Tuesday marked the passing of actor Heath Ledger. Only 28 - Ledger had a reputation for taking on diverse and challenging roles. Best known for his Oscar and BAFTA nominated role in 2005's Brokeback Mountain, Heath was an actor and director though he reportedly claimed his favourite role was as father to Matilda, his daughter with former partner Michelle Williams.
This post isn't about Heath really. It's about the ongoing heinous actions of Fred Phelps and the lemmings who comprise the membership of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka Kansas - a hate group masquerading as a 'Church'. Regarding Heath's death they released a horrific statement which George shared on air on Wednesday. A few of us happened to be in studio for a taping and the disgust for the WBC's intent to picket Ledger's funeral - because he had the audacity to portray a gay character - was palpable from both George and the audience.
For many viewers of The Hour, this week likely marks your first exposure to this group and their unique brand of garbage. The WBC recently celebrated the drowning murder of a 2 month old Wisconsin baby by its' mother and said 'Thank God for this latest tragedy'. The reason for this depraved statement? You see, God hates Wisconsin ever since a 2005 incident where a cop reputedly slapped a follower of WBC in the face in an unprovoked attack. Oh yes - God also hates Canada, Sweden, Mexico and Ireland. The WBC chose to picket the funerals of Coretta Scott King - widow of Martin Luther King and Fred Rogers.... yes Mister Rogers! Not for his sensitive attemps to explain to his young viewers about divorce and other 'non-Christian' acts that were part of their realities but for his failure to condemn homosexuality. Damned if you do, damned if you don't... is that the game we're playing here?
So on Wednesday... George leaped into this by stating that he doesn't have a lot of enemies that he creates, but that he was going to make one now, described the WBC's intent to picket Heath's service and posed an interesting challenge to viewers. Gather up their best leather gear, Village People outfit... maybe slap on a fake mustache, take a picture yourself and send it off to Fred Phelps. He supplied the address and in case you missed it, here goes - pay special attention to the Zip code!
3701 SW 12th St
I checked my wardrobe and though I might not have anything suitable for a pic, thought a nicely worded postcard to the church might suffice.
Think about what it truly means to be Christian. Your actions regarding Heath Ledger and all other innocent targets are hateful. If Hell exists, I suggest when YOUR time comes - dress lightly.
I'll close with a verse of lyrics from my favourite performer, Ron Sexsmith.
GOD LOVES EVERYONE
God loves everyone Like a mother loves her son
No strings at all
Never one to judge
Would never hold a grudge
'Bout what's been done
God loves everyone
There are no gates in heaven
Everyone gets in
Queer or straight Souls of every faith
Hell is in our minds. Hell is in this life. But when it's gone God takes everyone.
My first taste of Fred Phelps and the filth of the Westboro Baptist Church was during the aftermath of Matthew Shepard's murder in October 1998. I knew then, and I know now, that there is still hatred and violence against the GLBT community... I've experienced some of it firsthand, but this "church" takes things to a whole new level.
It's obvious that Fred Phelps and the members of the WBC are attention whores, they take every chance they can with a high profile media event to make their proclamations of "faith". Protesting at the funeral of American soldiers, the victims of the Saga Mine disaster, they were even going to picket the funerals of the Amish school children killed in Pennsylvania in 2006 (which was only prevented by radio personality Mike Gallagher negotiating free air time for them in lieu of the picket). The list goes on and on... Virginia Tech, the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, the Finnish school shooting, etc. For me, it's no surprise that the WBC released one of their proclamations for the passing of Heath Ledger. I knew it was only a matter of time.
So what should we do about Phelps and his crooked church? Should we do something? Absolutely. Without question. The question is, what? What will make an impact on Phelps? I don't know if anything could ever make an impact or change his mind. Few people change their minds about this subject, particularly when skewed versions of religion are involved.
I love to hear about The Patriot Guard and their efforts to shield the families at funerals and I love that they rev their motorcycle engines to drown out the protest, I think they are doing a wonderful thing at an awful time in a family's life. However, to me, I think this news story sums up the best way to counter Phelps. In the days after the 9/11 attacks, Jared Daily saw the members of the WBC picketing, claiming "God Hates America". This was too much to take and he make his own sign, "Not Today Fred" and began protesting, alone. Soon, dozens of people had joined him, protesting with anti-hate signs and American flags. We're never going to change his mind, but we do need to show him that we are standing together, won't tolerate his bile. We all need to stand up and simply say:
"Not Today Fred"
This is not the first time a call to action has been heard from The Hour to the audience. The Hour has featured Stephen Lewis and others talking about - Make Poverty History and I was inspired to get involved over 18 months ago. I just got a newsletter from the organisation and here is some good news from them.
- Congratulations to all who signed the Make Poverty History petition to the Canadian Senate to act on the “Better Aid Bill” without delay. More than 11,000 supporters signed up within a week! And it worked!
With your support Bill C293 was moved to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee where it is now being considered. After the Senate Committee deals with this bill it goes back to the whole Senate for a third and final vote. -
So adding a voice to an action can help. I was thinking of sending a simple postcard to Fred Phelps that says " Do onto others as you would have others do onto you" Do you think he will 'get it'? Kindness is a simple thing but it's sad that some people don't get it.
