Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Westboro Baptist vs. the KKK

The Westboro Baptist Church protesters are so offensive even the Ku Klux Klan doesn’t like them.

According the The Atlantic Wire, members of Virginia Klan branch Knights of the Southern Cross were so disgusted that the Rev. Fred Phelps’ followers planned to protest a fallen soldier’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery they showed up to counter-protest.

“That's fine. They have no moral authority on anything. People like them say it’s white power ... white supremacy. The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that it's an abomination to be born of a certain gender or race,” Phelps’ daughter, Abigail Phelps, told CNN.

A Klan spokesman on site noted that Westboro is wrong to protest the funerals of soldiers because it is the very fact that brave Americans have died that they even have the right to make such offensive gestures as holding up signs reading “God Hates Fags” while families are grieving. (The “church” says the U.S. is losing soldiers in war because of American society’s acceptance of homosexuality.)

Of course, a lot of those who have given their lives for our freedom of speech were black – or Jewish – or Catholic. Or many other things the “Christian” Knights of the Ku Klux Klan see as inferior to themselves, so there’s little else I agree with them about than that the Westboro bunch are morons.

The Westboro people do have every right to protest, but this so-called Christian organization – which is actually predominantly members of Phelps’ own family – has failed to follow the Scripture telling us to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Regardless of Westboro’s theology, they should be weeping with family members who have lost a loved one if they want to be more scriptural than the Klan.

They could protest a gay pride event if they feel God is calling them to speak out publicly against same-sex relationships. Regardless of whether you agree with Phelps, it seems like that would at least make some semblance of sense. Even then the offensive “God Hates Fags” signs would be out of place. In the first place, the Bible never uses slurs against homosexuals. Second, it never says God hates them.

There are certain actions the Bible says God hates. For instance, he says, “I hate divorce,” in Malachi 2:16. Phelps’ and family have made up at least a few signs that say “God Hates Divorce.” But the name of their website is not, it’s And they refuse to use any word other than “fag” – evhen the neutral and biblical “homosexual.”

But using slurs and inaccuracies get them attention, as do protests at sites that have nothing to do with homosexuality. And they have to do what they can to get attention. God is on their side, but must be too weak to get attention for himself. Either that, or he refuses to associate himself with them.

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A different drummer

The drummer for the Newsboys is following me on Twitter.

This may not seem like a big deal to you if you are being followed by celebrities on Twitter or if you don’t know who the Newsboys are. But let me assure you, it’s a big deal to me. You might have noticed that this blog is titled “Syncopator Familias” with drum art on it. I wish that meant that I’m a brilliant drummer, but, sadly, that is no more true than the fact I was able to get the Twitter handle Tweetologian means I’m a brilliant theological thinker – or even a decent tweeter.

But I do like to play the drums when I get the chance, so when I’m followed by an actual professional drummer, that’s pretty cool. What’s more, I didn’t even follow him first – or mention him in a tweet. Kellie Pickler follows both my @OwenTew and @Tweetologian accounts, but she followed neither until I mentioned her – and used her Twitter handle – in a tweet. Pickler’s follow seemed to bring in some other folks, including Reba McEntire’s drummer.

I’m followed by some authors, musicians, politicians and pundits. But most of them set up autobots to follow people who follow them first.

But Duncan Phillips appears to be following me solely over something I wrote. I want to know what it was. The last thing I tweeted before I got the e-mail he was following me was: Dear, Westboro Baptist: "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." Romans 12:15

I suppose that was it.

I’ve been a Newsboys fan for more than 20 years. I actually own a cassette tape of their debut album. A friend gave it to me as a groomsman’s gift because he and I were both newspaper reporters – and because I listened to Christian music outside the cookie cutter stuff. So to have their drummer following me is a full circle.

It’s odd, though, that as a wannabe drummer I get followed by the Newsboys’ drummer and Reba’s drummer. Even stranger was when I met the drummer for the Barenaked Ladies.

I was killing time between work and a class about 10 years ago, taking photos of a church a block away from my office. I saw a guy out of the corner of my eye and tried to ignore him. But after he yelled, “Hey, Mr. Photographer!” it was difficult.

Hardly anyone walks up and talks to you on the street in downtown Birmingham without hitting you up for cash, so I was poised for this. He sensed my wariness and explained he was the drummer for the Barenaked Ladies. “Can you tell me where I can get a sandwich and an Absolut?” he wanted to know.

I hated to tell him, but there’s hardly a place even today – and certainly back then – to get a sandwich and an Absolut in downtown B’ham at 4:30 on a weekday afternoon. It finally hit me that there was place about six or seven blocks down, but I couldn’t verify they’d be open. He looked a bit letdown, but was on his way.

I went straight to my car where I had three Barenaked Ladies CDs – and there he was on the back. I looked at my camera and realized I was an ignoramus for not taking his picture.

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Photo: Newsboys Facebook page