Maplewood Richmond Heights High School will have two showings of The Laramie Project on Saturday, and before the 2:00 show, a group from Westboro Baptist Church will picket the school with its message of intolerance toward gays.
Westboro Baptist has conducted demonstrations opposing gays since 1991, according to its website. That viewpoint is the opposite of local clergy Patch spoke with on the subject.
Pastor Steve Moseley, at the Maplewood Baptist Church commented on Patch, that the views of Westboro Baptist do “not represent views and opinions of our congregation.”
He said there are different denominations of Baptists, and some call themselves independent Baptists, but still group together, but none of them are affiliated with Westboro Baptist Church.
Kim Shirar, pastor at Maplewood United Methodist Church, said, from the perspective of the United Methodist Church, “we support efforts to stop violence and other forms of coercion against all persons regardless of sexual orientation.”
Personally, she said, “My hope is that folks don’t view Westboro Baptist Church as representative of all Christian churches, because I firmly believe that God loves all people. My belief is God is love. That comes straight from Scripture.”
The Rev. Matt Miofsky, at The Gathering United Methodist Church, said his church “obviously” disagrees with Westboro Baptist Church.
“The Gathering, since it started six years ago, had a pretty simple mission, to invite people to follow Jesus, and one of the things that has made our church unique is that we have created a community that includes a very diverse group of people.” He said gay and straight are welcome there.
“Churches like Westboro Baptist see the Gospel differently,” he said. “They believe that God’s fundamental attitude toward humanity is one of anger, and we see it differently. God’s fundamental attitude toward humanity is one of love.
“This sort of protest is antithetical to our understanding of the Gospel of Jesus and the work of the church,” he said.
Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship Pastor Mark Ryan said he doesn’t agree with Westboro Baptist’s mission, either.
“An image bearer, in the Christian tradition, is all of the human race, who we believe are made to represent God in the world. So as a Christian, it is unacceptable to me, even if somebody practices a life style that is different, it is intolerable to think that we would mistreat them for that difference.
“While I as an individual Christian have some concerns about homosexuality, I would not in any way, endorse or promote what Westboro Baptist is promoting,” Ryan said. “I think they represent an extreme, and an unhealthy representation of the response that many Christian men and women would wish to have.”
Ryan said his sense of Maplewood Richmond Heights clergy is that although there is a diversity of viewpoints on moral questions, “I think even folk like us, of the more conservative or more traditional end, simply do not agree and are not motivated to join Westboro Baptist.”