Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Wearing vests covered in military patches, a band of motorcyclists rolls around the country from one soldier's funeral to another, cheering respectfully to overshadow jeers from church protesters.
These bikers calling themselves the Patriot Guard Riders, number more than 5,000 strong, were formed to counter anti-gay protests held by the Rev. Fred Phelps at military funerals.
Rev. Phelps believes American deaths in Iraq are divine punishment for a country that he says harbors homosexuals. His protesters carry signs thanking God for so-called IEDs -- explosives that are a major killer of soldiers in Iraq. The bikers shield the families of dead soldiers from the protesters, and overshadow the jeers with patriotic chants and a sea of red, white and blue flags.
I struggle with trying to decide what is more sad. The funeral, the Christian protestors, or the bikers who make the journey to these funerals and shield mourning families. Rev. Phelps and the protesters, most rational people will agree, are un-Christian, missing the true teaching of Jesus and like with most social issues seen within the moral-social prism today, chose the Old Testiment intrepretation of God rather than one taught by Christ in the New Testiment. It is this misintrepretation that may be the deepest dimension of saddness. The mourning families will have their wounds heal in time. The bikers, remembering the brothers dead in faraway lands and honoring the host of new dead from across the globe, hold their sadness close to the heart, wrapping it around them, like the flag they hold and, like the families, never forgetting. The protesters however will never experience the sadness. Through the language of hate and the action of disrespect they nullify every positive action and word undertaken in the name of Christianity, and add fuel to comparasions of fanatical Islamic minorities.