08 August 2005

Religious right group protests military funerals

While more radical than Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and James Kennedy, the Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas has been a notorious leader of the religious right in this country. For years, Phelps has joined those on the right by expressing his concern that America is becoming a Godless nation due to its support of homosexuality. Now because of his extreme opposition to gay Americans, Phelps and his church are leading a series of protests at the funerals of fallen U.S. servicemen simply because they fought for a country that he views as pro-gay.

On Friday, Phelps and members of the WBC congregation protested across the street from the funeral services of 21-year-old Spc. Edward Myers who was killed in Iraq. (See video footage.) The church group claimed that they would protest any soldier who fought on behalf of a country that is Godless and supports homosexuality. Phelps' congregation is different from most anti-war protestors. They are not protesting the war, like activists on the left, but rather celebrating the war because it is taking the lives of U.S. soldiers. They are however protesting the memory of the troops. The Phelps' congregation protested another funeral on Saturday afternoon and is planning more in the coming weeks.

Reverend Phelps gained national media attention by mobilizing his church after the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard. On October 7, 1998, Shepard, a 21 year old student from Wyoming, was robbed, severely beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die solely because he was gay. The crime caused national outrage and renewed an effort to add crimes against homosexuals to national hate crime legislation. Phelps felt strongly that Shepard was doomed to eternity in hell because of his sexual orientation and led a protest at the slain 21 year old's funeral. In recent years, the Phelps church has protested funerals of AIDS victims, claiming that the deadly disease is God's retaliation against homosexuals.

Phelps has had some interaction with politics. In the early 1990s, Phelps and his WBC congregation openly campaigned for the Clinton-Gore ticket, stating that he believed the WBC could influence Vice President Al Gore to support an anti-gay agenda once in office. When the congregation observed that the opposite was true, Phelps and others openly protested the Clinton administration, even traveling to Iraq to support Saddam Hussein who was at the time the subject of attacks by the United States. When former Senator Albert Gore, Sr. passed away, Phelps protested the funeral, yelling at the Vice President "your dad's in Hell." Currently while Phelps is not affiliated with any major political parties or groups, his ideology is closer to those in the religious conservative community.

Phelps is by far the most extreme of the anti-gay crusaders, but he is not alone. Just following 9/11, conservative televangalists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson stated that the deadly terrorist attacks were the fault of liberal groups and individuals, including homosexuals.

Falwell said, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Robertson said, "Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system."

Falwell and Robertson later apologized for their over-the-top language, but don't expect Phelps to do the same. The Westboro Baptist Church has been around for many years, and they do not appear to be going anywhere. All that Phelps and the WBC can do is serve as a reminder that too often the "Christian right" is neither.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is absolutely disgusting. These religious freaks on the right are an embarrassment to our country. It's a shame that the Republicans keep helping them stay in the public eye.

12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And now the religious right is attacking Jessica Simpson for her new music video. Her response was classic.

"I don't think that's very Christian-like. It's very judgmental."

10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great. Jessica Simpson is able to answer these bozos with more clarity than our own Democratic leaders!

1:56:00 AM  
Blogger Truth or Death said...

"Currently while Phelps is not affiliated with any major political parties or groups, his ideology is closer to those in the religious conservative community."

You're pretty quick to lump Phelps in with other Christian Conservatives. But I wonder.

Do you equate Islamic Jihadists in with the rest of the nation's Muslim population?

Do you lump Green Party Extremists and Anarchists in with Liberal Democrats because their "ideology is closer" to liberals than the mainstream?

Nah, you're right. It's much easier to speak in generalities, and alot less work.

3:24:00 PM  
Anonymous tdog said...

Nice try Truth or Death.

First, there is no such thing as "Christian conservatives." They are "religious conservatives." Jesus was not a conservative, he was a liberal and any reference such as yours against Jesus is blasphemous and very disrespectful to those of us who are people of faith and love Jesus.

As much as you would like to pretend it is not true, Phelps is part of the religious right in this country that makes up the base of today's GOP, because they both use scripture to preach hate as opposed to the real teachings of Christ.

(How is Phelps protesting innocent families at military funerals any different from the anti-privacy people protesting innocent women at abortion clinics. There is no difference!)

You can try to pretend that Phelp's is not one of your guys, but you'd only be fooling himself. Good luck with that though.

