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Church welcomes Westboro protests, even though they deeply disagree
Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps says God is punishing the United States for "the sin of homosexuality."
June 17th, 2011
05:58 PM ET

Church welcomes Westboro protests, even though they deeply disagree

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)–When Westboro Baptist Church protesters roll into any given town, most places don't exactly put out the welcome mat, until this Sunday.

"This False Prophet and His Blind Lemmings Welcome You to Our Whore House for God's Grace and Free Donuts," Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle announced on his blog this week after learning that Westboro plans to picket one of his churches on Father's Day.

Driscoll is a popular pastor in the Pacific Northwest. He heads a group of multisite churches that regularly draw 10,000 parishioners a week across 10 locations. He preaches live at one location, and his sermons are sent out by video to the other locations the following week, when the services are held with live music and another onsite pastor.

Driscoll, a popular author and speaker, is "Christian-famous," which appears to have led to the protest.

Driscoll found out about it when someone posted a link on his Facebook wall.

"At first I thought maybe it was a joke," Driscoll said. "A church picketing a church seems peculiar."

In turns out it was not a joke, so Driscoll said his church plan to roll out the welcome mat.

"They need Jesus too, maybe as bad as anyone on the Earth. As a church, we're called to love people. They're people, so they make the list."

Some towns have gone so far as to create laws barring Westboro Baptist Church from protesting military funerals. Bikers have shown up with huge American flags and revved their engines to drown out their shouts, and counterprotesters have donned giant angel wings to block the protesters from the mourners' view.

"We need to be nice to these people, go out shake their hands, say hi, give them a bite to eat, cup of coffee and just try to be friendly and nice. The last thing I want is for our people to get into a shouting match with a bunch of crazies," Driscoll said.

Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro was started by Fred Phelps in 1955 and is best known for protesting soldiers' funerals carrying signs that say "God Hates Fags," and "Thank God for dead soldiers." It says on its website that it is an "Old School (or, Primitive) Baptist Church," though it has no known ties to any broader national Baptist denomination.

Phelps told CNN in 2006, "You can't preach the Bible without preaching the hatred of God."

The church's membership is small and mainly made of Phelps family members.

They are regularly sued for defamation but often win those cases. Last year, one such case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the justices upheld their right to free speech. One of Phelps' daughters, a Harvard Law-trained attorney, represented the family before the court.

Its website, Godhatesfags.com, says the church will picket the Mars Hill Church site in Auburn, Washington. Mars Hill officials said that probably means their Federal Way campus, where about 600 people come to services each week.

Detective Jeff Kappel, a Seattle Police Department spokesman, said officers know the church is coming Sunday and said their city is more than familiar with protesters of all sorts.

"We're not going to infringe on anyone's First Amendment rights as long as no one is violating the law. If they're protesting peacefully within the bounds of the law, they're more than welcome to express their First Amendment rights."

Westboro Baptist said in the announcement about the protest that it is picketing Mars Hill Church because "they teach the lies that God love (sic) everyone and Jesus died for the sins of all of mankind. You have caused the people to trust in lies to their destruction, and to your damnation."

"For us, we do believe in judgment, but we believe God is the one who judges ultimately," Driscoll said. Some moral judgments along the way notwithstanding, he said, "whether or not people are going to go to heaven or hell, that's God's judgment, not our judgment. Ultimately, heaven is God's house. He gets to determine the guest list."

Driscoll said the sermon this week will be pre-taped, in part so he can attend a baseball tournament his son is playing in. The message, he said, comes from the Gospel of Luke and is about Zacchaeus, a crooked tax collector who found redemption.

"He was a total con man. Jesus became friends with him, and he became a Christian. Then his heart changed, and he paid everyone back he had ripped off and made a public apology," Driscoll explained. The religious leaders of the day weren't thrilled, he said.

"They were all basically protesting that Jesus loved this guy. He didn't deserve to be loved. The point is, no one is. Jesus loves just because he's loving, not because we're lovable."

Therein lies the difference between Mars Hill Church's theology and Westboro.

"It's kind of funny," Driscoll said. "They're showing up on the Sunday where the story is, Jesus loved a really bad guy, and the religious people stood around and protested."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • United States • Washington • Westboro Bapitst Church

soundoff (451 Responses)
  1. Reality

    Both churches "scream" with significant stupidity and yet again add credence to the following:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" will converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.
    ===========================================================================================
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    June 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Dan

      Haha, how do explain these so called "rules of life"...

