make for wonderful bedtime readings to children, they have no business being taught, outside of a comparative religion class, in the public school classroom. Creationism, along with its gussied-up sister intelligent design, is religious dogma, not biological science. I am of the opinion that any public school teacher found to be teaching creationism should immediately be removed from the classroom. We owe it to our children to make sure that they are taught sound scientific principles. God did it, is not such a principle.

I am sure my letter will bring howls and gnashing teeth from local Christian fundamentalists. They will, as they always do, cut and paste supposed rebuttals of evolution from bastions of ignorance like Answers in Genesis or The Institute of Creation Research. What they will fail to produce is peer-reviewed studies supporting their creationist claims. If creationists want to overthrow evolution, then I suggest they start publishing papers in non-Evangelical science journals. When the weight of the arguments become so overwhelming that they cannot be ignored, I have no doubt that scientists will declare creationism the winner.

This will never happen, of course, because creationism is theological in nature, not sound biological science. If people want to believe that a mythical God created the universe 6,020 years ago, fine. Ignorance is a permitted vice in a free society. But we should insist that public school children be taught science, and not long-discredited religious myths.

Bruce Gerencser

April 2016

Is the Bible the Objective Standard of Morality?

Dear Editor,

Recently, Cal Thomas pontificated about the need for an objective standard of morality. Of course, Thomas, an Evangelical, believes the moral code found in the Bible is the true standard of morality. Thomas believes America is mired in a moral quagmire. Blaming liberals, secularists, and atheists, Thomas believes America’s only hope is for Americans to once again prostrate themselves before the Bible and promise resolute fealty to its author — God.

What exactly is the Bible’s objective moral standard? The Ten Commandments? Or is it the Nine, since most Christians no longer “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy?” Or, as dispensational Evangelicals suggest, is just the New Testament the standard for morality? If it is just the New Testament, then why do Evangelicals continue to condemn homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and abortion — none of which is mentioned in the New Covenant? And why do Evangelical pastors continue to collect tithes and offering each Sunday, a practice not found anywhere in the New Testament?

While Evangelicals will point their peculiar interpretation of the Bible to justify the notion that they are the holders of God’s standard of morality, any careful examination of their churches shows that Evangelical moral beliefs are every bit as subjective as their atheist/agnostic/secularist neighbors. There are more than one hundred churches in Defiance County, and not one of them agrees with another about what is considered moral behavior.

On matters of greater importance: salvation, baptism, and communion, local churches fight among themselves, each believing that it has the keys to the kingdom. One church has been running weekly ads in the Crescent-News to remind locals that their church — a Campbellite congregation — preaches the true gospel. Down the street Baptists preachers remind congregants that the heretical followers of Alexander and Thomas Campbell were thrown out the Baptist church mid-19th century. It is the Baptists who have the true gospel. And so the internecine wars continue unabated since the day Jesus was buried in a pauper’s grave.

Atheists such as myself laugh when Evangelicals suggest that the Bible is the standard for morality. Seeing the utter confusion and contradictory beliefs among the various Christian sects, how can anyone know for sure who is right? My money is on none of them being right. As a humanist, I believe it is up to people — not religions — to determine the standards by which we want to govern our lives.

Bruce Gerencser

April 2016

Evangelical Hysteria Over Transgender Bathroom Use

Dear Editor,

Recent news stories have highlighted Evangelical outrage and hysteria over Transgenders using public restrooms. I suspect most Americans at one time or another have taken care of business while in proximity to someone whose sexual identity or orientation is different from theirs. Why all the outrage now over such a banal issue as who and where someone pees?

At the heart of this issue lies Evangelical hatred and disgust, not only for Transgenders, but also for anyone who dares to be different from the God-approved, heterosexual-only, virginal, monogamous-sex-only-within-the-bonds-of-marriage Evangelical belief concerning sexuality. As a Baptist teenager, I vividly remember sermons and admonitions warning teens of the dire consequences of fornication and masturbation. All the scare-tactic preaching did was make us feel guilty when we acted upon normal, healthy human sexual desire.

Evangelicalism is now widely considered a hateful religion by many Americans. Why is this? In the 1970s, Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich birthed The Moral Majority — an Evangelical group dedicated to reclaiming America for the Christian God. Along the way new groups such as Focus on the Family and the American Family Association joined with the Moral Majority to fight the war against what they perceived to be the takeover of America by Godless liberals, Satanic secularists, atheists, and humanists. In the 1980s these culture warriors sold their souls to the Republican Party, joining church and state and producing the ugly monster now on display for all to see.

