Menu Close

Tag: Transgender

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, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

My Day Of Remembrance: 28 November 2021

guest post

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, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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, Were You Transphobic as an Evangelical Pastor?

transgender sin

Transphobic: having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people.

The short answer to this question is yes. I am sixty-four years old. My upbringing, political identification, and my Fundamentalist religious beliefs all led to me adopting transphobic, homophobic, and racist ideas. To some degree, I was a product of my time. But I refuse to dismiss my past beliefs with a wave of the hand, saying, hey, it was the 60s and 70s. I can point to my parents and how they raised me, religious indoctrination, and social conditioning as mitigating factors, but I still must own the fact that I was not a good person when it came to what I believed about LGBTQ people. What I am today bears little resemblance to what I was as an Evangelical pastor. If there is anything redemptive in my story it is this: true moral and ethical change is possible. Yes, change is hard, and all of us are resistant to making fundamental changes in our beliefs and practices. But just because change is hard doesn’t mean it is impossible.

I spent much of my life as someone who was:

  • Born again Fundamentalist Christian
  • Bible Literalist
  • Patriarchal
  • Republican
  • Christian Nationalist
  • Pro-Life
  • Homophobic
  • Transphobic
  • Racist
  • Pro-War
  • Detroit Tigers fan
  • Green Bay Packers fan

Today, I am:

  • An Agnostic Atheist
  • Egalitarian
  • Democratic Socialist
  • Pacifist
  • Pro-Choice
  • Pro-LGBTQ
  • Cincinnati Reds fan
  • Cincinnati Bengals fan

Family, friends, colleagues in the ministry, and former church members who knew me in the 70s, 80s, and 90s are often shocked by what I have become. How is it possible that Pastor Bruce Gerencser, a defender of True Christianity®, Bible Truth, Christian Nationalism, and the Culture War, is now a Bible-denying Atheist, an Anti-War, Liberal, Commie, Socialist? How can these things be?

My beliefs began to change in the 1990s, first when I stood against the first Iraq War, and later when I publicly rebuked notable Evangelical culture warriors (those who followed in the steps of Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority) for abandoning the gospel for the sake of raw political power. In 2000, I left the Republican Party, voting for my first Democratic candidate for president. It would be eight more years before I left Christianity and embraced atheism.

Clearing my mind of transphobia was a long, slow process. Earlier this year, I wrote a post titled Meeting My First Gay Person. Here’s an excerpt from this post:

As a card-carrying-member of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, I often preached sermons condemning homosexuality. According to my infallible interpretation, the Bible condemned homosexual sex. Being the faithful Bible preacher that I was, I thought it important to preach against man-with-man, woman-with-woman sex. Never mind the fact that I did not personally know anyone who was gay. Well, I had my suspicions about several people — Polly’s late uncle comes to mind — but as far as actually knowing someone who was gay? Not one. I would learn years later that several of the students in our Christian school were gay or bisexual. Consider this statistic. I was a raging homophobe who railed against homosexuality and sexual “sin” in general. Yet, one-third of the students in our school were either gay or bisexual. Add to that the students who likely engaged in premarital sex, and I think I can safely say my preaching did little to change hearts and minds on sexual identity and activity.

In March of 1994, I left a church I had pastored for almost twelve years and moved to San Antonio, Texas to co-pastor Community Baptist Church. This move proved to be a disaster, and in the fall that same year, we packed up our belongings and moved to Frazeysburg, Ohio. With the help of Polly’s parents, we bought a newish manufactured home — a $25,000 upgrade from our previous mobile home.

We lived in Frazeysburg for six months. Needing immediate employment, I turned to restaurant management. I was hired by Charley’s Steakery (now called Charleys Philly Steaks) to be the general manager of their franchise at the Colony Square Mall in Zanesville. I continued to work for this restaurant until March 1995, when I assumed the pastorate of Olive Branch Christian Union Church in Fayette.

The restaurant I managed had a drink refill policy for mall employees. If employees stopped at the restaurant with their cups, we refilled them free of charge. Some employees would stop every day they worked to get their large plastic cups refilled. One such employee was a man who worked at a nearby store.

This man was in his twenties. The first time I personally refilled his cup for him, my infallible, never-wrong (I am joking) gaydar went off. I thought, “OMG, this guy is gay. What if he has AIDS?” Quite frankly, I am surprised he didn’t see the disgust on my face. Maybe he did, but ignored it. I dutifully put ice in his cup, filled it with pop, and handed it back to him. After he walked away from the service counter, I would quickly run to the kitchen and thoroughly wash my hands, fearing that I might catch AIDS.

Over time, this man and I struck up casual conversations. He was quite friendly, and truth be told, I liked talking to him. As I got to know him better, I found that I no longer was disgusted or worried about getting AIDS. I even stopped washing my hands after serving him. What changed?

My theology didn’t change. And neither did my irrational fear of gay people. Coming to where I am today, a supporter of LGBTQ rights with numerous gay and transgender friends, took years. What needed washing was my proverbial heart, not my hands.

