In a press release announcing their protest of Atkinson’s funeral, Westboro Baptist Church said, “Staff Sgt. Adkinson gave his life for the Constitutional right of WBC to warn America. To deny us our First Amendment rights is to declare to the world that Staff Sgt. Adkinson died in vain, and that America is a nation of sodomite hypocrites.”
Westboro Baptist Church is a small independent, unaffiliated Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas. Founded by Fred Phelps, 80, in 1955, Westboro Baptist has about seventy members, most who are relatives of Phelps. He is a disbarred former civil rights attorney who has thirteen children, four of which are estranged from Phelps. He has run for office five times in Kansas as a Democrat. The group makes their living suing people, organizations, and the government who ‘violate their first amendment rights.’ (the right of free speech). Never mind that suing other believers is condemned in scripture (Read 1 Cor. 6). Westboro has no less than ten lawyers(Pharisees) among their membership.
Several observations and comments about Westboro Baptist Church:
A scriptural Baptist Church recognizes their primary scriptural mandate is to fulfill the Great Commission (Acts 1:8) by equipping their members to preach the gospel to the lost. Westboro spends little time training their members to reach the lost or how to ‘rightly divide the Word of truth,’ but instead spend all their time training their members to insult and berate those who don’t agree with them by threatening them with lawsuits.
Third, Westboro Baptist haughtily claims they know why God allows certain events to happen. This is probably the most frightening characteristic about this group. America has definitely veered from the principles on which we were founded. Our nation has rejected the revealed Word of God and is a wicked, rebellious nation. No Christian with an elementary knowledge of God’s Word can deny our country and it’s leaders do not follow the most basic principles and precepts found in scripture. America certainly deserves the punishment of God, but Westboro’s claim to know why a particular tragedy happens to a family is akin to what the three friends of Job did. If you will recall, Job’s ‘friends’ were certain they knew why he was being chastened by God, but in fact they were wrong. In Job 42:7, the scripture says, After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: "My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." God rebukes them and praises Job. Sometimes we mere mortals misinterpret situations in our lives, but Westboro seems to have a special dispensation from God on what his motives are in every action.
It’s true that most American churches and ministers have lost the’ iron rail up the shirttail’ to speak out against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ That is something that needs to change. The churches in America should be the spiritual conscience of America, by proclaiming the pure grace of God. But Westboro’s brand of speaking out is inappropriate, unChristlike, and hypocritical.
Westboro probably didn’t show up in Duncan because they had bigger fish to fry. When Pastor Terry Jones backed out of burning the Koran on 9/11, the Westboro group decided they would take up the cause. They issued a press release which said, “Meanwhile, we will also burn the flag of this doomed, rebellious, disobedient nation of proud sinners. While you sissy brats browbeat and jockey with the false prophet Terry Jones—pretending like the lives of those soldiers are your political and personal pawns—we will tell you the truth. The blood of the dead soldiers is dripping off the hands of General Petraeus.”
Fourthly, Westboro fails the ‘fruit of the spirit’ test. When God does a work of regeneration in a dead heart, those people become new creatures that manifest the fruit of the spirit. (See Galatians 5). Westboro protesters are not ‘Christlike.’ They don’t let their light shine before men that others see their good works and glorify the Father (See Matthew 5) The Westboro Baptist Church is full of Pharisees(lawyers) who are using the tax code to their benefit. They sue those who would confront them. 1 John 4:1 says we are to try to spirits to see if they be of God. There is none of the true gospel of Christ being proclaimed by this group.
I’m no man’s judge- I'm just a sinner saved by grace- but I know that what the Westboro group does is not consistent with God's Word. If they want to protest, they should stop calling themselves Baptist and Church. It is not accurate and does damage to the cause of Christ. They are little more than modern day Pharisees.