Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is This Love?

Christians behaving badly
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the First Amendment rights of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas who protest at the funerals of fallen US soldiers. I don’t object to the 8-1 decision—I think protecting free speech rights is important for our nation. My objection is that the members of the church are dirtying the face of Jesus. Whenever I see Christians behaving like this it causes me cringe because it makes it harder to fight the stereotype that all Christians are hateful and bigoted.

In my atheist/agnostic days one of the greatest stumbling blocks to accepting Christianity was the actions of Christians. When non-believers see Christians protesting at the funerals of soldiers with signs that say “God hates fags,” “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates your tears,” they come to the conclusion that all Christians are hateful and bigoted. They hear the words of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but then encounter the thoughtless and hateful actions of some Christians and come to the conclusion that Christians don’t walk the walk.

Another objection I have to the protests of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church is their assumption that the deaths of these soldiers are the result of the US’s tolerance of homosexuality. What proof do they have that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are a punishment from God? It seems to me that these people are just projecting their beliefs onto God. Isn’t it more likely that the wars are a result of the decisions of US political and military leaders?

Over the years, I have come to learn that people like the members of the Westboro Baptist church are just rogue Christians who are not living by the teachings of Christianity. When Jesus was on the earth He did have some harsh words, but those words were always aimed at ultra religious people like the Pharisees. I’m not sure what Jesus would have to say to the members of Westboro who protest at soldier’s funerals, but I suspect that he might say that they are whitewashed tombs.

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