      June 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Dan, the best and most important rules of life stem not from any religion, but from the simple requirements of social existence. When people live in groups, boundaries are required. Not killing, not stealing - these things are fundamental to society. In an uncertain world, it is easier to live

      June 18, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Agh. Darn thing posted before I was done. What I was trying to say, that in an uncertain world, ti is easier to live in a group than to live alone for creatures like humans who use tools and wits to survive instead of physical strength or size.

      June 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Dan

      You said: "Haha, how do explain these so called "rules of life"..."

      I want to play. Define "rules of life" for me. Do you mean morals?

      Anxious in Arizona

      June 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Reality

      Dan,

      For the frist written rules/codes of life, see Hammurabi's Code and the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Both are on line.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi#Examples

      http://edward.de.leau.net/the-10-commandments-are-a-copy-from-chapter-125-in-the-egyptian-book-of-the-dead-20070513.html

      June 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Dan
      Are you referring to the ten commandments, (the Decalogue) ? If so, which version ? (Or are you referring to the 628 commandments ?)
      As others here have pointed out, surely you are not suggesting that human cultures require religion to formulate law ?
      If you chose to convert to a different religion, in the interim period, during the conversion process, should your neighbors beware ?

      June 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  2. mikey

    Listen God is more real to me than anyone of you are. When you actually "be still and know that He is God" and let Him do things, He does. Stop being so close minded, God isn't out to get you. Quit making Him seem like the bad guy, the fact of the matter is, He gives you what you want. You don't want Him, then make it known...then you are asking for an eternity away from Him...Hell. You do want Him, you listen, and follow...He gives you what you want, Himself...Salvation. Jesus didn't come here to argue, every single person on this blog and in the world for that matter will one day confess Jesus is Lord...either by one's own choice or by force if necessary. He is for us, not against us. There will be those who see's this as foolish or as "fairytale" stuff but, if you would give Jesus a chance, and actually try instead of going "Oh, I tried, and He never showed up. Blah blah blah" but actually try...then you wouldn't even think of turning back. If I even shared what happened to me, you'd lock me up, or call me a liar. Until you're humbled it will be meaningless. Good day! God Bless!

    June 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hmm. Maybe if you listened to what happened to one of his most faithful, giving, and selfless worshippers, YOUR eyes would be opened.

      My loved one didn't ask him for inoperable, terminal cancer at age 68, but that's what she got. A painful, degrading death after a life of service to others and to your god was her 'reward'. Can your self-righteous, sanctimonious preaching and knock off the threats of fire and brimstone. I'm immune to them. Have been ever since your god broke his promises to my loved one.

      June 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • SDY

      I asked, I sought, I knocked. There was no reply.

      As another wise man once put it, "If it first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No sense being a d*mn fool about it."

      June 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @mikey

      You said: "Stop being so close minded, God isn't out to get you."

      I am not close-minded. Given acceptable evidence, I would be a believer. As it stands now, I find no evidence to support the existence of a god. So, I am an atheist.

      The two best tools to discover "truth", are evidence, and logic.
      What you are really saying, is to stop using critical thinking and just believe. In your reality, If I do not believe as you do, then it is because I am wrong. Yet, you offer no evidence that this is so.

      You said:"God is more real to me than anyone of you are"

      And, the followers of the Religion of Islam find their god to be very real. Real enough, to blow themselves to pieces.
      Belief is not evidence. Belief and faith will never lead you to the truth.

      You said: "He gives you what you want. You don't want Him, then make it known...then you are asking for an eternity away from Him...Hell."

      Christians say, "Free will is given to man, by God". Each person can choose to accept god's love and spend eternity in Heaven or to reject god and spend eternity being tortured in Hell. How is that freedom of choice when it is the same thing as The Godfather, making you an offer you cannot refuse?

      You said: "every single person on this blog and in the world for that matter will one day confess Jesus is Lord...either by one's own choice or by force if necessary. "

      You have presented no evidence that there is a god. You just prattle on. You seem to relish the idea that EVERYONE will be made to accept your truth. But there are ~ 14 religions and ~34,000 different denominations of Christianity. Each, have their own "truth". What evidence do you have that your god is the One True God?

      Let's hope you have chosen the correct god...or you could be invited to a very big barbecue.

      Cheers!

      June 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I feel your pain. I think it really sad, that some people come to the realization that there is no god, when their prayers to and expectations of a god, are not met.

