The leaders of Iowa-based Patriots for Christ, along with other Christian conservative organizations and individuals, spoke out strongly against reported plans by the members of the Westboro Baptist Church to protest in the state over the weekend and on Monday.
Fred Phelps founded the WBC, which has been disavowed by both the Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention, in 1955. The disbarred attorney and former civil rights activist who was a failed Democrat candidate for public office four times led the organization’s protest activities beginning in 1991.
“Decent Americans, decent Christians, have no use for the message or the tactics of WBC,” Patriots for Christ President Craig Bergman said.
WBC and its fewer than 40 members target a number of issues Phelps, who passed away in March of last year, preached were related to the moral decay of the United States. The group says it will be protesting at two Quad Cities-area churches – Bettendorf Christian Church, Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in Davenport, and King Catholic Church in Moline, Ill. – on Saturday and Sunday, as well as West High School in Davenport and East High School in Des Moines on Monday.
“Christians need to speak out against all evil,” Cedar Valley Patriots For Christ Founder Judd Saul said.
“We are speaking out this week because we don’t want the young people they seem to be targeting to confuse the WBC with those who are genuinely concerned about protecting children from corrupting influences,” Bergman said.
All too frequently, announced protests by WBC members turn into media circuses and lead to counter-protests by those who oppose their hateful messages. Often, these include gay “kiss-ins” by homosexual activists.
“Both the homosexuals and the WBC pervert God’s Word,” said former state Rep. Tom Shaw. “It has been the Christians, the patriotic conservatives, who have physically showed up time and again to prevent these people from disrupting military funerals and inflicting more unnecessary grief and suffering on the families of those who have paid the ultimate price defending our country.”
The WBC is funded in part by litigation that is generated from their outrageous behavior when communities attempt to prevent them from protesting. Several of its members, who are all members of the extended Phelps family, are attorneys.
The Rev. Cary Gordon of Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City called WBC “a disgraceful organization that doesn’t represent the Scriptures.” He said those who actually read their Bibles know this.
“Christians around America have consistently stood against WBC for a very simple reason,” he said. “Christians have understood two biblical realities for centuries. Realities that WBC denies: 1) God hates sin but loves the sinner. 2) Satan loves sin but hates the sinner. In contradiction to orthodox Judeo/Christian teaching spanning thousands of years, WBC openly hates both the sinners and their sins. A double level of hate that surpasses even Satan.”
“Christ died for our sins, for all of our sins, and that includes those who are practicing homosexuals and the WBC,” he added. “The WBC is actually like those it claims to oppose, because they are both sinners who are glorifying themselves and trying to convince others to accept and support their sins.”