Have you heard of the Westboro Baptist Church? They're the church that Louis Theroux visited in his documentary programme 'The most hated family in America'. watch it here
They've also been interview by Russell Brand watch it here
They're a church group who claim to be the only religious group to truly follow the Bible. They are known for their token statements, like 'God hates fags', and for openly rejoicing over horrific acts, such as the shooting in Newtown. They go to funerals of soldiers and well known people and hold up signs stating the deceased was a 'fag-lover', has gone to hell and they are rejoicing in their death, because of a bible passage that states '
The church itself is mostly made up of one family: The Phelps family. The leader, Fred Phelps, has been accused,by those that have left the church of being violent to his children and instilling fear in those around him. Members of the church claim to preach exactly what the bible asks of us, and states that those who leave the church have turned their back on the Lord and will burn in the hottest part of hell for walking away from God.
As someon who does not believe, this type of philosophy is so beyond me. To knowingly hurt others and cause pain, knowing that so many people are against you seems fundamentally unChristian. However, to members of the church, they see it as evidence that they are a minority of true believers surrounded by a sinful population who has turned their back on God. I guess if they are only ever seeing the anger they cause, the outside world must seem like a less loving place than it really is, and seem all the more unworthy of their sympathy. Yet, the reason they are confronted with such agressive and angry behaviour is because people are so disgusted with the teachings of Westboro Baptist Church.
The good news is, the church is slowly falling apart. Fred Phelp's son left the church years ago and speaks openly against his father's teachings. Recently, Megan and Grace Phelps, grandaughters of Fred Phelps recently walked away from the church. This came as quite a shock as Megan featured in a number of documentaries about the church and was very vocal about the message of the church. Here is a video of her answering questions at a funeral picket. With younger members leaving the church, the church is losing its ability to grow and continue through new members. Others speculate on the ability of the church to continue once Fred Phelps passes away. He is currently in his 80s.
If you are not yet convinced of the controversial nature of the Westboro Baptist Church, here are a few of their most recent tweets (oh yes, they're into using modern technology)
'Praise God for sending this shooter! God has taken your campus peace!'
'Praise God! Two kids were among the three dead in Maryland house fire!'
'God sent the shooter to the Las Vegas Strip'
'You faux christians don't stand a chance. God has a hold of your jugular!'
Westboro also refers to horrific tragedies as 'God Smacks', claiming they were sent by God to punish people who don't follow his teachings.
It seems to me, after being taught how forgiving and loving God was meant to be, how can a church believe God is such an angry entity. How can it rejoice in seeing pain and suffering? All we can hope for is that more young people leave the church, and allow themselves a life away from these teachings. I can't imagine being brought up being taught their beliefs and it must take courage to walk away. The more people who leave, the fewer children who will potential be subjected to these beliefs!