Archive | March, 2013

The Illegal, Criminal Trial of Jesus

28 Mar

Criminal Attorney, J. E. Ingram (1924), wrote a wonderful book analyzing the trial of Jesus Christ. The title of this book: Criminal and Illegal Trial of the Nazarene Peasant. Ingram was a criminal lawyer, practiced in Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas, over 90 years ago.

Ingram’s work brings the charges against those who brought the charges against Jesus–everything from His arrest, to His questioning, and the times at which the trial proceedings occurred. I will summarize Ingram’s points in this blog, and include the laws broken by the authorities at the time. These laws will be placed in quotes, followed by their references, and a conclusion. I will begin with the initial charge levied against Jesus of Nazareth.

The charge brought against Jesus by the Jewish authorities was that He broke Mosaic Law, and committed blasphemy against Jehovah. Furthermore, as Ingram puts it, “The criminal indictment brought against the defendant before the highest court of Roman justice, Pilate and Herod, was treason against the government of Rome and Caesar.”


A. The Jewish law prohibited all proceedings by night.
B. “The testimony of an accomplice is not permissible by Rabbinic law propter affectum and propter delictum, and no man’s life, nor liberty, nor his reputation can be endangered by the malice of one who has confessed himself a criminal.” (Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, p. 274)
C. “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:17-18)


A. The Jewish law prohibited all proceedings by night.
B. “Be not sole judge, for there is no sole judge but One.” (Mishna, Pirke Aboth 4:8)
C. “A principle perpetually reproduced in the Hebrew scriptures relates to the two conditions of publicity and liberty. An accused man was never subjected to private or secret examination, lest, in his perplexity, he furnish damaging testimony against himself.” (Salvador, Institutions de Moise, pp. 365-366)

A. “The entire criminal procedure of the Mosaic Code rests upon four rules: certainty in the indictment; publicity in the discussion; full freedom granted to the accused; and assurance against all dangers or errors of testimony.” (Salvador, Institutions de Moise, p. 365)
B. “The Sanhedrin did not and could not originate charges; it only investigated those brought before it.” (Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol 1, p. 309)
C. “The evidence of the leading witnesses constituted the charge. There was no other charge; no more formal indictment.” (Innes, The Trial of Jesus Christ, p. 41)
D. “The only prosecutors known to Talmudic criminal jurisprudence are the witnesses to the crime. Their duty is to bring the matter to the cognizance of the court, and to bear witness against the criminal. In capital cases, they are the legal executioners, as well.” (Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, p. 110)

A. “Let a capital offense be tried during the day, but suspend it at night.” (Mishna, Sanhedrin, 4:1)
B. “Criminal cases can be acted upon by the various courts during the day time only.” (Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, p. 112)
C. The reason why a capital offense trial was not held at night because oral tradition says, “the examination of such a charge is like the diagnosing of a wound–in either case a more thorough and searching investigation can be made by daylight.” ((Maimonides, Sanhedrin III)

A. “The Sanhedrin sat from the close of the morning sacrifice to the time of the evening sacrifice.” (Talmud, Jerus, Sanhedrin I:19)
B. “No session of the court could take place before the offering of the morning sacrifice.” (Lemann, Jesus Before the Sanhedrin, p. 109)
C. “Since the morning sacrifice was offered at the dawn of the day, it was hardly possible for the Sanhedrin to assemble until the hour after that time.” (Mishna, Tamid, The Perpetual Sacrifice, 50:3)

A. “Court must not be held on the Sabbath, or any holy day.” (Betza, Chapter 5:2)
B. “They shall not judge on the eve of the Sabbath, nor on that of any festival.” (Mishna, Sanhedrin IV:1)
C. “No court of justice in Israel was permitted to hold sessions on the Sabbath or any of the seven biblical holidays. In cases of capital crime, no trial could be commenced on Friday or the day previous to any holiday, because it was not lawful either to adjourn such cases longer than over night, or to continue them on the Sabbath or holiday.” (Rabbi Wise, Martyrdom of Jesus, p. 67)

