The Westboro Baptist Church is well known for their straight-up hateful and mostly stupid rhetoric they preach anytime they might get a listening audience. From funerals of Iraqi soldiers or victims of tragic hate-crimes, to outside of low budget theater shows, to outside of high schools with gay clubs, this nationally well-known church certainly gets around, making headlines nationally, and in the local papers, and even right here on amazing blogs. They are in fact so great at getting their name out there, that one of laws Arizona’s newly elected State Legislatures created was to build a wall between the Westboro nut jobs, who threatened to protest, and those attending the funeral of the victims from the horrific gun down that took place in Tuscon last Saturday, killing too many, injuring too many, and reminding us all how broken our mental health care system is, and how valuable our lives are.
I know from personal experience a thing or two about the Westboro Baptist Church. That is to say, this isn’t the first time I’ve written about them. When in my sophomore year at ASU, I wrote a column for the State Press about how they were simply domestic terrorists, and that our war on terror should focus somewhat on them. Back then, I wanted them shut down. My column made interesting news on Westboro’s website, and I was blacklisted like thousands of others with a mind, a heart or soul, or simply the ability to love. Back then, I was appalled when they said they were going to protest a high school in Scottsdale because they had a gay-straight alliance and I was disgusted when they posted on their website they would be doing the same thing at a community-troop’s play.
I truly disliked them. Maybe even hated them.
That was until the day they protested that high school in Scottsdale. They had threatened to, and said the day they would be doing it, and so members of the school’s gay-straight alliance put together a counter-protest. My roommate and I were running late that day because we were busy spraying painting signs about love, my sign reading “Love is Golden” – and so when we arrived the protest/counter-protest was already underway.
It was truly a magnificent sight, and it was in that moment that my roommate and I pulled up that I fell in love with the Westboro Baptist Church. Here were hundreds of parents standing with their kids on one side of the road, holding up signs about love, respect, cheering about how they didn’t tolerate hate, while on the other side of the road there were just three Westboro folks holding up signs that read “God Hates Fags” and “Thanks God for Dead Soldiers.”
I realized that in that moment, the Westboro Baptist Church is a small sect of truly morally corrupt people. People who don’t know the love of God, but instead the hate of man. However, that hate that all three of those folks preached that day brought hundreds of parents and their kids together to cherish and celebrate their love for each other. Parents stood with their kids, and demonstrated that no one has the right to tell them they were less than.
We may want to build walls between their hate and our love, but it is so clear to me that our love has and is winning out. We don’t need walls for that or legislation for that.
The Westboro Baptist Church, as much as they want to say that are all about hate, all they do is inspire love, and a hell of a lot of that, and for that, I love them.