I spent much of my life in a political, theological, and social bubble. Sure, I was a kind, thoughtful, loving man, but make no mistake about it, if asked what I believed about LGBTQ (for a time I refused to use the word gay) people, I would turn into a smiling, hateful bigot.

It was not until I began leaving the Evangelical bubble that I was able to see a world outside of my own. The Internet opened up a whole new universe to me, forcing me to confront and deal with my deep-seated prejudices. And then came this blog (in all its iterations), a wide-open door to a wild, wooly world. I now have LGBTQ friends, but more importantly, meeting people different from me has forced me to come to terms with how I viewed them. Again, actually meeting, knowing, and befriending transgender people changed how I viewed them. I can’t emphasize this enough. Exposure to people different from us is the first step in rooting out hatred and bigotry from our lives.

I am not one who says that I am free of all past prejudices. I am not. A lifetime of indoctrination and conditioning is not easily overcome. All I know to do is try to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Letter to the Editor: Evangelicalism is One of the Most Hated Religious Sects in America, And They Only Have Themselves to Blame

letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor of The Bryan Times. It was published on July 8, 2021.

Dear Editor,

Evangelicalism is one the most hated religious sects in America, and they only have themselves to blame. Not that they care. Evangelicals have a persecution complex like no other. Forty years ago, the late Jerry Falwell, started the Moral Majority. Its purpose was to turn America back to God by waging a war against our culture. This war has now reached a fever pitch. As more and more people self identify as atheists, agnostics, or indifferent towards organized religion, Evangelicals fear that they are losing their hold on our culture. Instead of praying, evangelizing sinners, and doing good works, Evangelicals have turned to attacking those they oppose, both physically (the January 6 Insurrection) and with words.

The Bryan Times has become a platform for Evangelicals to verbally savage people they believe are their enemies. Pastor Luke Nagy’s vitriolic attack on transgender people several weeks ago is a prime example. I am sure those who think like Nagy shouted AMEN when they read his column, but for those of us who are not religious (I was an Evangelical Christian for fifty years), Nagy’s words are yet another example of why Evangelicalism is one of the most hated sects in America.

In 2016, eighty percent of white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. I was astounded by the fact that Evangelicals knew how immoral Trump was and voted for him anyway. Four years later, eighty-four percent of white Evangelicals voted for Trump again. The very same people who raged against Bill Clinton’s sex scandal in the 1990s, demanding his resignation, now think such behavior is okay. Why? Political power. Unable to win the culture war with prayer, evangelism, and good works, Evangelicals have turned to politics to slay their secular enemies. And in doing so, they have sold their souls for bowls of pottage.

I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. The Evangelicalism of my early days in the ministry no longer exists. The theocrats have won the day — for now. As with all political power grabs, such victories are shallow and short-lived. Evangelical pastors will one day wonder what went wrong. Where did their members go and why are their churches closed? They need only look in the mirror. The reflection they see will tell them who is to blame for their demise. Preaching hate and savagely attacking those different from them will not succeed over the long run.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

Reacting Against the Inevitable

guest post

Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

This year’s Easter/Passover/Ramadan season has been interesting. For one thing it’s the second such holiday cycle during the COVID-19 pandemic. For another, it witnessed two developments that, at first glance seem contradictory.

The first: A Gallup poll revealed that fewer than 50 percent of Americans identify themselves as members of a church, synagogue, mosque or other religious institution. That is the smallest proportion since 1937, when Gallup first asked the question and 73 percent claimed to be so affiliated.

The second: Arkansas’ state legislature overrode Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill that would bar transgender girls from participating in school sports program and would keep health-service professionals from providing transgender-related health care to minors. Similar legislation is on the table in other states, and in others even more draconian measures are under review: Health care professionals who help young trans people get the care they need could face long prison sentences and the revocation of their licenses and certificates.

Although those two developments seem at odds with each other, it actually makes perfect sense that some states are trying to keep young transgender people from affirming themselves at the same time more Americans are dissociating themselves from churches.

Why is that?

Any time a major cultural or societal change is underway reaction to it can be fierce and even violent. Think of the Counter-Reformation, or the way cops and everyday citizens—let alone Klan members—tried, brutally, to resist the Civil Rights movement.

The bad news is, of course, that reactionary people and movements foment fear and hatred, and inspire or even embolden haters to all manner of violence, including murder. The silver lining, if you will, is that the virulence of their reaction is a sure sign that they are ultimately on the wrong, and losing, side of history.

At the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, for every white American who participated in a lynching or cross-burning, there were many more who accepted or rationalized Jim Crow laws as well as other, subtler kinds of discrimination. They might not have chased a black kid off their block, but they didn’t want the same black kid to date, let alone marry, their kid. They knew, deep down, that change was needed but “the time wasn’t right.”

Slowly, such people became aware of their own deeply-held, and often unconscious, assumptions and realized there was no rational basis for them. Moreover, they came to realize that the American system of apartheid was not only unjust and irrational; it benefited no one. The Loving decision not only righted a wrong; it aligned with the Constitution and simply made logical sense. The social order would not be broken by people marrying people of “different” races any more than it would be when members of those “different” races—or faiths or gender identities– entered schools, professions and neighborhoods that, previously, had been off-limits to them.

