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So The War Between Church And State Begins With Fred Phelps

Posted by Job on November 1, 2007

I will forgo the usual routine of prefacing my comments with a discussion as to whether the behavior of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church was wrong; there are plenty of places where you can go find that. Instead, I will deal with this fact: since Westboro Baptist Church almost certainly does not have $10.9 million they will have to close. As such, this is the first time to my knowledge that the state is causing the doors of a church that has not been found to be in violation of any laws down. Rather, they received a $2.9 million judgment against them for invasion of privacy (despite the fact that the funeral was a public event in a public place) and an $8 million dollar judgment for causing emotional distress.

It is quite difficult to say what is worse. The $2.9 million invasion of privacy judgment that was a clear rejection of the actual facts of the case, the $8 million judgment for emotional distress caused by free speech in a public forum, or the stated aim of the plaintiffs “But Albert Snyder’s lawyer urged the jury to ensure the damages were high enough to stop the church campaigning” was granted. Keep in mind: the defendants were not found guilty of libel, slander, defamation, or trespassing. They incurred this verdict by making legal speech in a legal manner, and the sole purpose of this verdict was to prevent them from making legal speech in a legal manner again. Whatever you may think of Fred Phelps and his congregation, they are not the criminals here. The criminals are the jury that brought this verdict and the judge that failed to vacate it. If the state enforces this judgment, it will effectively nullify the First Amendment protections of free speech and freedom of religion and set a powerful precedent. As such, it is Fred Phelps’ church today but your church tomorrow.

Any church that preaches that homosexuality is a sin can be found guilty of causing emotional distress to homosexuals, and even facilitating the spread of AIDS. Any church that preaches against the genocide of abortion can be found guilty of inciting violence against the abortion mills and its employees, or even the mental anguish caused by the theoretical threat of increased violence. And any church that preaches against unjust government action can be labeled subversive.

Make no mistake, it is a perfect test case, so perfect that one would think that Phelps was some sort of a plant, though I sincerely doubt it to be the case. Phelps chose the funerals of the untimely dead, the most emotionally charged environment imaginable, as his forum. He went after homosexuality to enrage the left. He went after soldiers killed in combat to enrage the right. As a result, a law restricting such conduct was speedily passed without any opposition. The ACLU did not want to come down on the side of a homosexuality opponent, the ACLJ (owned by Pat Robertson) did not want to come down on the side of one who would grieve the families of dead soldiers. For both sides, protecting their own bases, their own constituencies, took priority over taking up an unpopular cause to defend rights from a government that hates righteousness. Such is almost certainly the reason why no prominent pastor, preacher, or theologian was able to muster a defense. When such people feel the heavy hand of the state pressing against their necks for the crime of offending Islam or Judaism by insisting that salvation is only through Jesus Christ, they will wish that they had not chosen the path of silent forbearance.

Finally, I wish to deal with part of Fred Phelp’s theology. He states that we are losing on the battlefield in Iraq because this nation promotes and celebrates homosexuality. Why not? First off, I realize that we are not Old Testament Israel. But the entire religious right movement is based on the fiction that we are, that we are a Christian nation founded by God to be the light among nations, the shining city on the hill. So let us adhere to their false theology in order to further convict the religious right sorts that were silent on this issue. Did not God punish Old Testament Israel, the elect nation that He founded, for their sins by not only allowing casualties and lost battles, but actually fighting for the enemy? Why should America be any different? Christian right, you cannot employ your false theology when it helps your fundraising campaigns and voter registration drives and then discard it when it is inconvenient because it offends the white evangelical Christian families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. You have to be consistent! The fact that you are not being consistent proves that you yourselves know that your theology is false, and that you are not serving Jesus Christ. Instead, you give people a theology that allows them to point the finger at someone else while basking in their own self – righteousness. No wonder it has been such a popular theology that translates to easily and effectively to political action for so long! But no, the true gospel of Jesus Christ that requires people to examine themselves first to see whether they be in the faith and then make tough stands and sacrifices for that faith, to suffer rejection and persecution as Jesus Christ did, has never been popular and it has never translated into anything that can be used for political power, financial gain, or anything else that is of this world.

