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Tag: Transgender

How Discernment Ministries Use Statistics to Distort the News and Inflame Christians

faithwire headline
Headline and Graphic from Faithwire Article

We live in a time where we are inundated with statistics. We also live in a time where the average American lacks a basic understanding of statistics and how to interpret them. For example, imagine me writing that there’s been a 200 percent increase in deaths from the flu vaccine (this is a made-up stat). Why, many people would lose their collective minds, thinking that the flu vaccine is killing millions of people. Most people are headline surfers. Few would actually read my article so they could gain a proper understanding of the statistics behind the headline. If they had read my article, they would have learned that, historically, two out of every 100,000 vaccinated people annually die from the flu vaccine. In 2020, one out of every 100,000 vaccinated people died from the vaccine. In 2021, the death rate jumped to two out of 100,000 vaccinated people. Is this an alarming increase? Of course not. Yet, many people will read the headline and think that the flu vaccine is killing people in droves.

Some websites and blogs love to use statistics to advance their political, social, and religious agenda. Evangelicals — a group of Christians who generally believe we are living in the end times; that the return of Jesus is imminent; that the world will become worser and worser 🙂 until Jesus raptures them off the face of the earth — love to use, misuse, and distort statistics to advance their Fundamentalist agenda.

Take Protestia, a “discernment” site originally operated by disgraced Calvinistic pastor J.D. Hall. Discernment ministries came of age in the 2000s. I have been following Evangelical sites such as Protestia (previously Pulpit and Pen), The Dissenter (previously Reformed Charlotte, operated by Jeff Maples), Christian Research Network (started by the late Ken Silva, an arch-nemesis of mine), Michelle Lesley, Lighthouse Trail Research, Way of Life Literature (David Cloud), and others since their inception. Initially, these groups focused on rooting out and attacking perceived heresy and heretics in their midst. They pride themselves in calling out by name preachers, colleges, denominations, and churches who fail their theological and social purity tests. Over time, their “discernment” has become more extreme; more political; more hysterical. They have now become sites that are “keepers of the flame” or “keepers of the book of life.” These gnostics — people who think they have some sort of elevated or inside knowledge about and experience with God — now routinely decree who is and isn’t saved. They are the Pharisees of Evangelical Christianity.

The current king of the discernment hill is Protestia. Known for their hateful anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, the boys at Protestia published a post today with a headline that stated: ‘Gender-Affirming’ Mastectomies in Children Spike 389% From 2016 to 2019. Protestia’s post was an excerpt of a Faithwire post with the same title. The goal of both articles was to enflame the anti-transgender hysteria presently burning through the Evangelical community.

Is the latest wave of the sexual revolution really targeting children? Protestia decided to excerpt the Faithwire article before giving its readers the context necessary to properly understand their inflammatory headline:

In 2016, roughly 100 children went under the knife for the procedures. Just a handful of years later, in 2019, that number soared to 489 — a 389% increase.

The findings were based on statistics gathered by the Nationwide Ambulatory Surgery Sample, which found 1,130 chest reconstruction surgeries were performed on children from 2016 to 2019. More than 98% of those procedures were masculinizing, meaning they were performed on females who had their breasts removed. Only 1.4% were feminizing mammaplasties, augmenting but not removing breast tissue.

Of the children who underwent these “gender-affirming” surgeries, nearly 20% were also placed on hormone therapy, presumably to address their gender dysphoric diagnoses.

….

As for the new research, the data shows the patients who underwent double mastectomies ranged in age from 12 to 17 years old. While the majority were 17, roughly 5.5% were reportedly under 14.

For context, the researchers estimated there are currently around 300,000 adolescents in the U.S. between the ages of 13 and 17 who identify as transgender.

Context is everything, right? Is the statistical increase significant? Sure. But the statistics in the aforementioned article tell us that few “children” are getting gender-affirming surgery; and that of the “children” who do, the majority of them are seventeen.

The only way to understand the Protestia and Faithwire articles is through the lens of their hatred and hostility towards LGBTQ people in general, and transgender people in particular. Certainly, there is debate to be had on gender-affirming surgery, and a host of other sex/gender issues, but that’s not the goal of the “fine” Christians at Protestia and Faithwire. Their goal is to provide a daily diet of red meat culture war issues; posts that reaffirm their hatred of the “world.”

Please read Cutting through the Lies and Misinterpretations about the Updated Standards of Care for the Health of Transgender and Gender Diverse People by Dr. AJ Eckert and Dr. Quinnehtukqut McLamore on the Science-Based Medicine website for accurate information on gender-affirming surgery.

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.

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A Transgender Reader Responds to Evangelical Andrew T. Walker, an “Expert” on Transgenderism

guest post

A guest post by Sage

I have been trying so hard to be more kind and not so confrontational. I try to be understanding and know Christians are told lies, led by ignorant leaders, and misguided by prejudice, fear, and hate. Don’t get me wrong, I still stand strongly against all bigotry against LGBTQIA+ people, but there are days where my righteous anger starts to rise . . .

Recently an article by Andrew  T. Walker was posted on Bruce’s blog. You can see the full article here: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-transgender-fantasy. I suggest you go read this article. Unlike many Christians, I have enough confidence that I do not fear the writings of others. 

Andrew is yet another religious person spewing bigotry and transphobia in the name of their particular god. Yet another Christian who claims to love, and supposedly wants to fix, trans people (who he thinks are broken due to mental illness), by helping them “flourish” through his belief system. His form of love means telling someone that he believes them to be wrong, then changing them so they fit his standards. This enables them to become the right kind of person who will properly live in the world, within the boundaries he sets.

