Bullies are usually cowards.
That has been my general experience.
Those who use violent actions or violent words to intimidate or harm others are virtually always cowards.
Turns out the hatemongers of the so-called Westboro Baptist Church are cowards.
These false Christians are well known in the US for picketing gay themed events. When a young gay man in Wyoming, Matthew Sheppard, was crucified (yes, literally crucified on a fence and left to die) by gay-bashers, these faux Christians picketed his funeral bearing signs saying, among other vile messages, "God Hates Fags."
They picketed the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Same signs.
Of late, they've decided to spread their hatemongering filth farther afield. They've taken to picketing the funerals of US servicemen and women. Not that these Iraq and Afghanistan war dead are gay. (After all, don't ask, don't tell). They picket because they claim the deaths of these young men and women are part of God's curse on the US, not for illegally invading another country, but for tolerating homosexuals.
The faux Christians recently decided that God hates Canada too - and intended to picket the funeral of Greyhound Bus victim Tim McLean.
These faux Christians sure have some wierd "logic." Y'know, I can actually follow their twisted "rationale" for picketing the Sheppard funeral and the Robinson ordination. The US servicefolk is a bit of a stretch, but these young men and women did die as agents of a government the faux Christians believe is cursed.
But I can't follow the logic to why they would threaten to picket the funeral of Tim McLean. He was a carnival worker, not an agent of his government. As far as can be seen from media reports, he wasn't connected to gay culture or the Government of Canada.
Of course, the Westboro Baptists aren't about logic. They're about hate.
Our Public Safety Minister, Stockwell Day - himself an evangelical Christian and a conservative on gay rights issues - was quick to take the proper course of action. He ordered that this band of American haters not be admitted to Canada. I may not agree with Stockwell Day about gay rights and gay marriage - or about much else for that matter. But good for him. Clearly, while he believes homosexuality is sinful, he understands that no person is beyond God's love. God - the real one - does NOT "hate fags."
It seems the order was enough. The hatemongers never did turn up. Oh yes, some were turned away at the border. The Westboro faux Christians boldly declared they'd sneak across elsewhere to picket the funeral.
But, like all cowards, they ended up backing down. Apparently, they didn't turn up.
What happened to Tim McLean was horrible enough. Tim's family didn't need delusional hatemongers making it any worse.
Pray for Tim McLean, for his family and his friends.
Pray for Vince Weiguang Li, who is clearly a very disturbed person, and for his family.
And pray for the people of Westboro Baptist Church, that they may come to know the true God, to understand the compassion and love of Christ, and to repent of their blasphemy.
Anyway, it got me thinking.
What is our proper response, as Christians, to those who preach hate in the name of the God of love?
After all, secular gay rights organizations can certainly counter-protest. But we Christians have a particular responsibility to publicly proclaim that the hate these people preach is the antithesis of the Gospel and that whatever god they worship, it is NOT the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
The GAFFEPRONE banning gaffe gave me an idea.
Whenever and wherever the Westboro Baptist Church goes to protest, local Christians should gather, surround them, and sing uplifting hymns about God's love.
It doesn't have to be just liberal Christians. Real conservative Christians, whatever they may think about homosexuality, would still condemn this anti-gospel message.
Clergy should come dressed in clericals, religious as religious. Wear whatever you may have that specifically identifies you as a Christian. Carry banners proclaiming God's love. Carry the cross.
Surround these people who are blaspheming against the gospel and sing, sing, sing!
Sing Jesus Love Me.
Sing Amazing Grace.
Sing All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name.
Sing O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
O sing joyfully, O sing joyfully unto God our strength.
Make a cheerful noise, make a cheerful noise unto the God of Jacob.
Consider the unquenchable love of God and think, How can I keep from singing?
That'll show 'em.