Jason just wrote this on the Jesus Loves You site. Thought I would post it here.
Yesterday, Craig and I and two of our friends rolled in to Topeka to start the Jesus Loves You Book Tour. With Westboro Baptist, the bastion of hate, as our first stop, the unknown swirled in our car. For both Craig and I, awkward environments are not new to us. In fact, we like them. But something was different. Nervousness gnawed at us, only to later be identified as utter confusion. Normally when we go into venues uninvited, they are people who look, act, think, and TALK different then us. We maintain civility despite differences and in most, if not all, cases, relational equity is increased. But loving those that hate is hard.
Question 1: How can we purpose for tolerance, if we were not willing to be tolerant?
When walking into a church, it is normal to see people carrying familiar items; bibles, etc. Most of the time, people in church speak in a familiar tone using familiar words. In the message portion, they speak on familiar scriptures. Yet at Westboro, it looked like a church from the outside, but on the inside, it spewed hate, fear of people, and out of context rhetoric that ‘Daddy Phelps’ has vomited for 62 years. Looking into hollow shells of confused souls made a coldness highly visible; A coldness in the soul.
Question 2: Do they really believe this stuff?
I don’t know. My interaction was focused mostly on two Phelps. Shirley Phelps and her daughter were very cordial, kind, and even somewhat hospitable. It was as if something inside of them was screaming to be released. They laughed with us, not at us. They were obliging of all of our questions. They joked with us. As whacked as we both thought they were, they thought the same of us. Shirley said Craig needed to cut his hair and I needed to get rid of my ear rings. We expected that. But the basis of their belief is SO fundamentally flawed and tattooed on their brainwashed souls, a civil conversation prevailed, but doubtful of any traction. In fact, we didn’t go there to convert them. We went there to take the first step in saying “we came to your church to listen in respect.” Maybe someday, one of the kids will do the same.
Question 3: Wasn’t going to Westboro a waste of time?
No. In fact, we had an opportunity to get a front row seat in their den of deception. We don’t hate them. We are instructed to love them. I would NOT call them an enemy. Again, they were kind to us one on one. Yet even if someone considered then an enemy, Jesus said, “Love your enemy.” Today, we did. When love is offered or exhibited, it is never a waste; even if the hand is closed. The Topeka paper did an incredible story on our reason for being in Kansas. Local 13 News did an evening piece. In both cases, people of Kansas and beyond were able to see hope in a place they normally hear hate.
Question 4: Where can I see the stories they did on the Jesus Loves You Book Tour in Topeka?
We will post everything on www.jesuslovesyou.net. You can buy the book on AMAZON.