NOTE: I’ve turned off comments on this post to stop comment spam – Oct. 23, 2006. (Thanks to The Re Collection for this link)- a delightful parody of the horrid hate website (the website of Fred Phelps, the guy who keeps making the news here in Oklahoma by protesting at the funerals of soldiers who were killed in Iraq for the goofy rationale that since America doesn’t stone gay people, that therefore it is somehow some kind of divine judgment that American soldiers die. Obviously the logic here is a bit out there to say the least)

BTW, on a complete and total sidenote, I am grateful to Fred Phelps for one thing… he made me a believer in gay rights. I think it was about 5 or so years ago that I was of a different persuasion on this issue (at that time I thought that that homosexuality was sinful, but that Christians should “love the sinner but hate the sin”), but then I watched The Laramie Project (click here to read a synopsis of the film) with a friend and that completely blew me out of the water.

The movie (also a play being showed all over the country) tells the story of the killing of Matthew Shepherd in Laramie, WY and its aftermath in that community. One part that particularly hit home was the horror and hatred showed by Fred Phelps (and other protesters from his “church”) who came to protest Matthew’s funeral. At the same time when I was struck by absolute horror at the hatred shown by the protestors, I was moved by the realization that the well-meaning and slightly less-hateful Christians (like the pastor in the movie who said if I recall correctly “that only hope Matthew repented of his sins before he was killed”) were still in the end committing only a lesser form of the evil that Phelps committed, because when one attacks a “sin” that is in fact a core part of one’s own identity, it is attacking the person.

So anyway, in a weird way that’s why I’m grateful to Fred Phelps. (but I still have a hard time not being hateful to him… in fact on Sunday at church several of us were talking about him and his most recent picket in Oklahoma, and I said “I think that guy is just nuts.” My pastor then reminded me, “Don’t say that. He’s still made in the Image of God.” — a very good point, that even the most hateful of bigots are not beyond redemption and change, but it is still hard to believe sometimes. It is a crazy thought, but wouldn’t it be amazing if Fred would have “road to Damascus experience” and would realize the error of the way of hate.)