This is an easy one first I am a very conservative Christion, I believe the Bible to be without error and God"s word. Given that if you look at the Westboro Church you will see that their membership is only family members, you will also note that a majority of these members are lawyers. Their sole purpose is not the great commision of telling and teaching the world. Their purpose is to anger people enough that they react against them, in doing this the church is now able to sue whoever blocked them. For this group it is all about the money.
There is indeed a difference between these two groups. I am a conservative Christian. I am repelled and disgusted by WBC as any one in this country. I find them to be repellent, disgusting, and vile.
The difference between them and other Christians is their hate. Christians may believe that homosexuality is wrong, but won't hate homosexuals. I disagree with homosexual marriage, but I do not hate gays at all; I am a caring and loving person.
Yes WBC hates gays, as human beings. They are hateful and cruel. And that is the major difference between the two.
I think there is a valid slippery slope argument here that they use the same standards of evidence so believers are more vulnerable to extremism like this. At the same time there are many kind, accepting Christians that would never likely associate with this kind of hatred and bigotry. A, "love the sinner hate the sin," brand of Christianity is much more common. Their violently hateful attention grabbing idiocy is nothing like many of the stand up Christians I have met.
I would like to see more Christian groups stand up to these types of extremists and make it clear that they in no way agree. They are using the same label and book after all.
They just like going around starting things to cause publicity. They're attention seeking losers. They're so miserable with their own lives, they find other lives to bother with. Types like them are dealt with best if we don't give them attention, cause that's clearly what they want from us. Losers.
There are terrorist cells in the Middle east that have small pockets of support from average people living within their country, and the same is true for almost every other kind of fundamentalist. All groups have some pocket of support from somewhere, but the Westboro Baptist Church is unique in that EVERYONE HATES THEM, which makes them significantly different from other fundamentalists
Their message IS the fundamentalist Christian message- a literal interpretation of the bible. The only difference is where they choose to hold their protests. Plenty of other fundamentalist groups hold the same sort of protests with the same repulsive signs, they just don't do it at soldier's funerals.
Religion isn't real estate- it's not about location. It's about the message, and the Westboro message IS fundamentalist Christian.
But the views come from the same ideologies. They are both based on conservative Protestant beliefs. Most Fundamentalists believe A) Most people are going to hell, B) You must believe as they do to go to heaven, C) Strong opposition to homosexuality, D) Aggressive evangelization, and E) Impending judgment on humanity and apocalyptic expectations very soon.
Every behavior the WBC is notorious for occurs in many churches with Fundamentalist doctrines. Many Fundamentalists get involved with crude gloom and doom confrontational preaching, and both claim they are preaching unpleasant truths out of love. I have heard of preachers "Soul winning" at funeral homes, preying on the grieving. There was one preacher John Mcglone who disrupted his Grandmas funeral to rant about how his own grandma was in hell. And then Pastor Orlando who gave a rude eulogy. Plus there are many Fundamentalist infatuated with homosexuality, like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Steve Anderson, John Hagee, and James Dobson.
This is like comparing Al qaeda to the Taliban. Both are extreme religious groups based on the same bigoted ideologies. Both believe that everyone but them will burn in hell, both preach hateful rhetoric about people of other religions (especially Muslims and Jews), both are strongly hateful and bigoted towards homosexuals. And like all fundamentalists, they are clearly delusional as well. The only major difference between Westboro and other Fundamentalists, is that one is more socially accepted (Fundamentalists) while the other (Westboro) is more ostracized by mainstream society but this is only because Westboro is clearly more open and honest about what they really believe in while other fundamentalists hide their hate behind the Bible and mostly keep it in the church.
But I have personally witnessed other Fundies do exactly what Westboro does in public, tell everyone they are going to burn in hell because god hates America for being evil and degrading and attacking innocent homosexuals, Muslims and Jews for no reason.