The following quote is a joint statement from several Thurston County pastors in response to the upcoming arrival of Westboro “Baptist Church” to our area this week. I’m saddened that we as pastors even have to make declarations like this, but I am thrilled with the unity that has developed among our local church community that allows us to speak with a common voice.
June 4, 2012
We the undersigned pastors from Thurston County are saddened to learn of the intentions of a group from Westboro “Baptist Church” to visit Olympia this month. People from Westboro, representing themselves as Christians, have carried out a misguided mission all across the nation picketing public venues and disrupting the funerals of servicemen with messages such as “God hates fags,” “thank God for IEDs,” and other equally deplorable statements. We the undersigned regret that Westboro has selected Olympia as its next target. Wherever the Westboro group goes, confusion and hurt seem to follow. Our desire as followers of Jesus Christ is to bring clarity and healing.
The fact is that the people of Westboro are wrong in their characterization of God. They do not reflect the heart and mind of Christ as revealed in the Bible; nor are they an accurate reflection of how the Bible describes a follower of Christ. While the Westboro group claims to have a Biblical basis for their rhetoric, their message is clearly adverse to many passages from the Bible like the following:
John 3:16–17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
1 Tim. 2:3–6: “God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…”
2 Peter 3:9: “He [God] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
The message of the Westboro church is a distorted view of the Scripture. Jesus instructs His followers to “love our neighbors” and even to “love our enemies”. He goes so far as to say that it would be our love that would demonstrate that we are His disciples. (John 13:34-35) Thus, we reaffirm the clear calling given us by God to be a part of His loving and redemptive plan for the world. Jesus did not come to condemn the world (John 3:17), nor did He send His followers to condemn the world. We call on all Christians to follow the example of Jesus who demonstrated both grace and truth in everything He did, and to respond to the commissioning of God to love and serve all the people of our community.
We recognize that the church has not always used her voice in the appropriate way in times like these. It is partly because of this that we choose not to be silent in this instance. To all who may be hurt as the result of the unbiblical words and actions of these few from Westboro; we extend a hand of mercy to you. We are sorry if you have been subjected to this hurtful rhetoric. They do not speak for us. We want you to know that God loves you so much that He came to die for you. We are here if you want to learn more about this God — the true God of the Bible.
Signed… (Updated list of names can be found on the Living Water website)