Westboro’s Comeuppance

I’ve only posted once here in the past three or four years about Westboro Baptist Church and their lunatic ideas. I will repeat what I said then: that they aren’t trying to recruit, they are comprised entirely of the extended family of Fred Phelps, Sr., and the best thing to do with a group like this is often to simply ignore them. They’re after attention and deliberately trying to incite people to violence so they can become honest-to-Fred martyrs.

That said, I can’t blame the military families and friends who have nearly become violent with them. According to ihatethemedia and thehayride, the folks of a little town called Brandon, Mississippi, found a whole new way to deal with the Phelpsians.

Now, a little piece of the public safety worker in me doesn’t want to condone the first part, but the hot-blooded American that I am can’t help but feel some justification for it (if it’s true). There is a claim floating around that a male member of WBC was assaulted after he ran his yap at a gas station; if this had really happened, I promise they would have bleated it from the highest skyscraper in America and demanded justice. Instead, the members are denying that anyone was assaulted on the WBC website (no, I will NOT link it here). I can’t find much news about it – actually, I can’t find any verifiable reports on national media just yet – but that very night, before USMC SSgt. Jason Rogers was laid to rest in his hometown, a whole ‘nother form of peaceful counterprotest took place.

The Phelpsians woke at their hotel to find all of their vehicles boxed in. What’s more, the sole police wrecker in town was apparently busy and couldn’t tow the vehicles that were blocking them. A handful eventually made it to the funeral to protest, but they were escorted away by police. Reports that I’m getting say they weren’t arrested, they were merely asked to come in for questioning.

So, if you wanna know how to deal with WBC, just wait ’til they come to your town, find out where they’re staying, get a hundred friends or so and block their vehicles in so bad it’ll take a tow truck hours to dig ’em out. I don’t think there’s anything illegal about that.

When Rights Collide

US Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder loved his country. Immediately after graduating high school in 2003 he enlisted to serve his country. Then, in early 2006 Matthew died in a non-combat vehicle accident in Anbar, Iraq. In the aftermath, his father Albert described Iraq as a senseless war but honored his son’s memory and love for the Marine Corps. He was shocked when members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church showed up to picket at the funeral. Carrying signs saying “Thank God for IED’s,” “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Troops Die God Laughs,” “USMC Fags,” “Semper Fi Fags” and “God Hates Fag Enablers” the Phelpsians have picketed hundreds of funerals for troops returning home for their final welcome. They have staged such shows for no other reason than to earn notoriety and garner hatred against themselves (thus making themselves “martyrs” in their own minds).

I’ve talked about the Phelpsians before. I refuse to follow them closely because they don’t deserve the attention they’re seeking. I agreed with Albert Snyder, though; he refused to take it on the sidelines. He sued WBC for punitive damages and in 2008, the court awarded him more than $5M. The decision was overturned on appeal by a court that argued upholding the Phelps’ First Amendment rights. Then they took it a step further yesterday. Despite the US Supreme Court agreeing to hear the case late this year, the appeals court outrageously ordered Albert Snyder to pay WBC’s legal fees. They total in excess of $16,500.

While Snyder has flat refused to pay Phelps’ legal fees, Bill O’Reilly has offered to pay them in full as Snyder is struggling to pay his own legal fees (take THAT, liberal FOX haters) and Phelps will be as mean and nasty as he can legally be in forcing Snyder to pay. Know what’ll happen if SCOTUS rules in Snyders’ favor and orders Phelps to give it all back? There won’t be a snowball’s chance in hell Phelps will pay a red cent.

Regardless, this wasn’t about stifling free speech. I’ll be the first to defend Phelps’ right to spew his hate, even to the point of giving his troupe a police guard outside Houston Pride if he chooses to picket there. At funerals, however, is where the line is drawn.

There is a certain limit to free speech, picketing and public displays. Never did the founders believe that the First Amendment was an all-encompassing pass to behave as we wish. We have to walk a tightrope when applying those rights and choosing to limit them. I believe a certain amount of public decency should be enforced. I believe this should cover all funerals, regardless of whether I agree with the decedent or disagree.