      I had a similar experience. A young family member lay dying. I loved her. I prayed for her. I asked that she live, in Jesus' name. The day of her funeral, the pastor told us she was happier than she ever was in life. She was sitting at a table with Jesus.

      I looked, and no...she was dead. All that she once was, was gone. There was no evidence that a soul had flown from her body. I could believe it if wanted...but, it would only be wishful thinking.

      My daughter's, had ran away. This made her happier than knowing her pet was dead. I buried the rabbit. They buried my niece. I wish she had just ran away.

      Cheers!

      June 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  3. Rick Bangkok

    Phelps is just a few degrees over from Charles Manson with the hate and violence he advocates in the name of God. One is in jail for life, the other one gets to protest at will. I wonder who kicked Phelps ass when he was a student. Probably a pastor's son.

    June 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  4. justasking

    Can someone please help me with a problem? I go to church on sundays and every now and then someone will sneeze. I never say bless you because we are in church and it should automatically be blessed. Should I have to say bless you when someone sneezes in church?

    June 18, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Felicia King

      thank you, you made me laugh
      I'm sure you could still say bless you to the person, its a nice gesture. but not too loudly to interrupt the sermon.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • justthetruth

      no you are in church and should be blessed automatically

      June 18, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • justasking

      your welcome Felicia, just doing to my part to bring a little sunshine into someones life

      June 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  5. Felicia King

    Reading the article, it seems funny how religious leaders get the bible wrong. All these religions are out there, I don't understand the difference. I'm not a bible scholar, I do read the bible though. I think the problem between religions is the individual misinterpreting God's written word. I attend a baptist church and read from a catholic bible, everything is the same. The only difference is in the catholic bible in the old testament there are some gospels that are not in the king james version, but nothing is taken out of it. I randomly pick bible verses and everything reads the same. I disagree with what the westboro church believes b/c it is wrong. It says plainly in the bible that Jesus loves all, has mercy on all, and died for all. And it also reads plainly in the bible that not all will make it to the kingdom of God, the only way to the kingdom of God is through Jesus Christ, he is the door, no man shall enter except through him. Sometimes you just have to stop talking to actually listen to God. He's always speaking, the problem is that hardly anyone seems to be listening. This is just my 2cents, you could agree or disagree, but i believe I am right b/c that is what I read in the bible (King James version and the Catholic edition).

    June 18, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Felicia King

      Also, the bible is written at a 5th grade education level. So with that, everyone should read and understand it. Unfortunately, not so much.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      You understand the Bible? Could you explain me the meaning of baptism? I would like to know every detail.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Felicia King

      You said: "This is just my 2cents, you could agree or disagree, but i believe I am right b/c that is what I read in the bible (King James version and the Catholic edition)."

      Yep, everyone is convinced they have read and truly understand the bible...

      Notice how many denominations of Christianity there are (~ 34,000). Each denomination can show you scripture, that "proves" they understand the wants of Jesus/god.

      All of the denominations could not be correctly interpreting the bible. Many are contradictory.
      Many of these denominations believe only their members will be saved.

      If the Christian god exists, and He is all knowing and all powerful and all good, why didn't He provide a bible that could not be misinterpreted? That everyone's comprehension of His wants would be the same?

      ambiguity – a word or expression that can be understood in two or more possible ways : an ambiguous word or expression.

      1. If the Christian god exists, He would want everyone to know His wants, without ambiguity.
      Otherwise, why would He have bothered supplying man with a book of His will?

      2. The bible god provided, is ambiguous.
      This fact is evidenced by there being 34,000 different denominations of Christianity.

      3. Therefore, the Christian god is very unlikely to exist.

      Cheers!

      June 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  6. Rainer Braendlein

    @JohnR

    Dear JR,

    are you aware that you equate the Christian Church with the Roman Catholic Church, when you accuse the CC for crimes of the RCC?

    June 18, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • JohnR

      Protestants have engaged in religious wars against Catholics and have been involved in the persecution of "heretics" and witches. The Puritans of Massachusetts killed something like 19 people in a crazed witch hunt. The worst abuses by Christians are a thing of the past not because Christianity is particularly enlightened, but because secularism arose largely in response to the all but incessant depravity of Christianity.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Hi JohnR!

      With the term Christian Church I mean the part of the "Christian World", which is faithful to her Lord. You are right, even Protestants have commited a lot of crimes, especially in my homeland Germany. During the Third Reich the German Evangelical Church was called DEK (today EKD). When the Nazis emerged, one part of the DEK supported the Nazis, another part of the DEK, called Confessing Church, resisted the Nazis. Thus you can say, the Confessing Church was the true Christian Church during the Third Reich. One of her leaders was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who has a memorial at Westminster Abbey.

