Westboro Baptist Church protesting Kim Davis.

In a surprise move, the Westboro Baptist Church recently protested against Kim Davis. They claim that her sins have enabled gay marriage.


Westboro Baptist Church is picketing the workplace of Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis. The virtually universally loathed group, known for protesting anything from the funerals of American soldiers to the San Diego Comic-Con, leveled a new accusation that Davis was likely surprised to hear: that she “caused fag marriage.”

Davis entered into the national spotlight when she repeatedly refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court struck down key provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act. She claimed to do this in religious objection, though her religious freedoms do not actually include a right to take away the freedoms of gays and lesbians.

Since then, Davis has remained obstinate when it comes to carrying out her job duties even as she cashes her paychecks. Despite her devotion to the anti-gay cause, the Westboro Baptist Church has put her in their sights as the next target on their whistle-stop tour of bigotry and obnoxiousness. How can two ardent fighters for the same cause turn on one another?

Judge Not

Most Christians believe, in accordance with the Bible, that all “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” [Romans 3:23]. Jesus himself said to a group gathering to stone an adulterer to death, “whoever is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her,” [John 8:7]. The angry mob dispersed in response to his message of grace and forgiveness.

The Bible makes clear we are not to cast judgement against one another because we are all guilty of sinning, and “…the wages of sin is death…” [Romans 6:23]. Essentially, we are all in the same imperfect boat. This makes the Westboro Baptist Church’s protest of Kim Davis particularly odd given that they both claim to subscribe to the tenets of Christianity.

Westboro Baptist and Righteous HateWestboro picketing Kim Davis.

Shirley Phelps-Roper currently speaks for the legally-savvy agitation squad she calls a church. Perplexed reporters asked her why her group would pester a fellow bigot, she brought up the fact that Davis has been married four times, explaining:

“This woman wants to say that her sin isn’t as grievous as the same-sex marriage sin…It’s all sin. It’s all awful. But her sin enabled that sin. When you look up, and all the Christians have given over the moral high ground, what voice do they have left?”

At first glance, this seems to make sense, but a closer look reveals the logical knot in which Westboro has tied itself up. They are seeking the moral high ground for the purpose of judging and condemning others. Biblically speaking, the moral high ground is hardly an attainable goal – and we shouldn’t cast judgement on someone due to their moral failings.

What’s more ironic, though, is the fact that all members of Westboro would be considered sinners according to their own faith. Re-read Phelps-Roper’s quote about Davis with this in mind. You’ll see it applies to the Westboro folks themselves just as much as to Davis.

A church sign expressing anti-gay sentiments.The Christian Debate

We all agree that Westboro Baptist Church is an extreme example, and doesn’t accurately represent Christianity as a whole. Most Christians will readily express their disgust with the group. However, is their disagreement one of kind, or of degree? The answer, it turns out, is complicated.

While no other denominations go as far as expressing their objections to homosexuality by thanking God for dead soldiers, many see no issue with stripping the rights of gays and lesbians. Even supposedly “moderate” churches support pettily denying them goods and services such as wedding cakes.

To name just a few: the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Southern Baptist Convention, National Baptist Convention, and the Assemblies of God all consider homosexuality to be fundamentally at odds with their brand of Christianity. Members and outsiders alike are condemned for not conforming to heterosexual norms. Their clergy are prohibited from marrying same-sex couples.

Clearly, the difference between these groups and Westboro is one of degree. They agree on the substance of belief but disagree on how to express it. Unfortunately, these are very vocal groups, which often gives the impression that they speak for the faith in general.

Moving ForwardA sign mocking the claim that "God hates fags".

To bring in new members, it may behoove them to dial back their opposition to homosexuality. Studies show that the younger generation tends to steer clear of churches that oppose gay rights. The “Christian-ness” of fellow believers should not be based on the degree of their homophobia. Harsh and vocal Old Testament-style judgment seems to resonate far less with the churchgoing youth of today. Many view this trend as a contributing factor to the high rates of young people abandoning organized Christianity.

