It is after much thought and with a bit of a heavy heart that I am counting myself among the many mentioning Westboro “Baptist Church” today as they have decided to pay a visit to my fair city and protest yet another funeral, this time that of Elizabeth Edwards. This is not the first, and no doubt will it be the last time that they show up like a circus sideshow claiming with zeal that I lack theological views that I simply cannot abide and frankly, views that Scripture does not support – that God gives to individuals certain doses of suffering because of their support of this or of that.
Their behavior and lack of decorum is saddening on the human level, certainly. It is deeply troubling that they refer to themselves as a church, and as a Baptist church it is appalling. What to do with this as someone in ministry is one of the most troubling things of all. To turn the other cheek is a hard enough task, but I find myself wondering what has happened to these people that they have such holes in their hearts, their souls, that they have taken upon themselves this mantle of spreading hatred and manure in this manner, and what’s worse, to claim that it is in the name of Christ? Who or what has hurt them deeply, and are we called to do something positive about it? Am I?
I don’t know. I do know that there are many people that do things in smaller increments that are much the same, that voice and show themselves in manners such as sexism, racism, homophobia and the like. The dislike of the “other” is not so much a hatred of other groups as it is a dislike of self. Am I going to do the easy thing and go along with the masses, chastising their erroneous actions as they act out their pain like Westboro does, or am I going to go the extra mile and find something within these individuals to validate?
Today I’ll think on these things but I’ll also pray for peace not only for the Edwards family, but also for the family that feels some need to cause such unrest in the life of others and in the headlines. Hard as it is to swallow, can you do the same?