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17 March 2014
It's been all overe the internet today. Fred Phelps is on his death bed.
I suppose there may be some reading this who stare blankly and ask "who?"
Fred Phelps was "discovered" by mainstream media a few years ago, when he started picketing the funerals of American servicemen killed in action, but he's been on my radar for far longer than that.
I became aware of Phelps and his Westboro Baptist church before there was a Facebook or a Twitter. There was only Compuserve (for me) and I began to hear of this weird pastor of this strange church in Topeka, Kansas.
At that time Phelps was really only known to the gay community and people around the gay community. He was the guy who, with his "church" (really his family members) would picket pride parades with their hateful signs.
When I went to Washington, DC for the final full display of the AIDS quilt, a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, and a march to the Capitol building, there was Phelps and his followers out in all their regalia, and their signs.
After reading about Phelps for awhile, I got hold of a piece written by one of his children who had "escaped" the compound and wrote about what it was like to have Phelps for a Dad. I don't remember it all, but I do remember the part about his beating his sons with a baseball bat for disobedience.
When Matthew Shepherd died, Phelps was there to picket his funeral...
...and he started a counter on his web page counting the number of days that Matthew had been in hell.
But Phelps didn't hit the mainstream media until he went a little bonkers and started picketing the funerals of soldiers, his message that God killed soldiers because the United States did not condemn homosexuality.
Now more people were becoming aware of Phelps and his mission, and he expanded his mission to cover the funerals of just about anybody, it seemed.
His son issued a statement on Facebook yesterday, saying that his father had been excommunicated by the Westboro Baptist Church and that now he is in the hospital and is not expected to live much longer.
Needless to say there has been a flood of messages all over the internet expressing joy at the news. But I was happy to see that there were also a lot of messages which expressed what I've been feeling at this news.
I feel no joy at the impending death of Fred Phelps. A man with that much hate in his heart must have had a very difficult upbringing to make him such a cruel person. I can't excuse his actions and I find it difficult to forgive him for the pain he has brought so many families. But I also can't rejoice at his impending demise. To feel happiness at whatever pain and suffering he may have at his end is to bring myself down to his level, to feel hate for a person I didn't know. If there is an afterlife, I suspect he and the Almighty that he has been the self-appointed spokesperson for for decades now are going to have a very interesting chat as they go through his life review.
I hope nobody pickets his funeral and lets those who cared for him
mourn in peace.
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