A. “A criminal case resulting in the acquittal of the accused may terminate the same day on which the trial began.”
B. “But if a sentence of death is to be pronounced, it can not be concluded before the following day.” (Mishna, Sanhedrin, 4:1)

A. “We have it as a fundamental principle of our jurisprudence that no one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make a confession of guilt before a legally constitutional tribunal, such confession is not to be used against him, unless properly attested by two other witnesses.” (Maimonides, Sanhedrin 4:2)
B. “Not only is self-condemnation never extorted from the defendant by means of torture, but not attempt is ever made to lead a man on to self-incrimination.” (Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, p. 133)

A. “A simultaneous and unanimous verdict of guilt rendered on the day of the trial has the effect of an acquittal.” (Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, p. 141)
B. “If none of the judges defend the culprit, and all pronounce him guilty, and having no defender in the court, the guilty verdict was invalid and the sentence of death could not be executed.” (Rabbi Wise, Martyrdom of Jesus, p. 74)

A. “After leaving the hall (Gazith) no sentence of dath can be passed upon anyone soever.” (Talmud, Bab., Abodah, Tarath (Idolatry), Chapter 1:8)
B. “A sentence of death can be pronounced only so long as the Sanhedrin holds its sessions in the appointed place.” (Maimonides, Sanhedrin 14)
C. “And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrates to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes.” (Leviticus 21:10)
D. “And Moses aid unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar, and unto Ithamar, his sons, ‘uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people.'” (Leviticus 10:6)
E. “In ordinary cases the judges votes according to seniority, the oldest commencing; in a capital trial, the reverse order was followed. That the younger members of the Sanhedrin should not be influenced by the views or arguments of their more mature, more experienced colleagues, the junior was in these cases always the first to pronounce for or against a conviction.” (Benny, Criminal Code of the Jews, pp. 73-74)

A. “The robe of the unfairly elected judge is to be respected not more than the blanket of the ass.” (Mendelsohn, Hebrew Maxims and Rules, p. 182)
B. “As Moses sat in judgment without the expectation of material reward, so also must every judge act from a sense of duty only.” (Mendelsohn, Hebrew Maxims and Rules, p. 177)
C. “Nor must there be on the judicial bench either a relation, or a particular friend, or an enemy of either the accused or the accuser.” (Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, p. 108)
D. “Nor under any circumstances was a man known to be at enmity with the accused person permitted to occupy a position among his judges.” (Benny, Criminal Code of the Jews, p. 37)

A. “Then shalt thou inquire and make search, and ask diligently.” (Deuteronomy 13:14)
B. “The judges shall weigh the matter in the sincerity of their conscience.” (Mishna, Sanhedrin 4:5)
C. “The primary object of the Hebrew judicial system was the render the conviction of an innocent person impossible. All the ingenuity of the Jewish legists was directed to the attainment of this end.” (Benny, Criminal Code of the Jews, p. 56)

Due to the enormity of this case, and the facts that are presented, the Jews broke the law down the line, in making certain to execute the Messiah. However, this was appointed from the foundations of time, that the Son of Man would be lifted up. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but Thine, Father.” The result? “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to laughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32)

Sexy Schools

11 Mar

Adapted from Schools Gone Wild

By Ernie Zarra, Ph.D. (2013, 2011)

Schools are like many other workplaces that involve adults and children.  The adults are teachers with professional roles and legal responsibilities. 

Teachers are adults who are thrust together in high-pressure situations, sometimes oscillating between parents and children whose lives have gone awry.   Most days extreme adrenaline overload accompanies impassioned and super-charged personas, especially while working with teenagers.  Teachers do not escape this passion. 

