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October 7th, 2010
04:19 PM ET

My take: Fred Phelps is wrong about the gospel, right about the law

Editor's Note: Wayne Grudem, research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary om Phoenix, Arizona, is author of Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture.

By Wayne Grudem, Special to CNN

Are the deaths of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan a sign of God’s judgment on America?

So says the Rev. Fred Phelps, who goes to military funerals with signs saying “God hates you” and “Thank God for dead soldiers.” But Albert Snyder, the father of a dead marine, sued Phelps for causing him emotional distress by picketing at the 2006 funeral of his son, Marine Matthew Snyder.

The case came before the Supreme Court yesterday.

As a Christian professor of theology and biblical studies, I wish I could tell Fred Phelps that he is violating Jesus’ teaching that “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).

Would Phelps want protesters to disrupt his son or daughter’s funeral? Surely not.

I remember how the funeral of a young family member overwhelmed me with a deeper grief and a deeper experience of God’s comfort in sorrow than I have ever felt in my life. For anyone to intrude on such a sacred time with angry protests is to violate our need for privacy when we long to be alone with family and friends and God.

I support the laws that now exist in 40 states placing restrictions on such protests anywhere near funerals. These laws rightly protect the dignity and privacy of such a solemn event.

Fred Phelps is also wrong because he misrepresents the “good news” of the Gospel of Christ.

The most famous verse in the Bible does not begin, “For God so hated the world, that he gave his only Son,” but “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16).

Jesus did not win followers by saying, “I hate you, please follow me.” Rather, he said: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Yes, God certainly calls people to repent of their sins so that they can find forgiveness in Christ, but I am grieved to see that Phelps’ message, speaking only of God’s hatred, simply turns people away from a personal relationship with Christ.

Is it a sign of God’s judgment, as Pastor Phelps claims, when U.S. soldiers die in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? I don’t think so.

These wars are essentially wars to defend our nation from terrorism, and as such they are “just wars.” Therefore a soldier who fights in these wars to protect our nation is what the apostle Paul calls “God’s servant for your good” (Romans 13:4).

In carrying a weapon to defeat a nation’s enemies, a soldier “does not bear the sword in vain” but he is “a servant of God . . . who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4).

So Fred Phelps has it all wrong. The Bible sees Matthew Snyder as “God’s servant” for our good, and his death in that just cause demonstrated his great love for the country he served.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Christians should mourn Matthew Snyder’s death and honor such servants of God in the military, not gloat over their deaths as Fred Phelps did in his reprehensible protest.

But yesterday's Supreme Court case raises another question. Should Albert Snyder be able to sue Pastor Phelps for millions of dollars in damages because of the “emotional distress” that Phelps caused by his protest –– from about 1000 feet away - at Matthew Snyder’s funeral?

If successful, I fear that Snyder’s lawsuit would set a dangerous precedent whereby anyone who felt offended by a distasteful message could silence unpopular speech through massive fines imposed by the courts. Freedom of speech would be chilled.

The Bible also values human liberty: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants,” says Leviticus 25:10, a verse that was important to our Founding Fathers.

They embedded freedom of speech in the First Amendment as one of our essential liberties: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” And freedom of speech must protect unpopular and distasteful speech or it is no freedom at all.

The laws that protect Fred Phelps’ right to hold up reprehensible signs also protect the free speech of all other religions, whether we think them right or wrong. And they protect my right to speak about Jesus Christ in public without fear of fines or prison, as in other nations.

Our laws should protect funerals from unwelcome intrusions, but they should also protect the freedom of misguided people to proclaim wrongful ideas at a reasonable distance, without fear of being silenced by lawsuits from those who feel offended.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Wayne Grudem.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Homosexuality • Opinion

soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. RJ

    http://www.skeptictank.org/hs/atohate.htm

    What a hate filled man read about some of the family abuse as recounted by one of his kids, check the link for a whole story of his life:

    Mark Phelps feels nauseated whenever he remembers that night. He was hit over 60 times and his brother, Nate, over 200 with a mattock handle. Nate went into shock. Mark didn't. A boy who became a compulsive counter to handle the stress, Mark counted every stroke. His and Nate's. While their father screamed obscenities and his brother screamed in pain. Every 20 strokes, their mother wiped their faces off in the tub. Nate passed out anyway. That was Christmas Day.

