Many of my conservative friends think that it's unfair when I point to the outrageous statements made by the folks at Westboro Baptist Church about homosexuals. They say that this group represents an extreme, fringe group that is not representative of the fundamentalist culture at large. Well, while they may be extreme and fringe, they are certainly not alone.
The pastor of the Fayetteville, Arkansas based "Spirit of Peace Church" recently forwarded an e-mail to me that he had received from someone in the community (whom I will extend the courtesy of anonymity to - I certainly would not want to be publicly associated with such a statement). In an e-mail with "Despicable Piece of S__t!" as its subject, he wrote: "You are an abomination. If you have read the same bible that I have you know that to be true. I am not religious but know that what you affirm is deplorable. It is but a matter of time before the pressure of your sins become unbearable and you will rid yourself of this earth. Know that 99% of this state and most of this county find people like you to be sick freaks!"
According to their Facebook Page, the "Spirit of Peace Community Church is a congregational based church with its teachings based upon Jesus Christ. SOPCC has an outreach to all--affirming the dignity and diversity of all God's creation. We are LGBT affirming." I'm assuming that this individual has a problem with the last sentence of this statement - I can't imagine anyone having a problem with the rest of it.
It is interesting to note that an LGBT affirming church exists within this community because these folks are not welcome in most traditional and fundamentalist churches within the community. These are folks that love Jesus Christ and the Bible despite the fact that they have been persecuted and excluded by their brothers and sisters in Christ. Would the person who wrote this e-mail prefer to find these folks in a bar or bath house? What about you? Does the fact that some of these folk claim to be Christians and attend church on a regular basis offend you? Is the thought of a homosexual attending church offensive to you?
I am proud to call the folks at Spirit of Peace my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have worshiped with this group in the past and will continue to worship with them in the future. The folks who attend there are good and loving people - doing their very best to follow the example of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible. The person who wrote that e-mail admits that he is "not religious," but he somehow feels that he is morally superior to these folks. I don't see it.