A Gay Dad’s Requiem on the Death of Fred Phelps

ImageI have been fighting for LGBT rights for a long, long time.  Fred Phelps was not always in that fight, but it feels like he was.  It feels like he has always been and always will be anti-gay hatred personified.  

He was not a contributor to the hardest time of that fight which was not the recent battles for marriage equality.  It was during the escalation of the AIDS crisis.  While so many of my wonderful friends became instantly sick and dying, the public landscape was filled with squeaky clean looking politicians and evangelicals who casually ignored or demeaned us.  Our challenge as a community then was not to be embraced or given equality, it was to gain a modicum of dignity and respect.  He was inspired by that lack of respect and sought to capitalize on it.

The nineties arrived with progressive gains were in process, still painfully slow.  Then an event occurred that was so graphic and raw, that it tore not only at the heart of the LGBT community, but caught the attention of the mass population in a way that hundreds of thousands of deaths of gay men had not.

A young man named Mathew Shepherd was beaten and found crucified on a Wyoming fence. 

The shock and horror of Matthew’s demise was magnified with what, or more to the point, who, came next:  Fred Phelps. 

Phelps and his Westboro Church were opportunistic.  The high profile of the Matthew Shepherd case was the perfect chance for them to grab the notoriety they craved.  While the nation reeled in shock, they picketed Mathew’s funeral and proclaimed that the young victim would burn in hell.  We had not seen such bold insensitivity on the part of the homophobic voice before and it offended not only those who disagreed with it, but also those who shared its sentiments.

The Phelps clan’s appearance at the funeral began a very long and notorious career of protesting at as many visible AIDS victim and LGBT funerals as they could find.  They also targeted Pride events and celebrations.  They became the lightning rod of hatred towards gay people.  When after time, they felt they were not getting enough attention for that hatred from an apathetic American public, they morphed their protests to include fallen American service people.  They could barely rationalize this activity and were naked seeking to incite by picking targets of people whom the public revered.

Now, Fred Phelps is dying.  Many will celebrate, and many will make comments about picketing his funeral in an eye-for-an-eye retaliation.  I will not be among them.

I do not respect Fred Phelps, nor do I forgive the pain he inflicted, but I value him.  I value what he contributed to the struggle for LGBT equality.  I am grateful that because of his presence, millions woke up to understand homophobia better and to confront it.

His activity had a dramatic and unintended consequence.  He and his family became the mirror that many Americans had to face about their own attitudes about LGBT people. They did not like what they saw.  Others who did not harbor such negativity themselves were made aware that such oppression existed.  My blogger friend Ono Kono was one,  she wrote,  “Two decades ago, I was unaware of the struggle of LGBT people. Back then, I was a busy working Mom, juggling career and family. I cared about others, but I was asleep when it came to their plight…I thank you Phelps clan for opening my heart to love, in spite of your hatred for my LGBT brothers and sisters. I saw the cruelty in your eyes, echoed by the pain in others who watched you. I don’t know what brought you down your path to hatred. I can only say, I thank you for being so open about it, but only because you helped me wake up to the horrid truth that people who hate still exist.”

Fred Phelps and his Westboro Church believe what many who are homophobic out of “religious” principles espouse.  Their anti-gay stance is based on a poorly thought out, superficial reading of the colloquially translated Bible.  “The Bible says that being gay is a sin”, is the popular notion. 

The Bible does not actually say that.  What it actually represents is specific writings from ancient times, addressing situations in those times and places that have nothing to do with modern LGBT people.  In order to make it apply to our current life, its proponents have to take passages out of historical or cultural context and demand only a calculated literal understanding of them.  Fred Phelps has been their undoing.

Fred Phelps has been consistent.  There is no way to approach Biblical interpretation, stay true to it, and not conclude that God does not only hate gay people, but that He wishes us dead, stoned, specifically.  The Westboro Church has simply expressed the extreme but logical extension of the “Christian Principles” other anti-gay people also state and claim to support.

