False Prophets Are Ravenous Wolves

Just when you think you've seen the most vile, disgusting levels of human behavior, you come across something that makes you fear for the survival of the human race. It's not that I wasn't aware of the vicious demonstrations held by the Westboro Baptist Church; I wrote about their malevolence in 1998 when they picketed the funeral of Mathew Shepard, a young man who had been brutally murdered by a couple of Neanderthals in Wyoming. Shepard was pistol-whipped, tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die. This happened not because he had committed a crime or hurt anyone, but because he was gay.

I'll never forget the video coverage of the funeral on that rainy day. While Shepard's parents stood at graveside holding an umbrella and weeping for their slain son, a group of protesters, brought in from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, waved signs and screamed epithets at the grieving couple. "Matt Shepard rots in Hell" and "Fags deserve AIDS" were examples of the level stooped to by people who call themselves "God's children." It staggers the imagination to think that there are people who believe in an all-knowing, all-loving, benevolent deity, yet think that it's perfectly acceptable to engage in monstrously offensive activities while hiding behind the false image of religious piety to disguise their own wickedness.

Keep in mind that this comes from a group of so-called "worshipers" in the congregation of a so-called "church." Applying more disgrace to their evil tactics, they also use children to hold signs with hate-filled slogans. Evidently, they think that it's perfectly natural to teach kids to spew acid-laced venom at innocent bystanders, but it's unnatural to inform them that gays are different from straights but no less human or deserving of civil rights. In 2006, in another example of mind-numbing malice, they picketed the funeral of Lance Corporal Mathew Snyder, a twenty-year-old Marine who died in Iraq.

The Marine's father, Albert Snyder, sued the church because its members brought signs that read "God hates fags" and "God hates the USA" to his son's funeral. In 2007, Snyder was initially awarded $11 million in damages because the jury found that the church intentionally inflicted emotional distress. The amount was later reduced to $5 million, and then the verdict was overturned on appeal. In addition, last week, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Snyder to pay $16,500 in court costs to Fred Phelps, the founder and pastor of that pathetic excuse for a parochial institution. (In a display of true decency and heartfelt concern for the Snyder family, Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly said that he'll put up the money.) They have a website that says it all: http://www.godhatesfags.com. The very idea that this church exists is frightening. Can anyone assemble a group of hateful misfits and call it a church?

It only takes tuning in to a news program to realize that there's plenty of misery in the world. Nevertheless, when it sometimes appears that all is lost, it was always comforting to know that there's a church, synagogue, temple, or other religious entity nearby that you can turn to in your hour of need. Despite the few aberrations that get by the "screening process" of authentic theology, those places continue to provide assistance and salvation to the worthy masses.

The Bible says something about ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing. Undoubtedly, it was referring to wretched hypocrites like Phelps, who swim in the polluted waters of clerical malfeasance. Pedophile priests are another example of the corruption that masquerades as virtue in the hallowed halls of our must trusted institutions. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church has been criminally negligent in their responsibility toward what may be thousands of victims. I can understand the cover-up mentality of a murderer or a thief as he attempts to evade prosecution for his crimes. But to witness such immoral evasion by arguably the most influential faith-based entity on the planet is deplorable and profoundly discouraging.

I was baptized and raised a Catholic and attended Catechism (class instruction on the principles of Christianity) without ever being exposed to such degradation. The hottest place in Hell should be reserved for those charlatans in ecclesiastical garb who entice innocent children into the soul-destroying experiences of being seduced for sex by those in whom they have placed their utmost trust. The mental and emotional damage to those victims is inestimable; therefore, the penalty for their abusers should be exorbitant. Furthermore, pedophile priests and hate-mongering pastors should be publicly excoriated by everyone who believes that love and decency are the foundation of religion. Silence can be interpreted only as acquiescence.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. E-mail Bob. 
Just when you think you've seen the most vile, disgusting levels of human behavior, you come across something that makes you fear for the survival of the human race. It's not that I wasn't aware of the vicious demonstrations held by the Westboro Baptist Church; I wrote about their malevolence in 1998 when they picketed the funeral of Mathew Shepard, a young man who had been brutally murdered by a couple of Neanderthals in Wyoming. Shepard was pistol-whipped, tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die. This happened not because he had committed a crime or hurt anyone, but because he was gay.

I'll never forget the video coverage of the funeral on that rainy day. While Shepard's parents stood at graveside holding an umbrella and weeping for their slain son, a group of protesters, brought in from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, waved signs and screamed epithets at the grieving couple. "Matt Shepard rots in Hell" and "Fags deserve AIDS" were examples of the level stooped to by people who call themselves "God's children." It staggers the imagination to think that there are people who believe in an all-knowing, all-loving, benevolent deity, yet think that it's perfectly acceptable to engage in monstrously offensive activities while hiding behind the false image of religious piety to disguise their own wickedness.

Keep in mind that this comes from a group of so-called "worshipers" in the congregation of a so-called "church." Applying more disgrace to their evil tactics, they also use children to hold signs with hate-filled slogans. Evidently, they think that it's perfectly natural to teach kids to spew acid-laced venom at innocent bystanders, but it's unnatural to inform them that gays are different from straights but no less human or deserving of civil rights. In 2006, in another example of mind-numbing malice, they picketed the funeral of Lance Corporal Mathew Snyder, a twenty-year-old Marine who died in Iraq.

The Marine's father, Albert Snyder, sued the church because its members brought signs that read "God hates fags" and "God hates the USA" to his son's funeral. In 2007, Snyder was initially awarded $11 million in damages because the jury found that the church intentionally inflicted emotional distress. The amount was later reduced to $5 million, and then the verdict was overturned on appeal. In addition, last week, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Snyder to pay $16,500 in court costs to Fred Phelps, the founder and pastor of that pathetic excuse for a parochial institution. (In a display of true decency and heartfelt concern for the Snyder family, Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly said that he'll put up the money.) They have a website that says it all: http://www.godhatesfags.com. The very idea that this church exists is frightening. Can anyone assemble a group of hateful misfits and call it a church?

It only takes tuning in to a news program to realize that there's plenty of misery in the world. Nevertheless, when it sometimes appears that all is lost, it was always comforting to know that there's a church, synagogue, temple, or other religious entity nearby that you can turn to in your hour of need. Despite the few aberrations that get by the "screening process" of authentic theology, those places continue to provide assistance and salvation to the worthy masses.

The Bible says something about ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing. Undoubtedly, it was referring to wretched hypocrites like Phelps, who swim in the polluted waters of clerical malfeasance. Pedophile priests are another example of the corruption that masquerades as virtue in the hallowed halls of our must trusted institutions. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church has been criminally negligent in their responsibility toward what may be thousands of victims. I can understand the cover-up mentality of a murderer or a thief as he attempts to evade prosecution for his crimes. But to witness such immoral evasion by arguably the most influential faith-based entity on the planet is deplorable and profoundly discouraging.

I was baptized and raised a Catholic and attended Catechism (class instruction on the principles of Christianity) without ever being exposed to such degradation. The hottest place in Hell should be reserved for those charlatans in ecclesiastical garb who entice innocent children into the soul-destroying experiences of being seduced for sex by those in whom they have placed their utmost trust. The mental and emotional damage to those victims is inestimable; therefore, the penalty for their abusers should be exorbitant. Furthermore, pedophile priests and hate-mongering pastors should be publicly excoriated by everyone who believes that love and decency are the foundation of religion. Silence can be interpreted only as acquiescence.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. E-mail Bob. 

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