William Shakespeare once said, “Even the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” As I glanced through the headlines of cnn.com, I stumbled upon an article titled “Dodge City Showdown at Funeral” that illustrates this quote disgustingly well.

Now, usually when I read articles containing the phrases “Thank God for IEDs” – which stands for improvised explosive devices – and “Thank God for dead soldiers,” I would expect to read about Iraqi insurgents or Islamic terrorists celebrating a new record in U.S. military deaths, complete with the obligatory image of torched American flags. However, I never expected slogans so tasteless to come from citizens of my very own country. Not even the lunatic fringe of ultra-leftists could be so opposed to the war in Iraq as to wish death upon our soldiers overseas.

Meet Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, who claims, “You can’t preach the Bible without preaching the hatred of God.” Okay, asshole. You certainly can’t preach the Bible without preaching the love of Jesus, either. Phelps and his congregation, consisting mostly of his own family members, have traveled to over 100 military funerals across the country to dishonor the deaths of fallen soldiers, who they claim are fighting for a country that is being destroyed by homosexuality.

Where do I possibly begin?

First, I cannot find a link between the war in Iraq and blaming homosexuality for America’s problems. Last I heard, the U.S. invaded Iraq to topple the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, not to liberate the gay and lesbian Iraqis from his oppression. Nor can I find a relationship between the military itself and homosexuality. Our military always draws criticism for its controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy towards homosexuals and just last month, seven soldiers from the 82nd Airborne division were in deep shit for posing on a gay porn website with a military theme. The U.S. Army sure as hell doesn’t put up with it.

Next, what would Jesus do? Would Jesus picket military funerals and tell those families that their sons and daughters deserved to die because they fought on behalf of a country that doesn’t treat homosexuals as second-class citizens? Now, if I were Jesus, as one of infinite power, I would ask Father to destroy Mr. Phelps Sodom and Gomorrah-style, not the soldiers of the very country to which I belong. However, I’m not Jesus and Jesus is one too calm and collected to sink to that level. Which reminds me, Jesus said nothing condemning homosexuality, no matter which version of the Bible you read.

Last, if anyone hates America and its current stance on homosexuality and its soldiers, leave. America doesn’t want Phelps and his congregation and I’m sure they can find like-minded individuals in a country like Iran or Libya willing to celebrate the deaths of American soldiers and roast marshmallows over a burning American flag, so long as they are willing to call their god “Allah” in the meantime.

I urge Christian and Jewish leaders to condemn Fred Phelps and distance themselves from his narrow-minded interpretation of the Bible. I urge reasonable politicians, left or right, to propose legislation that would restrict demonstrating outside military funerals. I urge all concerned students to call your local representatives and make yourself heard.

On a brighter note, cheers to the Patriot Guard Riders, who showed up 400 strong last weekend by motorcycle to support the family of Sgt. Jessie Davila, in spite of the Westboro Baptist Church’s presence.

Fred Phelps, if you’re reading this, you can kiss my ass.

Camerin Smith is a freshman business-economics major.