“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.”
– Psalm 36:6-8
We have no idea specifically why Westboro Baptist Church would select Trinity as a site for one of their protests this coming Sunday. We can guess; but they have not responded to calls from the newspaper.
They are on their way to Minneapolis to protest at the Super Bowl; so our best guess is that they were looking for sites in a larger town on the way to and from the game, and we came up in a google search as a large church that was “convenient” for them.
Let me be crystal clear: Westboro Baptist Church takes the basic teachings and ideas of Christianity and twists them to rationalize their message of hate. Nowhere in their teachings is the God of love that we know and experience every single week even partially represented.
And as a church, we stand in stark opposition to their message of hatred, anger and bigotry.
So what are we going to do?
I have been in touch with the other churches in town that are being targeted, as well as Jeff Elstad, our school superintendent, and the Owatonna Police Department. We are all on the same page:
- We are not going to feed their anger
- We are not going to make them relevant
The protestors (if they actually show up) are limited to public sidewalk space. The police say that they will be on the sidewalk at the corner of Lincoln and University. They are not allowed to step onto our property.
So here is my request for you:
- Come to worship this weekend. It would be a wonderful witness to fill our sanctuary with people who come to worship and give praise to God. It would be amazing to fill our sanctuary and fellowship hall with singing to counter the words of anger that will be spoken outside.
- Do not engage them. This is what they want. The words they choose are vile and are intended to provoke a response. This gives them the attention and the media coverage that they crave. We will not satisfy them. They also fund their protests largely by winning lawsuits against organizations and individuals who block their legal access or who respond physically.
- Enter through the main doors. This is out of site of the corner where the protesters plan on being. Let’s not even give them an audience.
- Be who God called us to be. Remember God’s call to us in our baptism: “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
If we are protested this weekend by people who only know anger, let’s give them something to protest:
- a people who know, experience and live out God’s love every day
- a people who are confident in God’s claim on our lives
- a people who welcome all into our community
- a people who return love for anger
What are we going to do this weekend when Westboro Baptist Church comes to protest?
We are going to be ourselves.
I’ll see you on Sunday!