‘Shitty’ churchgoers prompt Missouri pastor to ditch his faith

‘Shitty’ churchgoers prompt Missouri pastor to ditch his faith May 11, 2019
image via Instagram

A COMBINATION of factors, including church people being ‘shitty’ to themselves and to church leaders, caused Dave Gass, above, a former megachurch pastor, to renounce his Christian faith.

Gass, who most recently led Grace Family Fellowship in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, said in a series of tweets that he walked away from a vocation that was causing him “mental and emotional breaks.”

After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from faith. Even though this has been a massive bomb drop in my life, it has been decades in the making.

Gass said:

The entire system is rife with abuse. And not just from the top down, sure there are abusive church leaders, but church leaders are abused by their congregants as well. Church people are just shitty to each other. I spent my entire life serving, loving, and trying to help people in my congregations.

And the lies, betrayal, and slander I have received at the hands of church people left wounds that may never heal.

He revealed that when he was in 8th grade and reading Greek mythology, it dawned on him how much of the supernatural interactions between the deity of the Bible and humankind sounded like ancient mythology. That seed of doubt never went away.

He explained how he was raised in a “hyper-fundamentalist” Christian home where:

Christianity didn’t work. The promises were empty. The answers were lies.

Even so, he grew up to be a devout Christian who rarely missed church or failed to study Scripture.

I was fully devoted to studying the scriptures. I think I missed maybe 12 Sundays in 40 years. I had completely memorized 18 books of the Bible and was reading through the bible for the 24th time when I walked away.

He than spoke of his marital problems.

As an adult my marriage was a sham and a constant source of pain for me. I did everything I was supposed to – marriage workshops, counseling, Bible reading together, date nights every week, marriage books – but my marriage never became what I was promised it would be.

He went on to discuss how miserable his life eventually became as his expectations, including experiencing the supernatural failed to match up with the reality he was experiencing.

He said he struggled so much with his church experience it began to affect his mental and ultimately physical health.

This massive cognitive dissonance – my beliefs not matching with reality – created a separation between my head and my heart. I was gas lighting myself to stay in the faith. Eventually I could not maintain the facade anymore, I started to have mental and emotional breaks. My internal stress started to show in physical symptoms. Being a pastor – a professional Christian – was killing me.

To save himself, he said, he chose to walk away from the church.

Eventually I pulled the lever and dropped the bomb. Career, marriage, family, social standing, network, reputation, all gone in an instant. And honestly I didn’t intend to fully walk away, but the way the church turned on me forced me to leave permanently.

He apologised to his former followers and said he still loves those who choose to dismiss him as:

An apostate. For those of you who want to yell at me, that’s fine. I know that many will call me an apostate, say I was never really saved, that I was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and that a hotter hell awaits me. And to you I say I love you. My heart is tender toward you.

To those who have been in my congregations or under my teaching/preaching I sincerely apologize. I thought I was right. I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I could fake it until I made it. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I love you.

Justin Thuttle, a deacon at Grace Family Fellowship Church, claimed on Twitter that Gass was not entirely forthcoming about his faith journey and branded him an unrepentant sinner.

Yes, he was my pastor when he “walked away”. He actually just slept with a married women (sic) in the church and got caught. He never repented and they still live together.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Ellen Mottley Tannenbaum

    My former father-in-law’s first career choice was as an ordained mainstream Protestant minister. He lasted less than a year before he was fed up with all the vile stuff parishioners were up to. Spent the rest of his life happily managing a small family business.

  • Broga

    Dave could underpin his reason for walking away with something stronger than “shitty church followers etc” although they must be a real pain in the butt. The reason for “walking away from my faith”, if he thinks and reads, is that what he has been believing is incredible and no intellectually honest person could believe it. Also, what he has been believing is destructive drivel which protects the worst elements in society who continue to use their faith as a means of plundering the plane. They contribute to our “tiny blue spot” plunging towards being uninhabitable other than in misery. Their maniac reason is that they insist that God gave the world and everything in it for them to ravage as they choose.

    Dave is sniffing freedom and his comments on the Greek gods are sound. If he arms himself with some arguments which make the Christian God an impossibility he may, I hope, have some fun with the simpletons who will attack him.