So, racist beliefs could no more be defended than rigid ideas about gender roles, identities and hierarchies with science, logic or law. The Loving decision deemed that “miscegenation” laws violated the Constitution; four and a half decades later, Robert Shelby, a conservative Republican judge in Utah, would declare that state’s laws defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman as unconstitutional (a pivotal moment, I believe, in the fight for marriage equality). In a similar vein, Asa Hutchinson—a Republican– vetoed an anti-transgender youth bill because, he said, its restrictions were “government overreach.” By the time those actions were taken, people had come to realize that gender identity and sexual orientation cannot be legislated or medicated away, and that racial purity is a myth at best and a lie at worst. (The human race began in Africa. That’s Anthropology 101.)

Those events, of course, have everything to do with Americans’ loosening relationship to churches and such: Nearly all of organized religion—especially Evangelical Christianity—is predicated on racial/ethnic hierarchies and rigid gender identities and roles. It’s pretty difficult to tell a woman to submit herself to a man, in her home or in a church, when she’s running a business or graduating at the top of her law school class. Even if it were possible or even feasible, there just isn’t any rational reason why a woman should stand back if she knows better about something than her male spouse or colleague—or why she should align herself with an institution where she is, at best, a second-class citizen and, at worst, a mere incubator.

Those who benefit from such systems of oppression are, of course, not happy to see the edifices that hold them up being dismantled, brick by brick, or eroded. They also worry that people, especially the young, are not interested in upholding those structures or institutions. The young make up a large portion of the religiously unaffiliated (“nones”), Gallup found.

It means that, deep down, religiously affiliated and reactionary folks know they aren’t going to find replacements for themselves among their children. So, they know that whatever they feel the need to do, they’ll have to do more of, with more intensity, for as long as they can. Their behavior will become more extreme, and they will do whatever they can to hold to their notions of gender, marriage, family and society. That means forcing those notions on everyone else through irrational prohibitions. The only way to get people to support such bans is to stoke their fears by invoking stereotypes, junk science and outright lies. And the only way to enforce those bans is through force. What I have just described culminated in Donald Trump’s judicial appointments: He chose jurists who oppose what most Americans want, including safe and legal access to abortion, the right to marry whomever they wish and to live in accordance with whatever they know to be true about themselves.

Those judicial appointments, the law Asa Hutchinson tried to stop and other retrograde actions and policies are thus part of a reaction against the inevitable: the secularization of the United States of America. Somehow it’s fitting that they came together during the Easter/Passover/Ramadan season.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

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.

She Knew Me

guest post

Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

For the past month, I’ve been recovering from a bike crash.

After getting stitched up in a local hospital, I was transferred to a larger facility with a trauma unit. Just after I arrived, a doctor asked me a series of questions about my health: No, I’ve never smoked. Yes, I drink: one or two glasses of wine or beer with supper, and spirits on rare occasions. No serious or chronic illnesses. Two surgeries: the first, twenty-five years ago, for a deviated septum; the second, fifteen years later, to align my genitals with my gender identity.

Thankfully, no one raised an eyebrow over my last answer. I think he, and the nurses in the room, realized that I was speaking slowly because I was tired and in pain, but that I was coherent. Ironically, that may have been exactly what raised that doctor’s alarm when I unequivocally answered one of the mental-health questions: Yes, I have attempted suicide. But, I explained, not recently: I tried to kill and caused other kinds of harm to myself because of some experiences—including sexual abuse—in my childhood.

The doctor called in someone else —a psychiatrist, I believe. They asked, several times, whether my accident was not an accident. I insisted that my mishap was just that: an unfortunate circumstance. One of the nurses, a native of a Caribbean island, looked into my eyes. She interjected: “No, she wasn’t trying to kill herself. And she’s not going to try anything like that now.”

The other nurse in the room—also from the Caribbean—nodded. The doctor and psychiatrist stopped their conversation and note-taking. The psychiatrist glanced toward them, then at me. “I don’t think she needs to be under watch,” he declared. The doctor scribbled something, which I took as agreement.

Then he asked whether I wanted a chaplain. No, I’m not religious, I explained. I didn’t mention my atheism because I didn’t want to risk a debate for which, at that moment, I didn’t have the energy. I glanced back at the nurse who advocated for my sanity. She looked at me, knowingly.

Two days later, I went home. The nurse and I have stayed in touch. “It was a priest, wasn’t it?”

She didn’t have to pose it as a question. She knows; I think she knew it that night we met in the trauma center.

I’d like to know how she knew. Or do I already know?

The News Makes Me Think About Him

orthodox jewish boys

Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

Here in the United States, we have the same problems you find everywhere: drug abuse, domestic violence, you name it. One of our problems, though, is that we sweep it under the rug.

Such an admission would be unusually forthright, if not startlingly frank, in almost any place or time. But I recall it so clearly, more than two decades after I heard it, because of the person who uttered it.

He had hired me a week earlier—to work with children from some of the families he was talking about. It wouldn’t take long for me to realize that those problems, and others, had much to do with the very existence of that school.

