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‘Erm … well, God DOES like fags … a bit … no, a lot , actually’

USING the same tone of revulsion it normally reserves for occasional reports of deadly exotic spiders emerging from store-bought hands of bananas, the media last week subjected those 11-toed freaks from the Westboro Baptist  Church in Topeka, Kansas, to levels of scrutiny they rarely get the UK.

All this attention put British evangelicals in a very uncomfortable place. They were forced to look into a mirror, and were horrified by what they saw.

For what was reflected back at them was not a parody of their own intolerance, but a public display of hatred that they, themselves, have been cultivating for centuries – albeit without the goofy inbred grins, the infantile excitement, and the trashy bright posters which make WBC pickets uniquely revolting.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, of the Westboro Baptist Church

Shirley Phelps-Roper, of the Westboro Baptist Church

What followed was an undignified scramble by a panic-struck pack of fundies to put as much distance between themselves and the WBC.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Evangelical Alliance UK, Faithworks, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the United Reformed Church and Bible Society-funded think-tank Theos jointly declared:

We are dismayed that members of Westboro Baptist Church (based in Kansas, USA and not associated with the Baptist Union of Great Britain) might picket the performance of The Laramie Project in Basingstoke on Friday. We do not share [Westboro’s] hatred of lesbian and gay people. We believe that God loves all, irrespective of sexual orientation, and we unreservedly stand against their message of hate toward those communities.

They added:

Neither the style nor substance of their preaching expresses the historic, orthodox Christian faith. And we ask that the members of Westboro Baptist Church refrain from stirring up any more homophobic hatred in the UK or elsewhere.

Oh my, steady on guys! You can’t just dump centuries of carefully-nurtured prejudice at the drop of a cassock without looking like complete planks!

This was clearly a knee-jerk reaction born out of sheer fright – as pathetic as it was amusing. Many immediately demanded to know what these outfits, which have invested so much time and effort in demonising homosexuality – arguably to an even greater degree than the WBC -now intended doing about putting their own houses in order.

Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, said:

It is welcome that a number of churches and evangelical groups have made a public statement and joined the many others who are opposing Westboro Baptist church-style hate speech. But it is relatively easy to issue statements against extremists, distance oneself, and condemn them. It is more challenging, and uncomfortable, to acknowledge what one might have in common with those we find abhorrent …

He continued:

This is the real challenge that Westboro Baptist Church presents. And among those who have condemned Westboro are some who preach rejection of faithful gay relationships, who deny their baptism and Christian ministry, and who refuse their wisdom. Some have attempted to negotiate opt-outs from equalities legislation so they can themselves discriminate against lesbian and gay people in employment and in the provision of goods and services. The Evangelical Alliance in particular removed the Courage Trust from its membership when the Trust made a Christian commitment to affirming lesbian and gay people.

Concluded Bartley:

The six churches and groups have said with one voice: ‘We believe that God loves all, irrespective of sexual orientation’. We invite them to reflect these words in their actions.

Today, in a move which could be the signal of the start of a more rational and humane attitude towards homosexuality among Christian conservatives, four evangelical groups issued a statement, in which they welcomed the earlier condemnation of the WBC:

This is indeed good news for all in the lesbian, gay and bisexual community, but beneath this rejection of open hatred towards homosexuals, there is a much deeper issue which groups like the Evangelical Alliance still have to face.

We would now call upon these groups to reflect on their own attitudes and prayerfully consider what their ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ teaching does to the minds and souls of faithful Christians who are gay.

This well rehearsed mantra clearly enables some evangelical groups to reject the ‘God hates fags’ approach of Westboro Baptists, but …to hide behind such a mantra in regard to sexual orientation simply ignores the damaging messages which it sends, both to gay Christians struggling with their identity, and to the world beyond which simply hears it as a call to reject, or worse, an excuse to harm gay men and women.

