A couple weeks ago, God confronted me about fear. It was no accident that nearly every blog I read, every article I looked up, even unrelated tweets and fb statuses (statii?) could be connected via the theme of fear.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25
Fear governs and shapes and shifts politics, too. Today, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in Snyder vs. Westboro Baptist Church.
To recap, WBC protests military funerals because of some whacked-out correlation between homosexuality-the US military – and God’s judgment.
Everyone except WBC can find something to HATE about these people. Conservatives, Liberals, Christians, Non-Christians, pro-military, pacifists, I challenge you to find an American that doesn’t go to this “church,” that likes them.
The problem is, the Supreme Court got this right. We are guaranteed the right to free speech without interference from the Government, as long as our assemblies are peaceful. I hate that military families are subjected to a double-loss, loss of their loved one and loss of peace of mind surrounding their funerals. I hate that this “church” feels like it should persecute families in order to make a point about God. I hate that this group speaks and I hate what they say, but I believe that in order for me to have the right to speak freely, I have to accept their rights as well. I love the First Amendment. I wrote about that, here.
I think, like most things we fear, we want to control dangerous speech. We want to wrap it up and throw it away. We want to dismiss it. “Farewell,” we want to say. But as Chief Justice Roberts said in his majority opinion (possibly marking the first thing he’s said with which I nodded in agreement)
Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.
That’s saying the Government of the United States should/cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. It doesn’t say anything about citizens unable to punish them under the law. You don’t like their speech? You hate their speech? Join the Freedom Riders who stage counter protests to shield the funerals. You want to contain their speech? Pray that God changes their hardened hearts. Do their signs disgust you? Make your own counter sign.
When I get scared, when I’m trembling with fear, I want someone else to take away that fear and make it ok again. Westboro Baptist Church scares Christians, because we’re afraid our message will get mixed up in theirs. We are afraid people will judge ALL Christians because of the actions of a few. We fear the association that comes from this group using the name of our God to do something terrible.
You might disagree. “No, I’m not afraid of them,” you’ll say. “I’m angry. I just think it’s in bad taste to protest military funerals.” It is. It’s the tackiest, most attention-seeking, mouth-breathing, inhuman thing that they do. But, unfortunately, tacky is permitted by our Constitution. I believe anger is based in fear, sometimes. I get fearful and resort to righteous indignation rather than face the fear that I don’t have all the answers and can’t make the pain stop.
There are ways to react that are not based in fear. Stand up! Condemn the actions of WBC and other groups like them in the court of public opinion. We have the freedom and the responsibility to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, for the families of those who have stood up and fought, to ensure the freedoms, that, like it or not, Westboro Baptists are entitled to as well.
When people come together, to show what they are made of, and they are a praying, loving, mass of Christians, God is there, in the midst, and there’s nothing to fear.
How does fear manifest itself in your life? What is your best idea for dealing with WBC?