Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

If Obama Wins, No More Boy Scouts

Thus predict the Christians. The lovers of Christian truth and right belief are at it hot and heavy on the eve of the election. They are predicting apocalyptic doom if Barack Obama becomes president.
Terrorist strikes on four American cities. Russia rolling into Eastern Europe. Israel hit by a nuclear bomb. Gay marriage in every state. The end of the Boy Scouts. All are plausible scenarios if Democrat Barack Obama is elected president, according to a new addition to the campaign conversation called "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America," produced by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family Action.
The end of the Boy Scouts? This is one of their dire predictions should Obama (who, according to them, is not a real Christian) be elected. Get this:
• A 6-3 liberal majority Supreme Court that results in rulings like one making gay marriage the law of the land and another forcing the Boy Scouts to "hire homosexual scoutmasters and allow them to sleep in tents with young boys." (In the imagined scenario, The Boy Scouts choose to disband rather than obey).
There you have it. Christians witnessing to the truth of the gospel. Fortunately, there really are folks out there who do claim Christian identity but have a different view. These are Christians who when they actually read the Bible and the gospels find in there a call to do justice and relieve poverty. This is in today's Johnson City Press:
At a time when more than 37 million Americans are in poverty, including many who are newly poor and paying keen attention, spiritual leaders are encouraging the young to vote and urging voters to select candidates who will fight poverty.

“I feel more momentum, energy and focus on poverty than I have in churches in three decades or more,” said Jim Wallis, chief executive officer of Sojourners social justice ministries in Washington.

“Partly, it’s a new generation. Baby boomers are becoming church leaders and speaking to a new generation that wants their lives to make a difference. It’s a new altar call, if you will,” he said.
A question for beginners:

Which of these two organizations, Focus on the Family or Sojourners is more faithful to the gospel?


34 comments:

  1. I am not a beginner- you know what I think.

    You know it fecking ticks me off that homosexuality equals rampant sex to these asshats. (I can say asshats here, right?)

    One might wonder what is going on in their tortured psyches.

    My prayer is this - help me O Lord to live in peace and to work for justice. And to not hate the haters and to learn to love as you have.

    So far I suck at that last bit and possibly the first as well.

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  2. Hey - I have an idea... instead of boy scouts and girl scouts, what about human being scouts?

    I am actually being very serious.

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  3. (I can say asshats here, right?)

    We will have to run that one by the board.

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  4. Do I have a vote? If so, I say "asshats" can stay. It is a ridiculous but wonderful word.

    As for the Focus on theamily folks, they don't want overt homosexuals rummaging through their closets.

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  6. Does it ever seem to anyone else that the scenarios cooked up by these right wing nutjobs rather have the sound of a bad porn plot? Some VHS tape, no doubt, kept in the far back of their very large walk-in closets.

    No one is more homophobic than a desperate and furtive closet queen.

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  7. The Republican Party is in for a destructive “family” fight when this election ends. The blame game has already begun. Dobson is out for blood. I do admit, I get aperverse pleasure from all this. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

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  8. My prayer is this - help me O Lord to live in peace and to work for justice. And to not hate the haters and to learn to love as you have.

    Quote of the day. Thanks, Fran!

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  9. I personally don't think that James Dobson, and Focus on the Family are actually haters. Dr. Dobson, individually, is a very compassionate man, and has offered alot of helpful advice in Christian parenting, and family issues over the years.

    But, in this area of the definition of marriage, and gay rights, I think the org. is dead wrong. It's unfortunate, IMO, that Focus has taken this sharp political turn in recent years.

    Although, I'm probably not as politically progressive in some areas as Soujourners, I think this organization overall does bear a better witness to the gospel. (Their committment to social justice is well known. )Wallis is a good guy, and brother in Christ.

    I also appreciate Rick Warren from Saddleback, and his committment to AIDS orphans all over the world.

    Also, I think organizations such as World Vision, and Compassion International also bear an awesome witness to the love of Christ everywhere.

    P.S. Fran we all fall totally short. I think a huge part of the key is to get out of the way, and let Christ live in, and through us, to realize our unity with Him, and relax into that.

    We certainly can't live a Christ- like life solely by our own effort, and strength.

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  10. "Dr. Dobson, individually, is a very compassionate man,"

    Actually, Dobson has been a bigot all his life. I know the wife of a Guatemalan college roommate he had once, for about 2 hours. Before this roommate had even met Mr Dobson, he came back to his room to find all his stuff thrown out in the hallway.

    For reasons this young man never learned, the Nazarene school sided with Dobson and agreed that he should find another place to live.

    Dobson's focus is only on the right wing male dominated white family. He is a racist pig to everyone else.