    A mattock is a pick-hoe using a wooden handle heavier than a bat. Fred swung it with both hands like a ballplayer and with all his might. "The first blow stunned your whole body," says Mark. "By the third blow, your backside was so tender, even the lightest strike was agonizing, but he'd still hit you like he wanted to put it over the fence. By 20, though, you'd have grown numb with pain. That was when my father would quit and start on my brother. Later, when the feeling had returned and it hurt worse than before, he'd do it again. "After 40 strokes, I was weak and nauseous and very pale. My body hurt terribly. Then it was Nate's turn. He got 40 each time. "I staggered to the bathtub where my mom was wetting a towel to swab my face. Behind me, I could hear the mattock and my brother was choking and moaning. He was crying and he wouldn't stop." The voice in the phone halts. After an awkward moment, clearing of throats, it continues: "Then I heard my father shouting my name. My mom was right there, but she wouldn't help me. It hurt so badly during the third beating that I kept wanting to drop so he would hit me in the head. I was hoping I'd be knocked out, or killed...anything to end the pain. "After that...it was waiting that was terrible. You didn't know if, when he was done with Nate, he'd hurt you again. I was shaking in a cold panic. Twenty-five years since it happened, and the same sick feeling in my stomach comes back now..." Did he? Come back to you? "No. He just kept beating Nate. It went on and on and on.

    The second son, Mark Phelps, who according to his sisters was at one time heir to the throne of Fred, had refused comment during the earlier spate of news coverage. He and Nate have both left the Westboro congregation and now live within four blocks of each other on the West Coast. But, like the icy water that waits off sunny California beaches, the deepest currents sometimes rise and now Mark has surfaced with a decision.

    "My father," says the 39 year-old, now a parent himself, "is addicted to hate. Why? I can't say. But I know he has to let it out. As rage. In doing so, he has violated the sacred trust of a parent and a pastor. "I'm not trying to hurt my father. And I'm not trying to save him. I'm going to tell what happened because I've decided it's the only way I can overcome my past: to drag it into the light and break its chains."

    October 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  2. Luna

    Fred Phelps and his 70 or so followers, who consist mostly of his family are haters, pure and simple. There is nothing remotely Christian or Christ-like about them and for Phelps to claim to be and for them hide behind the First Amendment right to free speech is beyond disgusting.

    October 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      and 100% legal.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
    • NL

      I think he is just getting some kind of lawyer high off of getting away with this.

      October 9, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  3. Alex

    First: Organized religion has been and is the reason for almost every war in the world. Organize religion force people to believe in things that NOBODY has ever seen, if they have, please prove it.
    Second: Just because the law says you can do something, does not mean people has to use it as a tool to disrespect those who have passed away and their family. It is really disgraceful.
    Third: Why do religious leaders have this infatuation for making us believe what they believe. I don't hate people for what they believe, I respect theirs, so please mine.
    We all have the freedom to believe we are all unique, different and in search of happiness. Stop imposing your religious believes on others.