During this same time frame, secularists, their numbers increasing thanks to a growing number of Americans who no longer are interested in organized religion, began to push back at Evangelicalism’s message of hate and bigotry. Atheist groups such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists began challenging governmental preferential treatment given to Evangelicals. Now, thanks to a rising swell of secularism, Evangelicals feel threatened. No longer are they given special treatment. No longer are their blatant assaults on the First Amendment ignored. The more Evangelicals are marginalized, the greater their outrage.

Evangelicals must accept the fact that progress has brought us to place of inclusion and acceptance of those who are different from us. Evangelical preachers are certainly free to keep preaching against what they believe are sinful behaviors. But they might want to notice that many Americans — particularly millennials — are no longer listening.

Bruce Gerencser

July 2016

Ken Ham’s Latest Monument to Human Ignorance

Dear Editor,

Four or so hours away from Defiance, a man by the name of Ken Ham has built a $100 million monument to human ignorance — The Ark Encounter. This monument is a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark. As one who was raised in the Evangelical church and pastored churches for 25 years, I heard and preached countless sermons about Noah and the Ark. Regrettably, I was in my forties before I learned that this story and many others were myths, having no basis in historical or scientific fact.

According to Ham and his fellow Evangelicals, the universe is 6,021 years old. Everything we see, both on earth and in the skies, was created by God in six literal 24-hour days. According to creationists, the book of Genesis is a science textbook, one that emphatically teaches young earth creationism. Indeed, the entire Bible is infallible and without error, and should be, with rare exception, interpreted literally.

I am sure, just as Muslims who make a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mecca, Evangelicals will flock to Kentucky to Ham’s monument to scientific ignorance. Adults will pay $40 for the privilege of touring Ham’s Ark, children $26. While there, Evangelicals will be taught “truths” about the historicity and reliability of the Bible and young earth creationism. I am sure most visitors will be awed by Ham’s Ark, ignoring that much of what Ham has constructed is built upon speculation. If Ham built a boat according to Biblical specifications, I highly doubt Kentucky officials would grant it an occupancy permit, and it is doubtful such a boat would safely float.

Ken Ham also operates the Creation Museum, another monument to ignorance. When it first opened, Evangelicals flocked to Kentucky to witness the wonders of the young earth creationism lie. Once witnessed, Evangelicals moved on to other entertainments, resulting in decreasing revenues for Answers in Genesis. Following the script of Field of Dreams, Ham built his Ark believing Evangelicals would visit if he did. And they will, for a time. The problem for Ham lies in the fact that Evangelicals easily bore. Once Evangelicals have seen the Ark, will they return? Probably not, especially if Ham continues to charge King’s Island-like admission prices. Perhaps Ham knows this, and this is why he is already planning a new entertainment venture — a replica of the Tower of Babel. Those who love reason and science can only shake their heads.

Bruce Gerencser

October 2016

Local Evangelical Support of Donald Trump

Dear Editor,

Local Evangelicals often use the Crescent-News editorial page to wage war against sins they believe will cause the destruction of America. If these sins — abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, same-sex marriage, driving while Democrat — are allowed to continue, they believe God will judge our country and remove his blessing. These same writers have spent years reminding readers that electing Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and now Hillary Clinton will result in the United States turning into a Communist/socialist/atheist/humanist state. Only God and the Christian Bible will do, they tell us. Ignore their words, pay the price.

During the primaries, these same people wrote letters extolling the virtues of various Republican candidates. When the dust settled, Donald Trump was left standing. Donald Trump is a misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, sexual predator with the acumen of a third grader. He offers no policy positions other than his plan to make America great again. Recently, Trump fat-shamed women, calling them names, and last week, a recording of Trump admitting that he sexually assaulted women surfaced for all to see. “Locker room talk,” they say, “just boys being boys.”

Many Evangelicals have decided that while Donald Trump’s a vile, disgusting human being, he’s exactly the kind of person God uses for his glory. “What a testament to God’s wondrous grace that God can even use someone like Donald Trump,” they say. Some believe that Trump is a “baby” Christian and will grow in the knowledge of the Lord. What, I ask, do these people see that the rest of us cannot? Here’s a man who told the world that he’s never asked God for forgiveness, yet we’re supposed to believe he’s a Christian? Please, stop insulting our intelligence.

