I wish to extend a personal “thank you” for the clockwork predictability of Margie Phelps and her special friends at Westboro Baptist Church, who at this moment are taking breaks from praying for the end times to squee like giddy schoolgirls over the death of Slade Stallone … who I’m sure was on their watch list for years now given his high profile and the non-stop media coverage surrounding his life.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church have been called to picket actor Sage Stallone’s funeral on account of his “adulterous dad,” Sylvester Stallone.
After it was announced that the 36-year-old actor had died on July 13, Margie Phelps, daughter of Westboro leader Fred Phelps, tweeted to her 5,600 followers, urging them to picket Stallone’s funeral.
“Thrice-married rebel taught his son to mock God. #picketfuneral,” Phelps first tweeted on July 13.
So that’s it? You guys are going to picket this guy’s funeral not because of anything he himself may have done, but because his father got married three times … yet had him with his first wife? Come on … even for you, that’s reaching a bit. I mean, I’m sure he must have been gay … or maybe you at least think he’s gay? I know you guys are usually all over that angle as if you’re frantically trying to divert attention away from yourselves in that regard. How about the possibility he liked some gay people? That could work. Either way you look at it, picketing a funeral because his dad was married more than once just kind of makes you look desperate.
I was about to say that I would probably feel differently if these folks were protesting the funeral of one of my loved ones … but given the company I keep there’s a good chance that money would be set aside to see they could actually be booked for the day. I’m forced to admit that there’s something compelling about having them picket the deaths of people who deliberately want them there. To have my friends gathered ’round, feasting on barbecue and sushi, having Rush and Led Zeppelin blasting at crushing volume in the background to compete with dozens of protesters – red-faced and screaming – trying to tell us they’re all going to Hell and I’m already there …
Well … let’s just say that I’d wish I’d be able to see it.
On the other hand, I understand that a lot of people don’t … especially the families of soldiers who died overseas who simply want a chance to say goodbye in their own way, in the context of their own faith. Outside of them, I know there are some who just want them to go away altogether – especially Christians who cringe at their behavior because it makes all of Christianity look bad. They get rather annoyed every time the Phelpses and WBC makes the news because it just means more publicity for “bigots” and “hate mongers” and the like. Now, I can certainly agree with this assessment of Margie and the gang, but I honestly don’t think, at this point, they should be deliberately ignored.
Quite the contrary, I think they should be given the spotlight. A big one.
The reason for their picketing isn’t for the sake of conversion; it’s simply to beat their chests and crow at those they personally feel have fallen short of the glory of the God they happen to believe in. To that end, every person subject to their protests is intended to provide some sort of cautionary tale to society about the inevitable and imminent damnation awaiting all of us, except them. Homosexuality is awkwardly weaved into the dialogue as more of an afterthought most of the time, but it’s become so common that it’s not considered a Westboro protest without it.
Drawing more attention to them and providing a means to reach a wider audience, both mainstream Christians and non-believers alike will be given another, far more practical cautionary tale – one that shows the utterly devastating effects on human psychology and child development resulting from the dangerous combination of parental abuse fueled by religious dogma, relentless brainwashing, and the I’m-saved-you’re-fucked sanctimony of Calvinist predestination beaten into you from the time you were first able to stand.
They should be showcased, much in the same way those convicted of drunk driving are forced to make amends to their victims in some states. Every time they protest, the media should be there to show the world what happens when the message taken from the bible has nothing to do with kindness, mercy, or compassion, but one of hatred, ignorance, and ever-growing rage against the entire world.
This approach likely won’t convert Christians to non-belief, nor would I expect it to. But I hope it would have the effect of persuading some people a little too worried about gay marriage to reconsider the focus of their faith … and perhaps spend a little more time on the passages like the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 25:34-40 (the corporal works of mercy, if you’re Catholic), or even just the two Great Commandments – love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Ideally, the overall tolerance for fundamentalists and evangelicals in politics will drop, to be be replaced with the kind of Christians I suspect even many non-believers (like myself) wouldn’t really care too much about one way or the other.
That’s my $0.02, and the long view. In the short term, I’m wondering if Westboro does parties …