Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dunce Cap Award: Steve Drain (and there's a weasel lurking, too)

It's been a week since Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps passed away, but the haterizing goes on.

The hypocrites showed up at a concert by New Zealand pop singer Lorde in Missouri, with their usual crap. Much to their surprise, a counter-protest presented a banner that read, "We're sorry for your loss", referring to the death of Phelps, 84, who had been surprisingly excommunicated from his own church, likely due to his advanced age. Phelps had been in hospice care when he passed.

Unfortunately, the irony of it all, particularly the concert, was lost on Westboro's new top gun, Steve Drain, who reportedly didn't understand why the counter-protesters were offering sympathy & compassion. Uh, Mr. Drain, you haven't been living your entire life in a bomb shelter, have you? This is what people do when someone loses a loved one. Bear in mind that the Westboro "congregation", 40 strong, is made up mostly of Phelps family members. They, along with Drain, just don't get it, and likely never will. Their doctrine is hopelessly lost in a misinterpretation of the Old Testament, and for Drain to expose himself as being unable to recognize a spark of humanity in the face of his church's campaign of hate, well, he just earned himself a Dunce Cap. Man, this was too easy.

Meanwhile, closer to home, another Baptist minister made headlines----and enemies, I'm sure----by raffling off an AR-47 rifle Sunday & Monday. Yes, you read that right. He held another service Monday night to give away another rifle. The AR-47 is the same weapon of mass destruction used by Adam Lanza on the students & faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012. While these rifles, raffled off by Rev. John Koletas of Grace Baptist Church in Lansingburgh are compliant under Governor Cuomo's SAFE act, it doesn't seem right that they'd be raffled off in the course of a church service, which swelled to a whopping three hours on Sunday. Koletas would be better off giving away No-Doz.

Editorial cartoonist Bill Bramhall of the New York Daily News characterized Koletas as being a little bit loopy in Tuesday's edition, but not loopy enough to merit a Dunce Cap. My beef is he'd have been better off if he raffled off the rifles in a separate event. He also reportedly has a beef with another Lansingburgh pastor who has been in the news, Rev. Willie Bacote of the Missing Link Men's Ministry, which is housed, and here's the irony again, in the former 6th Avenue Baptist Church at the Troy-Lansingburgh border. Bacote has played social activist in recent weeks, taking umbrage with the local police over a nightclub imbroglio a few weeks back, but for Koletas to bar anyone associated with Bacote's church from buying a raffle ticket---a Schenectady gun owner won Sunday's raffle--is wrong. Bacote has been working with the police on a buy-back program to take AR-47s and other assault rifles off the streets.

Koletas, then, gets the dreaded Weasel of the Week award. The Bible teaches us to love thy neighbor. You'd think all of the city's churches would work together toward the same goal, but Koletas, who has had a past history with the police himself, particularly an arrest record, may be feeling like he's a lone voice in the wilderness. What could be worse? How about a service sponsored by the NRA? Naaaaaaah.

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