      Why did so many DEK members support the Nazis? That is a multilayered problem. I just want to mention the main reason for the disaster. The DEK and even the today EKD preach the "Cheap Grace" (this term was invented by Bonhoeffer). Cheap grace means, you can get forgiveness without discipleship. "Costly Grace" means, forgiveness must be connected with discipleship at any rate.

      The doctrine of "Cheap Grace" is the perverseness of the true gospel. The true gospel will set us free and cause faithful discipleship. By perverting the gospel the DEK did a heavy crime and so Christ left this Church. Left by Christ, the DEK or DEK members had no strength and power to resist and to realize the wicked doctrines of the Nazis (the Nazis had a pagan belief system).

      In conclusion: The Christian Churches must always return to the pure doctrine (semper reformata).

      June 18, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  7. KCSue

    We decided we should have donut table at the next WBC protest. This is the only way these misguided souls have to keep the attnetion on their warped, un-Christian viewpoint. Kill 'em with kindness. They will get confused & wander a way.

    June 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  8. phoenix

    wbc are my heros showing this primitive race of demons including war vets who teach us to sin how its done.

    June 18, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  9. SDY

    Freedom of speech is important, though I wish the press would use their freedom to cover something more meaningful rather than this clown.

    Congratulations, Mr. Marrapodi, you are part of the reason Phelps hasn't given up and gone home. Please stop encouraging this loon by making him think he actually matters.

    June 18, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Felicia King

      He's doing the right thing. God said himself when one man hits one cheek, your turn the other cheek for the other.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • SDY

      This isn't really about turning cheeks.

      This is about ignoring self-serving blowhards who are desperate for attention. It has little to do with Christianity either way.

      June 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  10. ted

    Westboro is a big money maker for Fred, they have there own law firm.

    June 18, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • i wonder

      Udontknow:

      "An engineer, a physicist, a mathematician, and a mystic were asked to name the greatest invention of all times.
      The engineer chose fire, which gave humanity power over matter.
      The physicist chose the wheel, which gave humanity the power over space.
      The mathematician chose the alphabet, which gave humanity power over symbols.

      The mystic chose the thermos bottle.
      "Why a thermos bottle?" the others asked.
      "Because the thermos keeps hot liquids hot in winter and cold liquids cold in summer."
      "Yes - so what?"
      "Think about it." said the mystic reverently. That little bottle - how does it know?"

      June 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • i wonder

      oops, sorry, wrong place.

      June 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  11. Udontknow

    @AtheistSteve ..he who does not believe in anything will believe anything. You seem not to believe in anything, let me ask do you believe in oxygen? you cant see it,cant smell or touch it and thats probably your whole basis for not believing in anything. Please by all means do not accept anything that you can not personally verify does exist, please. One last note before I leave IF YOU ARE LIVING LIKE THERE IS NO GOD, YOU BETTER HOPE YOU ARE RIGHT. THE PAINS THAT AWAIT YOU.

    June 18, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • SDY

      @Udontknow

      Scaremongering and intimidation? Very classy. "Christians" who believe because they're afraid are just cowards. Jesus did not preach fire or brimstone, these appeals to consequences are a modern invention to try and scare people into staying in the church.

      Organizations that retain followers through fear... let's just say I'm not impressed. Tyranny demands resistance, not obedience.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • shelly

      Do you believe in fairies, gnomes & elves too?

      June 18, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • UdontknowEither

      "he who does not believe in anything will believe anything" This doesn't even make sense.
      "thats probably your whole basis for not believing in anything." Your assumption, a.k.a. strawman fallacy.

      One last thought, If you are living like there is one true god, then you better hope the other 10000+ gods aren't so demanding as yours. But, I won't threaten you with "THE PAINS THAT AWAIT YOU."

      June 18, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Udontknow

      @UdontknowEither THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD!!!

      June 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Udontknow

      @ Shelly fairies gnomes and elves?seriously?

      June 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Udontknow
      You said: " let me ask do you believe in oxygen? you cant see it,cant smell or touch it and thats probably your whole basis for not believing in anything. "
      Oxygen can be measured. Oxygen will reignite a glowing splint. Can your god be detected in this manner? I think not.

      In the real world, any object that provides no evidence for its existence is classified as imaginary.

