If You Don’t Believe in Jesus Anymore, Who Called You Into the Ministry?

Editor’s Note: I bet a lot of people have this question when they meet a former minister- turned-atheist. Original Clergy Project member Bruce Gerenscer answers it here, providing ample background and explanation. This essay is reposted with permission from his blog. It is also condensed and lightly edited.


By Bruce Gerencser

I often get this question when someone is trying to square my current atheistic life with the twenty-five years I spent in the ministry. I believed it was GOD who called me into the ministry, but now I believe that this same God is a fiction.

If God doesn’t exist, who spoke to my heart as a fifteen-year-old boy, telling me that I was to be a preacher of the good news of the gospel?

The Evangelical culture I grew up in emphasized the importance of boys and girls growing up to be full-time servants of Jesus Christ. Kids were encouraged to pray and ask God if he wanted them to devote their lives to the ministry as a pastor, evangelist or missionary. Parents were challenged to give their children over to God, as Hannah did with Samuel, in hopes that he might see fit to use them in a mighty way to advance his Kingdom.

Hannah and Samuel

Pastors considered it a sign of God’s favor if boys were called to preach under their ministry. Like the gunslingers of yesteryear, pastors put a notch on their gospel gun every time a boy surrendered to the ministry.

Being called to full-time service means you are special, uniquely chosen by God to do his work. From the moment a boy says, “Preacher, I think God is calling me to preach” the church treats him as some sort of extraordinary human being. I heard countless preachers say that the ministry was the greatest calling in the world; that becoming President of the United States would be a step down from the ministry. Preacher boys — as young men called into the ministry are often nicknamed — are quickly given preacher things to do.

No time is better than NOW, I was told, to start serving God and preaching his Word.

I preached my first sermon to the Junior High Sunday school class two weeks after I stood before the church and said,

“God is calling me to be a preacher.”

I spent the next few years honing my preaching skills at youth meetings, nursing homes, and any place that didn’t mind hearing the ramblings of an inexperienced, uneducated boy preacher. By the time I delivered my last sermon in April 2005, I had preached thousands of messages, often preaching three or more sermons a week.

All of this is key to answering the question:

“If you don’t believe in Jesus anymore, who do you think called you into the ministry?”

Since I do not think God exists, the only way I can possibly answer this question is from and environmental, psychological, cultural and sociological perspective. It is important to remember that it is not necessary for God to exist for people to believe that he does. Billions of people believe in a supernatural deity/force that does not exist. Every day, billions of people will pray to, worship and swear allegiance to deities that cannot be seen, heard or touched. These deities can, however, be felt, and it is these feelings that lead people to believe that their invisible God is indeed real. Thus, I KNOW that God called me into the ministry because I “felt” him speak to me. This is no different from the 5-year-old Bruce Gerencser believing that Santa Claus somehow came down the chimney every Christmas Eve and put presents under the tree just for him. Of course, time, experience and knowledge caused me to see that my beliefs about Santa were false, as they did when it came to my beliefs about God.

My religious feelings and beliefs were reinforced by verses in the Bible that speak of men who are called to be pastors/elders/bishops/missionaries/evangelists. Variously interpreted by Christian sects, all agree on one point: God calls boys/men (and in some cases, girls/women) into the ministry. This calling is essentially God laying his hand on someone and saying,

“I have set you apart for my use.”

Church youngsters are regaled with stories about men and women called by God who did great works. They are used as reminders of what God can and will do for those willing to dedicate their lives to serving him. Children are encouraged to read the biographies of people mightily used of God. I heard more than a few preachers say,

“Look at what God did for other servants of God. Who knows what God might do through you if you will dare to surrender your life to him?”

What young preacher boy wouldn’t want to someday be used by God like these men?

I spent 33 years believing that God had called me to preach the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ; that this calling was irrevocable; that misery and judgment (and perhaps death) awaited if I failed to obey God. The Apostle Paul said in First Corinthians 9:16:

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”

As with Paul, I had a burning desire to the preach the gospel:

  • To tell as many people as possible that Jesus alone can save them from their sin;
  • That there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain;
  • That what is a man profited if he gain the world and lose his soul?

