Everyone’s favorite anti-gay preacher/hatemonger wants to put up a monument in Matthew Shepard’s hometown of Caspar, Wyoming that reads “MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God’s Warning: ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.’ Leviticus 18:22.”
In an attempt to avoid my knee-jerk reaction, which includes screaming obscenities and grinding my teeth until bits of dentition come loose, let me make the measured observation that the preacher’s grasp of basic Christian theology is severely lacking. Much as we might like them to, bad people (Republicans included) don’t go “straight to hell” any more than good people (or all dogs) go “straight to heaven.” There is the small matter of the Final Judgment, which any good fundamentalist will know can’t have happened yet, because Jesus has not yet rocketed back down to Earth orbit in a blaze of glory. The Bible is not entirely clear as to where the dead are– sleeping? in a bus station in Alpha Centauri?– but they have not yet met their maker, or their final judgment.
Sure, pop culture shows the recently dead sprouting haloes or horns and spiriting off. But pop culture also shows gay men and lesbians forming stable relationships and raising happy families (and even helping schlumps look better), and that apparently upsets Phelps. If he wants to be a fire-and-brimstone freak, he should be held to a higher standard than feel-good religionists. Personally, I think he’s going to burn in Hell not only for his hatefulness, but for his lack of faithfulness as a preacher to Christian doctrine. If you are going to split hairs, get a sharp razor.
Also, there is the matter of Phelps’ syntax. People go to Hell “in defiance” of God’s demands? Clearly, this man is not a genius, but can not one of his posse structure a simple declarative sentence?
As for Matthew Shepard, may he rest in peace.