Skip to main content

When Is It Too Late For Someone?

By Hoopy Frood ~

At what point should we give up on someone? I am speaking primarily about Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. They are the most hateful, intolerant, fear mongering people you will ever meet, but should we give up on them? By give up on them I mean give up reasoning with them to try to show them that what they are doing is wrong and extremely harmful. I fully support reasoning with someone to try to come to a peaceful and reasonable solution, but where do you draw the line? When is someone beyond helpable?

WBC 20051202 sacco-topeka7
WBC 20051202 sacco-topeka7 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I believe that this may be the case for the WBC but I really hate just giving up on anyone. I am willing to listen to and consider anyone else’s POV as long as they are willing to sit down and have a civil conversation and listen to mine as well. But after you watch and listen to the WBC for a while you realize that most, if not all, members cannot be reasoned with. I am afraid these are the people that cannot be reached. Ironically, they say the same thing about America. It is too late for them to understand or embrace any kind of reason. The only way to cure the US of groups like theirs is to ignore them, but we love to hate sensationalist groups with controversial messages so they will continue to make the news. I don’t really even like writing about them because it gives them publicity which leads to power but this is something important that should be said.

I am willing to listen to and consider anyone else’s POV as long as they are willing to sit down and have a civil conversation and listen to mine as well. The WBC is a great example of why it is so hard to place faith in the Bible. Of course there are MANY varying interpretations, but the WBC’s interpretation seems very extreme. It seems so extreme that you would believe that there is absolutely no way that they can spin the Bible into what they say if for no other reason than most Christians believe that the Bible is a book of extreme love. But if you check on of their many websites you will find that everything that they preach and believe in is completely backed by scripture. Of course, if you actually read the Bible then you realize that the WBC is just like the God of the Old Testament. It’s too bad Fred didn’t live during those times. He would have been a perfect fit.

Fred Phelps himself may be evil, or he may be a victim of his upbringing or maybe just mentally deranged, but it’s hard for me to hate his children and their children because it’s not their fault that they were indoctrinated into this cult. Still, it’s hard to envision a situation where any of them wake up and see the harm that they are causing to the people of our country and the reputation of our country. The scariest part of this situation really is the children and grandchildren of Fred. The difference between Fred and his children is that Fred was not raised believing this. He had a religious experience in his late teen years and then came to the conclusion that his minister was not properly interpreting and preaching the Bible, so he formed these beliefs on his own without being indoctrinated. One could argue that reaching these conclusions on one’s own could lead to a greater belief in them than if you were raised to believe these thing, but I disagree. If you are raised with these beliefs then you really have no frame of reference for how others think. You completely lose the ability to be objective in any way. But if you begin believing this on your own, at least there was a point in your life that you can go back to where you saw things from another perspective. His children and their children are different because they were raised believing this and were indoctrinated from birth which could make them twice as dangerous and zealous as Fred himself. This is all they have ever known so they believe it to the core. The only difference between the WBC and Muslim extremists is that Muslim extremists will actually kill you whereas the WBC will only picket or sue you. This is the case so far, but I would not be surprised if, in the future, the WBC tried something violent. Still, the precedent set by Fred and the indoctrination of his children and their children is extremely dangerous, but luckily there are not many of them.

As terrible as they are, they are still a great teaching tool. They are the prime example of what free speech means and how powerful that right is for our citizens. I would venture a guess that 99.99% of Americans vehemently disagree with what they say, but because of the First Amendment, they are allowed to say it. This is what’s great and terrible about our country. Having the right of free speech means that you can say what you want but it does not mean that you ought to say it. With this right of free speech also comes the responsibility to know when to use it. Unfortunately, the WBC seems to have perfected the art of knowing exactly how to abuse this right.