I shed countless tears over the lost. I spent untold hours praying for revival to break out in America, spreading to the ends of the earth. Believing Jesus was coming back to earth soon, I devoted myself to making sure as many people as possible heard the gospel. I thought it was my duty to tell them. It is up to God to save them. For many years, my evangelistic zeal burned so hot that I preached a minimum of four sermons a week, along with preaching on the streets and holding services at the local nursing home and county jail. To quote the motto of my school in the 70’s, Midwestern Baptist College:

“Souls for Jesus is Our Battle Cry, Souls for Jesus is Our Battle Cry. We Never Will Give in While Souls are Lost in Sin, Souls for Jesus is Our Battle Cry!”

Burning the candle at both ends wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t believe that God had called me into the ministry and was speaking to and through me. I believed that this God existed. I may never have actually seen or heard God, but I felt his presence in my life. I “heard” the Holy Spirit speaking to me, leading me, and teaching me truth. These experiences were verified by what I read in the Bible and Christian biographies and what I observed in the lives of my pastors, teachers and mentors. Most of all, they were verified by the work God accomplished through my preaching and leadership. How then, knowing these things, can I now believe that God is a work of fiction; that my ministerial experiences were the work, not of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit, but the works of a quite-human Bruce Gerencser?

The deconversion process afforded me the opportunity to step back from my life and view it from a distance. As I looked at my pastors’ and parents’ religious, theological, social, and political leanings, it would have been shocking if I hadn’t, as a teenager, professed that God was calling me into the ministry. At age five, while we were living in San Diego and attending Scott Memorial Baptist Church (pastored by Tim LaHaye), I told my mother that I was going to be a preacher someday. Not a baseball player, policeman or garbage truck driver — a preacher! This, of course, pleased my mom. When people talked about the angst of trying to determine what they wanted to do when they grew up, I had no frame of reference. I never wrestled with career choice. I always wanted to be a preacher, and by God’s wonderful, matchless grace, that is exactly what I became. All my life’s experiences led me to the monumental day at Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio, when, with tears and trembling, I told the church that God was calling me into the ministry. Scores of fellow church members shouted “Amen!” and hugged me, telling me that they would pray for me. I am sure that more than a few people had mixed feelings about my calling.

“Really Lord? Are you sure you can use this temperamental, ornery redheaded boy?”

I have often wondered what my peers thought as I went from the boy who told the youth director to fuck off to a young man who loved Jesus, carried his Bible to school, handed out tracts to his unsaved friends, went soulwinning, worked on a bus route and occasionally preached at Sunday evening youth meetings. The old Bruce, who wore frayed jeans, boots, and tee shirts to church, gave way to the new Bruce, who wore preacher clothes. What’s next? Swearing off girls? Anyone who knew me as a preacher boy knows I resolutely obeyed The Official Independent Baptist Rulebook. I didn’t smoke, drink, cuss, listen to rock music or engage in premarital sex. I had plenty of girlfriends, but I drew the line at kissing, holding hands and putting our arms around each other. My commitment to virginity was part of my devotion to God. As much as I wanted to have sex, I willingly took many a cold shower, keeping myself pure until my wedding day.

Most Baptist preachers will likely say that they just knew God was calling them to preach. If they are still Christians, I am sure they attribute their feelings to supernatural intervention. But the whole notion of being called by God is rooted not in the supernatural, but in earthly human experiences. My Baptist faith taught me to call my interest in the ministry a calling from God, but in truth, it was the natural outcome of my upbringing and experiences. My entrance into the preaching fraternity was never in doubt. How could I not have become a preacher?

Nothing in my story requires the actual existence of a supernatural deity. All that is required is that I, along with the other players in my life, believe that God exists. For my first fifty years of life, I believed that the Evangelical God was every bit a real as the sun, moon, stars and earth. And now I don’t. Does this invalidate my years in the ministry? Of course not. All that has changed is my perspective and how I see my trajectory from a sinner to a Holy Spirit-led follower of Jesus Christ. Instead of God being the first cause, I realize that environmental, psychological, cultural, and sociological influences molded me into the man who would one day preach thousands of sermons in churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan.

