Fall From Grace

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

**Warning: This post is a rant**

Clayton and I have had a Netflix subscription on and off since we got married. Clayton was the undisputed king of creating a new email address, signing up for the free 2-week trial, and then promptly canceling the subscription once the 14 days were up. However, once Clayton started working overtime hours, we bought and kept our Netflix account so that he could watch movies on his computer at the office. I never bothered much with the whole thing because I just happen to be the undisputed queen of losing Netflix DVDs for months at a time.

But now that we have our wireless set up (and just in time since we're move in less than 2 months. *eye roll*), we can finally stream Netflix through our Wii. I'm a huge fan of documentaries and the Instant Watch feature has a whole slue of them. Last night Clayton and I watched Fall from Grace, a documentary originally made for a school assignment at the University of Kansas that was written and directed by K. Ryan Jones. The film does an exemplary job of capturing a very unbiased perspective of Westboro Baptist Church minister Fred Phelps and his family.

Perhaps you've heard of this guy?

Fred Phelps' Wikipedia page

The Most Hated Family in America

Military Funeral Protestor Asking For Protection of First Amendment Rights



Westboro Baptist Cult Church was started in 1955 and the congregation's primary members are Pastor Phelp's immediate relatives (he and his wife have 13 children, 4 of which are now estranged). Phelps takes a very "fire and brimstone" approach to his preaching, comparable to John Edwards' Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God. Phelps' sermons promote the image of a spiteful, angry God who allowed the 9/11 terrorist attacks as punishment for our country's homosexual sin.

Westboro Church members have picketed outside more than 22,000 events, including funerals of fallen soldiers in Iraq (regardless of whether or not he or she was even gay). The church's protests include shouting at passerby and waving colorful signs reading such hateful messages as "Thank God for 9/11" and "God Hates F*gs!" (and in case you're wondering, God apparently also hates the Jews, Islamists, the media, America, and the whole world in general).

Taken directly from the chuch's website: "Praise the Lord for [the] 2,010 Dead Soldiers in Iraq ... We humbly pray to God to please kill many more."

In July of 2005, Westboro Baptist Church announced its intention to picket the memorial service of a 19 year-old ammunition specialist who was killed in Iraq. Phelps was quoted as saying, "Our attitude towards what's happening with the war is [that] the Lord is punishing this evil nation for abandoning all moral imperatives that are worth a dime."

Phelps gives Christians a bad name–a deplorable, disgustingly bad name. Fall From Grace interviews another Kansas pastor who simply says, "I am embarrassed". As am I. If I could tell the world just one thing about Christianity, it would be to please not let a few close-minded bigots taint your overall impression of who we are. I don't know about you, but I do not serve a God who hates any of his children. I serve a God full of love and grace. I serve a God who wants us to love our neighbors by the same measure that He loves us. My God tells me not to judge anyone because I myself am a sinner in need of constant mercy and forgiveness.  
What I find interesting is how tightly Phelps grasps to a few choice words in the Bible, and yet completely disregards other scriptures such as:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. – Matthew 7: 1-5

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; 
forgive, and you will be forgiven; – Luke 6:37

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy.  
But who are you to judge your neighbor? – James 4:12

Phelps frequently quotes the verse "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord" (Leviticus 19:18). Really? If vengeance is God's, then why do you feel like it's YOUR responsibility to judge and condemn others to hell, Mr. Phelps?  Did you forget to read the rest of the verse where God commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves?

What really grates my cheese is that Phelps and his followers are allowed to picket outside of these funerals and memorial services. We live in a country where we are allowed to say whatever we want, wherever we want and if Westboro Church wants to show blatant disrespect for men and women who have died serving their country, by-golly, that is their protected First Amendment Right. 

I am floored by Phelps' flagrant, excessive use of the word "f*g". Throughout the film, that word is thrown around freely by everyone—Phelps, his children, and even his own grandchildren. Hearing a child say "God hates f*gs" made my stomach turn in knots to the point where I almost had to turn off the movie. Do these children even understand what that means? Can these children even comprehend this hatred that they are helping to promote?  My heart breaks for them.  


Phelps openly uses the term "f*g" because he hates homosexuals.  He uses a derogatory, slanderous term for a group of people he does not like and whose beliefs he does not respect. So, following that logic, I am now referring to Phelps as an a$$hole. 

I was going to post links to some of the Westboro Baptist Church's websites so you can generate your own opinions, but I decided not to because I do not want such filth on my blog.

I am curious what God is going to say to Phelps and his family on judgement day. I'm pretty sure "Well done, good and faithful servant" will not be uttered to a single one of them. It will probably be more along the lines of "Um, you do NOT speak for me". But hey, who am I do judge?

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5 comments

  1. I have a few points on this topic, if you don't mind. And I will start with the MOST important one to me:

    1) Thank you for saying something. I HATE Westboro and all their propaganda These people are evil with hatred and I wish there was a constitutional way to stop them. The only thing I can think of is states passing some type of law about how far you have to be from a funeral (if you aren't part of it).

    2) I feel comfortable believing that this group is not giving Christians a bad name to the general public. I KNOW - with no doubt - that these people are distorting and insulting the Christian faith. They are clearly acting well beyond the intentions of any higher being. And I ultimately believe that the public is smart enough to know that Christianity is not what they (Westboro) portray it to be.

    3) "What really grates my cheese..." I just loved that statement. :)

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  2. There was a funeral for a fallen solider who happened to be a big motorcycle rider. When his hometown held a memorial for him, his friends and family caught wind that Westboro was coming to picket. A bunch of community members who rode motorcycles parked their bikes right in front to the "designated" picketing area and revved their engines to drown out the protestors. I thought that was pretty neat. The documentary did say that the picketers are confined to certain areas which I guess, in some small way, DOES help.

    I honestly DO think that Westboro Church is tainting perspectives of Christianity, but I don't think that they are single-handedly doing so. There are a lot of radical believers out there who say and do horrible things to other people in the name of religion. I don't believe that America's, and especially the world's, overall impression of Christians is favorable. Unfortunately it just takes a few rotten ones to spoil the taste of the whole batch. That's why it's so important for the rest of the Christian population to go above and beyond to show love and compassion to others.

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  3. I remember seeing where they were picketing a funeral and supporters of the family held American flags all along the way where the picketers were standing. Every time one of the picketers tried to move the flag bearers moved to keep them out of sight of the grieving family. It was so neat to watch.

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with you regarding mainstream America's view of organized religions. Since I belong to one of the most maligned denominations in the world, I have literally had people come up to me and question who I am as a person as a result admitting to what church I attend. I am sad to say that I fear many Americans are unable to think for themselves and research and seek out people who would have correct answers about Christianity. Instead, they would rather believe what the media spoon feeds them - both on TV and in the movies. There are days that I think that we as a country have lost what made our country great to start with - our belief in God, our belief in the good in others, and the loss of any sort of moral compass.

    This was a terrific post. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Just wanted to add there was a funeral for a soldier *someplace* not sure exactly where, and the Westboro Cult was there to picket. The townsfolk got together and drove to the motel where they were all camping out and blocked in all their vehicles until the service was over. It was great to read other instances of the sort. These people will get what is coming to them on their judgement day, that is for sure.

    Another great post, not that I expected anything less. :)

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