Phelps held a mirror up to the homophobic Christians as to what their “principles” looked like.  They did not like what they saw.  They saw hatred, but did not feel like haters.  It forced many to take a more educated look at scripture and found their original uneducated comprehension was lacking.  They found there were many ancient mandates there that did not apply to modern life, and they found that the passages they had ascribed to gay people both did not apply, nor did they feel the ramifications reflected the bigger core principles of love that they valued.

Fred Phelps became the example that no self respecting Christian wanted to become. Many actively readdressed their values and public tolerance of LGBT rights began to surge.

One of my blogs about my family got on the Phelps’s radar about a year ago.  It inspired this tweet from Fred’s daughter, “Fag marriage is not about ideology or who’s “nice”.  It’s about obeying God as a Nation!”  My sincere response to her was: “Thanks Margie.  Your family has done more to propel gay rights forward than mine ever could.  Congrats.”

That is my requiem to Fred Phelps.  He was a man with a mission.  His failure to succeed is his triumph.

He achieved the most epic fail in modern history.  Not only did he not inspire a single person to his point of view, he drove millions away in revulsion.  For everything he lost in personal credibility and respect, he helped fortify the well being of those he sought to destroy.

His contribution is iconic for that very reason.  It is a lesson that today’s fundamentalist Christians who seek to discriminate under the banner of “religious freedom” need to absorb.  My hope is that at the death of Mr. Phelps, they take a sober look at his legacy, and seek not to emulate it.

He is their current and present wake up call.


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About robw77

A single gay dad who cares. His story can be read here: http://www.imagaysingleparent.com/2013/02/02/rob/ and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/31/rob-watson-gay-family_n_4689661.html
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58 Responses to A Gay Dad’s Requiem on the Death of Fred Phelps

  1. Dr. Rex says:

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Fred Phelps … how his actions helped the LGBT cause!!

  2. John Fsiher says:

    “anti-gay stance is based on a poorly thought out, superficial reading of the colloquially translated Bible”. Lets put this to one side. The truth is homosexual sex acts are a misdirection of the sexual urge. Care for a fellow human means saying this clearly. The sexual urge like any human desire can be misdirected and through conscious and unconscious reasoning combined with doing it, forming habits that create and express and empty cycle of craving emptiness and abuse…now called the gay ideology. It evokes pity and compassion. So anyone kidding themselves by doing this sort of stuff I say “avoid it like the plague”.

    • robw77 says:

      Actually, “homosexual sex acts” whatever you think they are, are done more by heterosexuals in their intimacy. There is nothing that gay or lesbian people do that heterosexuals don’t do more. Most adult humans direct their intimacy sexually a variety of ways, most with a committed partner for deep intimate bonding which is a constant human need. Heterosexuals will in a minority of their sexual activities, have sex acts with the eye towards procreation, but usually use methods to keep that from happening.
      Your post betrays your bias. You are not concerned truly with “what” is done in “homosexual sex acts” but who is doing them. That is just bigotry. Bigotry is the quality that derives pity, avoidance and compassion from a distance. So, thanks for sharing, but my comment back would be: Look in a mirror and start working that mote from your own eye.

    • lmskj1978 says:

      Your post came across as dictating. But, I don’t feel pity, I don’t see any ‘reasoning’, any cravings or negative cycles… (And I’ve been on the receiving end of abuse, and there’s certainly none of that present either). But what I do feel is empathy and compassion. And to me, as there is so much more to life and living than sex, there is nothing wrong/misdirecting about two people who fall in love, who want to share their life, love, intimacy, future, hopes and dreams. Who want to get the most from their life with all that it has to offer, without having barriers, (IE, marriage, legal, visitation rights, tax, and every day issues with people who just cannot except people for who they are, (Or even just go about their own life and leave them in peace). Things that unless they’re an issue on a personal level, (Either yourself, family or someone you may know). Then you may not even be aware of the issues at all.

    • Ben in Oakland says:

      No, dear. This is not the truth. This is YOUR truth. My sexuality is not misdirected, but your completely unsolicited opinion of it is.