Congregants called me Pastor Bruce, Rev. Gerencser or Preacher — the man of God who spoke the Word of God to the people of God.

I now know who I really was: his name is Bruce.


bruce gerencser 2015-002Bio: Bruce Gerencser lives in rural NW Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and 10 grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for 25 years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. He left the ministry in 2005 and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. He is also one of the original members of The Clergy Project, which began in 2011. He blogs at The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser, where the above post originally appears.

>>>Photo Credits: By Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=480122 ; Bruce Gerencser

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  • Uzza

    In your preacher days, how did you deal with the fact that scientists regularly use psychotropic chemicals to induce religious experiences– e.g. god speaking–since William James established over a hundred years ago that these drug experiences were indistinguishable from religious ones?

    • mason

      Speaking for myself as an ex clergy, we were never exposed to such information, there was no Internet, and to even entertain reading a book in the library or listening to someone speak of such things would be considered slow dancing with Satan and risking damnation. The Baptist world is quite a mentally controlling cult. “How could you ignore?” Why risk an eternity in hell fire torment where the thirst is never quenched and the worm and human souls burn but are never destroyed. These fears are pumped into the young credulous Baptist’s brain continually. 🙂

      • Matthew Hullinger

        As a Pentecostal, I had no idea that there were glossolalia studies and information that proved it wasn’t actually different languages. I was never given access to this information as a child. It isn’t as if they teach their doctrine to children and then say, “But here is a list of scientific studies that disprove everything we have just taught you.” It just doesn’t happen. You’re even taught that anyone who says anything against your doctrine is an evil person and lying about their proof against your faith.

    • What Mason said.

      Information was limited, and we were not encouraged to read books outside of our Fundamentalist corner of the Evangelical world.

  • mason

    Hey Bruce,

    Your “Official Independent Baptist Rule Book” (via the link) is fantastic and so very accurate. We didn’t have the home schooling back then, but everything else is right on. I think the the fact the Pentecostals loved the guitar was an attraction for me. We certainly in the Baptist cult has several of the soloists with bad pitch, on in particular who I remember Mary Chamberlain. The cold showers, the preaching, and the book my mother left laying around about self abuse weren’t able to stem my libido nor did the rule about cussing stem my progress outside the home and among my jock football and track friends where it was a pure delight. I learned to compartmentalize several of the rules and my behavior early on, which is good training for any future man of the cloth. 🙂 I will print the Rule Book for my wife to read as she, and all my friends, still have a hard time believing I was ever deeply involved in the cult.

    “Who” called me to be an Evangelistic shaman? 🙂 In retrospect now as an atheist, I say it was a “what” not a who. I was fed nonsense by parents, church members, etc. e.g. “God has his hand on you, you have the anointing (gift of gab) you’re called of God etc.” The accumulated nonsense and brainwashing was the “call.”

  • Mark Rutledge

    It is the community called “church” that provided my initial call into campus ministry. A good move resulting in a 55 year career on 5 different college campuses. Some kinds of religious experiences seem to be universally available to people across cultures and times; some people seem to be more prone to having frequent and vivid experiences than others (William James); What these mean are matters of interpretation; Their meanings vary widely. I was happy and lucky that no one cared too much about whether I ever had supernatural beliefs. I delivered my public “credo” for ordination relying on theologian Paul Tillich who did not hold supernatural beliefs. That is my UCC for you! I did not have to “preach” very much–just do counseling, teaching, community-building, interacting with students and faculty, and engaging in a lot of social justice work. Partly luck, partly a “good” church. I wish more of those abounded.

  • viaten

    Some say, “Once saved, always saved, and if you leave you weren’t ever really saved (yet)”. Others say you can be truly saved and later lose it.

    What do the Christians you are or were acquainted with say? Do they think you truly thought you were saved, as truly convinced as those who supposedly still are?

    Would they acknowledge that some among them might not be truly saved? I wonder how many Christians worry only to themselves, “Could that happen to me?”

    It seems preachers implicitly put the idea in their followers’ heads that they can’t or shouldn’t be too sure about being saved, an idea that might be in the back of the minds of many “believers” already. It seems that’s what motivates Christians to always be striving to be “better believing” Christians.

