Steve Jobs & Westboro Baptist: The Irony of Hate




Westboro Baptist Church uses iPhone to announce protest at Steve Jobs’s funeral

By Elizabeth Tenety

Westboro Baptist Church announced plans Wednesday night to protest Steve Jobs’s funeral, sending the message out. . .wait for it. . . via Twitter for iPhone.

Margie Phelps, daughter of the small church’s founder and the lawyer who represented the church during their First Amendment case at the Supreme Court, (which Westboro won) was among the Phelps family members to use Apple products to Tweet about the death of the Apple co-founder.

“Westboro will picket his funeral. He had a huge platform; gave God no glory & taught sin,” Margie tweeted Wednesday night on her iPhone.

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I think there’s always a sad irony when we hate, at least as it pertains to the church.

The irony here, of course, is pretty clear. Without this man whose funeral they plan to protest, they would not have been able to spread their gospel of hate.

Irony is present in most of the other things we hate in the church too.

Along the same lines as the Phelps family’s hate of Steve Jobs, many people in the church today hate science. Of course, without the advancements of science they wouldn’t be able to spread their anti-evolution propaganda across the internet, television, or on DVDs.

Other people in the church hate the idea of women in any position of leadership in ministry. This one, in particular, is incredibly ironic considering the fact that it was women, not men, who were the only ones brave enough to venture to the tomb on Easter morning and discover it empty. Without women there is no Christian faith.

This week on PBS they ran a Ken Burns special called Prohibition. At the turn of the 2oth century (and continuing in many places to this day), many people in the church hated alcohol and wanted to criminalize its production. Which, of course, would have made a criminal out of their Lord and Saviour.

There is perhaps no more palpable hate today than that directed towards homosexuals who want to participate in the life with the church. Many of us close our doors trying to keep the “sinful people” out. Yet, every Sunday morning our sanctuaries are filled with liars, cheats, the greedy, the gluttonous, people filled with lust, and the prideful.

Still others revile and condemn anything that enters the church which may have “pagan” origins. They label these things “unclean” and “unholy”, not fit for service to the church. Yet, not only does the church have a long history of redeeming and repurposing pagan holy days, unclean spaces, and unholy music, this act of redemptive is the very heart of the gospel these people claim to hold so dear.

I think if we look open and honestly at the things we hate, we would see that our hate is really very selective.

We hate things that are different than us. We hate things that don’t conform to our culturally defined sense of acceptability. We hate what we’ve been taught to hate without really asking why.

Perhaps most of all we hate because we think it our Christian duty to hate.

Ironically, it is.

But not in the way so many of think.

We should hate injustice. We should hate exploitation. We should hate oppression. We should hate abandonment and persecution.

We should hate the idea that people could starve to death in the 21st century. We should hate the reality that 150 years after this country abolished slavery, child sex slaves still walk the streets in every corner of the world. We should hate the fact that millions of people die every year from easily treatable diseases because they simply don’t have the money to pay for the vaccine. We should cringe with hate that within walking distance of every single one of us are people desperately in need of love, hope, and healing from a world that has turned its back on them.

There are plenty of things to hate. But people, places, and even things that are “lost” don’t need or deserve our hate.

They require hope.

They deserve our support.

They need our love.

That is what redemption looks like. That is what it means to be Christian.

Rest in peace Steve Jobs.


Grace and peace,

Zack Hunt