Tag Archive: Godhatesfags.com

i was hoping to be able to get something out on this before Fred Phelps died, which apparently i failed to do.

Fred Phelps, pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church where we use the term ‘church’ loosely as nothing of what i ever heard them connected to sounded anything like the idea of church that i have come to know and love. 

An obvious indicator is that the website address of this ‘church’ is the unfortunate and not true GodHatesFags.com and Westboro are well-known for picketing LGBT events as well as military funerals.

The most unfortunate thing about this so-called church is that they were known so well for their ‘Hate’ – i’m not sure we ever got an idea of what they stood for or what they were about, but we certainly knew what they were against.

When i heard the news earlier this week that Fred Phelps was on his death bed, it did not give me cause for celebration as it seems to have given to some others.

As i read a variety of book of face statuses, it became quickly obvious that a lot of people were conflicted with how to feel or what to think [and then usually reading some of the following comments under each status i would quickly come across at least one person who found it a lot easier to get there] but for me it was quite simple:

If we are celebrating the death of this man, then suddenly it starts to sound and feel like something he would have been a part of. i had the same kind of response to scenes of Americans dancing in the streets when Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were killed. Are we glad that the legacy of violence and hate and destruction is over? At least as far as that particular person is concerned. Absolutely. But to celebrate a death, especially one of such a tragic life, feels like we are starting to be on the wrong side of good.

Don’t get me wrong. Fred Phelps and the actions of the WBC made me so angry and sad on many occasions. They were an embarrassment to the church and fortunately in one sense so over the top that i don’t think too many people seriously associated who they were and what they did with the rest of us.

BUT… Our response has to be Love. Praying for his friends and family. Praying that in his final moments of life, he might discover the Love of Jesus that is so much more powerful than the hate he had been holding on to for so long. Praying for an opportunity for repentance and deliverance from evil. And now hoping and trusting that for those left behind, a revelation of God’s incredible Love and compassion for the whole world will be forthcoming.


Now i don’t have any right to judge Fred. He will stand in front of God and have to give account for his actions. And i don’t have any idea what the state of his heart and soul was as he ended his life here and prepared for the one ahead. But there is a point that i think needs to be made, for those of us who are left behind. i read someone’s comments about now he will be in heaven and will have to dance with some of the christian gay people he hated his whole life and how ironic and glorious that will be.

The first question i have from that is, ‘Will he be in heaven?’ [and this sounds like a judgemental post perhaps, but please just follow me where i am going here]

First passage that came to mind was from Matthew 7:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

In fact, just a few verses earlier we read:

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

What is fairly easy to see is that the work of WBC was definitely not ‘doing the will of my Father who is in heaven’ and that if we are going to be recognised by our fruit, that Fred Phelps and WBC are not obviously showing the fruits of the kingdom, with the fruits of the Spirit being highlighted in Galatians 5 as:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited,provoking and envying each other.

Me talking about this now, has nothing to do with Fred Phelps any more. It has everything to do with me. And you. Because these are the same things that we are called to if we are followers of Jesus.


# It does not matter how much “stuff you do for God” if you stand in front of Him one day and His response is, “I never knew you!” 

# A tree is recognised by our fruit – if our lives are not displaying Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithhfulness and Self-Control, then we need to be asking if we are Spirit filled. And if we are not, then we are not followers of Jesus, simple as that.

# Fred Phelps had his chance and will one day stand before God and have to account for his life. Brett Fish Anderson [and you!] is still in the midst of his chance and every day gets to make fresh decisions on how this life thing will look like. That is the person i should be focusing on in terms of judging and holding up to the mirror of scripture.

In Matthew 22 we see Jesus asked about the most important thing:

35 One of them, an expert in the law,tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

And in John 13 we see Jesus sharing a new command for us all to follow:

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

And finally, there will be other Fred Phelpses and Westboro Baptist Churches – some will look really obvious, while some may be a lot more disguised and subtle in their approach. How we respond to them should perhaps be very much informed by reflecting on Jesus’ words of compassion and forgiveness spoken from the cross as He hung bloody and dying as well as this encouragement from the writer to the Romans, especially the last verse:

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Maybe now we will be able to come up with some more accurate signs:


i preached a sermon in church last night about how to “correctly handle the word of truth” in terms of reading and knowing and trying to understand the Bible well and not just simply grabbing a verse here and there and using it to back up something we are trying to say.

that is not usthe example i used as an extreme form of example was the Westboro Baptist church who i imagine most of us have heard or seen something of in the media – the ones who pitch up at gay pride marches with “God hates fags” on their signs [often with young children holding these signs and spewing the same kind of hatred their parents do] and who protest veterans funerals and all sorts of crazy things like that.

what i didn’t know when i asked Uncle Google to direct me to their website is that the church website is actually called Godhatesfags and can be found at Godhatesfags.com – that is their church website – it is unbelievable and makes me embarrassed to think that a lot of people might view them and me as pretty much the same because we both fall under some christian banner… [which is why personally i prefer to go under the Jesus-following banner if i need any kind of label ever because as christians it seems to have been pretty easy through the ages to get up to all kinds of crazy stuff, but as people who are truly seeking to follow Jesus it is impossible to end up as part of a group that uses “God hates fags” as a slogan, or a website address].

i mean Westboro makes it easy. there is not a lot of debate, or any, needed when looking at them and their actions and coming to the conclusion that this is not of God. Certainly not the God i am following. Or would want to follow.