Right smack-dab in the midst of it all are emotional connections, those human interactions that spawn soulful delight.  Add to the equation the current push for the development of “professional learning communities” among schools, the change of “standards-based curriculum” to what is called the “common core curriculum,”  and even greater pressure mounts. 

Teachers are required to be professionals, whether we like it or not.  We are asked to be assessment leaders and curriculum leaders, along with instructional norms experts, pedagogical magicians, classroom managers, with liaison-expertise to homes and communities.  There are many more requirements and expectations, should I list them all here and now.

There are some things we are not expected to be, as educators.  There are some professional lines, just like any other workplace.  We are not to be sexy, male or female, or attractive to colleagues and students, on purpose.  Teachers should never demonstrate sensual or sexual images to our students.  Furthermore, we are not to be flirtatious and sensual toward colleagues, administrators, and parents either.  Why do these things matter?  Have a look at some real-world, local allegations and their consequences, and decide for yourself.

·  A man is distraught by recent events and runs into his backyard and shoots himself in the head.  His suicide leaves behind a wife and children. 

·  A woman is transferred from her job because of ongoing sexual relations with a colleague.  Her marriage is ruined, and there is no disciplinary action or professional fallout.

·  An administrator is having affairs with multiple employees at his school site.

·  Several school-site colleagues are dismissed from their positions and reassigned, allegedly for having sex with each other, on campus and off, and keeping it hidden from district-level administrators.  Students and community members knew of the rumors and information was made public only after the husband of one of the “players” made a huge scene on campus.  Young lives in the local community were shocked and the media coverage of the news is controlled with the phrase “personnel matters,” until matters are investigated fully.

·  A serial sexual predator has a history of using his work to pursue women employees for sex and ongoing extramarital affairs.  He has been caught in dark rooms by custodians and faculty, in states of disheveled dress, and observed at clandestine meetings with employees, all on the taxpayer’s dime.  Cushy class assignments and privileges are doled out for those that play.  Employees fear for their jobs, should any one of them speak up.

What do all of these experiences have in common?  Their commonality is that they all happened among those in the education profession.  In some cases, sexual relations occurred at school, among teachers.  In other cases, the affairs occurred among administrators and teachers.  Are you surprised?  You shouldn’t be.  Our nation is going wild with sex.  Social networking media helps to take this sex to new levels. 

There is a lot at stake in education today.  The fact of the matter is that some people still get what they want by means of sex.  “We can get the class we want, or the assignment we want from him, or her.”  Do you think that it is odd that “professionals” would practice this philosophy?  I know of an elementary administrator who lives by the axiom, “You have better seize the moment, because it might never come around again,” in referring to sex with colleagues.

Consider the high stakes testing requirements in schools today.  The training sessions for these tests often thrust colleagues together is emotionally charged, away-from-home environments, usually at hotels in distant cities.  Add the evening partying to the mix, some human elements of attractions, and some colleagues express humanity like any others.  Incidents such as these are not isolated.

We all know of the criminal actions of teachers who have sexual affairs with students and are caught.  How many are not caught?  In addition to those teachers who are caught with students, unfortunately, in many schools in our nation, teachers are having affairs with fellow-teachers. Administrators are having affairs with their employees and faculty, and some of these goings-on are occurring right under our eyes—at the expense of taxpayer dollars.

The most shameful part of this is the effects these affairs have on families and students.  Teachers with students at the school where they work are kept in rooms while “mom” goes off with the principal.  No one of us would ever lobby to pry into the private lives of teachers and administrators.  However, what do we do when said privacy comes to schools? 

We all do have this notion of privacy.  But it is not absolute, and must never be viewed as such.  Teachers are paid for the job, under contract.  So, we are on the job more often than we would like to admit.  If you don’t think so, remind yourself that you only work when you arrive at the classroom door, while you are at home grading papers.

