Thursday, November 01, 2007

Common Ground - Rev. Fred Phelps & Rev. Manuel Rivera

From the pulpit the word of God becomes a tool to promote political causes. No one knows this better than the Reverends Fred W. Phelps Sr. of the Westboro Church and Manuel Rivera of the National Coalition of Latin Clergy. Using their title of "Reverend" both are preaching words in the name of God that are filled with a message that promotes hatred, incites division, and defies man made laws.

Who is listening to the preaching of these two men? Phelps' followers are comprised mostly of members of his own family (his recognized congregation numbers 75 members). Although his numbers appear low, Phelps has an uncounted number of supporters whose sympathies lie with him in those groups that are anti-government, are homophobic, and have white supremest leanings. Rivera has a much larger group listening to him as he is one of the recognized "activists" leading the Hispanic movement against reform (and into hysteria) of our immigration laws both on a federal and state level. Rivera has been of late spending his time in Oklahoma fighting House Bill 1804 which went into effect today, despite his efforts to impede it.

Although their causes at first glance appear very different, both are steeped in a belief that "their God" condemns anyone who doesn't think/believe as they do, that the laws of the country they are citizens of do not pertain to them, and that the color of their skin empowers them to cry out falsely that they are being persecuted. Phelps and Rivera are not above using inflammatory speech (while hiding behind the rights of the 1st Amendment) to castigate the very government that gives them those freedoms and rights. Both have stepped out from behind their pulpits to preach on the streets to promote their cause. Both are preaching "end-of-times" propaganda to audiences held captive by their circumstances (those who are living in their own versions of hell on earth) whether attending funerals of loved ones lost or by those who knowingly and purposely have broken laws (and now are suffering the consequences) to attain monetary gains unavailable to them in their birth countries.

Of a $10.9 million lawsuit loss to the father who's soldier sons funeral was a recipient of the Westboro curbside crusade of Christianity at it's crudest, Phelps had this to say,
Fred W. Phelps Sr., Westboro's founder, vowed to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Richmond, Va.

"It's going to be reversed in five minutes," he said. This case, he added, "will elevate me to something important," as it draws more publicity to his cause.
Phelps attacks those who have lost loved ones to death from war or AIDS with his funeral sign campaigns bearing slogans of "God Hates Fags", "God Hates You", "Cursed Not Blessed", etc., ad nauseam.

Rivera instills upon Hispanics (many of whom do not speak or read English) that they are being "ethnically cleansed" and
"We cannot trust the Tulsa Police Department or the sheriff department. They will definitely do their job which is to try to confirm if your legal status in this country is correct, which is when everything will be loosed against you," said Rev. Manuel Rivera.
Rivera's fellow activists have warned their opposition that their activist group is needed to "prevent violence" because their youth "are angry".

Phelps definitely is the crudest of the two. In his own words, a loss will help him promote his cause. Rivera is much slicker at playing his own people (using their fear of deportation to create a stampede out of Oklahoma) and non-Hispanics (by veiled threats of retaliation in the form of a Hispanic backlash) to promote his being a savior to Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike.

In the end, Phelps and Rivera's messages come across loud and clear even to those of us who don't want to listen. Forget compassion, forget acceptance, forget right from wrong - instill hate, incite division, trample upon those who oppose you. It is pulpit propaganda like this that breeds violence and hate-crimes.

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posted by Is It Just Me? at 11:18 AM