A short time ago, five young soldiers from Ft. Bliss were killed by an IED blast in Afghanistan. A memorial service has been scheduled for later this month. The Westboro Baptist Church plans to come to El Paso to put on one of their demonstrations wherein they celebrate the deaths of soldiers as evidence of God’s punishing our country for tolerating homosexuality.
If you look at this church’s Website, you will see an impressive amount of hatred. It is not limited to gays. We Catholics, for example, are in their sights and Catholic churches are a frequent target for demonstrations. Mind you, there is plenty to criticize about my Church. But I have to admit that I find the reference to Catholic churches as “whorehouses” more than a little offensive.
Offensive, too, is the invasion of a ceremony for those who are grieving, that invasion motivated by a political agenda.
Mind you, I have had enought contacts with the Baptist faith to know that these people do not even reflect the hearts and minds of persons walking a Baptist path.
In any case, I found myself ranting the other day, fuming “How can these people call themselves Christians? What happened to ‘Love your enemy’? And then the Voice whispered to me: “Indeed, Patterson, what about loving your enemy? Do these people not qualify?” I didn’t like hearing that.
Jung talks about facing one’s Shadow — that within me that I refuse to acknowledge. In my case, my Shadow has a strong dose of intolerance.
So it would seem that, if I am to call myself Christian, I must love the people of Westboro Baptist Church. Will I be out there on Ft. Bliss to welcome them? Absolutely not! For now, I must sit with myself and see if I can face my own Inner Bigot.
Maybe Fr. Richard Rohr was right when he wrote “Jesus is too much for us.” (Simplicity: The Art of Living, Crossroad: New York, 1992, p. 158)
Reflection: 1. In what ways are you intolerant?
2. Which of your enemies do you find most difficult to love?