This is the same group that has displayed signs at soldiers’ funerals and picketed at the Sago Mine Memorials with signs that say, “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for dead miners.” They are listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, which is pretty unsurprising.
There are many reasons this group could inflame me. Namely, I’m a baptist, and I certainly don’t like being lumped into the same group as this extremist hate group. But, denominations are denominations, and labeling them as a hate group should keep their distance from any baptist prayer meetings.
In a world where pain reigns and brokenness is all around, one more voice advocating for the destruction and demise of peoples does not sit well with me. A message of hate is nothing new, nor is it something that will grow a better world. The negative energy spent preaching a hateful gospel manipulates. Power has unequivocal pessimism to fuel abuse and breakdown.
Do you really think God is killing humans and creating tragedies because of LGBTQ groups? We are told a narrative that declares we are made in a divine image. If God kills miners who are at the mercy of big business, what does God do to those who cause division and pain? Why would God choose the lowest and poorest to suffer punishment?
If I haven’t been clear, hear this: God doesn’t hate Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals, Queers.
If I haven’t been clear, hear this: God desires justice, love, and peace.
When someone bears a sign that says “God Hates Fags!” they are only displaying their own insecurity. They are projecting their own fear of what they do not know. These signs, these declarations of hate, these most painful and despicable divisive actions are only laments for their ignorance.
These signs are prayers of desperation for peace, for knowledge. Prayers of desperation that God does not answer, we should not silence those prayers, we recognize the person’s desperation cry to God.
So, I will pray. I will offer my voice to the daily conversations in an effort to make whole this broken world. These cannot be platitudes. My words cannot be empty. No one, no group deserves the hate of another. They are to be held accountable, not to my way of thinking, not to any system, but to humanity and God – who is Love, not Hate. We must hold in check our words and actions because no matter what our religion, political affiliation, favorite candy bar, cellphone, Facebook page, car, magazine, we exist together. To eliminate the possibility of another human being is to suffocate the humanity between another.
It’s tough to look in the eyes of one who holds a hateful sign, speaks a harmful word, or swings a violent fist and declare we love them and they deserve love. But, my friends, I will not be moved. If grace is not possible then the future of our humanity is nothing but bleak and cold. If grace is not possible, then pull the color out of the world and cut down any vestige of hope. If grace is not possible, then put bars on my windows, lock the door, and throw away the key. If the love of God is not possible for all, then what's faith for? Our world is bigger than Westboro and our humanity declares a greater possibility than any slogan on a sign can ever contain.
Westboro plans picket lines, God plans grace. Grace is available for Westboro, will Westboro find grace for themselves?
We are the best of humanity. We are the worst of humanity. We are the likeness of God. We are the intention of evil. We are the voracious consumers of love, and the scrupulous evolution of hope.
The message of love does not know a political barrier – or a theological stance. Loving doesn't care about the doctrine of God, love cares for the providing and caring of the least of these. No doubt, that groups such as Westboro will have their judgment pronounced upon them, for theirs is not the kingdom of God. They drink the dirtied and muddied waters of hate and indifference. They do not drink from the well-spring of life, from the cool waters that refresh. While Westboro travels around spouting hate, I try to live a life of love. Our responsibility as those that profess to live the life of Jesus, that use the name Jesus, is to strive to live that name represents. It is of love. Let us not forget, the words of Mr. Wilde: "Every sinner has a future; every saint has a past."
Where picket lines are drawn, demarcations of hate built, and barriers of indifference fortified, grace will pummel and sustain those that pelt walls with words of love, peace, and hope. Where trenches harboring messengers of injustice are dug-out, the no-man’s land will be filled with peace. Where silos, bunkers, garrisons, citadels, castles, and bastions of brutal hate are entrenched, there you will find the possibility of grace. It is the cry of grace that says: “My body is bruised and bloody; but, unbowed.”