    October 8, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
    • Reality

      Alex,

      Organized religion is the reason for almost every war? Not so!!! See below:

      The Twenty Worst Atrocities Committed by Humankind

      Rank Death Toll Cause Centuries
      1 55 million Second World War 20C
      2 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C
      3 40 million Mongol Conquests 13C
      4 36 million An Lushan Revolt 8C
      5 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C
      6 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C
      7 20 million Annihilation of the South and North American Indians 15C-19C
      8 20 million Iosif Stalin 20C
      9 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C
      10 18 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C
      11 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C
      12 17 million British India (mostly famine) 19C
      13 15 million First World War 20C
      14 9 million Russian Civil War 20C
      15 8 million Fall of Rome 3C-5C
      16 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C
      17 7 million Thirty Years War 17C
      18 5 million Russia's Time of Troubles 16C-17C
      19 4 million Napoleonic Wars 19C
      20 3 million Chinese Civil War 20C
      21 3 million French Wars of Religion

      October 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  4. Nonimus

    Mr. Grudem,
    You say Phelps is wrong, but has the right to speak. I agree that he his wrong and within conditions of the law he has the right to speak, however, I don't understand why you think Phelps is wrong.

    You say he doesn't follow the golden rule, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). But, wouldn't he say that he would want to be told of God's will if he didn't already know it?

    You say, "Yes, God certainly calls people to repent of their sins so that they can find forgiveness in Christ, but I am grieved to see that Phelps’ message, speaking only of God’s hatred, simply turns people away from a personal relationship with Christ."
    So, you agree with him that God does hate (perhaps for slightly different reasons) and does call 'his people' to proclaim that hatred. You just seem to want him to include the 'loving' portion as well.

    Perhaps, God really has spoken to Phelps and he is doing exactly what God told him to do. How would you know otherwise?

    October 8, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • Selfish Gene

      so, you think Phelps is right?

      October 8, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      You have the right to free speech. I have the right to call you a backwoods bible loving idiot.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Again...
      I agree that he his wrong
      and within conditions of the law he has the right to speak, however, I don't understand why you think Phelps is wrong.

      October 8, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Nonimus

      I get what you are saying...

      Peace...

      October 8, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Selfish Gene

      I think you may be (i certainly am open to being wrong here) not getting @Nonimus' question and where he is coming from.

      You might want to re-read his initial posting again. Maybe that would help...?

      Peace...

      October 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
    • ktrails

      I don't believe Phelps is doing exactly what God told him to do, because what he is doing is inconsistent with the biblical witness. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Phelps does not bring a message of comfort. The Old Testament prophets were known to bring some pretty harsh messages, but they always spoke to the offenders – the political leaders, the rich and powerful, etc. If Phelps was even remotely close to on track, he would be delivering his message to the political leaders, and the leaders of pop culture, not a grieving family. By being outrageous, he is assured that his message will be relayed by our charming media, but the original means of delivery is utterly out of step with God's character as revealed in scripture.

      October 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  5. Hoot

    Isn't it amazing that so many people are stupid about so many things? Take the religious crackpots that infest the world.

    No, really. Take them away.

    Really.

    October 8, 2010 at 2:49 am |
  6. Reality

    For Professor Grudem's eyes only. First you should change your ti-tle to Professor of Mostly Myths, Paganism to Mormonism and In Between:

    Second: Finalizing what you already know from your many studies,

    The follies, frauds and flaws in the major religions:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment.

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan se-cts.
    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hit-ti-tes, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.
    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizz-azz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "fil-icider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedo-ph-iliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:

    Adu-lterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    4. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.
    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    5. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation, monkey gods and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current crises:

    The caste system and cow worship/reverence.

    6. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."
    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

    October 8, 2010 at 12:26 am |
    • Really

      If you are really serious about writing "For Professor Grudem's eyes only." Then contact the man directly? How hard is this?
      Why subject the rest of us to your "private" messages to someone else?
      Doesn't he have an email address? Or somewhere you could actually send him a letter or message DIRECTLY??????

      Jeez.

      October 8, 2010 at 12:31 am |
    • Reality

      Really, Really, Really,

      Your PC keyboard does not have a scroll bar which allows you to skip over text? And the comments to the professor would allow said professor to come clean publically about the obvious flaws in the history and theology of contemporary religions if he so desired. We await his rebuttal as do you.

