On January 29th, 2010, the followers of Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, descended on Gunn High School, Palo Alto CA, to spread their message of hate. They sported signs that said, â€œGod Hates Youâ€, â€œGod Hates Americaâ€, â€œYour Doom Is Comingâ€, â€œGod Hates Obamaâ€ and â€œBloody Obamaâ€. They picked on Gunn High School because of a number of recent suicides in front of trains of kids who were associated with the school, events that have traumatized students at the school.
The Westboro extremists were there to rub it in. â€œYouâ€™ll be in front of the train next! God laughs at your calamity!â€ Phelpsâ€™s daughter shouted. â€œSodomites,â€ they sang, â€œyour kids are killed by trains.â€ The Sodom reference is key, for these hate-mongers have a homophobic fixation and believe that the acceptance of homosexuality is the root of all evil.
Fortunately, the Gunn students and teachers rallied, and with support from the community and many students from other nearby schools, they met the messages of hate and evil spite with signs proclaiming love, with songs and with support of each other, so much so that their unity was an uplifting, inspiring experience. As one student said, â€œIt really helped to pull us together.â€
The Westboro group then took its hate to sinful Stanford University, only to be met by a large crowd of students, the school mascot, the outrageous Stanford band and a lone piper playing â€œAmazing Graceâ€. It was a message of love mixed with humor to counter those poisoned with hate from Kansas. A student posed with the extremists, holding a sign that said, â€œGays for Fred Phelps.â€
How can a â€œChristianâ€ group like this be so filled with hate when the Christian message is so full of love? Only once did Jesus show a flash of hate, and that was when the Greek woman kept bugging him to cast the demon out of her daughter (Mark 7:26-29). Because she was a gentile, not a Jew, he called her a dog: â€œIt is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogsâ€. But he quickly relented when she replied, â€œYet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.â€ Jesus also showed anger at the desecration of the temple by profiteers, but this was not hate.
Phelps obviously has his own thing going (which is definitely not Christian), and his irrational paranoia about homosexuality says a lot about his own demons.