Other denominations, however, have moved to at least make same-sex marriage and judgment a non-issue. These include the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, and the Methodist Church. Their disagreement with Westboro and others aligns with the biblical view we’ve discussed above. That is to say: if he who is without sin should be the one to cast the first stone, then the stone-throwers ought to pack up, go home, and focus their energy on more important matters.

How to Treat a Sinner

Among Christians, there is nowhere near a consensus on these issues. After all, Christianity is a religion comprised of diverse ideas, people, and mindsets. The conflict we see between Westboro Baptist Church and Apostolic Christian Kim Davis is actually quite routine. They present an extreme example, yes. But extreme examples often help to shed light on inconsistencies that have been lurking beneath the surface, not glaring enough to present themselves. Christians must work to settle this debate once and for all. It boils down to a matter of approach: should Christianity condemn those who have committed sins, or embrace the notion that all of us are sinners? Should judgment be used to police the behavior of others, or should it instead be employed as a means of self-reflection toward one’s own moral improvement?

Where do you stand?

 

39 comments

  1. Timothy Blackwood says:

    Westboro still? Really? Ignorance,bigotry, intolerence, and hate abound in every corner of the world. Now a “church” in Kansas is targeting an inept bigot county employee in Oklahoma. Ignore makes sense, ignorance is unacceptable.

  2. Daniel says:

    One line in a book with talking donkeys and they think they can define live. Seems to be more a region of hate and abandonment of personal responsibility

  3. David says:

    Jesus did say anyone with out sin may cast a stone, but that didn’t break the mob up, Jesus had to write or draw something on the ground, they went over to see and dropped there stones and walked away.

  4. John Clouseau says:

    To continue on your argument – he who is without sin (you therefore acknowledge homosexuality as a sin) — additionally Christ Jesus said to the sinner “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

  5. Minister Norman says:

    Bigots and small minded imbeciles are a fact of life…

    The more we ignore them the less relevant they become, which is why I almost didn’t comment on this at all.

    Westboro this week, some other nut jobs the next; who represent only the worst of anything having the audacity of calling itself “Christian”.

    The best we can do is focus on Love, and on loving people, and no matter who it is they chose to love, and ignore the ignorant minority that seeks to dictate their twisted morality to a deminishing “crowd”.

    In time they will find their lonely corner of isolation the hell they once wished on everyone else!

    Jesus humbly said, “Love one another, even as I have loved you!”

    Works for me!

    Love, light, and Freedom!

    1. truebluebethy says:

      thank you. 🙂

  6. Rev. Brien DeMartino says:

    It saddens me to see that we as a species have made NO advancements against ignorance, bigotry, hate, lack of personal responsibility, ect. By now, we should be reaching for the stars but instead we are reaching for nothing. I fear that our lives are slowly circling the drain, I think the earth wants to start over. I am truly sorry to admit this, but to those small minded ignorant hate filled people, when the world begins to reclaim the lives it has given, I can only hope that I get to watch you go first. There is something that I now believe very much: God forgives, I am not God.
    Peace to all of the people of love and tolerance.

    1. Nancy Perry White says:

      May I repost this on my Facebook account giving you credit for the essay. I so totally agree with your statements but I haven’t has the ability to put it in to words.

      Nancy Perry White, Minister ULC

      1. Rev. Brien DeMartino says:

        It is all yours.

    2. paulg78 says:

      I don’t think you should be so sad because your first 2 sentences are far too pessimistic. How do you to look back at history and conclude there has been no progress? Here are a couple of books on this topic: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, The Moral Arc: How Science Makes Us Better People. I also wonder if there are as many “small minded ignorant hate filled people” as you think. I think we all have a tendency to believe our perspectives are superior to those of others. I find that as I better understand others, I have more respect for their viewpoints (even if I still disagree).

