Christian Fundamentalist Fringe Group Hijacks Hatikvah

Westboro Baptist Church is a way-over-the-top independent church group, and people of all faiths - as well as those without faith - rightfully love to hate this hate group.

There’s a dilemma as to whether or not it’s wise to give these small, fringe, cultish sects the publicity they so crave. But lately they’ve been targeting Jews, and last month USA Today saw fit to publish these headlines: Anti-gay church sets its sights on Jews.

Based on a report in the Oklahoma Daily, it seems Westboro’s Phelps family picked Rosh Hashanah to preach and teach “the truth” to the Jews at the University of Oklahoma’s Hillel House:

“We are living in our last days and these Jews need to hear the truth,” Jacob Phelps said. “We are here to send a message to them that they are responsible for killing our Lord.”
Phelps said he felt the protest was a way to send a message of salvation and warning to the Jewish community because judgment for killing Jesus is coming soon.

Part of our job at Jewish Israel is to monitor fundamentalist Christian groups which target Jews in aggressive missionary campaigns and, as much as we’d like to turn a blind eye to Westboro’s rare and freakish wrath which is largely focused on America, we couldn’t help but respond to the kidnapping and rape of Hatikvah.

Westboro Baptist Church is a “radical Christian fundamentalist church” which has taken “the right to evangelize”, democratic freedoms, and their version of the gospel message, to the outer limits and beyond – and even the most fervent evangelicals will tell you that.

Yet we’ve decided to post this video from this radical and hateful Christian group in order to:

a) Illustrate the insane limits and excesses of American- style religious freedoms and tolerance legislation, and propose that Israel should avoid calls to adopt similar problematic legislation.

b) Reveal that overt Christian anti-Semitism still manages to find expression in a society which prides itself on being, democratic, God-fearing, and tolerant.

c) Put the terms ”hate” and “radical” back in perspective and where they belong, as certain parties have been taking liberties with these words in order to vilify Jewish Israel and this writer, and attempt to connect us to serious crimes we have nothing to do with - and have condemned.

The ADL dedicates tremendous resources to carefully profiling , monitoring, and reacting to this minuscule nuisance of a church, as well as “advising Jewish institutions not to give them the publicity they crave.”

The ACLU – those champions of liberty for everything and everybody - have in the past defended Westboro’s rights to offend on first amendment grounds because, “the Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law for all people … That is exactly why the free speech rights of the Westboro Baptist Church must be protected. We cannot pick and choose who is protected by the Constitution.”

The ACLJ – those staunch defenders of religious freedom and the gospel - have in the past been “deeply concerned about the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church”, but at present they are vigorously opposing hate crimes legislation:

“For example, it is conceivable that a pastor preaching on the Biblical perspective on homosexuality could face charges if someone who hears that sermon commits a violent act. While we firmly believe that the pastor’s First Amendment protections would ultimately prevail, this law could put the pastor’s constitutionally-protected speech under a legal microscope. “

So it seems that institutions committed to democratic freedoms are more than a little fettered when it comes to handling Westboro’s provocative outrages.

Man-made democratic freedom of religion and speech legislation – no matter how brilliant - will never be able to replace or govern our God-given human capacity to choose to respect boundaries; know when to break boundaries; to discern and act responsibly, and to consider consequences. It is essential, in order to maintain a civil society, that human beings strive to use their intelligence, talents, vast creative freedom, and numerous means of expression in an appropriate and reasonable manner -whether it be through speech, writings, videos, cartoons, or even envelope-pushing parody.

Westboro Baptist Church has shattered all the rules of human decency. But their leader did once write this very “cordial” and “civil” letter to Saddam Hussein:

“We understand that Iraq is the only Muslim state that allows the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to be freely and openly preached on the streets without fear of arrest and prosecution. Alas, the United States no longer allows the Gospel to be freely and openly preached on the streets, because militant sodomites now control our government, and they violently object to the Bible message… If our government and laws will allow it, and at the invitation of your government, we would like to send a delegation from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, to preach the Gospel on the streets of Baghdad for one week in the near future.” -- Fred Phelps, in a letter to Saddam Hussein, November 30, 1997

The bitter irony is that one year later, the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 would be passed by US Congess, and would stipulate that the imposed spreading the Christian gospel in Israel and the rest of the world was to become an integral part of American foreign policy.

In some ways, Westboro - a joke of a church - got the last laugh.

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Comment by Jewish Israel on December 21, 2009 at 10:31pm
Stefen, we were informed by JI member Jake that YouTube has taken down the Westboro video
Comment by Jewish Israel on December 10, 2009 at 12:51pm
The link on the Julia Banderas report is
Comment by Sharbano on December 8, 2009 at 4:06pm
What can be expected from a religion that is based solely on one's own imaginations. All that is required is a mindset, a predilection, if you will.

I had seen a woman from this group on Fox news up against Julia Banderas. Much to my surprise, this newswoman literally Ripped into the woman from Westboro. It's just unheard of to see such a thing. It was a clear indication how selective individuals are when coming to Torah without any knowledge. Any predilection can be nourished with this approach. The video is available on YouTube for everyone to enjoy.
Comment by Jewish Israel on December 3, 2009 at 2:39pm
The ADL is doing their job, but ironically they probably have more posts and have given Westboro more publicity than any other organization. The ACLU is, well... the ACLU. But it's the ACLJ which should be challenging this provocative group as they are "specifically dedicated to the ideal that religious freedom and freedom of speech are inalienable, God-given rights." And Westboro is giving their cause a bad name. And then there's the question of whether or not it's right and responsible to ignore a group that is so provocative and so hell-bent on publicity. Turning a blind eye is also a dangerous strategy, no? Let's see what YouTube does.
Comment by Stefan on December 3, 2009 at 1:58pm
The Phelps family and their entourage are loony-tune fringe dwellers who are despised by mainstream society. Their disgusting tactics (such as protesting at dead soldiers' funerals) only alienate them further and end up directing sympathy at those they hate. In this instance I would agree with the ADL; given the so-called church's small size and very, very limited appeal it would be better to avoid giving them the thing that is central to their campaigning - publicity. I will, however, report their video to YouTube as I believe it is inciteful hate speech that should be removed immediately.

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