I have friends who still live in Littleton who, to this day, bear the scars of the shooting in 1999 that killed thirteen innocent souls and wounded nearly two dozen. Along with them, I felt a deep anger for Harris and Klebold. I believe it is a shame, however, that the shooters’ families had to bury their sons in unmarked plots and must be very careful when they visit for fear of the plots being discovered (if they ever get to visit). I believe even their parents should have been allowed to bury them in peace, and when parents angry about losing their beautiful children pulled down the two crosses on the hill overlooking the school out of anger they were wrong. Justice should be done. If the parents can be found complicit in allowing their children to have the freedom to commit these crimes, then by all means, let the law be properly interpreted, but no matter what, even for the family of a monster like John Wayne Gacy, some privacy and dignity should be allowed. That is one process with which we should not interfere.

Look at it from another angle…the First Amendment gives us five distinct rights: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances, freedom of religion, and freedom to peaceably assemble. Check the wording again…word-for-word, the First Amendment says, [Congress shall enact no law abridging] the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” That does not mean you can gather an angry lynch mob for street justice, it does not mean you can incite a riot or take part in a riot. It means you may peacefully assemble, whether to protest or take part in a religious ceremony. It must be peaceful otherwise it runs afoul of the Constitution itself.

By gathering to protest in the manner that WBC uses, they are deliberately and openly trying to incite violence against themselves. Once someone comes within light years of said violence, they videotape it (or use a counter-protester’s video) and proclaim it from the highest point they can find. They have rights, but so do we. The Snyders had rights, too. What happens when rights collide? Do we merely revert to the tried-and-true First Amendment argument that blankets all protest activity and give them a pass to cheerfully incite us to violence so they can have their self-fulfilling martyrdom?

Or do we agree that the First Amendment also covers those of us who wish to grieve in peace?

The American Legion has set up a fund to help Mr. Snyder pay his legal fees. Click here to find out how you can help.

Megalomania

I’m still a Christian.

Those who didn’t know me ten years ago would laugh hysterically at that statement. They didn’t know me before I worked as a corrections officer (both youth and adults) and was actually in the ministry. I didn’t have a foul mouth until I had to police the worst of society’s worst, nor did I have the dark outlook on life that I carry now. I also hadn’t had my heart ripped out by a she-devil in a San Diego PD uniform. I make no apologies much of the time for my rough-around-the-edges personality because that’s not really me. My shrink says it’s a defense mechanism that is basically my subconscious self saying, “well, if you can get past my gruff exterior, then I can trust you!”

I don’t believe that going against the teachings of the church causes an automatic falling-out with God, and I no longer trust everything taught in church. I still believe in the basic tenets of Christianity and believe, from experience, that there are plenty of real Christians in our society that few people ever recognize because they spend too much time expecting Christians to be bible-thumping weirdos. The church is not God, and in the New Testament Christ frequently speaks harshly against religious leaders who think themselves to be better than others.

Then…there’s the Phelpsians. Followers of Fred Phelps, that is. He’s the “senior pastor” of a “church” in Topeka, Kansas, that made their splash onto the national scene in 1991 by picketing gays in Gage Park. Fred later got into a violent verbal row with poet Maya Angelou, who canceled an appearance in Topeka without delay. I guess the attention they received from their first big funeral picket – Matthew Shepard’s- was like a drug, because after that, they refused to quit. Since Shepard’s funeral, their pickets have grown in every way. They’ve brought more people, their signs have improved to be sharper and more eye-catching, and they’ve written new lyrics to well-known songs to get even more attention. Their website is called “godhatesfags.”

If you’ve noticed, Phelps is typically little more than a passing joke here at gayconservative.org (if that). I don’t harp on the Phelpsians’ antics. I don’t follow them much anymore, though before I came out I did, because even then I recognized how wrong, how downright evil they were. I’ve always been a very spiritual person and when I first met Shirley Phelps-Roper in the flesh, I felt a darkness about her that I had not even felt about the worst prison inmates. Something insidious made the hair stand up all over my body. The mere sound of her voice when she first spoke to me (when I offered my hand she said, “I’m not touching you, I don’t know where that hand’s been. You’ve cast your lot with the Sodomites…”) triggered something in some untouched corner of my soul that screamed to get away from these people as quickly as was humanly possible. I’ve seen some pretty eerie stuff, and I’ve felt spiritual fear about people before, but this was unlike anything I had ever experienced.

