Letter to the Editor: A Lutheran Christian Protest Against a Westboro Baptist Protest
Lexington resident Albert Jabs explains why he disagrees with Westboro Baptist Church's plans to protest at the funerals of two Midlands soldiers Saturday.
As a former American soldier (Korean War Period), professor of history/government, missionary, and Lutheran Lay leader, I must dissent from the plans and perspective of my Westboro brethren in their misguided protest of the Midlands soldiers' funerals.
Why must I dissent? Essentially, the total Scripture message has to do with love of God and love of the neighbor. This has to do with respect, dignity, and honor for their specific calling, serving as soldiers, in this blessed land of America, in which Sgt. John Meador, Lt. Ryan Davis Rawl, and Sgt. Matthew Thomas gave the supreme sacrifice. They are our brothers who have fallen in defense of their country.
Paradoxically, in their supreme sacrifices, and in the sacrifices of others, like in the Command of my son, Captain Eric Jabs, U.S. Navy, they have made it possible that freedom to protest can be made — as obnoxious and disconcerting as it may be. Name one nation on this earth where this would be possible. I have traveled this globe sufficiently to know that while we may at times have an inadequate view of suffering in this world...we have had the Marshall Plan...and we are quick to help in both large and little tsunamis. The potential and helping in other lands point to a generosity of spirit even in a broken world.
In viewing the Westboro Baptist website, it is clear that they do not read the same Bible as I do. It is true that even the Hebrew nation fell into dissonance and disobedience to the Creator's will, and the horrors and consequence of this disobedience can be read and reflected on in the Babylonian Captivity of 587 BC where Judah would lie in captivity for seventy long years and where the Hebrew nation was decimated and exiled and importantly, this exists as a warning for all nations who do not follow fair justice laws and mercy.
But the Westboro contingent fails to see the balance between God's judgment, which is the Law, and our Lord's offer of mercy for the the repentant hearts. Luther, gives this understanding of repentance in the first of his 95 theses, and it is the great underlying theme of both Old and New Testaments rooted in the Jesus Christ Cross of forgiveness. Westboro, needs to hear this perspective once again.
The Lexington Community has a strong Lutheran Faith community. As Sheriff Jim Metts asked me to give the prayer at the dedication of Meetze Street and its recovery from a former drug and death street of hopelessness, the Invocation given was a reference made to Matthew 25, about how "Inasmuch....as you have done to the least of these...is now tied up to the suffering, wounding, of these families of loved ones lost in another war...and it is out responsibility to bind up the wounds, heal the families, and to bring hope, comfort and consolation to the bereaved.
So as a confessing Lutheran who has seen death and who has served this nation, along with my family, I must agree to disagree with my Westboro Baptist communion; but absolutely, not to demonize all Baptists on their interpretation of Holy Scripture, but specifically, their protest march against the Midlands soldiers' funerals, and an invitation to debate on why they choose to protest on these issues, at this particar venue, and why I am compelled by my particular Lutheran confession of faith to protest against this particular protest march.
Dr. Albert Jabs