Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

4/20/2006

A raging mad God?

Westboro protesting at a soldier's funeral
Marine Lance Corporal Philip J. Martini, 24, died in combat in Iraq from a gunshot wound. The mortal wound came during his second tour of duty in the country. Yesterday he was laid to rest in a Chicago area funeral, surrounded by family, friends, protestors and counter protestors.

The protest, like those at nearly every funeral of late for soldiers killed in Iraq, was staged by small (75-persons by some accounts) Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Their spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper told reporters yesterday, "This nation is being punished by a raging mad God." She went on to say, "I am the only patriot standing here. I am the only one that has enough concern for the soul of my nation and wrath of God pouring out on her head to tell you what you need to do to fix it."

Phelps-Roger said of the corporals parents, "They raised that child for the devil." Her few fellow demonstrators all agree that God is punishing our soldiers because of our nation's tolerance for homosexuality. Their signs read "God Hates America," "Not Blessed Just Cursed" and "God is America's Terror."

But the family and friends were shielded from the message of hate being spread by Westboro Baptist by nearly 200 members of the Patriot Guard Riders. The Riders are a morotcycle club who came for the purpose of staging a counter protest whose only purpose was to block the view of Westboro's slogans from those gathering to remember a soldier who paid the ultimate price for his service to our nation.

Westboro often uses child protestorsAnd if you thought, "There ought to be a law against that kind of thing" you are not alone. 27 states have either passed or are working on legislation aimed at stopping the Westboro Baptist protests at funerals while working to not unduly infringe on free speach in the process.

Of course, not everything Westboro's spokespersons say is counter to the beliefs of Christians. For example, Phelps-Rogers was also quoted as saying yesterday,
We're here to remind these people that there's a God. He set his standard in the earth and He expects his creatures to obey it. If you will obey the commandments of the Lord your God, He will bless you, if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord our God, He'll curse you, his promises are as good as gold.
I doubt you could muster much disagreement in Camden County from pulpit or pew alike on the statements that there is a God and that God has expectations. However, the protestors seem far too certain that God's love is for them and God's wrath is for others—people who are "other" than them. This makes it that much easier to side with the love of the bikers shielding the family than the hatred of the Westboro protestors.

But what about the larger issue? What basis do I have for taking exception with the (if nothing else) very dedicated members of Westboro Baptist? Certainly scripture tells of judgment. There is no doubt about that. But when I read of Jesus' life, ministry and teachings, the only strong words of judgement and harsh actions I see are aimed at the holier than thou set. Jesus never held back from taking the self righteous to task. That's what I read in the Gospels and it informs how I view the protests and counter protests.

While I hope the opportunity never arises, I would have to count myself among the human shields before I could ever stand in hatred with the protestors. And it is some comfort that this is a common Christian viewpoint. As much as we can be divided at times, I hope it is reaching out in love that draws Christians together, for the Bible teaches that God is love. It is in acts of love, not hatred, that we side with our Lord.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal CHurch

2 Comments:

  • At 4/20/2006 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Phelps-Rogers comments come across judgemental to everyone that is not following her beliefs fully. No less than 2 days ago a post illustrated how God feels about people judging others.
    Who is Phelps-Rogers to say the parents of fallen soldiers are being raised to do the devil's work? Who is anyone to say this? Soldiers are also in these countries fighting for simple freedoms we take for granted- like the freedom of religion and free speech for the people living in these countries. Because we have these freedoms in this country this minister is allowed to speak so "judgementally" of others and say comments indicating this minister's beliefs are the only beliefs that will please God. It could be seen that these soldiers are on a mission from God to have (fight for) freedom of religion and speech. And God knows with these freedoms will come those that abuse it- those that speak as though they are the only ones following the right path. Kind of an oxymoron, otherwise known as freewill.
    Shannon

     
  • At 4/20/2006 9:23 AM, Anonymous William T. said…

    One of the paradoxes of living in America is that everyone is free to criticize those who guarantee that freedom. They are also free to interpret God and His intentions through their own limited, homophobic and hateful vision of the world. I am surprised He has not struck them down.

    The thing that saddened me most about the photo is that these so-called Christians are standing on American flags. Using the flag in a legitimate protest is one thing, but to have hatemongers tread it underfoot is unacceptable. Where would these hatemongers be if the veterans of WWII had not been willing to go to war? You can bet that the Nazis would not tolerate having thier flag underfoot. Yet theses lost souls feel they have the right to denigrate the flag AND criticize these young men and women and their families. Hypocrisy plain and simple.

    I am a peaceful man, but in my opinion if these folks hate America so much, they're free to leave. Why would they want to live in a place that is cursed by God?

     

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