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  11. I recently overheard someone in a restaurant say "You can kiss Christmas goodbye if Obama wins. We'll all be bowing to the east and praising Allah." I had to leave before I got myself in trouble ;) What this person didn't realize, was that he just made the perfect argument for the separation of church and state. Ignoring the idiocy of his statement, he validated that a religion should not impact his politics.

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  12. "I personally don't think that James Dobson, and Focus on the Family are actually haters. "

    I disagree.

    One doesn't spend so much time talking about how marriage is the foundation of our culture, how it is the center of our society, and then deny marriage to people, unless one hates them.

    If it really is that important, and it really is that crucial, and it really is such a gift from God, then to deny marriage to people for no reason cannot be for any reason but hate. Only irrational hate and fear would cause someone to do something so cruel.

    So yeah, it's hate. What's sad is they get away with it simply by spouting platitudes and people actually believe them. I know it's not PC to actually call hate by its name. I know we squishy soft liberals in particular want to make any excuse we can for people's bad behavior. But to do so in every situation, just to be polite, is to excuse evil.

    I'm an evidence guy, not an opinion guy. If James Dobson says he doesn't hate gay people, exactly what evidence is there that he's being truthful? None. All of his actions testify against his words.

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  13. Alan, I can explain to you why these folks think in this way, although I don't agree.

    What motivates them is more fear I think, not hatred. They are afraid that if we redefine marriage to include gay, and lesbian couples that this will open a kind of pandora's box, and eventually allow multiple defintions of marriage, so that traditional marriage, and the family almost become meaningless.

    They are concerned that all this will be connected with a further break down in our culture in areas relating to family, to the stability we can offer to kids, just a further plethora of social problems.

    These folks are also convinced that homosexuality is a disorder which leads people to physical, emotional, and spiritual harm. They feel that it's not loving to affirm folks in this, but rather to encourage them to seek help, and healing.

    Now Alan, before you get your dander up at me, remember these are not my views. I'm just trying to help you, and the folks here understand where these people are at.

    IMO, it does not help our position, or our ability to influence anyone's thinking when we just assume that all these folks are hateful bigots, with the most malevolent of motives.

    Most times, I don't think this is the case, and they really don't understand all the harm they are actually bringing to their gay, and lesbian brothers, and sisters.

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  14. "Now Alan, before you get your dander up at me, remember these are not my views. I'm just trying to help you, and the folks here understand where these people are at."

    Thanks, but I've been around for a while, have talked to these people for the last 15 years. I don't need help understanding them; they've made their views crystal clear.

    Yes, grace, I realize that they rationalize their positions in any number of ways, pretending to be "loving" while espousing hatred. They realize that actually coming out and saying what they think, like the God Hates Fags crowd, is not politically expedient, so they cloak their hatred in doublespeak and lies. They make more money that way.

    But I don't buy it, and neither should you.

    "IMO, it does not help our position, or our ability to influence anyone's thinking when we just assume that all these folks are hateful bigots, with the most malevolent of motives."

    Why not? When we don't confront their hatred and bigotry, calling it what it is, when we allow them to rationalize and prevaricate we're not doing anyone any favors. Nor are we being honest.

    Think the best of them if you wish, or not, grace, but when they come after your marriage you'll be singing a different song.

    Frankly, I often find it a bit annoying when well meaning, but wrong, straight people speaking from a position of privilege, pretend that they know better than I do how to recognize hate when it's staring me in the face. Trust me, when it's directed at you, you'll see it for what it is too. Just wait.

    "I don't think this is the case, and they really don't understand all the harm they are actually bringing to their gay, and lesbian brothers, and sisters."

    Oh yes they do. That's the problem.

    Evil exists, grace, and it isn't pretty, but it doesn't doesn't go away just by trying to give it a pretty paint job and a spritz of perfume. It's still rotting and it still stinks.

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  15. I think the question you pose just feeds the split. It creates antagonism between sectors of the Christian church that minister in different areas. Feeding the poor, social justice issues, and the environment are very Biblical issues. Likewise, teaching on parenting and family as well as instructing on biblical morality...all good things! Truth be told, I can't always stomach Focus on the Family (I'm from Boulder, Colorado) but I also know that Jim Wallis and others in his stream will not speak on issues that are outside their comfort zone (i.e. sexual sin whether homosexual or hetrosexual)

    As Christians lets quit perpetuating the division

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  16. Steve H., welcome to my blog! I hate to greet your first comment with this, but what you just said is one huge steaming pile of bullshit.

    There is such as thing as the gospel. The sixteen page letter of lies from Focus on the Family ain't it.