On that day in downtown Phoenix while I was still barely into my 20’s, I had an encounter that I never expected. Prior to that day I had no idea who these people were, only that they were picketing our state capitol building because we had an openly gay Republican senator (Steve May, my hero to this very day). I began reading every little scrap of information I could about them. What I found was absolutely chilling.

Today, three of Fred’s 13 children have left. All three tell the same story: that Fred had extreme obsessive and psychotically maniacal tendencies, was a drug abuser, and severely abused his children emotionally, physically and spiritually. The man would latch onto an idea and hound it to death, dragging his family the whole way. He beat his wife, even forcibly sheared her hair off once. I know that at least one of his grandchildren has left but have not yet found if more followed. If you care to gouge out your eyes after doing so–I certainly wanted to, I was pretty sure a lobotomy was in order as well–you can click here to read Shirley’s most recent writings.

What strikes me the most about this group, though, is that they’re not out to convert anybody. They seriously aren’t. Sure, they get the occasional email praising their work, but I would be pretty sure at least some are joke emails and the senders hoot and howl when the emails are posted on the Phelpsians’ blog. Some time ago (I think the letter has been removed by now), one person wrote and asked to be allowed to join WBC’s ranks; the letter seemed sincere. Equally as sincere was Shirley’s rebuke, telling this person that WBC had been appointed by God to do great things, nobody could join them, and the writer should have been ashamed for not knowing this before asking. This is in line with their extreme Calvinist views: they’re not out to save people or convert them. They’re out to warn everyone that we’re all going to hell.

It is because of this that I believe these scripture-abusing freaks should largely be ignored. They may call it love even though we know it’s hate. They may never quit. But if you notice, not one writer has said anything to them that is really unique. They really have heard it all, and they’ve got an excuse for everything. They believe themselves to be persecuted when they’re followed and they deliberately do the things they do to attract that persecution. They want you to hate them because it validates their behavior. 95% of the country knows they’re wrong.

Consider this scripture, from Romans 14:10-13: “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘as I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this–not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” Or this scripture, from I John 4:10: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” That kinda takes the wind out of their “born into salvation” sail, don’t you think?

Ezekiel chapter 16 lays out why God destroyed Sodom. At no point is homosexuality listed or even hinted at (I’m sorry, but “indulgences” is just a little too broad to make that leap). Jesus Himself said, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Notice, He doesn’t confine that statement–that kills the “thank God for dead soldiers” ideas.) “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Exactly what about their methods can be considered ‘gentle’?) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (What about those who hunger and thirst for publicity?) “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Most importantly, I think, is “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (You cannot claim to be a peacemaker when your actions are designed to divide and have absolutely no justice in them.)

In the same passage is where Jesus goes on to bless those who are persecuted. THAT is why we need to just leave these people alone. That scripture is what they hold onto. What about their claim that they do what they do out of love? The bible has an answer for that, too.

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

I don’t hate these people. They’re little more than an irritation to me. They don’t get a reaction out of me because I see what they are. I don’t bother writing because they’ll likely have heard it and will show no respect (they never do). In some cases, speaking in protest is needed. In others, such as this case, it is best to ignore them. That will take their power away. I promise if we stop being so upset by them we’ll wake up to some new tactic to get our attention because that’s all they really want.

Don’t give it to them.

Making Sense of the Phelps

I try not to make it a point to discuss things that seem silly.  I did comment on this horrid crowd of people at one time, but I always make it a point to thoroughly investigate and read up on people that make me very sick – which explains my dislike of Obama incidentally.  So, I read some articles, watched an entire documentary on the Westboro Baptist Church where they allowed a man to come in and spend a few days with them.  He got to know the entire family and other than the picket scenes where they go, they turned out to be a normal interacting family that were courteous to him.

They lost my interest though after a few things:  1.) When asked a series of questions, Fred Phelps (the originator) was condescending and rude, avoided answering questions, and basically told the fella he was doomed for hell.  2.) The fact he was so unlike them, yet, it was okay to bring him in sort of proved to me that this was a crusade of folks looking for media attention – and searching it out every chance they get.

