Westboro Baptist Church.
You just had a gut-level reaction to that, didn’t you? I sure did. I try not to swear TOO much, but this not-Baptist not-church seems to bring that side of my vocabulary bubbling up out of sheer frustration with how AWFUL they are. I saw a quote recently on an atheist’s signature line that read, “Live in such a way that Westboro Baptist Church would want to picket your funeral.” Since they seem to target the funerals of the innocent and the heroic, I have to say I agree with the basic sentiment.
They have taken good principles and twisted them beyond recognition. They have contorted themselves into a parody of righteousness that no longer bears any resemblance to the original. They have listened to their own voices, and shouted so loudly that they can no longer hear the quiet whisper of truth.
I go to Westboro.
I bet you do too.
Not every day, and hopefully fewer and fewer as I grow in years and wisdom, particularly the part of maturity defined as “learning to keep your mouth shut.” But there’s still a streak of horrible that runs through me – call it sin nature, not walking in the Light, or just generally being a jerk, it’s all the same thing. There’s a part of me that sits on my backside, reading the news and polishing my halo, and saying, “I would NEVER do THAT.”
I would never … fill in the blank. Steal a million dollars from a corporation. Shoot somebody with a gun. Blow up a building. Slap my child. Get wasted on drugs and wreck my car. I would never do those things, because I am just that awesome.
Or is it because I don’t work somewhere that I could steal a million dollars? Because I don’t have a gun and I’m not all that angry right now? Because I managed to quit drinking before I drank myself silly and got in my car?
And what about all those “little things” that I can so easily ignore in myself – chronic lateness, eating seconds when I’m not hungry, spending money on things I don’t need and telling myself I can’t afford to donate money to the homeless shelter? Rachel Held Evans wrote recently about a subject so near to my heart that I like to pretend I can’t even see it, saying that “everyone’s a Biblical literalist until you bring up gluttony.”
Fine, so I don’t march around being an idiot in public. (Usually.) But I’ve got pockets of ignorance and intolerance in my psyche, same as Westboro. I’ve got the tendency to shout at other people when I really need to be speaking firmly to myself, same as Westboro. I screw up royally and try to cover it up by complaining about what everybody else is doing wrong … same as Westboro.
All I can do is wake up every day, get out of bed, and mentally tear up my membership card. I might need to tear it up seventeen more times between breakfast and lunch, but I’ll keep doing it for the rest of my life. The minute I think I’m inherently better than they are, that I could NEVER be THAT bad, I’m right back in the pews of Westboro Baptist Church – and the only way I’ll ever fight it is to recognize that in myself, get off my butt, throw out my halo, and keep walking toward the Light.