  • Freethinker

    Better late than never Dave. We are touched you decided to join our club.
    Feel free to make yourself useful and undo the damage you caused with the brainwashing.

  • Jim Jones

    For a tiny few, religion is opportunity to be a good person. For the majority, it’s virtue signaling, often by terrible people with no virtues.

  • Jim Jones

    Religions and street gangs have more in common than one might expect!

  • persephone

    If he’d been kicked out for adultery, then renounced his faith, I would have taken it with a grain of salt. However, he just seems to have said f**k it, this is all bulls**t, hooked up with someone who was also unhappy, and adios’ed out of that church that stinks worse than a pig pen.

    Moving in with my first husband gave me the support and strength to say goodbye to the JWs. If you’re in a situation where you’re going to lose all your family and support system, you need a net, and someone else who cares can be that net.

  • Jayterrier

    Obviously an angry person. Maybe his new direction will bring peace in his life. Time will tell. For him to say that the members are sh*tty is reflective. When a psychologist ask how you feel about others, they are not building a profile of the one they asked about but rather the client. This guy has got problems. Mega churches encourage small fellowship groups in order for the members to feel connected as it is impossible to get to know all the members.
    There are a lot of negative post being shared on Facebook that indicates that a lot of people don’t understand christians or their faith. A lot of these post suggest that christians are self righteous and judgemental. That doesn’t describe my church family. I’ve never heard a sermon on homosexuality or other religions. I’ve never heard hate preached. Our sermons are about our choices and the ministry of Jesus Christ and what that should mean in our lives. We don’t think of ourselves as perfect and therefore look down our noses. It’s the opposite. It’s because of our weaknesses and failures that we seek God’s love and mercy.
    Hollywood has done a number on the perception of churches showing the woman with a bible under one arm with the other in the air exclaiming ‘JESUS’ with a southern accent. We are not anti science or in some state of denial. If it elevates some to diminish christians or their faith then so be it.

  • guerillasurgeon

    My former father-in-law was expelled from – I think a Methodist – Ministry for being a Christian and trying to help poor and troubled people. Apparently he didn’t spend enough time schmoozing the middle classes who donated all the money.

  • hermes brookover

    More power to him. He made a tough call and did what was right for him. Much happiness upon him.

  • Aloha

    Now what if everyone quit just because they were treated shittily?

    The world would be bereft of teachers and fast-food workers.

  • Zetopan

    And then there are the varies mafias*

    *Even more than just the Jewish and Christian versions.

  • Wan Kun Sandy

    I’m glad that your church and congregation are kind and positive and Christianity works for you. But look again in the article, Dave didn’t walk away from his faith JUST because of “shitty” Christians. He mentioned many other reasons for deconversion, such as:

    Christianity didn’t work. The promises were empty. The answers were lies.

    This massive cognitive dissonance – my beliefs not matching with reality – created a separation between my head and my heart.

    Notice that in the article it is mentioned, “He revealed that when he was in 8th grade and reading Greek mythology, it dawned on him how much of the supernatural interactions between the deity of the Bible and humankind sounded like ancient mythology.”

    Put it simply, Dave found out that Christianity’s claims, both natural and supernatural claims, are untrue and Christianity didn’t work for him. So he deconverted not just because of “shitty Christians”, but also because of various reasons as mentioned above. So don’t just conclude Dave Gass as “obviously an angry person”.

  • Broga

    Well said. Spot on.

  • Neal Allen Stone

    God for him. I see more of this coming as Jesus fails to return and people start to wise up. I too feel as he did and walked away with no regrets.

  • rubaxter

    The best revenge is a life well iived. Hope he has a good time exploring Reality where the humans may be a bit nicer to other humans.

  • rubaxter

    Sounds pretty inbred to me, and taken from an old compendium of ‘Sermons for All Occasions”.

    Good luck living in the 1800s when Reality finally breaks in.

  • Lisa Cybergirl

    Christians are like any other group – you only really hear about the assholes, so people figure they’re all assholes. Thanks for letting us hear from you, a non asshole.

  • Pennybird

    Best wishes to him, but what a shame it had to be so painful. I guess that’s one happens when you are taught the lie that there is only one possible path to a good life. In time he will find acceptance on “the dark side” with us unbelievers.