      October 8, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  7. G

    to peace2all- You asked at one point what Jesus would feel is a "just" war. I have an answer/idea for you. First, you should know the idea of a "just" war does not come up in the Gospels. So really, there is not enough information to really tell what Jesus would think about this, though I quess he would be against War in general as he seems to act as a Pacifist in the Gospels. I quess in this sense, if someone claims Jesus would says something is a "just" war, its really more of an opinion. I hope this helps since you said you were curious.

    October 7, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
    • peace2all

      @G

      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my sincere question. It has been awhile since i have read the bible cover to cover, and a lot of the passages have faded in my memory.

      I was hoping that someone with recent knowledge would help with that.

      That was my best 'guess' to that he would be against war, but as you said, it is just our opinions.

      Thanks G...

      Peace...

      October 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm |
  8. anti everything

    I feel that phelps is wrong in every angle.thats just my opinion.how could anyone have the disrespect to do such hateful things during a time of mourning.i wouldnt call him a preacher.Muslim extremisf??no,more like christian extremist.but when it comes to the law,hes following it.thats why people aere confused.when it comes to the law,there is no right or wrong;its just the law.right and wrong has nothing to do with the law.like he stated in his article,i hope someone does protest such hateful messages at his own childs funeral

    October 7, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • NL

      Come on, you know that wishing of his, or any child's funeral is just plain wrong.

      If most Christians find this repulsive then they can join everyone else who thinks the same and speak out against this man. Mount a march against his headquarters and tell him exactly why he is wrong in this. His supporters could probably use the wake up call.

      October 7, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
    • KellyinCA

      Of course, the issue is that the Phelps clan have been doing this solely for the publicity.

      I don't believe for one moment that Fred Phelps or his family truly believe what they're saying. Having read the e-book _Addicted to Hate_ which profiles Phelps' estranged son Mark, I feel that their activities are merely an outlet for Fred's pathological dependence on drama and conflict. He derives a perverse pleasure from being persecuted and opposed, an illness in which his family participate solely because it keeps them from being the targets of his rage. He was quite an abusive father, according to Mark Phelps's account, and had no qualms about depriving his children of necessities in order to make himself look good.

      This man is simply a sociopath who's been allowed to run amok by his family. I suspect that the Westboro Baptist Church will quietly fold about five minutes after Fred Phelps is in the ground.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
    • Know What

      KellyinCA,

      Well said. Thank you.

      Here is the site of another son, Nate Phelps, who also broke away from this sociopath. Nate's speech will rock you to the core.

      http://natephelps.com/10801.html

      October 8, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  9. Candyangel8

    This is harassment and these people should be arrested for what they do.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:46 pm |
    • NL

      People who shove photos of bloody fetuses in the faces of women entering abortion clinics aren't far off from Phelps IMHO.

      October 7, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      Understanding the Con sti tution – FAIL

      October 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  10. Angel

    There is no such thing @ heaven and hell people, this crazy nuts should not existed especially Fred Phelps!!!

    October 7, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  11. AuntSlappie

    It would not matter if Phelps'is out there singing God Bless America or reciting the Pledge of Allegience. There is a time and place 4 everything.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
    • Ohboi

      He sings much more hurtful and offensive things. And makes the children sing.

      October 9, 2010 at 3:45 am |
  12. AuntSlappie

    When duz da nonsense end? When duz common sense come into play? I agree that phelps' take on da bible is wrong. I also agree dat he hasa right 2 protest. But Right Is Right And Phelps' Is Wrong!! It is not so much as what he is saying BUT where he is saying it! I dont care if 1 thinks a lamp is their higher power. One duz not nd 2 hear about it while paying their last respects!

    October 7, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  13. Serutan

    The author of this article is nothing but another hypocrite "Christian" who loves to cherry-pick his way through the Bible – just like Phelps and millions of other BS-filled religious people.

    Cherry-picking scriptures and then putting your own interpretations upon their "meanings" is pure sophistry and should be a capital offense throughout the world.