      1. Rev. Brien DeMartino says:

        I think we all have a tendency to believe our perspectives are superior to those of others
        Read more at https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2016/10/westboro-baptist-church-kim-davis/#ExMrEou5YmyT5XfK.99 wow…you managed to work in some superior intentions into what truly was a heart felt statement. But since you did share with me, I wish to share with you. Turn on the news once in awhile, see our current condition for yourself. Don’t rely on just one source of info, pick several. No one book, no matter how well intentioned, is going to be able to dispute the shameful state of humanity as a whole right now. Shooting each other has become the norm, violence due to mis-guided beliefs is also the norm. Governments so corrupt that the very corruption itself looks like the norm. And to top it all off, it seems that every bigoted hate filled group on the planet is getting their 15 minutes of fame. I am sorry that I do not see the rose filled world you do….I really would like to. I think as a species, we have run our course. We are now feeding on each other so it is only a matter of time now. I will enjoy what time I have on this world left to me. I hope you do the same. Peace

        1. paulg78 says:

          Labeling others as “small minded ignorant hate filled people” may be heart felt but isn’t it also harsh and demeaning? Surely you and I are superior to such people. Perhaps some people have earned this label; the Westboro Baptist folks seem to be good candidates. But too often such labels are applied due to limited understanding of the views of others. What if I said only small minded ignorant and hate filled people support punishing a person for not making a wedding cake for a gay couple? That would be wrong because it denies valid reasons for this viewpoint.
          I agree with your suggestion to see for myself and consider multiple sources. I try to do that but even then I realize my perspective is limited. I agree that there are many reasons to be pessimistic about the future and I feel pessimistic at times too. I just think there are more reasons to be optimistic about the future. Time will tell.

      2. Rev. Brien DeMartino says:

        I am tired of trying to respect that which has no respect for itself. I am tired of watching good people being dragged down by others that have no respect for society. Try watching the news once in awhile and see the state of affairs we are in. Religious fanatics that think it is ok to kill in the name of some fictitious being, people who think it is just to shoot police, and on the turn around, police who are now shooting out of fear instead of actual danger, heck even our choices for president look much more like a game show than anything else.
        I am sorry, but I stick by my statement. I am glad that you have found peace. Hold on to it as long as you can.

        1. paulg78 says:

          I agree there is plenty of discouraging news but that’s why it’s news–because it’s unusual and sensational. I recently heard an economist say don’t worry about threats in the news because they are unlikely. The biggest threats aren’t news. Killed by an Islamic terrorist is news; another death in traffic is not news yet far more people die in auto accidents than are killed by terrorists.

  7. maiane santos Santos says:

    Instead of replying to each of you, I’m saying agreeably to each of you. I lost any use of debating this absolute moron when I first heard of him picketing soldiers funerals, the sooner this boob drops from sight the better, until then he is not worth the press or the ink. Strictly my 2 cents.

  8. George Worley says:

    Westboro Baptist Church oh Westboro Baptist Church o how you don’t understand the Word of God. Hate is not what the Bible teaches us. Love one another is the message of Jesus Christ. If you are not doing that then you are not a follower of Christ you are not one of his disciples.

  9. Dark Gray says:

    *tenets* of Christianity

    not tenants of Christianity

    1. Dark Gray says:

      Looks like it’s been corrected. Thanks.

  10. Ricardo says:

    Well the folks over at Westboro definitely have a better grasp of the bible than Kim Davis ever did. Nobody ever wants to talk about her cousin that got gay-married… very convenient if you ask me. Davis may not have caused f*g marriage, but she let it happen!!!

    1. Magda says:

      She LET her cousin get married? Are you implying that it is her duty to deny her cousin the sacrament of marriage? Ricardo, you seem to be throwing stones.

    2. Minister Norman says:

      Ricardo,

      What a vile statement!