This column didn't mention muslims or any other groups. Your slanderous comments toward other groups are very telling of what goes on in your mind. I guess we now know all about your discriminatory beliefs.

You can cry and complain because this post wasn't as politically correct as you would like, but there is a division in this country over people of faith, and we should be able to talk about it without you getting so upset. (Grow up man!)

There are those who like to use the Bible to divide people for their own personal gain. They are religious conservatives (tend to be Republcians) and they are not real Christians.

The real Christians tend to be Democrats and we are proud that we are living as Christ intended us to do.

It's a shame that people like Truth or Death can't live like a Christian. It must be a very sad life.

1:40:00 AM  
Blogger Truth or Death said...

Wow, tdog, talk about discrimination.

You say christians cannot be conservatives. Republicans use the bible to divide for personal gain and are not true christians. Apparently, I'm not a Christian either. You're making some pretty big judgements about the faiths of millions. Huge generalities tdog; same problem as the initial posting.

And you blame me of discriminating?

Look, my posting made no assertions about any particulat faith, but simply attempted to illuminate the generalities promoted by the initial posting. I never denied that Phelps would qualify as a "religious conservative", I merely hinted that its quite a leap to use him to characterize all Christian conservatives or religious conservatives as you call them.

Michael Moore is a liberal, but I don't use him as the poster boy for every sinlge liberal and democrat out there. He has his base, and there are both liberals and democrats who disagree with him. The distinction is important if you are attempting to advance civil debate rather than simply trying to smear hufe populations of Americans.

You state that Jesus was not conservative, but liberal. Come on, now you're just being silly. The comparison you make escapes all logic and is merely an attempt to demonize conservatives and Republicans.

By your logic, the vast majority of Evangelical Christians in America are not real Christians. Pretty bold.

Rather than actually address the issue you attack my personal beliefs and those of conservatives, you turn the matter into a personal one rather than discussing the topic.

2:01:00 AM  
Anonymous tdog said...

Truth or Death,

You can whine about your feelings being hurt, but I strongly urge you to read the New Testament. (It appears as if you have never read the Good Book.) Take a read. You just might learn something.

And yes, Jesus was a liberal!

2:14:00 AM  
Blogger Truth or Death said...

Again with the personal attacks, extreme statements unsupport by either fact or analysis. I call you out, you fold and resort to name calling.

You state that Jesus was a liberal. Actually, if you read scriptures there is a stronger argument that he was a counter-cultural ultra-conservative. But hey, its really all semantics on that issue.

That you argue that true Christians must be liberals, is beyond me. With the poison against believers being spewed out by the ACLU and the People for the "American Way" I'm surprised you could make such a statement with witha straight face... maybe you can't.

"Living as Christ intended" involves carrying out Christs foundational instruction; Love the Lord you God with all of your heart, all of you mind, and all of your strength. Go ahead, ask your liberal friends. Is that their purpose?

Don't worry about responding. I don't expect any coherent argument on any of these matters. Name calling is just easier right?

3:45:00 PM  
Blogger Truth or Death said...

By the way, you obviously didn't get the memo from leaders of your collective:

"we’re normally not comfortable attacking people as people. You know, or making innuendoes about whether they’re really decent human beings, or stable human beings, or patriotic human beings. You know. We Democrats, we, we like policy, we believe in policy. We don’t mind fighting over the issues" - President Clinton on Democrat campaign strategy


5:48:00 PM  
Anonymous tdog said...

Clinton was right. We do prefer fighting over policy. But at the same time, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we won't be afraid to call it a duck.

As to how conservatives can't be real Christians, I don't need to prove my point. Conservative and Republican icon Pat Robertson made it for me.

11:57:00 PM  
Anonymous tdog said...

liberal: Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

conservative: Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

The reason that the Jewish rabbis were eager to see Jesus crucified by Pontius Pilate was because he broke from tradition and reached out to his supporters in ways that were not proper in the Jewish faith at the time.

Jesus was a liberal and it was the conservatives that were ultimately responsible for his crucifixion.

12:06:00 AM  
Blogger Truth or Death said...

The Conservatives killed Jesus??? wow... wow...

Absurd, but we'll debate it.

When you look at ancient scriptures, including biblical texts, you will find that the Jewish leaders had drifted from the true heart of the God given law passed down to them. These leaders, having believed that they perfected living by the law, began to make even more rules and regulations for holy living. They divised a new power structure, they integrated themselves with earthly government, and so forth.

