Westboro Baptist Church is a way-over-the-top independent church group, and people of all faiths - as well as those without faith - rightfully love to hate this hate group
There’s a dilemma as to whether or not it’s wise to give these small, fringe, cultish sects the publicity they so crave. But lately they’ve been targeting Jews, and last month USA Today saw fit to publish these headlines: Anti-gay church sets its sights on Jews
Based on a report in the Oklahoma Daily
, it seems Westboro’s Phelps family picked Rosh Hashanah
to preach and teach “the truth” to the Jews at the University of Oklahoma’s Hillel House:
“We are living in our last days and these Jews need to hear the truth,” Jacob Phelps said. “We are here to send a message to them that they are responsible for killing our Lord.”
Phelps said he felt the protest was a way to send a message of salvation and warning to the Jewish community because judgment for killing Jesus is coming soon.
Part of our job at Jewish Israel
is to monitor fundamentalist Christian groups which target Jews in aggressive missionary campaigns and, as much as we’d like to turn a blind eye to Westboro’s rare and freakish wrath which is largely focused on America, we couldn’t help but respond to the kidnapping and rape of Hatikvah
Westboro Baptist Church is a “radical Christian fundamentalist church” which has taken “the right to evangelize”, democratic freedoms, and their version of the gospel message, to the outer limits and beyond – and even the most fervent evangelicals will tell you that.
Yet we’ve decided to post this video
from this radical and hateful Christian group in order to:
a) Illustrate the insane limits and excesses of American- style religious freedoms
and tolerance legislation, and propose that Israel should avoid calls to adopt similar problematic legislation.
b) Reveal that overt Christian anti-Semitism still manages to find expression in a society which prides itself on being, democratic, God-fearing, and tolerant.
c) Put the terms ”hate” and “radical” back in perspective and where they belong, as certain parties have been taking liberties with these words in order to vilify Jewish Israel
and this writer
, and attempt to connect us to serious crimes we have nothing to do with - and have condemned
dedicates tremendous resources to carefully profiling
, and reacting
to this minuscule nuisance of a church, as well as “advising Jewish institutions not to give them the publicity they crave.”
– those champions of liberty for everything and everybody - have in the past defended Westboro’s rights to offend
on first amendment grounds because, “the Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law for all people … That is exactly why the free speech rights of the Westboro Baptist Church must be protected. We cannot pick and choose who is protected by the Constitution.”
– those staunch defenders of religious freedom and the gospel - have in the past been “deeply concerned about the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church”
, but at present they are vigorously opposing hate crimes legislation
“For example, it is conceivable that a pastor preaching on the Biblical perspective on homosexuality could face charges if someone who hears that sermon commits a violent act. While we firmly believe that the pastor’s First Amendment protections would ultimately prevail, this law could put the pastor’s constitutionally-protected speech under a legal microscope. “
So it seems that institutions committed to democratic freedoms are more than a little fettered when it comes to handling Westboro’s provocative outrages.
Man-made democratic freedom of religion and speech legislation – no matter how brilliant - will never be able to replace or govern our God-given human capacity to choose to respect boundaries; know when to break boundaries; to discern and act responsibly, and to consider consequences. It is essential, in order to maintain a civil society, that human beings strive to use their intelligence, talents, vast creative freedom, and numerous means of expression in an appropriate and reasonable manner -whether it be through speech, writings, videos, cartoons, or even envelope-pushing parody.
Westboro Baptist Church has shattered all the rules of human decency. But their leader did once write this very “cordial” and “civil” letter to Saddam Hussein
“We understand that Iraq is the only Muslim state that allows the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to be freely and openly preached on the streets without fear of arrest and prosecution. Alas, the United States no longer allows the Gospel to be freely and openly preached on the streets, because militant sodomites now control our government, and they violently object to the Bible message… If our government and laws will allow it, and at the invitation of your government, we would like to send a delegation from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, to preach the Gospel on the streets of Baghdad for one week in the near future.”
-- Fred Phelps, in a letter to Saddam Hussein, November 30, 1997
The bitter irony is that one year later, the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998
would be passed by US Congess, and would stipulate that the imposed spreading the Christian gospel in Israel and the rest of the world was to become an integral part of American foreign policy.
In some ways, Westboro - a joke of a church - got the last laugh.