I want to talk a little about death and hate.
More specifically the death of a terrible man. Unless you live under a rock, well more under a rock than I do, you may have seen in the news that the founding 'father' of the Westboro Baptist 'church' has died.
Fred Phelps is best known for his God hates Fags message as well as the churches unique way of telling people. From picketing soldiers funerals, to applauding large scale deaths (tsunami etc), to targeting specific people in media outlets/twitter, they haven't made a very good name for themselves. A name maybe, but a positive one hardly.
A goal they applaud. A church that wants little to do with being liked because that would mean they are failing in their goals.
The most disturbing part about their website is how well versed in the bible they are. Using chopped bits and pieces from predominately the Old Testament to create a theology, if you will, of hate. Intermixed with the hate message apparently lies the 'good news', as well as, the many promises of God for those who follow. Also, therein lies an interesting take on what it truly means to be jewish is smashed into their beliefs. There is a purposeful deviation from the message Christ taught of love, forgiveness, not hating your neighbor, and did I mention love?
I bring this all up because I want to talk about the Christian Church and hate.
Many of you may not know that I left England because of a huge church scandal. A scandal I was loosely involved with but was heavily involved in the church. The leader of this church Michael Meyers was, in many ways, a very similar person to Fred Phelps.
His message was a skewed message with a sick and twisted philosophy. A goal to not be liked or anything like the surrounding churches because he would have failed at his goal. I don't believe his message was as explicitly of hate but I wouldn't say that it was far off. The message was hardly on signs of neon but of haughty and underlying tones of religous exclusivity.
He was about as evil as a human can be and hid behind his servile/obedient family (and still does). Obviously, his hate message was not nearly as evident from the first visit but as I got more involved with church planning, planting, and preaching I began to see a man who was preaching a message of his own. Slicing and dicing the Bible to create his own form of truth to aid in his own agenda. An agressive man who much like Phelps only sees himself as the Christ.
Laughably, some of the Q&A sections on westbroro site have the same answers that 'Pastor' Michael had to my questions. Of course, it all seems so crystal clear but only a year out does it seem so.
Phelps has died and to where he has gone I can only imagine. The devious side of me has numerous ideas but voicing them would place my message of Christ's love and forgiveness on the same laughable scale as his hate mongering/name calling message. And, I had an elementary teacher tell me once that if I had to name call to get my point across I had no point to begin with. Wise words that have stuck with me these 27 years.
I want to hate this man, Phelps, but cant. I am absurdly frustrated with the lack of logic and humanity in the messages but I cannot hate someone who thrives off of hate.
Now, here came the revelation. Phelps is the same man as Meyers. Not physically but symbolically.
I have been hating Meyers for quite some time. A feeling I felt quite justified in for the wretched and depraved things that he did to people I love. For the things he continues to do, and for those who will fall under his 'ministry' unknowing of his underlying hate agenda. And lastly but possibly mostly, for his lack of true repentance. He has, unlike Phelps, not died but continues preaching his messages of exclusivity, theological torture, and manipulation.
I believe much like Phelps he is unable to truly be sorry. He is so eaten up with hate and his own agenda he cannot see anything else.
Their message is not the gospel, good news, nor is it Christian. Simply in chosen title alone is their association.
The response to Westboro's picketing recently was a true act of humanity on the counter picketers end. A sign apologizing for the loss of a father, of a mentor and a leader. Someone close to the family of Westbroro's hearts regardless of how anyone felt towards him.
I cannot say that I want to hold an olive branch of love out to the Meyer's family but truly do see the importance now. Disassociating myself with Phelps is truly the first step in freeing myself from hateful 'Christian' messages and I can only hope those involved in hurtful, disgusting, and painful church experiences can do the same.