Even by Westboro Baptist Church standards -- and let's face it, these folks do manage to set the bar impressively low -- their latest antics are positively repugnant.
The tiny church that believes God hates everybody but their own little in-bred congregation has officially sunk to all-new depths.
OK, so maybe they changed their puny minds after this column was written. But as of Friday morning, Westboro Baptist Church had planned to picket this weekend's funeral for 7-year-old Charlie Powell and 5-year-old Braden Powell, the brothers who were blown up in a gasoline-fueled murder-suicide perpetrated by their father in the Graham, Wash., area.
And why would a so-called church picket the funeral of two young innocents, cruelly and violently torn from this life by the one person who should have loved them best? Why, to protest same-sex marriages, of course.
Well, of course.
Most of us had just assumed that the boys were killed by their utterly evil earthly father. But to hear the Westboro Baptist followers tell it, it was their kind and loving heavenly father what done 'em in.
Why? Because apparently, God was angry that Washington governor Chris Gregoire is about to sign into law a measure that allows homosexuals to get hitched in The Evergreen State.
That's right, people. According to the Westboro Baptist Church, those two young boys had to die so God could teach that gay-loving Gov. Gregoire a lesson.
With the possible exception of a Michele Bachmann campaign, I can't think of another organization operating openly in the United States that comes anywhere near this level of crazy. Just last May, representatives of the Ku Klux Klan distanced themselves from the Westboro Baptists, denouncing them as "hatemongers."
OK, so how bad off is your organization when even the KKK is embarrassed to be seen with you?
Look, I realize trying to apply logic to the Westboro Baptist flock is an exercise in futility, but let us, for the sake of argument, agree that God is all-powerful. And let us further assume that, yeah, OK, God hates homosexuals.
So, to demonstrate that hate, God causes two boys to be chopped up and burned up by the biggest waste of skin since the Kathy Bates/Jack Nicholson nude hot-tub scene in "About Schmidt." And THIS is the convoluted way in which he makes known his displeasure with the governor of the state of Washington? Puh-leeze.
I'm reasonably confident that if you're a god who is that powerful -- and vindictive -- you don't just kill two small children and then leave it to some tiny Midwestern crackpot church to interpret your murders as a "message" to the governor about same-sex marriage. Rather, you go after the governor directly. Take her out.
In fact, if you're smart (and I have to believe being labeled omniscient would place you squarely into the "smart" category), you do it while she's in the very act of signing the legislation into law. And you do it with a lightning bolt, the universally accepted symbol for your righteous wrath.
But, no. The Westboro loons would have you believe God kills soldiers and college students and firefighters and children, all because God hates gays. If that's the kind of petty, angry and mentally unbalanced dude they've got running the Westboro Baptist Church's version of heaven, I'll take my chances in hell, thank you very much.
Besides, if such a God really did have it in for homosexuals, don't you think he'd just skip the middle man and go after them directly? And don't bother answering that one with "AIDS." 'Cause if that was aimed at gays, God is a lousy shot, since plenty of other people got the disease from completely un-gay activities like blood transfusions (unless you're saying God also hates phlebotomists).
Now, you could argue that God hates certain things (nuclear weapons, pornography, those impossible-to-open blister packs that many products come in these days). Or even that he hates specific actions (gay sex, bullying, stamp collecting). But most rational people would agree that God, having created us as his children and all, doesn't hate any of us.
I mean, I suppose it's possible that God could hate a person or group of people -- since he is, after all, God, and four out of five theologians agree the ability to do anything one darn well pleases comes with that territory. Nevertheless, it's difficult to believe that God would hate anybody.
But if he did hate someone, I'm pretty sure I know exactly who it would be. And one day I hope to share that message with my own little picket sign to hold aloft at a Westboro Baptist Church protest:
"God hates people who think God hates people."
What does Mark Saal hate? Trying to refold a map, that's what. Contact him at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.