We must question whether we have a “real” privacy, or a “sense” of privacy.  Educators are, after all, quite public figures.  Yet, when the affair is practiced on-campus, or on school time, or school-paid conferences, red-flags should go up.  What privacy is expected there?  We are all aware of teachers who are imprisoned for having sex with students.  Should colleagues who express romantic advances and sex on campus–both gay and straight–be arrested, or at least fired?  If we don’t want students behaving sexually toward one-another on campus, or at school-related events, then were is our example?

Today, the problems among colleagues are spreading like wildfire.  Off campus events, activities in the evenings, competitions and trainings, in-services and professional development find teachers and administrators gathering in Las Vegas, and other get-away destinations.  Add drugs and alcohol and guards come down.  What happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. It shows up in the school computer lab, back rooms, faculty lounges, and even in colleagues’ homes when spouses are away.

As a professional, I am discouraged at the example we teachers sometimes set of our students.  No, none of us is perfect.  But we need to protect our students and model behaviors we expect from them.  As a parent, is that what you would expect from the persons to whom you entrust your children?  There are too many destructive forces in our world today.  Why should we in the education field be another addend?

In my first book, I explored the problems associated with child sexual abuse, predators, and offered screening methods and various ways to protect our nation’s children at churches, camps, and other places.  It Should Never Happen Here has reached around the world and has been a manual of protection, among others.

In my latest work, I focus squarely on K-12 education, with particular emphasis on middle and secondary schools.  Teacher-Student Relationships:  Crossing Into the Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Realms is a direct and forthright look at the problems associated with way-too-cushy-colleagues, roaming administrators, and the problems associated with our sex-charged culture, as well as certain series of events that lead to the ruination of professional reputations in communities and employment, as well the break-ups of teachers’ marriages.

Professional ethics must be upheld.  The community must police itself.  However, if the environment is corrupt, and the system covers-up issues that involve sex, then the community-at-large must take matters into its own hands.  The moment teachers and administrators think we are above moral absolutes, we need to check that arrogance.  Like it or not, if we deem ourselves professional, then it is not professional to “hit on” colleagues, employers, employees, or students.  Professional learning communities are not ‘professional loving communities.”  We must never expect that parents and community members will keep their shirts on if, at school, teachers are removing theirs. 

Westboro Baptist Church: A Cult of Hate Revisited

6 Mar

Westboro Baptist Church is a Cult Group

The members of the Westboro Baptist Church are members of a controlling cult that misappropriates Christianity.  The cult that has adopted just enough of the Bible and inflammatory rhetoric to justify the preaching of hate, the vilification of practices they consider abhorrent, and practice brainwashing of their offspring.  This brainwashing occurs in their children when they are very young and continues on in those whom they isolate from the public.

One of the worst forms of child abuse, in my professional opinion, is teaching a child to hate.  Evidence of this is seen in the placing of a placard into the hands of a child–merely to enable adult-hatred through the ignorance of the child.  These actions are abusive and they strip a child of his or her moral innocence.

Westboro cannot separate issues from people, and they do not care to practice this celebration.  This blog is not meant to be the definitive statement on the cult.  However, given that I have spent nearly three decades gathering information on religious groups, and analyzing these groups’ teachings and practices, please be assured that I have at least done my homework.  Regardless, please feel free to check my sources, statements, and biblical references.  If there are any errors, please let me know.  Before you read the rest of this blog, you might want to spend some time watching the video documentary from the BBC.  The link is provided here:

Teaching Children to Hate is Wrong

Whether religious zealot, political or governmental ideologue–or whether a radical fundamentalist jihadist muslim, racist, Christian–or member of any offshoot cult group, teaching children to hate is just plain immoral and wrong.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2)

God is Love. God’s hatred of sin is perfect and just.  How can it be anything other than this?  2 Thessalonians 1 is pretty clear about God’s judgment and righteous accounting.

