There are a lot of school students in Basingstoke who will be needing to see/experience the love of Christ for all people on (and after) Friday of this week, to counteract the monstrous perversion of the Christian faith being promulgated by Westboro Baptist Church’s “God Hates Fags” crowd.
I don’t know whether any Christians based in or near Basingstoke read this blog, and if they do then I’m sure this is already on their radar maps anyway. Nor do I know exactly how Christians should be responding – though a counter-protest would probably be counter-productive; something qualitatively different is needed, something that shows that the hope and faith that are in Christ are not just another voice shouting outside the school gates.
All I know is this: Westboro’s message is evil and anti-Christian; a lot of students are going to be hurt, frightened and upset by Westboro’s “protest”; and many others may be embittered against the Christian faith, and alienated from Christ himself, by seeing people who claim to be Christians acting with such hatred and viciousness. But this is also an opportunity for God’s people to show the love of Christ in a way that astonishes onlookers and comforts those who are on the receiving end of this hateful attack.
For the rest of us: let’s pray for the people of Basingstoke, and particularly for those school students (not least those who are Christians themselves) and for the churches and Christians in that town. And let’s also pray that God would bring the Westboro mob to repentance.
Edit (19 Feb): the UK government has banned Fred Phelps and his daughter from entering Britain. It remains to be seen whether that will prevent any protest from occurring: the report linked above mentioned claims by Westboro that some of its members had already entered Britain secretly. But that could simply be bluff and bravado, given that Westboro Baptist Church seems to consist almost entirely of members of Phelps’s extended family.