The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments October 6 on whether Westboro Baptist Church's street protests of military funerals are protected by the First Amendment. In 2009, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a $5 million verdict against Fred Phelps and his church in a lawsuit brought by the father of a fallen Iraq Marine who said the protest was an invasion of privacy.
"I've thought for a long time that Christians need to step up and criticize—I wouldn't use the word denounce, condemn, or anything like that—but criticize and correct fellow believers who behave badly, in public especially, or who are involved in immoral practices privately that become known. What we do is, especially in evangelical circles, we publicly criticize each other for heresies or heterodox ideas, such as open theism, but we don't often publicly criticize each other for flagrantly bad behavior. People have been very quiet about these things, and we need to say something and let it be known that they do not represent the evangelical world. I think that when you use a word like denounce or condemn, you're just playing into their game and acting like them, and so people are just going to point to that and say, 'See? They're all like that.' We should be civil toward fellow believers, but very firm, and say, 'We're not necessarily rejecting the people, but we're rejecting their practice.' I don't think it's really going to work with Fred Phelps and his family, but I think we need to distance ourselves from their practices, certainly."
"Jesus gave us some pretty good direction in Matthew 18: that you confront someone and try to reason with them, and if they don't come around, then approach them again with others; and ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more