Christ's message returned believers to the true heart of the law, relationship with God. He returned them to the origins of the covenant relationship established between God and Abraham and cut away all of the excess with the leaders of the time had added on unecessarily to the faith.

Jesus was returning the people to the traditional values of the covenant relationship battling the change in which the leaders had emaciated the Jewish faith. I'd argue that Christ was the conservative here.

But really, the argument is silly, we're imposing modern day political perspective and values onto a time period 2000 years ago, a major boo boo as any student of history will tell you.

And your comment "As to how conservatives can't be real Christians, I don't need to prove my point. Conservative and Republican icon Pat Robertson made it for me."

This demonstrates that you have little understanding of biblican principles related to matters of salvation and faith. Action is not the determinitive factor in Christianity. Works and words are not what defines a believer. That is an issue decided in the heart. See John 3 and Romans 8.

And you again make the same mistake you made originally, and the author of this post made originally. You use one man to cast dispersions on an entire population of people. Apparently, you have learned nothing from our discussion. How discouraging.

12:43:00 AM  
Anonymous tdog said...

Truth or Death,

Thank you for your help. Your knee-jerk (stress the "jerk" part) reactions to my logical comments only bolster my arguments.

If you were to read my original comment, you would know that I never said conservatives killed Jesus. (If you are reaching this conclusion, then more power to you.) What I said is that conservatives were ultimately responsible for his death because they opposed his unwillingness to abide by tradition (be a conservative.)

Again, I would ask you to read the New Testament. Apparently, you have not yet done so.

And your reference to John 3 doesn't prove that you have actually read the Bible, which it appears you have not. It just shows that you have been to a football game.

Again, Jesus was a liberal. You can deny it and him all you want, but that doesn't change the truth.

3:29:00 PM  
Anonymous tdog said...

As I reread Truth or Death's comment, I am still a little shocked at the lack of logic in her arguments.

ToD argues that Jesus was a conservative because he was breaking from the establishment and going back to the roots of his Jewish faith. How did that become conservative? Being a conservative means favoring the status quo, or in Jesus' case, sticking with the traditional rabbis. Being a liberal means seeking change and progress, which is what Jesus sought to do during his time on earth.

Jesus was a liberal, and there is really no way to deny that. ToD can keep drinking the GOP Kool-Aid, but that's not going to change what is written in the Bible and what is truth.

Conservatives can try to rewrite the Constitution, but they'll never succeed in rewriting the Bible. (But they are trying!)

1:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred Phelps is really a homosexual and will, himself, burn in his own hell.

2:38:00 PM  
Blogger RightDemocrat said...

Rev. Phelps is a nut case who represents the lunatic fringe of the pro-family movement. He does a great deal of harm to the image of those who do not hate or want to persecute gays and lesbians, but wish to preserve the traditional family unit.

10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man! I can't believe this! I agree with you, RightDemocrat. There will always be those fanatics on the fringe who do NOT speak for the rest of us, in ANY group. I don't know about what anyone else thinks, but I know that the Bible CLEARLY states that homosexuality is an "abomination". But you must take the whole Bible, lest we be "condemned". MY Jesus taught us to "love the sinner, hate the sin" and like it or not, homosexuality IS a sin. I do not condone staking out abortion clinics and the like, but I also think that protesting and condemning fallen HEROES to hell is WRONG and uncompassionate. Jesus would NEVER agree to that! He did want us to go back to the heart of worship, not to be comfortable going through the motions of "religion". I would say that the Rabbis would be the liberals, because they are the ones who changed the laws set by God as to how we honored Him. They established rules that allowed themselves to be worshipedand honored instead. I do not want to argue "religion" with anyone, but as a Christian who has family members who have served and are currently serving our country in Iraq, I MUST argue these fanatics who are setting themselves up as judge and jury, proclaiming these soldiers as "in Hell" and thanking God for dead soldiers. The lunatic woman speaking in the video said that the young man's serving a Godless country was an indication that he was now in Hell should backup and think about how incredibly stupid her remark makes her sound. After all, isn't she paying taxes and giving "honor" to a "Godless" country? Hmm, maybe she needs to pack for warm weather herself when she gets ready for her eternal departure!?

10:39:00 PM  

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