If God really can use anyone to accomplish his purpose, cannot he use Hillary Clinton just as easily as Donald Trump? According to Evangelicals, Clinton’s the Antichrist. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God used Clinton to accomplish his purposes? Dare Evangelicals stand in the way of God’s plan for America?

Trump and his followers want to return America to the 1950s — a time when there was no God but the Christian God, Joseph McCarthy found Commies under every bed, men in white sheets ruled the South, abortion was illegal, blacks knew their place, women stayed at home, and gays stayed in the closet. Those of us who believe in progress must not let this happen.

Bruce Gerencser

March 2017

The True Agenda of the Ayn Rand-fueled, Koch Brothers-funded, Evangelical-empowered, Paul Ryan-controlled Wing of the Republican Party

Dear Editor:

The recent attempt to pass what Donald Trump and Republicans dubbed the American Health Care Act has finally exposed for all to see the true agenda of the Ayn Rand-fueled, Koch Brothers-funded, Evangelical-empowered, Paul Ryan-controlled wing of the Republican Party. The white sheets have been torn away, exposing ideological hatred for minorities, the working class, and what the Bible calls the least of these. We now know that these shills for the one-percenters want to destroy the Federal government, roll back the New Deal, and cut the bottom out of social safety net. Their ultimate goal is to return our society to the days of the wild, wild West – days when every man controlled his own destiny; days when the capitalist with the fastest draw and surest aim or the robber baron with the quickest fists ruled the land.

As of the writing of this letter, Republicans have twice cancelled votes on the AHCA. Facing outrage from all corners of the political spectrum, Paul Ryan is increasingly aware of the fact that he never should have made public his agenda to destroy America. While I thoroughly enjoy watching Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and their surrogates get the public caning they so richly deserve, my joy is tempered by the fact that at the state level Republican extremists are quietly and effectively rolling back much of the social progress of the past century. More frightening than the AHCA debacle is the Koch Brothers-funded plan for a Constitutional Convention. And once a Constitutional Convention is convened, Tea-Party, Libertarian, and Evangelical theocrats will finally have the tools necessary to dismantle the Federal government and turn America into dog-eat-dog capitalist state ruled by men only concerned with their stock portfolios and return on investments. While Evangelicals will certainly make sure that their God is returned to his rightful place as America’s potentate, the real God of these extremists is laissez-faire capitalism.

One positive to come out of electing Donald Trump is the exposure of the true agenda of many Republican officeholders. Now it is up to Democrats, liberals, progressives. democratic socialists, and all who value social progress to coalesce into a movement willing to take on Paul Ryan/Koch Brothers/Ayn Rand Republicans. What lies ahead is a no-holds-barred fight to the death for the future of our Republic. I am ready for the fight. Are you?

Bruce Gerencser

November 2017

I Support the Kneeling Defiance College Football Players

Dear Editor:

I write to lend my support to the Defiance College football players who have knelt during the playing of the national anthem. I commend them for their courage, knowing that most local residents oppose their actions. Their continued protest has brought calls for discipline, including expulsion from school. I commend college administrators and coaches for not bowing to public pressure to silence protest. These students, along with their counterparts in professional sports, need to be heard. Their protests have nothing to do with respect for the military or flag.

What lies behind their kneeling is inequality, injustice, and racism. While these issues might seem to locals to be the problems of urban areas, the truth is that we denizens of rural Northwest Ohio have our own problems related to these things. I recently participated in a forum discussion on racism in Northwest Ohio. Having lived most of my sixty years of life in this area, I can say with great certainty that we are not immune from charges of racism and injustice. We may hide it better, covering it with white, middle-class Christian respectability, but it exists, nonetheless.

Years ago, my family and I walked into a church towards the end of the adult Sunday school class. Teaching the class was a matronly white woman — a pillar of the church. She was telling the class that her grandson was not getting playing time on the college football team because blacks got all the playing time. She reminded me of a retired white school teacher I knew when I lived in Southeast Ohio. At the time, we had a black foster daughter. I had just started a new church in the area, and we were looking for a house to rent. This school teacher had a house available, so we agreed to rent it. When it came time to pick up the keys, she told us she decided to rent to someone else. We later learned that she said she wasn’t going to have a ni***r living in her house.

These stories are apt reminders of what lies underneath our country respectability. It is time we quit wrapping ourselves in the flag, pretending that racism, inequality, and injustice doesn’t exist. Our flag and anthem represent many things, but for many Americans, they represent oppression and denial of human rights; and it is for these reasons, among others, that players kneel.

Bruce Gerencser

March 2019

Why Aren’t Chronic Pain Sufferers Considered Stakeholders When Discussing the Opioid Crisis?