Further, I wish to take issue with this notion that God for some reason has stopped judging people and their nation for wickedness. A lot of preachers, some that I respect highly and others that are vigorous apostates, make this claim. We heard a lot of this during Hurricane Katrina in response to the common claim – believed by many Katrina refugees themselves – that God destroyed that city for its wickedness. Oh so many theologians manifested with the notion “it cannot be true, for why would God destroy New Orleans and not San Francisco or Las Vegas?” This is not to say that Hurricane Katrina was an act of God. Instead, it is to say that you could hardly pick a worse possible argument for saying that it wasn’t! Who is man to question the ways of God, to suggest that He is arbitrary, unfair, and unrighteous unless He behaves according to man’s logic and values? Was that not the error of Job, who had to be reminded of God’s sovereignty and rebuked? If God chooses to judge one and spare another, is that not His prerogative? Is that not His grace? But far too many churches claim that we have earned grace by our own virtue, and as a result we have the right to sit and judge God. They have forgotten that we are all sinners, that we all deserve the lake of fire for our sins, but despite of that fact God will spare some that deserve destruction and give others the destruction that they deserve.

The clear evidence of this was Sodom and Gomorrah. Do you honestly believe that Sodom and Gomorrah was the only place that had homosexuality going on? Not to attach some level of significance to this one specific sin when the Bible says that all are equal, what about the idolatry, violence, greed, and oppression of the poor that was going on elsewhere? And let us not forget the – gasp! – gossiping and false judging! The truth is that the whole world deserved the very same punishment that Sodom and Gomorrah received because the whole world was as guilty of sin as Sodom and Gomorrah! The whole world deserved to be destroyed then because of sin, and the whole world deserves to be destroyed today. Instead of viewing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as punishment of the sin of homosexuality, we should look at it in terms of God’s GRACE because He spared everyone else! But oh no, we do not go there, because we are so convinced of our own virtue.

That is why all of those preachers said “Why not Las Vegas or San Francisco” instead of “WHY NOT MY CHURCH AND MY OWN HOUSE!” By using that argument, they are pretending in their self – righteousness that there is some sin in San Francisco or Las Vegas or in Sodom and Gomorrah that they are not guilty of in their person. But that is not what the Bible says. The Bible says that the man who says that he is without sin is a LIAR! So even if God theoretically did destroy New Orleans or cause the tsunami, He had just as much right to do that as He just as He has the right to destroy YOU!

Nay, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah to demonstrate a theological point. The same was true of His destruction of Egypt. Egypt was not the only proud oppressive nation on the face of the earth at the time, far from it! But God destroyed Egypt in order to demonstrate His power and to show them as a parable against wickedness and defying His Will, and openly said as much in scripture. But do not be deceived: the whole world deserved what Egypt received and far worse then, and deserves the same still now.

Almost as deadly is what I call “neo – deism.” Some preachers claim that God only worked such spectacular interventions in history to judge the wicked and raise up the righteous in the previous dispensation before Jesus Christ, but now that Christ has come and overcome the world, God is allowing history to play out until Christ returns. Pardon me, but where does it say that in the Bible? Where does it say that the Father is sitting on His Throne with Jesus Christ on His Right Hand doing nothing? That is speaking as if God has fallen asleep and has forsaken doing righteousness! Claiming that “history is just playing out” or “this world is dying and disintegrating due to sin” seems to me to be either a religion of naturalism or claiming that these events are mere chance: evolution perhaps? Excuse me … “intelligent design” to use the lingua franca of evangelical politics.

