Godliness

I just finished watching a six part BBC series on the Westboro Baptist Church, which I must say rather filled me with rage. Given the tactics of the church, they will probably be pleased to hear this, since they seem to be all about inciting rage and hatred.

You can check the parts out on YouTube: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six. But prepare to get very, very grumpy. I defy any sane person to view the antics of this cultish church without feeling a little hot around the collar. If you live under a rock, you can pick up some info about the “church” here. I’ll wait, it’s cool.

Now, when I first saw photographs of members of the church picketing, I wondered why it was, exactly, that God hated bundles of sticks. I later realized that the church actually means that God hates homosexuals. While people are certainly entitled to believe that, this church takes things a step further, picketing the funerals of dead American soldiers with their hate speech. They do this because they believe that America is doomed for its “tolerance” of the “homosexual agenda.” And that the war was brought about by God, who rejoices every time a soldier dies.

I’m sorry, but no sane person can possibly think that picketing a funeral is appropriate. It is certainly find to hold your beliefs, and to talk to other people about them. But a funeral marks a period of reflection and mourning, and to bring a political agenda into the cemetery…no. I cannot hold with that sort of thing.

I really have a tough time with things like this because I literally cannot comprehend them. I do not understand how people could hate something, or someone, so much. Watching this documentary was interesting, because I saw the rampant intolerance, the avoidance of answering any questions, and, perhaps most tragically, the brainwashing of small children. It was also deeply disturbing to see a so-called “Christian church” preaching hatred, rather than love, which was the primary message of Christ in my opinion. Dismaying, is perhaps the word I want here.

I was not aware that the members of the church live together in a compound. But it’s “not a commune,” oh, no. It just so happens that no one in the church has friends outside of the church, and they all live together because they like it. This sounds an awful lot like a cult to me, especially hearing some of the people within the church talk. I was saddened as I listened to young women spout intolerance and hatred, gleefully telling the film maker that he would go to hell.

You see, the members of the church are stoked that people are going to hell. In the first segment, an interviewee mockingly says: “you think our job is to win souls to Christ,” when the filmmaker asks her why the church takes such extreme tactics. She goes on to explain that the mission of the church is alerting people to the fact they are going to hell. Not, oh, I don’t know, trying to save people, which is an admirable goal of many churches. Just informing people that their nation is doomed and that they are going to hell. The end. No redemption.

The most sad thing, for me, though, was watching the really young children. Seeing six and seven year olds spewing hate and vitriol is rather tragic. These kids are raised in the church (which curiously seems to forbid marriage…apparently no one remembers what happened to the Shakers). The kids never have a chance to learn about any other life, they just grow up waving placards and being hated. What does that do to your mind, and why hasn’t Child Services stepped in?

The Phelps family says that it is “America’s most hated family,” and they may well be right. It’s sad to think that they are pleased about it, though. I suppose that as long as the media keeps giving them attention, they will keep spreading a message of hate, and people will keep reacting to it. It’s a rather brilliant cycle, really, because it is hard to respond to the church with anything other than disgust and hate.

The film maker obviously had a rough time. He looks very uncomfortable in all of the shots, like he very much wishes he was someone else. But he certainly gave it a shot. He tried to talk reasonably with members of the church, and didn’t really get anywhere. The thought that people really do think this way is rather horrifying. I suppose that they could say the same thing about me, but at least I try to avoid imposing my views on others. What sort of world do we live in?

Fortunately, a world where the Patriot Guard Riders steps forward to shield families at funerals from protesters. From their mission: “We don’t care what you ride or if you ride, what your political views are, or whether you’re a hawk or a dove. It is not a requirement that you be a veteran. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your income is; you don’t even have to ride.” Now that there is a hearty dose of tolerance. It must drive the Westboro Baptist Church absolutely batty.