As we all know, Westboro Baptist Church is supposedly persona non grata even among the religious right. But recent statements by two supposedly mainstream religious right leaders have me wondering if Fred Phelps' behavior may be on the verge of becoming mainstream practice.
First, Gordon Klingenschmitt--best known as the yayhoo ex-Navy chaplain who got drummed out for wearing his uniform at a White House protest--suggested that born-again photographers who work at LGBT weddings ought to write Romans 1:32 and other anti-gay Scriptures on the pictures (diaried here). Then a few days later, Kevin Swanson of Generations with Vision, who operates one of the most popular fundie podcasts, said that born-again cakemakers ought to write Leviticus 20:13 on the cakes of any LGBT weddings--in effect, telling them to die (diaried here).
If a photographer or cakemaker were to take either of these "reverends'" advice, he or she better have a lawyer on speed dial, as well as a backup plan for his or her finances. Either sort of behavior is a business-destroying lawsuit waiting to happen. About the only reason I can think of for why Klingenschmitt and Swanson would even think this is a good idea is so the defendant in the inevitable lawsuit could claim he or she was just expressing his religious views, so therefore what he or she was doing was protected under the First Amendment. But the closest parallel I can draw is to someone who didn't like how he or she was treated at a store and decided to vandalize it.
I see no difference whatsoever between defacing someone's wedding pictures or wedding cake and picketing someone's funeral. None, zip, zero. And yet, we've seen a lot of signs of desperation on the fundie front because the fundies know they're losing this battle, and losing it big. How else do you describe fundies rushing to the defense of Arthur A. Goldberg, a guy who is being sued for running a conversion therapy outlet that swindled and degraded its clients? In a previous life, Goldberg was the mastermind behind one of the worst financial frauds of the 1980s, in which he sold billions of dollars in fraudulent municipal bonds to impoverished communities with large minority populations.
Also, based on my own experience with fundie lunacy, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if someone actually took up Klingenschmitt and Swanson on their advice. After all, As many of you know, during my freshman year at Carolina I was tricked into joining a campus ministry that was affiliated with one of the more notorious dominionist outfits, Every Nation. The guys and gals in there engaged in some of the most disreputable tactics in the name of getting people saved. Deceiving people about who they really were, hectoring people about being saved--and even going as far as to trump up false charges of harassment against me for daring to speak out against them. They seemed to believe that all was fair when it came to getting people saved--a mentality no different from what Klingenschmitt and Swanson seem to be encouraging here.
So Gordon and Kevin, you want your followers to ruin one of the most special days of anyone's life, then turn around and claim they're the ones being persecuted? Please proceed.