    I also know that Jim Wallis and others in his stream will not speak on issues that are outside their comfort zone (i.e. sexual sin whether homosexual or hetrosexual)

    I was just reading Peter Gomes new book, The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus. I read this passage a few minutes before turning on the computer:

    If we look carefully at what constituted his [Jesus'] preaching, his definition of gospel, we might be surprised to find how much the gospel is at odds with conventional Christianity. It is very difficult to preach the gospel as Jesus did without giving offense, and the world has been filled with people perfectly capable of being offended.

    It is not that we are ignorant. We know what gives offense, which is probably why we spend so much time talking about sex and Jesus spent so much time talking about money. (p. 20)


    It would be one thing if FOF did talk about personal morality, sexual and otherwise. But what I hear is homophobic prejudice used to gain power and wealth in the name of Jesus Christ.

    And that deserves exposure and criticism.

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  17. Alan, can we paint everyone with the same tarbrush,though. Sure there are folks out there who are motivated by deliberate hatred, and bigotry. No question. But, do you truly think this is everyone?

    I didn't always feel as I do right now about all this. And, Alan, I can tell you that "God as my witness," I didn't hate anyone. In my mind, I thought I was doing the right, and caring thing, wrong-headed as it was.

    Alan, was there a time when you struggled with your own sexuality, and were uncertain about everything? We live in a homophobic culture, and people are conditioned by that. Some may not even personally know gay people who are Christians, and in committed, loving relationships.

    I'm sure it can't be easy, but have some mercy here.

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  18. Dang Grace,

    Are you ever not getting it!

    But I love you.

    This post was about the FOF's 16 page letter. You can read it on-line.

    What would motivate an organization to publish and send something like this two weeks before an election?

    1) Maybe they weren't breast-fed as babies and don't feel loved.

    2) Maybe they were abused as children and need to get back at someone.

    3) Maybe they have learned religion from some preacher who screamed at them about a punitive God that loves humankind so much He will damn most of them to hell for eternity.

    4) Maybe they are confused about their own sexuality.

    5) Maybe they are using cultural homophobia as a wedge issue to wield political influence.

    Who knows? It is not my business. It is beside the point. The point is that they are doing hateful and harmful things.

    Are they suffering and hurting? Very likely. Anger, bitterness, and hatred is caused by deep suffering.

    Do we need to have compassion and be skillful for all who suffer? Yes.

    But it is not intelligent to let this behavior continue. It is wrong. It hurts. It needs to stop.

    Dobson, through his publications, political advocacy, media, and influence has done more harm to lives of lgbtq people than any other Christian minister I can think of.

    Because some of his stuff is somewhat legitimate, the erroneous and harmful advice he gives to families about their lgbt family members seems more authoritative. However, that advice actually serves to break families. It is wrong ethically and scientifically.

    If you would like to find out more about Mr. Dobson and address him with compassion and love, join Soulforce. Seriously.

    Grace, I know you are a straight ally. You go over on blogs of the fundies and try to talk about the Bible and gays and they always dismiss you of course. I am glad you do it. I hope you keep it up. Be warned: they will eventually despise you as they have Dr. Jack Rogers. It is kind of sad. But you can always come back here. On some days I almost like you.

    We could all use a little more skill. From one straight to another:

    1) You don't tell glbtq people the proper way to fight for their rights. You follow. You don't lead.

    2) You don't tell them to be "merciful" to other straight people who abuse them. It shows you are not listening. Gays will take care of their own shit, you and I need to take care of ours.

    3) There is no prize or medal for being an ally. It is what we "ought to have done." Luke 17:10 You may lose friends. Probably will. They weren't much as friends anyway if they reject you for this. Besides, you will make new ones.

    4) You need to spend some time on at least two websites. Don't tell me you have spent enough time there and on other websites because you haven't. None of us have. You need to keep up and speak out. You need to get involved in your local chapter of PFLAG or other gay rights groups and you need to shut up and listen.

    PFLAG

    Soulforce

    Grace, glad you are here and part of the team. Now buck up, kiddo.

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  19. John, you really know how to make me smile!

    By the way, my little word verification code below is "incyter". That's you, and I love you for it!

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  20. Steve H.,

    If you are still out there, sorry for the bullshit comment. I need to take an emotional bath after this election to get all the poison out.

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  21. Snad,

    Thanks! Glad the verification code wasn't "decyder."

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  22. That one's already taken. For another 85 days, anyway. Gee. That makes me smile, too.

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  23. "Alan, can we paint everyone with the same tarbrush,though. Sure there are folks out there who are motivated by deliberate hatred, and bigotry. No question. But, do you truly think this is everyone?"

