An open letter to the Westboro Baptist children

Posted on 13 Jul 2010 at 10:16am

By Kristan Turns, cross-posted from The Predisastered Pages

Dear Westboro Kids,

First of all, I’d like to thank you for coming to our city. Because of your visit, which our community turned into a fundraiser, we were able to generate almost three times the amount needed in order to assist the Resource Center Dallas. Plus, the Holocaust Museum enjoyed a record-breaking day.

I know we can’t really be friends since you’re sold on the notion I might be headed for Hell. You made that clear this weekend when I watched your organization protest several locations. As your parents and church family paraded you from the vans to the sidewalk while holding signs printed with hate-filled slogans, I felt overwhelming sadness for you. I must admit, I was unable to comprehend your confusing messages, but read your shame and humiliation with a degree of certainty as the crowd yelled its disgust toward your parents.

It doesn’t feel good, does it? No, and I am deeply sorry. I understand in that regard because it hurts me to hear people scream mean things about my father. He’s gay. He’s not some kind of deviant mutant of his own free will or someone who has chosen a ridiculously inconvenient life. Dad is human — full of sin and flaw — just like you.

Aside from being totally gay, my 67-year-old father is also a retired minister who now devotes his time to the church as its organist. I’d love for your Pastor Phelps to meet him because Dad actually holds a doctorate in theology, which is an advanced degree your church’s leader has yet to earn. Coupled with his many years of professional experience, my “fag” dad’s extensive religious qualifications could be beneficial in helping your Pastor Phelps correct his biblical misgivings, which have caused your lives to be unnecessarily restrictive. Your grandpa and my father could also discuss the reality of helping God’s sick and dying within our community based upon his personal experience chartering one of north Texas’s early AIDS support groups in the mid-1980s. My parent went as far as to care for AIDS patients in his own home and then even bury one in our plot when families like yours turned their cold hearts away. (R.I.P., Bruce. Here’s a ‘penny’ for you, friend.) Ugh, those “fag beasts” are so revolting with their good deeds, right? Kids, come on.

Then again, maybe folks like your dad and my dad have pushed you to the point where you’re completely turned off to the whole religious concept, and that’s okay. You are free to have faith in your own beliefs. Look to Lauren. Look to Nate. If you’re uncomfortable remembering the examples provided by those who have left your family after questioning its hypocrisies, then look to me. I don’t subscribe to my father’s faith, yet he and his former congregations embrace who I am with the same love and kindness. Just understand, there will always be unwanted politics behind every pulpit, but hate is something that should never be tolerated.

Another thing that should never be tolerated is child abuse. The Department of Health and Human Services defines abuse and neglect within the state of Kansas to include:

  • The infliction of physical, mental, or emotional harm, or the causing of a deterioration of a child, and may include, but shall not be limited to, maltreatment or exploiting a child to the extent that the child’s health or emotional well-being is endangered [Ann. Stat. § 38-2202];
  • Acts or omissions by a parent, guardian, or person responsible for the care of a child that results in harm to a child or presents a likelihood of harm [Ann. Stat. § 38-2202];
  • Failure to [. . .] remove a child from a situation that requires judgment or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a likelihood of harm to the child [Ann. Stat. § 38-2202].

Furthermore, nowhere within the department publication does it allow for religious exclusions to the above definitions, except in the case of medical treatment.

Is CPS investigating your case? You and your brothers and sisters are made to regularly carry incendiary signage and endure harsh weather conditions for extended periods in front of angry onlookers. You’ve been told this is the work of the Lord, when it’s more like child labor for the Phelpses’ cause. Routinely, you are subjected to unpredictable violence, threats, verbal demeaning assaults from counterprotesters, and must have police protection, which has been responsible for helping you escape the dangerous rush of enraged mobs. On top of that, your parents allow their daughters to wiggle and writhe around like the Fly Girls in tight-fitting and shortly hemmed clothing and then broadcast that on the Internet for the entire world to view in the name of religious parody. If you’re truly doing right by God, why has he failed to send a well-equipped army of followers to assist you in delivering his message (or at the very least sent someone with less-outdated video editing expertise who could make the organization appear less like a cult from a 1980s sitcom and more like a credible, religious organization)? Is your life truly relegated to pacing sidewalks around the nation, developing hand cramps from holding multiple signs of precautionary hate and skewed snippets from the Bible? No, it doesn’t have to be. If you need help and your parents refuse to honor your request for assistance, please call 911 and let the authorities know how you feel.

Now, look, I know you’ve been taught to hate gays based on so-called biblical references, but have you truly read the Bible regarding that topic? Of course you haven’t. You’re children. Jesus says nothing about homosexuality anywhere in the entire book, and, remember, he alone was the chosen one — the son of God. Many people choose to reference the writings of Apostle Paul — a man who, like Jerry Falwell, believed he was chosen to deliver prophecy — in Romans 1 when he discusses the wickedness he’s witnessed amongst Jews and Gentiles who have worshipped men as gods, serving the creature rather than the creator. Yet, many fail to read the full passage into the eighth verse of the second chapter, which makes it clear that Paul, who is also considered a possible homosexual by a variety of theological scholars, has consulted with, of all people, King Solomon, who infamously had many wives and his own questionable sexual behaviors. Paul goes on to address hypocrites, such as your family full of sinners, and preaches that we are all capable of being freed from the bondage of our wrongdoings. This, he echoed from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. In effect, God doesn’t hate fags.

Moving right along to other fun spots in the Bible. Leviticus … oh, brother. If all you’ve learned from Leviticus is that men shouldn’t do the same things with men that they would do out of love with women, I worry for your Christian soul. There’s a world of forewarning you’ve missed in the exciting readings of Leviticus. Also, when I saw your references to Sodom this weekend, I was confused. Sodom didn’t fall because of rampant gays flaming around the city in fits of lust. The sins of Sodom mentioned by Jesus and the five prophets who discussed the ruination thereof within the Old Testament revealed nothing about homosexuality. The city was prideful, arrogant, unwilling to care for its poor and hungry according to the teachings of Ezekiel. Are the Westboro Baptist Church members Sodomites according to the Bible’s definition? Perhaps. Whatever the case, one point holds true: The Bible is rendered useless when prophets treat the work of man on behalf of God as a Cliff Note’s masterpiece.

By the way, have you gotten to the “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” part of the Bible yet? It’s not particularly children’s reading. I’d give it an NC-17 rating in a heartbeat. Good stuff.

You don’t have to agree with me, of course. I’ll still like you if that matters. Hey, my mother is probably reading this and about to pass out from irritation over my possible blasphemy. What if we’re all wrong? I support and respect the rights of all, whether we’re on the same page of religious doctrine or not. My beliefs might bother them, and their beliefs might seem strange to me, but love conquers all who are willing. It’s no one’s place to judge.

That said, I love you all, even those with hearts full of hatred. When you grow up, I hope you will not look back at what your parents have made you do to Jews, gays, your fellow Baptist churches, Catholic churches, fallen servicemen and women’s families during military funerals, etc., and swell with guilt. The pain inflicted on mankind by your family and church is not your fault. You are granted opportunities in life to make a new path if and when you’re ready, but you must choose this yourself.

With hope,
Kristan

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