      Now, if you don’t want to be homosexual, then please don’t be. But I am and always have been. I knew when I was THREE. I just didn’t know what to call it, being THREE and all.

      you are speaking from total ignorance of the subject, total ignorance of scripture, and total ignorance of gay people. Here’s evangelical Frances Collins, also head of the human genome project and head of the NIH. He’s most definitely not some ignorant guy on the internet.

      “It troubles me greatly to learn that anything I have written would cause anguish for you or others who are seeking answers to the basis of homosexuality. The words quoted by NARTH all come from the Appendix to my book “The Language of God” (pp. 260-263), but have been juxtaposed in a way that suggests a somewhat different conclusion that I intended. I would urge anyone who is concerned about the meaning to refer back to the original text.
      The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn’t imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable.
      Your note indicated that your real interest is in the truth. And this is about all that we really know. No one has yet identified an actual gene that contributes to the hereditary component (the reports about a gene on the X chromosome from the 1990s have not held up), but it is likely that such genes will be found in the next few years.”

      By the way, even if YOU are heterosexual– which I doubt– there is this to consider.


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  13. Aviva says:

    Reblogged this on metaviva and commented:
    “Now, Fred Phelps is dying. Many will celebrate, and many will make comments about picketing his funeral in an eye-for-an-eye retaliation. I will not be among them.

    I do not respect Fred Phelps, nor do I forgive the pain he inflicted, but I value him. I value what he contributed to the struggle for LGBT equality. I am grateful that because of his presence, millions woke up to understand homophobia better and to confront it.”

  14. Toni Martin says:

    Your artical is wonderfully written and so so true, but on one point I had to cringe. You say you won’t forgive him, this is a feeling I truly hope you can overcome. Please don’t let this man or his cult keep you from doing something that The Lord has asked of those of us that believe or rob you of the joy and relief that does come with forgiveness

    • Mikeybear says:

      @ Toni: I have never understood this idea of forgiveness without atonement. If someone truly changes and makes an effort to atone for the harm they have done I would see the value in forgiveness. Some said that my unwillingness to forgive hurts me more than them… how so? I am able to dislike someone or something that has wronged society without it disrupting my daily life or leaving me with psychological scars.

      By saying “The Lord” you disregard the fact that not everyone believes as you do – in fact on a world wide scale most people don’t believe as you do. If you need your religion to sooth your pain then you have every right to use that but many people don’t.

      • Ono Kono says:

        Mikeybear, Here’s what I have found with being able to forgive those who abused me. It doesn’t take them off the hook for what they have done. However, it really helped me find peace for myself. Forgiveness is not something you can force either on yourself as in it’s too soon, or on another person. I found forgiveness for those who would continue to heap abuse on me, They are not allowed in my life to do so, but they no longer have a hook in me.

        When someone suggested to me that I forgive so many years ago, it made me angry. How could I forgive? But a few years went by and I found I was able to forgive. Forgiveness helped me let go of that which kept me broken. Forgiveness helps the forgiver, not the forgivee.

        Anyway, forgiving isn’t something a person can automatically do, it takes a bit of healing first, or distance, and some can never forgive. And that to me is okay too, and I hope that they don’t suffer from it.

    • robw77 says:

      Hi Toni,

      I should clarify that. I won’t forgive him, because it would be arrogant for me to do so. I bear him no ill will, and in fact, the end effect he has had is a positive one in my life. He has caused those who might otherwise hate me to re-evaluate.

      I cannot forgive him because he did not picket my funeral. I cannot forgive him because he did not intrude on my day, when I was mourning a loved one. He did that to other people. It is their right, not mine, to dole out forgiveness if or when they choose, and I will not dictate that to them, nor will I pronounce forgiveness on a man in absence of their voice.

      In principle, forgiveness washes clean hatred– justified or not. I do not hate him, so I have nothing to wash free. Of the two, worrying about whether this man is forgiven, or those he has hurt are allowed to heal as they choose… I pick the latter.

      Thank you for your comments!

