Saturday, October 18, 2003

a Sermon on the Mount for hateful Christians and other stupid dogmatists

With thanks to the Air Marshal, who linked me to a recent article about Matthew Shepard, the boy who was brutally murdered in 1998 for being gay. From the article:

(Casper, Wyoming) Anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps has announced intentions to erect a monument to Matthew Shepard the gay college student brutally murdered five years ago near Laramie.

But, the monument will be no memorial. Phelps says the monument would be 5 to 6 feet tall and made of marble or granite. It would bear a bronze plaque bearing the image of Shepard and have an inscription reading "MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22."

The monument would be erected in downtown Casper, Shepard's home town.

Phelps has sent details of the monument to the city of Casper city council and there may be nothing the city can do to prevent it.

Phelps said he intends to put up the monument in City Park, already the location of a controversial statue of the Ten Commandments.

How did Phelps' congregation behave during Shepard's funeral? A little recap:

During Shepard's funeral members of Phelps' Westoboro Baptist Church demonstrated in front of the chapel.

And maybe it's a good idea to remember how Matthew died:

Matthew had been lured from a campus bar shortly after midnight on October 7 by two men who told him they were gay. He was driven to a remote area near the Sherman Hills neighbourhood east of Laramie, tied to a split-rail fence, tortured, beaten and pistol-whipped by his attackers, while he begged for his life; he was then left for dead in near freezing temperatures. A cyclist who found him on Snowy Mountain View Road at 6:22 pm, some 18 hours after the attack, at first mistook him for a scarecrow. He was unconscious and suffering from hypothermia. His face was caked with blood, except where it had been partially washed clean by tears.

Matthew died at 12:53 am on Monday 12th October 1998, at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his family at his bedside. Hospital officials said Matthew had a fracture from behind his head to just in front of his right ear and a massive brain stem injury which affected his vital signs, including his heart beat, body temperature and other involuntary functions. There were also approximately a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. He was so badly injured in the attack that doctors were unable to operate. He never regained consciousness after being found, and remained on full life support.

While Matthew lay dying in hospital, just a few miles away, a group of students from Colorado State University thought it would be funny to ride atop a homecoming float that featured a scarecrow figure designed to resemble Matthew's battered body. The figure was wearing a sign that said "I'm gay." An obscene message was painted across the back of the scarecrow's shirt. The students didn't mean to be insensitive. It was supposed to be a joke. They were just ordinary, average guys, having a bit of fun.

We're a wonderful species sometimes, aren't we.

So now Pastor Phelps wants to build a monument. There's already a Phelps-friendly website preaching the gospel as Phelps and his crew perceive it, right here. It's called, and like most such hate sites, it's chock-full of scripture.

I've already made clear that I'm not impressed by scriptural arguments, because as Shakespeare noted, even the Devil can quote scripture to his purpose. Scripture is a tool; it can be used well or poorly, for good or ill. Scripture, in and of itself, proves nothing, adds nothing, is nothing, and people who make themselves slaves to scripture are some of the blindest, most pathetic, morally stunted souls out there. When we forget that scripture is the finger pointing to the moon but not the moon itself, we start down the wrong path. Always.

Pastor Phelps is trying to pull off something that needs to be fought-- hard-- by the good people of Casper who can see his efforts for what they are. I hope they stop him from creating this monument to hatred.

But what I really hope is for a chance to spend twenty minutes alone in a room with Pastor Phelps so I can beat some fucking sense into him. Nothing like receiving the dharma through knuckles and feet. And maybe a baseball bat.

To all those idiot fuckwads like Phelps, who dig through scripture to justify their hatred or go cruisin' for a bruisin':

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

"Fucked are the closed of mind and heart, for their nose is always in the goddamn Bible, which I didn't fucking write. Fucked are the blind haters, because they know nothing of true love. Fucked are the gay-bashers, because they're probably closet gays themselves, and don't realize how laughable their self-hatred is. Fucked are those who hunger and thirst for violence, and here's hoping they get what they wish for a hundredfold. Fucked are the merciless, for they will receive no mercy from my pissed-off Jewish ass. Fucked are the evil of heart, for they will see God's middle finger right before it impales them through the crotch. Fucked are the doctrinaire troublemakers, for they will be the aborted children of God. Fuck all you unrighteous motherfuckers who cast aside humility, openness, tolerance, and love the moment you feel the least bit threatened by someone who's different from you! Fuck all you people who didn't get the point I was trying to make about how we should treat the weak, the meek and the powerless! Fuck all you stupid, blind, deaf asswipes who didn't get that my career was a constant mantra-- what matters is not scripture on a scroll but the heart, YOUR HEART, which is the living scripture!"

And Jesus, in a deep fury, lost control. He picked out and levitated all the murderous gay-haters and self-righteous scripture-quoters from the crowd of listeners, flung them into a huge pit off to one side, and called down a ton of molten iron, which poured from the sky and onto the frightened evildoers, separating meat from bone with a great and horrible sizzle.

And there was screaming.

When the final blood vessels had burst, when the final cranium had been reduced to ash, when the final sinner's grotesque throes had ceased, and all that was left were blackened femurs, smoking ribcages, and twisted souls already flying hellward, Jesus surveyed the destruction, fell to his knees, hugged himself, and wept. "Assholes," he choked. "It didn't have to be this way, Father, but what better price for deliberate obtuseness?"

Then he stood. He took a deep breath, blinked away bitter tears, turned to the people who were left, and said:

"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

And he stepped quietly down from the mountain and passed through the crowd, disappearing before anyone could stop him.

POST SCRIPTUM: It's amazing how fundamentalist scripture-quoters routinely ignore the passages about the literalist Pharisees who dogged Jesus. I don't claim any enlightenment when it comes to my intolerance of people like Pastor Phelps. Of course it doesn't help to fight hate with greater hate, but I'm only human, and I have feelings. Right now I'm pissed. I don't believe in a hell, but if there is one, I'm sure it's reserved for creatures like him. In the meantime, I relish the thought of Phelps meeting a lonely fate on an open road, tied to a fence like a scarecrow with no one to hear his cries. And I hope an angel visits him at his darkest, most despairing moment, and takes a loving, compassionate shit on him.

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