Friday, July 26, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #118 - Part 1

Good news: Westboro Baptist Church gets satirized

You've no doubt heard of the Westboro Baptist Church - which, by the way, is not associated with any Baptist convention - the Westboro Baptist Church, that handful of creepy bigots consisting mostly of the family of one Fred Phelps.

The cult gained its fame, if you can call it that, by picketing the funerals of soldiers with signs celebrating their deaths, claiming it's a punishment from god because, as their signs would say, "god hates fags" and the US "tolerates" homosexuality. They've since branched out, using various tragedies as opportunities to proclaim their bigotry.

When they announced plans to picket the funerals of victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, one group decided they had had enough.

That group is the Satanic Temple, a New York-based organization devoted to encouraging "benevolence and empathy among all people" through the teachings of Satan. They were prepared to counter-protest the WBC in Boston, but, as is becoming more common, the bigots didn't show up, instead later issuing a statement that they had been there "in spirit."

So the Temple decided that they would meet the WBC "in spirit" on their terms. They went to Mississippi, to the gravesite of Catherine Idalette Johnston, who was Fred Phelps' mother. There, on Sunday, July 14, they performed a ritual called a "pink mass." It drew on the practice of Mormons of baptizing people into the church after they are dead to declare that, quoting, "Upon completion of the pink mass ceremony, Catherine Johnston is now gay in the afterlife."

What's more, mocking the Westboro Baptist Church's contention that their beliefs are totally infallible and that religious freedom means no one has the right to challenge them, the Temple declared that "Fred Phelps is obligated to believe that his mother is now gay ... [and] if beliefs are inviolable rights, nobody has the right to challenge our right to believe that Fred Phelps believes that his mother is now gay."

In an email to The Huffington Post, Temple representative Lucien Greaves said that the groups would perform Pink Masses at the gravesites of Phelps' father, great-aunt, and other descendants of the Phelps "each time they picket funerals or applaud horrific terrorist actions."

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