Monday, October 29, 2007

Is Fred Phelps a Mole for Satan?

A number of years back, there was a gay rights activist here in the Twin Cities (who shall here remain nameless). Everybody knew who he was. He was noisy and egotistical and hateful. He used to actually run his own gay newspaper. He was constantly organizing really obnoxious protests. For example, he would vociferously protest gay rights organizations that didn't take the position that gay sex should be allowed any time, anywhere, including in public places like parks or restrooms or the University campus. Public sex was one of his favorite causes. He accused a Jewish lesbian friend of mine of being a "Nazi" because she disagreed with his views on this subject. For some weird reason, for many years the Twin Cities media seemed to think he was the representative of the local gay community. He was constantly being interviewed in newspaper articles and on local TV news, despite the fact that most people in the gay community couldn't stand him. Whenever he showed up at some GLBT community meeting, mayhem and contention followed in his wake. I once wrote a letter to his paper protesting one of his positions. He changed my letter to make it sound like I was saying the opposite of what I actually intended, and then published the altered letter. That's the kind of guy he was. People stopped reading his paper until it went out of print. People stopped attending his protests until he was basically the only one who showed up at them. People made it clear he was unwelcome at their meetings. The local media eventually got the clue and stopped interviewing him. Gradually, thankfully, he disappeared. I have no idea what's become of him.

I and some friends of mine developed a theory about him. We figured he wasn't really gay. (Nobody knew anybody who'd actually slept with him!) He was a mole of some anti-gay-rights group, with a mission to undermine the gay rights movement from within.

So whenever I read about the activities of the good Reverend Fred Phelps, such as this recent protest at the funeral of a marine who was killed in Iraq, I wonder. Is Fred Phelps a mole for Satan?


Abelard Enigma said...

I don't think I would use 'good' and 'Fred Phelps' in the same sentence. The Westboro Baptist church is nothing more than an insignificant cult that doesn't warrant the media attention that it gets. If people would just ignore them then they would disappear into obscurity.

J G-W said...

I used to really get worked up about Phelps. Then I gradually realized what you did...

The case I referenced is a good example of his beyond the pale looniness... He made his name by showing up at AIDS funerals and reminding the families that their loved one was going to burn in hell for all eternity. But now he's showing up at funerals of any soldier who's died in Iraq or Afghanistan, proclaiming that their deaths are God's punishment because America tolerates "sodomy"? Who can take this seriously?

YET wouldn't it also be true to say that Phelps is merely on the extreme end of a continuum... He only says and does what LOTS of conservative Christians think, but are afraid to say or do for fear of looking bigoted. For instance, Jerry Falwell (God rest his soul) routinely blamed disasters (such as 9/11) on America's tolerance of homosexuality. I've heard similar attitudes expressed by LDS. We all know those attitudes are out there, far beyond the walls of Westboro Baptist Church.

And isn't the ultimate effect of those kinds of attitudes to close people off from faith? Decent people, people with consciences, people who are loving and caring human beings will see this as an example of how religion promotes intolerance.

Thus my Satanic mole theory.

Abelard Enigma said...

Do Phelps and his followers represent the extreme end of a continuum? Or are he and his followers simply circus freaks that we follow out of morbid curiosity?

Maybe I live in a bubble - I've heard people utter homophobic comments, some quite hurtful; but, I've never personally heard anyone say something that comes even close to the drivel that Phelps and his ilk spew forth. Sure there are those who like to parrot the things that Phelps and others say; but, does that include anyone of consequence? Some people still cling to the idea that Elvis is still alive - but does anyone really pay them heed? Or are they just another circus freak that we like to gawk at?

Thus my Satanic mole theory.

Personally, I think Satan is considerable more subtle and cunning than that. I mean, do their words and actions really 'convert' anyone? Or are they simply attracting like minded circus freaks, like flies to carrion?

J G-W said...

Well, I am of course writing tongue-in-cheek about the mole thing.

I'm not sure what to make of Fred Phelps. Perhaps we can chalk his behavior up to a particular kind of mental illness or obsession. Or maybe he's just one of these unfortunates who thinks that any kind of attention is good and will do absolutely anything to get it (in which case, shame on the media for playing his game). Or maybe he's just filled with lots of good, old-fashioned rage and hate, a common worldly affliction. Or all of the above.

But his basic message is that homosexuality is an abomination, and that America will be punished for tolerating it. Do you really think that message has no resonance in our culture?

playasinmar said...

You can't mention Westboro without linking to this video!

Abelard Enigma said...

But his basic message is that homosexuality is an abomination, and that America will be punished for tolerating it. Do you really think that message has no resonance in our culture?

There is no doubt that his message resonates with some people - but do those people count? Do such small minded people really wield any influence in our society? Elvis sightings resonate with some people too; but, most intelligent people, the people who do make a difference in our society, simply dismiss them as kooks.

IMOHO, we empower people like Fred Phelps by paying attention to them.

J G-W said...

Playa - Yikes! That makes me cringe to watch!

Abe - May their numbers be truly as small and insignificant as you believe. May true faith -- which is always based on love -- flourish.

Actually, the reason for my post was because my partner forwarded me a link to a blog where people were getting quite indignant and upset about Fred Phelps. I agree with you in a sense, in that I feel the far greater danger is that his activity cause us to get worked up with hate and anxiety.

Abelard Enigma said...

May their numbers be truly as small and insignificant as you believe.

The Westboro Baptist Church only has about 75 members - and most of them are related to Fred Phelps. Their 'church' is the lower floor of Phelps home which sits on a compound of 10 houses with a communal backyard.

The only reason they get national (and worldwide) recognition is because their ideas are so preposterous - they are a circus freak show that the media seems to have a morbid fascination with. Does anybody know anyone who takes them even semi seriously?

According to Phelps: Catholics, Jews, Mormon's, Muslims, etc. are all going to hell because they're all fag enablers. Their own web site says: "God hates Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and all such American heretic preachers." They protested at Jerry Falwell' funeral - the reason he died is because he didn't take a stronger stand against fags.

btw, I corrected the spelling in my quote from their web site. It actually says "... and all such Arminian heretic preachers" (emphasis added). Apparently, they can't spell. Maybe God hates spell checkers too.

Another extremeist organization which preaches that God hates homosexuals is "A True Church"; however, even they have proclaimed that "God Hates Phelps".

playasinmar said...

It makes you cringe? Did you watch the whole video?

"No, I will admire him from afar!"

HA! :D

J G-W said...

Yes, I watched the whole video all the way to the end! That's the part that made me cringe!

Jim Kingdon said...

Arminian (not American) is probably right, see Arminianism. My grandmother was a congregationalist (UCC) all her life, born in a missionary family, and one of her acquaintances was always warning her against the Arminian heresy. This caused great amusement among our family as most of the church has forgotten all about the battles between followers of Arminius and Calvin, except the reformation scholar in our family who was glad to tell us all about infralapsarian double predestination versus antelapsarianism double predestination, trying (perhaps in vain) to spice up the debate as much as he could.