The assholes from Westboro Baptist will be in town tonight. Yeah, that's right - the "God Hates Fags" church that pickets funerals and other such stuff.
Many folks in town have suggested that the best response to their message of hatred and bigotry is a silent refusal to even acknowledge their presence. While I certainly agree that this is the best way to deal with the WBC folks, I'm also concerned with providing a public counter-witness that the church is NOT a community that welcomes or endorses hatred. By most accounts, Fred Phelps, the pastor of WBC, is a sick man, who has unfortunately passed his disease on to all of his children save two. They are a cancer on the church. Even an overwhelming majority of people who endorse the historic understanding of homosexuality are appalled and disgusted by Phelps and his ilk. Unfortunately, the rantings of this diseased 'prophet' and his cabal provide a ton of ammunition to anti-church folks, justified or not. So, we who feel the same way will gather tonight in public witness against those who claim that hatred is a holy thing.
I don't like how I feel about this. Within my anger at the hurtful, hateful disease that is Westboro Baptist, there is a serious desire to just physically kick their asses out of town. Someone posted a video on YouTube from the inside of a Westboro van as they were run out of another town, with rocks pelting the vehicle and shattering glass, and I was both horrified and satisfied at the same time. "Zeal for your house will consume me," says the gospel when Jesus takes out the moneyvendors, and dare I admit that a portion of my soul aspires to exactly the same thing? Of course, that's playing into the hands of WBC, who would love nothing more than to be able to add "martyr" to the list of titles they've hoisted upon their ministry.
It's dangerous, wanting to do the right thing so badly you'd consider using evil means to accomplish it. So, I'll be there, tonight, perhaps in collar, perhaps carrying a sign, perhaps conflicted, but absolutely certain that hatred is not holy, especially when it threatens to consume my own soul.
Grace & peace,
Post - protest update:
It was pretty tame at the corner of University and Lincoln Way last night. I actually missed a good portion of the whole show: the WBC people shoed up at 4:30, not 5:00 as I thought. There were over 200 counter-protesters of various beliefs and non-beliefs; some of the signs I saw were:
- There Is No God
- Jesus Had Two Dads (think about it for a minute)
- Jesus Was Super Gay (not particularly helpful IMHO)
- Mean People Suck (one of my favorites)
- Love One Another As I Have Loved You (the vast majority seemed to support this)
- Honk If You Love Someone (lots of honking and cheering)
All in all, WBC remains a sick cult that presents one of the faces of evil in the world, while some of the counter-protesters were almost as hostile to those of us in the legitimate church. Pretty much what I expected, unfortunately, but life (and faith) will go on.
Grace & peace,