    It seems to be a question that should be foremost on a Christian’s mind, “Do I really believe?”, but it seems to be the question they avoid the most, quite expected of someone who considers themselves to be a true believer. It’s quite ironic.

    • Most former ministerial colleagues believe I never was a Christian. Of course, this means I had all of them fooled. So much for their Holy Spirit powered intuition and understanding. A handful of them believe I am still a Christian and that my current health problems are God punishing (chastising) me for my rebellion and disobedience.

      Former congregants tend to not answer the question. They have a hard time wrapping their minds around the man they once called preacher is now now an atheist. Some of them have told me that my deconversion has caused them to have doubts about their salvation. One man told me he couldn’t talk to me any longer because he found my loss of faith too disconcerting.

      This former preacher friend of mine preached a whole series of sermons about why Bruce Gerencser was never a Christian. Funny how he never sensed that back them. 🙂


      • Jim Jones

        So much for the “valley of death” verse.

      • Matthew Hullinger

        Isn’t that the saddest of excuses. I hear this all the time from folks saying that I was never actually saved, which is why I am now an atheist. If that were true it says much more about all the folks I was able to trick into believing I was saved, all the sermons I gave to tearful congregations, and all the other people who I must have trick saved during those years as well. So If i wasn’t saved and someone got saved during one of my sermons, are they not really saved too? It’s ridiculous thinking. I went through a deep period of darkness when I started losing my faith, I tried as best as I could to bring god back into my life and return to being a faithful Christian again, it just didn’t happen. If all I did to beg god to show himself to me and become real in my life again wasn’t enough, then either god is a prick or he doesn’t exist. Simple as that.

  • Mark Rutledge

    Salvation? There are no external redeemers. We have to do it ourselves, keeping the vision of the beloved community as our guiding star and hope.

    • Jim Jones

      Or, you could give it up and enjoy the one brief life you have.

  • Jim Jones

    > If God doesn’t exist, who spoke to my heart as a fifteen-year-old boy, telling me that I was to be a preacher of the good news of the gospel?

    15 yr olds are all about wishful thinking.

  • guerillasurgeon

    It’s a good question, and if those who asked it thought about it seriously, they’d probably become atheists. 🙂

  • HpO

    I’m going by your playful logic here, Bruce Gerencser and Linda LaScola:

    (1) If, as you say, “It is not necessary for God to exist for people to believe that he does”, then, I say, It’s also “not necessary for God” NOT “to exist for people” NOT “to believe that he does”!

    (2) This next logic, though, is spot on. If apostle Paul declared, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”, then you knew exactly what he was talking about when you did tell yourself, “Misery and judgment (and perhaps death) awaited if I failed to obey God.”

    (3) Is there logic to your brush with the deadly combo of Spirit and scriptures? I think there is; the logic of the point of no return is what that is. For if, as you said, after “I ‘heard’ the Holy Spirit speaking to me, leading me, and teaching me truth”; and if after “these experiences were verified by what I read in the Bible” – “I now believe that God is a work of fiction”, the stuff of myth and legend in “my upbringing and experiences”, then the die is cast! This “God (the) work of fiction” will never want you back, ever! Good riddance is very much mutual here. And that’s the logic of the point of no return!

    (4) God has always been dead to you and you’ve always been dead to God. That’s the logic to this confession of yours: “Instead of God being the first cause, … environmental, psychological, cultural, and sociological influences molded me”!

    • Sastra

      Your first two points seem to contradict each other. In #1 you suggest that God could exist and yet people don’t believe God exists (fair enough.) But then in #2 you talk about the nonbeliever knowing what happens if they fail to obey God. But if someone is a nonbeliever, then they don’t believe there’s a God to disobey, and there’s no such thing to them as “disobedience to God.” They can’t be said to “know” what happens other than as someone else’s wrongful belief.

      For example, astrology could be true, but you don’t believe in it. If an astrologer tells you “the stars show that you will be kidnapped” you can’t now be said to know you are going to be kidnapped. You know what you were told. Even if the astrologer read the stars correctly and you are one day kidnapped, you didn’t know it would happen — and had a lot of good reasons for believing it wouldn’t. Reasons which didn’t include “I hate stars, I refuse to listen to what they say.”

