Westboro Baptist Church was in town yesterday. What were they up to? Well, protesting, of course. That is what Westboro Baptist does best, right? Apparently, they visited Cincinnati to protest in front of Oak Hills School and the University of Cincinnati. Enquirer Opinion Why? Great question.
Westboro Baptist’s leadership and members are fraught with anger and bitterness about human sexuality, homosexuality, in particular. They believe same-sex relationships to be a grave sin to be fervently condemned and frequently protested against. This group is well known for their hateful protests utilizing signs and banners that make their position abundantly clear.
So, why was Westboro Baptist in the Queen City? The University of Cincinnati has been an active support to their LGBTQ Support Group for a while now. It looks like an LGBTQ Support Group is enough to draw the attention of the protesters. Additionally, the protesters paid a visit to Oak Hills School. Why? You probably guessed it. Oak Hills has an active LGBTQ Club, and it appears Westboro is sore about it.
I gave quite serious consideration to attending the counter protest at Oak Hills School. Now, I’ve never been much of a protester. Certainly, I complain to my wife and close friends about injustices, but I don’t often come out openly against things because life is short, and I don’t want to be a complainer. Plus, to be quite honest, I really don’t like to ruffle feathers. All that being said, I was very tempted to attend the counter protest yesterday because I’m genuinely sick and tired of all of the hateful rhetoric being venomously spewed back and forth across political party lines over various and sundry issues. It is one thing for our government to be divided and going at each other (I am not saying I agree with our current state of governmental affairs, either), but I get all sorts of riled up when a church churns out hatred, as in the case of Westboro Baptist.
My faith is founded on the understanding that God is one of compassion, mercy, grace, and absolutely 100% unconditional love. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, though, including the members of Westboro Baptist. I know that today there are still many who look down on same-sex relationships, especially same-sex marriage. I don’t have any control over what and how others think or act. What I am in charge of is how I relate to people, how I love others, how I choose to stand up to hatred as I stand up for love today.
The counter protest schedule didn’t work out for me yesterday, but that doesn’t mean that I care any less. I love and support all of God’s creation, and I stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters as they continue to have hate groups going after them. A close friend of mine owns a tee shirt with the words, “Love Is Love Is Love,” screen printed on the front. My prayer, despite my absence at yesterday’s counter protest, is that all of humanity can one day come to the same realization as the words on my friend’s shirt. Love is love is love. May we learn to love and embrace the other in our midst, and may we remember that God dwells just as fully in the other as God dwells in each of us. God’s prayer is that we all may be one, that there be no more “us” and “them.” Choose love, and choose to peacefully stand for love.
In God’s Grace,
Eric L. Miller+