And he is an expert because he has “written a book on transgenderism.” What can I — a poor, non-flourishing, mentally ill, non-existent, non-binary person who is caught up in “gender identity” and is “embracing the transgender worldview”– have to say against an associate professor, Fellow, Managing Editor, godly man? Obviously, his research is far more informed and intelligent than my lived experience as a non-binary person.

How can I say anything about such a wonderful, intelligent, god-fearing, real man? Surely I am just an “angry activist” who is trying to “suppress” or “coerce” him and others into accepting a godless worldview so I can spread my abhorrent agenda.

I know this because I read his post. It is the typical anti-trans contempt (expressed in love, of course) from a supposed Christian expert who bases his analysis on his sect’s particular form of biblical interpretation. He hit all the typical anti-trans bigotry and ignorance, and used his bible belief to support his prejudice.

These include, in order of use:

  • I did the research, I am an expert, and I wrote a book, so I know better than anyone else, especially trans people
  • Trans people are “unnatural.”
  • You are not supposed to talk about trans people because someone will be offended, and you will be canceled, but I won’t bow to their agenda.
  • The Bible only defines 2 sexes, nature only defines 2 sexes, and only foolish people argue against true nature and science and the Bible.
  • Focus on male to female trans people because Christian men seem to find this most abhorrent.
  • Everything must be defined by my biblical understanding. So that the other non-Christian 68% of the world must live and believe as I say, no other option. 
  • Culture cannot define gender, only my Bible can define gender and provide the answer to life, the universe and, well, everything.
  • The transgender worldview defies nature, god, and male patriarchy, and trans people are foolish and delusional to believe otherwise.
  • Transgender people do not exist; once again, people who say they are trans are delusional.
  • Being trapped in the wrong body is fake, and my Bible says so to prove it.
  • Trans people are not really happy and cannot flourish because you can only be happy following my god and my rules.
  • Trans people think they are happy, but like drug addicts, they are caught up in their addiction and are only fooled.
  • Trans people will only be happy if they do what my Bible tells me to tell them to do.
  • The prevalence of depression, anxiety, and suicide in trans people is due to their denial of nature and god’s plan, and not because society, in particular Christianity, treats them like a scourge and tries to legislate and berate them into non-existence.
  • Some people detransition, which proves all trans people are wrong. Yes, the number is low but that’s because they are bullied and not allowed to speak without being canceled. There will literally be millions of people detransitioning — you just wait and see. Remember, I am an expert.
  • We must speak the truth in “love.” They will call us bigots, but if that’s what it takes to save them, then we will be bigots for god. We must persist to show them our hate is really love.
  • Some trans people are angry, but many are vulnerable and easy prey for Christian guilt and scare tactics. Just get them into conversion therapy and they will be broken . . . er . . . fixed.
  • If you take a stand against these evil trans people, you will be silenced, bullied, lose jobs, and suffer greatly. Christians are the true victimized group here. 
  • Thank god we have bigots in leadership who are making laws to keep us safe from these sickos.

But, while I don’t exist or have dozens of titles that I wield to show my intelligence, I will just say this hateful man is full of bullshit. He doesn’t really care about trans people, he just wants to eliminate them. Trans and nonbinary people, hell, all of LGBTQIA+ are an abomination, are delusional, sick, dangerous, and must be fixed and made nonexistent.

As he says, “ From privacy issues, safety issues, and equality and fairness issues, the world may be slowly coming to grips with the truth that its commitment to transgender ideology has outpaced its commitment to reality, sound thinking, and true human flourishing.” This is simply horrid bigotry spoken in pretty words. Privacy issues just mean he wants to be able to discriminate based on his personal belief system. Safety issues are a nice way to say keep trans people in their proper place to protect women and children from their predatory, disgusting, perversion. Equality means he wants equality based on his standards, where straight white Christian males make the rules and all weak men, women, children, and non-Christians stay in their place. Then he says anyone who supports trans people are just disconnected from reality, are delusional or dumb, and are not really happy anyway. 

That, by my understanding, is the heart of Christian hatred that is displayed against not only the trans community, but the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole. What is it about us that makes Christians react in this way?

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: Transgender People Do Not Exist Cuz the Bible Says They Don’t

andrew t walker

This is where the true debate resides. Christianity views reality through the lens of Scripture, which speaks of male and female as beings defined by their anatomical and reproductive organization (Genesis 1:26–28). Hormones or surgery cannot override the underlying realities of our genetic structure. If culture tries to define male and female apart from anatomy and reproductive organization, male and female become fluid, absurd categories. Hence where we are as a culture.

The transgender worldview is an active thwarting of one’s nature. It is akin to defying limits or swimming upstream against a current: you might try, but eventually limitations and the strength of the current are going to sweep you up against your will.

This reality of nature leads to one of the most important truths: actual transgenderism does not exist. Sure, there are people who may have genuine confusion over their “gender identity” (a concept itself riddled with problems), but the idea that there are persons truly “trapped” in the wrong body is false. Scripture does not allow for such a dualism between the body and the “self.

— Andrew T. Walker is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Desiring God, The Transgender Fantasy, July 23, 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: David Tee Can’t Fathom How Transgender People Can Have Babies

dr david tee

You just have to shake your head in disbelief at the stupid things people come up with.

….

Well, they [transgender people] are wrong. Just because they pretend to be a different gender, does not make them one. Nor does it change what God has created. Women still give birth to babies and men do not.

Men do not have wombs, periods, ovaries, or breasts that give milk. No matter how they slice up their bodies, women do not magically become men.

….

Since when is telling people the truth, hatred? As Christians, we are to love our neighbors NOT participate in or support their fantasies. When you look at people who claim to be transgender and their supporters you can see two things. One is the strong delusion that God promised to send to unbelievers.