Or worse … maybe you are giving SATAN credit and the glory for these events? Take God out of it, and it is either naturalism, random chance, or Satan. As for me, I say that a sovereign God is still ruling on the throne and intimately involved in world events just as He always has been, for He is a God that never changes. I have confidence in trusting an unchanging God or my salvation. What about you?

So whatever doctrinal errors Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church exhibit with their actions, it appears that mainstream respectable Christianity has problems of its own! At least it can be said about Phelps and his congregation that they are willing to put themselves on the line for something. As if “submit to Babylon” was a popular message during Jeremiah’s day. You know what Jeremiah was accused of? Harming the morale of our troops and the country, and helping the enemy. Sounds familiar to the same charges made by the Bush administration and the religious right to certain folks, right? Again, I am not endorsing their doctrines or their actions. I am merely saying that their doctrines and actions are not as wayward as many Christians choose to believe.

Update: a reader has left an excellent comment doing what I specifically refrained from doing for my own purposes, which was to make the plain Biblical case that Westboro Baptist Church was incontrovertibly wrong. As a matter of fact, he did a better job than I could have! So please read his comment, which God provided through him in order to make the treatment of this matter complete. Also, another reader made a related point that Westboro Baptist fell for a government trap, which complements the other comment.

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30 Responses to “So The War Between Church And State Begins With Fred Phelps”

  1. The Phelps congregation fell into the trap set for christians. Plain and simple. If they where following Yeshua, they would have mourned with those who were mourning, and would have shown compassion and mercy, because after all, compassion and mercy was shown to them when they accepted Yeshua as their L_rd and Savior. They chose not to mourn with them, but instead, curse. They have cursed those marked for slaughter, and have cursed themselves. This too is the truth. They chose not to forgive, so will they be forgiven? Those who fought and died, and even those who have killed others and are still in the military, should be prayed for, because they are being sacrificed. Those in the military are being offered up as a sacrifice, which is an abomination before G_d. They have been offered up for money, power and control. Yet they do not even know it. They are lambs to the slaughter. In this, the Phelps group should have had discernment, and if they wanted to use their first amendment rights to speak, then they should have used them to speak for those who were dieing. Instead they attacked the families in a very vulnerable time. Yeshua said “Blessed are those who mourn, for you will be comforted.” It would have been an opportunity to bless them.

  2. John said

    There is no way that the Phelps can be defended, their actions are a blot on True Followers of Christ.

    If you remember what Jesus said:

    Matthew 24:12

    “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold”

    It is because of Lawlessness by the Phelps that the Government is coming down on them, because of their lawlessness they are allowing the Courts to set a precedence of levying such crippling fines on Churches.

    Lawlessness as in they have broken God’s Law. And I believe this is the lawlessness that Jesus was speaking of in Matthew 24

    The Lawlessness of false Christians such as the Phelps are the ones who are creating the problems for True Christians in this instance. The time to protest is when True Christians are being persecuted for being True Christians.

    There are three kinds of Tests Christians go through:

    1. God sends tests to “prove” our integrity.

    2. The devil sends tests to “destroy” our integrity.

    3. We bring tests on ourselves from “lack” of integrity.

    The Phelps are guilty of the third test. And us who are True Christians will face tests 1 & 2 in this instance to show and see if we will remain faithful to him. I would say stay out of this specific mess. I have no intention of berating the government on this. The Phelps as false Christians brought it on themselves.

  3. John:

    Three things.

    1. At no point did I defend the Phelps.
    2. Westboro Baptist Church is no more false than most other churches. It is just that the way they choose to be false is way more offensive to the world – and hence to worldly Christians as well – than the way that most false churches choose to be.
    3. The government coming down on this false church will open the door for government persecution of all churches, including true ones.

    I commend you for criticizing me because I chose not to oppose and even can be accused of defending their unrighteousness. However, I did so on purpose because I did not want my comments on why what Westboro Baptist Church did was wrong to distract from the point that I was trying to make. Since you have done that for me, I will link to your comments in my post.