Yes, God hates, but not in the way mankind hates.  God hates sin.  God loves the sinner and His Son died for each of us.  If God hated us as he hated sin, there would be no provision made to escape the very thing which caused our separation from Him in the first place.  God is merciful, in that “God demonstrates His own love toward us while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)  The folks at Westboro would think death a failure, a ticket to hell, and judgment, rather than the ultimate expression of love.  Whether giving one’s life for his nation or a loved on, giving up of life is the highest form of love one can attain.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son . . .

What does mankind know about perfect and righteous hatred of that which separates mankind from the Eternal One?  God’s nature is love.   Mankind’s nature is not love.  Mankind’s nature is sin.  So perfect love and perfect judgment of unregenerate mankind is not the same as human hatred.

“‘Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord God, ‘rather than that he should turn from his wicked ways and live?'”  (Ezekiel 18:23)

Confessing hate, or what God hates, is not equivalent to confessing love.  One would have to be God to be able to speak perfectly about love in all cases.  Westboro does not speak for God or His love.  No matter how twisted one wants to appear, I just can’t buy the logic that “I love you so  much that I have to hate you enough, because God hates you and your evil.”  That is just plain wrong on every level.

“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good?  For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”  (Matthew 12:34)

God does not love the world through hate. 

“For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Among other commandments, Jesus was clear that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  He also laid the framework on how to treat those whom we clearly believe to be enemies.  The key word here is “believe.”  Westboro misses the fact that military heroes who gave their lives are not evil enemies.

  • Widows left behind are not evil enemies.
  • Children left behind are not the result of evil being judged.

“‘And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you, for even sinners do the same thing?’ . . . But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expect nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.'” (Luke 33-35)

We are instructed on how to treat those who are widows, orphans, and the way we are to communicate among ourselves:

“If any one thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)  (When I hear the anger and judgment from Westboro, I am left to wonder whether they are aware of their own deception)

Westboro’s Religion is Defiled

“This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  (James 1:27)

Rather than heap judgment and pain upon the military widows, and the children who might now be left without their parents, Westboro should be ministering to them rather than stabbing them with added words of judgment.  By not helping, they prove their religion is defiled. 

Westboro’s Leader is Not Omniscient

“God did not send His Son to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)

Judging the world is antithetical to the purpose of Christ’s first coming. Judging is God’s business, not ours.  So, saying a person is in hell, then equates a human with omniscience and omnipresence to know and see all things in all places.  Welcome to another mark of a cult–a leader who thinks he knows it all as God, sees it all, and has his followers believing his words are true.

The world is supposed to know we are Christians by our love, not our hate!  (Matthew 13:44)

The Beginning

Again, I reiterate, the Westboro Baptist Church is not Baptist.  In addition, it is a cult of Christianity.  Not all cults are bad, and the use of the term is not meant to construe something monstrous in every case.  But in this case, not much good comes from the group’s theology or practice.

Cults are viewed as off-shoots of one group or another, often distorting or redefining the parent group, from which they emerged.  Cults can be based on theologies, practices, surround a parent figure, and others.  In terms of the Westboro Baptist Church cult, they are not affiliated with the Baptists in any way.  The church is totally independent of any denomination.  I find this most interesting, since the group decries denominations as evil, yet claims a title of one for itself.  This kind of inconsistency is overlooked by those who have been brainwashed into believing they are the only true church on the face of the earth.  When I say brainwashed, I directly imply that each and every question posed to folks elicits the same rigid replies, which have replaced common sense and many times even fact.

Below, I present information from the book titled, How to Organize and Manage Your Own Religious Cult:  A Psycho-Political Primer, written by Duke McCoy (1980).  I think the reader will be best served to have this information, so as to identify better some of the marks of cults and their leaders.

What Is A Cult?

