21 March, 2014

Why Fred Phelps was so useful to the gay rights movement

Why Fred Phelps was so useful to the gay rights movement: A continued dedication to rhetoric like that, as well as pickets at military funerals, set the Westboro Baptist Church apart during a period when public support for marriage equality is rising and when prominent conservative Christians like Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren are trying to find more politically palatable ways to talk about their objections to homosexuality. No matter how much distance other gay rights opponents tried to place between themselves and the church, Phelps and his followers acted as a kind of confirmation of the suspicions of the real feelings that lay behind less radical political language. And their consistent incivility highlighted the ways in which anti-gay sentiments don’t just function as expressions of private beliefs, but as acts of unkindness that disturb our sense of manners and proper treatment of our neighbors and fellow citizens.