A garden full of crosses is coming down

Yesterday evening I attended a short evening prayer service at St. David’s Episcopal Church, here in Topeka, Kansas. I’m an Episcopalian, but belong to another congregation in town.

My reason for going was that St. David’s was retiring a memorial to the American soldiers who have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A little over two years ago the Youth Group at the church started erecting an 18" white, wooden cross, with their name, for every US soldier who has died in the current conflict. At first the “garden” was small, but then, as you might imagine, the number of crosses started growing. More and more lawn was taken up.

Word about these crosses started to spread, amongst the military and the families of those who have died. Not a few had a small flag, a flower, or some other beloved trinket attached to them.

The Youth Group was sensitive to families. They knew that not all those who have died were Christian, or even religious. At one point they talked to the imam of the local Islamic Center, about those soldiers who might be Muslims, and he told them he saw no problem with what they were doing. It was their symbol, but still the same God.

I arrived at the church about ten minutes before the service was to start, and you know who was on all three other corners of the intersection St. David’s shares. Yes, it was the Phelps clan, from their Westboro Baptist “Church” in all their ugliness. I’m going to write out some of what I heard, but I’m going to put it in a spoiler box. It’s ugly, and I don’t want anyone to read it who might be overly troubled by it.

[spoiler]IT’S NOT A CHURCH, IT’S A GRAVE YARD!

GIVE ME A D! GIVE ME AN E! GIVE ME AN A! GIVE ME A D! WHAT’S THAT SPELL? DEAD SOLDIERS! WOO-HOO! YAY![/spoiler]

It makes me want to go over there and smash them. I really wanted to pound someone, so I went quickly into the church, where their filth couldn’t be heard. As I entered the pew, and knelt to pray before the service, I asked for forgiveness for my hatred, for it make me no different than what I think they are.

I wish I knew how to eliminate this anger I feel. I’m not living up to my faith if I get so pissed at others. *“Anyone who says they love God, and hate their brother or sister, they are a liar.” * That’s what it says in the Bible, but it’s so damned hard to live up to it.

The crosses will be taken down beginning today, because the church quite literally ran out of lawn. Mowing must have been a bitch. Families may have the crosses of their loved ones, and the rest will be kept in storage for a long time, in case they are ever claimed. Plans are under way for a new, permanent memorial, but for now, seventeen crosses will remain, one for each hundred of the dead. A new one will be erected each time(ugh) another hundred are added to the list. God grant that the time will come soon when no more need be added.

I saw Uday Singh, Quincy Lee Knox, and Ariel Rico, all side by side. A variety of names and cultures, under one quiet symbol.

As for me, I need to take a leaf from the following, an open letter from a pastor in Australia, to Fred. It’s truly, truly moving.

These people never cease to amaze me. I can’t even begin to fathom the hate these people have.

I bet it’s a matter of time before the Southern Poverty Law Center or a similar group sues the WBC into oblivion for defamation or some similar civil offense. And I’ll be happy to contribute to that campaign. These people are a pox on their community, and on the United States, and a pox on all that is good and decent about Christianity and Christians.

I’m not a Christian, but all I can do for now is take solace in the knowledge that Phred and his ilk will find themselves answering to the same judge who said “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

May these people rot in the same hell to which they condemn their innocent victims.

Robin

Ah, Freddy. A great candidate for an old fashioned smiting if ever there was one.

The best thing to do about Fred:

  • Pray for his “congregation” - most of whom are his family members, and rumored to be victims of abuse.

  • Remind everyone that brings him up that this is not a church, it’s a hate group masquerading as a church to get extra publicity. It works well too, which brings me to my third point…

  • Don’t feed the troll! He does this crazy shit to make the evening news and get more attention. And when we try to reason with him, like the well intentioned letter from the link in the OP, we play right into his hands. Ignore him. He won’t go away, but it’ll keep him from acheiving the notoriety he’s obviously after.

I know how you feel. The gospels say to pray for those who persecute you, but man it sure isn’t easy, is it? Maybe you can pray that the Phelps clan might actually open the Bible and read it some time soon :slight_smile:

Boy, have my eyes been opened. I’d never heard of Phelps before finding the SDMB and hadn’t seen him in action before last night. I watched 30 Days (gay guy has a straight roomie for a month) on F/X and it had a piece with that thing. It can’t debate, can’t answer questions, it just spews hate, mindlessly. What is missing in the minds or the lives of those hate-mongers that allows them to behave in such a manner? Normal people just don’t do that kind of thing. Finally I get what everyone’s been talking about and I kind of wish I didn’t.

Phelps doesn’t seem to realize that many graveyards are on church property, consecrated ground. Graveyards are churches, just outdoors. That you can pray for him makes you many times over a Christian in the truest sense. Phelps needs to realize he’s actually the enemy of the Christian beliefs he claims to be defending, but I highly doubt he ever will. Doesn’t he have an anuerism appointment he needs to get to?

I hate to give this guy’s views more air, but I really don’t understand what his problem could possibly be. Does he think graveyards are wrong? Or memorials? Or was it that there were non-Christians represented? If someone could explain it - not to justify it, but just to clear my ignorance, I’d be very grateful.

And, for what it’s worth, this pagan would be proud to see her pagan brothers or sisters cared for and remembered under a Cross. It’s a beautiful symbol of the Divine’s love for mankind. While I know not all would agree with me, I see no problem honoring people in your ways, even if their ways are not the same.

Actually, they were rejoicing that the soldiers had died. On their website they have a schedule of soldiers whose funerals they plan to picket, thanking God that they were blown up by those bombs. They say that God is punishing everyone for the sins of the USA against their church. :rolleyes:

Until your explanation, Baker, like WhyNot I was at a loss to understand their (for lack of a better word) reasoning. That’s just freakin’ insane. It’s the very epitome of misguided, unjustifiable, unconscionable hatred. How in the world can they call themselves a church, much less Christian, in any sense of the word?

I’d hear about these Chick folks here but had resisted trying to acquaint myself with their message because it just sounded too looney. Now I’m even less interested… it’s just far too bizarre.