    I didn't say it was everyone. This post is about Dobson and Focus on the Family.

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  24. I love you too, John, and actually like you almost all the time.


    Alan, I'm greatly relieved. Sorry about the misunderstanding.

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  25. I love you too, John, and actually like you almost all the time.


    Alan, I'm greatly relieved. Sorry about the misunderstanding.

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  26. Thanks grace, but I'm not sure I understand why you're relieved.

    I am, in fact, talking about thousands and thousands of people, those who lap up Dobson's pablum like it's mother's milk.

    So yes, I'm not talking about the few remaining reasonable people who are just misinformed about LGBT issues. I am however talking about the masses of people who are led by hate and fear.

    If you were so concerned that I not call them out on their evil and their hate, I'm not sure why the fact that I don't include a small number of people in that bunch would relieve you at all.

    That is, I really do mean what I'm saying here, and I mean it about most homophobes.

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  27. Alan, why would all these masses of people just hate you? Maybe I am being naive, but I think the opposite is more likely.

    I know so many people that stuggle with this whole matter, including myself at one time. My own husband, as well as kids, and most friends I have don't agree with my views in this. I don't see that any of them actually hate gay and lesbian people.

    Alan, I'll be honest. I think our chance of really impacting the thinking of people in this as long as we are approaching them as evil, and hate-filled bigots is about zero, barring a miracle from the Lord.

    I realize this might seem inappropriate to even be discussing this with you. I appreciate what John has shared. Maybe I am overstepping my boundaries.

    But, right now I'm not speaking with you just as a gay man, but as your own sister in Christ.

    And, on that basis, I am open to you sharing, and speaking into my life as well, as a Christian brother.

    I think I would have an extremely difficult time being part of a gay activist group such as John suggested, or even hanging out with gay friends, if this is really going to be where they're at.

    I mean it's my husband, my own children that are being addressed here. I know folks, have friends, who disagree with our position that are taking in the homeless off the streets, operating food banks out of their own home.

    Are they all evil because right now they are not able to support a redefintion of marriage? We are attempting to alter the thinking of literally thousands of years of western culture. Is everyone going to be on board at once?

    To my mind, the thing that is most going to impact the thinking of these folks is to see the fruit of the spirit in the lives, and relationships of gay people, to see their honest zeal for the gospel, and committment to Jesus Christ. And, to know that they're loved through any differences.

    I don't mean to say that we should stand aside, not speak out, or be door mats, either. But, there is a way to speak the truth in love.

    I know in my own strength I couldn't do any of this, and I can't imagine what it would be like for people to come after my marriage. Prayers, ((Alan.))

    God give us all the grace to reach people where they're at, and to be Christ to them.

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  29. "Alan, why would all these masses of people just hate you? Maybe I am being naive, but I think the opposite is more likely."

    You appear to be missing the point I've made several times now, grace, so I'll say this again: Yes, there are people who simply don't know what to think about sexual orientation. There are those who have been lied to all their lives by the FotF/Phelps/AFA/Robertson/Falwell types. I don't think they're hateful, just ignorant. Every bit of evidence we have shows that those people, when they actually meet LGBT people in their daily lives, change their minds. And I think that every bit of evidence we have shows that's the only way those people change their minds. At the same time I don't think they're without responsibility here either. While I don't think they're motivated by hate and fear, I don't let them off the hook either. They have a responsibility to inform themselves, and intentional ignorance is no virtue. In this day and age, it is getting harder and harder to ignore what is being done to LGBT people in this country. So, even those who are otherwise people of good will are rapidly loosing any excuse.

    But here I've been talking about James Dobson, Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and their loyal legions of followers. Why do they hate? I'm no psychologist, but it isn't unusual for people to hate and fear that which is different. In fact, I'm pretty sure that about 100 years of psychological investigation demonstrates that is our natural inclination. So why do the Focus on the Family, and the Fred Phelps, and the American Family Association types hate gay people? I don't know. I could spout a lot of armchair psychobabble, but I don't know. I have several hypotheses, but they are just hypotheses. The only one with any actual evidence to support it is the notion that they themselves are struggling with their sexuality. There is actually some real evidence to support that hypothesis.

    However, frankly I don't care why they hate. Their motivations are unimportant to me. But I can recognize hateful actions when I see them, and I don't think it does any good to try to pretend that everything is all happy, fluffy bunnies and butterflies.

    So then we cannot ignore the significant number of people are indeed hateful and fearful bigots. Frankly, though I don't care why they hate gay people (and anyone else with whom they disagree.) What I do know is that one can discern what is in another person's heart by looking at their actions.