  15. John P says:

    Correction from previous post: meant to say “Christians are NOT free from hurt and mistakes”. Important difference!! Oops. 🙂

  16. John P says:

    As a Christian, I am horribly embarrassed of the actions and hatred of this man and the few who stood with him. While I can judge no man’s heart, he clearly did not represent the God I know and love. On behalf of Christians, please please forgive us for the unloving, painful, hateful, and disrespectful ways of this misguided man and the others who’ve hurt you.

    If I were you, I would be angry and disgusted. It’s no wonder many gays feel judged and hurt by people who claim to be Christians. I can’t blame you nor can I expect you to feel anything less than contempt for us. While this preacher’s hate received many hours of attention, there have been countless numbers of Christians heartbroken at how he misrepresented God, us, and the love God has for all of us. I am no better than you because I believe different than you. I am in no place to judge you or anyone else for that matter. What I believe is that God loves you just as He loves me, that God has radically changed my life, and I want everyone (gay or straight) to see Him and experience His boundless love.

    Whether you believe in God or not, you still matter. I shouldn’t have to agree with you in order to respect you and love you. That’s where Christans have really screwed up this whole thing. It’s no secret Christians do not believe homosexuality is God’s plan. But there are many things that I’ve done that also aren’t God’s plan. God wants what is best for you and for me. I believe in a God that knows all things and loves me enough to warn me of things that will pull me away from the best path for my life…..just like I do for my children. So my heart is sickened by the reality that this God who I owe my life to (this God who only desires what’s best for me) is seen as hateful because of the actions and disdain of a man who did things “in the name of God”. This man was horribly wrong in what he did. But I know he isn’t the only one who may have hurt you in the disguise of Christianity. Many Christians may have wrongly judged or hurt you. Please forgive us. That’s not who we are supposed to be.

    The truth is, Christians are broken people like everyone else, but often the last to admit it. We believe God is our hope and that He is truth, but many of us hide behind what we believe rather than letting it change us first. That’s why we all too often “take a stand” rather than befriending you. You see, we are trying to embrace the unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness, and unconditional acceptance that God has to offer, but we know we’ve made mistakes. We know the truth but it’s so overwhelming to believe God loves us unconditionally. It seems too easy that He can offer that in light of our falling so short. Or, we are too afraid and blind to our broken places inside us. Christians are free from hurt and making mistakes, but often struggle with the guilt of not bein what we desire to be. Until we embrace the truth that God loves us no matter what we do or don’t do, we can’t truly give that love and acceptance away like we should. When we struggle with believing we are PERSONALLY accepted by God, we fail in offering that same acceptance to people who have different beliefs than us. We try to protect what we believe without letting God change us first. Will you please forgive us for falling short?

    As Christians, we collectively have not represented God well. Please try and see us for who we are learning to be and not as the few hateful and misguided Christians who get airtime. The hurt we have caused you has no excuse. I would undo the damage we have caused if I could……but I can’t. Yet I can tell you this, I am truly sorry and that I’m learning that I’m fully accepted by God regardless of my falling short….and so are you.

    I am not the hateful Christian many of you would cringe to be near. I am a man who loves God and wants to fully accept the love He has for me so others (whether gay or straight) will see a REAL and ACCURATE view of who God is and how He can heal and forgive the deepest and darkest parts of all of us.

    • Ben in oakland says:

      Thank you very much for both your humility and understanding. Some gay people are as irretrievably poisoned by justifiable anger at a certain class of so called Christian as that certain class is poisoned by vicious prejudice masquerading as sincere religious belief.

      But please understand that not all gay people are like that– NALT. I don’t think even a majority are. I think a great deal of good has been done by more liberal Christians, and even by those conservative Christians who can tell the difference between prejudice and alleged sin.

      We just wish your voices could be louder.