18 responses to “‘Erm … well, God DOES like fags … a bit … no, a lot , actually’”

  1. Stuart W says:

    Oh, lets give them a break this time Barry! I have wondered for years why more Christians don’t speak out against the frothing caricatures in their midst and this has to be a step in the right direction.
    If you look for it on Youtube there is the Jeremy Kyle special with a live link up to Shirley Phelps-Roper and two daughters. One of the more gratifying parts of the show, believe it or not, is when a middle-aged vicar/reverend amoungst the British speakers on stage can’t contain himself any more and stands up to the evil bitch.

  2. Buffy says:

    Honestly I have more respect for WBC than I do for those prats who stand there and claim they love me while refusing me the rights and privileges they have and take for granted. Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Don’t insult my intelligence with this phony BS about “love” while you treat me like crap. Just have the bollocks to come right out and tell me you hate my guts.

  3. Callisto says:

    Exactly Buffy; WBC highlight a lot of things…the viciousness of their god, who does hate ‘fags’, as it says so in the bible, and isn’t that their ultimate authority? Not only does god hate ‘fags’ but demands they be put to death. Now the WBC have not only highlighted their own bigotries and hatreds, but that of their nasty little god as well. Another consequence is that they highlight the rank hypocrisy of those Xians who says, no, no! god loves you! so yeah, prove to me how and when and where god loves anyone at all, let alone gay people. It’s either bigotry on one hand and slimy, two-faced, weasely hypocrisy on the other…
    they ALL make me sick…

  4. Dr William Harwood says:

    LEVITICUS 18:22 :- “You’re not to tup a man the way you tup a woman. That would be detestable.” Written by the Priestly Author, 621-612 BCE, in the unrealistic expectation that he could force gay men to start breeding tithe-paying believers.
    LEVITICUS 20:13 :- “If a man tups a man the way he tups a woman, they are both without fail to be executed.” Written by Yahweh’s self-styled spokesman Ezra, 434 BCE, in furtherance of the same delusion.
    DEUTERONOMUY 13:6 :- “…the woman who fulfils your physical needs, or the male lover who means as much to you as your own breath.” Written in 621 BCE by the gay spokesman Jeremyah, whose denigration of the Aaronic priesthood may have been part of the reason the Priestly Author criminalized Jeremyah’s orientation.
    1 SAMUEL 16:21-23 :- “Saul sent word to Yishay, ‘Please allow David to remain with me, for he has become the delight of my eyes.’ What happened was that, whenever the disposition the gods had inflicted overwhelmed Saul, Davis strummed a lyre and entertained him with his hand, so that Saul was relieved and refreshed.”
    1 SAMUEL 18:3 :- “The breath of Yahuwnathan was dependent on the breath of David, for Yahuwnathan loved him as his own breath.”
    1 SAMUEL 20:41 :- David and Yahuwnathan “kissed each other and wept with each other until David ejaculated.”
    JUDGES 14:20 :- “Samson’s woman was transferred to his compatriot, who had been his boyfriend.”
    Even after gay sex for men was prohibited, lesbianism was not banned since, in a culture in which women were economically compelled to marry, recreational relationships between women did not prevent them from being bred as often as their owners wished. The historical novelist who wrote JUDITH reported that, after obtaining financial independence by a brief marriage, Judith spent the remainder of her life with an intimate female friend. Judith’s biographer saw nothing inappropriate in such a relationship, because sexual preference was still regarded as analogous to preferring tennis to golf.
    For further information see For This We Thank Our Fuhrer: Why the God Fantasy Is a Crime Against Humanity (Booksurge, 2007, pp. 55-63).
    All quotations are from The Fully Translated Bible (Booksurge, 2007).

  5. Tim Danaher says:

    “…whenever the disposition the gods had inflicted overwhelmed Saul, David strummed a lyre and entertained him with his hand, so that Saul was relieved and refreshed.”

    ‘Entertained him with his hand….?’ Oh, right, I get it… shadow-puppets!!!

  6. valdemar says:

    Blimey, perhaps I should read the Bible after all. If only to look for loopholes.

    Perhaps evangelical Christians can just ignore the anti-gay bits in the same way they ignore the prohibitions about lending and borrowing at interest? Or don’t Christians have mortgages?

