Why saying the Westboro Baptist Church aren’t “real” Christians is a cop-out

I’m in the process of researching for my senior thesis and so I’ve taken many trips to the library and borrowed many books. One book I stumbled upon is entitled “Slavery and the Churches in Early America.” In this book, the author tracks the church’s stance on slavery from 1619 to 1819 (acknowledging different denominations and their different stances). And I’ve got to say, it is a really disheartening read. The church’s stance essentially ranged from apathetic to approval. Only the Quakers really took a stance against slavery at this point in history. The book hits home with its final sentence, “Self-proclaimed and widely recognized as the nation’s “conscience,” the churches appeared to be saying that drinking whiskey or enjoying sex without marriage was more scandalous than holding people as slaves.”

Wow. Like wow. Talk about a huge stain on our history of the church. And it’s far from our only one. Reading this book, I couldn’t help but wonder what book will be written about the Christian church 100 years from now. Will that book finish with the sentence “Self-proclaimed and widely recognized as the nation’s “conscience,” the churches appeared to be saying that loving someone of the same gender was more scandalous than allowing people to freeze on the streets”? Or “than bombing citizens in foreign nations”? Or anything else that the church sits by and lets happen today?

This week, our campus was visited by some hate-preaching Christians. I didn’t see them myself, but from what I could gather from other’s accounts, they were your run-of-the-mill hate-proclaiming crazies. But they bore our name as Christians. When we encounter these hate-preaching Christians, it’s really easy to shrug it off and say, “Well that’s not who we are. We’re real Christians.” Which is a cop-out. Because for some people, this type of Christian is the only type of Christian they’re interacting with. Mainly because those types of Christians tend to be the loudest. But why is that? Isn’t love more radical than hate? Why can’t our voices be louder? Aren’t there more of us? If we are God’s hands and feet and we show God’s love through our actions, shouldn’t our actions speak louder than their words? 

We can’t cop-out and shrug those Christians off as “not Christian.” Because they bear our name and whether we like it or not they’re staining our history. Instead, we need to bust out the Tide and make our loving voices louder.

-Meghan Lane

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