    You are 100% correct on all three of your points. I would very much like to hear your opinion on my three points.

  4. John said

    Dont take it as me criticizing you. I was not. I was merely making the point that the Phelps cannot be defended. And to be careful not to criticize the courts for the actions they took.

    They did what they did becasue the Phelps acted in a manner that was unjustified therefore they were deserving of their penalty.

    In regards to your three points:

    1. At no point did I defend the Phelps. ( I agree and I was just issuing a cautionary note)
    2. Westboro Baptist Church is no more false than most other churches. It is just that the way they choose to be false is way more offensive to the world – and hence to worldly Christians as well – than the way that most false churches choose to be. (if you are referring to all churches that are 501c3 orgnaizations as False Churches. I think that is an invalid statement. Although I agree and have stated quite clearly on my own web site that Churches in now way shape or form should be 501c3 organizations. I do not believe all of them can be described as False Churches. God is long suffering and will endure some error for a time. The “Test” for the few remaing true churches who still have 501c3 status is when they are forced to choose between disbanding on a matter of Christian principle or keeping the perks and status of a 501c3 organization and going into complete apostasy. I still have many good Christ loving and True Christian Brothers ad Sisters who remain in 501c3 churches and I still witness to them, and believe that through witnessing some will realize where this type of offical church is headed, and become a witness to others in those churches to come out. If you were referring to Churches that preach a false gospel that is more subtle, I agree with you whleheartedly taht the Phelps are no worse than they are. Just more “in your face”
    3. The government coming down on this false church will open the door for government persecution of all churches, including true ones. (And that I agree with)

  5. Dee said

    “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress” (IIED) is the tort (=wrong) in question. The jury did not have to find libel or slander or anything else you mentioned to find the defendants committed the tort of IIED–only that the Phelpses intended to inflict emotional distress on the plaintiffs. That’s apparently what the jury did.

    If religious people wouldn’t support bigotry against GLBT persons, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. However, certain people still want the right to be able to call GLBT people evil and hateful things, based on their reading of the Bible. The Phelpses are the bleeding edge, but the conservative church down the street that wants to refer to gays in nearly as harsh language are hardly better.

    For what it’s worth, one of my gay friends hopes this ruling is overturned, not because he thinks Phelps is right, but because he thinks the First Amendment is implicated. I disagree with him on this. The First Amendment does not give people the right to sit there and mouth off any reprehensible thing they want to say to anyone within earshot.

  6. HTL,
    I understand your point about them paving the way for our own freedom of speech to be taken away, but even so, fortunately Yeshua said that this would happen. So if we are taken away for doing what is right…will we not rejoice?!
    If Yeshua said it would happen, then why, when it happens, do we start pointing? He told us that the world would do such things. But he also said rejoice. I am amazed that there are so many, fighting for these rights. We gave up our rights to ourselves when we accepted Yeshua. We laid down our lives…
    Yeshua said to consider the cost. What we are faced with right now is a part of that cost. And because we do have false christians out there that are doing this kind of stuff, it makes “taking up our cross and following him,” that much more valid. The cross was a symbol of shame, humiliation and sin, especially for Yeshua who knew no sin. He bore our sins, and carried that cross for us…and now, we too must pick up a cross, and we too must follow him as we are marked for the sins of others.

  7. John: “If you were referring to Churches that preach a false gospel that is more subtle, I agree with you whleheartedly taht the Phelps are no worse than they are.” That was what I was referring to. And I also agree with the 501c3 thing, though I do not speak of it much. What is your website?

  8. Dee: First off, it is not based on our reading of the Bible, it is based on what the Bible says in plain incontrovertible language. Even gay rights advocates acknowledge as such. They simply state that Christians should ignore what the Bible says with regards to homosexuality. If so, why not just ignore what the Bible says about everything else? “The First Amendment does not give people the right to sit there and mouth off any reprehensible thing they want to say to anyone within earshot.” Actually yes it does. I have as much right to claim that your pro – homosexual views are offensive and cause me distress and sue you as you do the other way around. What you are arguing for is censorship, plain and simple, based on your conviction that your views are right and opposing views are not only wrong but dangerous. It is people like you that are going to make the Bible illegal in 20 years or less thanks to court cases like this. Thank you for stopping by to prove my point.

