When I found out that Pastor Fred Phelps’ minions from Westboro Baptist Church were coming to Des Moines again to protest the bestowing of the Matthew Shepard scholarship on a Des Moines high school graduate, I felt that I should go and actually meet these people who have dedicated their lives to spewing monstrous amounts of propaganda on street corners throughout America.
However, it was very hard for me to do this. The way Phelps and his flock have so obviously misappropriated what the Bible says and attempted to twist God’s true nature into something hateful has never sat well with me.
But I went. At 6:30 a.m., while rain drizzled down from a cold, gray sky, I stood watching six of Phelps’ followers hold up brightly colored signs that proclaimed “God hates fags,” and “It’s the fags, stupid.” The truth was, I was afraid of them; I had no idea what to expect. I had always expected those who advocate the death of entire groups of people based on their so-called “shortcomings” to look evil, or at least a little bit like Hitler.
The problem was they didn’t look evil at all. They looked like me.
Three girls of approximately my age were standing in front of me — college girls that should have been back at school in Kansas hanging out with their friends or studying, not far from their home and rabid with hate. It made me want to cry.
It took me some time, but I worked up the nerve to try and talk with them. At first, the girls were reluctant to speak, but as I was quite nervous myself and they saw I was not going to attack them, they started to talk.
“It’s not a very long drive,” one of the girls told me. “Only four and a half hours.” I thought that was pretty far to come for a few half-hour protests, but it wasn’t my parade.
“No, we don’t get paid to do this. We spend our own money to come and protest,” she said. That fact completely dumbfounded me, because, as I came to find out later, some of the members of the Westboro congregation go out to multiple protest sites a month, all over the country. Phelps must be a rich man — he has convinced other people to do his dirty work on their own time and pay for it out of their own pocketbooks.
“There is no better thing to devote our time to because the homosexuals have put their agenda into the forefront of society. They are flaunting their sin. You don’t see divorce parades or adultery parades,” another girl said. Every time you turn on the television or watch a movie these days, it’s a veritable barrage of sex outside of marriage, divorce and adultery. Watch some Maury Povich or Ricki Lake. If that’s not a parade, I don’t know what is.
I was astounded at the comparative youthfulness of the crowd : there was a high school student and a woman with her 14-year-old son there as well. For a mother to bring her son with her to enforce a message of hate and possibly even put him in harm’s way is absolutely crazy.
There is something wrong with the reasoning of religious leaders like Phelps when they believe they can and should convince anyone, not to mention the young people I saw that day, to devote their lives to preaching a “gospel” they have twisted to their own uses.
An overarching theme that arises from the Bible is love the sinner, but hate the sin. According to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin, therefore it can be treated accordingly under the confines of Christianity. But condemning sin and condemning the people who commit sin are two completely different things, and it seems Phelps and his crew have yet to learn that lesson.
Contrary to what Phelps would like us to believe, God does not hate homosexuals. God doesn’t hate anyone. God loves every person ever created; we are all God’s children.
Christians are urged as well never to hate their fellow man.
The Bible (1 John 4:20-21), says “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
On yet another sign I saw, they use the Bible to advocate the “death penalty for fags.” However, God is our only judge. The Bible (Matthew 7:1-2) explicitly says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Leviticus 20:13 may say that men who lie with other men should be put to death, but the Bible also says that women have no place in the church. I guess some Biblical customs die hard.
There are many more issues to address, but most of all I care about these people that Phelps has sucked in. All the people I talked to could spout the same ideas, facts and Bible verses, but not one could seem to see the inherent fallacies of their cult-like mantra.
These people deserve our compassion, not our scorn
That was written by Alicia Ebaugh from the ISU Daily, here’s the reply by the Phelps clan….
Alicia Ebaugh’s column about our wonderful picket of the fag parade (a pitiful turn out by the fags, I must note) is a stark illustration of the results of systematically lying to an entire generation about eternity.
This young lady believes life is about her views, her feelings and what she wants. In fact, it’s about God and what He wants, and the duty of all mankind to study the scriptures and to fear God and keep his commandments. That idea is just “crazy” to young Alicia, let alone the thought someone would expend their own resources (time, energy and money) publishing this message.
You have a definition problem. It is true that we are to love our brothers. The elect of God have a benevolent love for their fellow man, which is why they warn them to flee the wrath to come.
If, as we say, and as every human is created to intuitively understand, there is a God, there is a real place called hell, and eternity is forever, where do you find anything loving when false prophets and other responsible adults teach children things that will land them in hell?
Where is the love in encouraging a lifestyle that by all reports is extraordinarily harmful to the body, mind, heart and soul — and will cost you eternal punishment?
That’s not love Alicia; that’s hate. And it’s the most selfish kind of hate, because people promote these lies so they can feel OK about their own sin.
I would venture a guess that we are the first people you’ve ever met who truly love you.
If you are going to present yourself as a Bible scholar, you should tell the truth about the Bible. The scriptures don’t say “women have no place in the church.” Rather, the New Testament is plain on the requirement that women remain silent during the worship service and not pretend to be preachers. They are supposed to be present, singing the hymns, listening and learning, and fully engaged otherwise in the ministering to the saints and publishing the word of truth.
That’s God’s standard, and there are a lot of good reasons for it enunciated in these passages. You hate this standard as much as you hate the standard against anal copulation.
That’s because you hate God.
Meanwhile, you testify in your column to the good information the young people on that picket line kindly gave you.
You don’t refute the points they made: that the media is awash in promoting this filth and that God doesn’t love an unrepentant proud sinner. Instead, you fill up space with wallowing-will-worship that adds nothing to the discussion and merely further deludes your readers. All fluff; no stuff.
The good news is that this qualifies you to be a card-carrying member of the American media!
A final word about judgment. If you truly believed you shouldn’t judge, you would have never written your editorial. Because it’s nothing but a loosely-knit, weakly-reasoned judgment against us.
If you carefully consider the very words you quoted, you will see that it says if you set up a standard by which you judge, you will be held to that standard.
Alicia, you set up the Great Non-Judgment Standard, and measured against that standard, you failed! That makes you nothing more than another garden variety big, fat hypocrite!
Margie J. Phelps