Monday, June 20, 2011

A Gospel of Hatred

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If the word "Gospel" means "Good News," then what's the word for "Bad News?"

I have no idea, but just such a word is surely what is needed for the message that the folks from Westboro Baptist Church (in Kansas) are seeking to propagate. Their fundamental message: "God Hates You." And if that's unclear, they have other similar signs they wave: God Hates Fags, God Hates Your Feelings, God Hates America, etc. Evidently God is a big hater, according to them.

These folks (in what they said was their 44,000th picket ... hard to believe, but that has to be some sort of Guinness World Record if true) graced the Northwest with their presence on Sunday morning, appearing for a very brief window of time (I guess their calendar must be very full) in front of Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church plant in Federal Way, at Christian Faith Center in Federal Way, and at the SlutWalk event in Seattle.

I visited Mars Hill in support of this wonderful church and some friends I have who attend there. Joining me were five members of the young adults ministry my wife and I pastor, known as "Pulse." We intended to pray, and four of the five also wanted to follow the protesters up to Seattle so they could bear witness to the Truth there.

The five protestors held about three or four large signs each, not including tee-shirt slogans. You can see the odd variety of messages in the photo above. We snapped a few quick shots as we entered the church grounds, which were separated from the actual protestors by several hundred feet, numerous trees, and several police cars. When we first pulled up, I was amused to see that two of the guys from the church carried a table full of coffee and donuts the distance out to the protesters. Their strategy was to make them feel welcome, I guess.

But apparently it backfired. The protesters seemed bored and almost embarrassed. They left, halfway through their scheduled half-hour of picketing. I felt bad because, after getting permission to take my group of young adults out to pray for the protesters, we arrived to find they had already departed early.

Several of the venues they were scheduled to show up at, later in the day, they didn't even show up at. One they did was the Slutwalk event. This sounds worse than what it actually is — a group of people protesting how rape victims have been characterized by a recent portrayal by a police official as "sluts." Unfortunately, the WBC folks were there to tell them "You ARE sluts ... and God hates you. Rape is a punishment for your sin, sent from Him."

The young people from Pulse offered up a different message, which can be seen on the sign held by Leslie in the photo at right.

I love it when choices are as clear as this one is. Are we supposed to be about expressing hatred for people who are hurting ... or expressing God's love to them? Some things aren't so black and white as this.

Jesus said, "The world will know you are My disciples by your love." I am so proud of our young adults, who had the courage to express God's love to a hurting world, even under difficult and risky circumstances.

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