The second is the deception that evil does in this world. If you want to evangelize this minute group of people, you will need to pray and ask God to remove both so his word can get into these people’s hearts.

Our war is not with our fellow human beings[ yes, it is, you can’t separate the “sin” from the sinner] but with the evil that destroys our fellow human beings through various tricks, etc. In the meantime, do not buy into the false narrative that a mistake was made at birth.

That is impossible as women give birth to boys and girls not animals, cell groups, and so on. And only women can give birth. In over 5000 years of human history this has not changed.

So you have to ask why now? Why did this attitude of supporting transgenderism come from? Why are more and more people identifying as transgender and so many educators trying to turn little boys and girls into the opposite gender than they were born?

We must be getting close to the end times as evil is working harder than ever to destroy humans the apple of God’s creation. Be on the alert and when your children say they are a girl when they are a boy or a boy when they are a girl, usually they grow out of that misidentification.

Don’t panic [let me panic for you] but ask God to guide you with the right words to say that will protect your children from those that wish to harm them psychologically and by confusing them.

Remember, God gave you your children for you to raise. They are not to be raised by the government or someone else, especially a non-believer. The unbelieving are the ones lost, blind, and deceived. They cannot help you through those difficult times.

— Fake Dr. David Tee, TheologyArcheology, It Is Not Mental Illness Or Stupidity, May 30, 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.

Anti-Trans Bigotry at Bryan, Ohio City Schools

bryan city schools

“It’s just really, disrespectful. I just want them to call me Jay when I walk across the stage in front of everyone so it’s not really embarrassing.”

“I didn’t really have any friends. The kids would call me slurs and names they would make up themselves.”

“The kids at school would use my deadname to bully me. It would be so embarrassing and disrespectful to go up in front of all those kids and get called it once again.”

Jay Rober

“The consistent practice has always been to utilize the student’s legal name that matches with the legal name on the diploma.”

“If they decide to apply for employment or if they decide to attend higher education, we on the school side are bound to ensure that the legalities are followed with the legal document.”

— Bryan City Schools Superintendent Mark Rairigh

Letter to the editor of the Bryan Times.

Dear Editor,

Graduating from high school is a seminal moment in a student’s life; a time of arrival and entrance into adulthood. Graduation should be a day of happiness and joy as family and friends congratulate a student on a job well done. It is not a day for moralizing or political statements. Unfortunately, Bryan City Schools superintendent Mark Rairigh did just that for one transgender student, Jay Rober. And now Rober won’t be walking with his fellow students on graduation day.

Rober asked school officials to please call him by his preferred name when awarding him his diploma. Rairigh says this can’t happen for “legal” reasons. What “legal” reasons, exactly? I can understand requiring a student’s legal name to be printed on his or her diploma, but that’s not what is going on here. All Rober wants is to be called by his preferred name when his name is announced. Doing so is just a matter of respect for the student. Countless students are daily addressed by their teachers with preferred names. My dad’s name was Robert, but his teachers called him Bob. The same goes for my mother, whose legal name was Barbara, but wanted to be called Barb.

Accommodating preferred names require no effort on the part of Bryan City teachers, administrators, and the superintendent. It’s hard not to conclude, then, that there is either a political or religious agenda behind Rairigh’s refusal to accommodate Rober’s name request. Hiding behind “this is the way we have always done it” is the mantra of people resistant to social progress and change; the same mantra used by southern white supremacists to block school integration.

School officials threw Rober a lifeline, of sorts: legally change your name (in less than two weeks, at a cost of hundreds of dollars). Are Bryan City teachers required to call every student by their legal name? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Shouldn’t students who have preferred nicknames be required to legally change their names? Absurd, right?

At the end of the day, “Jay” is just a name. Out of respect for Jay and his family on the biggest day of his young life, he has earned the right to be called by his preferred name. I can’t think of a rational or logical (or legal) reason why Jay just can’t be “Jay.”

Bruce Gerencser

Ney, Ohio

Let’s Talk About Transgenderism and How We View Transgender People

christians attack lgbt people

Summit Ministries, an Evangelical group (their list of faculty will tell you everything you need to know about their theological orientation — definitely straight, white, Republican Evangelical) dedicated to “equipping and supporting rising generations to embrace God’s truth and champion a Biblical worldview,” recently conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans on their views about transgenderism. Here are the “(anally) probing” questions they asked (in the order they were asked):

  • Do you believe it is possible to distinguish between men and women?
  • Do you believe a person’s biological sex and their gender are two separate things?
  • What are your personal opinions about transgenderism? 1) I believe it is a healthy human condition that should be celebrated. 2) I do not believe it is a healthy human condition, but I stay silent on the issue to not offend others. 3) I do not believe it is a healthy human condition, and I am willing to say so.
  • What is your opinion of schools teaching about sexual identity and sexual behavior with elementary-age students? 1) It is a perfectly appropriate use of instruction time. 2) It is inappropriate in a school setting. 3) It is dangerous because it could be used to groom children for sexual encounters at a young age.
  • Should underage minors be encouraged to undergo permanent gender alteration, or wait until they are adults?
  • Should medical professionals performing gender-altering be required by law to disclose the common, long-term medical, and psychological impact of such procedures?

According to Dr. Jeff Myers, President of Summit Ministries:

Everywhere Americans look, the media and education culture is bombarding us with relentless, daily messages in support of transgenderism without limits. Despite this intensity, these stunning numbers show plainly that the vast majority of Americans aren’t buying what they’re being sold. A huge majority of Americans don’t think this issue belongs anywhere near our kids. Yet, we also see a powerful chilling effect that this propaganda is having on society, as this research shows that tens of millions disagree with what they see, but are afraid to say anything about their views. We trust this poll will spark all-important conversations so we can properly address these issues as a nation.

