General Question

ubersiren's avatar

Do you know anyone who approves of the Westboro Baptist Church?

Asked by ubersiren (15200points) April 5th, 2009

In case you’re unfamiliar with them, this is their website. They believe that 9/11 was God punishing us for our tolerance of gay people. That sort of thing. They picket funerals of dead soldiers saying it’s God’s blessing as a punishment. They are led by Pastor Fred Phelps and at his side is his nut job daughter, Shirley Phelps. Do other Christians believe they are doing the Bible justice?

Does anyone outside their fellowship think they are right, or normal, or sane? I’d like to hear some arguments supporting their teachings and preachings.

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60 Answers

casheroo's avatar

I don’t know anyone that approves of them. I wouldn’t want to associate with anyone that did.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

The only members of that sorry excuse for a church are all related to Fred Phelps. I think that says plenty about how other Christians view his ‘message.’

Judi's avatar

People judge Christ by people who claim to follow him way to often. Most Christians are embarrassed that a guy like that would align himself with Christianity.

Facade's avatar

@Judi Exactly. Don’t lump all Christians in with the fanatics.

ubersiren's avatar

@Judi : That’s what I suspected, I just didn’t know if there were any other individuals or sects of Christianity that thought similarly to this.

@Facade : I wasn’t lumping all Christians into the fanatics category. I was wondering if anyone agreed with them and could explain why they think/act this way.

augustlan's avatar

If there is a god, that man will rot in hell. The sooner the better.

casheroo's avatar

i can’t wait to see what asmonet has to say, she’s been typing for quite a while

ubersiren's avatar

@casheroo : I know! I saw that she’d been typing a while, so I went and made a bologna sandwich hoping to have her answer as dessert. But, she’s still typing so I’m now forced to have a Cadbury Creme Egg.

casheroo's avatar

it’s another judi situation. ahh, what question did that happen on??

ubersiren's avatar

What’s a Judi situation?

Holy crap, she’s still typing! Someone might want to check and see if she’s passed out on her keyboard.

Judi's avatar

@ubersiren ; I would like to know what a judi situation is too, unless it means that she started to answer the question, then got distracted and walked away

casheroo's avatar

Judi, I’ve been trying to find it, but for an entire day, you were “crafting a response” on a thread. I’ve been searching for it!

augustlan's avatar

Oh, asmonet… where are you?

ubersiren's avatar

Who wants to protest their church with me? Right after the zombie hunt, we can get signs with other Biblical “laws” on them. Like, “Eating creatures of the sea that don’t have scales or fins is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.” We would hold those signs in front of some crab shacks in Maryland. And make, “It is an abomination to wear clothing of mixed fibers.” “Cotton/poly blend wearers are going to Hell!!! All these laws, the crab eating, mixed clothing fibers, and homosexuality laws are in the same section of laws. I don’t understand why homosexuality is the one most often picked out by fanatics and anti-gay crazies. Crazies like my Grandma.

Judi's avatar

@casheroo ;
It must be on another computer.

Judi's avatar

@casheroo that was just to funny. I wish those aliens would give advance warning before an abduction!

fundevogel's avatar

I think they’re nut jobs that like to justify their prejudice with the Bible, but the thing is, at least part of the time the Bible does justify their prejudice. Which I think deserves some serious thinking.

But no, I don’t know a single person that approves of them. They go on Fox News and make that program look balanced and fair.

asmonet's avatar

I approve so much more of this chick.

Oh shit, I hit post, then went to lunch. My b, chicken fettuccine alfredo won this round babies.

asmonet's avatar

And yes, those are the Westboro Baptist Church members behind her.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I actually watched a documentary on Logo that was about homosexuality in the South, and Fred Phelps was interviewed. That man is certifiably insane. I was also involved in a production of The Laramie Project, which has a small portion on him as well. I don’t understand the rationale at all, nor is it even attempted to be presented in such a manner that it could be. I have trouble believing that they honestly think they are inspiring any change at all. Why the fuck would they protest the funerals of the Binghamton, NY shooting? What does that possibly have to do with them at all? Give these people some fuckin’ peace!

