We’re Not Alone: Anti-Gay Groups Also Target Jews
Anti-gay religious groups promote their intolerance of GLBT individuals and families, but a less prominent aspect of some such groups is antipathy toward certain religions, and even races and ethnicities.
Once example is the Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, Kansas. Headed by the Rev. Fred Phelps, Westboro-which is made up mostly of Phelps’ extended family-has generated headlines for picketing the funerals of gay people as well as the funerals of fallen military servicemembers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Phelps clan claim that "God hates America" because this country does not, in their view, aggressively persecute its GLBT citizens.
However, the Phelps group also targets other groups-including Jews. As reported in a June 21 New York Times article, the Westboro congregation were spotted in New York recently, holding signs that read, "God Hates Israel," and "Jews Killed Christ."
The group had come to New York on June 19, the article said, and their small, brief protest hardly registered for most of the city.
The article quoted the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Sherry Kirschenbaum, who said, "It wasn’t really a real demonstration."
The Seminary was the site of one of the protests.
Noted Kirschenbaum, "There were very few people and nobody really for them to engage with."
In the last couple of months, the article said, the Phelps clan has focused its antipathy more on Jews.
Openly gay City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was also quoted. Said Quinn, "The fact that this organization targeted New York City for a weekend where they could go synagogue to synagogue spewing anti-Semitism and also homophobia is just the height of ignorance and hatred."
Quinn joined a counter-protest on June 21 that drew more than 100 people to Greenwich Village gay synagogue Beth Simchat Torah, the article said.
A May 1 post at the Web site of the Anti-Defamation League gave an in-depth profile of Rev. Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, noting that the group’s picketing of military funerals has led to state and federal legislation meant to address picketing actions that many find offensive, and that cause emotional distress for mourners.
However, the Phelps congregation has responded in court, challenging the Constitutionality of such laws, citing freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
The article noted that on one occasion, the group planned to picket the funeral service for Amish children who had been killed.
Observed the ADL posting, "Many WBC fliers have emphasized the race or religion of [picketed] individuals, suggesting that the Church’s hate spreads beyond its abhorrence of homosexuality."
The text went on to note, "WBC congregants believe that ’God’s hatred is one of His holy attributes.’
"What appears to be anti-gay rhetoric is often a vehicle for the WBC’s anti-Semitism, hatred of other Christians, and even racism, though in the 1980s Fred Phelps received awards from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Blacks in Government and the Bonner Springs branch of the NAACP for his work on behalf of black clients."
The Rev. Phelps, trained as a lawyer, was disbarred in 1979, noted the text.
Like the Westboro Baptist Church, other religious and conservative anti-gay groups seemingly hold in contempt a wider swath of people than is generally known.
An April 13, 2005 Media Matters report noted that a publication affiliated with the conservative evangelical group the American Family Association took aim at Jews, implying that Jews engage in criminal conduct as part of an anti-Christian belief set.
The article referenced an issue of the American Family Association Journal that contained an article titled "Homeless by Choice" by Randall Murphee, in which Murphee described a formerly Jewish man as having engaged in crime until his conversion to Christianity
The article said that, "Murphree offered no explanation for the man’s ’hostile attitude toward Christ’ other than his Jewish upbringing.
"Nor did he explain the man’s drug use, drug dealing, and law-breaking in any way except in the context of his hostility toward Christ. Thus, Murphree linked Judaism to criminality."
The article claimed that "the AFA Journal has long served as a platform for anti-Semitic theories and innuendo," saying that the AFA’s leader, Donald Wildmon, had "warned of Jewish control over popular culture, an old anti-Semitic canard, in a January 1989 article, ’What Hollywood Believes and Wants.’"
Noted the article, "In a separate article in the same issue, titled ’Anti-Semitism Called a Serious Problem,’ Wildmon, a longtime opponent of gay rights, pointedly remarked that ’Jews favor homosexual rights more than other Americans.’"
The article noted that Wildmon had been profiled by The Spotlight, a publication affiliated with anti-Semitic group Liberty Lobby.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.