Summit Ministries believes this study tells us:

  • 64% of American voters who have an opinion about the issue do not believe transgenderism is a healthy human condition
  • 34% stay silent on the issue to not offend others
  • 30% are willing to speak out on the issue
  • 36% of American voters who have an opinion about the issue believe transgenderism is a healthy human condition
  • 72% of American voters who have an opinion on the issue do not believe schools should teach about sexual identity and sexual behavior with elementary-age children
  • 42% believe it is inappropriate in a school setting
  • 30% believe it is dangerous and could lead to children being groomed for sexual encounters at a young age
  • 28% of American voters who have an opinion on the issue believe it is a perfectly appropriate use of instruction time
  • 93% of American voters who have an opinion on the issue believe it is possible to distinguish between men and women.
  • 7% of American voters who have an opinion on the issue don’t believe it is possible to distinguish between men and women
  • 90% of American voters who have an opinion on the issue say minors should be required to wait until they are legal adults before undergoing permanent gender alteration
  • 10% of American voters who have an opinion on the issue say minors should be encouraged to undergo permanent gender alteration
  • 90% of American voters who have an opinion on the issue believe that medical professionals performing gender-altering procedures be required by law to disclose the common, long-term medical and psychological impact of such procedures
  • 10% of American voters who have an opinion on the issue believe that medical professionals performing gender-altering procedures should not be required by law to disclose the common, long-term medical and psychological impact of such procedures.

All based on loaded questions. All based on narrow question constraints. All are based on demographics that conveniently ignore religious identification. And most of all, all based on 1,000 Americans — sixty-seven percent who are forty and older — out of a population of 333,000,000 people (260,000,000 if you remove children from the mix).

Further, Americans are largely ignorant about science in general, and sex and gender specifically. This is another issue where Evangelicalism, Mormonism, and Conservative Catholicism have inhibited or prohibited meaningful discussion on these issues. As a society, we must come to terms with the fact that transgender people exist; that they are family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. We must come to terms with the fact that gender and sex are far more complex than we would like to admit; that it’s time to put our Adam and Eve view of the world into the dustbin of history with the Bible from whence this belief came.

That said, we need to have a vigorous debate about when it is appropriate to teach children about sex and what they should be taught when they are. We need to have a national discussion about gender reassignment surgery and puberty blockers. Sadly, current discussions are dominated by extremes. So let’s discuss this issue folks — politely, openly, and honestly. I know that a number of my readers are LGBTQ. Some of the most active commenters on this site are transgender. I consider them my friends. I have long been a supporter of LGBTQ rights, though, I must admit, that I am troubled by some of the things I hear in some corners of the LGBTQ world. I have six adult children and thirteen grandchildren. It is likely (in fact, I know this to be true), that one or more of my children or grandchildren might not fit neatly in the gender/sex categories which I grew up with and dominate the society I live in. As these issues come closer to home for me, my liberal sensibilities have been challenged. It’s easy to support LGBTQ people from a distance, but when it’s one of your own? I pride myself in being supportive of all people, regardless of their sex or gender. I am a fiery advocate for LGBTQ rights. I am proud of the fact that I have LGBTQ friends. Yet, fifty years of religious indoctrination and social conditioning are hard to shake. I wish I could have a Men in Black mind-wipe, as I’m sure many of you wish too. However, that’s not going to happen. We must confront our biases and prejudices head-on. And make no mistake about it — we all have them. Even Jesus, Christians. Just look at how he treated Gentiles. 🙂

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.

He’s a Woman Now!

gay pride flag

Seven years ago, I wrote a post titled The Jonathan Nichols Story: Growing Up Gay in the IFB Church about a young gay man who was a member of an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) in Newark, Ohio pastored, at the time, by my wife’s uncle, James Dennis (please see The Family Patriarch is Dead: My Life With James Dennis). Jonathan’s parents, along with Polly’s mother, are active members of the Newark Baptist Temple. Polly and I attended the Baptist Temple for a year or so in the early 1980s.

Jonathan wrote a two-part story about his life on BJ [Bob Jones University]Unity website. Here’s an excerpt from what he had to say:

I grew up in Newark, Ohio and attended an independent fundamental Baptist church since I was born. That church was more conservative than Bob Jones, and my parents were more conservative than the church. My mom, the church pianist and school music teacher, was forever busy taking the “sensual” triplets out of songs like “Some Trust in Chariots” and campaigning against songs like “As The Deer” and “Bow the Knee.” As you can probably deduce from that, practically no modern music was allowed in our household either. I grew up on classical music and only classical music and quickly learned that there was no such thing as likes and dislikes when it came to music. There was just good and bad. You are to listen to good music and not to listen to bad music. What music you “like” has nothing to do with anything.

That mentality was carried into every area of life.

I suppose being the music teacher’s son allowed me to be a little gay boy without thinking anything of it or being called out about it. I was totally into music and art and pretty things, and nothing was weird. I would play with scarves without feeling odd. Well, without feeling too odd. I knew that none of the other guys my age were playing with scarves. Fortunately, I didn’t think about it too much.

Ok, so I can’t really credit my discretion for keeping me in the closet for eighteen years… Like I said, I played with scarves and wasn’t careful about making it known that I was a musician and not like those “other” guys. The atmosphere was so anti-gay that no one even bothered to think that there could be a gay kid growing up there, regardless of how obvious I made it. Besides, I was still a kid. I didn’t even know what it meant to be gay. Heck, I didn’t even know that it meant anything besides “happy.” So in the minds of the church and my parents, there was no way I could have chosen to be gay yet. And since being gay is a choice, that meant that I was a good, straight little boy. Just like God intended. Right? Totally.

