Editorial by Robert
Famous for picketing the funeral of gay murder victim Matthew Shepherd with signs like "God Hates Fags," reverend Phelps planed to be in Bellingham, but never showed up. His plan was to protest the graduation ceremonies of Ferndale High School after that student body elected a lesbian woman for Prom King. See details.
I once heard pastor Phelps interviewed on the radio. There actually is a rather bizarre logic to his argument.
Here are some thoughts I gathered from listening to that interview. According to Phelps's world view, God hates homosexuality so homosexuals shall go to eternal damnation. By warning of this "impending doom," he thinks he is doing people a favor! This logic is all based on the assumption that God is really that vindictive.
Phelps must think of himself as being like a fire alarm. A ringing bell can be awful loud and obnoxious, but it does warn people to "get out of the building." Yes, he seems to think that the building is burning.
There is a very rigid form of logic in his arguments. Of course it does make sense, assuming a building is burning, to avoid the fire.
On the other hand, what if the building is not burning? Then reverend Phelps is sounding a false alarm.
Further reading of his "God hates fags" web site indicated that he believes in a doctrine of "absolute pre destiny." In other words, for God to be all knowing, he must already know the outcome of all things. Therefore those who are saved, versus the damned, have already been pre determined by God. I guess Phelps's preaching doesn't really do anyone a favor as apparently he believes that everything has already been determined. God can not be in for any surprises; such as people changing course from damned to saved; unless God has already ordained this to take place in the beginning.
Even Phelps's preaching, itself, is just another cog in a cosmic machine who's destination can not be altered.
This rigid style of pre determinism presents a dismal view of God and the universe. A clockwork universe who's every vibration must be known from the beginning in order for there to be an all knowing God is pretty hopeless.
It shows how human beings can easily stumble trying to comprehend such concepts as "all knowing" and "omnipotent."
In this vast universe, I believe our understanding of these concepts can be quite crude.
A God of love, forgiveness and the concept of "free will" makes more sense to me.
There are many different interpretations of Christianity. Very few christians would embrace Phelps's world view. Even conservative, fundamentalist types usually distance themselves from his perspectives. When he comes to town, they do "damage control."
On the other hand, liberal christians, and gay activists tend to look forward to his visits. It is quite an irony. All that hot air drums up a lot of support for gay people from the general public. A great opportunity for things like fund raising.
Some of the responses to this editorial
I was intrigued by your comment
that conservatives are
I must protest the use of the honorific "Reverend" in reference to Fred Phelps. The word Reverend is not a title to which one is entitled, such as Senator or Doctor, but is merely an (optional) honorary reference applied not by oneself but by others. The intent of it is to show due reverence and respect for the individual's character, quality and service to others.
From all I know of Phelp's
language, character and community activities, the use of that honorific
in reference to him is highly inappropriate.
This is in reference to Sue's comment that we should not refer to Westboro Baptist pastor Fred Phelps as the "Reverend" Fred Phelps. She feels that such titles, unlike "Senator" or "Doctor," which are earned designations, "Reverend" is an...honorary reference applied not by oneself but by others...to show due reverence and respect for the individual's character, quality, and service to others." Sue feels that Phelps has not demonstrated such qualities, and thus should not be called "Reverend."
I respectfully disagree. This is not to defend Phelps, but to defend a principle. The principle is respecting the unique and personal subjectivity of all religious and spiritual experience. I don't agree, an iota, with the Reverend Fred Phelps philosophy of life, morality, or religion, but I do respect his personal attempt to relate to whatever he thinks of as "God." Furthermore, such an honorary designation is supported by others--his own congregation. I have a similar dim view of the Reverend Al Sharpton, the Minister Louis Farrakahn, and the late Ayatollah Kohmeni, but I honor their religious traditions just the same by referring to them as Reverend, Minister, and Ayatollah. In a similar vain, I refer to Pope John Paul II as Pope, which means "church patriarch," though I may not relate to Catholicism, much less his rule.
This is not to say that the aforementioned might honor the designation of "Reverend" for a gay church minister (it might violate THEIR own notions what "reverend" means), but it is the burden of the truly religious to convey respect to others, even, or especially, if it is not reciprocated.
I was glad to hear what you had to say regarding Christian views and responses to Mr. Fred Phelps. Knowing that God said we are ALL created in God's image, it would be totally against God to create that living, beautiful, alive, creative side then condemn the very people that demonstrate that.
We are all the same in God's
eyes and heart. If we could just begin to truly celebrate God's
diversity and our own with the vengeance that we talk about diversity what
a beautiful thing we would begin to see and feel.
More of my views on religion