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My Response to Larry Dixon’s Starbucks Story

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Larry Dixon, an Evangelical preacher and professor, mentioned me again in a recent post on his blog. I am starting to think that Larry wants to have a bromance with me. Sorry Larry, I’m married, hopelessly heterosexual, and I definitely don’t socialize with people who see me as a target for evangelization. I am quite content with being an apostate reprobate who is headed to a mythical Lake of Fire. Now, if you want to join me and Christopher Hitchens in Hell, then maybe, just maybe, we can be friends.

Dixon recently wrote a post titled, What if this Happened in Starbucks? Evidently, Dixon was deep in sleep one night and had what can only described as an Evangelical wet dream. Much like the Bible, what follows is not a true story. I’ll let Larry explain:

So this morning (Sunday morning), I went to Starbucks to get coffee for my wife. The church we attend has a break between services, so I went to get her coffee and a multi-grain bagel.

The place was packed. The six or so Starbucks’ employees that were working behind the counter were swamped. One customer was upset because he was still waiting for his cheese danish. Most of the chairs and tables were taken. People were meeting with friends; laptops were everywhere

Before I placed my order, something came over me. I felt a profound burden to speak to the whole room:

“Hey! Forgive me for interrupting you folks, but I’ve got a critical question to ask you. Are you ready?”

People looked nervous. Nobody speaks to the whole group gathered in a Starbucks! Who was this kook?, they probably thought to themselves. Some of the men looked like they were examining me for a hidden weapon of some kind.

“Why aren’t you people in church?! There are a lot of good churches within a couple of miles of here. Has Starbucks become your church?”

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that one of the baristas was on the phone, probably calling the police. I knew my opportunity would soon be over.

“Folks, I’m not trying to be offensive, But shouldn’t all of you be in a church of some kind, worshiping the Lord Jesus for all He’s done for you? He died for your sins. As the Creator, He’s the One who gives you the next lungful of air that you breathe. Unless you’re on a break from your church like me, what are you doing here?!”

As I looked over this group of about thirty people, there were a few whose faces looked very angry. I had disturbed their Sunday morning quiet time at Starbucks. One or two looked, well, almost remorseful. Maybe they had given up on the church a long time ago, but the truth of Jesus’ giving His life for them seemed to rush back to their minds. The rest, to be honest, were each dialing 9-1-1.

Then I saw the flashing lights outside. As the police officer came in and gently led me to his patrol car, I thought, “Wait! I forgot to get the coffee and bagel for my wife!”

I can imagine Dixon awaking with quite a chubby after this dream. No Jesus viagra needed. Larry was standing at attention, proud of his boldness for the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Savior of his non-existent soul.

Dixon concluded his post with this:

Friends: Just so you know, this did not happen. But I thought about it. And I know my friend Bruce (a former preacher-turned-atheist) who sometimes reads my blog would say, “Why in the world did you think you had the right to interrupt those people with your silly message? They didn’t ask you, did they?!”

And he would be right. No one asked me to break into their peaceful moment at Starbucks with the gospel. But what if I did?

Dixon is right when he says I would likely have asked him why he thought he had to the “right” to interrupt people with his condemnations. And he WAS condemning them for NOT being in church. Quite John the Baptist of him. It seems strange to this unwashed, uncircumcised Philistine that Dixon dreams about going into places of business and condemning people he doesn’t know. Maybe the people at Starbucks were Observant Jews, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Seventh Day Baptists, or even garden variety Evangelicals who attend houses of worship on Saturday. Dixon judges the patrons at Starbucks without having sufficient evidence to do so.