I should preface my comments by saying that I am not a religious person. Jokingly I tell people that I only attend church when someone is either married or buried. I tend to define myself as “spiritual”. As fate would have it, I happen to have many friends that are born again and define themselves as “Christian”. I think very few of them would use the words GOD and HATE in the same sentence, let alone in a web address. Most believers will tell you that God is LOVE. God loves EVERYONE, no matter who you are or what you’ve done. In NO part of "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" [John 3:16], do I read the words with the following exceptions: gays, lesbians, Catholics, Jews, etc.
So how does one “explain” Fred Phelps and his followers at the Westboro Baptist Church? From where I sit, these people use the convenient umbrella of religion to spew bigotry, intolerance, ignorance and distain. Contrary to what Mr. Phelps and his associates would have us believe, God doesn’t hate homosexuals, Canada, or the United States, among others…THEY DO.
With a bible in one hand and a sword of hate-mongering in the other, they seize any opportunity they can get to share their version of “truth” with the world. With their choice of protest locations, the WBC has repeatedly demonstrated a complete lack of human decency and compassion. With respect to Mr. Ledger, I found this quote on abc.com by Shirley Phelps-Roper, “They are going to try and hide the body like a bunch of ghouls so we can't protest. The only thing in this country people worship more than filthy sex acts is the dead". How pathetic is that? Based on the definition of ghoul that I am familiar with, I would be curious to know whether Mrs. Phelps-Roper considers herself to be a ghoul as well. Are she and the other members of the WBC not feeding off the dead on a regular basis?
I took up George’s challenge Thursday morning. On the back of postcard with a photograph of a Canadian flag on the front, I sent the following message to Mr. Phelps:
“God loves everyone. As a TRUE believer, should you not be following His example by doing the same? I do hope that one day you aspire to become the Christian that you claim to be.”
Okay, my turn.
This isn't a post about Heath. I will say, I was devastated by this loss. Not only for the industry but for the world. He was a great actor and a wonderful man.
I was in even more disbelief of the audacious, bigoted, hate mongering that Fred Phelps has bred and put forth.
Fred Phelps YOU ARE WRONG.
There are very few things I will come out and state regarding religious beliefs but I will state this: The Bible talks mainly about love and gratitude. It talks about "loving one another" and "Feeding the Hungry and Saving the Poor". It does not preach hate to homosexuals. While it does make statements about the act of homosexuality, the "loving one another" part overshadows any condemning.
But this... this is just ridiculous.... Heath Ledger was a CLEARLY straight man. ( Not that Phelps should be allowed to go after homosexuals because HE SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED) But to go after someone for a role they played in a movie, after they have DIED so they aren't able to respond is abhorrent.
Phelps has HATE IN HIS HEART.
When talking about homosexuality with regards to God... it should be about love and understanding NOT hate and prejudice.
At a time of such sorrow for Ledger's family and friends, how can one man truly believe that by condemning Ledger to hell he isn't sinning. Isn't the act of causing conscious pain on others a sin???
I can only believe that God sees Phelps as a sinful man full of HATE. Whom He will punish accordingly.
After reading all the other events and people Phelps has protested I think it should be a weekly visit to the WBC website http://www.godhatesfags.com/
(Yah, folks LOOK AT THAT WEB ADDRESS!!!!)
to send messages of protest to Phelps for SUCKING AT LIVING. No one dead or alive deserves that kind of hate. Straight or Gay.
"When the toast is burned, and all the milk has turned and Capt. Crunch is wavin' farewell, when the BIG ONE finds you may this song remind you.... that they don't serve Breakfast in Hell."
Hope you enjoy your ride.
It's been a self-journey of outrage & disgust in learning more about this so called church.
God Hates You
God Hates Your Tears
God Is Your Enemy
Thank God for Dead Soldiers
Thank God for 9/11
Thank God for the Tsunami
These are just some of the signs & slogans they use when picketing & spewing their hate across the globe.
Fred Phelps Sr. started this church in 1955, after being voted out of his previous congregation, The Eastside Baptists (a traditional Baptist church). The WBC is not even recognized by any Baptist institution as being a Baptist Bible-following fellowship. Their members consist mainly of his 9 children, spouses, grand/great grandchildren & some Eastside members that followed him over.
They are not permitted to marry outside of the church and along with their hate mongering & warped teachings, they preach beliefs such as; menstruation is a curse from God upon lustful women. That God cursed Eve with a curse of blood & if a woman stays 'pure', then she will never menstruate.
WTF is THAT?!
In listening to a podcast from an interview his daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, did on The Kane Show in Wash. D.C. (Hot 99.5) just 10 days ago, she says the reason they are picketing Heath Ledgers Memorial & The Oscars, is because he deliberately took that role. He took a megaphone out to say that God is a liar, that homosexuality is acceptable, and that cheating is okay. He is now in Hell for it.
She also went on to say that his family is not grieving, but they're in full-on angry rebellion against God and they brought that wrath on themselves.
According to their faith, they have been brought here to inform this generation that everyone, with the exception of their church, is living in sin & going to Hell for it. That there are two types of people in this world and God hates them both.
Either you're a filthy practicing pervert or you're an enabler of their sin.
I can only hope that the media attention they are seeking, proves them to be what they really are.
It seems glaringly obvious to me.