January 13, 2011

Dealing with the Westboro Baptist Church Cult

Since the tragic shooting in Arizona, more and more people have been hearing about the horrific tendency of the Westboro Baptist Church Cult to protest the funerals of good and decent people, even children, to advance their message of hatred. I have written about them before, only because over the years I have been living in Kansas I have come to see them as a horrible roadside attraction, something I am forced to see and acknowledge. But for many people around the country, including Arizona, this may be their first encounter with Westboro Baptist Church Cult. For that reason, I have decided to share a few tips for encountering this particular group of extremists while on the road.

Tip #1: Do NOT engage them.

Yes, they are holding up signs with offensive messages and shouting enraging statements, all the while claiming they are righteous in the eyes of God. It will get your blood boiling. But don't talk to them, don't even try. It's just not worth the aggravation. They are trying to get under your skin and trying to get a reaction. Don't give them what they want. Engaging them also includes acts of violence. That is the worst possible thing you can do. The Westboro Baptist Church Cult wants you to give in and be violent because it justifies their message of hatred. You will only give them the satisfaction of feeling righteous and get yourself arrested.

Tip #2: Join a counter-protest.

This is usually what I do. When they spread a message of hate, join a counter-protest and spread a message of love. Make a humorous sign and show their hatred can't destroy your ability to smile (my favorite is "God Hates Shellfish" because it is a spin on their "God Hates America" signs, but get creative and make your own). Or join a group of people to block the Westboro Baptist Church Cult's signs from the view of the mourners. In Arizona, 200 people will be gathering - including 30 wearing angel's wings - to be sure no one at the funeral will have to see the horrible signs of hate. This gives you an opportunity to feel like you are doing something constructive to oppose them, while offering some comfort to those Westboro Baptist Church Cult are trying to harm.

Tip #3: Donate to a good cause.

An online group called Hate Busters encourages people to take the lemons of hatred and turn them into the lemonade of charity. Every time Fred Phelps and his despicable band of followers at the Westboro Baptist Church Cult protest near you, make a donation to a charity that they hate - and there are many of them! - then have a thank you letter sent to the Westboro Baptist Church Cult and Fred Phelps stating that they inspired you to give. Many people choose to donate a dollar for every minute they protest, but you can give whatever feels right to you. I have included a short list of national charities Phelps hates here:
Church Address to send thank you note:
Westboro Baptist Church
3701 SW 12th St.
Topeka, KS 66604-1730

I hope these tips will help people who are not familiar with Westboro Baptist Church Cult find a way to cope with this outpouring of hatred, by responding with a message of positivity, hope, and love.

Endnote: Why I Call It Westboro Baptist Church Cult

This is not a political blog so I’m not going to get into the finer points of their anti-Semitic, homophobic propaganda. The only point I will make is that Westboro Baptist Church is not a “church,” it is a cult. To call it a church is an insult to all other religious institutions and houses of prayer. The cult is run by Fred Phelps and consists almost entirely of Phelps family members including his children and grandchildren. (Yes, they bring the little kids to protests.) Two of the Phelps children have escaped his cult and described suffering abuse from their father who created the church to elevate himself as a sort of demigod. In 1995, one of his sons claimed that Phelps was enslaving members of the cult and deluding them into believing he was the only righteous man on earth. That is why I will NOT refer to Westboro as a church.


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