      Jesus never reduced ANY of his statements to such a vile and derogatory nature.

      Even if you disagree with someone or something, there’s no need to reduce your argument to such vile, FILTH! Unless of couse, that’s just who you are….

      But it’s not who Jesus was, and your statement is not very CHRIST-LIKE…

      Jesus preached LOVE, and salvation through repentance, not HATE and seperation through self-righteous indignation.

      How can you behave this way and call yourself a “CHRISTIAN”?

      I remember Jesus saying, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!” Are you without sin Richardo? Jesus said all are under sin, that we are all sinners!

      Or are you a Saint?

      Jesus also said, “I Am, The Way, The Truth, and The Life”, or are you now seeking to put yourself in the place of the Master?

      Jesus Christ, will render whatever divine Judgements exist. Or are you putting yourself in his place?

      Careful, according to Scripture, that’s the ultimate sin.

  11. paulg78 says:

    This statement is inaccurate: ‘Even supposedly “moderate” churches support pettily denying them goods and services such as wedding cakes.’ There are few businesses who would turn away business based on a belief that homosexual activity is sinful. Therefore, no one would be denied service since there are plenty of options. The intolerance lies with those who want to force people to act in a manner inconsistent with their conscience.

    1. Aryl says:

      Yeah the tolerant police should be totally okay with me punching Mexicans in the face. If they don’t tolerate that, then they aren’t really tolerant then, are they?

      1. paulg78 says:

        It is right to be intolerant of intolerable behavior. The question is what should be tolerated and what should not be? Speaking to someone is OK but what about yelling into someone’s ear? The police should ask why you are punching Mexicans in the face. Is it self-defense or unjustified violence? Not doing something is generally tolerable. People usually work on a voluntary basis; otherwise it is called slavery. So not baking a cake seems like something we should tolerate.

  12. Sheery Regalado says:

    All I have to say to Kim Davis is HA HA HA. Karma is a bitch.

  13. Lea says:

    You can’t police morality. ..This is why we have separate church and state.
    The thing that gets me is when people think their religion is a free pass and become extreme in their ideas for their own personal selfishness.

    We need to call it for what it is..Either it’s extremists Muslims..or extremists Christians…God has no religion and God has a different meaning to us all.

    Treat people the way you would like to be treated…Karma

    Namaste _/\_

  14. Jack says:

    Well stated Lea, and I agee. religion is a means and usually within an organization. Faith is what one has in God.Does one need religion for that faith? I think not. Faith is what you have in your belief, and yours alone, not to any sect of ‘religion’.

  15. crystal says:

    Its crazy i had this conversation somewhat with my husband. I am an ordained minister and i was wondering how it worked to the effect of if i was to marry a gay or lesbian couple which i see it like this i have a lesbian friend who just got married and she couldnt have looked happier and more in love than the day she got married. I have a few lesbian cousins who have found significant others and couldnt be more in love and more happy than the way they are treated but i was told that if it was a way of the church and they didnt agree with gay marriage that they could take my credentials away from me and not recognize me as one of their own if i were to marry a gay couple. I look at it this way i am no one to deny anyone love or the right to be happy. I would marry anyone who asked me and feel great being a part of it.

  16. Minister Norman says:

    “Punching Mexicans” by one poster, and referring to LGBT commitments as “F*g marriage” by another… Are you Westboro minions?

    Goodbye intelligent discourse!

    …And we wonder why our nation is so divided and troubled!

