For many, the weather forecast predicted for Park Slope’s Congregation Beth Elohim this Saturday will be “crazy with a chance of religious oddballs.”
But to the super-religious, gay-hating right wing members of the independent Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas who plan to protest outside the Garfield Place house of worship, they’re not bringing the crazy.
Instead, they’re harbingers of “the last hours of the last days” bringing the Word of God.
“[The Jews’] time is about gone and they have to be held accountable for spilling the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ,” explained Shirley Phelps-Roper, spokesperson and attorney for the church, which also plans to hold similar protests outside of the East Midwood Jewish Center, the Kane Street Synagogue and two other shuls throughout the borough on the same day.
As of this writing, the group also planned to protest outside Brooklyn Tech High School on Fort Greene Place which they claim teaches people “It’s OK to be gay.”
“Yo, God Hates Fags!” they wrote on their Web site, the aptly named godhatesfags.com. “Yo, what’s up God haters?”
Members of the student body were expected to hold a counter-protest as this paper went to press.
In a rambling religious commentary that made a lot of sense to her (to this reporter, not so much), Phelps-Roper told this paper that church volunteers will be protesting outside these synagogues with posters reading “The Jews Killed Jesus” and “You’re Going to Hell” to remind them that “they have broken their covenant with the lord for killing their messiah.”
But that doesn’t mean that the members of Westboro Baptist Church hate the Jews.
In fact, Phelps-Roper made an end run around Jesus’ whole loving thy neighbor commandment by claiming that the extended version of that adage reads that if you have love for your neighbor in your heart, you can rebuke them.
“We want them to understand that we will be the fateful witnesses in the spirit of grace and supplication and that we will mourn for them when their time comes,” she said.
Oh, now that that’s cleared up...
Phelps-Roper freely admits that her church decided to target Brooklyn this weekend because it has “several populations” of Jews living in the borough and because one of the holiest days on the Jewish calender Yom Kippur, begins on Sunday night.
“There’s a segment of Jews there that swing freaking chickens over their head thinking that they can transfer their sins into the chicken,” she exclaimed. “Where’s that in the Torah?
“They don’t obey their own commandments and they’re going to fuss about us,” she said. “But that’s what you get when you kick Christ to the curb.”
But in fact, no one is planning to make a big fuss about them.
In an email sent out to congregants, Rabbi Andy Bachman said that while church members will “stand on our sidewalk displaying disturbing signs and provoking those entering our building” and “try to create enough confrontation to incite others to provocation. It is their constitutional right to picket.”
“This group will be picketing us because of our commitment to those who desire community,” he wrote. “Though Saturday may be upsetting, it is important to remember that our precious values are truly a source of great pride. Our best and only response is to conduct ourselves as usual.”
Rabbi Bachman encouraged congregants to “calmly pass these protesters and walk directly into our building without incident.”
Local elected officials that included Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Councilman Bill de Blasio, City Council Democratic Nominee Brad Lander and members of the Lambda Independent Democrats, the borough’s largest LGBT political club, also spoke out against the protestors, claiming that they were drawn to the borough by Brooklyn’s diversity.
“It’s at the core of our strength as a borough, and Brooklynites are never shy about expressing who they are,” they said in a joint statement. “While we support the right to peacefully gather, we must denounce hate in any form—especially hate from a fanatic cult based in Kansas that has shamefully selected these sacred days observed by the Jewish community around the world to spew its intolerance.”