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People have a right to shop, eat, walk, and play in peace. Unfortunately, Evangelical zealots believe their right to evangelize supersedes your right to peace, quiet, and a nut-free life. If Larry actually went into a Starbucks and fulfilled in real life his dream, he would be breaking the law. You see, the U.S. Constitution guarantees Dixon’s right to evangelize in public spaces, but not in private parks, institutions, malls, and businesses. Dixon, by breaking the law also breaks the law of God. Romans 13:1 states: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Dixon could legally stand in front of Starbucks and preach, hand out tracts, and condemn people for not being in church or being gay to his heart’s content. Unlike Dixon, I actually took the gospel to the streets for a number of years. I publicly preached on street corners throughout southeast Ohio, and in Columbus, Washington D.C. and New Orleans. I handed out thousands of tracts and witnessed one-on-one to countless people. But what I didn’t do is invade people’s private space, nor did I tell them that I wanted to be fake friends with them. I was certainly outspoken, but I also respected the wishes and space of others. Going into a Starbucks and preaching was never on my radar. First, doing so was against the law. Second, it was rude. And third, to what end? I sure told those coffee- swilling sinners the truth, bless God. And how many of them followed after you to your house of worship? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is NONE!

If I were still an Evangelical preacher, what would trouble me the most about Dixon’s story is the Jesus-less gospel he preached. Sure, Dixon gives passing mention to Jesus, but the thrust of his message is what? What are you guys doing here? Why aren’t you in church? Has Starbucks become your church?

Dixon is preaching a common gospel found in Evangelical circles — especially among Baptists. “Go to church and thou shalt be saved,” says this gospel. Inside the Evangelical version of the Masonic or Mormon Temple, “secrets” will be revealed. Typical Evangelical modus operandi is to get naive people in the door, lower their inhibitions with “cool” music, and then tell them just enough Jesus for them to walk the sawdust trail and get s-a-v-e-d. It’s only after people have been saved that they learn that their continued salvation and eternal happiness requires a long list of works. Chief on that list is attending church every time the doors are open. Well, that and tithing.

Perhaps Dixon is just sharing different ways to evangelize people; though I sincerely wonder how effective it is to go into Starbucks and condemn patrons for sipping on coffee instead of Jesus. My advice to Evangelical zealots is that they stop with all the magic tricks and games they use to “attract” people to the gospel. Instead, just be brutally honest. Tell people the truth about the requirements for salvation and continued membership in the Club. Let sinners know that they will be expected to devote Sundays and Wednesdays and other nights throughout the year listening to preaching, studying the Bible, and hearing boring, monotonous praise and worship music played and sung by rocker wannabees. Let them know that their family and sex life will have to align with teachings found in a Bronze Age religious text. Let them know their children will be expected to attend indoctrination classes from elementary school through college. There will be fun, food, and fellowship, but lots of Fundamentalist dogma too. Let them know that, in time, the church family will become more important than their flesh and blood family. And most of all, tell them they will be on a finance company-like contract. This contract requires them to pay ten percent of their gross income each week to the church, and several times a year they will be expected to make balloon payments called mission offerings, faith promise offerings, Lottie Moon offerings, and love offerings. And surely they should be told that sometimes God will tell their preacher to ask for additional money for buildings, trips, and anything else the preacher/church board fancies.

Imagine how few people would sign on the dotted line if the fine print was printed in an Arial font, size 24. That’s why evangelizers never tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when witnessing to unbelievers. Get them in church, give them enough Jesus to get saved, and let the Holy Spirit work out the details, right?

Now you know, Larry, what your friend Bruce would say. 🙂 I am always happy to answer your questions (or assertions). Be well. And get your wife her damn coffee and bagel. Your salvation in this life depends on it.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Fundamentalist Pastor Greg Locke Justifies Divorce From His Wife

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Greg Locke, famous for his insane sermon videos about everything from Starbucks’ cups to Target’s bathrooms, evidently has divorced from his wife and taken up with a new woman — his secretary. Locke, pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, took to the pulpit to defend (without mentioning it) his pending divorce:

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Locke is right about many things he says in this video. People shouldn’t stay married to abusers and the like just because some preacher (or the Bible) told them to do so. Life is too short to spend it mired in unhappy, loveless marriages. The problem, of course, is that Locke is a Bible-thumping Evangelical who supposedly believes the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, and the Bible is clear: God hates divorce; Moses permitted male (not female) Israelites to divorce only because of the hardness of their hearts; Jesus gave only one grounds for divorce, adultery. And the Bible is also clear that Evangelicals who divorce are forbidden to marry again; and that remarrying is adultery, an act the Bible says damns a person to hell. It seems, then, that Locke is not such a big Bible believer after all, that the Spirit that leads him is his Holy Dick, not the Holy Spirit.