The boys in that Orthodox yeshiva had been kicked out of other Orthodox yeshivas, almost invariably because of their behavior. I’d heeded the warnings of the man who hired me—the school’s head rabbi, whom I’ll call Halphen—about the “games” the boys might play. They played them, and I wasn’t surprised. (After all, I was a teenaged boy once!) I soon realized, however, that most of the boys would do no better in that school, in part because the main tool the school had for helping the boys was Halakhic law. More important, though, the boys—at least one, anyway—had problems even more serious than the ones Rabbi Halphen mentioned, and “the community,” as he liked to call it, was a cause.

Being a non-Jewish teacher (and a Catholic school alumnus) in an Orthodox yeshiva was, to say the least, an interesting experience. So was being a transgender woman—who was still living as a man—in an all-male environment. Of course, the boys didn’t know about my identity, though some thought I was gay. In any event, I was an outsider.

That meant the boys both looked down on, and even expressed hatred for me, but looked to me for what they couldn’t find from their rabbis and parents, or the other adults in their community. I think now of a dynamic James Baldwin described: whites who saw blacks as their inferiors went to those same blacks for love when no one else was watching them. When groups of boys were together, they mocked my goyishness, but when they encountered me one-on-one, they wanted to talk.

Naturally, they wanted to talk about wishes and dreams that were taboo in their community. One confessed his crush on a Puerto Rican girl. (As someone who’s dated Hispanics of all gender identities, and was married to one, I sympathized.) Others thought they might be gay or simply didn’t want the kind of family life their community proscribed for them: “You get married, start a business, have a bunch of kids, double your weight and get a heart attack,” as one boy mused. Still others wanted careers that weren’t part of the Orthodox menu. And there was the junior who wanted to know what I thought of Allen Ginsberg’s poetry.

One boy, though, haunts me to this day. I’ll call him Moishe. He seemed to circle around me for months before he finally asked whether we could talk during his lunch break. I agreed. Moishe expressed some of the usual complaints about the restrictiveness of his community. All along, I had a feeling he wanted to say something else, but not what he asked a few days later: Could I adopt him?

I explained that I couldn’t which, of course, he knew—but as I suspected, his question was a pretext to talk some more. Which we did, several more times over the weeks. Then, one sunny Spring afternoon, he came to me in tears. “I want to die!” he exclaimed.

“Have you talked to anybody else?”

He shook his head. “I can’t,” he sobbed. “They’ll never believe me.”

I knew that “they” meant any authority figure in his life: his parents, his other adult relatives, the rabbis in the school and the ones in his synagogue. Nor would anyone else in his synagogue. “They’re all in on it,” he cried.

My spine tingled. This was years before I talked about my own abuse, but I knew he wanted to talk about his. “Who?” I asked.

Moishe then told me about the rabbi in his synagogue who was always calling him in to help with one thing or another. My guess is that his parents thought the rabbi knew he was a “problem” child and they were grateful for the interest he showed. The rabbi took advantage of that trust and use the pretext of errands and chores to make contact with the boy. I am not talking merely about “face time;” I mean, literally, contact—in areas that should be touched only by medical professionals with gloved hands.

Although I would not talk about my own abuse, or name the priest who abused me, until many years later, I had an overwhelming, physically aching, sense of déjà vu. So many things I experienced felt the same way, as a Catholic school alumnus and transgender woman who was still living as a man, during the year I taught in that Orthodox yeshiva. And when I hear about sex abuse in the Catholic church or any other religious institution, I think of Moishe—and the words of Rabbi Halphen, who hired me to teach Moishe and other boys who were living with the issues that were being “swept under the rug.”

Born That Way

born that way after allI previously mentioned that Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) luminaries Bob Gray Sr., retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Longview Texas, and Steven Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe, Arizona are currently in a pissing war over whether homosexuals are “born that way.”  Accusatory winds have blown the conflict into far corners of the IFB universe. The burning question facing these defenders of the one true and holy Baptist faith is this: Are homosexuals genetically born homosexual (nature or nurture)?

That IFB preachers are even considering this question is astounding, a sign that LGBTQ people are making themselves known in IFB churches and families. (Please read The Jonathan Nichols Story: Growing Up Gay in the IFB Church.) While there have always been gays in IFB churches, these tortured souls were buried so deeply in the dark recesses of church closets that there was little chance they would be discovered.

In the years since I left the ministry and Christianity, I have reconnected with several men who were children in one of the churches I pastored. These men are proud, out-of-the closet, sexually active gays.  My mind goes back to the days when these men were young boys and teens who were forced to listened to preaching — not only mine, but that of evangelists and other guest speakers — who regularly excoriated homosexuals for vile, deviant, reprobate sexual behavior. While I have apologized to these men for my hateful, bigoted preaching, I can’t help but wonder how much damage my words did to them.

