The pseudo-religious “ministry” of Westboro Baptist Church has been in existence since 1955. Based on its own propaganda, this group is anti-homosexual, anti-american, and basically anti-everything. Subheadings on this site include “God Hates The World” and “America is Doomed”. This organization has used the method of protest and public assembly to get their message out. This message combines typical elements for fear mongering, scapegoating and unsubtle calls to action that are endemic to hate groups of all kinds. The site uses provocative language and obnoxious methodology (such as picketing funerals) to call attention to their efforts. That the group uses the vehicle of Christian religion to frame their nonsense is offensive not only to those who would abhor an anti-gay message in general, but also to those who espouse true religion and, while they may not condone or agree with certain lifestyles, understand that it is, according to all Judeo-Christian doctrine, not their place pass judgment.
Since the early 1990s, this group has been attempting to spread their “message” through protests (they claim 34,000 to date) that take place at any public situation that is subject to media attention. This includes funerals of military personnel, and openly gay citizens. They carry signs with provocative, insulting language, and personify hate and ignorance wherever they go. Interestingly, the focus appears to be on criticizing those things they disagree with (Homosexuality, War, etc.) yet they offer no remedy or hope of salvation. They claim that their Church is that hope, but make no attempt to suggest a course of action that would mitigate the perdition to which they seem to feel the world is doomed. In sum, this group seems to be nothing more than an organization dedicated to the preaching of hate and condemnation of all things American. As is typical, while criticizing the United States for its tolerance of differing viewpoints, Westboro unashamedly takes advantage of the First Amendment to protect their right to spew such hatred in public venues.
The reactions of individuals to this group’s methodology and methods seem to be universally negative. Even those who might agree with the sentiments do not condone the manner in which they are expressed. Those who disapprove of this group’s message fall generally into two groups: those who don’t condemn the gay lifestyle or U.S. War in Iraq, and those who may or may not so condemn, but abhor the manner in which their religious beliefs and holy book are misused to promote this group’s agenda. Of the two, religious people seem to have the strongest reaction against Westboro. The reason for this reaction is very simple. The group not only misrepresents Christian doctrine, is besmirches the reputation of all Christianity by painting the religion and its God as vengeful, hate-filled, and mean-spirited. Most Christians believe that their faith is founded fundamentally upon love and forgiveness, to elements notably absent from Wesboro’s philosophy. In fact, the very name of their website invokes an attitude that is contradictory to the teachings of most Christian churches. The idea that “God Hates…” anyone or anything other than sin is laughably inconsistent with the scripture from which adherents to Westboro draw their “inspiration”. The “saving grace” of this entire organization is their apparent lack of any goal at all. Other than shouting about whom and what God hates, the group suggests no specific action. They do not directly advocate violence (although they rejoice in it), they do not ask for repentance, they simply carry signs and tell us who God hates today.
This group is as pointless as it is obnoxious. Comparisons to the KKK and other hate organizations fall short fort the simple reason that these other groups, no matter how loathsome and despicable, at least seem to have some purpose to their work. The Westboro group seems intent on doing nothing more that yelling about how terrible everything is, and suggesting that we have all brought these conditions on ourselves one way or another. The twisted use of scripture that this group utilizes is equally troubling. The passages used are taken out of context, and distorted in order to express a viewpoint. As an example, the website uses Romans 9:13 as a justification for hatred, while ignoring the context of the entire letter (from Paul to the Romans), which is a dissertation on God’s mercy.
The use of provocative language, cited by one of the “feelings” reactions has, as was pointed out, no value beyond shock and marketing. The language of hate targets those who feel hate and desire a venue by which they can shout it for all to hear without fearing judgment from their social peers. The fact that they use this terminology merely broadcasts the notion that this group is convinced of its own righteousness, and that no amount of rational discourse can be employed to change their minds. The short response to this group is simple: “Never argue with crazy people.” As Mark Twain put it, “Don’t try to teach a pig to read. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.” Nobody on either side of the real issues that this group prates about pays any attention to what they say. As such, they are reduced to background noise, and serve as a representative example that no bottom has yet to be found to the well of human stupidity. They are obnoxious, but harmless.