Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Please Drink the Kool-Aid, Already

Fred Phelps and his family still pop up to protest at funerals, plays and pro-LGBT functions whenever and wherever they can. Phelps, now 80 (and hopefully closer to his "reward" than one can hope), is a disbarred lawyer who used to argue for civil rights. These days, he's simply a lunatic fringe preacher who claims all of America's ills are to blame on our tolerance of homosexual behavior. His equally insane daughter Shirley, herself a lawyer, claims that the 'church' and its members are spreading 'God's Word.'

The Westboro Baptist Church may well be the most well-known hate group in America. They are also one of the most frightening cults in America. I say this, because of the photo I have posted above. Not one of those children can possibly be over the age of 12, yet they have spent their entire lives being fed the hateful lies and rhetoric of an obvious madman. Thanks to Phelps' misinterpretation of the Bible, these poor kids actually believe that God hates everyone. The 80 or so members of the WBC are all related, either through blood or marriage, and have fallen under the spell of Phelps' preachings.

Truth be told, I did my best to exploit the WBC and their antics. Using a series of fake names (mine was Margaret White - and bonus points to you if you understand why) and email addresses, the JTMF tried to lure the WBC into protesting our production of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, a play they have protested against on more than one occasion, in an effort to garner publicity and the support of our local LGBT community. Unfortunately for us, the WBC's protest schedule (available on their odious website) did not allow for a stop-over in central NJ.

Lately, Phelps' son Nate, a 'defector' from the family, has begun to speak out against his father's insanity. Below, you'll find an ABC News report on Nate and his efforts to disparage his father's and sister's outrageous behavior.

A few years ago, a friend of mine became a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. I always thought of N as a rational, intelligent person who knew the difference between religion and blind-faith. But he was going through a personal rough spot and when his nephews (also Witnesses) brought him into the fold, he was ripe for the picking. N is now an ordained minister of the church and has shunned me because I am gay. I consider this his and my loss. We have both lost not only our friendship, but the rational exchange of ideas toward a greater good (or at least, a personal understanding).

Here's the thing:

When blind obedience to one person or one group clouds one's judgment, it may be time to step back and consider rationality. Sadly, folks like N and the members of the Phelps family who did not escape are so spiritually weakened (either by personal experience or fear-induced dogma), they can no longer function as rational human beings and are reduced to drones in thrall to those who have laid claim to their minds through lies and promises of an unknowable future reward. They then become perfect fodder for racism; homophobia and terrorist attacks. Sound like any other extremist fundamentalist you might have heard about?

While I certainly wish no ill-will on my former friend (or any other person), I certainly hope that (barring some awful Jonestown-like event), they will eventually see the error of their ways and return to rational, humanistic ideals. And if they can't or won't... then "Praise Jesus and Pass the Arsenic." One gets what one deserves.

Ouch! That sounded horrible, didn't it? But I somehow can't help but feel that way about people who are so weak they have to rely on unsubstantiated rhetoric to find purpose in their own existence.

Okay - I'm ranting for a second night in a row. I get it. "We want nonsense, Uncle P." It's coming - as soon as I can get off this high-horse (not an easy task, for those who know me well).

More, anon.


Sam Juliano said...

This is absolutely appalling. It's really amazing in this day and age that we still have the 'fag bashers' out in full force. But the age of these kids? That's truly disturbing.

? said...

Oy Vey. I admire your restraint in writing this one, Brian. The WBC protested last year at the high school I work at because they have one of the strongest LGBT student clubs in Arizona. There were only 7 of them with their hate signs and about 2,000 students, civil rights leaders and everyday folk who showed up. I worked security for the protest and luckily no one got out of hand. I was impressed with the support of the community but couldn't help but wonder how much more effective it would have been had NO ONE showed up to counter-protest these contemptable dregs.

Prospero said...

The most effective anti-protest I remember was at Matthew Shepherd's funeral, where they surrounded the WBC in angels' wings, hiding them from the mourners. Simple, beautiful and effective.