or Why I'm thankful for the First Ammendment to the United States Constitution.
The people of Westboro Baptist Church are thoroughly deceived.
Many aren't aware of it, but they're actually a bunch of extreme hyper-Calvinists….and thorough Constantinians. These two points are what drives them to do what they do.
America isn't Constantinian enough for them so they think it's their task to be obnoxious. They think their proclamations bring judgment on the reprobate. They're so hyper-Calvinistic they don't really believe in the power of the gospel…if God wants a certain person saved, He'll save them. They see themselves as modern day Jeremiah's delivering lamentation and woe to the reprobate, increasing their condemnation.
No concept of Means.
These extreme forms of Hyper-Calvinism don't bother with the gospel unless someone shows signs of pre-conversion...sensible sinners they used to be called.
To practice otherwise, that is to preach the gospel indiscriminately would be illogical and demonstrate that you don't really believe in or grasp the import of Election. Very logical, just not Biblical.
While I don't view dead soldiers as heroes, rather objects to be pitied and sometimes condemned, I do feel sorry for their families who are often just as duped. They've just lost sons and husbands. I suppose they have to try and find some meaning to it. To acknowledge they died for nothing or sometimes worse could just break a person. Only the grace of God would give someone the faculties to deal with loss like that.
What I'm trying to say is…I don't get teary eyed about military funerals but I don't like Westboro Baptist either.
But I do like the Supreme Court's decision to allow Westboro Baptist to continue their buffoonery.
The First Amendment was crafted to protect the little voice of dissent, and yes even the wacky and wicked ones. More than anything, the First Amendment was arguably the most revolutionary to my mind laudable aspect of the American experiment.
Constantinians hate it. They can say they don't, but history has proven otherwise and if you listen to them carefully they only approve of it…when it favours them. They wouldn't extend it to those who oppose them.
This case was a prime example. Many people were upset, but probably none more than the mainstream Christian Right. The military is sacred to them and the actions of the out of the mainstream Phelps crew are from their standpoint blasphemous. I would agree they are blasphemous, but for different reasons.
Western Nations are increasingly moving to restrict Hate Speech. This is part of the dismantling of the Constantinian legacy, trying to undo the past, and also trying to move toward a goal of social unity.
The United States is split. There are some who would follow Europe's lead, and there are others who would take the United States into a specifically Constantinian direction.
I don't really want either. The European model is nothing I would support, but I will support it if the alternative is a heretical version of Christianity that wields political power.
I would rather have a society that is free.
That means it's free to let sinners go on sinning. The gospel can deal with that. I only want the state to deal with violence on the streets and the most heinous crimes. I want the state to keep law and order.
I don't want them in my home, so to protect me, I also want the state to stay out of other people's homes as well.
That's the good and bad of a free society in a fallen world.
It's free to let fools speak. The gospel can deal with them as well.
And it's free to let the gospel speak freely.
While aspects of the gospel are becoming frowned upon in other Western nations, the United States still has a concept of Free Speech. I was so pleased to see that eight of the nine judges saw this…the only dissenter being a Roman Catholic Bush appointee. Yes, even those terrible 'liberal' judges stood up for free speech.
If there was a moment to be proud of America…this was it.
And don't let anyone fool you, this is the judicial legacy not of Christendom…but of two strains….
The Enlightenment (a bunch of utterly lost men trying to make sense of the world)
And Religious Dissenters.
I don't like the Quakers very much, but they had an influence in shaping colonial culture and certainly had an influence on men like Franklin. We all know about Jefferson's assurances given to the Baptists.
Today Christians in America are trying to undo this legacy of freedom. There are other non-Christians who would do the same. I heard one commentator lamenting this decision. A pagan, he wanted America to move in a more European direction.
Regardless…the gospel can't be stopped. Actually sometimes it flourishes more when restricted, but that doesn't mean we have to invite persecution. If we're living out the gospel we are already dealing with many low-level and subtle forms of this.
Regardless of what political party holds power, what economic system we live under, and regardless of whatever the security situation is…we should support freedom.
We want freedom to share and live out the gospel. We want freedom to raise our children how we want them to be raised.
The fact that freedom also allows sinners to continue sinning doesn't really matter. Because guess what? Restricting what they say won't stop them from sinning.
There are reasonable restrictions…yelling 'fire' in a theatre isn't free speech. That makes sense, but let's keep the bar as low as we can.