In the wake of the tragedy of Aurora, Colorado, I give you another reason why people aren’t Christians.
I could spend all day everyday on why Westboro Baptist Church makes it hard for the rest of Christianity. The members and leader of Westboro Baptist have made waves for protesting homosexuals, preaching that homosexuality is a sin and because of this sin God is punishing the United States by allowing terrible acts to occur and not protecting US soldiers in the country’s current conflicts overseas. Because of this belief, this group has also begun a tradition of picketing at solider funerals which has caused national outrage.
Well the people from Westboro are at it again.
According to their fearless leader, Fred Phelps, the membership of Westboro are going to Colorado to protest during a vigil for the those killed at the “Dark Knight Rises” premiere. See the tweet below and read the story here
Fred Phelps Jr (@WBCFredJr) July 22, 2012
One of the many problems I have with Westboro Baptist Church is that in my humble theological opinion they are completely distorting the gospel message. Their message is one that is egocentric and one where to have a relationship with God one must also be completely afraid of messing up. This is not the relationship that God is calling humanity to be in. This theological construct makes God look worse than a bully god, rather this particular understanding of God is one where God is a supreme overlord of hate and destruction. No grace, no love, no care, no forgiveness, no acceptance of others. To the members of Westboro Baptist, God is a God who likes things separated into either this or that, your either in or out and surprisingly they believe they are on the “right” side of God, that they believe the correct theological understanding and they have it all figured out.
In this particular situation, how does protesting a vigil aimed at bringing a community together and remember the loss of innocent life bring people to God? Answer in a nutshell, it doesn’t it. Do they truly believe that the family of the 12 people murdered want to hear that God in punishing America because of their ‘wicked ways’ and this same God chose their loved ones out of the 300 million people in the United States to suffer this punishment? Where do they get off thinking that they have the audacity to speak this vile non-sense to the people of Aurora, Colorado? And who would ever want to worship this particular God? And isn’t convenient that they just happen to believe the perfect belief system that God is calling humanity to follow?
Westboro Baptist has been one of the several black eyes that has plagued the world of Christianity. Their message is one filled with righteous indignation. I guess their Bible left out the whole “speck in your neighbor’s eye and log in your own” message of Jesus and the one about the unity and ministry of all believers. While they are busy wasting money promoting the anti-gospel, imagine what good they could have done if they had saved their money (which by the way was donated to the church) and used it for a cause like stopping poverty, violence, rape. Why not give the money to organization that provide clean water for millions of people who do not have access to it? Is their God a God who is solely concerned with homosexuality and “wickedness” that the rest of the gospel message doesn’t matter? I find this hard to believe.
Followers of Christ from all walks of life are called to bring the gospel message of love, joy, peace, grace and reconciliation to the world. It through this love of Christ and devotion to God that one makes the choice to live a different life. It is not “live a different life so God will accept you”, rather it is accepting God will cause a life change. It will because of the overwhelming presence of God and the awareness of the Spirit that will cause the change. Changing for the sake of pleasing a mean, bully, hate-filled God doesn’t help anyone.
The people of Aurora, Colorado need comfort in a time of complete uncertainty and loss. It is not a time to put salt in already gaping wound.
I hope that the people of Aurora will do what the people of College Station, Texas did and make a wall of people around the protestors so that family members and loved ones can mourn, remember and grieve in peace.
And Mr. Phelps or any member of Westboro Baptist Church if you are reading this, go back to your Bible and count the number of times Christ calls us to love one another despite our differences. You might be surprised… Christ tends to focus on it a lot.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of the people of Aurora as well as those who are going to protest.