When I said I didn’t know what “gay” meant, I wasn’t exaggerating. It wasn’t until I was in 7th or 8th grade that I figured out that the word referred to two men or two women together in a romantic or sexual relationship. Of course, I still didn’t know about the romantic side of it. Gay relationships were all about sex. They weren’t meaningful.

Sometime in my junior-high or early high-school years, I had a direct brush with a self-proclaimed gay person. A former classmate visited my youth group at church one Wednesday night and brought her friend. Her friend made no qualms about the fact that he was gay. He was totally fine with it and evidently was from an accepting family. Looking back on that, my heart goes out to that boy. He would have been my age: a young teenager just starting to figure life out—just starting to find himself and truly live his life. I couldn’t help but stare at him. I thought he was beautiful. Of course, I would never have admitted that to myself. I was too busy judging him for his sin. I don’t remember much about that sermon, but I remember enough to know what it must have been like for him. Pastor Overton made direct references several times to the “abomination of homosexuality,” even though it had really nothing to do with his chosen topic. It was obvious even to me that he was going out of his way to make the poor boy uncomfortable—to “draw him to Christ” by any means necessary. In this case, the “necessary means” was to rant about how all gays are going to hell because they’ve chosen an abomination over the love and grace of God. It’s sad, but I believed every word of it. I painfully remember the time after the meeting. Pastor Overton talked with the boy alone, no doubt reinforcing in his young mind that the theoretical “he” was loved incredibly much by God, but as a person, God hated everything about him. I don’t know how things worked out with him. I do remember, though, my former classmate sobbing and repeating “I’m scared _________ will go to hell because he’s gay. . . .” I’m ashamed to say it, but in my mind I was replying “Well, yes. He will. Because if he were a Christian, he wouldn’t be gay. And non-Christians go straight to hell.”

The boy never came back to the Newark Baptist Temple. I’m glad. I hope he found real love away from judgment. I hope he’s now going to college as a proud gay man, trying to make the world a better place. I hope he has found happiness instead of hate.

I must continue with my story, though, since I don’t know his. My parents were of the opinion that dating was to be used only for finding a wife or husband, so they strongly discouraged it in my life. I resented that. While I was never sexually attracted to women, I was an incurable romantic and longed for a lady to be chivalrous to. There was one time, however, that I went behind my parents’ backs and “dated” a girl at church. We saw each other twice a week, at the most, and always with many other people around. We kissed once, and I remember thinking after that that kissing is terribly overrated. That was it. A little later, there was a girl at school that had a crush on me, and I had a crush on her. We never were officially “together,” though.

I guess I should clarify something here. . . When I say I had a “crush” on someone, which I did fairly regularly, I don’t mean in the typical high-school want-to-get-together type way. I was a reader, and I could simply imagine myself as their knight in shining armor. Just like I was supposed to be. My personal desires didn’t come into play. . . They were girls that I wanted to see happy, and I was nice and would try to make them happy. The end. Until my senior year.

Every year, my school would send groups to BJU for two weeks, once in November for the BJU Fine Arts Festival, and the other in April for the AACS National Competition, the national tier competition for winners of their state fine arts competitions. I went to Festival every year I was in high school and made it to AACS my first three years. Thursday night at Festival my senior year, I met someone that I had seen from afar years before. Let’s call him Ryan. I had seen him some years before at a BJU summer music camp. I thought he was beautiful. Just absolutely gorgeous. Not that I admitted it or anything, but still. Here he was, talking to a friend of mine right after the final concert. She introduced us officially, and we started talking. He was now a freshman at BJU. We all were going to grab coffee and our friend had to get ready, so Ryan and I waited outside her dorm for her. We got to talking. I felt so free around him– like I could be totally myself and not have to try to make him like me or be scared of saying the wrong thing. We all got coffee, then headed back to our rooms. His turned out to be on the same hall that I was staying on, just a few doors down. We talked until midnight, when we were both shooed into our rooms. Right before he went into his room, he turned around and hugged me. That was the most electrifying moment of my life up to that point. I can’t begin to describe the mental sensation of that second. I wasn’t any closer to admitting anything to myself, but I couldn’t sleep for awhile – the only thought running through my head was “He hugged me!” I now had my first real crush.

….

I wanted so much to be able to be honest with someone that I was actually in contact with. I hinted to my closest friend that my friendship with Ryan wasn’t just a friendship. She was, naturally for someone in our atmosphere, worried for me. So, despite her promises that she would trust me to do what I felt was right, she went to my youth pastor for help. He promptly told the senior pastor, who is superintendent of the school. The next day, I was called into Pastor Dennis’s office for questioning. Pastor Overton was also in the room, sitting to my left with a legal pad and a pen, taking notes. Dennis tried to start off nice enough, but it was obvious that they found out. I decided that a clean breast of the issue would be best, and went into my research on the matter, hoping at least to get an opposing rebuttal and at best to convince them. How naive I was. . . I don’t remember much of that conversation, but one thing rings vividly in my mind. I mentioned that the Greek word malakoi in I Cor. 6:9 was never elsewhere, in the whole of Greek literary writings, translated “effeminate.” It carried a whole different connotation. His response? He turned around, pulled his Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance off the shelf, looked up the word, and pointed to the definition. He never for one second imagined that Dr. James Strong was not infallible and that his concordance was not holy writ. In those several hours, my pastor beat me down. Hard. I was totally conquered, save in one regard. I would not tell him who I was “dating.” I did not see that it was my place to get someone else, especially someone I loved, in trouble like this. Dennis found out anyways. He had me break up with Ryan. I cried all night.

