Continuing the discussion from Billy Graham, BTh, BA and Evolutionary Creation:
Speaking of them, this story of a woman who left Westboro is important.
Someone would arrive at my profile with the usual rage and scorn, I would respond with a custom mix of Bible verses, pop culture references and smiley faces. ‘They would be understandably confused and caught off guard, but then a conversation would ensue. And it was civil — full of genuine curiosity on both sides. How had the other come to such outrageous conclusions about the world?’
On several occasions, Twitter spats bled into real life.
One day while Megan was holding a ‘God hates Jews’ sign during a protest in New Orleans, a man named David, who ran a blog called ‘Jewlicious’, approached her after several months of heated but friendly arguments online. Megan said: ‘He brought me a Middle Eastern dessert from Jerusalem, where he lives, and I brought him kosher chocolate.’ The interaction with the outside world blurred the lines of good and evil enforced by the church during Megan’s childhood and she slowly became aware of hypocrisy within Westboro Baptist Church’s preaching.
Megan said: ‘How could we claim to love our neighbor while at the same time praying for God to destroy them?
I highly recommend her TED talk too.
When people are raised in close minded cults like this, they need help. The best way to help is by building trust. Trust only grows in conversation. Without conversation, there is no way to be trusted, and it doesn’t matter if we are right. Her story is an example of what can happen when we take the time to listen to the people with whom we most disagree.
That is one of the real tragedies of the fractured society in which we live. When the divides are wide, and the walls are high, conversation is difficult. It is hard to build trust. That perpetuates the madness. We need to do better this next generation. We need to find a better way.