Friday, March 27, 2009

    Taking on Fred Phelps

    Check out this open letter to Fred Phelps by Ethan Bryan and other youth ministers in Lee, Summit, Missouri. Phelps is coming to their area to protest a production of "The Laramie Project," a play that dramatizes reactions to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shephard. I think the letter takes just the right approach and the right tone. It doesn't engage in reciprocal name-calling or anger with Phelps but instead offers an alternate and more transforming understanding of the gospel:

    The youth ministries of Lee’s Summit emphasize that each person is wonderfully created, incredibly unique, inimitable, matchless, and irreplaceable. In the words of Paul, “We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original” (Galatians 5.25).

    See the rest of the letter here. We need many more Christian messages like this out there. (And what does the image above have to do with any of this? Oh....just think about it!). -- Brian


    Erik said...

    Thanks for this post about "Rev." Fred Phelps. I've had a few encounters with him in the past 10 years...all of them have been unfortunate and depressing. Knowing that there are people actively working against his "gospel of hate" warms my heart. Blessings!

    Dan Mayes said...

    I'm glad to see that these youth ministers are binding together to present an alternative message, especially in a place as close to my heart as Lee's Summit.

    It's too bad that Phelps will almost certainly be completely dismissive towards them about it.

    Brian said...

    I watched a documentary through Netflix a year or so ago that is all about Phelps and his church. Most interestingly, they spoke to some of his children who are estranged from the family and the church. They all spoke to the fact that Phelps is a "rage-aholic" and is always looking for a target for his anger. Case in point, as the culture became less interested in his tirades against gay people, he sought out another group that would garner him more attention and more people to rage against -- it turned out to be the American military.

    Anonymous said...

    All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you, I was the youth paster at a church that had to deal with the murder/suice of a family of five in the community. Phelps came to protest during the funeral. It is so great to see that there are other Youth leaders and Pasters that understand that the gospel is about love and not hate. I can't say enough thank you thank you thank.

    Megan said...

    It is so wonderful to hear that others are able to understand the message of God's love for EVERYONE, and that we are ALL children of God.

    I have been so moved by the positive responses to the horror of the Matthew Shepard story, especially the messages that have been sent out in works like The Laramie Project. I have sometimes felt alone in this among my Christian colleagues, however.

    I am disappointed that some of God's people (like Mr. Phelps) are so driven hatred and anger that they forget the true reason why we are all here and what we are to do in our time on Earth.

    Thank you for this message!