    • lmskj1978 says:

      John, Obviously I can’t speak for the author, but to me personally, there is a huge difference between being religious, and using religion as a shield to voice hate and intolerance. Sadly though when people use religion as their shield it often works, as some people then ‘walk straight into the shield’, therefore they take their attention off the real problem, which is hate, and then go and spread religious hate, which in a nutshell is just more hate, albeit hate of a different kind. So on that note, to me this man represents no religion, god or faith. He represents only his own hate, bitterness, anger and intolerance, (Sadly as with all things, there will be ‘followers’ hence his ‘church’). And he is responsible for his actions, just as his ‘followers’ are responsible for theirs. (And really should be held accountable for them). So I hope you eventually find peace in yourself and realise there is no need to apologise for the actions of others. Take care.

      • John P says:

        Thank you for seeing Mr. Phelps did not represent God nor any resemblance of Christianity. He, and people like him, warp the reputation of God and good-hearted people who deeply love Him. Yes, Mr. Phelps is responsible for his actions. And yet, I feel compelled to stand against the lies of his words and actions as they are offensive not only to gays, but also to Christians.

        As far as peace within myself…I am deeply grateful that I have that. Not because of myself, but because of God’s undying love for me. My apology comes not from a place of owning another man’s choices, but from a deep sadness that people have been hurt in the name of God and Christianity. It is offered to those who struggle to see beyond the hate thrown at them by a man claiming to represent God. For some, religious wounds are deep and infected. My heart hurts for people who need healing from this. With a risk of sounding “preachy” God did not come to hurt you and I. He came to show us truth, love, and forgiveness. The bible says, “it is for freedom that Christ set us free”. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, God wants ALL individuals to be free and loved. Sometimes we are our worst obstacles to experiencing this. But, in the case of men like Phelps, so-called Christ followers have been the cause of severe damage and wounds that have remained opened for years. If that is true for anyone reading this, please know that you don’t deserve the hurt caused you by the misguided and mean-spirited.

        lmskj1978 and Ben in Oakland, your graciousness towards Christians is something we value and appreciate. Thank you for not blaming us for another man’s horrible actions and misrepresentation of God.

    • Brittany says:

      I don’t believe in God, but I do believe that I would be honored to know a person such as yourself. Thank you for your heartfelt reply.

      • John P says:

        Brittany thank you for that comment. While I respect you don’t believe in God, I hope you can see that most of us who do want to represent Him accurately. Without a mutual respect for one another like this, all that can remain is disagreement or argument. I’ve truly been humbled and grateful for the respectful tone of this thread by most parties who’ve posted. It’s refreshing.

    • ” It’s no secret Christians do not believe homosexuality is God’s plan. ”

      Well, some people who call themselves Christians do not believe that homosexuality is God’s plan. And all such people have more in common with Fred than most will ever admit, they sin grievously against GLBTQ people and God.

      It appears that you are one of those who thinks that he can believe that homosexuality is not God’s plan, and still follow Christ. The problem is, Jesus gave a clear test for false teaching ‘good trees bear good fruit, evil trees bear evil fruit’. The fruit of ‘homosexuality is sin’, or as you put it ‘homosexuality is not God’s plan’ is entirely evil. And therefore, those who teach and believe ‘homosexuality is sin’ are false teachers, they are ones outside of God’s plan.

      “I am not the hateful Christian many of you would cringe to be near.”

      If, as it appears, you believe that homosexuality is ‘not God’s plan’, then you are one of the hateful people who call themselves Christians. Hate is intrinsic and inseparable from that belief.

      • John P says:

        I’m sorry hateful “Christians” have hurt you. It’s not right and there is no excuse. While I disagree with your statement that I must be hateful of you if I believe homosexuality is wrong, I understand why you feel that way. Here is the problem with American Christianity: collectively we have wrongly focused on what we are against, not what we are for. It’s sent a horrible message…a wrong message. It opened the door for men like Phelps to appear to align with genuine followers of God. With that said, I’m still sorry we have hurt you . I have no right to judge you…especially without knowing you. I hope you can do the same with me and begin to see there are many (most) Christians driven by love not by hate.

