The Brett Kimberlin Saga:

Follow this link to my BLOCKBUSTER STORY of how Brett Kimberlin, a convicted terrorist and perjurer, attempted to frame me for a crime, and then got me arrested for blogging when I exposed that misconduct to the world. That sounds like an incredible claim, but I provide primary documents and video evidence proving that he did this. And if you are moved by this story to provide a little help to myself and other victims of Mr. Kimberlin’s intimidation, such as Robert Stacy McCain, you can donate at the PayPal buttons on the right. And I thank everyone who has done so, and will do so.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two Westboro Baptist Church Members Learn to be Better Christians

You have seen me spar with some of the Westboro Baptist types earlier this week, especially in relationship to Ron Paul’s dumb comment on the death of Chris Kyle (see here, here and here).

Now we learn today that two members of the church have left.  And given that most of them are related to each other, that is a pretty big thing.  Via the Guardian:

One of the most prominent members of the Westboro Baptist church has left it after spending her life as part of the fervently anti-gay movement.

Megan Phelps-Roper, who looked after social media for the church best known for its slogan "God hates fags", announced her departure in a post on the blogging platform Medium in which she also revealed her younger sister Grace, 19, was also leaving.

In the post, called Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, the 27-year-old explained how she had become disillusioned with the teaching of Westboro, which is widely considered one of the most detested church groups in America for its "God hates fags" campaign.

Phelps-Roper writes: "We know that we've done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn't the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren't so, and regret that hurt.

Read the whole thing.  Look don’t hope for too much, there.  They aren’t suddenly going to march in any gay pride parade.  But she has recognized the very point I was hammering home to Shirley Phelps-Roper the other day, that if your religion involves telling a person a heartbroken parent in Newtown, Connecticut, that their children are burning in hell, something has gone horribly wrong in your supposed Christianity.  It is simply inexcusably cruel to say that to a grieving parent and, by the way, not terribly constructive.

And further you can read in her own words about her departure:

Where do you go from there?

I don't know, exactly. My sister Grace is with me, though. We’re trying to figure it out together.

There are some things we do know.

We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.

We know that we dearly love our family. They now consider us betrayers, and we are cut off from their lives, but we know they are well-intentioned. We will never not love them.

We know that we can’t undo our whole lives. We can’t even say we’d want to if we could; we are who we are because of all the experiences that brought us to this point. What we can do is try to find a better way to live from here on. That’s our focus.

Up until now, our names have been synonymous with “God Hates Fags.” Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what we did. We hope [Selena] Kyle [in the Dark Knight Rises] was right about the other part, too, though – that everything sticks – and that the changes we make in our lives will speak for themselves.

You can sense from reading that the guilt she is racked with for what that church had done, as well as how painful it must be to not only leave the church but her family as well.  And if you read this piece by Jeff Chu where he talks about their journey you see that it is very much about her belief that there has to be redemption that drove this wedge between her and the church:

“My doubts started with a conversation I had with David Abitbol,” she says. Megan met David, an Israeli web developer who’s part of the team behind the blog Jewlicious, on Twitter. “I would ask him questions about Judaism, and he would ask me questions about church doctrine. One day, he asked a specific question about one of our signs—‘Death Penalty for Fags’—and I was arguing for the church’s position, that it was a Levitical punishment and as completely appropriate now as it was then. He said, ‘But Jesus said’—and I thought it was funny he was quoting Jesus—‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ And then he connected it to another member of the church who had done something that, according to the Old Testament, was also punishable by death. I realized that if the death penalty was instituted for any sin, you completely cut off the opportunity to repent. And that’s what Jesus was talking about.”

To some, this story might seem simple—even overly so. But we all have moments of epiphany, when things that are plate-glass clear to others but opaque to us suddenly become apparent. This was, for Megan, one of those moments, and this window led to another and another and another. Over the subsequent weeks and months, “I tried to put it aside. I decided I wasn’t going to hold that sign, ‘Death Penalty for Fags.’” (She had, for the most part, preferred the gentler, much less offensive “Mourn for Your Sins” or “God Hates Your Idols” anyway.)

What “seemed like a small thing at the time,” she says, snowballed. She started to question another Westboro sign, “Fags can’t repent.” “It seemed misleading and dishonest. Anybody can repent if God gives them repentance, according to the church. But this one thing—it gives the impression that homosexuality is an unforgivable sin,” she says. “It didn’t make sense. It seemed a wrong message for us to be sending. It’s like saying, ‘You’re doomed! Bye!’ and gives no hope for salvation.”

Yes, that is right, a Jewish person taught her to be a better Christian.  But then again, Martin Luther King Jr. credits Gandhi, a follower of the Hindu faith, with teaching him to be a better Christian, too.  Sometimes you have to look outside of your “house” to find better examples that you should live up to.

But what seems to be key in her thinking is opening the door to redemption, or salvation as she put it.  It is a concrete example of Jesus’ love for us, that although each of us falls each of us has the opportunity to repent.

And so ironically she is seeking her own repentance.  Read her words again:

We know that we can’t undo our whole lives. We can’t even say we’d want to if we could; we are who we are because of all the experiences that brought us to this point. What we can do is try to find a better way to live from here on. That’s our focus.

Up until now, our names have been synonymous with “God Hates Fags.” Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what we did. We hope [Selena] Kyle [in the Dark Knight Rises] was right about the other part, too, though – that everything sticks – and that the changes we make in our lives will speak for themselves.

That’s actually a fair deep thought hidden there.  First, people are confronted sometimes with the question: would you prefer to live your life differently?  For instance, I have spoken openly about my experiences with disability discrimination.  If I could go back and make my disabilities disappear, so that I never suffered any of it, would I?  And honestly I would say, “no.”  Those experiences, good and bad, have helped mold who I am.  Now there is a question of how much of our character is set at birth, and how much is purely a product of our upbringing.  I will say that there are elements of my personality that have reportedly manifested itself since I was a baby.  But there is no education quite like having your right to an education denied to you; it teaches you lessons about the world that I don’t think you can learn in any book and, yes, I think it changed me and for the better.

A tougher question is whether you would change your mistakes, even your sins?  And plainly her answer is no, but she would not continue to commit them.  And now after first deciding that her church was wrong because it didn’t open up the chance for one of Jesus’ most significant gifts of love—giving us the chance to redeem ourselves—she now finds herself in need of redemption.

It is fitting then that one of these girls is named Grace for it reminds one of the ultimate song of redemption, Amazing Grace.  I have said this before, but this song is far more literal and autobiographical than you might initially think.  Its author, John Newton, was literally blind and regained his sight.  He was literally lost and was found.  He worked on board a slave ship for years on end, participating in one of the most monstrous sins ever perpetrated and he came back from that.  He found redemption.  I believe in my heart that he found passage into heaven, by repenting of that deep sin, and helping show us the way back to grace:


On the off chance any of the Phelps girls are reading this today, do remember this.  This man actually physically hurt people.  Sharks would actually follow slave ships like his expecting people to be occasionally cast off.  I have heard estimates as high as fifteen million people dying in this journey.  And those who made it were then sold into a lifetime of bondage cruel enough that some might have preferred the sharks.  He physically hurt people and I believe he found redemption.

By comparison, as far as I know, the Westboro Baptist Church has only ever hurt feelings.  And while what they have done was inexcusably cruel, the sin is comparatively slight compared to what John Newton had done.  If he can find redemption, so can you.

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My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the Blogger’s Defense Team button on the right.  And thank you.

Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.  And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here.  And you can read a little more about my novel, here.

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Disclaimer:

I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.

And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.

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