A cult is a gathering of people who owe allegiance to one leader who ostensibly represents truth.  The truth which catalyzes a religion requires its followers to believe, rather than understand or have proven to them, a view of the universe.  Cults are usually managed by an organizational hierarchy with a supreme leader at the apex of the leadership pyramid. . . .  The dogma of the cult is the same as the dogma of any church.  It is a group of prejudices which which may or may not be related to reality or a ‘bible.’  These prejudices are the ‘truths’ of the cult . . . what members believe [and] their reason for being. (p. 4)

The Image of the Cult Leader

The cult leader must must of all convey the image that he is the conduit for truth–God’s intermediary.  His flock will perceive him as saintly and pious, as well as a contemporary figure who can communicate with ‘all God’s children.’ (p. 9)

History and Description of Westboro Cult

The members of Westboro (I will refer to them as Westboro from now on) are basically the family members of the Phelps’ clan.  Children, grandchildren, and a couple of converts make up the over 70 member cult.  The father-figure of the clan is “gramps,” Fred Phelps, age 81.  Phelps married wife Marge, in 1952, and has had 13 children.  Four of these children disavowed their father and his work.  Nine of them are either lawyers, or have been lawyers.  The law practices are how the cult supports itself financially, including the vast travel-tab accumulated to picket and protest.

As of the mid 2000s, the Phelps Family consisted of the following:  The Phelps Family, Witchita Eagle, Apr. 2, 2005.  Pastor Fred Phelps: head of Westboro Baptist Church (pictured below).

  • Marge Phelps, wife of Fred and mother of their 13 children. The children are listed as follows, from oldest to youngest.
  • Fred Phelps Jr., staff lawyer at the Kansas Department of Corrections
  • Mark Phelps, businessman in Southern California, estranged from the family
  • Katherine Phelps-Griffin, law license was indefinitely suspended effective in August 1993 for 30 counts of giving worthless checks
  • Margie Phelps, director of re-entry for the Kansas Department of Corrections and a lawyer
  • Shirley Phelps-Roper, lawyer at Phelps-Chartered
  • Nate Phelps, businessman in Southern California, estranged from family
  • Jonathan Phelps, lawyer at Phelps-Chartered
  • Rebekah Phelps-Davis, lawyer at Phelps-Chartered
  • Elizabeth Phelps, lawyer, no longer in practice
  • Tim Phelps, lawyer and employee of the Shawnee County Jail
  • Dortha Bird (nee Phelps), lawyer practicing independently in Topeka, estranged from family
  • Rachel Phelps, lawyer at Phelps-Chartered
  • Abigail Phelps, works for the Topeka Juvenile Correctional Facility, part of the Juvenile Justice Authority
  • 54 grandchildren
  • Five great-grandchildren

Phelps, himself, was disbarred from law practice for ethical and practice violations.  Here is a bit more of history on the leader of the Westboro cult.

Fred Phelps, the leading anti-gay extremist in the United States, was born on November 13, 1929, in Meridian, Mississippi. His father was a detective on the Southern Railroad, and his mother died of cancer when Phelps was five years of age. After schooling in Meridian, he was ordained as a Baptist minister at age seventeen in Utah. Phelps enrolled but never graduated from Bob Jones University. He moved to Topeka, Kansas, in 1954 where he formed the unaffiliated Westboro Baptist Church in 1956. Phelps earned a law degree in 1961 at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, and worked for several years as a civil rights lawyer. He was disbarred by the state of Kansas in 1979 for improper conduct and lack of legal ethics. Phelps also had political ambitions and twice has run for governor and was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kansas in 1992.