    October 7, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
    • Cheechako

      a capital idea...!

      October 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
    • Frogist

      @serutan: Free speech should be a capital offense? Well thank you for writing all the way from North Korea anyway.

      October 8, 2010 at 11:00 am |
    • claybigsby

      lol "cherry picing" bible verses and putting in your own interpretation is the basis of christianity

      October 8, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • claybigsby

      lol "cherry picking" bible verses and putting in your own interpretation is the basis of christianity

      October 8, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • ktrails

      Go read Systematic Theology by the author and then come back and talk to us about cherry picking. That's really funny!

      October 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Serutan

      Some would argue that 'anyone' using any 'scripture' and applying their own meaning or their interpretations, on any scripture could be considered pure... sophistry. As a matter of fact, one cannot help but put their own interpretations or 'meanings' on scripture, as there is no objective absolutes about reading these scriptures. Nothing has any meaning except the meaning we give it.

      I may not like the Bible or the Qur'an, etc... or people cherry-picking verses and interpreting them to their own gain.. I get it.. I really do get that part of what you're saying and it angers me to.

      Now, as for your assertion that we should make cherry-picking and interpreting meaning a 'capital offense.'..... Dude. we live in the U.S. which has free speech. Maybe that's a bit harsh... don't ya' think...? I am sorry you want to 'kill' people throughout the world who do this.

      Without being overly critical of your post, you might want to chill out as to your rhetoric, so it might give others even less reason to be possibly appalled by your thinking.

      Just some thoughts...

      October 9, 2010 at 3:27 am |
  14. Chris

    “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell." – Matthew 5:21-22.

    I'd watch out, Fred Phelps.

    October 7, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
  15. Tess

    I have to agree that while i do not agree with what his message is Phelps does have the right to say it. I do not want his rights barred, because by doing that my rights are barred as well. And I love having the freedom to speak my mind openly.

    Als lets stop saying Christians haven killed people etc. That religion has killed millions of people, nearly all of the bigger religions have.

    October 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • claybigsby

      so you are for invasion of privacy? I think you will change that tune when a member of your family dies and they are outside protesting.

      October 8, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  16. Travis Y

    Religion in the U.S. is a license to do or say just about anything. Look at how racist Beck sounds when he yells constantly. Christians are such sheep that they hang on his every word and don't hold to the fact that he is a mormon. They would not like it if he brought that up all the time. Thou should keep thy religion to thy selves. New verse for all religions. Go do something positive for someone who needs it and see how it feels over all the selfish wishing, hoping and begging.

    October 7, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Travis Y: There was conflict when Beck's rally was held. Some evangelical leaders were warning their flock not to follow the mormon. So there was divide there created obviously by themselves. And I think that's the real issue. They all want to be exclusively right. It's like some kind of c0ck fight. And it's all couched in an elitism and prideful arrogance. They cannot stand that someone else could be just as right, just as kind, just as honest, just as loving without being just as Christian.

      October 8, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  17. Smith in Oregon

    What is there about 'THOU SHALT NOT KILL' is there that is not clear nor totally understood?

    And yet there are thousands of US Military Chaplin's, Clerics and they overwhelmingly pump up the US Soldiers with their daily sermon's of 'Go out and Get Some', 'Kill the rag's for God', 'God wants you to go out and kill the enemy soldiers'. etc. etc.

    God's command is to not kill, Christian's are continuously taught and told to Kill, Kill some more and if they are still moving Kill them again.

    October 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
    • Blanche DuPaws

      "Shoot him again, his soul is still dancing..." – Nicolas Cage in Bad Lieutenant, Port of Call New Orleans

      October 7, 2010 at 9:18 pm |
    • Reality

      For new members only: A Summary of our Wars on Terror, Horror and Aggression (sometimes called Our Wars Needed for Self-Defense)-

      -Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 97,172 – 106,047 Iraqi civilians killed as of 8/10/2010 mostly due the Shiite and Sunni suicide bombers.

      – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,116 killed in action, 902 killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

      – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

      – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

      – Libya has become almost civil. Recently Libya agreed to pay $1.5 billion to the victims of their terrorist activities. Apparently this new reality from an Islamic country has upset OBL and his “cra-zies” as they have thre-atened Libya. OBL sure is a di-sgrace to the world especially the Moslem world!!! Or is he???

      – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

      – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

      – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

      – Bin La-d-en has been cornered under a rock in Western Pakistan since 9/11.

      – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols will follow soon.

      – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

      – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

      – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.

      – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

      – And of course the bloody terror brought about by the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

      October 8, 2010 at 12:17 am |
    • Rob in Iowa

      The word for kill in those days meant murder, or an unjustified killing. It seems that taking a life in war, to defend one's country and comrades is justified, don't you think? Now granted people should not dehumanized even their enemies, they should fight with honor and be merciful to those who surrender. I truly believe that it is possible to fight, even kill in war and not hate your enemy. If you hate that you have to take their life, your heart is not malicious toward your enemy and you can even love them.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:01 am |
    • Frogist

      @Rob: I'm not a soldier. I know only a few people who are. But it seems to me that people in a violent conflict do their best to not think about loving their enemy or the consequence of their act to kill. I don't think hate is necessarily a factor either. I think it's a lack of emotion. They are only trying to survive and follow their commands. If we were to ask them to think about the child who will have no mother or father if they kill someone or the poverty that caused this person to join their army, wars would be harder to perpetrate. We dehumanize our enemy to make it easier to kill, survive and win. This is why war should always be the very last option.

      October 8, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • J

      Just an FYI (Smith in Oregon): The Hebrew word in verse you reference in Deut. and Exodus is "murder," not "kill." I can read ancient Hebrew and have done extensive study on the commandment texts themselves. It does not include the service of soldiers in war (which maybe should be a little obvious considered the commandment was given to men of war who then go to war), self defense, and host of other means by which people take the lives of another. Not arguing morals, just ancient text interpretation in the proper historical context. I'm a silly grad student and contextual historical accuracy is important to me. Nothing else to say. Take Care.

      October 10, 2010 at 1:20 am |
  18. GSA

    I could have easily written my post and exchanged the word Christian with any other religion and it wouldn't have mattered, says a lot about organized religion and the people leading it.

    October 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
    • David, Rochester NY

      Ok, please do so then. And make sure to link articles from legitimate sources about all the Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Shinto, Sikhs, Bahai, and Jainists who are "bombing, killing and maiming" other people.

      Oh, that's right. You can't. If you're going to talk about hatred you may want to start with a little introspection first. In fact, that is the only way hatred will ever be stopped.

      October 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  19. GSA

    "Phelps misrepresents the gospel" is an uderstatement. My question is this, I have read of so many Christian groups (terrorists, militias, etc.) all saying nasty things, inciting hatred, bombing, killing and maiming (sp?) recently yet there is not a huge uprising against Christianity like there is with Muslims, why is that? Especially when the christian groups that want their religious and political ideas forced upon us are vastly powerful in the US (scary) and the radical Muslims do not have that power (only in other countries, and even then they rule with force not with the backing of the majority of the population).
    Also why do so called "good Christians" always say things like "they don't represent us all" when something negative is said about there faith yet they don't stand up for the Muslims being targeted? Shouldn't a "good Christian" want fair and equal rights, love and peace and a right to live for all? Just curious myself.
    I do not believe in a just war but I do believe in a just defence for oneself when endangered by a war started by another.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
    • peace2all

      @GSA

      Well said...

      Peace...