Over the years, a handful of LGBTQ people wandered into many of the various churches I pastored. While they didn’t announce their sexuality as they came through church doors, over time it became clear that they were physically attracted to the same sex. Sadly, once the whispers of gossips turned into accusations, I was put into unenviable position of deciding how to deal with them. At the time, I believed that LGBTQ sexual behavior was sinful, and, in some instances, a sign that people were reprobates. (Please see Out of the Closet, Into the Light: According to Steven Anderson, I Am a Sodomite.) I regularly preached against sexual sins, giving adultery and fornication as much attention as homosexuality. The difference was how I went about preaching against homosexuality. Shamefully, I must admit that I used derogatory labels when preaching against homosexuality — words such as queer, homo, sodomite, and fag. I refused to use the word gay because I believed that there was nothing “gay” about the homosexual lifestyle. I remember — oh, I wish I could forget! —  when the AIDS epidemic came to light that I let congregants know that AIDS was God’s judgment of homosexuals. Had I remained an IFB preacher, I have no doubt that I would have been staunchly opposed to same sex marriage.

LBGTQ people didn’t stay around long in the churches I pastored (with the exception of the men mentioned above, who were forced by their parents to listen to my preaching for years). When whispers turned to accusations, I confronted these “perverts,” demanding they leave the church. In one church, a gay man visited for months before it was discovered that he was a pedophile. Several fathers came to me and said this man was inviting their young sons to spend weekends with him at his nearby farm. Livid, I went to this man and told him he was not allowed to attend the church. When he objected, I threatened to physically throw him out of the church. He left, never to return. In retrospect, I deeply regret how I handled the matter. If the man was indeed a pedophile, I should have reported him to law enforcement. If he wasn’t, I should have tried to help him, though I doubt that there was much I could do because of my homophobic beliefs. That he was accused of being a pedophile was enough to reinforce the stereotype believed by many congregants: homosexuals are child molesters.

Thirty years later, some LGBTQ people in IFB churches are no longer willing to sit by and silently suffer while their preachers rail against homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I have always wondered why anyone would willingly submit themselves to psychological assaults by supposed “men of God.”  Children and teenagers have no choice, but adults are free to flee the verbal assaults and attacks on their person. Why stay?

As American society becomes more LGBTQ-friendly, IFB churches are confronted with how best to minister to people whom they consider to be sexual deviants. The Steven Andersons of the IFB world think attacking LGBTQ people in their sermons is the best way to “reach” them. I highly doubt such preaching is reaching anyone for Jesus. In fact, I doubt that reaching “sodomites” for Jesus is the goal of men such as Steven Anderson and Bob Gray Sr. As anyone raised in the IFB church movement can attest, attacking homosexuals from the pulpit is a surefire way to get lots of rounds of “amen!” Preaching against certain sins will always invigorate the righteous, and sexual sins are crowd favorites (even though we now know that IFB congregants are not immune from all of the behaviors they deem sexual misconduct, including homosexuality, pedophilia, incest, adultery, and fornication).

Realizing that the cultural tide is turning against IFB churches and their incessant prattle against sexual sin — particularly homosexuality — men such as Johnny Nixon and Bob Gray Sr. have cooked up a novel reinterpretation of what the Bible says about homosexuality. Now, these men still believe engaging in homosexual sex, or any sex outside of marriage, for that matter, is a sin, but they now admit that homosexuals are “born that way.” These “eunuchs” are expected to refrain from same-sex sexual behaviors and relationships, and if they are willing to do so, they will be considered Christians. I suspect that the greater goal is to “convert” homosexuals, helping them to see that only by switching sides can they ever know true sexual fulfillment and romantic love. I am left to wonder why, if it is God who determines sexuality, does he make some people homosexual while at the same time saying that homosexual sex is a criminal act worthy of execution. (I refrain from using the LGBTQ acronym because the IFB preachers in question do not consider all sexual identities equally. Their primary focus is on gay men. I know of no IFB church that is accepting of bisexuality or transgenderism.)

My good friend Steve G — an IFB preacher turned atheist who once attended Bob Gray’s church and college and later attended a church named Hyles Baptist Church — recently made me aware that Jack Hyles worshiper David J. Stewart has weighed in on the Gray Sr./Anderson fight. In a post titled Refuting the Book ‘Born that Way After All’ and the Compromised Preachers Who Support it, Stewart stated:

I was surprised today while listening to a sermon by Pastor Steven Anderson (website). There is an ungodly book (published in 2015) titled, “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL,” authored by Dr. David J. Nixon and R. G. Hamm. They also have a website at BornThatWay.org. The book is unscriptural and promotes a wicked philosophy of tolerance for sin. What surprised me is that the website lists Dr. Bob Gray Sr., Pastor Jeff Owens and Pastor Paul Chappell, as being supporters of the book and ministry. The book is an ungodly perversion of the Scriptures!!!

I am trying to understand why Dr. Gray and Pastor Owens would approve of something evil like this. Both of these good men have counseled tens of thousands of people combined throughout their church ministries. So I tread lightly and don’t want to criticize them in my article, this is not my intent. However, I will voice my opinion of this ungodly book “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL” and their ungodly “BORNTHATWAY.ORG” website. The book is clearly a sinful attempt to bridge the gap between the ungodly homosexual community and the New Testament Church. Dr. David Nixon and his co-author are trying to straddle-the-fence on the issue of homosexuality. As far as I’m concerned, they are pulling on the same rope as the Devil.