Phelps is aggressive in his gay-bashing activities and uses the Bible as the basis for his opposition to homosexuality. Most of his time is spent in leading demonstrations at parks, funerals, government buildings, schools, churches, and newspaper offices protesting against gay rights. He started his anti-gay campaign in June 1991. His protests at the funerals of AIDS victims led the Kansas legislature to ban such demonstrations in 1992. In 1994 Phelps earned national attention for his violent verbal confrontation with poet Maya Angelou, forcing her to cancel a speaking engagement at Emporia State University. He attacked her because she had spoken at a public function with President Bill Clinton. Phelps believed in retaliating against anyone associated with President Bill Clinton because he believed Clinton was pro-gays. Several times Phelps has been arrested for assault, but he has never served time in jail. Phelps has spent the last decade traveling around the country promoting anti-gay demonstrations, including those at the funerals of former U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, Frank Sinatra, and President Clinton’s mother. Anyone that Phelps interpreted as soft on gays was a target. Phelps’s most high-profile protest came at the 1998 funeral of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who was killed because he was gay. His financial support comes from members of his church, most of whom are members of his family. Three of his thirteen children have repudiated him and have accused him of being an abusive parent, but the others strongly support him with funds gathered from their law practices. Eleven of his children are lawyers.

Phelps intimidates his opponents by threatening and instituting lawsuits. Politicians in the state of Kansas have been reluctant to confront him. His insistence that the only true Jews are Christians and his attacks on gays horrify mainstream religious leaders. Phelps spends around $250,000 annually traveling around the country fighting gay rights. Phelps also operates a Web site that advances his anti-gay program.

Westboro is not focused on the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  They are “doing the Gospel” by celebrating their distorted “truth” of judgment upon the world, because of its sin of homosexuality, and those who would enable the same.  One does not have to agree with homosexuality or its practices.  But the conclusions drawn and the abuse levied as result of hatred of “queers and dykes,” is unacceptable.  Here is what their hatred actually means, in my opinion.  Remember, many of the family members have a very religiously-rigid, lawyerly logic.

Premise 1:  God judges people for their tolerance and allowance of homosexuality.

Premise 2:  Homosexuality is an abomination.

Conclusion:  God judges homosexuality.  This is evidenced as judgment by those who die or are killed by God, for their tolerance and/or practice of abomination of homosexuality.

Distorted Logic

Westboro’s teachings are born from weird and distorted logic, to say the least.  But make no mistake about it.  Westboro celebrates when God kills people–Yes, I said when God kills people.  Their teachings do not separate the practice of sin from the person, the sinner.  Their judgment sees only the practice as the definition of the person.  The “issue” is blurred into personhood, in a bizarre fashion.  People are pronounced guilty by action and by association.  The evidence of their guilt is their death.  Therefore, they conclude, God’s judgment is clear evidence that the killed are going to hell.  In fact, when pressed for an answer, one of the young women stated their her own father would be pleased at her death, as it would reveal that she was not meant for heaven.

Celebrating the demise of one’s own child, because her death is God’s judgment in wiping away the chaff of unbelief.  Early death means she was bound for hell anyway?  How sick and twisted is that theology?  This is counterintuitive to love and family.  However, when you have been raised on this as fact, and one’s mind has been trained to think accordingly, it is not such a leap to conclude that judgment and death go hand-in-hand.

If a child died in their cult, the members would have to conclude that God knew the child was going to be a sinner, enable others toward unbelief, or be vile in later years, and God judged him and removed him beforehand.  Four of the Phelps’ adult children have disavowed their father and the cult.  This placed them in the hell-bound category as unbelievers.  Should something befall them, it would be the cult’s evidence of judgment upon them, by God.  And why?  Their hyper-Calvinistic distortions leave no other room for alternate conclusions.  Let’s examine some of their teachings a little more closely.

Using Death to Prove God’s Judgment

Westboro and Phelps teach that death is judgment and evidence that God does not want us in heaven.  There is a huge problem with this.  Jesus offered His life freely and willingly.  Observe Luke the physician’s words:  “And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into Thy Hands I commit My Spirit.'”  (Luke 23:46).

Westboro teaches that the Jews killed Jesus.  It was actually the Romans who killed Jesus.  The Jews had no authority to take life during their domination by the Romans.  But there is a greater point to be made.  If Jesus was killed by the Jews, as Westboro teaches, then He was subject to the Father’s judgment as a penalty for His own sins, rather than as the substitute for our punishment, as the Bible teaches.  Their hyper-hate-Calvinism blinds them from the plain meaning of the biblical text.  Instead, they allow Phelps to dispense the perverted “truth.”

