I’ve a friend who is in awe of Keith Craft, co-pastor of Elevate Life Church, constantly reciting quotes and sayings attributed to his sermons and speeches. It’s cool if my friend can draw inspiration from them, I find them redundant and shallow, possibly due to the source and the stigmas surrounding Mega churches. It’s no secret that the leaders of these non tax paying organizations live well beyond comfort levels affordable to most of their parishioners. Joel Osteen, employed in the same line of work as Craft, makes no secret of his lavish life style saying: “God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us.” His estimated net worth is $40 million, lives in a $10.5 million 17,000 square foot home with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, three elevators, five fireplaces, a guest house and pool house. Not too bad for a guy who attended Oral Roberts University, studied radio and television communications but did not graduate. He says that sin is human nature, that homosexuality is a sin according to the scripture, that nobody’s perfect, and that he is not judging but that God is the judge. And with so many religious card dealers stacking the deck against gay people, I’m giving he and his ‘church’ an inch. And Craft too, only because of my friend, though. Time and subject will tell…
One ‘church’, that isn’t a money-making machine, whom only racist, detestable, uneducated dregs would become enamored with, and will never gain anything but antipathy from me is the Westboro Baptist Church. Bluntly, they are no church, only a base people, faithfully bigoted, their ideals supported by no one in possession of an ounce of empathy. For a short time I lived amongst a like-minded few, a state east of their headquarters in the bible belt. But that time in my youth was not a waste. I’m thankful for the knowledge gained, disgusted by the fact. Fortunately, my family moved, and I grew. And every time I hear something about the bible belt, this WBC, or anything ‘southern Baptist’, I pay attention*, and try to counter act, not for the sensationalism, but because not to, unfortunately, would allow their hate and ignorance of the real world to fester and maybe infect others.
Fred Phelps founded Westboro Baptist Church in 1955 and many members of the small congregation are related to Phelps through blood or marriage. He died on March 19, 2014, and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper said “We do not worship the dead” so funeral fanfare was probably minimal. Oddly enough, the day the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education, Phelps interpreted that as a sign and soon began a law career that centered on civil rights, winning awards for his work and praise from local leaders. After being accused of badgering a witness and making false claims in court affidavits, he was disbarred from practicing law in state courts, later surrendering his license to practice law in federal courts in 1989. The WBC’s badgering started in earnest after members picketed at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, Phelps and his followers carried signs that said Shepard was rotting in hell. But their hate is not just of the gay community. The group has picketed funerals of soldiers who died in battle, funerals of people who have died of AIDS, sporting events, concerts, liberals and conservatives, Christians and non-Christians, homosexuals and straight people, as well as Jews and Gentiles. And do not let the name “Baptist” fool you, Westboro doesn’t align themselves organizationally or theologically with any other orthodox Christian group.
I was reminded of something when recently Mike Huckabee said: “I respect the courts, but the Supreme Court is only that — the supreme of the courts. It is not the supreme being. It cannot overrule God.” ..Now, I had heard something similar, in a letter from the Westboro Baptist Church to the Supreme Court of the United States** awhile ago: “Neither this Court nor all governments in this nation are precluded from making decisions based on the standard of God.” And later in the letter: “No form of government will ever survive if it rejects and casts away as rubbish the standards of God. On no issue is this more apparent than the issue of same-sex marriage. Many laws in this nation are based on Bible standards.” (
The letter read in its entirety is a headfirst dive into the waters of biblical babble, repetition and rhetoric on a level I can only imagine drove most who have had the task thrust upon them to start drinking excessively just to get through the script. Luckily, I chose of freewill, already had a drinking problem and emerged fairly unscathed.) This is the same 08 GOP presidential candidate ‘Huckster’ that, after suggesting AIDS victims should be quarantined, was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas holding signs saying “God Loves Dead Soldiers”, and “God Hates America”. Now, it seems they have found some common ground. Even the dunderhead that is Santorum found them a useful tool when he used them as a new comparison in the debate over the RFRA’s passed in Arkansas and Indiana to prove tolerance is a two-way street: “If you’re a print shop and you are a gay man, should you be forced to print ‘God hates fags’ for the Westboro Baptist Church because they hold those signs up?”
This is a bad group of people. I’ve already used 914 words, and don’t know if I have yet to prove my point. I’m sure I’ll have more than ample time and opportunities presented to sharpen it and drive it home. Huckabee should be thinking fiscal thoughts, not fucked up thoughts. I’m ok with my gay neighbors and friends, I’m not ok with this guy sharing a political bed with the WBC…
*(actually any questionable ecclesiastic activity) **http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/briefs-v2/12-144_neither_amcu_wbc.authcheckdam.pdf