Last week, NPR shared a photo of a 9-year-old boy, Josef Miles, who responded to Westboro Baptist Church—the “God Hates Fags” and “God Hates Jews” and “God Hates Nerds” guys—with a small sign on a ringed notebook that said “God Hates No One.” The boy’s mom explained on Facebook:
“Josef was determined to make his own statement so we went to the car and with pencil and his sketch pad, he made up his own little sign that reads ‘GOD HATES NO ONE,’ ” his mom wrote. “Those people are scary but he stood strong, was respectful and stood by his convictions. He will be a good man, I have no doubt. I got my Mothers Day present early.”
There was a compelling story behind Josef Miles’ decision to make that sign. But as Sarah at GetReligion pointed out, NPR, when it had the Josef and his mom on the radio with Michel Martin, left a very bit component out: Just what religion are Josef and his mom?
This may seem like a small detail, but it’s central to the story, which is all about Josef having guts and conviction and a perspective different than the Westboro clowns.
Few tents are as exclusive as that belonging to Westboro. We already knew that Westboro does not think God hates no one. They don’t even think that God loves most people.
But without knowing Josef’s religious beliefs, we don’t really know why he thinks God hates no one. Does he attend an Open Church congregation? Or is he from a more theology conservative background that condemns homosexuality? Or—wait for it—is he not religious at all?
Such an inquiry does not take away from what made Josef’s action remarkable. But it is essential to providing much needed context to the motivation behind his belief.