Tag Archives: current-events

Westboro Baptist Church: the ultimate hate group

Westboro Baptist Church always finds its way into the middle of controversy. From picketing the vigil for the victims of the Newtown shootings to claiming that the Boston Marathon bombings were God’s retaliation, the Westboro Baptist Church always finds someway to make a statement.

The Westboro Baptist Church claims that their beliefs are similar to the primitive Baptist tradition, a conservative branch FredPhelpsdeveloped in the early 19th century that follows the King James version of the Bible. The Westboro Baptist Church is described by most as a hate group. Most of the Westboro Baptist beliefs are similar to other Christian schools of though. The big difference between the Christian teachings and the Westboro Baptists teachings are their stance on homosexuality.

Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church said, “The modern militant homosexual movement poses a clear and present danger to the survival of America, exposing our nation to the wrath of God as in 1898 B.C. at Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Phelps believes that America’s new openness to homosexuality will be the downfall of religion and of our country. “They were raised on a steady diet of fag propaganda in the home, on TV, in church, in school, in mass media – everywhere – the two pronged lied. One, it’s okay to be WestboroBaptist4gay. And two, anyone saying otherwise, like Westboro Baptist Church, is a hatemonger who must be vilified, demonized and marginalized,” Phelps said in response to America’s children growing up with an open mind about homosexuality.

The rituals at the Westboro Baptist Church are similar to other religions including a weekly church meeting. However, the WBC has been centered on picketing and protesting since the early 1990s. WBC picketing has become more widespread including homosexuality, the Holocaust Memorial, September 11th, 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, Pope Benedict XVI, Barack Obama, Al Gore, Catholic priests, Catholic church, Hinduism and Islam.

tumblr_m81v6myBeE1qk2dsto1_1280One thing that has become popular is the “counter protest” which started gaining popularity after the September 11th attacks. The Westboro Baptist Church showed up to picket the tragedy and one young man, Jared Dailey, stood across the street with a sign that read “Not today, Fred,” calling out Phelps on his insensitivity. After a few days, nearly 100 other people joined Dailey with American flags and anti-hate signs. When the WBC decided to picket the funerals of the Newtown shootings, people took to the internet to fight back at the church, writing letters to government officials and releasing a membership list with personal contact information of all of the WBC members.

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The Westboro Baptist Church is not affiliated with any particular denomination and has actually been rejected by many religions. The WBC mainly claims to have ties to the Southern Baptists because Phelps was ordained by a Southern Baptist Minister in 1947.

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Although there are no exact numbers, it is estimated that there are less than one hundred followers of the Westboro Baptist Church and the majority of the members are family. Phelps and his wife have 13 children together and those 13 children have married and have children of their own. Many of these offspring live in the family compound, while some do not except the WBC teachings and have moved away. The family compound is located in Topeka, Kansas where Phelps lives with his large family.

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Although the Westboro Baptist Church receives mainly backlash for their conservative views, the church was defended on the grounds of free speech by the American Civil Liberties Union. Even though the church has found an ally in one Union, most others are still disgusted by what the WBC’s actions and what it stands for. The federal government has made some moves to control the WBC. In 2012, California and the federal government set a 300 foot parameter around funerals the the WBC cannot protest within.

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Scientology: Tom Cruise’s beliefs, religion or cult?

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Scientology was the talk of the town last year when Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes split. Scientology was put in the limelight when media began reporting that Holmes scientology_027allegedly left her husband because they had been arguing about Suri, their daughter, joining the church. Other famous Scientologists include Kirstie Alley, Juliette Lewis and John Travolta.

Scientology, a controversial religion that teaches that human beings have forgotten their true nature, was created by Ron Hubbard in 1952. Scientology has beliefs and practices that are based on research and science. Since beginning in the 1950s Scientology has spread to Britain, Ireland, South Africa and Australia. In the sixties it was banned in some parts of Australia for hypnosis and it still remains banned in some parts of the country.

Hubbard developed Scientology after his self-help system Dianetics. Both Dianetics and Scientology use a form of rehabilitation called “auditing.” During auditing, they re-experience painful or traumatic experiences and events as a way to move on from the past. Auditing is only available to members after a specified donation. This was seen as a new form of psychotherapy.

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Scientologists believe that our souls, called “thetans” reincarnate after death and that they have lived on other planets before Earth in a previous lifetime. Scientologists also observe events like weddings, child naming and funerals which are performed by ordained Scientology ministers.

They also believe in two divisions within the mind: the reactive mind and the analytical mind. The reactive mind stores mental images and absorbs pain and emotional trauma. These memories are not available to the analytical mind and are called engrams. The analytical mind is rational and responsible for consciousness. Engrams are considered painful and debilitating. When engrams are accumulated people move away from who they truly are. In order to stop this, auditing is necessary to move towards what is called the “clean state.”

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Scientology also studies personalities. Hubbard believed that about 80 percent of people had social personalities. People with this personality are people who contribute to the welfare of others. He also believed that 20 percent of people were suppressive personalities. Of this 20 percent, only 2.5 percent are considered to have a hopelessly antisocial personality. These people are are truly dangerous people who are evil. Those who go against Scientology are called suppressive people. Katie Holmes was labeled this after her break up with Tom Cruise.

The religions uses the Scientology cross which says “the horizontal bar represents the material universe, and the vertical bar represents the spirit. Thus the spirit is seen to be rising triumphantly, ultimately transcending the turmoil of the physical universe to achieve salvation.”

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In 1953 Hubbard incorporated three churches in Camden, New Jersey, and in 1954 he set up the first church called the Church of Scientology of California. The Church of Scientology claimed in 2005 that they had 8 million followers worldwide with 3.5 million followers in the United States. A survey in 2001 found that there were only 55,000 Scientologists in the United States.

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Scientology gets a lot of criticism and some people even say that it’s not a religion, but a cult. The religion is learned through studying Scientology materials that are separated in advancing levels that become increasingly harder. This process is called the Bridge to Total Freedom and it has two sides: training and processing. Training is the education received about Scientology principles and the practice of auditing while processing is the personal development that results from training. It is necessary for members to make donations to study and move up the Bridge to Total Freedom. The later teachings are not reveals until members have paid thousands of dollars. For this reason, most Scientologists only move up the bridge so far as their income allows. The official memorial page for Lisa McPherson also blames Scientology for her death. McPherson died of pulmonary embolism while under the care of the Flag Service Organization which is a branch of the Church of Scientology

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