The next day, I woke up to the realization that Ryan blocked me on Facebook and wasn’t responding to texts. I was devastated. Then I was called into the church office again. Pastor Dennis, Pastor Overton, the principal, vice-principal, and my mom were there. I was curtly informed that I was being expelled. I was to call Ryan and tell him that he had an hour to turn himself in or Dennis would call BJU administration and get him expelled. After that, I wasn’t to have any contact with him. My mom was placed on paid leave to homeschool me for the remaining two and a half months.

This all happened the day before my state fine arts competition. All of my prepared speeches and music entries were now worthless, and my mom, who, by the way, fully supported the school’s decision, needed to carry on for two stressful days as if nothing had happened. Dennis told me to tell no one about why I had been expelled. He said it was for my own good. Like a fool, I believed him. If I had gone looking for help or support then, I might have been better off. It would have exposed some of the underhandedness, at least. At the time, though, I was far too scared to do anything like that. I was totally beat down, and reverted back to being as much of a non-person as I could. That worked for about a month. At that point, I realized that they had never provided refutations to any of my points. They had simply refused to consider them. They had used their position of power to crush me. I had never been on the wrong side of any authority figures before then, and I was quickly cowed. I also realized that I had been more fulfilled in my time with Ryan than any other time in my life, especially that month. I decided then that I would go with what I had researched rather than blindly follow the men that cared only to see me bent to their will. I decided, furthermore, that even if I was wrong, any god sadistic enough to make me who I am and then hate every ounce of it did not deserve my worship. I would rather live in eternal torment knowing that I lived by love towards all than spend paradise with the being of hatred who is infuriated by my just being me.

I messaged Ryan and asked him if he would have me back. He said yes. By now, attending BJU was out of the question for me. I had no idea when I would see Ryan next. He mentioned, though, that he would be staying on campus over the summer to work. I immediately determined that I would be there for the two summer music camps, as no one else knew that he would be there. I managed to convince my parents to let me drive myself there, so we would have a car at our disposal. All that was soon to change. Two events left me devastated. Late at night on July 3rd, Ryan ended our relationship. He needed someone who could actually be there with him, and I couldn’t do that. July 4th, 2011, was probably the worst day of my life. Everything was closed and everyone was doing something. I had no distractions from the fact that the one person in the whole world that I most wanted to be with didn’t want to be with me anymore. I made it through, though. I was still going to go down to the camps, though. He still had, and still has, a special place in my heart. If it weren’t for him, I would not yet have come to grips with reality. He helped find me, and I am eternally grateful for that.

Well, camp time came. I drove down from Ohio to South Carolina, and things were going wonderfully. Despite the emotional wounds, I was happy to be with him. Then, on Tuesday night, my mom called. She had decided to do me a favor and clean my room for me, which evidently included rifling through the papers in the bottom of my desk. There, she found a note I had written to myself shortly after July 4th as a way to get some of my feelings somewhere, anywhere, outside of my head. She now knew that Ryan was on campus and I was seeing him. She called the camp director, and he had us separated with the threat that I would be sent home if I tried to contact him again. At the end of the week, my mom flew down to Greenville to accompany me back. After this, though, I wasn’t having any more. I knew that I couldn’t change again. I tried it, and it didn’t work. I had spent sleepless nights crying to God for help. No change. Either God was (1) fine with me being me, (2) powerless to change anything, or (3) sadistically watching me flounder in my sin. Under none of those possibilities did I feel obligated to try to change this second time.

The above story was excerpted from Part One and Part Two of Jonathan’s story (links no longer active).

Years later, I still weep as I read Jonathan’s story. No one should have to go through the abuse Jonathan did at the hands of Jim Dennis, Jamie Overton (Polly’s cousin), and his parents. Jonathan’s story is a reminder that Fundamentalism harms everything it touches.

Polly talks to her mother every Sunday evening at exactly 10:00 pm for one hour, unless providentially hindered. 🙂 Yesterday, Mom mentioned that Jonathan’s dad is seriously ill, in the hospital, and possibly dying. And then, out of the blue, she mentioned Jonathan, saying, He’s a woman now! That’s it, he’s a woman now! Evidently, Jonathan has transitioned since the publishing of the story mentioned above. I chuckled a bit when I heard Mom say this, thinking she likely finds it impossible to wrap her mind around the fact that a boy who was raised in her church is now a woman. This does not compute in her world. 🙂

In IFB churches, there’s no such thing as LGBTQ people. Oh, they exist, but such people are never free to be themselves, never free to be at peace with who and what they are. Imagine going to church on Sundays, knowing you are going to be the target of homophobic sermons from your pastor, youth pastor, and guest preachers; and that if the “truth” ever got out you would be immediately excommunicated from not only your church, but your family. I can only imagine the pain men and women such as Jonathan have suffered in their lives, all because they are “different.”

Polly’s mom, nor her fellow church members at the Baptist Temple, will ever accept Jonathan for who he is (I don’t know if he has changed his name and pronouns, so I continue to say “he”). As the Jonathans of the world learn, they must go outside of the church to find love and acceptance.

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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British Fundamentalist Susan-Anne White’s List of Politically Correct Words

Susan-Anne White, a True Christian, So True She Can't Find Any Church Pure Enough For Her
Susan-Anne White, a True Christian, So True She Can’t Find Any Church Pure Enough For Her

Readers might remember my war of words a few months ago with a British (Northern Ireland) Fundamentalist by the name of Susan-Anne White. (Please see Susan-Anne White Thinks I’m a Despicable, Obnoxious, Militant, Hateful Atheist.) White, a textbook example of what happens when Fundamentalism seeps into the deep recesses of your brain, is so Fundamentalist that even fellow extremists think she is too extreme.

Yesterday, White picked up her mighty digital pen and wrote a blog post about political correctness and the use of certain words. In her post, White presents a list of words that should never, ever, not one time, be used by Christians. Here is the list:

Below this list are the words Christians (and those non-Christians who can still think for themselves) should use and which were, in a time long gone, in everyone’s vocabulary at some time or other.

