Is @TheIRD floating the idea of supporting #WestboroBaptistChurch?

IRD logo.
IRD logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m trying to make sense out of Barton Gingerich’s latest post at the IRD blog.

He opens with

But how much do we know about them? Yes, they make it above the centerfold on the front page, but what else? It seems our disgust at such revolting behavior keeps most of us from researching Westboro any further. However, I think it is incredibly important to know who and what Westboro actually represents since they have left thousands of Christians cowed in shame for believing in traditional marriage.

The Westboro Baptist Muzzle | Juicy Ecumenism – The Institute on Religion & Democracy’s Blog.

He goes on to recount some of the history of the group and then, out of nowhere, lays a conspiracy theory out that even Glenn Beck would disown:

A more sensational conspiracy theory suggests that Phelps & Co. are backed by big time liberal donors.

Then suddenly, he talks about how WBC has cowered Christians from speaking out about upholding “traditional” marriage. I’m sorry, but what? Has Bart not seen what the IRD does on a daily basis? What the SBC and other conservative denominations do on a daily basis? Who has been cowered by WBC? And, besides the slight comments about their church government (vs. their theology), is there a difference between you and them?

My contention has long been that the only difference between WBC and groups like the IRD is that the WBC has the courage of their convictions to stand with little signs to protest. I don’t doubt for a minute groups like the AFA and IRD wouldn’t love to be out there with them.

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Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

3 thoughts on “Is @TheIRD floating the idea of supporting #WestboroBaptistChurch?

  1. I assume that you’ve had the experience of someone saying “the media won’t cover this” and then linking to a story from a news network. Or then talking about something you just heard on NPR.

    Blathering about how no one is saying stuff is just part of the right-wing narrative at this point. It has nothing to do with reality.

  2. Although I have never visited Westboro Baptist Church, I did have a brief interaction with one of its insiders a few years ago. Based on that encounter, as well as having a familiarity with the primitive and Calvinist ideology, I suspect that Westboro’s core belief system fits into the Second Generation Calvinist rubric. Consequently, not only do they think that they are going to heaven, they are firmly convinced anyone inclined to disagree with them are going to hell. Given the Westboro’s decidedly miniscule and inbred membership, it is a perfect recipe for self-righteous paranoia.
    While admittedly a biased perception, I further suspect that Fred Phelps’ disparaging remarks regarding military service is rooted in his failure to serve in uniform. In this regard, he may not be all that different from liberal draft-dodgers in his need to project an image of superiority to cover his youthful cowardliness. The alternative, of course, would be to become a John Wayne-like super patriot. In any case, once the tyrannical and most probably unhinged patriarch passes feet first and room temperature cold through a mortuary, the church he founded will split as if stuck by a heavenly meat clever.
    Furthermore, it is quite likely Republican muckety-mucks view the minions of Westboro as useful idiots in their war on anything left of neonazism. As a result, while they will encourage the church’s outrageous antics, the self-serving right-wing schemers will quickly distance themselves from the cult the moment the church crazies prove to be a political liability.

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