  7. AlexMagd says:

    Trust the only sensible, responsible answer to be from Ekklesia. Love those guys. If every religious person had the same awareness of human rights, secularism and sense of fairness the world would be a much better place.

  8. Angela K says:

    I’m not in the least surprised by various religious factions in the UK and their attempt to distance themselves from WBC, because they can’t have WBC advertising the bigotry and hypocrisy of religion for all to see. I’m pretty hacked off that the so called moderate Christians hide their hatred of people like me behind a veil of fake respectability.

  9. Stuart H. says:

    Faithworks – this would be the mob behind ‘Stop The Traffik’, who seem to be lobbying for a change in the law on prostitution (which will impact most on small premises run by groups of women trying to stay off the street) on the dubious grounds that any migrant woman in the UK must be working here as a hooker having been brought here against her will?
    Hmm, I’m really going to take their views seriously!

  10. Max says:

    Stuart are you really supporting the exploitation of women in Brothels who are duped into coming to Britain, kept against their will, enslaved and forced to have sex with dozens of men everyday?

  11. Alun says:

    I think this Rowan Atkinson sketch on “Not the Nine O’Clock News” just about sums it up.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPUE9xpxjcc&feature=related

  12. Alun says:

    Here’s a joke our friend Bob would appreciate.

    I’m interviewing someone who’s obviously religious, and another who’s obviously gay for a job.

    Who gets the job?

  13. Buffy says:

    Alun,

    Does the gay person claim he can’t do the job because of his gayness? I’ve never seen it happen. The religious person will likely be claiming left and right that his “deeply held religious beliefs” prevent him from doing all manner of job duties, yet you still have to pay him or it’s “religious persecution”. Then if you fire him you’ll have a lawsuit to deal with. Save yourself the hassle. Hire the gay guy.

  14. Peter D. says:

    American here, from Kansas no less. I was actually in Topeka today. Funny thing is, I have never seen the WBC locally, either the members or the compound itself. Every time I see them it’s on the TV and they’re somewhere else. Apparently they’re looked upon by Topeka residents just as they would be looked upon by Londoners–as pariahs. I think there are only about 40 of them. A couple of extended families mainly. For such a small group they sure to get a lot of attention. And that’s exactly the problem. They act provocative to get attention and that’s exactly what they get. Ignoring the WBC probably wouldn’t dampen their conviction, but it would eventually eliminate their publicity. And that would be a good thing.

  15. Alun says:

    That’s just it Buffy. You can’t have a laugh with uptight religious cretins. Believe me, I know.

  16. Urmensch says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Peter D.
    These WBC people are loathsome attention whores that we’d be better off ignoring.
    I do enjoy the desperate scramble of the other religiots to disown them though.
    They disgust me much more.
    The type that give this unctuous- ‘We only want to punish you because we love you.’ -spiel make my skin crawl.
    At least the unadulterated hatred of the cast of ‘Deliverance’ is honest.

  17. Bob says:

    You can disaprove of gay behaviour without hating them as people.

  18. Urmensch says:

    Bob

    It is fine by me if someone merely disapproves. Why should we try to seek the approval of everyone?
    It is when someone would prefer that those they disapprove of cease to exist, and they act to bring that about, it stops being just disapproval and becomes hatred.
    What is labelled ‘gay behaviour’ is just behaviour.
    If a behaviour is somehow morally reprehensible, such as murder or theft, it shouldn’t matter who commits the act.
    If a behaviour is morally acceptable between a man and a woman then why does that change if the couple are of the same sex?

    You can’t separate people from their actions as part of the definition of a person is agency. To be is to do.
    You can’t act in such a way as to prevent a person expressing their nature and pretend that it is not an attack on, or oppression of that person. Unless you can show how someone else’s behaviour impinges upon you and your well-being, any attempt to control or deny the other’s autonomy is an attack upon that person.
    The motivation for that attack, however you dress it up, is some degree of hatred.

    Otherwise, feel free to clutch your pearls and disapprove all you want.