Finally, tonight I stumbled upon three videos.  The first was a parody of “We Are the World” where the Phelps re-wrote the words to the same melody and re-titled it “God Hates the World.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4-_Z79d098]

In the video – they depict everyone from Jerry Falwell, to the US Military, to President Bush as people doomed for hell.  What I found interesting was the comment sections where extremist atheist types commented on why Christianity is bad and why God is a crock.

It all began to make sense of why the popularity of these lunatics has increased so much.  Two things are served.  First, the apparent starving media whores they are – in search of their own riches – will do ANYTHING for attention.  Second, it gives the irreligious basis for denouncing religion and Christianity as a whole.  While Shirley Phelps-Roper remarks about “fags eating feces” it seems they are licking the behinds of the atheists and vice-versa.  (Sort of like Democrats in Congress that love for blacks and gays to continue feeling like victims to prey on both communities for votes.)

That, plus the fact that Christ died for all sins.  Can you imagine the poor Lord (according to the gospel of the Westboro Baptist Church) having these folks as His eternal company?  Talk about wrath!

Moving ahead, there was one final 2-part video that caught my attention of a street evangelist who called the Westboro Baptist Church over one of their latest websites entitled “God Hates Ireland!”  The fella was Irish and apparently had a bone to pick with Fred Phelps’ granddaughter, Sarah.  You can tell by her jumpiness that he gave her a biblical run for her money. 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfKV1A5Qdo8&feature=related]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiCOura-zQ4&feature=related]

In ending, he makes an excellent point.  If God had this “wrath” as they proclaim, why would He selectively destroy one person, slowly, at a time?  Could he just wipe all the “bad people” out at once?

Part of their rationale explains that soldiers in Iraq are dying solely because of God’s wrath on America particularly for accepting homosexuality.  This doesn’t make sense on the basis that we lost 600,000 in the Civil War, 300,000 in WW2, and 60,000 in Vietnam.  We now know the war in Iraq is being won, the terrorists are running for cover, Iraq’s army is stronger than ever, violence has dropped massively to the point where even the media has stopped writing about the war since there is barely anything negative to report.

Everything accomplished by our great military, at the cost of 3,000 greatest Americans, and comparing this to the numbers of Americans lost in previous wars, wouldn’t this mean that God must be in a pretty good mood now?

They’re attention whores and liberals love them because it allows them to denounce Christianity.  Beware of future conversations with liberals as they use this in their arsenal of irreligious arguments. 

Extremism is Extremism – Just say “No!” to it….

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q4qvZWFqjQ]

And it doesn’t matter which side you are batting for, either.

Many gay writers have been astonished that Shirley Phelps (“God Hates Fags” Westboro Baptist Church Leader) was on a CBS Logo (gay network) alongside a “gay activist” who gets along with and has respect for Shirley.  For the two seconds he is reasonable, he admits Phelps and her family are intelligent and articulate people.  I’ve always felt this way and whenever they go onto talk shows (Tyra Banks) and speak on Fox News, they usually outwit the people trying to debate them.  They are all educated attorneys and hold a solid belief and stand for it.

Who cares?

But then the “gay activist” moves right next to Shirley’s anti-gay extremism by insinuating that any person in the world against gay marriage is homophobic.

That’s a very extreme position to take.

I hate when people counter extremists like Shirley Phelps or align themelves with her by being just as extreme.  When a youtuber posts videos on the Phelps, many activists and irreligious FANATICS come out of their ratholes to use the Phelps family as representatives of all Christians.  That’s right.  Through their own hatred of God and Christianity, they conveniently jump on the position of “this is why Christianity is bad for America.”

I know many Christians.  They really couldn’t care less that I am gay.  If they disagree with my lifestytle, the worst that they can do is pray for me, right?  If they disagree though with the concept of two men marrying under the same jurisdiction as a man and a woman, why are we so quick to take the extreme position of labeling them as homophobic?

It’s just the same when Al Sharpton labels anyone racist who wanted Tookie Williams executed, who wanted the officers in the Sean Bell case acquited, and who uses the term “ho” every now and again.

Why not we drop the extremes altogether?  The next time you hear one out of someone sitting across from you – no matter which side they are batting on, make sure to remind them that they really are no different than the ones they are complaining about.