The Rotting Cryptkeeper vs. The Patriot Guard Riders
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ve read about Fred Phelps (a.k.a. “The Rotting Cryptkeeper”) and his odious band of “christians” (they don’t deserve the capital “C”) who are behind the website GodHatesFags. As the name implies, Fred is pretty sure that God despises His children whom He made with an inborn same-sex attraction.
Fred used to just stick to protesting the funerals of AIDS victims or gay victims of violence like Matthew Shepard. He’d also show up at any place where they’d dare to perform “The Laramie Project” or anything remotely gay.
But now Fred has taken to protesting the funerals of presumably straight fallen American soldiers, using the twisted logic that God helps insurgents kill US soldiers with IEDs because He is so upset with America “mocking” Him with its sinful homo-lovin’ ways. This has caused more than a couple of disturbing scenes where grieving soldiers’ families have had to witness hateful “christian” protestors displaying signs like “Thank God for IEDs” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”.
CNN has taken notice and reports on a grassroots phenomenon that has arisen to combat Phelps – the Patriot Guard Riders:
This is also very much a story about another phenomenon the Phelps protest has created. That’s the birth of a group called the “Patriot Guard Riders.” They’re a volunteer group that came together after hearing that so many military families were being blindsided by the protesters.
More than 400 motorcycles thundered toward this showdown in Dodge City this weekend to make sure Sgt. Jessie Davila’s funeral was not overshadowed by the Phelps protest. They converged from small towns all over southwest Kansas to support Sgt. Davila’s family. One group leader says, “I knew we would have a crowd, but I didn’t know it would be this big.”
The procession of rolling thunder escorted Davila’s family from memorial services to the grave site on a quiet hill.
In the end, Sgt. Davila’s family says they were only able to hear a little bit of the Phelps protest. Davila’s mother, Linda Claus, says she’s grateful for the Patriot Guard Riders. But she also wants other military families to be aware that this could happen to them.
“When people begin to know what they’re (Fred Phelps’ family) really doing — killing the American Dream — they won’t be around very long, because nobody’s going to let them. They’ll drown them out. They’ll be gone,” Claus said.
Since CNN started airing reports on these funeral confrontations a few weeks ago, the Patriot Guard Riders say its membership has almost tripled. And more than a dozen states are now considering legislation that would restrict protesting at funerals.
The Phelps family vows to continue these protests. They might be outnumbered, but the way the Patriot Guard Riders see it, it only takes one of them to dishonor the memory of a fallen soldier.
The loud pipes of the Harley Davidsons (and other, lesser bikes) drown out the shouts of the Phelps clan, and then the Riders form a human phalanx to block the Phelps clan from the line of sight of the funeral. Bravo! Like I always say, the only way to fight hate speech is with more speech. I’ll defend to the death Phelps’ right to spew his hateful garbage, but I won’t be surprised (nor disappointed) if one of these protests turn violent.
As for Phelps’ hijacking of Christianity for his own hateful ends, well, it’s always fun to watch mainstream Christians distance themselves from Phelps’ rhetoric. He’s not a true Christian, they tell me, while citing the exact same Bible verses to justify why gays shouldn’t be able to get married or adopt children or receive federal anti-discrimination protections. Sorry, that dog won’t hunt, my Christian friends. Phelps will tell you his point-of-view is just “love the sinner, hate the sin”, he’s just more vocal and severe in his hatred of the sin.
That’s why you may hear some mainstream Christians denounce Phelps’ tactics, but never denounce the foundation behind those tactics. The Bible’s not wrong on gays (or anything); it’s just that Phelps is misinterpreting it, they tell me. They want to keep the “love the sinner, hate the sin” doctrine rolling in order to maintain second-class, closeted status for gays, but they’re very uncomfortable with their homobigotry being displayed so blatantly. (Sorta like how the anti-illegal-immigrant type of racist is uncomfortable when he finds the Ku Klux Klan on his side.) They know most people who buy the “protect the sanctity of marriage” argument would be put off by a more blatant “gays are abominations” argument. Most of your “sanctity of marriage” types just don’t know any gay people (they think) and have stereotypical negative views of gay people, and like to think of themselves as tolerant, so long as “family values” are emphasized.
Until I start to see Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, of any other mainstream Christian leaders organizing counter-protests against Phelps, then they and all their flock own him. Too bad they don’t have the same sense of decency and activism as a grassroots group of bikers.