  9. Eden Hadassah:

    I am not bemoaning this. I am just warning Christians as to what is going on. And incidentally, fighting for rights is appropriate, because Paul invoked his rights as a Roman citizen and a former member of the Sanhedrin frequently in order to retain his freedom and extent his life so that he could continue to preach the gospel. Yes, things are falling into place, but I had no idea that it would happen this fast.

  10. HTL:
    As I recall in the book of Acts, Paul was told by prophets more than a few times not to go to Jerusalem, and he chose to do things his own way. The Holy Spirit warned him, yet he chose to do his own thing. He ended up in prison, and yes, he did have to at that point assert his own rights as a roman citizen. So if he gave up his own rights, why take them back? By disobeying and going to Jerusalem, even though he went through the purification requirements, he incited riots and caused dis-harmony with the church in Jerusalem. I dare say that his disobedience caused more problems then brought glory to the L_rd. It caused all eyes to be on Paul, and it did not glorify Yeshua. Instead he sat in jail. I know that it all works out in the end for G_d’s glory, and that is were grace does abound as well…my point is that we can not follow Paul, we must follow Yeshua.

  11. Eden Hadassah:

    Well, Paul’s decision to go to Jerusalem has long been a point of controversy. So apart from that, there were instances prior to that when Paul invoked his rights as a Roman citizen in order to be freed from jail.

  12. Very true HTL.
    I wonder what the world would look like if they had done things different. If Peter would have “waited tables” and fed the poor widows, etc…
    Have you ever wondered? I have. I have often wondered about the chain of events in Peter and the disciple’s lives, if they would have stayed and “waited tables” feeding the “sheep”, would Stephen be around, and would he glorify the L_rd in another way? Has anyone ever wondered?

  13. John said

    Eden Hadassah Said:

    “As I recall in the book of Acts, Paul was told by prophets more than a few times not to go to Jerusalem, and he chose to do things his own way.”

    I Say:

    I dont see anything is scripture that agrees with what you say. No Prophets told him not to go. There were some who prophecied of what would happen to him when he went but that does not mean that Paul was “doing things his own way”. Paul was actually meant to go to Jerusalem so he could be arrested and sent to Rome. So he could be a witness there.

  14. John said

    HTL my web site is:

    truediscernment.wordpress.com

    Thanks and good reply to Dee.

    God Bless

  15. John: Oh, I have been to your site before. I think that I have even linked to some of your content! Thanks!

  16. Acts 21:4,5
    “Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way.”

    Acts 21:10
    “After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and hand him over to the Gentiles.'”

    Acts 21:4,5 was pretty clear that through the Spirit, they urged Paul not to go. How are you going to interpret that? If they, the disciples were “urging” him not to go, and he still chose to go, then he did his own thing. Moving on to Acts 21:10 we see a prophet who was rebuking him, because he did not listen. That is pretty clear. The prophet is telling him plainly what will happen to him in Jerusalem, and it happened, so we know that the prophet was of G_d, and we also know that it was a consequence of Paul disobeying the Spirit’s urging.

  17. Also, one more thing, sorry…
    Paul as a Roman Citizen did not need to go to Rome in chains, he could go by his rights as a Roman Citizen…right?

  18. angelawd said

    You talk as if we’ve already lost our free speech rights, and as if churches and individuals are routinely taken to court for saying things like homosexuality is against what the bible teaches.

    These things have not happened yet. As rational adults, we should not treat our fears as realities. Instead, we should work towards making sure our fears do not become realities.