Dear Editor:

Every week articles appear in the Crescent-News about the current opioid crisis. Medical professionals, substance abuse counselors, law enforcement, local government officials, and former addicts routinely are asked for comments or input on how to deal with drug abuse. There is, however, one stakeholder who is never asked to participate in these discussions – the chronic pain sufferer who takes opioid-based medications. Instead, the aforementioned groups speak as if chronic pain sufferers don’t exist. How else to explain the comments by authority figures about medical marijuana? Here’s a drug that can help people with chronic pain, yet law enforcement and government officials in particular go out of their way to make it hard or impossible for chronic pain suffers to access medical marijuana. Republican state legislators, in particular, are doing their best to make it nigh impossible for chronic pain sufferers to access and affordably buy medical marijuana. Local communities, giving into irrational hysteria, have caused harm to suffering locals by banning medical marijuana sellers. Imagine the outrage there would be if local governments banned cancer treatment drugs. Why, they would be voted out of office. Yet, it seems okay to demean, diminish, and harm chronic pain sufferers. Why is this?

One reason for these actions is that chronic pain sufferers are not part of local discussions about opioid abuse and use. Chronic pain sufferers who use narcotics as part of their pain management regimen are now treated like drug addicts. Chronic pain sufferers must jump through numerous hoops put in place by doctors, pharmacies, and government to get their prescriptions filled. Not one time have chronic pain sufferers been asked to have a seat at the discussion table. Instead, they suffer indignity in silence, fearing they will be looked down on if they dare to complain about the increasingly complex process required to get prescriptions filled.

I have read comments by Defiance Mayor Mike “Medical Marijuana is Not Part of Our Brand” McCann that reveal he is clueless about what chronic pain sufferers (and the handicapped) go through every day. The only way to change such ignorant perceptions is to include chronic pain sufferers in discussions about opioid abuse, medical marijuana, and pain treatment in general. Excluding them paints an inaccurate picture, leading to uneducated, ignorant, and irrational conclusions. Thanks to the war on opioids, chronic pain suffers have been pushed into the shadows. We deserve better.

Bruce Gerencser

September 2019

Does President Trump Really Care About “Religious Freedom?”

Dear Editor:

President Donald Trump knows he has no hope of winning the 2020 election without white Evangelical Christians. In 2016, eighty-two percent of voting white Evangelicals cast their votes for Trump. For the President to win the upcoming general election, his conservative Christian base must come out in force. While some of Trump’s moral faux pas have caused base erosion, for the most part, Evangelicals continue to stand by their man.

Why do Evangelicals continue to support President Trump? I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. There was a time when Evangelical churches and pastors took resolute stands on moral virtue and ethics — especially for elected leaders. I remember my outrage over President Clinton’s sexual misbehavior and lying while in office. From the pulpit and in letters to the editors of local newspapers, I demanded his immediate removal from office. Twenty years later? Evangelicals now turn a blind eye to the behavior of a president who paid off porn stars, allegedly sexually assaulted women, possibly committed treason, and doesn’t go a day without factually and materially lying to the American people. What changed?

In the 1970s, Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich birthed the Moral Majority. This small, innocuous group morphed into Hydra — a multi-headed monster. Gaining critical mass in the 1990s, these groups forsook their moral underpinnings, choosing instead to imbibe the sewage water of raw political power. All that matters now is keeping control, outlawing abortion, shoving LGBTQ people back in the closet, and establishing a Christian theocracy. Evangelicals even go so far as to paint themselves as a persecuted religious minority. One need only listen to Trump’s recent incoherent “religious freedom” speech at the United Nations to know he has heard his Evangelical base loud and clear.

While it is undoubtedly true that religious persecution happens in many places — including North Korea and Saudi Arabia — Trump blocking the immigration of the primarily Muslim Rohingya people reveals that his recent “religious freedom” speeches are little more than reminders to Evangelicals that he has their back. I entered the ministry in the 1970s. I didn’t know of a preacher who didn’t believe in the separation of church and state. Today? Scores of Evangelicals deny this wall even exists. For this reason, people who genuinely value religious freedom for all — including unbelievers and non-Christians — must fight the religious right’s attempt to redefine “religious freedom.

