Monday, March 17, 2014

Why I'm Not Celebrating the Recent News About Fred Phelps

For those who haven't already heard, Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church infamy is only months away from death, according to a public statement by his estranged son, Nate, Saturday night  on his public Facebook page. Nate left the family and their cult behind at 18, and became a gay rights activist in Canada.

 Here's is the statement in it's entirety:

I've learned that my father, Fred Phelps, Sr., pastor of the "God Hates Fags" Westboro Baptist Church, was ex-communicated from the "church" back in August of 2013. He is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas. 

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. 

Destroyed by the monster he made. 

I feel sad for all the hurt he's caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I'm bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.

Famous atheist writer Hemant Mehta, best known as The Friendly Atheist, personally confirmed the details by phone with Nate himself. There's a lot more questions than answers right now, especially regarding why his own church excommunicated him, and it's lead me to question why.

I have noticed online that some people have been celebrating this news, saying that there should be protests at his funeral, as a kind of payback, and cheering the fact that a man who dedicated his life to hate is finally dying.

I can't join in on that kind of talk, I just don't feel that way. I have no sympathies whatsoever for Fred Phelps, but I'm mourning. 

(Nate Phelps)
Mourning for the lives he damaged, the family members of his who had to make the choice between remaining in this hateful cult, or still having contact with their own family.

I mourn that Nate, and his fellow relatives who grew up in this family will never know what it's like to have a normal childhood, but were instead used as pawns to feed the desire for publicity by an egomaniac, they weren't treated like loved sons, daughters, nieces/nephews or grandchildren, but as a means to an end, to build an empire for Fred Phelps.

It's sad that those who escaped, and tried to build a better life for themselves are not going to be allowed to mourn the passing of someone they have still loved in spite of it all (it may sound strange if you never grew up in a dysfunctional/abusive environment, but it's possible) with the rest of their family, or even be able to say their goodbyes at a proper funeral 

I mourn for the families of soldiers that not only had to face the grief of losing a young relative, but had to face vile hatred like this when they left the funeral home, the images will probably be in their minds for life:

He built an empire of hate, and in the end, it come to nothing. He's now dying alone in a hospice center, being cared for by strangers, instead of having his family by his side, his church has apparently thrown him out of his leadership role, and no one has any compassion for him now.

Even his political agenda came to nothing. I think that the strides that the gay rights movement has made so far, some of it wouldn't be possible without him. He exposed the raw, vile, disgusting nature of homophobia at it's core, and in American society, partly because of him, homophobia is no longer fashionable as it once was. Opponents of gay rights got to see just what they looked like to the outside world, and it wasn't pretty.

In his ambition to become famous for his hate, he destroyed everything he cared about, and several of his own family members, besides Nate himself, dedicated their lives to fighting what he stood for. It's tragic what he ended up doing to everyone around him due to his ego.

No, I won't be celebrating his death, but I want to be there, in support of everyone he harmed, and may his life be a lesson to everyone of how hate doesn't get you anywhere in life, and that blind ambition and ego are destructive. Let's work towards building a better future, and not let our anger, (even as justified as it may be toward him) eat us up inside, and lose sight of what is important, of fighting for what's right, and leaving a better future for those who come after us.


  1. Online, some opponents of the WBC are full of venom for Fred Phelps, while others are urging their brethren to show Phelps more mercy and dignity than he ever showed others in life. I hope people don't stoop to the WBC's level when Phelps dies.

    Phelps serves as a reminder to live life well, instead of succumbing to hatred. He could have lived his life as a loving family man and a constructive career man. Instead, he's left a legacy of bigotry, abuse, and extremism, and will die hated. It's an ugly end to an ugly life, and everyone should strive for something better than that.

    1. I agree. Friendly Atheist co-writer Paul Fidalgo is basically saying the same thing:

  2. I agree. When the wicked die, it always grieves me because their legacy does not die with them. But it's also a reminder for us all to live better lives, so we don't leave that kind of hate behind.

  3. Honestly, I am glad he is dying. But I have to agree picketing his funeral is dumb for the simple reason that if he has already been excommunicated. The people who the world wants to show what WBC did is wrong (by doing the same thing the sweet irony of children) will not be there. Its a victory for WBC in essence.

  4. The funny thing is, at least from what I've heard, Fred Phelps was excommunicated because he was the most reasonable one of the bunch. Once he dies, the religious stupidity won't stop and that's the real sorrow of it all.

    1. Supposedly he was kicked out by their board of elders for siding with his daughter in some dispute with them.

      Strangely enough, his daughter is not only still in the church, but from all indications, she was being prepped to take over the church for some time now.


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