Atheist returns to religion, apologizes to Greencastle-Antrim School Board

Ernest Perce told the school board he was sorry for his actions two years ago. He and another atheist, Carl Silverman, caused several school districts to drop public prayer. The two have since parted ways, and Perce said of his former ally, “He hates me.”

One of the men who forced Greencastle-Antrim School District to stop school board-led recitations of The Lord’s Prayer two years ago came back to apologize during last week’s regular meeting.

Ernest Perce V, Harrisburg, had asked Supt. Greg Hoover for permission to speak at the Oct. 2 meeting. He arrived with his two sons and a friend, and when given the floor, explained his dramatic change of heart.

Wearing a white clergy collar against a black shirt, he said he was now a traveling preacher.

“Every day I kick myself at what I did,” Perce told the board members and public in attendance. “Forgive me.”

In August 2012, Perce was the Pennsylvania Director of American Atheists. He and Carl Silverman, Camp Hill but formerly of Waynesboro, a member of PA NonBelievers, told the school board that prayer by the board was a violation of church and state, and contrary to a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit. They threatened legal action, and asked that the board simply observe a moment of silence.

Despite an outcry from citizens, upon investigation into the legalities of board-led prayer, the district determined it could not win a defense to continue the 50-year-old tradition. On Oct. 6, 2012 , the policy was formally changed. Since then the board observes a Moment of Reflection prior to the Pledge of Allegiance, and an individual or a member of the clergy offers The Lord’s Prayer during public comment.

Perce had been a charismatic minister for 17 years before turning atheist. He told the Echo Pilot in 2012 that contradictions in the Bible crushed his faith, and the church did not show the love of Christ. He was an atheist for six years, and then a prophecy turned his life around. That was Revelation 2:9. In the Revised Standard Version the text reads, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”

“This is a huge turnaround for me,” Perce said.

He stated 35,000 American Christians had been killed for their faith in 2013.

“Why is that holocaust not taught in our schools?” he asked. “I can’t let my kids grow up in a world that will terrorize them.”

He also became convinced, after reading a book by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, that Jesus was not a Jew, the Jewish holocaust never occurred, and 9/11 was caused by “the false state of Israel.” He now leads Jesus Was Not a Jew Ministries, with 40 followers. He and his wife intend to pull their boys, Praise, 12, and Apple, 5, out of public school, to be homeschooled while traveling with them on the preaching circuit.

Perce left the school board with a different message this time. “You are the blessing.”

CLARIFICATION: Ernest Perce V, the preacher who spoke to the Greencastle-Antrim School Board Oct. 2, read Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s book Crusade in Europe. Eisenhower did not mention a single gas chamber or systematic torture in Christian Germany, he said, which Perce interpreted as the future president denying the torture of Jewish people. He told the Echo Pilot last week that he learned Jesus was not a Jew by reading the Jewish Almanac and Encyclopedia.