Funerals, Phelps, and Fags

May 25, 2006

Original Post Date:  5/25/06

Note:  I don't really enjoy using the term "fags"- I'm pulling it here because Fred Phelps, who I will mention in a moment, uses it frequently in his protests, and is the owner of the infamous site www.godhatesfags.com.  It isn't for the faint-hearted, but if you want to see examples of the kind of hatred spewed forth in their protests, feel free to give them a visit.

I'm really upset about this funeral protest ban that congress has just passed.

I mean, I'm glad for the families that will benefit from it.  Phelps (I will not call that man "Reverend") has protested my church several times, and he and his followers use the most hateful, disgusting, and really perverted angry things in their demonstrations– the likes of which I have never seen before.  I can only imagine what it must have been like to live through the Civil Rights era of the 50s and 60s when such conduct was more widespread (over race) and not as broadly condemned even by those who supported the same objectives as the demonstrators.

What upsets me about the current funeral protests is that they are just now getting attention.  Phelps and his gang have been protesting for years.  He started protesting at the funerals of gay men who died of AIDS.  He moved on, and one of the most vivid images I have of him was the protests of Matthew Shepard's funeral.  I realize that there is controversy around the death of Matthew Shepard now, but nobody deserves to be beaten and left for dead like a scarecrow on the side of the road.

Where were the "funeral protection" laws for all of these people?  Did not the families of the hundreds of people affected by the tragedy of AIDS and disrupted by the hate of Phelps deserve the same protection?  Do we, as gay people, really qualify as such "second class citizens" that we do not deserve such protection, even in time of bereavement?  Is the stigma of AIDS still so strong that we cannot be granted even this protection in death?

Or is it that this protection is being awarded to our "war heroes", that the glory of war is still so honorable that we are still praising and elevating those "honoring our country" with the killing of others that we seek to give them "special rights"?  That the "war machine" seeks to ensure that the pictures of the funerals depicting the fallen heroes of the wars which somehow pull from us a strong, emotional and even patriotic response, to ensure that those pictures do not get tainted with the memories of anything to destroy our picture of war as valiant and noble?

Of course the men and women who have honored their lives with service to their country deserve recognition.  So PLEASE before you start commenting that I don't recognize the service that they have given please don't misread me– I laud their service to defend our– and my– freedom.  However, ALL LIVES HAVE EQUAL VALUE.  In this country of ours, we believe that ALL PEOPLE ARE CREATED EQUAL.

That we seek to protect some in a time of mourning and grief and not others, without even one word of protest about it, disgusts me.

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2 Responses to “Funerals, Phelps, and Fags”

  1. FrMichael Says:

    Actually, if you understood Christianity you would know that all lives do not have equal value: Christ’s having more value than the rest of us put together. Common sense (and Scripture) will tell you that a righteous person is more pleasing to God than a grotesque unrepentent sinner.

    That being said, Phelps’ group is reprehensible and was so long before they started picketing veterens’ gravesites. His actions at the Shepherd burial were a disgrace.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Hi Fr. Michael –

    Thanks for agreeing with me on Phelps.

    Also, my comments were specifically around our Declaration of Independence, a secular document, proclaiming that all men [sic] are created equal.

    However, I understand Christianity pretty well, I think, and as I think I’ve articulated elsewhere on my blog I believe in the democracy of souls– that all human life is created and valuable to God equally. The poor penniless peasant and the rich and powerful king.

    Here is a great sermon on the matter: http://www.allsaints-pas.org/archives/sermons/JEB%204-9-06%20God's%20Healing%20Embrace%20in%20Crucifying%20Times.pdf.


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