I have no idea about how Locke and his wife got along with each other. Maybe their divorce was justified. But, if a man is going to stand in the pulpit and say, THUS SAITH THE LORD, then he sure as heaven should believe every word of the Bible and practice it in his day-to-day life; and if he doesn’t he shouldn’t be surprised when he is called a skirt-chasing hypocrite.

According to Fundamentalist website Pulpit & Pen, Locke’s wife was the one who filed for divorce, and the good pastor just went along with it so he could get a quick dissolution of their marriage. On to new things — a new woman and a new car:

Indeed, it was Locke’s wife who filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences”. However, court records clearly show that Locke responded in agreement. In arranging what could fairly be called a “quickie divorce” Locke filed documentation with the court stating that his marriage was “irretrievably broken”. There is nothing in Locke’s divorce papers that indicate he took action to fight the divorce proceedings or demand a trial. Locke signed a Marriage Dissolution Agreement. If that’s not taking action to “divorce his wife”, no matter who filed first, then what is?

A trail of witnesses from Mt. Juliet, to Mufreesboro, to the out-of-state women’s shelter in which Melissa now resides contend that Locke coerced his subservient and obedient wife into filing divorce in order to preserve for himself the claim that he was “abandoned”. These same witnesses contend that Locke basically ordered his wife out of the state of Tennessee. The traumatized woman is now isolated far away from her home and her family. Locke is still in close proximity to his church secretary, Tai McGee. The mandatory waiting period required by Tennessee law to make Locke’s divorce final has not elapsed.

Christians still following Greg Locke’s internet antics and attending his church should ask themselves if Locke is worthy of their time and generous donations. As an outspoken moralist, Locke’s actions towards his wife (and his secretary) are on display for the lost world to see and mock. Rather than condone his continuing pastorate, Locke’s familiars would do well to encourage him to repent and reconcile with his wife.

Indeed, those of us in the “lost” world are enjoying the spectacle, including Fundamentalists eating one of their own. It also seems, at least to me, that Locke’s ex-wife put his preaching into practice by divorcing his sorry ass. There will come a day — hopefully soon — when the former Mrs. Locke will be very glad that she jumped off Greg Locke’s crazy train and ran for her life.

As for Locke, he wants the world to know that his affair with his secretary is justified, as is his divorce from his wife. After all, his Ex is crazy:

She’s been in and out of mental health facilities but that is not where she is right now. She is at a place that helps ladies get on their feet again. The only reason why she is there is that the lady who runs it is like her grandmother, and so she’s there. She’s only there because of the comfort…It is a shelter there is no doubt. But it’s not something like a homeless shelter. She’s with the lady who runs the place.

Nice guy, right?

If you have the stomach for it, I encourage readers to read Pulpit & Pen’s latest article on Locke. Keep in mind the purveyors of Pulpit & Pen live for opportunities to expose sin and heresy among the faithful. In Locke’s case, this is a matter of believing the message regardless of the messenger. What matters is whether they are telling the truth, and it seems in this instance Pulpit & Pen is telling the truth about Locke, his wife, his girlfriend, and his recent divorce.

The War on Christmas: Starbucks Should Put Bible Verses on Their Coffee Cups

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Starbucks is accused by the religious-right of waging war on Christmas. What better way for Starbucks to placate Jesus-is-the-Reason-for-the-Season Evangelicals than to put Bible verses on their signature red and green coffee cups. Nothing like a verse from the inspired, inerrant Word of God to go with your coffee, right?

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? by Richard Reising

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This is the sixtieth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video titled What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church?, produced by Richard Reising. Reising is an Evangelical who supposedly has a passion for “today’s church and reaching the lost for Christ.”  In other words, Reising’s “ministry” is the same old Evangelical shtick with a fresh coat of fuchsia paint.

Video Link

Are Pedophiles Hanging out at McDonald’s and Starbucks? Donna Rice Hughes Says YES!