      You said: "Please by all means do not accept anything that you can not personally verify does exist, please. One last note before I leave IF YOU ARE LIVING LIKE THERE IS NO GOD, YOU BETTER HOPE YOU ARE RIGHT. THE PAINS THAT AWAIT YOU."

      If god is all loving, all good and all just as Christians profess, how do you reconcile this with the fact, that there is a place called hell?

      How could an all good, all merciful, all just god, spend His time constructing such a place? Did he whistle while He worked?

      If god is all loving, all good, all merciful and all just...how do you reconcile this with the fact that god would burn humans for all eternity? What crime could justify such a punishment?

      Man lives a finite number of years. Only a finite number of "sins" could be committed in this finite time. How is it just to punish a finite number of sins with eternal agony?

      Christians also claim their god is all knowing (omniscient). If this is true, then He would know who will be saved and who will be damned, even before they are born. Yet, god lets them be born knowing their ultimate fate is eternal punishment. Seems wrong somehow.

      Christians often prattle on about having a choice of accepting Christ or spending eternity in hell. This is not a choice. This is Vito Corleone making an offer that cannot be refused. Pfui!

      If a puppy peed on the floor, would you hold it over a burner, even for a second? I couldn't. Not a puppy and certainly not a human. I am more moral than your vile god.

      Like many of your fellow Christians, you seem to like the idea that people who do not agree with you, will be horribly punished. If I am wrong, and there is a god and there is a Jesus...you and I may be roomies.

      Cheers!

      June 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Udontknow

      You said: " THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD!!!"

      Interesting.

      You: There is only one god!
      Me: How do you know?
      You: Because the bible says so – See all these passages? !
      Me: Why should I believe your bible?
      You: Because the bible was written by God!

      Or, do you have other evidence that your god is the one true god?

      Curious in Arizona

      June 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Udontknow

      @UdontknowEither as demanding as my GOD? he is your GOD too and all that he demands is that you love thy neighbor and thyself, thou shalt not kill, love thy Mother and Father, thou shalt not covey thy neighbors wife,shalt not steal..THATS NOT SO DEMANDING NOW IS IT? I speak of the pains because one of my best friends was a atheist, as you can see I am open minded and do not pass judement but anyway. One night he was out and had a terrible accident. I stood at his bedside for the last 48 hrs of his life. As he was passing on his last few words were that it burns and it hurts, could have been pains from the accident and it could have not. The point is he was close as anybody to death and it has been written that when some poeple are dying they tend to see angels or in some cases demons. In has case I truly believe it was the later and I wish I would have been able to make him realize where he was headed before he got t
      here!!

      June 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Udontknow

      You asked Shelly: " fairies gnomes and elves?seriously?"

      Yet, you believe in the bible which tells of things just as incredible:

      God created Adam from a handful of dirt; Talking snakes; trees that bear fruit, that imparts knowledge and eternal life; a global flood, that required a pair of each organism on earth, be stuffed onto a boat; people who lived hundreds of years; a man who was swallowed by a fish, only to be spit up 3 days later, unhurt; a tower god was afraid might reach heaven; a woman who is turned into a pillar of salt; talking donkeys; unicorns; satyrs; a leviathan god creates and then does battle with; a zombie messiah, who was actually god incarnate; zombie Saints who left their graves and wandered about the town; belief in a circular, flat earth you could fall off the edge of.

      Heck, the things Shelly mentioned should be easy for you to swallow, if you believe in the bible. LOL

      Fundies have no gag reflex. They can swallow anything.

      Cheers!

      June 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Udontknow

      @David Johnson I'm not asking you to believe whats written in the Bible my brother all I ask is to believe what is truly in your heart. Thine eyes shall decieve thy mind,but thy heart is decieved by none

      June 18, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • JohnR

      Oxygen's presence can be detected by empirical means. God's cannot. Case closed.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • JohnR

      Oh, and Udontknow is a belligerent creep and ought to HOPE he's wrong about God's existence.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Udontknow

      @davidjohnson Mayeb you should spend time reading the Bible. You missed the whole oxygen thing so let me sssllooww down a bit. The whole point was you can not verify it exist but it does because you and I breath it in everyday thats how we stay alive..yeah. How can you intelligently question something you know nothing of? GOD does not punish, he saves. It's free will and he does not force you to worship him,if you dont then hay your on your own and that's what YOU do not get. Your right about one thing GOD does know who will be dammed before they are born, but he does not just stand on the sidelines and let it happen, let me ask you when was the last time someone tried to get you to read the Bible?