David J. Nixon and R. G. Hamm base their strange doctrine on Matthew 19:12, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Being a eunuch from a mother’s womb simply means, for one reason or another, that a man is born impotent. The Greek word for “eunuch” in Matthew 19:12 is eunouchos, meaning, “a castrated person (such being employed in Oriental bed chambers); by extension an impotent or unmarried man; by implication a chamberlain (state officer).” Here’s some helpful Bible commentary on the topic, “EUNUCH.”

The Bible mentions eunuchs, who are born “THAT WAY” from the womb, which is equivalent to castration. This is not homosexual lust! A eunuch “FROM THE WOMB” cannot procreate, that is, cannot have children. A homosexual can procreate (with a woman if they so choose). Obviously, homosexuals do not come “FROM THE WOMB”! And as I will evidence to you later, many people who profess to be “heterosexual” admit to committing homosexual acts at times. This tosses a monkey-wrench into David Nixon’s retarded hypothesis! Homosexuality is a sin, and Christians won’t be able to help sodomites unless they address the issue as such. God only saves THE UNGODLY (Romans 4:5-6). It is evil to tell homosexuals that there’s really no problem, because God made them “THAT WAY AFTER ALL,” intending for them to become celibate as eunuchs for God. That doesn’t solve the problem, which is, HOMOSEXUALS ARE SINNERS in need of the new birth. Unless a homosexual is willing to confess to God, “I AM A SINNER,” they cannot be saved. You’ve got to admit that you are a sinner to believe the Gospel. You need to know what you’re being saved from!

On their “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL” website, they say:

“The gay community is not the battle field, they are the mission field. They are not the enemy, they are the mission itself. We are in a spiritual battle, but if you view them as the enemy, you are fighting the wrong war (Ephesians 6:12). Our book “Born That Way After All” explains God’s unique design and purpose for those who are not attracted to the opposite sex.”

Although I agree that the gay community is a mission field, from a soul-winning perspective; I totally disagree when such reasoning is used to silence Christians about the evils of homosexuality which is targeting, recruiting and hurting America’s children. Hugh Hefner’s perverted Playboy business could be called “a mission field” too. We could say that the dirty magazine business is not the enemy as well. But does that mean preachers and Christians should be silent about such evils? Of course not. Now, more than ever, pastors and Christians need to expose the evils of homosexuality in our society. Silence is not golden, it is yellow cowardice. The false idea that exposing homosexuality as a filthy sin will hinder reaching the gay community for Christ is a big lie!

Homosexuality Is A Filthy Deathstyle (homosexuals account for 75% of all Syphilis cases!). Placing an adopted child into the hands of two homosexual parents (perverts) ought to be considered criminal child abuse! But our nation’s ungodly courts disregard God’s Word. Americans can legally commit adultery, film themselves in bed having sex and upload it to the internet, get drunk, murder their children by abortion, homosexuals can marry and children are forced into their care by adoption, et cetera. In eternity, God will hold people accountable for even their words (Matthew 12:36).

The insane notion that believers will never convert homosexuals to Christianity by calling them “perverts” is totally untrue. When the rich man in Hell begged Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead to warn his five brothers, “lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:28). Abraham plainly said that if people won’t listen to the Word of God, THEY WON’T GET SAVED, even if they see miracles and supernatural signs. “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:29-32).

The ungodly book effectively attempts to silence Christians to the evils of homosexuality, portraying sodomites as a needy group who ought to be ministered to (informed that God really made them to be eunuchs) and otherwise left alone. So while naive preachers are spending the rest of their life reaching out to gays with the Gospel, America’s children are being homosexualized. If churches must become worldly to attract the homosexual community, then they’re coming to apostate religion, not Jesus Christ.

Although I disagree with Pastor Steve Anderson’s lack of love for the homosexual community, I must say that Brother Anderson COMES MUCH CLOSER TO BEING RIGHT than today’s compromised preachers who hobnob with gays and won’t preach against them!!! HOMOSEXUALITY IS EVIL. You’re NEVER going to win sodomites to Christ by tolerating their sins. A fundamentalist preacher ought to be a balance of grace and truth, of strength and beauty! Jude 1:22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” The Word of God condemns the sinful world. That’s why gays reject the King James Bible, changing it into a lie (Romans 1:25). All of the modern PERversions of the Bible completely remove the word “sodomite.” The unscriptural website “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL” says they “do not necessarily endorse the term… ‘homosexual’ for several Biblical reasons.” [1] These are wicked people, who are trying to silence fundamentalist Christians about the evils of homosexuality. The idea that preaching and standing against open public wickedness, is a form of hate, is as satanic as can be!!!

….

I love Pastor Jeff Owens and Dr. Bob Gray Sr. I promote their sermons and ministries, because my heart’s desire is to help others in the Lord. I don’t throw people away because I disagree with them on something. I don’t stop promoting someone because they don’t agree with me. My faithful web visitors know that I often promote and expose someone at the same time. Most preachers won’t do that. Dr. Hyles invited Dr. R. G. Lee to preach at Pastor’s School in Hammond, knowing that Dr. lee was in the compromised Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Hyles didn’t demand that someone agree with him 100% on everything, to be his friend. I like that! There’s not one man that I promote whom I agree with on everything. I want to help others. If I find something that helps me, I want to share it with you also, to help you too. YOU are my Epistle. YOU are the book that I am writing. 2nd Corinthians 3:2, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men.” YOU are my treasure!

