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Finding Hope in the Face of Hate

I have to admit, when I started seeing news reports about the Boston Marathon bombings, I felt all the common emotions: anger, sadness, fear. But they were dulled. Like I expect these things will happen. It’s a depressing outlook, especially when I think about the influence of hate. I’m sure there were people watching the news who were glad it happened. Maybe some of them have children they’re teaching this hate to. What type of a person are they going to grow up to be? Well I got my answer in an article from the NY Post about Libby Phelps Alvarez leaving the Westboro Baptist Church.

If you’ve never heard of Westboro, they are, hands down, the most hateful church I know of. They are the people who will picket the funeral of a homosexual to tell their family and friends their loved one is going to hell. They hold up signs that say things like, Thank God for 9/11 or AIDS Cures Fags. Nice, right? And the crowds at these demonstrations are all ages, so it’s not uncommon to see small children holding signs or wearing t-shirts sporting their disgusting slogans. Imagine that for a moment; growing up in a cult of hate. Kind of seems like your life is doomed before it starts.

So, I’m reading about Libby’s life growing up in the church and it’s mind-blowing. There are around seventy members, all related in some way and the kids weren’t encouraged to make friends outside that circle. When they did hang out, it wasn’t at the movies or the mall. It was a picket line because that what they did . . . every day. Church sermons, according to Libby, were topical, but always lead back to how homosexuality is dooming the country. But through all the daily lessons of hate, Libby sensed something wasn’t right.

Her initial reaction to 9/11 was like most people’s, but when she got home, the rest of her family was celebrating. Saying that God was punishing America. It didn’t feel right, but she went along with it because it was all she knew.

Another time she had a similar conflict when she met her soon to be good friend, Blake. She never asked, but always had a feeling he was a homosexual. But he was always nice and friendly with her, despite knowing full well what family she was from. Again, she had this conflict of what she felt vs what she was taught.

The final straw came when she was on vacation with her sister. They took a photo of themselves in their bikinis and when the church got wind of it, they confronted her. The initial problem with the photo ballooned into a much bigger issue because she had the gall to stand up for herself.

Two days later she moved out and left the church for good. Once her parents found out, they told her they never wanted to speak to her again. I wouldn’t put it past them to use their own daughter’s story as an example to reinforce their hateful brainwashing.

But that’s not the end of Libby’s story. Not only was she able to escape the cult of hate, she now works with an organization fighting for gay equality. And the icing on the cake is that two of her sisters and a cousin have recently left the church too.

I know there’s a lot of hate in the world, but in most cases, it’s not who the person really is. It’s more like a sickness hiding the good. This story gives me hope that there’s a way out.

One comment on “Finding Hope in the Face of Hate

  1. Here’s what gets me about this. Even if you believe homosexuality is wrong (that’s a whole different discussion), a person claiming to be a Christian (or any other kind of religion), shouldn’t do these hateful things. You don’t carry picket signs, you don’t say hurtful things, you should do everything in LOVE, not HATE. As a Christian, I believe love is the motivating factor for everything we do.

    As far as the Boston bombings, I have to say I was shocked. I’m always shocked about these things because my outlook on life is usually positive. I’ll never understand how people can be this cruel. It always shocks me.

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