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October 1, 2016 · 15:23

Fred Phelps: Let’s Picket His Funeral…With Love (from “The Gay Christian”) by Brandon Wallace

fredphelps

Fred Phelps, organizer and leader of the hate-filled Westboro Baptist Church, is reported on his death bed at the moment. It is news that is quickly spreading throughout social media, with flagrant tweets and Facebook statuses that are somewhat amusing, yet slightly disheartening.

Let me begin by saying that I am, obviously, not a fan of Fred Phelps nor the WBC. I believe they are vile, bitter, and downright dangerously cultish. They have nothing to do with Jesus Christ and the Gospel of the Kingdom.

However, it is moments like this that I have to re-evaluate where I stand, theologically. You see, I believe Christ has grace for people like Fred Phelps as much as he has grace for me. Even though I’m not quite sure I believe in a literal hell of eternal burning, I do believe there is a hell that we put ourselves into, even after death, until we can break free of certain chains and mentalities (racism, sexism, homophobia) that keep us in injustice – and I hope that Phelps does not stay there long. I wish hell upon no one, because I want all souls to encounter the true love that God has to offer.

godhatesfags

As I read some of the tweets, I realize that we are not going to get anywhere as a society until we begin to truly return hate with love. As Martin Luther King, Jr. so famously put it: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” There are many people calling for picketing of Phelps funeral, as it is Phelps himself that became famous when he picketed the funeral of Matthew Sheppard in 1998, and has been picketing funerals ever since. But how would this help things at all? It would only be a small, self-serving act of vengeance that would only continue to raise the hate level of those that are still in attendance at WBC.

One fact I found quite interesting is that Nate Phelps, Fred’s son that left the church many years ago and is now an LGBT advocate, said that Fred was “excommunicated in August of 2013.” Why was Fred excommunicated? At this point we can only speculate, as the WBC has not released this information at all. One can only hope that Fred woke up one morning and said, “Wait a second…I was wrong.” While this is quite a stretch of the imagination, it is not entirely impossible. Maybe he was actuallyreading Scripture one day, and realized he was on the wrong side. I like to think that he was flipping through John and ran across the verse in Chapter 13 that says, “Your love for one another will prove that you are my disciples.” Then, as he read it, he thought, “Oh, crap!”

But nonetheless, the fact is, Fred was kicked out for some unknown reason, and is now lying on his deathbed, with no one around him. He is dying alone, facing the consequences of decades of hate. I only pray that as he embarks on eternity, he is able to let go of the hate and bigotry that has kept him tied down for so long. I pray that he is able to let go, not only of the hate and bigotry, but of the things that ultimately led him there in the first place. Why did he hate homosexuals so much? Only Fred probably knows that. I hope he is able to let go of that, too.

My final prayer is that people do show up to his funeral as a show of pageantry. I hope they show up with large, decorated signs and billboards. I hope they line the streets leading to the funeral home, and I hope that they make sure they are seen. Finally, I hope every one of those billboards and signs read, “We forgive you.”

Maybe that little sign of love will do something to the remaining members of WBC, and show them that a life filled with hate is really no life at all, but that a life filled with love is the only way to live. I strongly believe that true Christianity – and what I mean by that is simply people following Christ in doing exactly what Christ wanted us to do – is simply having love for everyone, even your enemies, and fighting for justice throughout the world (1 John 3:23, Micah 6:8, John 13:35).

So, Fred, may you be released from the bondage of hate and bigotry, and may God prepare your heart and soul for eternity. Maybe one day in the ever after, I can look you in the eyes and say this to you face-to-face: I forgive you. May you also be able to forgive yourself.

Amen.

 

George Takei: “I take no solace or joy in this man’s passing. We will not dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding “God Hates Freds” signs, tempting as it may be.
He was a tormented soul, who tormented so many. Hate never wins out in the end. It instead goes always to its lonely, dusty end.”

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Would You Tell Your Child This?

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February 20, 2014 · 18:47

Forgiveness

   from Huffpost Religion:

“My name is Zachary Roberts and on Oct 2nd, 2006 my oldest brother, Charles Roberts, walked into an Amish school house in Pennsylvania where he shot and killed five young schoolgirls and injured five more before taking his own life,” said Zachary Roberts in a press release for an upcoming documentary.

Seven years after the tragedy, the Roberts family still seeks a kind of peace, as they deal with the aftermath of Charles Robert’s violence in their small, rural community. Faith has anchored all affected by the incident, and the world was amazed by the show of compassion by the Amish community as they took the path of forgiveness rather than anger, with many even coming to Charles’ funeral.

Many scars remain, as Zachary asks, “How does the mother of a mass murderer move forward in life?”

Terri Roberts, Charles and Zachary’s mother, visits Rosanna, who was paralyzed during the shooting, every week, bathing and talking to her. The surviving girls and their mothers began visiting the Roberts house a mere three months after the shooting, in an incredible demonstration of mercy and love.