Having said that, I love the preaching and teaching of Dr. Bob Gray Sr. and Dr. Jeff Owens. Albeit, I do not agree with them in their support of the “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL” book and “BORNTHATWAY.ORG” website, where they are listed. I am 100% in agreement with Pastor Steven Anderson on this issue, because I believe Brother Anderson’s position is 100% Biblical. Romans 1:24-32 plainly condemns the homosexual deathstyle!!! No one is born with a Sodomite tendency. Homosexuality is abnormal, against nature. We are all born with a sin-nature. If the sin-nature is allowed to flourish, uncontrolled and unbridled by moral restraint, anything evil is possible. America was doomed the day in 1963 that the King James Bible was removed from our nation’s classrooms.

All human beings are born with a sin-nature. Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” We are ALL sinners by nature and by choice. A child doesn’t have to be taught to steal. They have to be taught to be honest. Children must be trained and taught the Word of God. And yet, even having grown up in the best home, with the most faithful Christian parents, enrolled in a great Christian school, attending a strong Bible-believing church—They may still ruin their lives and choose to go into a reckless deathstyle of sin. Having good Christian parents does not guarantee godly children. Certainly, training up a child in the admonition and nurture of the Lord stacks everything in their favor when they become adults, but they are still sinners by nature and by choice. What a proper upbringing DOES give a child is a strong FOUNDATION for the rest of their life. So if the house of their life burns down one day, it can be rebuilt!!! Amen!

No one is “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL.” I am not trying to be mean or unkind to anyone. If you are not saved, you’ll never get the victory over sin. Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” If you have homosexual desires as a believer, then there is a Bible verse for you. 2nd Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

You can read all of Stewart’s homophobic rant here.

Stewart’s website features countless articles against this or that sexual sin, leaving me to say “The [man] doth protest too much, methinks.” I so wish that there were a God and I wish there really were a Jack Chick-like This Was Your Life  final judgment. Can you imagine what would come rolling out IFB closets come judgment day? All of us have things that we have done that we never want to be brought to light. All of us have done things that we regret or wish we had done differently. The good news is that our embarrassments are safely stored in the back of our closets right next to our white buckskin shoes, platform shoes, frayed blue jeans, maxi dresses, and our dad’s collection of old Playboy magazines.

With one exception, I oppose prying open the closets of others, revealing secrets long buried in the dark recesses of people’s lives. We all have a right to have secrets, things that are no one’s business but ours. I do my best to write openly and honestly about my past and present life. But, there are some things that I can’t or won’t talk about (such as being sexually molested as a boy and kissing a boy as a teenager) because I find these events embarrassing, even fifty plus years after the fact.

The one exception I make is for preachers, politicians, and church leaders who deign to be the voices of moral authority; those who demand the Ten Commandments be posted on school walls and self-righteously demand their fellow citizens obey the anti-human moral code found in the Bible (as interpreted by them according to a literalistic, Fundamentalist hermeneutic). These defenders of virginity, the anus, and all things sexual, often don’t practice what they preach. While these “men of God” are preaching against adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, masturbation, short skirts, tight pants, teenage petting, and lustful glances, they are often wallering in the very sins they condemn. (Behaviors they call sins, anyway. I wouldn’t call these behaviors sins, depending, of course, on context. Sins? No. Bad Behaviors? Maybe.) For these self-absorbed preachers of God’s plan of intercourse — Evangelical, heterosexual, married, missionary position only — I am all for exposing their secrets. It is for this reason I write the Black Collar Crime series. The sooner the truth is known — that preachers are no different from the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world — the better. Imagine how different things would be if Evangelical preachers swung wide the doors of their closets and openly talked about what is buried deep within. I am not talking about criminal behavior here.  Sexual predators who hide in plain sight as pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and church leaders should be aggressively pursued and prosecuted. The secrets I am talking about are the things that are common to man. Imagine how different Sunday morning church would be if preachers admitted that they are human, burdened with the same desires, wants, needs, emotions, and feelings as everyone else. Granted, Evangelicals would have to re-write the Bible and abandon previously held certainties for them to truly reenter the human race. As long as they maintain that the Bible and Christianity are morally superior and demand everyone live according to their interpretation of a bronze-age religious text, preachers shouldn’t be surprised when people take delight in their moral failures.

Note:

Born that Way After All by David J. Nixon is described on Amazon.com this way:

Why do some people lack a desire for the opposite sex? They feel weird, like an outcast, often getting bullied or ridiculed for being different. Sometimes they feel trapped in their own bodies with nowhere to turn as they search for answers. Society tells them that they must be gay. But is that the only sensible explanation? In Born That Way After All, you will see the Biblical fact of men and women who were created different and special—unique servants of the Lord. God has created every human being with a unique purpose: do you know yours? TO PASTORS AND CHURCH LEADERS: How would it feel growing up and knowing there is something different about you? You might be surprised if you knew how many families and friends in your own congregation struggle. They don’t want to. They despise it. They need your help. Are you willing to provide that help? Are you prepared to answer their questions? This book can help you learn how to help them—we guarantee it. Remember God’s declaration in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Let’s destroy the void and help the hurting.

