Friday, March 21, 2014

Teaching Hate?

Fred Phelps died yesterday. As you may know he was the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Fred and his church lead protests at military funerals with signs that said, "God Hates America" and "God Hates Fags". His belief:  God killed American soldiers because of America's tolerance toward homosexuals.  Although I am not sure I can make that logical connection to Deity, Mr. Phelps could, and became the poster boy for hate.
I did not particularly research him while he was alive and only read the stories of his passing because I was tired of the MH370 disappearance speculations that dominate the news right now.  One thing stood out to me about the Phelp's philosophy. It is a quote he gave to an interviewer, "You can't teach the Bible without teaching HATE." (emphasis by this writer).
Really? That is not the take away I get from the Bible. Seems to me the Bible is a document that teaches Love. I thought we stopped believing in a God that could hate when we gave up worshiping Zeus. 
Bill Maher has offended evangelistic Christians, again recently on his television show,  by going on a rant about the new Russel Crowe Movie "Noah"   He calls the Biblical God a mass murderer for sending the flood.  Obviously Fred Phelps felt the same way since he believed  God was mass murdering American soldiers. Phelps and Maher in agreement? Apparently so.
Bill Maher, however, went on to say that it wasn't so much a statement about God but a statement on the people who took the Bible literally.
A quick Google search will tell you that the word "hate" is used 76 times in the Old Testament and 18 times in the New Testament of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.  In the King James Version 71 times in the OT and 16 times in the NT.  
The word "love" is used 317 times in the OT and 221 times in the NT of the RSV.  The King James uses love 131 times in the OT and 179 in the NT.  
I am not sure why the numbers vary so much between translations, but they do. It would seem since translations don't agree on the words used; a literal interpretation of the Bible is almost impossible.  But even if you could come up with an absolute from the Biblical text, one would have to conclude that it is a document of love rather than hate since mathematically the word "Love" is used 176% more times than the word "hate." 
There is probably a passage in the Bible that Phelps did take literally, Mathew 5:10
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
It would seem that Phelps wanted to be persecuted and hated to get a deed to the kingdom of heaven. Of course it was  Phelps own interpretation of "righteousness" that he spewed and he was persecuted because he was a persecutor. But in his twisted theological interpretation that probably made sense.
The British Press called the Phelps family "The most hated family in America."  When asked about that Fred Phelps said, "I wish they would have called us the most hated family in the World." 
So... Fred is dead.  Unfortunately hate and intolerance are not. Let's hope that using God's name to exploit hate and intolerance has lost at least one evangelist.
As you were,

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