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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Right or Wrong?

I've read a few articles on social media over the past couple of days stating that the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church is in failing health and that his death is near.  In those articles, family members and members of his church ask the public to have respect and refrain from picketing his funeral when the time comes.  There are many words that come to mind reading that request.  Many of those words are not those that a polite woman like myself would say publicly.  However, hypocritical, yeah, I'll say that one over and over.

My blood boiled when I read that article.  How dare they have the nerve to ask the rest of us to have respect, when they have shown none.  They have protested funerals for victims of hate crimes, hero soldiers, and innocent children.  They protest any place, business, or person who they decide are bad or who are supporting bad activities.  They seem to have a particular problem with homosexuality.  In fact, their disdain for homosexuality is their reasoning behind protesting funerals.  We are blessed to live in a country that affords us the right to be able to protest for our beliefs.....whatever those beliefs are.  We are also in a country where we are free to say whatever we want.  That's why groups like WBC can spew all the hate they want and ask to be an exception to their own rule.  It's also why people like me can express my opinion about them in a blog such as this.

The question at hand in this instance is, "what is the right thing to do?"  Do we respect their wishes and allow them to hold a funeral for their leader in peace?  Do we ignore their requests and show them exactly how it feels to have hate thrown at them as they grieve?  I'm not sure there is a completely right or wrong answer in this case.  This is not a black and white scenario.  It's grey.....very very grey.

The thing that has always separated WBC from the rest of us, in my opinion, is that they have the audacity to do what most would never dream of doing.  They make a difficult day for grieving family and friends so much worse with their picketing.  Most people have much more respect than that.  With that thought in mind, any protest at the funeral of this man would put the protesters in a similar position to the man they are protesting.  Regardless of how evil I see him as, or how awful others see him as, he has people.  He has people who love him.  He has people who will be sad and miss him when he's gone.  He has people who will be grieving on the day of his funeral....a funeral that will be made more difficult for them if there are people showing their disdain just outside the services.

Some would say they deserve it.  I have another thought.  Perhaps, we should all do exactly as they asked and refrain from protesting at this man's funeral.  Let them mourn and bury him in peace.  I certainly don't think they've earned that peace.  No, rather, my opinion comes from my own beliefs.  I've always learned growing up that we should "treat others as we'd like to be treated" or "turn the other cheek".  Revenge will only blacken our own hearts.  The absence of protesters could speak so much louder.  Absence could say, just because we don't agree with anything you stand for doesn't mean we need to shout it to the masses.  Absence could say, although we despise what he stood for, it's not our place to pass judgement.  Absence could say, we have better things to do than waste any more of our time on this man.

It's my hope that nobody wastes their time organizing a protest at his funeral.  In fact, maybe nobody will show up to mourn his passing.  In the end, it's not our right to judge.  He will be judged by God.  People will do what they want to do.  Perhaps some who have been deeply hurt by this group need a chance for payback.  Everyone heals differently.  Everyone will have a different opinion on this.  Perhaps with this man gone, those who follow him may find the peace they are searching for without using hate as a weapon.  

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