Such is the fate of the Westboro Baptist Church - the church led by the not very Revd but extremely revved Fred Phelps that engages in such entertainments as picketing the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq, said deaths being a sure sign of God's judgement on the US for its toleration of homosexuality.
Though that's not the only thing they picket. According to their schedule this month they intend to picket sundry churches, schools, synagogues and (yes, really) Bon Jovi. Their language is coarse, vulgar and abrasive; you get the feeling they are the kind of people who can only speak by thrusting their faces an inch away from yours and challenging you as offensively as possible on everything. There is nothing remotely Christ-like about them. See, for example, their subtly woven, intricately crafted exposition of why John 3.16 actually means that God hates (most of) the world. (Maybe they have a similar way out of Colossians 4.6: "Let your conversation be always full of grace ...")
I first heard of these individuals, I think, when they unleashed God Hates Sweden.com on the interwebs. Having a Swedish wife and a half-Swedish stepson I was curious to find out why. Apparently Swedish police had arrested pastor Ake Green who was laying down an OT-oriented view of homosexuality (and even he, I gather, has since repudiated this lot). The case was reinforced with cast-iron supporting evidence showing photos of King Carl XVI Gustaf looking "goofy" and Crown Princess Victoria in a low-cut dress. Well, that proves it.
This was followed up by God Hates Ireland.com (did I mention half-Swedish Bonusbarn is also half-Irish?). An Irish student union had invited Phelps to present his idiosyncratic viewpoint to a meeting, which he interpreted as a cunning plan to lure him out of the US so he could be arrested under Irish anti-hate laws.
After that they decided to go the whole hog with God Hates the World.com, where you can click on any country of the world (work still in progress) to find out why God hates that particular place. To save my UK readers (the majority) the trouble, he currently hates us because their church was banned from entering the country to picket "the fag propaganda play, The Laramie Project" in Basingstoke. Remember what I said about their way of speaking:
"You British Bastards will not have Jesus Christ to rule over you, and think you can issue bans and pass laws to remove God's word from the landscape. You do greatly err, not knowing the power of God; and, you do that against your own interests. It is a great kindness to have God's prophets in your land. But, you ungrateful brutes despise knowledge. It is too late for the UK. God Hates You! God's wrath and destruction is all that's left for you, thanks to Secretary Smith. Toodles!"Sighs. I'm a Brit. It's our nature to mock our enemies. It's what we do. I remember a couple of Dave Allen jokes from my childhood (I know, he wasn't a Brit but he had a good audience here) which actually served to increase my awareness of the world. In one, God asks a rather depressed Catholic outside Ian Paisley's church why he's upset.
"He won't let me in!"In another, a Dutch Reformed pastor is horrified to see an African kneeling in front of his altar.
"I know, I've been trying for years ..."
"Oi! What are you doing?"For the same reason we had Spitting Image and Dead Ringers and we could sing "Hitler has only got one ball" during WW2. But even that individual had some comedy value, if you looked deep enough. Maybe I'm just not looking deep enough here but I'm really not seeing that much.
"I'm just cleaning the floor, sir."
"Oh, that's okay, I thought you were praying ..."
William Holman Hunt's 'Light of the World' illustrates the words of Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." It shows a rather drippy, pre-Raphaelite Jesus knocking at a door. There is no outside latch on the door - it must be opened from inside, or not at all - and the door is half overgrown, suggesting Jesus has been knocking for a long time.
There must be a veritable forest outside Westboro Baptist Church by now, but Jesus has long arms.
Editorial note: due to the unusually large proportion of links to utterly loathsome web sites in this post, I've coded them all with tinyurl.com - just in case this blog shows up in a Google Alert somewhere for all the wrong reasons.