      June 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Udontknow

      You said: " The point is he was close as anybody to death and it has been written that when some poeple are dying they tend to see angels or in some cases demons."

      Lack of oxygen to the brain prior to death explains the hallucinations. As a child, I had an incident where I could not breathe. As I struggled to get air into my lungs, I began to see nursery rhyme characters – Big Bad Wolf, Three Little Pigs – all dancing around. They were 3 dimensional. They were real...to me.

      Seeing angels, gods and an afterlife are common. But, people of other faiths, see their objects of worship. Not Christ, or Yahweh.

      Cheers!

      June 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Udontknow

      @JohnR Oxygen's presence can be detected by empirical means, yes we know john that is why I stated PERSONALLY VERIFY. Does everybody carry a atomizer with them I think not John. you too my son have missed the point!

      June 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Udontknow
      You said: "GOD does not punish, he saves. It's free will and he does not force you to worship him,if you dont then hay your on your own and that's what YOU do not get.

      Free will you say...

      Christians say, "Free will is given to man, by God". Each person can choose to accept god's love and spend eternity in Heaven or to reject god and spend eternity being tortured in Hell. How is that freedom of choice when it is the same thing as The Godfather, making you an offer you cannot refuse?

      The problem with free will is, that Christians have insisted on their god being Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnibenevolent.
      No god can be all three at the same time. The attributes contradict each other.
      If god knows what He will do in the future and because He is Omnipotent, does something else, then He is not omniscient.
      If god knows what He will do in the future and cannot do something else, then He is not omnipotent.
      See the problem?

      If God knows the future, if the future can be known, that means that the future is predictable and unchangeable. This, in turn, means that our actions are predetermined. If god is all knowing, free will is an illusion.
      This also binds god, in that He knows what he will do in the future, and He must do it.

      Let's look at Jesus and his predictions that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him.
      Those were future events. Do you think Judas could have used his free will to opt out? Not, if Jesus/God was omniscient. Same goes for Peter.
      The actions of Peter and Judas were predetermined. They had no choice.

      When Moses was attempting to secure the release of the Jews, from Egypt, God repeatedly "hardens Pharaoh's heart". God did not allow Pharaoh to release the Jews, until He had delivered His 10 plagues upon the Egyptian people. Pharaoh didn't have free will.

      Biblical prophecy would not be possible, unless events and human actions were predetermined and there is no free will.
      The fulfillment of a prophecy cannot be left to random chance.

      What about the child who is murdered by a monster, or a people slaughtered by a stronger opponent (or a god)?
      Did they choose to be harmed? Where was their free will? These acts show that the strong or the people in power have greater free will than their victims. Hmmm... See how this fits in with the free will / god exists thingy?

      If god has a "plan for each of us", if there is an agenda, then that pretty much rules out free will.
      Jeremiah 29:11
      For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
      "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]

      You might argue, that while god has a plan for each of us, He doesn't force us to follow this plan. The problem with this argument, is that if a person does not follow god's plan, it may affect my ability to follow god's plan. A drunk driver may run me down. A robber may shoot me.

      Ephesians 1:11 "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."

      "this man [Christ Jesus] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23a NASB).

      The 6 point Calvinists believe our fates are sealed, even before we are born. This would mean that god allows humans to be born, knowing they will someday burn forever. Seems wrong to me, even for a mysterious god.

      There is no evidence that a god gives or safeguards free will.

      Humans have free will not because of god, but because god does not exist.

      You said: "Your right about one thing GOD does know who will be dammed before they are born, but he does not just stand on the sidelines and let it happen."

      Are you simple? If god knows who will be damned before they are born, then they are damned. If this can be changed, then god is not all knowing. Do you understand?

      You asked: " let me ask you when was the last time someone tried to get you to read the Bible?"

      I have read the bible. Reading it, started me on the road to atheism.

      Cheers!

      June 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Udontknow

      @davidjohnson. Maybe Mr. johnson you read it incorrectly, took it literally maybe you were misguided. Ever attend bible clases? Did you really read it? In there somewhere it states that we can never know the thoughts of GOD. for extra points please tell me where?
      still can't tell whether your a atheist or a scientologist, let me ask has Science discovered why the pigmentation from the trees at autumns first whisper change. You know GOD did create them and intended they change but can you tell me why?

