Picking up a copy of the LA Times in my travels, I came across this story of a young woman who left the Westboro Baptist Church, a church headed by and mostly composed of the descendants of Fred Phelps and famous for picketing funerals of soldiers with ant-gay placards.
Westboro is mostly known as a group of offensive weirdos. I read once many members are attorneys and what they really want is to provoke attacks so they can sue and get money. The story is how poor Libby Phelps found freedom from her evil and intolerant family and church. The thing about the media is they can’t completely make stuff up, so you learn something reading even the most slanted journalism. That’s why people in the Soviet Union eagerly read Pravda- somewhere in there was something that told you what was really going on.
The key couple of paragraphs tell you the genesis of Fred Phelps’ anger at and hatred for gays-
“It was the summer of 1991 and her grandfather took two grandsons on a bike ride to a park in Topeka. The park had long been a hookup spot for gays. The family story goes that Fred rode ahead and when he circled back, a man was trying to lure the boys into the trees.
“Furious, he went to the city and demanded it clean up the park. When Topeka’s government did not act, he posted his first sign on a park restroom door: “Watch Your Kids. Gays in Restroom.”
“He went to local churches for support. He found none.
“He became convinced he and his offspring were chosen to battle a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. They needed to take their warnings directly to the public. Fred, now 83, describes his church as Old School Baptist and subscribes to the Calvinist belief that certain people are picked for salvation before birth.”
So- Phelps encountered an example of gross evil, attempted sexual abuse. This isn’t really an issue for any sane people. Even sexual libertine people agree kids are off-limits. Public sex, which was already known to be occurring in the park, is another thing even the most liberal would say is inappropriate.
However, gays don’t seem to really ascribe to this, even if they say they do in the face they represent to the public. I saw a book once by a gay man, an autobiography which from the slip cover notes included a description of his first sexual relationship, when he was 13, with an adult homosexual, which he thought was a great thing. I saw on the cover of a gay paper once a story about the oppressiveness of consent laws and sex offender registration for many gays. The mayor of Portland, Sam Adams, had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. Pop singer George Michael was busted for public restroom sex but is completely unembarrassed about it.
What goes on with gays is there if you look, but one, non-gays find gay sexual behavior gross and don’t want to think about it, and two, gays expect their public image as nice, normal people not to be questioned.
Phelps had discovered a problem, and quite reasonably he expected somebody to do something about it. But the city government was not interested. Churches were not interested. Why? Governments are expected to maintain basic public decency and order, and keeping public spaces free of sexual activity and children free of approach by pedophiles seem pretty high on the list. But even in 1991- which was a long time ago- gays had established themselves politically as a group that was not to be messed with. Even in a relatively culturally conservative place like Kansas, the government of a modestly sized city is going to be run by politically correct liberals.
Dealing with evil sometimes requires confronting people. Not confronting people because they are politically or culturally favored is just as wrong as not confronting someone because they are rich, which seems to be a theme in the New Testament.
Phelps is pretty over the top, but he does have a few points. If you call yourself a Christian or righteous and you don’t confront sin, you are lying. God knows this. God does not have sympathy for unrepentant sinners. They may cry, and feel terrible and suffer but God doesn’t care. God loves, but God is just, and there is no conflict here because justice is love.
The fine people of the Topeka municipal government and the Topeka Christian community would be horrified to be called evil, but if they are more comfortable being politically correct and pro-gay than protecting children, that’s what they are.