      October 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
    • Dan

      Honestly, its because Christians have not killed 16166 people since 9/11 for explicit religious reasons. Unlike the Religion of Peace's members. Sunni's and Wahhabi's have caused so much death in the last ten years alone, while the occasional Christian fanatic has done almost nothing. Some back water tiny protestant church talks about burning a Koran and what do the Muslims do around the world? RIOT and KILL. They BURN Bibles.

      You put up a statue of Jesus on it with defecation all over it and what does anyone do? Nothing. Maybe some people write to the museum, or to their papers expressing their disgust.

      You tell me

      October 7, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Dan, so justification for christians' attack on another people's religion is because christians haven't done anything too bad lately? That's ridiculous and I doubt Jesus would buy it even if it was true. Which it isn't. Besides the war in Iraq where soldiers carry weapons inscribed with verses from the bible, can we really ignore the violence perpetrated on Dr Tiller and the like? Can we really ignore Tim McVeigh's terrorism? Or pedophilia in Catholicism and anti-gay movements by evangelicals that contribute to the suicides of children? Those are the more popular cases lately. But how about in Nigeria where christian movements have declared war against children who they say are witches and christian violence is occurring their still? And it's not just Nigeria, but Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda also where fundamentalist evangelicals have backed a proposal to have being gay punishable by death. Not to mention the Lord's Resistance Army in the Sudan. No violence by christians recently? That's a poor excuse and a blatant untruth. But if you are so offended by artists who are trying to show you a message of how filthy christians can be that you would oppose their free speech, well it's no wonder you would be ignorant of the violence that christians support and condone everyday.
      Now if christians were to look beyond their arrogant and damaging insistence that their religion is the best and all non-christians are evil, they might recognise that terrorism and violence are not explicitly caused by Islam, but a product of many factors. And that alone could counter the hatred that is feeding the perception of a religious divide that contributes to anti-american violence around the world. And that might truly show that christianity is about love and non-violence which it is failing to do today.

      October 8, 2010 at 10:25 am |
    • peace2all

      @Frogist

      Well, my friend...or should I say 'clone' SM/Clark-Kent... This posting by Dan caught my eye as well, and .... You just darn beat me to it.

      And.... You, in my opinion, answered his post with some additions that I may not have included.

      Well said...

      Peace...

      October 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • Frogist

      @peace2all: Oh no! Didn't mean to beat you to the punch there... 😉 I was trying to be civil, but I can't stand the hypocrisy of some Christians who cloak themselves in self-righteousness while doing things so un-Christ-like. And that argument against honoring another person's belief, that it's been a while since christians have effed up, is so hypocritical.
      Anyways, I think I should hand the cape back to you now! 😉

      October 8, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
    • Tirone

      @Frogist

      Christianity is not about love and non-violence. It is about being confused, hypocritical, and deluded. Sometimes this can result in love and non-violence, but if that's all it was about, then no one would need the Bible, just a sticky-note with those two terms written down to remind them of what they are supposed to be doing.

      October 8, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
    • Dave

      I agree. Jesus never condimn gays and lesbians. I did say 'there is no law against love'. He also said 'Judge not, that you be not judged' and ' let him who is without sin, caste the first stone'. Peace and Love

      October 10, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  20. Jim Lynch

    Fred Phelps does indeed misrepresent the Gospel. Succinctly put; quite easy to understand. However, I would take exception to the statement that the war in Iraq is a "just war." Afghanistan, maybe. Actually, most likely. Iraq? Sorry, not even close. It was fought pure and simple because Bush and his cohorts wanted to finish what Daddy started.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Jim Lynch

      I am curious. You talked about (from the article) .."just war." What actually consti-tutes a "just war" Did Jesus talk about anything in the bible about "just wars".....?

      Again, I am (sincerely) curious....

      Peace...

      October 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
    • NL

      For that matter was the conquest of Canaan a 'just war' by the same standard? Joshua's God probably wouldn't have any problem with the invasion of Iraq. He probably would have seen Guantanamo as being too gentle, and would have just ordered every single Iraqi man, woman, and child killed instead.

      October 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
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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.