      Simple you ask? not hardly

      June 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Udontknow

      Mr. Johnson and Mr. R I will pray for both of you my brothers. I am sorry that someone somewhere let you down. I encourage you to please read your bible preferably the KJV. I love you brothers, everything you have said was taken into account and will further evaluate your statements except for Shelly's but I will still pray for her. It has been a real pleasure speaking to you all and found your points of view very interesting,thank you.

      June 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • JohnR

      I'm not your brother, Udontknow. There are Christians from whom I gladly accept friendship. And then there are people like you.

      June 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Udontknow

      You said: "Oxygen's presence can be detected by empirical means, yes we know john that is why I stated PERSONALLY VERIFY. Does everybody carry a atomizer with them I think not John. you too my son have missed the point!"

      It's not that we missed the point, it's that your point is dumb.

      Like the Tin Man, you should ask your Great Wizard for a brain...

      You are simply a deluded believer, wanting to spread your nonsense. Pfui!

      Cheers!

      June 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Udontknow
      @davidjohnson. Maybe Mr. johnson you read it incorrectly, took it literally maybe you were misguided. Ever attend bible clases? Did you really read it? In there somewhere it states that we can never know the thoughts of GOD. for extra points please tell me where?

      You asked: "let me ask has Science discovered why the pigmentation from the trees at autumns first whisper change. You know GOD did create them and intended they change but can you tell me why?"

      Udontknow
      You asked: "Maybe Mr. johnson you read it incorrectly, took it literally maybe you were misguided. Ever attend bible clases? Did you really read it? In there somewhere it states that we can never know the thoughts of GOD. for extra points please tell me where?"

      When believers are challenged, and their arguments have proven inadequate, they always fall back on humans not being able to fathom god. It is their panic room. A safe place where they can hide their god, until the danger has passed.

      You asked: "still can't tell whether your a atheist or a scientologist, let me ask has Science discovered why the pigmentation from the trees at autumns first whisper change. You know GOD did create them and intended they change but can you tell me why?"

      As the days get shorter, the green leaves stop the process of photosynthesis. As the chlorophyll dissipates, the yellows and reds appear. This is a process of evolution. Not a god.

      Cheers!

      June 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Udontknow

      I will mr Johnson, however it was the scarecrow who needed a brain, but thats okay your excused. I will however request he give you a heart since you dont have one and let me guess you probably have been eyeing Dorothy's red slippers.
      cheerios!!

      June 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Udontknow

      Mr. Johnson you wan't know whats funny. I knew you were going to say you weren't my brother but you know you are. Just like the flickering candle thats about to go out you will try and throw everything and anything out there is disprove and argue the bibles facts. Some of YOU even go as far as bringing hollywood into this "the Tin Man". Seriously? Get real. Maybe thats is the root of all this hatred, I will not ask you to go home and read the bible today but I will ask that you please turn off your TV today. Maybe read a book read a newspaper that should help real you back to earth and out of hollywood fantasies.

      Oh cherrios!!

      June 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Udontknow

      @Mr. Johnson
      @As the days get shorter, the green leaves stop the process of photosynthesis. As the chlorophyll dissipates, the yellows and reds appear. This is a process of evolution. Not a god.
      The question was not the process in which but rather WHY? can you answer the why I already know the WHY

      June 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Udontknow

      sorry there mr johnson I meant to say I already know the how. What is the reason for that process was my question, but that's okay dont hurt yourself trying to answer that. I obviously have lost you. It helps not to take everything at face value, you know dig a little deeper

      June 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • i wonder

      Udontknow: (sorry for the double post, but thought you might miss the other one)

      An engineer, a physicist, a mathematician, and a mystic were asked to name the greatest invention of all times.
      The engineer chose fire, which gave humanity power over matter.
      The physicist chose the wheel, which gave humanity the power over space.
      The mathematician chose the alphabet, which gave humanity power over symbols.

      The mystic chose the thermos bottle.
      "Why a thermos bottle?" the others asked.
      "Because the thermos keeps hot liquids hot in winter and cold liquids cold in summer."
      "Yes - so what?"
      "Think about it." said the mystic reverently. That little bottle - how does it know?"

      June 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Udontknow

      You never answered my post on free will or on hell.

      Cheers!

      June 18, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  12. nolabear

    Since I live quite close to Mars Hill and know what's happening in Seattle this weekend, I can't help but laugh at them picketing Mars Hill while the Gay Pride Parade is downtown and several hundred naked bicyclists will be peddling at the Solstice Parade. C'mon, Phelps, put your back into it a little more! Geez.

