President Hinckley's funeral is today. There are expected to be thousands of mourners flocking to downtown Salt Lake City to attend the funeral. There will also be the Westboro Baptist Church spreading their message of hate.
I recently read an article in the Deseret News about this group that calls themselves Christians. Led by Fred Phelps, these people believe that it's their duty to hurt people in times of grief. These are the same people that protest at the funerals of our fallen soldiers. Their official domain name is "Godhatesfags" (though at the time of my writing this their website seems to be down). Their protests are vicious acts of hatred and while they are peaceful, at least lacking in physical violence, they are not sending messages of Christ, yet they call themselves Christian.
Christ stood for love. The New Testament is filled with stories that direct us to that end every time - that it's about love! I believe that our true meaning in life is trying to find that love, that true purest form of love. This is not easy. We are all too jaded by daily life and just as pollution clouds our view of the world, so do other things... like hatred.
I always thought that to be a Christian was supposed to be about loving thy neighbor. The Beatitudes really say it all. These are the guidelines we are meant to follow to experience true happiness, to experience Heaven:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
I don't see how the protests can be accomplishing any of the above. To believe in God and Heaven, is to also believe in Love. I don't think there has to be opposites to have understanding. I don't think we need Hell in order to have Heaven, any more than we need pain to be able to experience joy. However, the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church are telling me otherwise. They are telling me that for there to be love, there has to be hate. They are also telling me that if God spreads the message of love, and if the Holy Spirit is the power of that love, then there is something else guiding these people. It always amazes me how evil can disguise itself in the form of religion. This has been true throughout history, so it shouldn't amaze me, but it does just the same.
Another thing that amazes me is that the only thing I feel when I read about their protests and their words is hatred. At least that's what I think it feels like when all I want to do is yell at them, perhaps flip them off, maybe even gouge a few of them. I guess that they are succeeding, then, in spreading their hatred. If love and hate were elements they would be water and fire. Hatred, like fire, can spread very quickly and cause great damage and destruction in its path. Love, more powerful than hatred, can put out that fire. Sometimes the fire, however, is great, and it requires a lot of water and effort to quell the flames.
I don't want to be victimized by their hatred. They succeed when they make us feel that fire, rather than the calm peaceful waters of love. We can stand against them by forming a barrier of love and by not allowing their message of hatred to continue. Perhaps if we prayed for these wayward souls, they might someday again be touched with the Hand of God and feel love in their hearts.