In the wake of the deadly shootings that occurred at a movie theater in Colorado last week, extremist Christian group the Westboro Baptist Church has revealed potential plans to protest victims' funerals – a decision a local pastor has called "insulting and abhorrent."
On Sunday, members from the infamous Topeka, Kan., group tweeted a number of messages that suggested they were on their way to picket funerals for the 12 victims of the deadly shooting. The group is infamous for picketing the funerals of soldiers, celebrities, and anyone who does not agree with their belief that God hates America because of its tolerance of homosexuality.
"Hi ho Hi ho, to Colorado we go! #godsenttheshooter! #americaisdoomed! #godisyourenemy! #godkillingyoursoldiers!" read a Twitter message from the account of Fred Phelps Jr., one of the leaders of the organization.
While it could not be confirmed where, when, or even if Westboro would truly stage a picket, Pastor Mike Dally from the non-denominational Gateway Christian Church in Aurora, shared with The Christian Post that if the controversial activists believe themselves to be doing "God's work," they are clearly mistaken.
"Were this the early days of the church when people were killed for not recanting their faith in God by hideous methods and for public entertainment, this is a group of people who would have stood outside the coliseum picketing how the people who were being killed deserved it," Dally suggested.
"Throughout Scripture God sets Himself apart from the sinfulness of man. As the Holy God, He cannot sin nor can He endure its presence. Yet it is out of that righteousness that His love is seen most dramatically," he continued, referencing John 3:16-17 and 1 John 4:7-12 to explain God's love for the world shown through Jesus Christ.
"The sad reality is that many will reject this love and place themselves under judgment by that rejection," he added.
The Colorado pastor claimed that what the Westboro congregation has done is fallen under a "hyper-critical enticement" that leads them to reject God's call for love, and even elevate themselves into the position of God, where they believe they can judge others.
"When men strive to become like God and take His position they have fallen sway to the same temptation that befell Adam and Eve," he said.
"They know neither the lives nor the faith status of any of those who have been killed and while God may be considering these deaths precious in His eyes they malign the character of God's precious children," Dally concluded.
"I'm not saying that all those who died will reap the eternal reward of heaven promised to those of faith in Christ, but it is completely beyond my ability to know their hearts and relationships just as it is impossible for the Westboro Church to know as well."
A candlelight vigil for Aurora's victims has already been held in the town without incident, and memorial services are expected to stretch all week long across various areas around the country.
Dally has served as senior pastor at Gateway Christian Church since 2002, and has previously served ministries in Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.