So they picked my hometown theater as a destination for this week.
I was invited by two groups of people to go 'counter-protest' the WBC. The first was a group started by people from my high school who rallied hundreds to this protest. They wanted to show the WBC that they were not welcome here.
The second was from my youth pastor, who had a different approach. His reasoning for going to protest was that any inaction in response to the WBC's verbal attacks, especially on the part of Christians, would be showing a sense of tolerance for their actions and furthermore not supporting the understandable backlash from the community, and thereby allowing Christians to be grouped in with the WBC, which is unacceptable. He suggested we bring signs that say 'God is Love 1 John 4:8' to show a Christian doctrine in opposition to the WBC's presence and doctrinal fury. The result was very successful, especially in the mingling of both groups.
Before I continue, I highly, highly recommend that anyone who is anyone watch this video. It is a wonderful look into the WBC.
A lot of my analysis regarding the WBC and how to respond to it has been influenced by that video and will be the basis of the following points.
Bottom line up front: the WBC itself is the embodiment of hatred. Lesser things have been said to start large wars. They use ideology, and worse yet, the Bible, as a weapon. They are conditioned not to listen, not to think, not to respond and not to question. The more hated they are and the more opposition they get, the more motivated and successful they become. They are fueled completely by the reactions they receive. Their lives are based completely on advancing their blind purpose to spread the 'word of God'. No 'God is love' sign will ever cause even a second thought as to their actions, especially since they believe what they do is love.
The most important point I would like to stress about them though is that they are people. As much as we can dehumanize them and liken them to the ideology they stand for, they are still people made in God's image whom God loves more than the world hates them. Watching the above video shows a very interesting and disturbing glance into their lives, but it is easy to see that they are real people with real feelings. And people deserve love no matter who they are.
That being said, I have thus far been no less disgusted with America's response to their presence than I have with their fringe beliefs. They are called the 'Most Hated Family in America'...which is an ironic title, I think. We criticize them for their hateful messages and dish the hate right back and call it justified. The above video showed a scene of a car driving by and throwing trash at one of their children. We stand toe to toe with them on the protest lines, fighting fire with fire, and call ourselves righteous. Our beliefs are better than your beliefs and we will fight them to show it.
I opted not to go to the counter-protest for the above reasons. I will not stand toe to toe with a group of people who are completely desensitized to alternative ideas. I believe whole-heartedly that raising our heads and ignoring their messages from the beginning would have made the WBC a name that not even their neighbors would recognize. Their motivation is reaction, their finances from suing the people who attack them, and their success is based on how hated they are. If they had none of those things, they would be just another fringe group that has no real effect on the world around them. They would tire of holding their signs that no one reads and their voices will be hoarse from yelling at deafened ears. I like to think that if I meet one of their members in person, I would treat them no different than anyone else and in doing so, not be in conflict with them and maybe show some of God's love in a personal way.
"But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness" Romans 4:5
And just as a side, the WBC didn't follow through with their plans to come to Cedar Rapids.