Reverend Fred Phelps has died. And while our future belongs to us, the living, the reverend's ideas live on. They live on not only at Westboro Baptist Church, but even at churches in Cannon Falls. Oddly, perhaps, I admired a part of Fred Phelps - his activism and dedication to his beliefs. And I am thankful his campaign of intolerance worked to unite and mobilize people across the spectrum. When Fred Phelps announced that his church would protest a Hastings high school play about the murder of Matthew Shepard, I was mobilized along with hundreds of others - to build a wall against the harassment of LGBT people in our community.
Although this sort of profane harassment by Westboro Baptist Church may have died with Reverend Phelps, there are local pulpits preaching from the same foundation. Both preach the Bible is the sole authority on morality. Both preach God owns and limits marriage to men and women. Both preach that gay marriage can be nothing more than adulterous lust. Both preach that condoning and celebrating gay marriage is equal to condoning and celebrating sin. Both preach that condoning and celebrating gay marriage is worthy of eternal hell.
Reverend Phelps was a man of conviction and action... and we might embrace that small, worthy portion of his terribly faulted legacy to share his activism ... but activism for good, activism which defends the LGBT community as complete equals. So while one local pastor preaches, "We must show this Cannon Falls community... we must show the protesters that sit on the corner... what true love is"... I, for one, will sit on that corner... anticipating. And there I will object to any notion defining gay as abnormal, less than, or sinful. And in direct response to this pastor, I don't care what sort of god you worship or which sacred book you obey. Surely no god worthy of worship would be as thoughtless and cruel as to make our brothers and sisters as LGBT people... while condemning their needs and capacity for commitment and love.