True Blood fans out there know well “Fellowship of the Sun,” the vampire-hating cult that revels in its own self-righteous hypocrisy. Claiming to be a Christian church, they picket vampire-owned establishments, go on TV to preach unmitigated hate, and send the occasional suicide bomber out on a holy jihad. Strangely enough, there seems to be no gospel and a lot of hate that comes from the group. Despite the ongoing infidelity, duplicity, greed, and corruption of its leaders, the church seems to think they are the only “light” in a sea of darkness. They even run “The Light of Day Institute,” a boot camp for hand-picked righteous souls called to be leaders in their movement. At its climax in the True Blood narrative we are left seeing the fellowship as the myopic hate group that it is.
Of course, we all know that this is just a fictional group. Or is it?
Recently I cam across a video from a charismatic, if not homely-looking preacher named Damon Thompson. “Pastor” Damon preaches at The Ramp, a self-proclaimed “place of awakening in Hamilton, Alabama.” Just as the original (fictional)Fellowship of the Sun was obsessed in its hatred of gays. So this group seems to with homosexuals. Boy howdy, these guys don’t like them gays. And why should they? You can’t have a TV show nowadays with some “queer” as the funniest, smartest person on the show.
We also learn from that clip that gay teens to not commit suicide because of preachers like this, but because they are gay.
Here’s the good shepherd offering to exorcize the gay out of you…
He also wants you to know that Westboro Baptist Church is right, God sent AIDS to kill them “queers.”
Of course every prophet needs his prophetess, so Damon works intimately with Karen Wheaton of TBN (sort-of) fame. Do you want to be among their elect? They have a group of young spiritual elites to help them in their god-given mission called “The Elect” and like the Fellowship of the Sun, you can’t just sign up, from The Ramp’s website the process for becoming one of the Elect…
My trusty sidekick, Sammy Sarcasm, would like to point out that there is nothing suspicious or creepy about that process at all.
So there you have it, the Fellowship of the Sun is alive and well in Hamilton, Alabama, it just has new monsters to fight.
On a serious note, I don’t know much else about them other than what is on their website and the preaching clips making the rounds online, but it doesn’t matter. The systematic use of slurs and hatred during the teaching drowns out anything else they have to say. There are plenty more clips, I just didn’t see the need to post them all. This is a hate group pure and simple. It seems to be somewhat popular, but there is a good reason for that. Anytime a church preaches woe to the outside world, everyone within the group feels better about themselves. By focusing on a classic scapegoat, the members are allowed to believe that they are in a superior standing with God. They do not have to look inward at their own defects. Even if a defect becomes apparent, they know that they are still better than those being preached against. They are filled with a self-righteousness that can only come from putting down others. They reject grace because they restrict grace. Hate and bile cannot flow from the same outlet as mercy and love. This group is a cult in the classical Christian sense. They do not conform to the clear teaching of Scripture because they reject grace for those outside while refusing to walk humbly and show mercy themselves.
The following is quoted from an essay by Phil Zuckerman of Pitzer College titled “Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus,” published today on The Huffington Post:
Jesus unambiguously preached mercy and forgiveness. These are supposed to be cardinal virtues of the Christian faith. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of the death penalty, draconian sentencing, punitive punishment over rehabilitation, and the governmental use of torture. Jesus exhorted humans to be loving, peaceful, and non-violent. And yet Evangelicals are the group of Americans most supportive of easy-access weaponry, little-to-no regulation of handgun and semi-automatic gun ownership, not to mention the violent military invasion of various countries around the world. Jesus was very clear that the pursuit of wealth was inimical to the Kingdom of God, that the rich are to be condemned, and that to be a follower of Him means to give one’s money to the poor. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of corporate greed and capitalistic excess, and they are the most opposed to institutional help for the nation’s poor — especially poor children. They hate anything that smacks of “socialism,” even though that is essentially what their Savior preached. They despise food stamp programs, subsidies for schools, hospitals, job training — anything that might dare to help out those in need. Even though helping out those in need was exactly what Jesus urged humans to do. In short, Evangelicals are that segment of America which is the most pro-militaristic, pro-gun, and pro-corporate, while simultaneously claiming to be most ardent lovers of the Prince of Peace.
Dr. Zuckerman bases his claims about the beliefs of American Evangelicals on data from a recent Pew Forum Poll on the beliefs of the Tea Party and the connection between White Evangelicals and the Tea Party. I have left out everything but this stark contrast he draws between the teachings of Jesus and the beliefs of Evangelicals. Much of the rest of the essay seems more hyperbolic than it needed to be to deliver its point.
Most Christians will denounce Zuckerman as an anti-Christian crusader without doing any research on the man; I know nothing of his personal life and will therefore not judge him. What I do know is that Christians like Ron Sider (among many others) have been pointing out for years the same disparity between we believe and what our Teacher taught us. The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscious is a must read if you really want to know what they guy in the pew next to you believes.
Of course, many will argue that this is not an accurate depiction of Evangelicals, and of course no one is saying that it is all Evangelicals, but it seems to ring true. At least in my experience, and Sider’s, and polls, and numerous other studies.
At the very least it begs the question: Why do the people who proclaim to the world that they are the closest to the Holy Scriptures, think and live so far from it?