DO NOT USE

Ms

Spokesperson, Chairperson etc

Partner (except when combined with the words “business” or “marriage” as in business partner or marriage partner)

Pro-choice

Sex worker

Racist

Sexist

Ageist

Islamophobia

Homophobia

Transphobia (and NEVER EVER refer to a man pretending to be a woman as “she” and vice versa)

Climate change denier……….and so on ad nauseum

After listing words she believes should never be uttered by Christians, White then gives what she calls her “sane” list of words — words that should be used regularly by followers of Jesus:

Now for the SANE list of words

Miss or Mrs

Spokesman or Chairman etc

Boyfriend or girlfriend or live-in boyfriend or girlfriend

Pro-abortion (pro-choice is a euphemism for abortion)

Prostitute or whoremonger

Racist should only be employed in cases of actual racism such as Nazi hatred of the Jews and the KKK hatred of black people

I am at a loss as to how to adequately express my disdain for her post, so I thought I would write Susan-Anne White a short note. Readers should find my note to be an admixture of humor, snark, and sadness. White will likely see my note in a different light.

Dear Ms. White,

I see that you are a spokesperson for a particularly pernicious and intellect-killing form of Christian Fundamentalism. At first, I thought that you were just a single crazy lady, a woman who has spent too much time talking to her cats. Imagine my surprise when I learned that you have a partner by the name of Francis. While I have never seen a photograph of Francis, knowing of your acerbic homophobia and hatred of same-sex marriage, I think it is safe for me to assume that Francis is a he, not a she [since writing this, I learned female Frank’s are called Frances].

As  I read your list of PC words, I came to the conclusion that you hate the use of these words because, for the most part, they accurately describe you as a person. You ARE a racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, climate change denier who hates sex. Evidently, you aren’t getting laid, and if you can’t get any ice cream at the Dairy Queen, you don’t want anyone to have any. 

Like you, Ms. White, I call things like I see them. It is disheartening to see you, or anyone for that matter, so filled with hate and bigotry that you are unable to enjoy your brief existence on planet Earth. While you rage against atheists, liberals, sodomites, and all those who dare run afoul of your undies-bunching Fundamentalism, the clock continues to tick — an ever-present reminder that your life is swiftly passing by. Ask yourself, Ms. White, who have you won over to your side? Who has been persuaded by your hate and verbal violence? Point me to those who support your bigotry. Surely, if God is on your side, your fellow British/Irish-people will acknowledge this and thank you for speaking the truth. Why the silence? 

Perhaps the real issue Ms. White is not truth, but instead a deep-seated need to be right. Now in the sunset years of life, you want validation. You have invested your entire life in a false narrative, and refusing to see this, you continue to seek affirmation of your beliefs. Finding no church worthy of your attendance — in the manner of the nineteenth century Calvinistic Bible teacher AW Pink — you seclude yourself, not only from the world, but also from those who gladly carry the name Christian. And here you are, all alone, with only dutiful Francis standing by your side. Can you not see the bankruptcy of your beliefs? Or are you so blind that all you see is Susan-Anne White and her intransigent beliefs? 

You make it easy for writers such as myself to mock you and ridicule your beliefs. While such sardonicism is warranted, I feel sorry for you. You have spent your entire life raging against things that do not matter. Offended by words such as those found in your list, you have reduced your life to an increasingly narrow and extreme set of beliefs. Unable to enjoy the privileges and blessings of life, you trudge on, believing that God will, after death, reward you for standing against political correctness. Can you not see that you have lost all sense of the teachings of Jesus and the Christian gospel? 

I know that it is impossible for me to reason with you. Like a stubborn mule, your face is set against anything or anyone who dares to challenge your truncated Fundamentalist beliefs. All I can do is point out the absurdities of your message, showing what Fundamentalism does to someone who deeply drinks from its poisoned, foul well. 

The Right Reverend 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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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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My Day Of Remembrance: 28 November 2021

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A week and a day ago, many of us — trans and gender-variant people, along with our allies — participated in Transgender Day of Remembrance. A now-annual commemoration, it was first observed a year after Rita Hester was found brutally murdered in her Boston apartment — twenty-three years ago today.

This year, hundreds of TDoR commemorations were held all over the world. Nearly all of them, including the one in which I participated, involved, among other things, each participant reading the name of a trans or gender-variant person killed during the past year. I was given the name of Iris Santos, about whom I knew nothing until I read her name and the date of place of her murder (23 April 2021, Houston, Texas) to the crowd.

As important as TDoR commemorations are to me, I have not participated every year. Reading the name of a complete stranger who could have been me always leaves me trembling from a storm of emotions: sadness, grief, fear, rage — and, even at this late date, guilt — among them. They stay with me long after the commemorations have ended. You might say that in some way I “adopt,” if not by choice, the victim whose name I’ve read. Sometimes it’s more than I can deal with.

While people normally feel sadness and grief over someone’s death, especially if they were close to the deceased, my guilt comes in part from knowing that I am old enough to be Ms. Santos’ grandmother — and that I could have been one of the names read rather than one reading her name. She was enjoying a meal at a picnic table when an unidentified suspect approached and shot her. Iris was “so young with so many things to look forward to,” according to Tori Cooper, the Human Rights campaign director for community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. In that sense, and in the way she was brutally murdered by someone she didn’t know, Iris was like too many of us: Researchers at UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute report that trans people are four times as likely as cisgender folks to experience violent crime (including homicide) and most of those victims are, like Ms. Santos, trans women of color.