    Do you believe, grace, that marriage is one of the very cornerstones of our society? Do you believe that marriage is good for people, not only emotionally, but spiritually, economically, and even physically, as stacks of research (not to mention Biblical teaching) suggests? If it really is that important, that crucial, how can anyone claim that denying marriage to two people is not hateful? One cannot deny such basic humanity to people unless one first views them as subhuman. One does not spend millions and millions of dollars to enshrine those views into federal and state constitutions out of love. One doesn't, out of love, cynically exploit gay people as cheap political pawns just to get some guy elected to office, grace.

    And lest we forget, these people are responsible for death, grace. Deaths by the thousands of people with AIDS particularly in the 80's when those men not only did nothing to help, but actively worked to block prevention messages, and actively demonized gay people, which in turn led to minimal funding of research. And the deaths, alone, of kids tied to fences, shot in their classrooms, and hung from trees by people who have heard the message of hate from FotF/Phelps/Robertson/AFA/Falwell and their legion of acolytes.

    Do you think those actions are the actions of love? Seriously??

    "Alan, I'll be honest. I think our chance of really impacting the thinking of people in this as long as we are approaching them as evil, and hate-filled bigots is about zero, barring a miracle from the Lord."

    I have no intention of changing the minds of people like James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, or people of their ilk, grace. And I have no interest in doing so. If anyone in the country has heard the cry of justice, it is those people, and yet they ignore it. When it comes to people like that, I am interested only in making them irrelevant. The country is changing, attitudes are changing, and quite frankly each of those men, and most of their legions of followers are at least 30 years older than I am. I can wait, I've got time on my side. Social change is slow, but to paraphrase Max Plank, society advances one funeral at a time.

    Now I know with your squishy soft teddy bear and marshmallow attitudes, grace, you're going to be put out by that statement. Be clear: I'm not praying for them to die, nor will I be happy when they do so. But when they die, America will change. And I will be happy about that, and I do pray for that change.

    I don't like those folks, but I don't hate them. And as proof, I offer my own actions. I don't spend millions and millions of dollars in attempts to remove their basic human dignity, to insure that they cannot even visit their spouses in the hospital, to take away their children. I don't exploit them for cheap political purposes. I don't meddle in their lives like some neighborhood busybody or playground bully. I simply ignore them when at all possible, and call out their hatred when it isn't possible to ignore it. I do wish and pray that they weren't so hateful, but nothing else I can do can make it so.

    I think we need to make distinctions, as I have all along, between the haters, and those who simply haven't heard the truth. While we cannot excuse those who are ignorant -- they can't sit on the sidelines forever -- I think it is wrong to paint everyone with the same brush, as all hateful, evil people.

    But at the same time I do believe it is foolish to deny their existence, and to deny their influence, and to deny their numbers. They are a large group of people who have won elections, had the ear of Presidents, and have altered national policy.

    And soon they'll be gone, and American will learn to do the right thing again.

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  30. Whaatt??? "Squishy, soft, teddy bear, marshmallow attitudes??" (LOL)

    We're all different, Alan. Can't help my Golden Retriever personality. I'm a counselor/social worker afterall. :)

    Well, can agree to a point. But, I can see a huge difference between folks like Fred Phelps, and James Dobson. I mean I can't agree with Focus on the Family's position, either. But, I wouldn't see all of these folks as the same.

    Anyway, thanks for talking with me about this, and being willing to honestly share your heart.

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  31. But, I can see a huge difference between folks like Fred Phelps, and James Dobson.

    Sure there is a difference. Fred Phelps is a cartoon. His presence actually helps gay rights. He is the ID of hatred.

    Dobson is far more dangerous in that he has a following and influence that crazy Fred does not.

    Although, the more Dobson foams at the mouth the less moderate thinking people like yourself will be able to find him credible.

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  32. "But, I can see a huge difference between folks like Fred Phelps, and James Dobson. I mean I can't agree with Focus on the Family's position, either. But, I wouldn't see all of these folks as the same."

    A difference that makes no difference is no difference.

    Is James Dobson more politically savvy? Sure. But their message is the same.

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  33. Alan, and John,

    Fred Phelps needs our prayers. This elderly man surely has one foot in Hell, and the other on a banana peel. He needs the Lord.

    His family showed up in my area awhile back. It's hard to accept that people who think like this are really out there. These folks are full of pure hatred, and would see gay people put to death, among other horrific views. How can we reach them?

    I think James Dobson is wrong, but this is not where his heart is at. In my mind, there is no real comparison.

    Ok, I know you don't agree. I'll give you the last word. We're about to lose the thread.

    Pax..

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