  19. Darkwater said

    The judgement of the court is correct. These so-called christians are not. They try to provoke people in attacking them so that they can sue the attacker – that is how they fund themselves. Two of them have been disbarred in their own state. They are true scam-artists of the most vile nature. They reap for what they have sowed. Hatred has no place in Christianity. None. That is what these people spew.

  20. Darkwater and angelawd: Can either of you point to a similar judgment being rendered? You perceive me as defending their beliefs or in any way shape or form. I am not. Instead, I see this as an attack on free speech that will have real ramifications in the future.

    Take this media furor over that bounty hunter using a racial slur in a private conversation. Now I am black, so naturally I will not defend racial slurs or claim that someone who uses that term when there are many more at their disposal is not racist. But my goodness IT WAS A PRIVATE CONVERSATION! And yes, the law is SUPPOSED to protect our right to be a racist and to speak like one. I do not want it any other way because I do not want our wicked government to be an arbiter of righteousness or moral purity in the hearts (or on the lips) of men: that is the job of Jesus Christ.

    This country really is on the verge of censoring speech. No one talks about it because they are doing a very good job of picking people that no one wants to defend to press their agenda.

  21. […] So The War Between Church And State Begins With Fred Phelps I will forgo the usual routine of prefacing my comments with a discussion as to whether the behavior of Fred Phelps and […] […]

  22. Eric C said

    The Phelps KKKlan and the Westboro “Baptist” cult are a blight on the body and their come-uppance are long overdue. The hate-originated invective they have practiced over the years is NOT a First Amendment issue. The premise that the government is shutting down their First Amendment rights is false on its face. The very court system that issued the judgement against Phelps et al is the same court system that ruled AGAINST laws enacted to prohibit the Westboro protests/pickets. Theologically, I do not disagree with their premises about the abomination of homosexuality. However, the delivery and the manner in the way they address the issue are wholly faulty and unbiblical. They have not spoken truth in love; “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Since this site concerns demonic activity, I suggest that the Westboro cult is demon infested and needs prayer and deliverance. I’m sure there are sincere, God-loving souls in Westboro who have merely been lead astray by a proud, hate-filled demoniac; much like the congregation of the People’s Temple was lead to destruction by Jim Jones in the 70’s. The judgement and eventual demise of the Westboro cult should give every true believer comfort and solace. The damage they have done to legitimate, biblical homosexual deliverance ministries is incalculable. If you think this is an exaggeration, just go to one of the Westboro issue websites (godhatesamerica.com and godhatesfags.com). All they have to offer is vile, hate-filled invective and rhetoric; no gospel or path to righteousness. If you listen closely, you might even hear a clanging cymbal.

  23. Gene S said

    Hmm, looks like Phelps’ chickens are coming home to roost. Of course, this only serves to validate him and his ilk in their poisoned little minds, so I’m sure that while they spew more hateful invective out at the world, they are even now writhing in self-rightous pleasure over their treatment by a human court of law. The wheels keep turning.

  24. Eric C:

    Again, the issue was not whether the Phelps are a legitimate Christian body, which they are not. The issue is also not whether they deserved comeuppance, they clearly did. The question is how can an $11 million dollar judgment be levied against them when they were not guilty of a criminal or civil offense. Look, the pro – abortion crowd tried this same trick against pro – lifers in the 1980s back when the abortion battles were REALLY confrontational, being fought in the streets. They sued claiming that the speech of the pro – lifers intimidated, harassed, created a climate of fear for, and caused emotional anguish for the clinics and patrons of abortion clinics. When that failed, they were able to use RICO to shut down Operation Rescue. Later the courts ruled that RICO was used inappropriately but by then it was too late: the radical phase of the abortion movement was dead. The issue is not whether the speech of Westboro Baptist Church was theologically correct, moral, or proper in any sense, but the fact that an $11 million dollar judgment was levied against them for it. Again, the speech was not threatening or defamatory in any way in this case (although it certainly can be argued that it has been defamatory in the past).

