I have to say I'm thrilled to learn - via the Telegraph - that hate-fuelled fundamentalists from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas are on their way to Britain. If a statement on their website is to be believed, Friday evening will find a delegation from the church standing outside Queen Mary's College in Basingstoke, where performers "plan to further enrage the Living God by putting on the farce known commonly as The Laramie Project."
"We will picket them, and see if they actually believe those lies they tell about how tolerant and accepting Brits are."
For too long we in our grey, conformist, PC-ravaged island have been spared the full-bodied confrontationalism of that renowned ecclesiastical body. British Christians are so mealy-mouthed. We have Christian Voice, it is true, which is currently campaigning against Kent Police's sponsorship of a school essay competition connected with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Month. The other day Stephen Green thundered,
I have no respect for police officers who wish to corrupt young children by insinuating into them the idea that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. I spent part of this morning mucking out a cattle yard. It brought home to me that a man who indulges in sodomy cannot be paddling with both oars in the water.
But all his lot ever do about the such outrages is stand around singing hymns. The concision and expressive force of the Westboros' seminal slogan "God Hate Fags" is sadly absent from Green's windy imprecations.
The Westies (in case you didn't know) are the followers and - mostly - the descendants of the Rev Fred Phelps, although nowdays their effective leader is his daughter Shirley. Their doctrines boil down to the belief that everyone apart from themselves will go to hell, although they have a particular obsession with homosexuality. They are most famous for picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, but they'll turn up to any event they can portray as revealing the depths of depravity to which the United States has sunk.
Until now we in Britain have had to make do with TV documentaries by the likes of Louis Theroux and Keith Allen. So the prospect of seeing their legendary placards is alluring, almost. But it's rather mysterious why, of all the British debauchery and homosexualism they might wish to protest about, the Westies should choose to picket an obscure sixth form college in, of all places, Basingstoke. They must be among the first people in history ever to go there voluntarily.
And they have a coruscating message for us:
Just because you rage against God and make laws that say you cannot use "hate speech" (a/k/a - you may not speak of the Bible standards) in the UK does NOT mean you will not get the message that God Almighty intends for you to get. God Hates England; Your Queen Is A Whore; You Hate God; God Hates You; You're Going to Hell; Matt Is In Hell; Hell Is Real Ask Matt; God Hates Fags (Buggers); Obey God, etc. Some of the best Bible preaching in the history of the world came out of that dark dismal land, but now it is full of all abominations! God will shortly destroy the UK and the world, but not until they have gotten the plain, clear message so that they will be WITHOUT EXCUSE!
The Laramie Project, put on in Hampshire by a gay theatre group, tells the story of Matt Shepard, a gay teenager tortured and murdered in small town America in 1998. The Westies have been picketing the play wherever it has shown in the States, reassuring theatre-goers that its hero is burning in Hell. So the Basingstoke campaign is in one sense merely an extension of that. But it also seems to mark the beginning of a new push to alert the whole world to its doomed, "fag-enabling" sinfulness. They are also visiting Melbourne, where they plan to inform Australians that God caused the recent bush fires that claimed so many lives.
The election of Barack Obama, who they are convinced is the Antichrist, has convinced them of the imminence of the End Times. Next month they will be protesting outside Chicago Law School:
They let that fraudulent freak teach "Constitutional Law" in that place. They let him hone his oratory skills (little tricks of the trade like he keeps shifting from one foot to another and swiveling his head and darting his eyes back and forth so everyone in the room believes he is speaking directly to them - so very clever, don't you know?)! SHAME ON THIS PLACE! God has sent them a strong delusion and caused them to trust in lies and LIARS!
Britain is also ripe for their missionary activities, being notoriously irreligious and sinful - the best efforts of Stephen Green notwithstanding. Check out our UK page at www.godhatestheworld.com, they suggest. So I did. The entry for the UK singles out our "filthy manner of life", illustrated by a picture which appears to show Prince Charles fondling the breasts of a female army cadet. According to the write-up, there are "more annual fag-sponsored events in the U.K. than there are in Doomed America". And it helpfully lists some of them, including "Bear Pride" (you mean that isn't for children who love their teddies, or even politically-aware ursines?) and EuroPride in Stockholm, the mention of which raises doubts about the Westies' sense of geography. "There is also a highly-coveted annual “Pink List” which lists the top 100 fags in the United Kingdom." (So there is; it's compiled by the Independent. The Labour-loving, intimately-pierced Today presenter Evan Davis was at number 1 last year - I imagine next time it will be Mandy).
The United Kingdom is fully given over to fags, and proud of it – they are grevious sinners before their God like ancient Sodom, and they shall receive the same firey end. They roundly declare that what God says is an abomination is in fact an innocent lifestyle to be aspired to and rewarded.
Peter Hitchens himself couldn't have put it better.
In the States, the Westies are widely loathed but tolerated: it is in the robust American tradition of free speech. They even managed to get away last year with publicly burning the Koran. Our own tradition of free speech is rather less robust these days. In 2001 the elderly street preacher Harry Hammond was arrested and fined for holding a placard which read "Stop immorality! Stop homosexuality! Stop lesbianism!" - mild stuff compared with the kind of slogans the Westboro Baptists like to hold.
And now, of course, under the Geert Wilders principle no-one with vaguely controversial views must ever be allowed into this country, ever, just in case they say something and someone listening is unable to contain their offence. Apparently the local Conservative MP Maria Miller has contacted the Home Secretary to "see what action the Government may be considering in relation to possible attempts by the Phelps family to enter the country". She condemned the church's "highly inflammatory language and behaviour" and said the young people who had worked on the play would not be intimidated by threats.
"The most important thing is that a production that is trying to promote tolerance goes ahead and that's what I'm focusing on achieving," she said primly.
Well sod that. What's she expecting, a riot? We're a poor excuse for a country if we can't handle a few deluded nutjobs standing outside a theatre with placards. Ben Summerskill of Stonewall has more sense when he says that banning the Westies would merely give them more undeserved publicity. They've already sent Miller an open letter demanding
a written guarantee of safe passage for all our missionary members... who are prepared to journey, at our own expense, to preach the gospel in the UK. We have a commission from the Lord Jesus Christ... We trust that you are not prepared to counteract the Lord Jesus Christ.
Indeed not. Let them come. Let them be laughed at. Let them depart. Why should Americans have all the fun?