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Macaulay Culkin, Home Alone

If you spend any time reading Evangelical Christian websites, blogs, or news sites, you will likely read things like:

  • Making same-sex marriage legal will destroy America.
  • Removing prayer, Bible reading, and the Ten Commandments from public schools will cause moral decline.
  • Allowing abortion to continue will cause God to pour out his judgment and wrath on America.
  • Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born liberal, socialist, communist Muslim who plans to institute Sharia Law, set up death panels, and arrest Christians. Besides, he’s black and his middle name is Hussein.
  • Rock music is Satan’s music and listening to it open up your mind to demonic oppression and possession.
  • ISIS is setting up camps in the U.S.
  • Federal government is planning to invade and take over Texas
  • Jesus is coming soon.
  • The rapture, it could happen today.
  • Atheists, agnostics, humanists, Buddhists, Hindus, Shintoists, Taoists, pagans, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, liberal Christians, Roman Catholics, and anyone else who is not an Evangelical will go to hell when they die. God will then fit them with a body that is capable of withstanding fire and torment, and then he will torture them for eternity.

What do all these things have in common? Fear! Fear is the fuel that powers the Evangelical machine. Without it, Evangelicalism dies. The fear-mongering tends to increase when a Democrat is president, and since Barack Obama is a Demoncrat and he is a descendent of Ham and Ishmael, fear levels are at an all time high.

Fear also generates donations. Without fear, Evangelical church members are less likely to give money to their church. Parachurch groups like Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Family Association, Parent Television Council, Liberty Counsel, American Center for Law and Justice, Home School Legal Defense Association, Alliance Defending Freedom, Concerned Women For America, Faith & Freedom Coalition, American Right to Life, Eagle Forum, National Organization for Marriage, Christian Coalition of America, Operation Rescue, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality,Worldnet Daily, and  Oath Keepers, along with thousands of Evangelical church and pastors, use fear to motivate the faithful to give their money to God, God being the church and parachurch organization. And every night, on millions of Evangelical TV screens, Faux News, Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Rod Parsley, Franklin Graham, Jack Van Impe, and James Robison stir the fear pot, hoping the fearful Evangelicals will give them money.

Fear the blacks, fear the browns, fear the homosexuals, fear the atheists….and keep them donations coming.

Every day, it is something new to fear. In today’s American Family Association’s action alert, the new fear is unrestricted Wi-Fi at McDonald’s and Starbucks. According to Donna Rice Hughes, CEO of Enough is Enough and the woman who was accused of banging Presidential hopeful Gary Hart, there are predators and pedophiles lurking at your local McDonald’s and Starbucks. Here’s some of what Hughes had to say:

At many restaurants and stores, free public Wi-Fi comes with your morning coffee or your child’s Happy Meal. While the convenience of this connectivity allows many to work or surf the net for fun at public cafés or fast food joints, a growing number of people use public Wi-Fi to view pornography.

With public Wi-Fi serving as an unwitting channel for pornography to creep into our children’s field of vision and attracting felons – all in public squares – large corporations continue to ignore the public outcry for change. A growing movement, National P*rn Free Wi-Fi Campaign, has been calling on Starbucks and McDonald’s as early as March 2014 to filter their Wi-Fi networks…

…So what’s the big deal with unfiltered public Wi-Fi? What happens if Starbucks and McDonald’s doesn’t do something to make their networks safer?

Imagine teenage girls chatting over a Frappuccino after school, just one table over from someone browsing sexually explicit materials. Children in the play area can be just five feet from a man, sitting in plain view, watching pornographic films. These are not simply potential scenarios; they have already happened.

Perhaps more dangerous is that, according to federal officers, the anonymity of public Wi-Fi attracts criminals to engage in sexual solicitation of children and trafficking of child pornography right there in public places. On December 29, 2014, USA Today reported the arrest of a registered sex offender while he was allegedly downloading child pornography at a Hillsboro, Washington Starbucks…

…he availability of unfiltered public Wi-Fi also means that children and teenagers whose parents turn on filtering controls on their home internet service can bypass those parental controls and freely access pornographic materials in public. Even when they are not looking for explicit material, a misspelling on search engines could expose them to images or otherwise lead them to pornographic sites – everything from adult pornography (the kind of images that appear in Playboy and Penthouse) to federally prosecutable obscene material depicting graphic sex acts, live sex shows, orgies, bestiality and violence. Even illegal content depicting the actual sexual abuse of a child (child pornography) — once only found on the black market — is instantly available and accessible on the Internet…