Another factor in my guilt — and rage — comes from knowing how too many other trans- and gender-variant people die — and how I almost became one of them. Although I cannot fault the organizers of TDoR, the commemorations leave out one group of victims that also are a disproportionately large — and unmentioned — part of our community.

According to Williams Institute researchers, “transgender adults have a prevalence of past-year suicide ideation that is nearly twelve times higher . . . than the U.S. general population”. In other words, between TDoR gatherings, trans adults are twelve times as likely as other Americans to have thought about taking take their own lives. Oh, but that’s not the worst news: “the prevalence of past-year suicide attempts is eighteen (italics mine) times higher than the U.S. general population. In other words, if one member of a group of 100 randomly-selected American adults has tried to take his or her own life during the past year, 18 members of a group of 100 trans folks has tried to end theirs.

Now, I know that the purpose of TDoR is to raise awareness of how too many of us are victimized through the hate and brutality of others—and that homicide is, unfortunately, one of the few crimes that can be verifiably linked to hate and violence. We cannot always know what was on the minds of trans, or any other, people who kill themselves: They don’t always leave notes recounting the personal, familial, professional, and societal rejection and exclusion they too often have faced—let alone the fears they might have, especially if they are young, at the prospect of living at the mercy of such prejudice.

If someone ends their life, or tries to, because they do not know how to deal with their gender identity and wish to express it — or, more precisely, the possible costs of doing so — it is generally known only to the victim themselves and, perhaps, someone to whom they confided. I know this because I tried to kill myself, in part because I simply could not imagine how I could live as the person I have always known myself to be — and because of two other people, one of whom I loved and another who might have become a friend.

(Herein, I will use male or female pronouns because during the time the people I’m about to discuss lived and died, “they,” “them” and “their” were not in use as gender-neutral pronouns and, therefore, the people I’m discussing used pronouns that reflected the gender to which they were assigned at birth.)

His body was found three days before Christmas. He — and I — were only a couple of years older than Ms. Santos was. Though we didn’t meet until our sophomore year at university, we had lived, it seemed, parallel lives: We were altar boys who attended Catholic schools in blue-collar urban communities. We played sports and did many other things expected of male children of our milieux—and a few things that weren’t. Oh, and while there were whispers about our sexuality, before and after we met, most people “read” each of us as cisgender heterosexual (or, at least, bisexual-trending-toward-hetero) males. I won’t say anything about my looks, but my friend — whom I’ll call Keri — was handsome-bordering-on-gorgeous in a young Antonio Banderas sort of way.

Although I tried to do the “dude” stuff, I felt an aversion to most members of the male gender. Keri, though, stood outside of that in a way I could not articulate at the time. I did not see him as I saw other men or boys, which is probably the reason I loved him. I also — if you’ll pardon a hackneyed expression—felt his pain. He felt trapped, as I did, and I now realize he knew it.

Which is why he called me the day before his body was found. I don’t remember exactly what he said as much I recall only a desperation in his voice. Occasionally, I hear echoes of that plea in others, but at the time it was unlike anything else I’d heard: It could have been my own. I think Keri knew that, and that I would show up at his place within minutes of our conversation.

He expressed a hopelessness, a despair I had never heard before — except from myself. “I can’t be who I am,” he lamented.

I could have said the same for myself. He knew that, even though I hadn’t. To this day, I wonder whether that was why he called. Did he want to hear me say, “Yes, I am a woman, too”? It would be years, decades, before I would. Instead, I held him in one of the longest embraces of my life and whispered, “Whoever you are, it’s wonderful, and I love you.”

As sincere as I was—I rarely used the word “love,” and perhaps will never say it often enough–it must have seemed like a platitude, at best. I was trying to console him in the way people try to comfort each other when they can’t, or won’t, truly experience another person’s pain. Much later, I realized that I could have truly loved him, or anyone else, only if I had been willing or able to acknowledge and act upon the truth about myself.

Still later, I realized that I didn’t “kill” Keri by not “saving” him that night. Although he might have lived — another fifty days, another fifty years? — had I given him what he — and I — needed, I came to understand — with the help of the therapist and social worker who worked with me during the first three years of my gender-affirmation process—that what killed him was the hatred, whether or not he experienced it directly, of the world around him. As Miguel de Unamuno wrote, Hombre muere de frio, no de oscuridad : People die, not from darkness, but from cold. The world, specifically, the human race as he knew it, was simply too cold for him, for anyone. He was frozen out.

In short, he was murdered by the world in which he lived, just as Iris Santos was by a random stranger with a gun. I could say the same for someone I met just before I started my gender affirmation process. Fran (not her real name) had lived with her boyfriend who, as she told me, “is the only person who truly loved me.” Her family — who included, I suspect, at least one person who sexually abused her—rejected her, ostensibly for her “choices”: She’d spent years recovering from, and relapsing into, addiction that lessened the pain of the work she’d been doing to support her addictions.

She learned of my gender affirmation process second- or third-hand: Someone had seen me “cross-dressing.” At first, she expressed disapproval — which, I sensed, wasn’t entirely her own. But she would ask me incisive questions about my “change”: What led me to it? How do I see the person I hope to become? How are my family, my co-workers, other people, treating me?

Finally, she confessed, “I admire you.” When I demurred, “I’m only doing what I need to do,” she said, “Well, I wish I could have.” She was about the same age as I am now which, she claimed, is “too late” to live the life she wished she’d had: as a man, with her boyfriend. “He doesn’t know I’m really I’m a gay man.”

Not long after, Fran washed down a bottle full of pills with another bottle of vodka.

She, like Keri, died from the darkness. In other words, she was murdered. Although I understand the purpose of Transgender Day of Remembrance, I really wish I, or someone, could have read their names, just as I pronounced that of Iris Santos a week and a day ago.

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