“God Hates Fags!”
These words top the home page of an Internet web site.
Is it the American Nazi Party? No.
Radical Islam? No.
Ku Klux Klan? No
Good Christians? Why, yes.
This despicable message comes from a standard bearer of Christianity, the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. Check out: http://www.godhatesfags.com/main/index.html
We all know that this particular church is an exception that does not represent the majority of Christian churches across America. But it sure leaves a bitter taste for Americans who are caught up the winds of bigotry, as it did Albert Snyder, the father of a fallen soldier in the Iraq war. Here’s how the gospel-spreading evangelicals of Topeka caused misery to one innocent victim of religious fanaticism.
Matthew Snyder was only twenty when he died in Iraq in March of 2007. The funeral was held near his home in Westminster, Maryland with all military honors. But there were some additional attendees that the family had not counted on.
Representatives of the Westboro Baptist Church saw fit to travel all the way to Maryland, not to show respect to a young American hero, but to march, protest, shout and hold signs that read: “Thank God For Dead Soldiers” and “Semper Fi Fags.”
The church’s founder and pastor, Fred Phelps, has led his membership of seventy-five on numerous occasions throughout the country to picket funerals of military personnel killed in the current wars, claiming the deaths are punishment for this country’s tolerance of homosexuality.
This time, Pastor Phelps ran into a Fred Goldman-esque victim who said, enough! The demonstration caused so much grief and misery to Albert Snyder and his family, he filed a law suit against the church claiming mental and physical sickness as a result of those actions. He told Fox News, “They turned this funeral into a media circus and they wanted to hurt my family. My son should have been buried with dignity, not with a bunch of clowns outside.”
The defense, of course, is unapologetic as the worms of ignorance hide behind the First Amendment’s right to free speech. On the witness stand, Pastor Phelps said it was important to warn this country, “that your wicked ways are going to be your doom shortly.”
Not this time. On October 31st, the jury decided that free speech has it boundaries and awarded the Snyder family $11 million. As a result of hate activities spawned by Pastor Phelps, at least twenty-two states have enacted laws that limit the rights of protestors at funerals.
Until now, the Westboro Church web site posted a list of scheduled military funerals which they intend to picket. Under the heading:”Memorials”, they refer to the military dead with such loving terms as “Matthew Shepard has been in hell for 3302 days. Diane Whipple has been in hell for 2465 days.”
I’ve studied radical Islam and wrote a book about it. I’ve written about Nazis, Communists, barbarians and radicals from all sides of the planet. Those who espouse or defend the wretchedness that emanates from the Westboro church wallow in the same pit of hatred and intolerance as the Nazis and radical Islam, only they use the Bible as justification.
Can Christians, in general, allow this stain — or the perception of such — upon their religion? Can Christians stand by and allow this to continue, unabated, unchallenged? Should the Albert Snyders of America be left to go this alone?
More is needed to show disdain for the Westboro church fanatics, and those like them. The American Baptist Churches of America, and all Christian denominations throughout the land should stand up and speak out against these contemptuous cretins to show unified rejection of bigotry and hatred. Nothing would please the Snyder family more, than to see thousands of letters pour into Topeka, Kansas, denouncing their lurid practice.
There will always be bigotry in this world. There will always be people who oppose homosexuality, or abortion, or people who are black, yellow or red. Opposing is one thing, but to single out and deliberately bring misery to families of fallen soldiers who have had nothing to do with a specific cause, is nothing short of criminal.
I don’t believe homosexuality to be a sin. Even if it was, the good members of the Westboro Baptist Church might look into the mirror before casting those stones.
Hate crimes are becoming a major element of the nation’s justice system. The Snyder family of Westminster, Maryland, were the victims of a hate crime at their son’s funeral in March of 2007. Their crime is no less egregious than those kids who hung nooses from the tree in Jena, Louisiana, or anyone who draws swastikas on synagogue walls.
Reverend Jesse? Reverend Al? Pat Robertson? Joel Osteen? What say you?
Let’s hear your voices.