I came across the website of ‘Westboro Baptist Church’, which has the charming address: ‘godhatesfags.com’ (which they claim is a profound theological statement — they are short of real ones over there). It is the work of the unlikeable Reverend Fred Phelps, who has made it his mission to expose the ‘greatest lie ever told’, i.e. that God loves everyone. He has organised a whopping 41,000 protests since 1991, all with the aim of telling homosexuals that God hates them. A favourite protest site is any funeral of gay people. His followers even attended the funeral of a young man who was beaten and strung up to die on a barbed-wire fence, where they happily announced that he had ‘split hell apart’ and is burning under the hatred of God.
His motivation is that homosexuality is a sin, and therefore to let it persist unabated is consigning people to hell. People need to hear the truth so that they can be saved. That’s fine, but what makes it the only sin worth mentioning (so much so that his entire church is covered by this hateful banner, and so much so that he blames September 11 – and virtually every other major tragedy, it seems — on God’s judgment upon homosexual sin)? What makes it OK to abandon the core Christian ethic of love, and instead to actively hate? What about him would make anyone want to be saved by what ‘saved’ him?
I wrote the following (rushed) letter to him moments ago, and I publish it here because the Church Universal bears the responsibility if it allows Christ’s name to be blasphemed like this without public reprimand. This is my small contribution towards the rebuke that his antiChristian behaviour deserves, in the hope that it will produce some more.
Your hatred for sinners is both mystifying and deeply disappointing to me as a (conservative evangelical) Christian. ‘I hate you’ is hardly the message of the gospel.
I agree that homosexuality is a sin, but why on earth would anyone want to be a Christian like you? God hates sin so much that he became incarnate and died to save people from it. When sinners killed him, he offered no insults in return. You guys hate sin so much that you go to funerals and insult people who are grieving, using hateful and threatening language. You won’t be incarnated in the lives of the lost. You won’t eat with the prostitutes and tax collectors. You laugh at the judgment of others! You should be awestruck by hell because of what you’ve been saved from! ‘Such were some of you’, says Paul. Instead you think nothing of taunting the lost and laughing at them.
I am physically sickened by the hatred and nastiness that I’ve seen in investigating your site. Perhaps you know what kinds of words to say when asked what the gospel is, but you clearly have no idea what the gospel means. I pray that you and your congregation will repent before Christ himself addresses you with ‘Woe’ as Pharisees. Remove the plank from your eye so that you can see clearly to remove the speck from others. Christ sends those who call him ‘Lord’ to hell too. It’s those who hear his words AND do what he says who will stand in the judgment (Matt 7).
Fear God and keep his commandments indeed [a verse quoted on the ‘Contact’ page], the greatest of which is love (even for enemies).
Wishing you grace,