Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Open Letter to Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God

                                                          Matthew 5:1-10


Dear Fred Phelps and the Congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church

On January 28, you held a protest at Lowell High School that was received by intense student reaction. Lowell’s many Gay-Straight Alliances and Jewish clubs organized themselves to react to your presence. I am a sophomore who organized a Facebook event for a peaceful counter-protest. Over the course of five days, approximately 1065 people listed themselves as attending, showing clear opposition to your protest. The young counter-protestors held a gigantic dance party, showing love and tolerance for everyone, including you. This is an ecumenical letter, intended to create peace and eliminate any animosity that we may have.

The radically repulsive nature of your protests has been wholly ineffectual in creating the social change you want. Considering that over two-thirds of your congregation is made out of your own family; you have failed to convince the unconverted. In fact, your protests have done the exact opposite; very rarely do people take you seriously. By protesting at funerals of veterans and harassing grieving families, you have destroyed the reputation of yourself and your family. Nearly everywhere you go, you have been met with acrimonious disparagement. You have been either vilified or ignored because of your vocal hate-speech. Your fallacious reasoning has not only been ineffectual in bringing change, but has destroyed your reputation and put your congregation into physical danger. Acknowledging that it is unlikely that the opposition to your cause will cease, there is absolutely no reason for you to continue protesting. 

Despite our opposition to your cause, we are absolutely willing to forgive and accept you. We refuse to be hurt by your invective, as doing so would be advantageous to your cause. Your protests and hate-speech will be ineffectual as long as we refuse to take you seriously. Causing personal damage and furor is clearly your goal, and we will make it impossible for you to reach that goal. Thus, instead of reacting violently or angrily against you, we amicably invite you to end your protests. We understand that such a radical change in lifestyle will not be easy, but we hope that the cessation of disparagement will be incentive for that change.

We hope you understand that we do not hate you. We hope the peaceful terms of this letter will be conducive to positive change. At the Lowell counter-protest, we did not react angrily or violently, we showed you love. We did not shoot you down; we tolerated your existence as well as your worldview. Such a task requires a great extent of open-mindedness. Instead of demanding that you reform 4330962989_64e1604ed7_ofor our own benefit, we encourage you to reform out of a hope to help you. We do not want you to be vilified and hated wherever you go, and we offer that opportunity out of authentic concern for your well being.

We conclude this letter with the hope that you will accept our invitation to end your protests. Decrying the existence of certain religious, ideological and sexual groups will never bring about social change. Nothing that a fringe-group can do will eradicate large populations of people. Your ineffective slogans do nothing but cause harm to yourself and others. Ending protests will do nothing but good for yourselves and those around you. Thus, we invite you to accept this offer to make peace with the world around you.


Kevin Wong

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