I’m amazed that this story hasn’t gained any real national attention, and I only found out about it through my wife, who’s a real news hound.
The “Reverend” Fred Phelps, the “pastor” who took great joy in the murder of Matthew Shepard five years ago in Casper, Wyoming (he shouted “God Hates Fags!” during Shepard’s funeral), now plans to erect a monument in Casper to commemorate the murder.
The monument is described in an L.A. Times-authored story thusly:
“The 73-year-old Topeka, Kan., pastor has designed a granite monument engraved with Shepard’s face followed by these words chiseled in the stone: Matthew Shepard Entered Hell October 12, 1998, at Age 21 In Defiance of God’s Warning: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.” Leviticus 18:22.”
This fine “Christian” man plans to erect the monument in a public park in Casper. And – here’s the really good part – he’s legally entitled to do so.
How could it be that the city would have to accept this monument in a public park? Simple. Back in 1965 the city allowed a Ten Commandments monument to be set up in the park, and a 2002 federal court ruling says communities displaying such religious monuments must allow other messages or symbols to be displayed as well.
And so Phelps’ monument has a right to be there.
To their credit, Casper city officials are fighting this. Mayor Barbara Peryam was quoted in the Times piece as saying “I refuse to let Casper be defined by hate.”
But the city faces a choice – remove the Ten Commandments or allow Phelps’ monument.
I have two questions I’d like to hear a “Christian” perspective on here:
1) Does anybody want to step up and support Phelps on this? Is he some “radical Christian extremist” or is he correct in his assertion that Shepard is burning in Hell and justified in erecting a monument to remind people of that?
2) Assuming the federal court ruling holds up, should the city take down the Ten Commandments in order to keep Phelps’ monument out of the park? Or is the display of the Ten Commandments so important – remember the vigil in Alabama – that the city should allow Phelps to put up his monument?
More difficult thoughts available everyday at Cap’n Ken’s Homespun Wisdom