  17. Rev. Brien DeMartino says:

    Enough. Hey paulg78, have you read the comments? Even here is a fine example of the state of humanity. Well, I am not going to sugar coat this. I am not going to wrap this up in some holier than tho flowery speech. You want the ugly? Well here it is. For those of you who seem to think that you hold some kind of “special” morality, allow me to assist your vision. I made a statement saying that God forgives, and I am not God. In keeping with that statement I will now lay out some judgments, and just to take away one of the old tired fall back responses, no, I am not without sin, I just seem to have a heck of alot less of it than some of you. First, addressing those of you that seem to have a problem with two grown people loving each other, no matter what the circumstance, you seem to have a very low IQ and I pity you. To those of you that seem to feel violence in ANY form is justified, your just plain ignorant and need to be cleaned out of the human gene pool, (please do not breed anymore). To those of you who seem to think they know what someone who lived over two thousand years ago thought, felt, and said in daily life, give me a break. You have no clue what anyone two thousand years ago thought or did, and unless you were THERE you need to stop making up stories. Try telling your own experiences, maybe then real lessons will be taught. As for myself, I am watching as this time comes to an end. With the sheer amount of ignorance and violence, (whether by actions or speech), that is rising up we will not have long to wait. And lastly, for those that have found a measure of peace in their lives, I wish you well and hope that time for you passes in peace.

    1. paulg78 says:

      Hi Brien. Yes, I’ve read the comments on this article. I find them to be fairly civil compared to what I’ve seen elsewhere. I agree with most of what you wrote. But I can’t agree with being so judgmental as god or a mortal. I’m not so critical of others because I think most people are trying to do their best. I’m confused about your statement on violence: “To those of you that seem to feel violence in ANY form is justified …” Are you saying violence is wrong in all cases, e.g. even in self-defense?

  18. vic smyth says:

    Another depressing story. Time to unsubscribe from this website.

  19. Larry says:

    The scriptures tell us to hate the sin love the sinnner God will judge us my Jesus Commandments on judgement day whose commands do you obey,,,yours??

    1. Dark Gray says:

      Actually, the “love the sinner, hate the sin” quote is *not* from scripture. According to Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P. at the Catholic Answers website:

      It’s from St. Augustine. His Letter 211 (c. 424) contains the phrase Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which translates roughly to “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.” The phrase has become more famous as “love the sinner but hate the sin” or “hate the sin and not the sinner” (the latter form appearing in Mohandas Gandhi’s 1929 autobiography).

      — Just me being pedantic. That and “God helps those who help themselves” are two of the most often quoted Bible passages that are not really in the Bible. (The second quote is actually from Aesop’s fables.)

      Personally, I find the hating of sins to be exhausting. I’d rather concentrate on loving the sinner.

  20. Rev. Brien DeMartino says:

    ????

  21. Angel says:

    I figured since Jesus was from the promised land, he would LOVE figs 🙂

  22. Angel says:

    I never really understood that. I know each culture is rich in beliefs, but if we are all spiritual beings, then the soul would know no gender. The only thing that dictates gender is man’s choice to distinguish the body.
    But, to each their own, and as far as the Westboro BC, they are the laughing stock of any extremist group out there. Let them wave their flags and sing their stupid songs, because the reality is, most of the congregation thinks the church is a joke as well.

  23. Loren Fay says:

    “The Napkin Religion is a the One True Religion because it says so on this napkin”.
    How can we have an intelligent conversations when you quote some pre-enlightenment mythology as proof or rationale for your opinions ?
    While Europe was experiencing the “Age of Reason” the colonies were busy killing Native Americans and importing slaves.
    Faith ? I’ll put mine in science. Science does not judge, it measures and compares. Attraction to same sex happens in people and animals. It is neither good nor bad.
    WBC is judged by you for their acting on beliefs that you agree with
    (homosexuality is “sinful”). Forget god and the Koran and the Bible and the Torah etc. Get real. We should be exploring the cosmos and curing diseases by now, but religion keeps resetting our knowledge backwards.

  24. Frank. says:

    What happened to love thy neighbor ,, it was never written unless thy neighbor is gay ,thou shalt not judge,why worry about about who is gay or even who is getting an abortion God judges us on our entire life not just if you’re or had an abortion here’s more important things to concentrate on like homelessness and poverty ,, hunger

Leave a Comment