Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dealing with hate

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.


Huw Richardson said...

Given their propensity to file law suits against anyone who talks to them in public, to spit in the face of people who get to close and to toss in the air any food offered them (as was done at Matt's memorial service) the ECUSA lawyers at the last general convention advised people simply to ignore them and have no contact with them whatsoever - especially since any such contact in the media usually gets spun into "Christians fighting with Christians!"

Malcolm+ said...

The Canadian judiciary is less tolerant of frivolous lawsuits.

And their blasphemous "God Hates Fags" schtick is prohibited hate speech under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Huw Richardson said...

Yes, indeed. But since Fred is banned at the border of Canada, I took your post to offer advice in the only context left to him: the various US fora he protests on a regular basis.

In the US he has a tendency to file lawsuits willy-nilly and, worse, many of his congregants are lawyers who do the work pro-bono. The rest of us are stuck with the legal bills.

I think it would be an interesting exercise in "turn the other cheek" to engage Fred as what he claims to be: a Christian rather than as a legal target. Granted he already doubts our faith (yours and mine) as Anglicans *at all* well before we get to issues of sexuality simply because we have "mass" and "priests". But, still, it would be an interesting exercise.

Malcolm+ said...

The thing is, I think, don't bother trying to engage them directly. Just surround them and sing.

And I suspect we might be able to find the odd Christian lawyer, or the odd LGBT lawyer, or the odd Christian LGBT lawyer, or even just the odd decent human being lawyer who would be prepared to counter these litigious haters pro bono filing for pro bono filing.

June Butler said...

Malcom, they picketed our little church. They came to town because folks at the local university were establishing a chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance. They figured that while they were in town, they'd picket five churches. I mean, what the hell? Why not?

They are careful to stay within the law and the boundaries about distance that the local authorities set. If the authorities overstep their bounds, and infringe on their free speech, they are quick to sue.

They marched with their despicable signs, shouting hateful words for half an hour and then moved on to the next church. Meanwhile, we were inside carrying on with the service, worshiping, singing our hymns and ignoring them.

We don't need to ask if these folks are going to hell. They're living in hell right now, consumed by hate, their lives' work being to spread hate. They have children with them in their demonstrations. I think this is child abuse. I don't know why the child welfare services don't look into this. Think of those poor children growing up in that atmosphere, taught to hate every single day of their lives.

June Butler said...

PS: A young gay man from our church knelt outside and prayed for them for the entire half hour from a short distance away.

Malcolm+ said...

Grandmere, your comment about the young gay man kneeling and praying for them made my eyes well up. How can I keep from singing?

June Butler said...

To picket funerals and expose grieving families to their ugliness is despicable. That's the very worst of what they do.