Two of my pet-gripe issues returned to the news this week. Both these stories demonstrate that Christians are occasionally pretty good at making a mess of things and startlingly bad at cleaning up after themselves. It is particularly surprising when one considers that in both cases the offending parties believe themselves to be doing ‘outreach’, but have succeeded only in offence. Both would claim to want to see sinners repent, yet neither seems to have much of a knack for repentance.
The wholesome folk of Westboro Baptist (aka godhatesfags.com) have been spreading the ‘gospel’ at funerals again, telling grieving families how much God hates them and enjoyed killing their children. This time, they were picketing the funeral of a Marine who lost his life in a Humvee accident. According to the ineffable thinking of the Westboro people, America is far too civil towards gay people, therefore God is killing soldiers in order to punish the country for its compromise.
Why it is that God would need to randomly execute some unrelated soldier for the sins of others, and why it is that Westboro would need to grind extra misery into the wounds of the grieving when the deceased is collateral damage — how any of Westboro’s thinking makes any Christian sense — is beyond me.
The father of said Marine claimed for damages and won the case and an amount that seems large enough to cripple Westboro. Unfortunately the verdict was overturned on freedom of speech grounds. Thing about freedom of speech is that you need also to take responsibility for the effect of your words. Spewing hatred at a funeral does genuine damage; I’m all for forcing them to pay genuine damages. If the church doesn’t survive the payout, all the better.
UCT, Atheists and Campus for Christ
After the public spat caused by aggressive blasphemy in a UCT student publication, a debate was scheduled between the atheist community on campus and some local church leaders. The organiser, Michael Nlandu, made a significant enough hash of the preparations to see the event cancelled with only a day to spare. This upset him, and so he spewed much vitriol upon the Atheist Society for their part in the failed event (and for much of his part too).
Yet after blaming the AAS for the blasphemy in the magazine (which they had nothing to do with), after insulting them without provocation in a campus paper, after seeing that they were publicly blamed for the failure in Christian media, and after launching repeated verbal assaults at them over email, he has decided that he is not finished.
He has launched another series of unsubstantiated attacks against the AAS, blaming them for damaging his car and various other things. He’s busy instituting formal proceedings against them even though he has no reason to link them to anything that’s happened other than the fact that they are keeping a public record of his rude correspondence with them.
I have in the past tried to urge him to repent of his accusations and insults, but he accused me of threatening him, and in turn threatened to tell my boss.
I’m sure there are supposed to be qualifications for the pastorate. We just let anybody in these days…