In September 2009, Long Island was visited was again by members of the Westboro Baptist Church, which is headquartered in Wichita, Kansas. Members of the church staged “protests” at various locations in Brooklyn, Nassau and Suffolk (including at the Temple of God Squad rabbi Marc Gellman.)
What were they protesting? They were protesting the fact that the United States does not execute gays (as suggested in Leviticus) and that in the U.S., gentiles marry Jews among other things. By extension they indict the whole of the US, including the military and its soldiers, who they claim are being killed in wars as divine retribution for the country’s “permissiveness.”
Of course, the visit of this so-called “hate group” is an opportunity for one and all to get righteous and universally condemn the Westboro Baptist Church for its beliefs.
Yet the Westboro is spectacularly ineffective in getting anything done. If anything, their appearances evoke sympathy for their targets, thank goodness.
But there’s more!
Many of those who join in on the condemnations of this Church agree, in part, with the beliefs of the Westboro Baptist Church and in fact have actually done things to harm the Church’s favorite target: gays.
Who among those who condemn the Westboro Church also oppose equal rights for gays, including gay marriage and/or adoption?
Well, for example, that would probably include Rabbi Marc Gellman, who, before resigning because of the presence of alleged radical Islamists within the organization, was a member of the Alliance for Marriage Foundation (AFM), a group that actively opposes gay marriage and adoption.
Here is snippet from a recent press release from the AFM:
"Americans believe that gays and lesbians are free to live as they choose, but they don't believe they have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society," said Daniels. “But the common-sense definition of marriage – and the values of most Americans – cannot be protected apart from AFM’s Marriage Protection Amendment.” (Go to http://www.afmus.org .)
Although this press release post dates Rabbi Gellman’s tenure in the organization, the opinion expressed in it has remained consistent.
Now the AFM with its ability to lobby Congress and excite its membership to oppose equal rights for gays probably has done more to harm gays in a practical sense than has the Westboro Baptist Church.
And of course, Rabbi Gellman and the AFM are by no means alone in acceptable bigotry.
In fact, any religion (or secular dogma for that matter) that has a concept of a “chosen” people, or the “select” or the “saved” or the “damned” or the “infidel” is guilty of promoting enmity and divisiveness if not the outright hatred that typically flows from such beliefs.
This group would therefore include most versions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others.
How do those who profess to believe in the same scripture that inspires the Westboro Baptist Church and who agree, in part, that gays should be persecuted, then have the gall to then condemn the Westboro Baptist Church who have the consistency to invoke the biblical remedy for this biblical sin that so many agree is indeed a sin, and that the bible is the authority on its sinfulness?
Dogma requires such denial and that is why dogma endures – denial seems to be a component of human nature.
In the meantime, the Westboro Baptist Church, in their unabashed adherence to scripture and their religion, serves to obscure the more culturally acceptable biases that religion and dogma typically propagate. This safe cover for socially acceptable bigots might be their most dangerous attribute.