essieness's avatar

I actually ran across this picture recently and it made my stomach turn. I’ve seen these people before on the news. I think there is truly some mental illness running rampant in this group. I know Christians who distort the Bible to make it do what they want it to do (I’m by no means referring to ALL Christians), but these people are just insanely over the line. I really don’t know how anyone takes them seriously, unless they’ve been brought up in that particular church. In that instance, it has to be brainwashing. It’s really sad to me that they involve children in this crusade of hatred.

giltesque's avatar

I’ve seen worse and would not be a member there. I do know, as a Born-again Christain, I’ve had the same venom spewed at me, mocking my faith. I would not post signs as such, even if I agreed with thier sentiment. I prefer reasoning and discussing my differences rather than building walls with emotional mean slurs that will solve nothing. I am direct, don’t get me wrong, but I like to engage in dialog with people and this would NOT be the way to do so.

TheKNYHT's avatar

It seems that Westboro is more about hate than anything else.
The hallmark of what it means to be a Christian is simply “love”.

1Jo 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

We are to love our fellow Christians, we are to love our neighbors, we are to love our enemies. The only thing we are allowed to hate is sin, and all that it entails. Never the sinner, for none of us is without sin, thus we shouldn’t cast stones!

There are some that take issue and say that we are to hate father, mother, wife, children, etc. or we cannot follow God (Luk 14:26), but if taken in context, its speaking of sacrificing, and our willingness to forsake all in following God. He also talks about hating ones own self. He speaks of carrying one’s cross, the ultimate denial and sacrifice of self.
He further illustrates about counting the cost to be sure one can and is able to make such a commitment, with the builder who didn’t have enough money to finish the project.

Its not at all that Jesus was admonishing us to hate those close to us, only that our love for God should be so powerful, that all other loves would pale in comparison.

As a Christian I find Westboro reprehensible to the highest degree! God doesn’t hate any one, for His nature is Love. One might point out the man Esau, for it states “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” and yet the Hebrew word there can easily be translated ‘despise’ and in this regard, God despised Esau for the man despised his birth right, which was a blessing all Hebrews recognize is ultimately from God.

One thing God does hate is being misrepresented, and I would submit that the deeds of Westboro church and their statements are something that God indeed hates.

On another note, if one truly loves another, they will tell them the truth as necessary. The Bible does teach (regardless of liberal theology and interpreting of scripture) that homosexuality is a sin. YET, we as believers are not to disparage, mock, ridicule, belittle, or shame the homosexual, but rather have a heart of love and compassion for them. I think Christianity at large has failed to a large extent in this arena.

We would do well to listen to the hearts of these folks, learn from them why they are the way they are, and demonstrate our concern and interest in their lives, before we ever begin to share with them what the LORD would have us to.
I have friends and acquaintences that are homosexual and they know where I stand, and yet we are able to disagree agreeably; and some of them hold me dear, regardless of my biblical view. I think this is possible because even though I hold the views I do, I still love them, and care about them.

Darwin's avatar

Is the Westboro Baptist Church actual a member of any of the Baptist associations? Or are they just using the term “Baptist” because they believe in full-immersion Baptism? I certainly hope it is not one of a group of like-minded congregations.

They certainly don’t seem very Christian so it is a good thing they aren’t calling themselves the Westboro Christian Church.

If a church and its members do not act as others believe Christ would have them do, can they get in trouble for mis-representation?

bea2345's avatar

IN-credible. In many Commonwealth countries, in common law “behaviour calculated to lead to a breach of the peace” is an offence. Thus, burning a cross in front of somebody’s house would almost certainly get you arrested anywhere in the West Indies. Right now a (recently married) suspect is in custody for posting nude pictures of his ex-girlfriend on the internet. How his bride feels about it is not reported. I know that the first amendment is one of the most important guarantees of individual freedoms: abuse of the right is a disadvantage. But que voulez-vous? The right to free speech also includes the right to express hatred and other unsavoury notions.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@TheKNYHT: I appreciate the respectful nature with which your response was written, and I appreciate your point of view as well, but I have to disagree that the Bible expressly says that homosexuality is a sin. Just as you can quote scripture and interpret it to say that, so too may someone else quote and interpret it differently. No one is the prime authority on the Bible; all of it is personal speculation and interpretation, or making the active choice to believe someone else’s (or some other organization’s) interpretation. You can always tell someone they are wrong, and they can always tell you that you’re wrong.