  • Pennybird

    Unfortunately for the whole religion, the big name proselytizers – Franklin Graham and his ilk – do spew their share of filth, act and speak hypocritically, and support some of our most vile citizens and leaders. They do Christianity no favors at all because their prominence leads the rest of us to believe they represent the entire movement.

    Some people obviously feel elevated by painting all Christians with the same broad brush, but for others, we are just trying to defend ourselves and our right not to be Christian, which is under attack at times.

  • Pennybird

    The headline was misleading, to be sure.

  • phatkhat

    You must be UCC. The only denomination I know of that still believes in sin and salvation and believes in science and social justice. I was thinking UU until you talked about salvation – albeit in indirect terms.

    If you lived in the South, you’d know the stereotype you mention is pretty accurate. There are only two UU congregations in the state, and precious few UCCs. Mostly Southern Baptists and some flavor of Pentecostal.

  • Lurker111

    My wife dragged me to her church once for a Christmas Pageant–an event mainly for the kids of the church families.

    In the middle of the event, an elder got to his feet to speak. He spent 10 minutes ranting about gays and homosexuality. I itched to stand up and yell at him, “It’s a freaking Christmas Pageant, you idiot! Wrong time and place! Sit down and shut up!” But then my wife would likely have been kicked out, so I didn’t.

    So don’t talk to me about self-righteousness. I’ve seen it. (And even if the elder had ranted at the “right time and place,” he was still a prick and likely a sad, damaged-by-religion closet gay.)

  • markr1957

    Oddly enough I had a similar reaction to my father reading the Greek a Myths and a Legends to me, followed by the Norse Muths and Legends, at primary school age. It made me ask why they were no more nor less fantastic than the Christian myths and legends, except the Greeks and Norsemen had way cooler gods.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    How often do you call out those “sh*tty Christians”?

    The one giving your faith a bad name.

    What Catholic Archdiocese offices has members of your church been to in efforts to call out their misrepresentation?

    No true scotsman: those Christians aren’t real Christians like us Christians.
    BUT…
    Let any of THOSE Christians say anything Christian and we’ll be right there to endorse the statement.

    The typical stance:
    “Jesus we saw others pervert you message. We knew what was ‘right and wrong’, as you laid it out so many years ago, and stood by and did nothing. When it came time to stand for our belief in you, we stayed silent (likely because of our ‘weakness and failure’). Now which way to heaven.”

    I’m sure you TRUE Christians are at the top of his list.

    And FYI
    Christians shouldn’t be discussing putting others down to elevate themselves. Stones in glass houses and all…

    Wait, I forgot.
    ALWAYS the persecuted victim.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    The Christian won’t be touching the concept of theology vs. mythology.

    They’re not prepared. The Christian “leadership” doesn’t do preparation.

    Jayterrier is the typical Christian: “I can’t address the claims of my religion being false, or unoriginal. I can tell you how great ALL the Christian at MY church are the best, not like THOSE Christians.” Jayt knows each one of them thoroughly, personally, and monitors all their activity daily, that’s how Jayterrier can honestly make that claim, on the internet.

  • swbarnes2

    It’s not obvious. That’s not how he comes across at all. He sounds disappointed and hurt. He really thought that Christianity would teach him something that would help him in this life, and he realized it taught garbage.

    There are a lot of negative post being shared on Facebook that indicates that a lot of people don’t understand christians or their faith.

    Please. Christianity is the majority religion in the US. People understand it. People have a thousand Christians to observe in real-time.

    Hollywood has done a number on the perception of churches

    Horsesh*t. We can read what Christians write. Patheos authors think women are penis homes, remember? Christians want to take ethics classes form a man who thinks a woman’s safety is worthless compared to the value of her husband’s soul.

    “For a woman to teach and preach to adult men is to defy God’s Word and God’s design.”

    I’m sure if you pray for divine discernment you will be absolutely convinced that that quote came from Hollywood.

  • hermes brookover

    It does me good to hear things like that. More power to you too sir. I lost faith about 35 years ago. at the age of 20. I have not regretted a single minute of that decision.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    Love that image.

    The young boy’s expression and body language are priceless.

  • Paul Douglas

    Maybe you don’t understand christians or their faith.
    It sounds like you live in a bubble.