Today, the third in guest blogger Mark Derewicz’s Organized Religion trilogy—originally posted on Mark Derewicz’s Weblog.
There were only five protesters. Five. Five out of more than two billion Christians in the world. Five people who wanted media coverage for their beliefs that God hates Elizabeth Edwards.
Five people. They were from a tiny church in Kansas whose leader has called for his flock to protest funerals, especially those of soldiers.
Soldiers, you see, dedicate their lives to the defense of a country that tolerates gay people. And Elizabeth Edwards wanted to give rights to homosexuals. I guess the logic is that the country and world are going to hell in a hand basket because of heathens, unbelievers, and blasphemers when in reality the world is going to hell because too many humans, especially our leaders, refuse to see the greater purpose of religion and life itself.
According to their actions, the Westboro folks simply don’t read the gospels.
There’s a button on the church’s website labeled “God’s Hatred in the Bible.” I clicked on it, and there was a list of eighteen verses, all but one of them were from the Old Testament—Psalms, Leviticus, Proverbs, Deuteronomy, Proverbs, Hosea, Malachi, Zechariah, and Lamentations. And the lone New Testament verse was from Romans 9:13, in which Paul quoted the Hebrew Bible.
Do you see it? The elephant in the room? I’ll give you a hint—the elephant looks like a prophet . . . who wore sandals and fed the poor.
The Westboro Five said they were doing God’s work. The church says they are Christians. Yet, there are no Jesus quotes on the church’s website list of hate. Probably because Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, not according to the Bible. And Jesus never said anything good about hate. He did say an awful lot about love and compassion and forgiveness. In fact, the only time Jesus showed anger—not hate mind you—was in the Gospel of Mark. And why was he upset? Because of the hardness of the people’s hearts.
So, really, prioritization is the underlying fault of these misguided people from Topeka. They think they are bringing attention to an issue that is killing America. But that wasn’t the sort of “bringing to awareness” that Christ did. He brought spirituality to the forefront of people’s consciousness. He tried so very hard to get people to see reality with their inner eyes—their hearts—with love and compassion. When he saw people judging others, he told them to take care of the log in their own eyes. He comforted people. He inspired the downtrodden. He healed the sick and aided the poor. Simply put, he defended the defenseless.
And so it brought great joy to my heart to see hundreds of people stand opposite those five protesters to defend Elizabeth Edwards, who cannot defend herself anymore. Good Christians, the lot of them, even if some of them say they don’t believe in God. To me, these people were saying, “Westboro might be organized, but they’re not a religion. Not a religion of God. They are far from God; they are far from what Christ taught.”
To me, the counter-protest was symbolic for what right-thinking people must do more of. Prioritize the spiritual teachings over the mere facts of belief. Pick up this cross and defend the defenseless. In this, we would see the true godliness of people no matter their religion. In this, we would see Christ in the world again.