Should selective equality be reformed?
I just finished a documentary that was released in 2000 called “Hatemongers: the story of Fred Phelps.” The director, a member of Phelp’s church, created a relatively unbiased image of, what he calls, a “misunderstood man.” Various segments of the documentary featured gays, Billy Graham crusade attendees and politicians attempting to deface and devalue Rev. Phelps’ approach to evangelism. In response, Phelps argued that it is his mission, in this life, to preach the gospel of “fire and brimstone” against the “fags, fag-enablers and backslidden Christians of Godless America.”
At first, because of my own orientation and Christian background, I was outraged and immediately branded Mr. Phelps a closed-minded, simplistic and evil man but then I began to contemplate his message, scriptural validity and personal history.
In 1985 one of Phelps’ own sons was propositioned for gay sex in a family-friendly park in Kansas. Shortly thereafter Phelps began a small campaign to protect his town’s children from the same dangers by picketing signs that warned parents about the secretive homosexual activity taking place in this park. Within hours he and his family were attacked and dismantled. This urged Phelps to begin studying exactly what, he believed, the Bible said about homosexuality. His “discoveries” challenged him to begin educating the world through the use of banners that spoke of “the truth” about God’s hatred for homosexuals and homosexuality.
An overwhelming sense of heartbreak consumed me as I realized this man is not championing for God but rather is moving on a fuel of hatred that began when his own son (his children are precious to him) was propositioned. He has not forgiven those men and has perverted God and the “word of God” because of his own self-denying passion to protect his children. Can I argue with that? Can I call a man who will sacrifice the foundation of his faith and belief, for the love of his son, evil?
Then I began to think about the vast majority and their desire to rid the world of the likes of Fred Phelps and his message. An action that, if successful, would shatter the very foundation of democracy as we know it and risk destroying the integrity of “precedents.” Yet, in the name of our own comfort and desire for tolerance, we are willing to abolish opinion and create “selective equality.”
Please understand that my views and opinions do not parallel Mr. Phelps in the least but I believe that if this country does anything to stand in his way (democratically speaking) we risk losing our own freedoms and the freedoms of the generation we leave behind. I believe in reformation through the transformation of the heart and mind through education and friendly exposure but how can one pursue equality if, part of the driving force, is to segregate its meaning and apply labels to people like Mr. Phelps?
Is there a compromise? Is it even possible to reform selective equality before it infringes on this democracy? Could it be democracy itself needs reformation?
I want to be able to legally marry my fiance in the state of California. I want gay pride fairs to, some day, be irrelevant to society because of the advancement in tolerance. I want a country that does not fear their children being shot because one boy gave another boy a valentine but I don’t want any of that if it means governmentally silencing Fred Phelps.
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