…and i’m pretty sure the Bible commands us to call out that kind of garbage… and bring it to the light for what it is.

i imagine that ‘church’ and a lot of their actions make Jesus sad.


as i sat outside our apartment earlier thinking about life and the kingdom of God and things that make Jesus sad while drinking coffee out of my Marvin the Martian mug [could that be one of them? i hope not. i wonder who made the mug. uh-oh.] i pondered to myself [while inviting the Holy Spirit to ponder back] what could be worse than someone living actively not-Christ? [although not in those words – them are just fancy blog words]

could the answer be someone not actively living Christ?

people whose christianity consists of believing the right thing, and going to the right place [church every sunday and maybe home group or cell on a wednesday night] and trying to not be too bad, but otherwise living for themselves.

i’m just not sure that’s enough.

at the same time, i’m not completely sure what the solution is because we can’t all stop human-trafficking or reach out to all of the homeless or visit everyone in hospital and prison and we can’t all be taking on racism at an institutional level or fighting sexism in the workplace or reaching out to victims of sexual abuse and rape and trying to find ways of addressing those two things that don’t make the victors feel like the guilty parties… we can’t do it all. absolutely sure about that one.

but i do strongly feel that we can all do something, or maybe somethings.

with our money. whether tithing it into a church where we know the money is going to greater things than simply buildings and salaries or putting it in programs like Common Change that help us to meet needs of people we know or committing to an organisation or a specific project like my photographer friends Bex and Bruce who came up with a plan to fund some wells in Africa with some of the money they bring in or assisting the woman who cleans your house or the man who takes care of your garden to find ways to get their children through school and into university. and  hundred thousand other great ideas.

volunteerwith our time. whether baking some goodies or making a meal for a new family that moves into your street or complex or for the couple that have just had a new baby, or writing a postcard to someone in prison and building a relationship with them or visiting someone in hospital. volunteering at the local homeless shelter or seniors home. offering to babysit for a couple you know who have been finding it tough being parents of young children and just giving them a night [or a weekend] off. grabbing some friends and some gardening equipment and arriving at someone’s house who is too sick, tired, or old to get to the work that needs to be done and volunteer to do it for them.

with our creativity, education, knowledge, transport, cameras… the list goes on – there is someone who doesn’t have what we have and is not able to do what we can do and so drawing alongside them

[oh and yes books like ‘Toxic Charity’ and ‘When Helping Hurts’ and others have made the idea of helping other people very scary in many ways because what if we harm the very people we are trying to help because we are doing it the wrong way? You know what i think? Start with building some kind of significant relationship with the person you are trying to help and it will probably be a lot harder to get it horribly wrong. don’t let the fear of doing it wrong paralyse you from doing anything. just be better prepared maybe.]

so while the Godhatesfags ‘church’ makes God very sad, i imagine the people who profess Jesus with their mouths but don’t follow it up with their actions make Him sad too. [there is a lot of stuff about plants producing fruit and salt losing its saltiness in Matthew 7 and other places around the Bible, i’m not making this up]


which brings me to the third category and maybe the most significant one for me to be pondering on. because i doubt i can do a whole lot about the Westboro Baptist church and pretty much the majority of the people in the second category are not going to be the people who are going to be reading this and nodding and heading off to change anything [a quick ‘we’re not supposed to judge’ note in the comments section below perhaps] and so i will still continue to speak into and preach into that group of people when given the opportunities…

but it’s me. i mean that’s the answer right? the only person i can really change is myself, brett fish anderson [where fish seems to be proved more and more to be something i’m desperately aiming at as opposed to anything i hit regularly enough] and so that is really where i have to look.

and i do and i have and i am and a lot of it just leaves me with questions that i am struggling to answer.

and that is really the purpose of this post [and posts, cos i imagine there will be more, this is already getting a bit long] – not to point the finger or judge other people who are not getting it right. but to stand before the mirror [as i will stand before God one day] and really genuinely ask, what is the shape of your faith at the moment? of your life? where are you living out the message? where else do you need to be?

with the hope that there is someone else out there who maybe needed a little prod like this to sit alongside me and ask themselves the same question.

what i do know is that the end point of this exercise if not condemnation. i believe there is a very thin line between condemnation and conviction and for me the difference is in where you end up. condemnation leaves you in a weeping mess on the floor. whereas conviction inspires you and lifts you and propels you to action. the problem is that they can both feel the same. but only one is helpful. and i believe that only one is from God [if you’re not sure, it’s the second one!]

it is important though that we take and make times to look in the mirror, prepared to deal honestly and effectively with whatever we see when we look there. that is the place where i am trying to be right now. there is space on the floor next to me if anyone wants to join me.



[For more thoughts of a more me-focused nature in the post ‘What makes Jesus sadder too, click here]

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