Which raises the question: Should religious nutcases be condemned publicly or simply ignored?
In some cases, public condemnation helps separate the nutcases from the faith tradition they falsely claim to represent.
For example it is helpful when respected Muslim leaders assure the public that the attitudes and actions of Islamic extremists do not represent them or their faith. Or when Christian leaders are quick to do the same when someone claims that Jesus led them to say and do things Jesus would never say and do.
On the other hand, continuous public outcry can accomplish what the nutcases desired: their 15 minutes or longer of fame — with TV crews showing up on their lawns and counter-demonstrations being organized.
After years of strong public denouncements, surely few would associate the hate-filled actions of Fred Phelps and his tiny, mostly related Independent Baptist congregation in Kansas with other Baptists or Christians.
His little group’s bizarre protests at funerals for U.S. soldiers — which Phelps somehow ties to his hatred of homosexuals — is so far out of bounds. Even mentioning him here makes me feel like an accomplice to his attention-seeking ways.
Therefore, the current public outcry against a nutcase preacher in Florida who would insult millions of another faith tradition, harm interfaith relationships and put Americans abroad in greater danger is warranted. But giving him national and international attention is probably playing well in his ignorant head.
It might be better to ignore him — and others who do no good.
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.