    June 18, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  13. YBP

    I like how the Seatlle pastor refers to the Westboro people as "a bunch of crazies." Reminds me of the pot and the kettle.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  14. Nonimus

    "We need to be nice to these people, go out shake their hands, say hi, give them a bite to eat, cup of coffee and just try to be friendly and nice. The last thing I want is for our people to get into a shouting match with a bunch of crazies," Driscoll said.

    Anyone else find this incredibly hilarious? "We need to be nice to these ... bunch of crazies," Driscoll said.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Lisa Warren

      I thought the exact same thing.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  15. Rainer Braendlein

    I have question, which is not beyond reason: Which worth has a public profession of my personal faith before people, knowing already, that I believe? Usually a celebration of baptism is merely attended by church members and they yet know, who will be baptized.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      I know the current topic is not baptism but that one church is picket by another one. Mars Hill say a lot of true things about Jesus, but it is the question, whether they experience the power of Jesus Christ. Nobody joins Westboro Baptist and thats reasonable, but would it be advisable to join Mars Hill???

      Of course it has no value at all to profess my faith before people, who already know that I believe.

      The true doctrine of baptism, according to the Early Church:

      At baptism the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is dedicated to you. At baptism you get connected with Christ's atonement in a real sense. In the first 5 Chapters of Romans St. Paul expresses his concern about the faith of the Romans. Some members of the Church of Rome thought: "When grace is for free, why should I then sin less or they thought, when grace is for free, I will sin more, in order to get more grace". Paul condemns this opinion. However, this thoughts would be the conclusion someone could make, when he grasps the gospel only by his natural reason.

      According to Romans 6:

      The gospel must be grasped by faith, in order to get it rightly. Yes, God wants to be gracious, but God's grace soley exists wthin a new life, God wants to give us. God wants to give us two presents at the same time: New life and forgiveness.

      At baptism we don't receive solely the message "you are forgiven", but we receive the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We become able to overcome our sinfulness. This all is according to Romans 6.

      The Holy Spirit causes the faith and teaches us about the true doctrine of baptism.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Garrett

      If you care to know what Driscoll believes about Baptism, he was a book called "Doctrine," that would more adequately explain his position on the issue.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  16. Rainer Braendlein

    Seemingly First Amendment is valid today, thus I will continue:

    As I yet said, I know churches like Mars Hill from inside. The one thing, they don't really grasp, is the doctrine of baptism. I actually had a look on their website and they say, baptism would be a public expression of your faith: First believe and then profess your faith publically.

    To be continued

    June 18, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  17. exterm

    Each member of that phony baptist church should be shot on sight.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  18. Brett

    Westboro Baptist Church is a blessing to atheism. Thank you.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • shelly

      How do you figure?

      June 18, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • shelly

      Never mind...lol I think I get it now.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Nice Logic

      @Brett. So to follow your logic, all men are evil because Hitler was a man? All women are stupid because Sarah Palin is a woman? All Boxers are rapists because of Mike Tyson? In case you don't get my point, and you probably don't, the Westboro folks aren't representative of all people who believe in God, whomever that God may be. I mean, I'm not going to say that nobody in your family has the ability to think, just because you don't. That wouldn't be fair.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Q

      @Nice Logic – No where did Brett state that all believers endorse the WBC position and your response to this strawman is certainly not an example of "nice logic". Perhaps, and I'm just speculating here, the point was simply that the WBC illustrates one very visible example of the irrationality of trading reason and empathy for obedience to subjective interpretations of mythology? In this context, they are indeed a blessing to atheism...

      June 19, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  19. Rainer Braendlein

    I had a look on the website of Mars Hill Church.

    First, I was impressed, but when I digged a little deeper, I got somewhat concerned.

    There is a Church similar to Mars Hill Church in Munich. I attended the Church in Munich several times and thus have some knowledge about those kind of church.

    They tell so many true things about Jesus, but one thing they do not understand.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • lace

      *dug

      June 18, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  20. exterm

    All the members of that so called phony baptist church should be exterminated if you get my drift.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • YBP

      I don't know if I "get your drift." You're being terribly subtle in getting your message across.

      June 18, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Nick

      hahahahaha YBP

      June 18, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • PhillyMark

      Your comment is very inappropriate. Saying that Americans who are expressing their right to free speech should be exterminated makes you every bit as bad as them for using their rights to spread hatred.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:19 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.