My first thought was that, though I am a member of a Baptist church, my church has absolutely nothing in common with Westboro Baptist Church. My friends, and especially my Christian friends, understand this. I don’t believe that certain things in society are right, but I also don’t expect non-Christians to believe what a Christian believes. In fact, I’m more surprised when a non-Christian does believe a Biblical truth.
Secondly, although I am not associated in any way to Westboro Baptist Church, apparently there are many in America that may think all Baptist are the same. There is indeed a difference of opinions among conservative Baptist (movies, dress, music) as well as a difference in non-fundamental doctrine (marriage and divorce, drinking), but the doctrines that are fundamental to a vital relationship to Jesus are the same. Then there are Baptist churches that are “liberal” in that they would deny vital doctrines. Their emphasis would be toward a better society. From the outside, both conservative and liberal Baptists can easily be viewed as somewhat the same group as both look toward bettering people and living morally. Than there is Westboro Baptist Church. Unfortunately, they stand out among Baptists. Though they are not representative of the whole, it’s possible that many in America believe that they are.
Lastly, I read recently that a pastor was at a meeting with other pastors and the Westboro Baptist Church was picketing nearby. This pastor decided to go and speak to someone from the group and after getting shouted at for a while, he was able to talk with the pastor’s son-in-law who was leading the picketing effort. Toward the end of the conversation the son-in-law admitted that he just does what his father-in-law pastor tells him to do. WOW!!!
Two things come to mind here. One, everyone is capable of blindly following a man. It happens all the time in churches, even good ones. And, two, we can still honor our pastors for the works' sake. That honor comes from their dedication to the work of the Word of God. I honor my pastor because he honors God. His honor towards God is exemplified in his example before the congregation, his work of clearly presenting Gospel truth, and his desire to lead as a shepherd and teach God’s people to love Jesus and love man, no matter who or what they are.