…Unfiltered public Wi-Fi poses real threat to our society, and it’s high time that businesses take measures to make their Wi-Fi policies family-friendly and safe for their customers…

…A mom brings her kids to get a Happy Meal, and there’s a man in an adjoining booth enjoying hard-core pornography or even child pornography? Law enforcement reports this has happened. If parents understood that strangers can view hard-core pornography and child pornography in front of their kids in these establishments, I believe they would join us in saying, “Enough is enough!”…

Has anyone ever sat in a public restaurant or coffee shop and used free Wi-Fi to look at porn? Sure. But, more than a few Evangelical pastors have used their church’s Wi-Fi/internet service to look at porn too. Should we demand that all churches be required to have porn blocking filters on their internet service?  Why are people like Hughes not outraged over porn surfing pastors?

There are likely more predators and pedophiles in the church house than there is at McDonald’s or Starbucks. Ask the Family Research Council about  resident pervert Josh Duggar. And dare we mention the Catholic church sex scandals, the Southern Baptist and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist sex scandals? American Christian churches and parachurch groups are infested with men (and a few women) who are sexual predators, yet Donna Rice Hughes and the American Family Association is worried about someone viewing a porn site at the home of Ronald McDonald?

While I am sure somewhere in America someone is now using McDonald’s or Starbucks free Wi-Fi to gaze at pornography, I highly doubt that it “poses a real threat to our society.” This is little more than shaking the Evangelical money tree hoping some cash shakes free.

It’s not up to businesses to make sure that children and teenagers responsibly use free Wi-Fi. If people like Hughes are so afraid that their children are going to catch a glimpse of a YouPorn video or Victoria’s Secret’s website, then I suggest they keep their children near them at all time. I suggest that  they not allow them to take their smartphone or tablet outside their porn-safe home. It is up to PARENTS to make sure their children and teenagers don’t see things that are inappropriate. It’s up to PARENTS to make sure their children and teenagers use the internet and public Wi-Fi responsibly.

Businesses that offer free Wi-Fi have the ability to control what kind of sites can be viewed on their network. It takes all of five minutes to set up OPEN DNS or some other filtering software. Should businesses use filtering on their public network? Probably, but if they don’t, then parents have to be PARENTS and make sure their children and teenagers can’t access inappropriate material. It’s not the businesses fault or Obama’s faul  if 13-year-old Johnny uses public Wi-Fi to look at porn or catch a quick glimpse of a scantily clad model. If a parent wants to make sure Johnny lives in a porn-free world, I suggest they NEVER allow him to use a computer or smartphone.

The real issue I have here is with Hughes’s fear-mongering. I seriously doubt this is a problem, and Hughes provides no evidence that McDonald’s or Starbucks has a sexual predator or customer porn surfing problem. I’ve never walked into a McDonald’s and wondered if there were perverts sitting there watching porn, hoping they will have the opportunity to sexually molest someone’s child in the McDonald’s restroom. I have, however, walked into Christian churches and wondered if there were any sexual predators working in junior church or the nursery.

We have house-wide Wi-Fi access at our house. We have a main router/access point, two access points, and two Apple Airport Express. This weekend, there will be over 20 people in our home and many of them will have a tablet or smartphone. They will most likely use our Wi-Fi to access the internet. Because a teenager, several children, and my daughter with Down Syndrome will have access to our Wi-Fi, I use OPEN DNS to block certain sites. You see, that’s what a responsible grandparent and parent does. I’m not waiting for the government or Time Warner to block these sites.

It’s up to the adult internet user to determine what is appropriate. Donna Rice Hughes likely considers the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition to be pornographic. I don’t. She’s free to block any site that she thinks is inappropriate, as I am I and every other internet user. We have all the tools we need to block whatever it is we don’t want our children to see. (or our husband, wife, or pastor)

Perhaps the real reason that Donna Rice Hughes wants to block internet access is so no teenage boy ever has an opportunity to see:

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