In terms of Jesus’s death, the event would have been “split hell wide open,” as Phelps like to state.  Jesus would be there today.  he would have to be, if Phelps’s theology is correct.  Certainly, if death is God’s judgment for personal sin, then Westboro must admit Jesus was in hell, having committed personal sin, and now paying the price for it.

  • But what about Jesus’s resurrection from the dead? (Luke 24; John 20)
  • What about the Bible’s claim and theological teaching for 2000 years than Jesus remained sinless?

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, and today, yes, and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8)

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one has has been tempted in all things as are we, and yet without sin.”  (Hebrews 4:15)

So, let us assume for a second that Jesus gets a pass from Westboro.  [Westboro does picket Jewish businesses and synagogues, if they feel they are tolerant of gays, and are quick to label them killers of Jesus] What do they do with the death of the adjacent thief on the cross?  Notice the words of Jesus to the thief?

And one of the criminals who was hanged there was hurling insults at Him, saying, ‘Are You not the Christ?  Save Yourself and us.’  But the other answered, and rebuking him said, ‘Do you not even fear God, since you and I are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’  And he was saying, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!’  And He said to him, Truly, I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.’  (Luke 23:39-43)

Now, according to Westboro, being persecuted for serving God is to celebrated.  In Jesus, we have His being persecuted for doing nothing wrong and the fact that He eventually died for it.  His death, according to Westboro, would have to be His personal judgment.  I imagine they would be holding signs that read, “Thank God that the Fag-Loving Jesus is Dead!”

How can Jesus be both blessed with doing God’s work and being punished and be judged at the same time?  Furthermore, the thief on the cross next to Jesus was promised Paradise.  Apparently, his death was not throwing him in hell.  No, not at all.  Belief in Jesus while alive meant that he too was being judged for sin, yet came to know the One who enabled his escape from eternal torment.  His death was the punishment for a crime, yet he was rewarded with life in Paradise.

Verses like these are avoided at all cost by the Westboro group.  They would rather use the Old Testament, pick and choose to justify their hatred, and move on.  At the end of the day, using death to prove a person is going to hell does nothing to the reality that God saves whomever He wishes according to His plan.

The Hypocrisy and Double-Standard

What does the Bible say is God’s perspective on those folks?  We already know what Westboro would say.  What will happen if Phelps was to have an accident and die?  I would expect the group to celebrate and post signs saying “God hates the Faggot-Hater,” and “God killed Phelps and He is in Hell.”  What is it about religious cults that allows the leaders to escape the perdition they proclaim for everyone else?  Belief is not enough to avoid death.  What’s universal affects us all.

My gut feeling on all of this?

A person who spends his waking moments in hatred of a practice, is himself struggling with the very same issue.  Sex seems to bother the people of Westboro.  They are so afraid of fornication, fearful their young women might have a thought to marry, or be tempted, that they control the environment in which they live.  But Shirley Phelps Roper (in photo below), however, did not seem a problem in generating a group of worshipers.  I guess she took after her dad, who had 13 kids.  Think about how many people take public stands against sex, only to have the very thing come back against them sometime later in life.  The list is long.

Religious cults have leaders and they also have religious texts.

Along with their twisted and hateful rhetoric, the group uses the Bible to justify its teachings and practices.  Thee is nothing new here.  McCoy writes:

The Bible should be considered as a potential source for religious literature and dogma.  Since most . . . members will know little about the Bible, yet respect it, they will tend to accept leadership without opposition.  The scriptures can be milked like fat cattle for quotations and interpretations that provide unique twists tailored to appeal to the organization members and its purposes. (p. 44)

In closing, Colossians 2:8 warns the believer:  “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

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