Church of Satan Sigil of Baphomet

Fred Phelps: One Bigot Passes

Phelps was known for the “God Hates Fags” slogan often deployed in various obnoxious intrusions into the lives of others who had no interest in his opinions nor those of his supporters. Within the media coverage of his crass shenanigans, I find it interesting to note that his church is called “extremist” for such behavior when in fact its adherents were taking actual passages from Christian scriptures and applying them quite literally.

While many Christian churches have toned-down the bloodthirsty behavior since their medieval heydays, we secularists should not forget that the advocacy of bigotry, intolerance and murder are part of the texts that Christians supposedly support. Contemporary Christians tend to pick and choose what they embrace or reject from their “holy writ,” but I do not think they should be given a pass for a book which endorses killing all those who don’t believe in Christ (Luke 19:27 NAB, 2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB), murdering brothers, friends, and neighbors (Exodus 32:26-29 NLT) as well as adulterers (Leviticus 20:10 NLT) and male homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13 NAB).

There has been a recent spate of articles describing criminals claiming that Satanism was their excuse for thrill-killing human and non-human animals, yet our foundational book, The Satanic Bible by Anton Sandor LaVey, does not justify those appalling acts. If these criminals sought a religion to use as a sanction for murder, the Judeo-Christian scriptures would well-serve their purpose and that approach might even be considered more sensational than simply using the trite “Devil made me do it” approach. They could then join the ranks of those who bomb abortion clinics, murder supposedly possessed children to “save their souls” as well as those who have in the past mass-murdered anyone annoying them with heresy being used as vindication.

We should bear in mind that, while one vocal Christian literalist has died, there are many still living who share Phelps’ application of Christianity and surely there will be another to follow in his obtrusive path as their spokesperson. Satanists—and perceptive others who have rejected faith—are not blind to the ways of our species and we know that it is still an uphill battle for reason to be made the standard for determining civilized behavior. Phelps served as an example for what rational people abhor, and proof that theism is not worthy of use for creating ethical codes for a society that is intended to be just towards all of its citizenry. The long, hard journey towards equity continues.

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore