Sometimes its hard to be a Christian. Oftentimes it feels as if there is a rain of criticism that starts to fall on anyone who dares take that name. But the worst part is not the rain. The worst part of all is what you find huddling under the umbrella of Christianity with you – the crusades, the inquisition, the witch hunts, the racism, the sexism, the paedophiles, the crooked evangelists and the money hungry swindlers. That is why I started this series of blogs. Even if no one ever reads it, at least I can sleep at night knowing I dared to step out into the rain to say: I do not agree with them, this is not what I stand for. To my mind, one of the biggest motivations for stepping out from under the umbrella in the first place is a small group from Kansas: The Westboro Baptist Church.
So why should I (since I'm not an American and not a Baptist) care about a church of about 150 members (of which about 90 seem to be one family) half a world away? Because while they may be an absolute minority they are a very loud one! They were most certainly loud enough to make me aware of them half a world away. Their very loud message is a simple one: "God hates". According to them God hates lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, Roman Catholics, Muslims and Jews as well as populations it believes are supporting the aforementioned groups, including Swedes, Canadians, Irish, British, Mexicans and Americans. Of course according to them (and their website www.godhatesfags.com) the one group God hates more than any other is homosexuals. According to them nearly every tragedy in the world is linked to homosexuality: The war in Iraq? Due to gays. Mining disaster? It’s punishment because society is tolerant of homosexuality. It is this kind of belief that landed them in the headlines as church members started to picket military funerals and other disasters with picket signs saying “God loves dead soldiers” and “Thank God for dead miners”.
Now from this is should be clear why the rest of Christianity needs to speak up against this. Certainly, many churches have indeed labeled the WBC as a cult and distanced themselves from their message of hate so I’m not implying that Christianity is giving its silent OK on this matter. But I do however feel very strongly that in a case this sickening and vile we all – not just some of our leaders – need to stand up and be counted. See, I have noticed something among the non-Christians (and especially the gay ones). In this regard they tend to view Christians the way we view the “quiet diplomacy” of African leaders towards the atrocities in Zimbabwe and Sudan. When something this wrong is not renounced in the strongest terms, people might get the idea that deep down you agree with it. And you know what? In this case they have good reason to be suspicious of Christians. Not many fundamentalists would dream of taking things as far as the WBC does but they most certainly seem to preach a thinly veiled message that gays are worse than any other sinner in the eyes of God. Following 9-11 Jerry Falwell publicly claimed that God allowed this act because of (amongst others) America’s tolerance of homosexuality. I myself have heard more than one evangelical Christian make the statement that homosexuality would be a capital crime if they were in charge.
I don’t want to divert this topic into a discussion about the acceptability of homosexuality in the church because by doing that I would miss the big point I’m trying to make here: Regardless of whether you believe homosexuality to be a sin or not, as a Christian you should be utterly against this kind of hate mongering.
Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that neither Jesus nor the 10 commandments once mentioned homosexuality. Let’s also ignore for a moment that homosexuality is never once mentioned as the most terrible sin anywhere in the Bible and that instead its always mentioned along side other things like immorality, greed and adultery (which you oddly never see Christians picketing against…). Let’s just focus on the two aspects that, according to Jesus, embody the entire law of God: Love God and love your neighbour. Is the homosexual your neighbour? Of course! When Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan He demonstrated that we are supposed to show love and compassion towards others – even those we may have some difficulty loving for whatever reason. It is a black mark on the reputation of Christianity when any group is treated callously and kept at arms length. Even worse, the church sometimes seem to go further and downright applaud their pain as a judgment from God! Where is the love in that? As if the heterosexual world has any reason to be self righteous! The church represents God to the world and when they seem to give nothing but dislike and condemnation for a group, who can blame that group for believing that God has nothing but dislike and condemnation for them too? Even if you believe homosexuality to be a horrible sin does that give you the right to deny someone access to God? This unholy attitude is not helping anyone. Instead it is akin to slamming the doors of the Kingdom in someone’s face and we do NOT have that right! We do not dare do that and still have the gall to call ourselves “God fearing”, for God did not sacrifice His Son for any one group exclusively. His commands were to love your brother, love your enemy, turn the other cheek, judge not lest you be judged, be kind, be patient, hold your tongue and be a peacemaker. The invitation is open to all.
It’s a terrible tragedy that guys like the Westboro Baptist Church have lost sight of this. I hope that they realize the error of their ways before it is too late, I really do. Until then I must distance myself from them and declare that while we may both call ourselves Christian, I have no fellowship with them and I vehemently oppose all they stand for.
1 John 4:20: If anyone boasts, "I love God," and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see?