Zachary Roberts wants to capture the redeeming power of forgiveness by making a documentary about the shooting and its aftermath, called “Hope – Documentary.” Though at first he sought to distance himself from the tragedy as much as possible, he now wants to share the powerful events that have transpired afterwards.

Zachary told The Huffington Post, “I know that for my mother, one of her most important things is forgiveness, and that was the virtue that the Amish expressed when this happened. I believe that was the impetus which set my mother on the path which she is now on. Forgiveness is a very powerful human choice and when exercised it can have the power to alter lives in an extreme way.”

The documentary focuses on his mother’s journey, as she “picks up the pieces after one of her son’s senseless mass murder spree and suicide, and on the very same day as the tragic incident, the Amish community decided to forgive,” according to the movie’s funding page.

How did Roberts himself get to the point where he was able to tell this personal, heart-wrenching, story? “The inspiration to make this movie was that I knew that at some point, somebody was going to approach my mother with hopes of telling her story. I guess I just felt a tremendous weight that I should be the one to do this. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I thought it would be a really good process for myself and for my family,” he said.

terri roberts

“I first had the idea roughly a year and a half ago, and I guess it came about after the last several years of hearing about the things that were happening in my mother’s life. It seemed like her life was transforming in an inspiring way and I saw and heard how her life was impacting others. I just decided that this was something that needed to get out, it needed a bigger audience and film has the ability to reach a large audience.”

He explained, “The documentary will focus on on my mother from the time she heard the news about her son all the way up to present day – her story keeps evolving. We will really focus on my mother’s feelings upon hearing the devastating news and how she reacted and what she thought – we will really see and understand those raw emotions.”

The team has finished shooting the initial footage and is now seeking funds to complete the production process via crowd-funding website Indiegogo.

Roberts said, ” I really wish for people to understand that no matter how bad life gets, there is a path towards being happy and enjoying life. For a mother of a mass murderer to even want to live, let alone open up her life to others to instil hope, I think is a tremendous lesson in the strength of the human spirit.”

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November 18, 2013 · 00:52

Forgiveness

The preacher’s Sunday sermon was Forgive Your Enemies.

Toward the end of the service, He asked his congregation, “how many of you have forgiven their enemies”?

No response

He then repeated his question. As it was nearing lunchtime, this time about 10 percent held up their hands.

He then repeated his question again. All responded, except one small elderly lady.

“Mrs. Jones?” inquired the minister “Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?

“I don’t have any.” she replied. smiling sweetly.

“Mrs. Jones, That is very unusual. How old are you?”

“Ninety-three,” she replied.

“Oh Mrs. Jones, what a blessing and a lesson to us all you are. Would you please come down in front of this congregation and tell us all how a person can live ninety-three years and not have an enemy in the world.”

The sweet little old a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said “I poisoned some of them; others had fatal ‘accidents’ and anyhow I’ve outlived the rest of the old b*st**s.”

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Forgiveness

“If someone offends me, how often should I forgive them?” Peter asked Jesus.  As if it were a rhetorical question, he answered for himself, “seven times.”  That must have seemed like a rather generous offer to him.

Jesus answers with a surprise, “No, but seventy times seven.”  He didn’t mean by that four hundred ninety times.  Using a large number was to say, “as many times as it takes.”

Forgiveness is spiritual work.  Certainly to forgive someone does not necessarily mean that we must subject ourselves to repeated mistreatment.

A villager said to his priest:  “My neighbour slapped me. Should I forgive him?”

“Yes,” answered the priest.

“How many times should I forgive my neighbour?” the villager asked.

“How many times did he slap you?” asked the priest.

”Once,” came the answer.

“Then forgive him once,” said the priest.

“But what if he slaps me fifty times?” the villager asked.

“Then you should forgive him forty-nine time,” came the answer.

“Why only forty-nine times, if I were struck fifty times?” the villager asked.

The priest:  “Freely accept he fiftieth slap.  You would deserve it for being such a fool to allow yourself to be slapped the first forty-nine times.” 

Nonetheless, forgiving another is spiritual work.  When you have the opportunity to forgive someone, you have the opportunity to deny yourself.   You have the opportunity to let go, to let go of control, to let go of anger, to let go of revenge, to let go of pride, to let go of ego.

A former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp was visiting a friend who had shared the ordeal with him.

“Have you forgiven the Nazis?” he asked his friend.

“Yes.”

“Well, I haven’t.  I’m still consumed with hatred for them.”

“In that case,” said his friend gently, “they still have you in prison.”

Forgiveness may not always be easy – but it comes with the religion to which we subscribe, the God whom we worship, & his Son whom we follow.

 

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Oscar

Oscar

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
-Oscar Wilde

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March 15, 2013 · 09:50

Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.”—Mark Twain

“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” —Bryant H. McGill

“Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.”
—Tennessee Williams

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”
—Katherine Ponder

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