Monday, October 24, 2011
Multimodal Essay Rough Draft Courtney Adams
31 October 2011
Westboro Baptist Church
For the past 44 years, America along with other countries have been haunted by the hateful, disrespectful and terrorizing, Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). This “church” considers themselves an Old School Baptist style church as they preach the hate of God. The leader of this church is, “Fred Phelps and several of his children and dozens of his grandchildren appear to constitute the majority of the group’s members” (ADL 1). An important aspect of this church is that Fred Phelps along with many of his family members, also a part of this church, are in the court system, either as lawyers or attorneys. The WBC sees the United States as doomed as a whole. They have also shown their viewpoints on President Obama as the anti-Christ. More specifically, the Church protests and degrades homosexuals and in April of 2009 Jews also came into the spotlight of the hatred. All blacks and Christians are also subject to be hated by the Westboro Baptist Church. Almost any institution or individual is subject to the hatred of the WBC. Even selfless soldiers from the war with Iraq are targeted. The church views the 6,293 soldiers that have died in the war, an act of God. In their protests they often wish for more dead soldiers. Their hatred does not stop there, with all of America, the group has protested in other countries as well. Some countries such as Great Britain have banned any member of their church from coming into their country at all.
Fortunately the general public is commonly unaware of this hateful group. The media tends to ignore the Westboro Baptist Church in general, just what the church does not want. By ignoring the Westboro Baptist Church in the media, the group has no power. Refusing to give the WBC media coverage is viewed as, “A concerted effort on the part of the media to refrain from exercising its First Amendment rights in order to discourage others from exercising theirs” (Desparate 1). What the media is trying to do is like ignoring a small child when him or her is being destructive on purpose, without attention the destructive behavior becomes unappealing. The Westboro Baptist Church strives for media attention for their church and the message they portray. The WBC often protests events, “That have attracted heavy news coverage, like the deaths of soldiers killed in wars or the victims of well-publicized accidents, or at venues, such as high schools, which are likely to generate large counter-protests and community outrage” (ADL 1). The church hopes to infuriate the pubic with their detestable actions and words. They purposefully make highly controversial music videos and title their WebPages such as “Godhatesfags.org” to attract attention. Although, as previously stated, the WBC considers themselves an Old School or Primitive Baptist Church, other Baptists churches have not protested and sought media attention as the WBC does. For all churches in general, this hateful, attention seeking behavior is nothing but unusual. An example of the local attention the Westboro Baptist Church receives, in counter protest is shown below.
Another illogical thing the WBC does is to advertise and picket things that cannot be found in the bible at all. It is one thing to spread the word that the New Testament of the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin but it is another to claim that, “God hates your feelings”. It seems that as this group has grown they have drifted farther and farther away from the actual word of God. Stemming from that, many of the points that are so important to the Westboro Baptist Church are not even mentioned in the Bible at all. The idea that God is punishing the United States Military by killing more soldiers in war for having a country that is so tolerant of gays, is not found in the Bible. Rather it seems that these ideas have been made and evolved by humans.
One of the strategic things the Westboro Baptist Church does is to boycott and protest funerals, especially largely publicized funerals. The group will protest the funerals of gays and soldiers. They will do anything to get under peoples skin and gain media attention. They claim they want to spread the word of Gods hate and make Americas aware that they are all doomed. Even the inventor of Apple, Steve Jobs cannot escape the wrath of the Westboro Baptist Church. After Steve Jobs death on October 5, Margie Phelps was one of many WBC members to use an iPhone to tweet about it. Using the technology Steve Jobs invented, the WBC set up the protest of his funeral. Margie tweeted from her iPhone, “Westboro will picket his funeral. He had a huge platform; gave God no glory & taught sin”. Although they benefit from his products, the Westboro Baptist Church still loathed Steve Jobs. This exemplifies the fact that the WBC does not discriminate against anyone in their hatred. Steve Jobs funeral is just another place to gain publicity for them, while they completely ignore and disrespect those morning his death.
As aforementioned, Fred Phelps has started the Westboro Baptist Church and his children and grandchildren make up a majority of its congregation. This raises a red flag because it shows a trend of how children within this family are raised. As the average, conscience citizen sees it the Westboro Baptist Church is awful, unnecessary and harmful. This is because we were all raised in a certain light that makes up how we see what is right and what is wrong. Unfortunately people with views like Fred Phelps are able to have children along with the rest of us and he was able, in some aspects, to make clones of himself. By teaching his children to have the same beliefs that he does, he created a sort of colony of hatful people. As his family grew and his children had children, this bad attitude was passed down onto these innocent children. Children are often seen as a blank canvas, for parents to make what they want with them. The fact that these WBC members are teaching their children how to hate, says something about this character in itself. Below is an example of what the children within the Westboro Baptist Church are taught to do.
As it should for the kids that are raised with such beliefs like the Westboro Baptist’s, attention should also be brought to the average citizen that is affected by this hatred. As Rebekah Kuschmider explains it from a mothers viewpoint, it is hard to teach innocent children how some people are so hateful. She goes on to describe how easy it is to explain what homosexuality and different races are but she states, “I just wish they would stop because their flavor of hatred is so hard to explain to children” (Communities 1). The general set of values that the Westboro Baptist Church holds is very hard for grown ups to comprehend let alone a young child. In some ways parents wish that their innocent children would not ever have to learn of such hate. Rebekah goes on talking about homophobia and describes, “It breaks my heart that someday, probably soon, I’ll have to explain to my son why people use mean words to talk about the parents of his friends just because those parents are gay” (Communities 2). Not only in children but the innocence of our entire society is disrupted by the Westboro Baptist Church actions. This brings up a broader point of how the WBC affects the society as a whole.
Unfortunately, The Westboro Baptist Church can legally say and do whatever they want in their protests, just as any other citizen, as long as they do not violate and trespassing orders. The United States is a free country and by the first amendment, the Westboro Baptist Church is able to speak their thoughtful opinions. Although they may completely offend some and haunt others, the truth is no one can stop them. Many court cases have been made against the group but unfortunately, the WBC has won the majority of the cases. As previously stated, many members of the church are a part of the court system giving them an upper hand to any legal battles they may face. In a case where the WBC picketed a soldiers funeral claiming, “God is punishing the military for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality” the soldier’s father lost his battle in the courtroom (Huffington 1). As this may seem absurd to anyone with a soul, the First amendment covers all Americas, including the hateful ones. The WBC believes they are doing right by protesting and giving their message but it is clear that without the Westboro Baptist Church the world would be an overall better place.
After acknowledging that the ways and views of the Westboro Baptist Church cannot be changed, society must find a healthy way to coexist. One positive start to this is the fact that the media does not highlight anything this group does, no matter how shocking. The ways of doing things such a funerals can also be changed in some ways to better adjust to the surrounding negativity from the Westboro Baptist Church. Funerals could be held on larger lots so that although the picketers cannot be eliminated, they will be forced to be much farther away from the event due to trespassing laws. Small adjustments must be made to fit these sick-minded people of the Westboro Baptist Church into the United States.