      • HpO

        I take Bruce at his confession then and his past confession now. “Misery and judgment (and perhaps death) awaited if I failed to obey God.” This is how the tragic conscience of an unbeliever-turned-believer-turned-unbeliever works. Take a look at Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Same thing, same phenomenon. Sastra, I’m not looking at this rationally, logically, but wholeheartedly. Bruce is dealing with his heart, not his head. Reason, evidence, critique, doubt, etc. are well & good, but highly limited. Yet all powerful. How? They obliterate everything they touch (that’s what the power of abstraction can do) – including the truth of an unbeliever-turned-believer-turned-unbeliever flip-flopping. Rational Doubt is as much of a crutch for him as religion was back in the day. He’s still dealing with it. But I say, it’s too late. He can’t have Christ Jesus re-crucified, re-buried, re-resurrected in order for him to get a free ticket out of his tragedy, out of his point of no return.

        • Sastra

          Sastra, I’m not looking at this rationally, logically, but wholeheartedly.

          Yes, I can see that.

        • You are wide of the mark, my friend. As far as Rational Doubt being a crutch, I have no idea what you are talking about. Linda periodically cross posts articles from my blog. How does this make Rational Doubt a crutch?

          I would encourage you to educate yourself about the man you critique. My blog is filled with articles that will — if you are really interested in knowing — reveal my reasons and motives for deconverting.

          You mention the “heart.” Are you using that in a religious sense? If so, I have no heart. Unfortunately, Christianity is infected with a dualism that separates the mind from the heart. Such a belief is contrary to what the Bible says about the heart. The heart, in the Bible, is the mind. Now if you are talking about my emotions, then that’s different. That said, I don’t separate my emotions from my mind. I see myself as a rational, passionate thinker. Most people who know me see me this way too. You see me differently. All I can do is encourage to come on in for a closer look.

          • HpO

            Any single essay by you stands on its own, complete with merits and flaws. Nature of the beast, as it were, and you already knew that. This here article, though, has no need for your other articles, otherwise you’d have footnoted them, which, also, you already knew. Your point, then, is that you got caught unprepared by the likes of me. That’s the risk of writing online these day, which, you also already knew.

            Heart? What’s the big deal? A 4th-grader talks to me and I to her, out of our hearts. Trump tweeting out of his, you blogging likewise, my commenting ditto. But there you go again trying to splice and dice the religious whatever into this rationalistic secularized whatever. Man, who got that into you, brother? Has that always been from the get-go. See, you haven’t said what the triggers were for you? Your brain got a lightbulb on telling you, God is fictional. Or the church people got you mad? But see, I don’t think so. And so comes the point of the “crutch”.

            It’s like this. Say an unfaithful spouse (unfaithful as a good metaphor here per your article about you being unfaithful now, which is fine to say in context) going through marital unhappiness with 1000 details to describe it, went to work and spilled out the beans to co-workers, who are clueless about those details, don’t understand those details, care less about those details. Yet this person tells those details anyway. Why? They’re the crutch for that person, see. Outside the marriage. Outside that intended faithful relationship between spouses.

            And you think secularists, atheists, understand your 1000 details of deep relationships with God and Jesus? No way. And yet, and yet, your heart goes to them and you broach every subject.

            That, “my friend”, is your “crutch”. They don’t care, yet you care. Don’t use your religion past as your no-religion present. Be free from it all 100%. Be like “Hitch”, Dawkins, Karl Marx, all the way, through and through. Be original. Find your voice among your non-religious friends and foes.

            Confession time. I find you enigmatic. As enigmatic as those guys and Ma’ams who abandoned apostle Paul (you know them by names, he ID’ed them in his epistles). There’s something about them – and you – that has always bothered me. Why is their and your behavior described as returning to your vomit? Why is it, say, when you wanna return to the faith, they say, No, get outta here, for there’s no re-crucifixion, re-burial and re-resurrection of Christ Jesus for you this time around.

            Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar is enigmatic. I can’t let go of his tragedy, his inner voice now in his flip-flopping state, at least as per Tim Rice’s lyrics.

