There are some articles, pictures, opinion pieces, etc., that I will not pass on because I do not want to give more focus to the topic. There are some people that I think we need to talk about less, not more. There are some institutions that I think need less coverage. There are some events that I think may be treated more effectively with silence than with yelling.
One of these institutions and people are in the news again this week. And I almost do not want to say anything.
Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church do not represent Christianity. They represent their warped view of religion which in reality includes nothing that represents Jesus. They have spewed hatred and ignorance for years. What they do bothers me and how much attention people give to what they do bothers me.
I feel sorrow for all the people the Westboro Church has hurt. For all the insults, all the degradation, all the hatred—I feel sorry. I wish I could take away the pain. I wish I could more than just say, “Don’t listen to them. Jesus loves you.”
Now, Fred Phelps is nearing death. His death brings me no joy. In fact, it fills me with even more sorrow. Sorrow at the fact that he may never have understood what Jesus’ love really means.
And I feel sorrow at all the mixed emotions others must be feeling. His death resolves nothing. Even if (as I hope) the Westboro Church fades away into nothingness, that would resolve nothing.
No amount of revenge, no amount of “they got what’s coming to them,” no amount of hatred can take away the pain that has been caused. Only love can do that.
Dr. King said it best, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
So I must remember the Fred Phelps is a child of God. Just like Mother Theresa. Just like Hitler and bin Laden. Just like St. Patrick.
Just like me.
I would love to see healing come as a result of this man’s death. Healing for his family. Healing for his followers. Especially healing for those he hurt.
Maybe that healing begins with love.
Maybe that healing begins with forgiveness.
Someday, the hatred must stop. How great a lesson it would be if those who have been hurt can take the lead in showing love and forgiveness. I don’t know if I would be able to do it.
But every time someone says, “I forgive you,” evil dies a little bit more.