    My challenge to you is the same as my challenge to Blackwater. Show me another case where an $11 million judgment was given over speech that while hateful was not defamatory or threatening. It is very convenient to make Westboro and Phelps the object here, but doing that willfully ignores the fact that there was a precedent set here, and that precedent is not a good one for the church. I think that you may be unaware that a Philadelphia prosecutor arrested two guys for handing out gospel tracts and evangelizing at a gay pride event. The case was thrown out of court only because of the absence of an applicable hate crimes law.

    Do not limit your thinking to “this opens the door to persecute any Christian that criticizes homosexuality.” That is exactly how they want you to think. Really, this has nothing to do with homosexuality, but rather speech and the right of the government to use its coercive power to limit it. That is why your statement that the First Amendment gave them the freedom to hold the protest in the first place but the First Amendment is not at issue here is invalid. This was a government court. The government judge of this government court had the RESPONSIBILITY to vacate this ruling. He did not. Higher courts have the RESPONSIBILITY to set aside this ruling. If they do not – and I do not think that they will – the PRACTICAL effect will be an abridgment of free speech. If saying what you want means opening yourself up to an $11 million dollar legal judgment, people are going to shut up, period. If I can intimidate you into silence with the threat of a judgment or shut you up by bankrupting you with the judgment, then either way I win by shutting you up. That is the point.

    What is it that you believe? Do you believe that biblical truth telling done in love will insulate Christians from judgments like this in the future? Think again. Do you believe that a bad jury verdict accomplished good by silencing speakers of evil, that it was a fulfillment of the Psalms saying that the evil will be snared by their own misdeeds? While there is some merit to that logic, I prefer to think of it in terms of two wrongs making an even greater wrong as opposed to a right, and that light cannot come from darkness.

  25. Gene S:

    Yes, the chickens of the Phelps are coming home to roost, and I have been to their website and they are reacting just as you predicted. But my goal was never to advocate for or to even qualify the statements and action of Westboro Church. Their chickens came home to roost, but my position is that Bible – believing Christians will be eating some of those eggs shortly. The wheels keep turning? Yes, but what has been set in motion will affect legitimate Christianity. That is my whole point. Do not limit your thinking to “this opens the door to persecute any Christian that criticizes homosexuality.” That is exactly how they want you to think. Really, this has nothing to do with homosexuality, but rather speech and the right of the government to use its coercive power to limit it.

  26. Dave W, said

    Look people we hve not lost religious/speech freedoms. As I see it the court ruling is a result of a group(WBC) going to far with their “beliefs”. The WBC were “targeting” families of US soldiers, they weren’t staging public protest making general statements that they were for or against. Instead the sought out specific people to harass and defame. Contrary to what healtheland said above what the WBC said about Mr. Snyder and how he raised his son were defamitory(ie that Mr Synder raised his son to defy his Creator, and raised him for the devil) are text book examples of defaming someone. It is still legal to say in this country that “Abortion is evil” or that the “Gay lifestyle is evil”, but when to point to someone and say these things WITHOUT proof is defamitory. Just as the KKK holds rallies to promote their beliefs, any church can hold rallies to promote their belief just as long as you don’t point to individuals and spout unfounded/unproven lies.
    Secondly the WBC DID invade the privcy of the Snyders by specificly “targeting” their funeral. How many here have driven by a church/or cemetary and seen a funeral going on? Now how many have stopped by said funeral to offer their condolences? My guess is none because most reasonable people realize that the proper thing is to let the family mourn their loved ones death “in private”.Also how many here would be offended if a stranger stopped by their own family’s funeral? Even if it was to offer their condolences? If the WBC want to get their point accross why didn’t the “protest” when the soldiers came home at an airport or at any military base, or in front of the White House.
    In my view this is not a ruling against churches or religion but a ruling agaist irresponsible people doing irresponsible things.