            No, I don’t care to re-evangelize you, believe me; I deserve that respect from you at least. It’s just that I spend my time in life loving every moment discussing heart to heart about everybody’s serious conviction. That’s all. And that’s all my involvement in this here Rational Doubt’s comments.

            All the very best to you, “my friend”. Goodbye.

          • You fail to understand how I converse and interact with religious people such as yourself and what my purpose is in writing about religion — Evangelicalism in particular. Not much more I can say than that.

        • Pofarmer

          Tragedy? What a complete ass.

          • HpO

            Victory, then? What a complete genius, then, you are.

        • Jim Jones

          > Take a look at Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Same thing, same phenomenon.

          You really need to read the book and not watch the movie. In the book, Jesus chooses Judas over Judas’ objections – he doesn’t want the job. (And why is it necessary for Judas to lead the Romans to Jesus? Weird plot point).

          • HpO

            What “book”? Jesus Christ Superstar was a book. No, only a musical play writing, as I recall, turned into a huge UK broadway hit with Deep Purple lead singer as Jesus, then into a multi-LP, then into a movie musical, then, years and years later, into theatrical remakes. Wait, you mean, the book as in THE book, that 4th century invention by the Early Church Wolves I mean Fathers they called The Holy Bible, which come to think of it is neither “Holy” nor a book. Compilation was strategic, see, to kill heretics!

            But I was talking about Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s version of Judas, not the gospels’ version of their hero. This article’s writer reminded me of what Weber and Rice tried to explain as to Judas’ flip-flopping. The lyrics still in my head. Beautiful song by Judas. (Jesus’ songs in that play all so lame in comparison.)

            Anyway, no longer “gob·ble·dy·gook” to you, then, my talking points here?

    • mason

      This explains it all. It looks like you’re using non-falsifiable beliefs as if they are falsifiable, and using a lot of false equivalencies https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0b3919557b9c2515f064dcb1cb490960cf3ece1c9f943092f992440cbad291a6.jpg , and stirring “logic” into a pot where it can’t exist. Hitch explains all such attempts.

      • HpO

        I watched “Hitch” back 2005. Didn’t catch dating coach Alex “Hitch” Hitchens (Will Smith), though, being wax philosophical. Didn’t even talk about God or anything like that, much less about him flip-flopping on Him like this guy Bruce Gerencser.

    • Jim Jones

      That’s a hot mess of gobbledygook.

      • HpO

        Had to look it up. Me no speek inglish see?

        gob·ble·dy·gook … language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use of abstruse technical terms; nonsense.

        But one “mason”, one “Sastra”, one “Jim Jones”, one “Pofarmer” and one “Bruce Gerencser” (sounds awfully familiar, know the guy?) – all got the “meaning”, found it “intelligible” (albeit distasteful), understood it, hence it’s not “abstruse” nor over-“technical”. Maybe “nonsense”, yeah, I think that’s what you only meant.

  • alwayspuzzled

    “Who called?”

    An equally useful question might be “Who heard? What psychological needs motivated the hearer to hear a call?”

  • carolyntclark

    I don’t like this new disquis format…..all the links separating the article from the comments. 🙁

    • mason

      Yep, I noticed that, and it seems easy to slip off an article and not get back easily to the article. The format looks great. Where is the Icon that gets a reader back to the article? It may just take getting used to the pop down windows and the new way comments are shown.

      • ElizabetB.

        I was surprised when a link opened in a new window… could that be what happened? You go back to the original tab. ….Seems like all the bits & bytes happen so fast these days that just *looking* at something works like a click!!

    • ElizabetB.

      I wasn’t liking that either, but now I’m noticing a small link to Comments immediately following the OP, on the right, which works quickly, letting you skip the ads, etc. Hope that continues!! One thing I like is the quality of the photographs — the van den Eeckhout is very striking in this format, whereas in the old, I had to guess what it was about. I like having the comments written across the whole screen, so you see more at a glance w/ less scrolling. As usual (!) I guess I’m in ‘wait & see’ mode : ) Thanks for starting the Disqus discuss!

  • Nos482

    Souls for Jesus is Our Battle Cry

    Blood for the Blood God, Skulls for the Skull Throne.