God is Hate II

(See also the “God is Hate” post of January 31.)

Satan’s favorite Christians, homophobe Fred Phelps and his rabid band of followers at Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, Kansas, (mostly members of his own family), have for some time emotionally and psychologically harassed grieving families of dead soldiers at their funerals. They do so by holding signs saying, “God Hates You,” “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Thank God for IEDs,” “God Hates Your Tears,” “Fag Troops,” and many that are more offensive.

This happened at the funeral of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder who was killed in combat in Iraq on March 3, 2006. Here the group also included a sign that said, “Matt in Hell.” It was never suggested that Snyder was gay, but Phelps claims he died because he fought for a country that condones homosexuality. He also said on his web site that Matthew’s father “raised him for the devil.”

Albert Snyder, Matthew’s father, sued for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury agreed, but this was later overturned by the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeal on the basis of the First Amendment, guaranteeing free speech. Now the matter is before the Supreme Court, and it is hoped that this court will find a way to do the decent thing.

It is unfortunate that basic human dignity and respect for intensely personal issues do not enter into considerations of free speech. But surely what Phelps and his minions have done is a gross violation of basic rights. They do have the right to express their views, however evil they may be, but one’s rights are limited when they intrude on someone else’s rights and privacy. Grief is a necessary step in restoring one’s self and one’s life; there is no question in my mind that in seeking to deny both the grief and the dignity of laying a loved one to rest, these hatemongers have intruded on the rights of the mourning family. It was not as if the family of Matthew Snyder could turn away. If someone wants to debase a funeral, the mourners are trapped, and the forces of evil are victorious.

If Phelps really wants to deal with the issue of homosexuality, he should look within himself. His extreme homophobia suggests that he is struggling to deal with strong homosexual urges of his own. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will rule to restore the judgment against him as well as the damages award that the original jury imposed, in effect curtailing his hate mongering. This will give him more time to examine his own deep motives.

God is Hate

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, “God Hates You”, “God Hates America”, “Your Doom Is Coming”, “God Hates Obama” and “Bloody Obama”. 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. “You’ll be in front of the train next! God laughs at your calamity!” Phelps’s daughter shouted. “Sodomites,” they sang, “your kids are killed by trains.” 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, “It really helped to pull us together.”

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 “Amazing Grace”. 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, “Gays for Fred Phelps.”

How can a “Christian” 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: “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs”. But he quickly relented when she replied, “Yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.” 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.