  27. George Nickens said

    Dear Brothers in Christ,

    In my humble opinion, no matter what one thinks about Phelps’ theology the verdict is nothing but a gross travesty of justice not unlike the medieval persecution of religious dissidents. Persecuting a pastor for his preaching is the act most repulsive and abhorrent, and the judge let the jury get away with that! Sadly, such persecutions are happening more and more often in America: it seems the religious freedom in this country is indeed in a very sorry state. It looks increasingly like the Christians can expect more and harder trials in this land that once has been the bulwark of religious liberty for the whole world. The only good thing about it is one more sign that the coming of Our Savior is at hand.

    Speaking to those of you, who besmirch and defame Fred Phelps for his religious message and preaching activities, instead of helping you Christian brother and standing for the great writ of religious liberty that made this land great, shame on you! You harden your Christian brother’s heart, and strengthen the hand of persecutor, the godless government: so you will reap what you saw, as the the author of the article correctly pointed out.

  28. john said

    Eden Hadassah said:

    How are you going to interpret that? If they, the disciples were “urging” him not to go, and he still chose to go, then he did his own thing. Moving on to Acts 21:10 we see a prophet who was rebuking him, because he did not listen. That is pretty clear. The prophet is telling him plainly what will happen to him in Jerusalem, and it happened, so we know that the prophet was of G_d, and we also know that it was a consequence of Paul disobeying the Spirit’s urging.

    I say:

    Just because the men were Prophets does not mean they completley understood the Prophecy they were given by God cncerning what would happen to Paul when he went up to Jerusalem. Paul was supposed to go to Jerusalem and he was supposed to go to Rome ot be a witness.

    Further He was supposed to go in chains, so that “in his weakness” God would be strong and Paul’s witness would be that much greater. According to your analogy Paul should have went to Rome under his own free will. Or by his own decision. By a decision of the flesh.

    So Paul did not go his own way. Nor was he being independent in going against the protestation of others.

    What you also forget is that what happened with Paul is past history in others words it is set down in the canon of Scripture therefore what happened to him in Jerusalem and further what happened to him all the way to Rome and the miracles that happended were fore ordained by God.

    Dont ever forget to give God ALL the glory for what happened and wy it happened the way it did in the canon of scripture, It was all part of God’s plan. To say that Paul acted independently against the advice of God by going to Jerusaelem, actually questions the inspiration of God in all of Scripture.

  29. John:
    I disagree with your discourse. The L_rd worked all things to his glory dispite Pauls disobedience. While Paul was in Jerusalem, Yeshua himself warned Paul to leave, and Paul argued his point with Yeshua, and Yeshua sent him over to the gentiles. It was exactly Pauls flesh that led him away in chains. Why would he argue with G_d? To tell Yeshua why he was justified in going to Jerusalem? It was disobedience to be sure. It would not have been his own flesh to go and preach the gospel in Rome. But the evidence of his flesh was made clear in the manner he chose to be taken to Rome. In the book of Acts he would keep exclaiming that he did not do anything against the law, nor would anyone be able to furnish truth about his alleged crimes. But he was guilty of one very major and important thing…he disobeyed the L_rd, and chose to go to Jerusalem anyway.
    His actions, I believe were also of the flesh, because the church in Jerusalem, was already at work within that community. It upset a balance, and undermined the work that was being done in Jerusalem. Or is that not clear? The church in Jerusalem had it’s work cut out for them. He was stepping on “toes.” Everything written in the scriptures was written for G_d’s glory, and that includes the disobedience of His children. I love that the inconsistancies of man, flawed and human are there, especially in the authors of some of the most moving books of the New Testament. It is one of the reasons that I know that all the works are inspired of G_d. When we read of the things that the disciples did that were out of line, and they still wrote about it…that is the power of G_d not to cover it up, but say it like it was.

  30. […] the law, which it is not in Kenya. Any liberal who feels different needs to get out and protest the huge civil judgment against Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church and raise money for their legal defense […]

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