The Supreme Court of the United States just upheld the right of Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals. Although they have been around for a long time protesting anything related to the gay community, they have recently gained notoriety nationwide for protesting the funerals of fallen American soldiers. Their rational for such actions is that the troops died defending a country that promotes what in their eyes amounts to the worst of abominations.
Few mainstream Christian groups would call Westboro a true church. Most will admit that they are simply a hate group. Their small congregation is made up almost entirely by the Phelps family itself. This family lives and breaths hate. If you have ever heard their spokesperson, daughter Shirley, or the patriarch Fred, you know how mad they are with pure hate. I first encountered the group in 2000, when they picketed AIDS Walk Los Angeles, in which I was participating. Their hate was so vehement it enraged me instantly. I have heard several interviews on TV and radio of Shirley, and almost every time she has insulted her way through it, frequently calling the host “dumbass” and belittling anyone who questions the group’s beliefs. Her insanity is quite easy to dismiss for what it is, pure lunacy of a deranged cult. However, please don’t dismiss it so easily.
Christians update their facebook statuses about Oprah’s latest slight perceived against their beliefs and how the secular world belittles their religion. Never have I seen anyone within the church publicly speak out against Westboro. When I have asked why there is silence, I am often told that Westboro is just a crazy cult and everyone knows that. Speaking to many people outside the church, I can tell you that many have their doubts that “Bible” Christians are opposed at all Westboro’s hate. People tell me that they believe the church tolerates Westboro because deep down they feel the same way. I don’t believe most Christians agree with Westboro, but I don’t have the proof.
Please, if you are in the church, if you consider yourself and evangelical, conservative, Bible-believer, Christ disciple, whatever, please stand up and stand against this hate group. There is a serious danger of the whole church being relegated to history because of the perception that it loves to hate. Please speak up, please speak out. Don’t confirm the suspicions of the world with your silence. It’s time to stand.
I remember the first sermon I heard when I moved to pursue my graduate theological education, it was at a church that my next-door neighbor invited me to. The church was a well known suburban congregation in an average middle-class neighborhood. The young pastor spent 45 minutes passionately railing against abortion, at one point calling murder and terrorist Eric Rudolph a soldier in the war against perversion. He railed against homosexuality, not-so-cleverly changing the name of a lesbian talk show host “Ellen Degenerate,” he went on to spin morbid tales of the evil homosexuals do and plan to do once they get our children. His last target was people who drink, calling them “the sinners among sinners”. I was shocked, and did not return to that church.
I went to another church in the area, this one was a house church led by one of my peers I had met in class. He spent over an hour on his sermon, his target of choice was “liberal churches and idiots.” After the service I found myself in conversation with him and two other members of the church. When I mentioned that I was from California, they went into a casual discussion about how my state was going into the gutters because of Mexicans. Mexicans hate education, morality, law, and Jesus, one of them proclaimed. When I informed the group that I myself was of Hispanic descent, they scoffed and told me that I just didn’t understand. Right, how could I, a pastor who had spent all but three years of his life in Southern California, possibly understand the complexities of race in the west?
I hear a lot of hate being spewed from the mouths of Christians. Sometimes I find it ironic, since the God whose name we claim told us the greatest commandment is to love our neighbor. Sometimes I get angry. Most of the time I am able to rationalize the phenomenon by claiming that those who say such things are a tiny minority.
Some people can’t dismiss it so easily. A couple years after my immersion into Bible-Belt culture, I met some truly awesome people. They had grown up in the church like virtually everyone else in the area, but now were separated because of the hate directed at them. It wasn’t that they all did not believe in God, it was just that his followers were really, really mean. I spoke to one such person about my experiences when she called me out.
“What did you think when they said those things?”
“I thought, ‘that’s not okay.'”
“What did you say to them?”
My answer, “Nothing.” At this point I started to feel a little bit bad, like I had somehow tolerated hate, thus tacitly giving my approval.
I have come to realize something about hate and oppression. An oppressive society usually doesn’t act out against the oppressed. They wait for some one to cut them down, verbally, physically, and eventually, mortally. Then the society says to anyone who questions them, “Oh, that guy who killed them, he was just a nut.” Or you’ll hear, “Not everyone thinks that way.” All the time pleased that they can suppress the offending groups, be they black, gay, whatever, without physically getting their hands dirty. They do approve of hate because they foster hate, and hate that festering under the surface never stays there long, it explodes into the most anti-Christian acts imaginable.
When I hear secular people speak or act with hate, I remember that we live in a fallen world, and people will be horrible people. When I hear of Christians say something hateful to any group I find that I must do something, lest Jesus’ name be associated with hate (more so).
When I hear Christians hate, I shout “It’s not okay!”
Please, do not tolerate hate. If you are a Christian and care about how Jesus is shown to the world, please defend his name. Don’t allow “Christians” to bring the hate.
Just tell them, “it’s not okay!” It’s a small step to clearing Jesus’ name, but it’s a step nonetheless.
Gay hating in the name of Jesus, “It’s not okay!”
People who hate politicians from another party, “It’s not okay!”
People who have syndicated Christian talk-shows who for some reason really hate Native Americans, “It’s not okay!”