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First World Problems

There was a tweet (captured on imgurl, of all places) that said: “Muslims view ‘Islamic’ terrorists the same way most Christians view the Westboro Baptist Church…

A lot of comments suggested otherwise, with justification.

The thing is: would an Iraqi Christian rather be faced with ISIS, or a moron from the Westboro Baptist Church?

It’d be an easy choice: even if the Iraqi were a flaming homosexual, the worst Westboro would likely do is shout at him. (I say “likely” because there have been Christians who apparently think throwing bombs at abortion clinics is justifiable.) The worst that ISIS would do is hard to imagine; their ordinary response seems to be “convert or die, or just die.” Carrying that to extremes would be scary.

It comes down to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: the Westboro Baptist Church is a first-world concern, and Islamic terror is a third-world concern.

A first-world concern is what you pay attention to when you have health care, when you have food, when you have shelter, when you have some expectation of reasonable protections.

A third-world concern is … well, among others, health, food, shelter, and safety.

Threaten someone with a first-world concern, and their lives may be disrupted, disturbed; nobody wants to hear how God is going to throw them into the pits of Hell. But they’d choose that years before choosing to have their lives threatened and their names and histories erased.

So no, I don’t think the tweet is correct. Maybe both are viewed with contempt (as they should be); maybe both are stains on their respective host belief systems. But there’s no real equivalence between the two, past that.


Westboro Baptist Church is curious to me, because of how poor their theology is. I don’t understand why they see homosexuality as the damnable offense, when the New Testament is rather clear: it’s sin that is considered sin, not a specific act. No sin is more damning than any other. That’s not to say that sins are equal in all contexts – stealing a stick of gum is a far less grievous sin than murder is. But theologically speaking, the presence of sin is why Christianity says Christ died in our places, so homosexuality is just one of a large number of areas in which mankind can sin.

Westboro is missing the whole point of Christianity by focusing on one aspect of life.

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