Darwin's avatar

@TitsMcGhee – So if you interpret the Bible the way you and apparently the Phelps’ do, it is okay to disrupt funeral services held by families not your own by waving signs and picketing? It certainly doesn’t bother the person in the casket, but what about the mourners, none of whom may be homosexual or sinners in any but the most minor way?

It certainly doesn’t seem to follow along with “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

ubersiren's avatar

I should’ve linked this documentary.

Here’s The Most Hated Family in America

The interviewer isn’t the best, but it gives you an idea of just how screwed up they (mostly Shirley) are.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@ubersiren unfortunately, too many people ‘cherry pick’ what they want to follow in the bible. They rant about the evil of homosexuals, but then, they don’t follow the rule in the bible that says you are supposed to drag your disobedient child to the town square to be stoned to death or that you can sell your daughters into slavery during hard times. There is even a scripture or two where Jesus explains how to treat one’s slaves. It’s pretty funny when an atheist knows what’s in the bible more than the Christian fundamentalists.

They ‘cherry pick’ their rules, but let em try that with state and federal laws and see what happens.

That’s why when people quote scripture to me about the error of my atheistic ways, I simply laugh at them. They are beneath my notice, because they simply cannot comprehend if you are going to follow the laws of the bible, you better follow them all, or you just aren’t a REAL Christian.

asmonet's avatar

Fuck.
The first 12 words of that video you linked made me gag, ubersiren.

ubersiren's avatar

@TitsMcGhee: Well, the Bible does in fact say that the act of homosexuality is a sin. It’s Leviticus 18:22— ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

However, I can’t find people who “break” that rule anymore detestable than the people who “break” the rule about eating crab

They’re in the same set of laws in Leviticus. Also in the same guideline in Leviticus are the laws that women on their periods can’t leave the house, and you can’t wear mixtures of fabric types. For these reasons, I find the Bible nothing more than a racket created by old people to keep people in line.

@evelyns_pet_zebra: I used to be a Christian, but this cherry-picking is the exact bullshit that led to my retirement from it. There’s so much that’s left up to interpretation it’s ridiculous. The Bible itself harbors so much contradiction that I don’t know how anyone can swear on it, study it, and live by it with any sincerity.

BUT- I respect those who do. I was taught in my Christian days to not ask questions. All my questions will be answered when I got to Heaven. God has his reasons and I shouldn’t question Him or The Bible. I now chalk this up to part of the Christian gimmick to keep us quiet, but I could totally be wrong about that. That’s why I’m not going to say I’m right, and they’re wrong. Nobody has the right to say that about anyone’s beliefs. Personally, I think it’s a bunch of hoopla.

@asmonet: I know, right?

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@ubersiren I respect a person’s right to believe whatever makes em happy. Just their right; that doesn’t mean I have to respect them, or their belief system. Of course, if I think someone’s religion is nuttier than a barrel full of squirrel shit, I keep that opinion to myself.

Beliefs are personal, and people should keep it to themselves if I express the opinion that I don’t want to hear about it. Persistent proselytizers, well, those folks get what they deserve.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@Darwin: I didn’t say any of those actions were okay, I said that everyone interprets the meaning of scripture differently. Those interpretations, however, don’t give anyone license to do as they please and disrespect other people in that way at all.

@ubersiren: See, to me, that just says “oh hey, ALL these rules are silly and outdated.”

cak's avatar

I saw their waste of space website linked to another question on another site. It’s filth and it’s garbage. It is not something that I want spend anymore time reading, I’ll never get those wasted minutes back, again.

augustlan's avatar

I just watched that whole documentary, and it made me ineffably sad. Those poor children.

PastorJeff's avatar

The church is comprised mostly of his family and one of his daughters is a lawyer. When municipalities stop them from standing with their signs and foul language, the daughter sues the city and the city usually gives in an gives them a settlement rather than a long and costly fight in court.

As a Christian Motorcycle rider, I rode with the Patriot Guards who blocked them from protesting at war hero’s funerals, we waved American flags and revved our engines when they got loud. It was a lot of fun and very Patriotic being a Vietnam Vet myself.

I think they are a bunch of loser looking for any attention they can get.

