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Fred Phelps and Mainstream Evangelical Christianity

By The Reverend Published: August 9, 2007


This is what a group of "God's people" will be doing in response to the tragic Minnesota bridge collapse.....

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., plans to stage protests at funerals of victims of the 35W bridge collapse to state that God made the bridge fall because he hates America, and especially Minnesota, because of its tolerance of homosexuality.

The church and its pastor, the Rev. Fred Phelps, have become notorious over recent years for their claim that the attack of 9/11 was an act of God's vengeance and their determination to make that case at the funerals of U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq.

In a press release issued the day after the bridge collapse, the church called for protests at the funerals and outlined its feelings about the relationship between God's plan and the sins of Minneapolis and Minnesota, which it calls the "land of the Sodomite damned."

The signs that the protesters will wave will read:

" God cast down the bridge... Thank God for 9/11... America is doomed... God hates fags... God hates fag enablers... God hates Minnesota." Link

This protesting follows on the heels of the Rev. Phelps' ongoing protests at the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq.

From his website comes the reason why we're losing so much precious blood in Iraq....

America is taking a blood bath in Iraq because America is busily persecuting WBC(Westboro Baptist Chruch) for preaching the Word of God to this evil nation of perverts. God hates America. Her end is near, and approaching fast. Link

Perhaps there are many evangelical Christians out there who consider Phelps' views and public protests repugnant. This Reverend believes Phelps' views, words and actions faithfully represent the literalist evangelical Christian belief system.

Even though Phelps' followers' protests are shrugged off by other evangelicals as those of wild-eyed extremists, I submit the protests and reasons given for protesting are as mainstream evangelical as their belief in the inerrancy of the Bible itself. Phelps is simply applying evangelical thought to each and every tragic situation that confronts our nation.

Consider the now infamous words after 9-11 of a couple of big names within evangelicalism, easy targets I admit, but representative of evangelical Biblical inerrancy thought, nonetheless.

... Falwell said, "What we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."Robertson replied, "Well, Jerry, that's my feeling. I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror, we haven't begun to see what they can do to the major population."
Falwell said, "The ACLU has got to take a lot of blame for this. And I know I'll hear from them for this, but throwing God...successfully with the help of the federal court system...throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad...Robertson said, "I totally concur, and the problem is we've adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government, and so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do, and the top people, of course, is the court system." Link

This "theology" is not limited to 9-11 aftermath discussions either....the destruction brought on by hurricane Katrina was described this way....

'This is the second time in a row that God has invoked a disaster shortly before lesbian Ellen Degeneres hosted the Emmy Awards,' Robertson explained to his approximately one million viewers. 'America is waiting for her to apologize for the death and destruction that her sexual deviance has brought onto this great nation.' Link

Even earlier yet we find this warning....

During a 6 August 1998 broadcast of The 700 Club, Mr. Robertson addressed comments at participants of the Orlando, Florida, Gay Pride festival, stating: "I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you." Link

Similar statements were made after the Indonesian tsunami that killed so many people.

But what is the common thread found in all of this "theology"? Isn't it that tragedies, catastrophes, destruction and death on a mass scale are CAUSED by God? Yes, there's the hair-splitting of whether God is actively involved pulling the trigger or simply turning his back and 'allowing' it to happen. The long and the short of it is that man deserves it, according to these Reverends, but God causes it, either by withdrawing his protective hand or using his own vengeful hand.

Of course, this thinking is found throughout both Testaments of the Bible. From the Sodom and Gomorrah story to the final chapter of a vengeful God in the book of Revelation, what we find is a God who sends tragedy, catastrophes, genocide, hurricanes, and gruesome bloodshed all because earth's inhabitants are "sinful".

We live in the 21st century. It's called the technological age of great scientific discovery and advancement. But as evidenced with many, if not most, evangelical Christians, human thought has not changed much at all.

Evangelicals today still worship the same God the ancient animal sacrificers did. The God who threatens to kill us, in sundry and gruesomely violent ways if we don't behave ourselves. Whenever there is a tragic event, we are not to believe it was caused by neglect of infrastructure, or reckless invasions of sovereign countries, or shifting tectonic plates or anything, you know, scientific or provable. Those 'reasons' are never denied, they are simply superceded by the "real" cause...God's hand.

So when we see the Rev. Fred Phelps and his followers protesting in what appears to be a cruel and compassionless way at fallen bridge sites or at fallen soldiers' funerals....remember this....Phelps IS evangelical Christian thought personified.



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