Bruce Gerencser

August 2020

The Rotting Corpse of American Capitalism

Dear Editor:

Jerry Bergman’s latest letter to the editor about Karl Marx, Marxism, and atheism would be hilarious if it wasn’t for the fact that his distortions of history are believed by millions of Evangelical Christians. Marxism, socialism, and atheism are the new boogeymen used by preachers to foment outrage and fear among the faithful. Worse yet, many of these same preachers tell congregants that Donald Trump, a fascist, is the only thing standing between them and the socialist/Marxist horde taking over America.

Bergman takes one line from Marx, using it to paint a distorted view of 20th-century history. Here’s the rest of the quote:

“Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”

As readers can see, Marx’s view of religion is more nuanced and complex than Bergman suggests.

Marx believed that religion provides a fantasy of sorts for the poor and disenfranchised. Economic realities prevent the poor from finding happiness in this life, so religion promises them happiness in the life to come. This Faustian bargain chains the poor to the rotting carcass of immoral American capitalism. It is only when the poor and disenfranchised see beyond the false promises of eternal life and heavenly prosperity that they see their only hope of a better tomorrow rests in casting off the chains of religion and resolutely standing against the political and social status quo.

It is clear to anyone who is paying attention that American capitalism is a failed economic system. Is Democratic Socialism the answer? Maybe. One thing is certain: capitalism is not the answer. Once Trump and his robber baron cronies are voted out of office in November, we can then begin anew to not make America great again, but to make her more fair, equitable, and just for all Americans.

Bruce Gerencser

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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Don’t Cast Your Candy Bars Before Swine

clark bar
My Favorite Candy Bar

Recently, my wife’s cousin, and an Evangelical pastor in Newark, Ohio, posted the following on Facebook:

Do not be fooled! Class warfare, rioting, racism, defunding police, expansive government programs…these are the building blocks to socialism. These are reasons so many flee to America!!

I have known Polly’s cousin for over forty-four years. He was the ring-bearer in our wedding in 1978. Andy is an affable guy, the only preacher in Polly’s family that I get along with. We have had numerous conversations over the years. Never an angry word, though we have disagreed many, many times.

After reading Andy’s anti-socialism comment, I decided to respond, hoping that I could educate him about socialism, specifically democratic socialism. I suspect that I am the only atheist socialist Andy knows. The conversation quickly deteriorated when a friend of Andy’s named Tim — an Evangelical know-it-all, if there ever was one — decided to hijack the discussion and attack my atheism. He quickly started talking about evolution and morality, and even went so far as to tell me that I was an agnostic, not an atheist.

Long time readers likely know what I told this man: fuck off! In fact, I told him to fuck off twice. The discussion was about socialism, but he wanted to make it about me and my atheism. I refused to play, and here’s his final comment to me (paragraphs added for readability. Grammar and spelling as written).

Last comment, then tomorrow when i get up I will just block you; since you do not want to debate.

you are angry because evangelicals make truth claims. yet you are making truth claims also. there is a saying. everyone has a right to their opinion, but only those who are correct have a right for their opinion to be true.

socalism is the start of communism and nazism. socalism has always harmed the poor and middle class, and makes politicians rich royal leaders. socalism always worships government, as everyone has to worship something. you know it. thus why you attack me, for pointing out truth.

Last, there is truth. there is a creator. there is a God, and that God is the one true God of the Bible. I pray that you meet him one day, before you die; as that will be too late. if you truly seek truth there are hundreads of books taht not only show the truth of what I am saying, but gives all the evidence inside and outside of the Bible for what I am saying. the best, for someone that truthly seeks truth, is evidence that demands a verdict.

I pray one day you seek the truth and realize that it is not what you claim it to be.

Just another day in the alternate universe called Evangelicalism. That this man thinks Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, is the best book for someone like me shows that he doesn’t really know much about agnosticism and atheism, nor does he know anything about my background. McDowell’s arguments have been debunked numerous times. Had I thought this man had a rational, skeptical bone in his body, I might have engaged him, but since he doesn’t, I chose not to cast my candy bars before pigs.

The only thing that offended me was his claim that I am an agnostic, not an atheist. He refused to let me self-identify as an atheist. In his mind, agnostic and atheist are two different things. Had he been open to thoughtful, rational discussion, I would have educated him about why many professed atheists are agnostics and atheists. I have talked about this issued numerous times on this site. Some strong atheists disagree with me on the matter, but claiming to be an agnostic and an atheist is certainly within the orthodox pale of the most holy atheist religion. Yes, this knucklehead thinks atheism is a religion. Whatcha gonna do when faced with someone who thinks he knows everything, yet knows very little? At this point in my quickly fading life, “fuck you” seems to be an appropriate response.

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