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Fred Phelps is dead

Timothy Kincaid

March 20th, 2014

Fred Phelps was the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, a small group of extreme Calvinists who made a loud splash by picketing gay events – and then military funerals, other churches, and eventually anything that caught their fancy – with signs designed to shock and offend. With “God Hates Fags” as their chief rallying cry, they soon found themselves as Bad Example #1, even for many who shared their religious opposition to gay rights.

It’s easy to think of Phelps as solely as a vaudeville villain. And, indeed he caused much harm.

But, interestingly, despite their theological rancor, most first-hand reports I’ve seen suggest that the Phelps clan is personally engaging, amusing and perhaps a bit charming. They see their obligation is to tell you that you are vile and hell-bound and hated by God. But since you’re eternally damned anyway, why not have a sense of humor about it.

And while Fred Phelps has wasted his life and caused far more pain than any person should, his life was not always on this track. Before he allowed his narrow faith to warp his thinking, Phelps was an attorney fighting for civil rights and against racial discrimination.

Fred Phelps was a bit of a conundrum. But by the end of his days, his rallying call for hate and his fervor for offense outweighed any good he had performed. Following a seventeenth century vengeful deity into the abyss of hatred and condemnation, Phelps turned himself and his family into a living morality play about the dangers of extremism and self-righteousness.

As his life came to a close, his sole redeeming quality might be that he had, inadvertently, galvanized moderate people of faith into countering his message and silenced many who might have expressed similar views in a much less strident fashion. And perhaps his legal defense of his right to cause offense has helped protect the rights to free speech for other dissident voices.

Now Fred Phelps is dead. (ksn)

The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., who founded Westboro Baptist Church widely known for its protests at military funerals and anti-gay sentiments, has died according to his son Tim Phelps and daughter Margie Phelps.

Margie says her father died shortly before midnight. She didn’t give the cause of death or the condition that recently put him in hospice care.

Few will mourn his passing.

Comments

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Mark F.
March 20th, 2014 | LINK

I’ll mourn it. Fred’s insane nuttery helped the gay rights movement. RIP Fred.

Pacal
March 20th, 2014 | LINK

If Nate Phelps, estranged son of Fred Phelps, statements are anything to go by his father was a believer in the “curse of Ham”, who did those Civil Rights cases for the money and publicity while despising Black people. Further according to Nate Fred Phelps viciously beat him and his brothers with such things as wooden handles.

The irony is that this man is that this man died apparently excommunicated by his own Church in a power struggle.

MattNYC
March 20th, 2014 | LINK

I’ll plead Thumper’s Mother’s credo:

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”

Richard Rush
March 20th, 2014 | LINK

If you want to take the high road and be respectful of Fred Phelps’ legacy, or even honor it, you should picket his funeral. Bear with me here . . .

The Phelps clan fought hard to maintain their right to picket funerals, and finally succeeded with a favorable 8-1 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 – Snyder v. Phelps. The key factor in the case was that the picketing [ostensibly] addressed “matters of public concern” as opposed to “matters of purely private significance.” So, keep that in mind as you prepare for your picketing.

If you’re on a tight budget, you could ask to borrow some of the clan’s “God hates FAGS” signs, but then add some new signs that reveal the bombshell-of-a-secret that FAGS is really the acronym for Fanatical Anti-Gay Syndrome.

http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/get-involved/constitution-activities/first-amendment/protests-flash-mobs/facts-case-summary.aspx

TampaZekex
March 20th, 2014 | LINK

I hope Fred has found the peace and freedom from fear that he was unable or unwilling to seek in life and I wish his family the love, compassion and peace in their loss that they have been unwilling or unable to show others.

Sincerely,
A FAG

enough already
March 20th, 2014 | LINK

I must acknowledge facts: He did more to advance the cause of justice in America by showing the world just exactly what stands behind the oft cited Christian claim that they don’t hate us:
Yup, they surely do.
The only thing protecting us is strong laws. He led to many.
For that, I thank him and wish him a speedy trip to the other side.
Which, I hope, is exactly the place he wished me.

Pacal
March 20th, 2014 | LINK

Fred Phelps was also eventually disbarred for ethical violations. And for how he treated his family how about this:

“”Kathy’s was my father’s favorite,” remembers Margie. “She had blue eyes and dark hair. She was very pretty and he would spoil her. He used to bounce her on his knee and sing ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’ to her. But after she was about 15 or 16, they had nothing to say to each other. She’d be home, but she kept her distance from him. “And she was a bitch throughout her teen years. She was very mean to the rest of the kids. Kathy became very self-destructive back then, and she’s stayed that way since.” Concludes Margie: “I never understood why.” Perhaps her brothers on the West Coast have a clue: “Then came a time when suddenly Kathy got in my dad’s doghouse,” relates Mark. “A boy had called once or something. From that time on, he commenced to beating her, and he stayed on her and stayed on her rear end that wouldn’t l; because of how often and how severely she got beat. “He’d beat her routinely in the church, against the foundation pole. He’d beat her with mattock and then twist her arm behind her back. She’d be screaming- bloodcurdling screams-and all because someone had called her up on the telephone.

“Later, it got so if the phone rang and they hung up, he’d assume it was a boy looking for Kathy, and that she was ‘doing’ him, and then she’d get beaten for that. “And, on top of that, she and Nate were getting beaten several times a week for their weight. “Later, when Mark and Fred were in college,” says Nate, “Mom would take everyone out to sell candy, but she’d leave Kathy home alone with Fred. She’d get beaten during those times, just like I had.” Kathy tried to escape the nightmare called ‘home’ at the Westboro Baptist Church at least three times between the age of 17 and 18. Each time, the pastor found out where she was living and led a Phelps’ quick-reaction team to literally snatch her away from her life and bring her back. In one incident, Kathy was living in a quiet Topeka neighborhood and dating a boy Mark knew from high school. “It was the summertime, about 6:30 in the evening,” Nate recalls. “Her boyfriend pulled in to pick her up on a date. We’d been waiting for her to come out of the house, and when she did, we just swooped in. We had two cars. Mark was driving one and my dad the other. It was real ‘Starsky and Hutch’. We blocked off the departing vehicle, and pulled her out of the car while her date just sat there stunned.” “At home my father beat her terribly,” says Mark. “It was then she was locked in her room for 40 days on nothing but water.” Mark remembers one of the ‘parental intercessions’ was actually a kidnapping: Kathy was 18 when it occurred. Though she eventually finished college and graduated law school, according to some of her siblings, Kathy has yet to find resolution to her anger and self- destruction. In recent years, she has allowed her active status at the bar to lapse, waitressed at Topeka’s Ramada Inn, been laid off, gone of public assistance, and been convicted on passing bad checks.”

From http://blank.org/addict/chapter7.html

Neil
March 20th, 2014 | LINK

His persona lives on in his congregation. The Phelps clan with the rest of Westbro Baptist will continue to act in such a way as to advance the cause of LGBT rights.

Vale Fred.

Richard Rush
March 20th, 2014 | LINK

Regarding Pacal’s comment, here is a link to the home page which in turn links to all nine chapters:

http://www.blank.org/addict/

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