Jeff

ubersiren's avatar

@TitsMcGhee : I do believe the rules are silly and outdated. I don’t abide by them because I don’t subscribe to its book. But what’s more silly to me is that people who do claim to subscribe to the good book, but pick and choose laws to abide by. I just don’t get it. I think that if you claim to be anti-gay because of your religion, then you should be allowed to get away without obeying the rest of the laws.

“We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children are smart.” -H.L. Mencken

@PastorJeff : Yeah, I think think many of the family members are lawyers. I know in the documentary even one of the college girls is studying law. It makes you wonder if they used lawyer tactics to boil down their version of the Bible.

asmonet's avatar

@augustlan: I felt the same way, I almost found it unbearable to watch. I almost cried when the little boy was hit with a drink from a car – on purpose. I don’t believe they were aiming for the child specifically, because I just don’t think you hope to hit the kid in a crowd of adults. The other point that struck me was when the children were asked by Louie what the signs meant, and they just parroted their parents catchphrases back with no understanding. I agree they’re being groomed. It’s heartbreaking.

The head of the church made me incredibly sad as well. And while I was watching his sermon I was captivated, not by his message or his words but by the rage behind it, the rage and the pain he clearly felt or still feels and how it’s shaped his beliefs. He’s done a terrible disservice to his ‘congregation’ and I only wish he could be punished for it. I hope one day he understands what he’s done and it isn’t too late to change things, though I sincerely doubt that will happen. It struck me while watching that if I’d seen only his sermon, on YouTube or elsewhere, with friends that they might have laughed because he had such conviction and it was almost a caricature of a real church service. I just found it disturbing.

I agree with Louie, the journalist and his summary of the family at the end. How by lashing out they managed to create an environment that reinforces their beliefs. I have the most hope for the eldest daughter, I believe she’s the eldest. The one that spoke about her expectations for her future and how she will never be married or do anything but God’s work. I’m sure in normal circumstances I would find it admirable, but I couldn’t help but think she was cracking mentally inside. Her reluctance to speak openly about her temptations and life gave me the impression she had rebelled and was rejected for it. Rather than lose her family, she, the square peg jammed herself deeper into the hole. She may continue on this way, and bury herself deeper in the ‘message’, but she was hiding behind every smile. It was painfully obvious.

While the piece itself was not high quality, I think it’s served it’s purpose. I feel more strongly about the group now than before. And it’s depressing.

What did you think?

asmonet's avatar

And thank you, ubersiren for sharing.
I hesitate to say I enjoyed the film you linked to, but I appreciated the information and the look inside. Even if it’s upsetting to watch, it’s good to be aware of them.

TheKNYHT's avatar

@PastorJeff I salute you sir!

TheKNYHT's avatar

@TitsMcGhee And thank YOU for your kind words!
This could easily turn into a ping pong match, and we’ve all taken part of those, and I don’t think we are interested in going around and around on this.
On spot with the question that was brought up, Do we know anyone who approves of the Westboro Baptist Church.
To reiterate, as a Christian I am adamantly oppossed to, and feel such conduct by that ‘church’ to be abhorrent! Its such as these that contribute to the ill repute of Christians today.
In expressing my views which I believe are biblical, I made my statements, and will not demand others see it ‘my way’. Leviticus was brought up about “man laying with mankind as with womankind” but there are many other passages, both OT and NT. If its impossible to determine a correct interpretation, then its all meaningless gobble-dee-gook and we may as well spend our time reading novels and magazines. The Bible itself states that its not for scholars and sages, but for the every day man, and that any can understand it properly if we seek the guidance of its Author.
For any here that are homosexual, let me say personally, I don’t hate you, I don’t assume anything about you (traditional suspicions are always brought up that homosexuals are pedophiles, that they were molested by their uncle or neighbor, etc etc.), and if I were to meet you personally I would treat you as a friend (I say, strangers are friends we haven’t met yet). I bear you no animosity, and I am willing to listen to your heart as well as your mind, and be the servant of Christ that I am called to be.

cak's avatar

PastorJeff – There are people that you happen along, every once in a while, that in a kind act remind you why you have love and pride in your fellow citizens – and humans. You sir, are one of those people. Thank you for being the strong, good person that you are.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@TheKNYHT: I definitely appreciate your views. I’m glad that some people are able to maintain composure and respect when discussing issues like this :)

@ubersiren: I’m also of the opinion that you shouldn’t be able to cherry pick like that out of the scripture. Interpret away, but it’s all or nothing, imho.

augustlan's avatar

I kept wondering if Louie had any untaped conversations with that oldest daughter before he left, trying to get her out of that hateful life. It seems like a kind of child abuse to raise your children to be hated by everyone, and targets (inadvertent or not) of bodily damage.

ubersiren's avatar

@TitsMcGhee : Yeah, I totally agree.

