Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Walt Whitman High Slam Dunks the Phelpses

Yup, that wacky Fred Phelps and his family and friends at the Westboro Baptist Church are in the news again, and this time they got good and spanked!

It seems that seven of Fred's congregants decided to set up a protest outside of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD. Why? Because the school is named after a gay poet, after all! What an abomination! Surely the school should have been crisped by angry bolts of lightning from the furious God for the effrontery? Well, apparently not, so the Westboro Baptist Chuch coterie decided to make up for God's inactivity last Friday.

But it backfired on them. The administrative staff and faculty decided to take advantage of the situation, and the day at school was dedicated to Walt Whitman and his poetry, and to the study of the grand American tradition of tolerance as exemplified in its legal documents and in its literary lights. And then at 2:10 pm, when school let out for the day, 500 students quietly filed outside and faced the protesters. They recited Whitman's poetry to the Phelps-ites. They sang songs to them. In the face of the WBC people's signs and t-shirts that declared "God Hates Fags", "God Hates America", and "God Hates You", the students chanted "We Love You". The students would make any parent proud, while the WBC protestors came across looking like fools. Definitely a slam-dunk for Walt Whitman High School!

You can read the Washington Post article about the event here. I especially recommend watching the included video, where you get to watch several of the WBC people, including one of Fred's daughters and one of his daughters-in-law, say the most outrageous, ridiculous, hateful things with straight faces. It's truly amazing.

One of the ideas that the WBC people kept repeating, and one that Fred Phelps harps on over and over again in his ravings, is that the idea that God loves everybody is a lie. Got hates, says Fred, and then he goes through all the verses he can find in the Old Testament and quotes the ones that say that God hates this thing, or that person, or that tribe. Hate, hate, hate; Fred is all about how God hates, and about how those who say God doesn't hate are liars.

The problem is that Fred is quoting the old Hebrew scripture. But Fred is supposed to be a Christian, and as such he's supposed to believe that through Jesus Christ God established a new covenant, a covenant based on John 3:16 & 17: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." Do you see anything about God hating anybody in there?

According to the Gospels Jesus was always talking about love:

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
- Luke 6: 27 - 31

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say? This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.
- John 8: 3 - 11

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
- John 13: 34 & 35

And of course, there's always Paul's paean to love in 1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
- 1 Corinthians 13: 1 - 13

So you sort of have to ask Fred and his disciples: Are you calling Jesus a liar? And Paul? Are you so gone in hate that you commit the ultimate Christian blasphemy and accuse your God of lying? Really?

And the question that follows after that is: Is the Westboro Baptist Church really Christian? You have to wonder!

© 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. The brother of my son's former girlfriend was killed in Iraq. He went to Missoula for the funeral. The good people of Missoula lined both sides of the route from the church to the cemetery and kept Phelps and his sicko parishioners away all parts of the service.

  2. What rare sanity in an insane world. I love the blog - kind regards from England

  3. I never knew Walt Whitman was gay... I guess I never thought about it before.

    So what's the big deal about naming a school after him? I thought that's what we did in America... name schools after famous Americans.

  4. I donno some people just have a little bit of too much free time on their hands...crazy! and by this I do not include any who may have a mental illness.

    Anyway we just watched Milk the other day and it is really shocking to see how our societal values have changed in such a short time...and all because some had the courage like those brave students to reject predudice and accept rather than judge!