Fred Phelps is the pastor (I think) of Westboro Baptist Church, a Midwestern parish that has been making headlines lately for staging protests at military funerals, among other things. This band of haters picked a very unusal location for their latest protest----Comic Con International in San Diego. Their problem? They believe that comics fans actually----wait for it----worship their favorite characters. Phelps believes that comic books are some sort of pagan religion or something. Apparently, nobody told him that there are comics that have been produced for Christian audiences, too.
For example, Archie Comics entered a licensing agreement with Spire Christian Comics several years ago to loan out Archie and his friends for some 1-shot specials. Former MGM cartoon star Barney Bear has also appeared under the Spire umbrella. Lest we forget, there are those rectangular mini-books put out by Jack Chick's ministry that pop up from time to time. There is a fine line between being a fan of, say for example, Batman or the Transformers, and idol worship, and to my knowledge, no one has ever opened a Church of Batman.
More than 20 years ago, in the pages of Action Comics during its weekly phase, Superman had to deal with a small cult of misguided souls who wanted to worship him. He wasn't digging, and had a difficult time trying to convince these clowns that he wasn't a god. Since these chapters were in the middle of the book, the two -page serial made for the worst centerfold ever.
One of the message boards at http://www.toonzone.org/ has a running debate on Phelps, a modern day harbinger of haterizing. If there is one thing that Christians, such as myself, and atheists share, it's a love of comics. We recognize that these are stories, and we respect the characters therein. Unfortunately, Phelps and the Westboro flock see how Comic Con International draws huge crowds every year. For comics & science-fiction devotees, it's the social event of the season, kind of like when Saratoga Race Course opens around the same time. Phelps wants to draw attention away from the convention itself and to him and his hateful agenda. One poster on Toon Zone wrote that he believes Phelps is mentally ill. It's also been noted that Phelps comes from a family of lawyers. Ok, so he's an embarassment to two different occupations. He's also an embarassment to the mental health system, but that's beside the point. After a 45 minute rant, because that's all it amounts to, Phelps and his miserable band were going after former VP Al Gore next.
The Bible teaches us to "love thy neighbor". For Fred Phelps, I'd like to dedicate Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is", in my opinion, the greatest rock ballad of the 80's, recently covered by Mariah Carey. I'd play the original, which actually has a church choir providing background vocals behind singer Lou Gramm. Let's face it. Phelps wants us to believe he doesn't know anything about love, other than the love of attention.