Just so everyone knows, I listened to a radio interview with Shirley Phelps, and she says the reason shrimp and other non-scaly non-finned sea creatures are ok to eat is because in Jude, there is a verse where the Lord says something to the effect that He has made clean that which was once was unclean, or some bs like that. Like He was saying, “Before we finish this book off, I just want you to know that when I said you couldn’t eat shrimp in the OT, I changed my mind. It’s ok now.”

asmonet's avatar

@augustlan: Me too. I doubt he ever got very far as every conversation ended with an I think emotional “I’m not going to dwell on that.” And her first response to the marriage question, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” I was expecting a no, yes, anything but outright exclamation. I hope he tried, I got the feeling he did…to no avail. The conversation in the car was going so well, she was calm, collected, even sweet and it just ran into a brick wall.

Depressing.

asmonet's avatar

@ubersiren: Interesting, because less than twenty lines from where it says you can’t eat at Red Lobster the bible has that ‘favorite’ verse of “A man shall not lie with another man for it is an abomination.”

So, I guess she’ll pack up, go home and repent now, right?

ubersiren's avatar

@asmonet : Oh, she also said in the interview that some of the laws in Leviticus are ceremonial laws and some are moral laws. Though, I have no idea what criterion she’s using to categorize them. I’d say as a reformed Christian, I’m moderately familiar with the Bible. Probably more than the average non-believer, but not as much as the average believer. But, I do read it when I don’t understand something a “Christian” is telling me about it. I went back and read, and found no evidence that these two laws which reside in close quarters of each other are different types of laws. Fred Phelps made up his version of God’s rule in order to accommodate his prejudice and is passing it on to future generations as truth. All the kids in that family are, and will continue to be brainwashed. Ugh! I feel like I need to do something about it. I guess I just have to let it go, because there’s no changing anyone from that family.

augustlan's avatar

@ubersiren I know just what you mean when you say you feel like you need to do something about it. I feel exactly the same way. It’s so damn frustrating to realize there really isn’t anything we can do. I’d love to hear what the family members who have ‘fallen away’ have to say… what changed their minds? Can it be repeated?

asmonet's avatar

Why didn’t Louie find them?

augustlan's avatar

That’s what I wanted to know, too. The story doesn’t feel complete without their input. Perhaps they don’t want to be sued by their own family members?

ubersiren's avatar

Yeah, I’d really like for someone to talk to the ones who left. I’ve been following these douche bags for a few years now (since the Matthew Shepherd incident) and have never heard from the outcasts.

giltesque's avatar

@ubersiren They’re douchbags for sure but what does Matthew Shepherd got to do with them?

Darwin's avatar

Didn’t they protest at his funeral or something like that?

Well, thanks to Google I answered my own question:

“In 1998, WBC congregants set off an angry reaction when they showed up at the funeral of gay murder victim Matthew Shepard and held up signs saying “No Fags in Heaven” and “God Hates Fags.” ” (http://www.adl.org/special_reports/wbc/default.asp)

And

“The Supreme Court has upheld a ruling by a Wyoming court that the Westboro Baptist Church may not install a “monument” to Matthew Shepard in a city park… Phelp’s monument stated: “Matthew Shepard Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God’s Warning ‘thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.’ Leviticus 18:22.” ( http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2009/03/scotus-rules-against-westboros-hateful.html)

ubersiren's avatar

@giltesque: Matthew Shepherd’s funeral was the first time I’d heard of them.

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

Im suprised this hasn’t been said already:

The Westboro Church isn’t a real church.

texasescimo's avatar

Perhaps the members of Westboro Baptist Church?

ragingloli's avatar

If it exists, God does.

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