Nixon’s book has a two-star rating. Sixty-seven percent of reviewers gave the book a one-star review. However, proving yet again that IFB zealots lack reading skills, only one of the negative reviews came from someone who bought the book. No need to read the book, right? Just read the B-i-b-l-e, yes that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-i-b-l-e. BIBLE!!.

Black Collar Crime: Transgender Episcopal Youth Worker Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse

james lilly

In January 2016, James Lilly, a youth worker at Christ Episcopal Church in Bluefield, West Virginia, was arrested and charged with incest, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported:

A transgender Bluefield man who worked in youth ministry at local Episcopal churches was arrested Tuesday and charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse of a juvenile.

James Lilly, 24, was charged with one count of incest, one count of second-degree sexual assault and 31 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, Detective K.L. Adams, with the Bluefield Police Department, said.

Adams said the victim in the case is a juvenile female. He said the abuse began in 2009 when the victim was 9 to 10 years old, and continued until she was 16.

The alleged abuse in the case took place at a home, and not a church, Adams said.

“Mr. Lilly, by his own admission, is transgender,” Adams said. “He is in the process of becoming a woman.”

Adams said Lilly has a degree in religion from a Virginia college and has worked at numerous churches. Locally, he worked at Episcopal churches in both Bluefields.

Lilly is also in the process of getting a teaching degree at Bluefield State College, Adams said.

In August 2016, Lilly pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported:

A transgender man pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree in Mercer County Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon.

James Lilly, 25, of Bluefield, will be sentenced on Nov. 17.

Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope accepted a plea agreement in the case, which dropped 28 counts of sexual abuse in the first degree as well as charges of sexual assault third degree and incest.

Each count brings one to five years in prison, but with the plea, Swope said two counts are “probated” (no prison time) and the third count carries the possible one to five years at the discretion of the judge.

Swope also said the plea agreement includes a mandatory lifetime registry as a sex offender as well as 10 to 50 years of enhanced supervision.

Assistant Prosecutor John McGinnis told Swope that the plea agreement was reviewed by the victim as well as the victim’s guardian ad litem, Cathy Wallace, and both agreed to it.

Lilly’s sentencing hearing was delayed so a diagnostic evaluation could be completed. Yet to be determined is Lilly’s classification as a prison inmate. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports:

A diagnostic evaluation was completed recently for a former youth pastor and admitted transgender sex offender who is facing a prison term after pleading guilty last year to sexual abuse first degree.

James Lilly, 25, of Bluefield pleaded guilty in August 2016 in Mercer County Circuit Court to three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree. Raleigh County Judge John A. Hutchinson, who was assigned to the case after Mercer County Judge Derek Swope recused himself, delayed Lilly’s sentencing on Dec. 21, 2016 and remanded him to the state Department of Corrections so a diagnostic study could be completed with regard to how he would be classified as an inmate.

….

During the December 2016 hearing, Hutchinson spoke of Lilly’s pre-sentencing report and emphasized that gender disorientation is a recognized condition, saying that he psychologically identifies with being a female.

In mid-April, Hutchinson informed the court that he had received the report resulting from the diagnostic interview, and sentencing was scheduled for a later date. In his order, Hutchinson instructed the Department of Corrections (DOC) to send a representative to Lilly’s sentencing hearing to inform the court about the policies, procedures and protections at DOC facilities “in the event the court determines a sentence in the penitentiary is appropriate for this defendant.”

Update

An October 30, 2017 Register-Herald story reports:

A transgender man who pleaded guilty to three charges of first-degree sexual abuse is now serving his sentence in a northern West Virginia prison, officials with the state Division of Corrections said Friday.

James Lilly, 26, formerly of Bluefield, is currently an inmate at Northern Regional Correctional Facility in Moundsville, according to the state Division of Corrections Inmate Search website. Prison officials confirmed Friday that he was among the facility’s inmates.

A former youth pastor, Lilly was arrested Jan. 12, 2016. A Mercer County grand jury indicted him on 28 counts of first-degree sexual abuse as well as third-degree sexual assault and incest. He pleaded guilty to three charges of first-degree sexual abuse. After being arrested, he told Bluefield Police detectives that he was a transgender who was in the process of becoming a woman.

The victim, a female juvenile, came forward after learning that Lilly was pursuing a teaching career and student teaching at a school. The principal at Bluefield Intermediate School said later that Lilly was a student observer in 2015, but had little interaction with the students. Bluefield Detective K.L. Adams said after Lilly’s arrest that the abuse began in 2009.

In May, Special Judge John A. Hutchison of Raleigh County sentenced Lilly to a pair of one- to five-year sentences that will run concurrently. These sentences are running consecutively with the third charge of first-degree sexual abuse. This gives Lilly a sentence of two to 10 years in prison. He will be subject to lifetime registration as a sex offender after he is released, and he will be under 30 years of supervision.

….

Bruce Gerencser