        • Ben in oakland says:

          “I’m sorry hateful “Christians” have hurt you.” Or are you sorry that Christianity is finally being called out on it’s less than Christian behavior? No, really, I’M the one that’s sorry: they are not “Christians”. They are CHRISTIANS, from every denomination, even from those that have long declared the sinfulness of antigay belief. It is a 1900 year old jihad against our right to exist, as we are made. They haven’t merely hurt us. They have vilified us, imprisoned us, murdered us, driven us to suicide and despair and away from god’s alleged love, blamed us for every possible social ill, the fall of empires, the collapse of civilizations, god’s wrath, and bad weather.

          “It’s not right and there is no excuse.” Except for God’s word and god’s plan, so you tell us. But you’re right. There is no excuse. God’s word is what a certain class of so-called Christian uses to justify what cannot be justified by any other means, including god’s word.

          “While I disagree with your statement that I must be hateful of you if I believe homosexuality is wrong, I understand why you feel that way.” No, you don’t understand it at all. I can assure you of that. Believe it’s wrong all you wish; I believe it is a mistranslation, a misapplication, and abuse of scripture, but hey, it’s YOUR sincere religious belief. But you NEVER leave it at that. If you’re particularly hateful, a member of a certain class of so-called Christian, you are happy to invent boatloads of material that haven’t the slightest connection to fact, logic, or experience, let alone empathy or compassion. (Charles cooper comes to mind immediately). Then you use the stories you made up about us to justify the harm you wreak on our lives.

          Of course, those are the outright bigots that do that. I’m actually more concerned about the ones that wouldn’t say HATE if they had a mouthful of it– and they often do. They are the ones that insist they don’t hate us, they LOVE us. Lovelovelovelovelovelovelove. Can’t you just feel the love? As I have often said, not all bigotry is hate. A good deal of it is the completely unwarranted faith in the completely imaginary but always assumed superiority of THAT kind of Christian, no matter how base, over any gay person, no matter how noble: your imaginary superiority as a Christian, especially, but also as a moral person and as a human being. That always comes through loud and clear. We’re just immoral, immature sinners who couldn’t possibly have a closer connection to the reality of our lives than you do, and we must be guided and chastised– when we’re not being murdered, goaded into suicide, or blamed for god’s wrath and the collapse of civilization.

          “Here is the problem with American Christianity: collectively we have wrongly focused on what we are against, not what we are for.” If that were only it, BUT IT ISN’T. Your insistence that you should have dominion over the lives of people who don’t share your beliefs. Your complete detachment from facts, logic, and experience– what the rest of us refer to as REALITY– in favor of your particular, peculiar version of god’s word. You penchant for being moralizing busybodies, judging others for their sins, ignoring the beams in your own, as you are currently doing. Claiming htat all sins are equal, blithely comparing us to murderers and childfuckers, and then bleating how all isns are the same. Your complete detachment from what Jesus had to say about loving others, in favor of that thing you keep calling “love”, which for most gay people, seems completely indistinguishable from hate.

          “It’s sent a horrible message…a wrong message.” Ya think? It may be horrible and wrong, but at least, it’s consistent.

          “It opened the door for men like Phelps to appear to align with genuine followers of God.” And Pope benedict, Cardinal George, Robert George, Maggie Gallagher, tony Perkins, Pat Robertson, John hagee, Archbishop Akinola, Brian Brown, Bryan fisher, john nicolosi, alan Chambers, Glen beck, Laurie higgins, Porno Pete, Kevin swanson, George Rekers, Richard Land, Timothy Dolan, andandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandand. If these so-called Christians weren’t so revolting, if their names didn’t make me feel dirty just by uttering them, I could easily add a few hundred more.

          “With that said, I’m still sorry we have hurt you.” Prove it.

          “I have no right to judge you…especially without knowing you.” Absolutely. But that hasn’t slowed any member of a certain class of so called Christian, has it?

          “I hope you can do the same with me and begin to see there are many (most) Christians driven by love not by hate.” I’m sure you would like to believe it, MUST believe it, for the sake of your faith and your self-image.

          As I always like to say, “Don’t tell me you love me. Let me guess.” When you– and this is a generic you, not you personally, as I don’t know YOU– AND your church begin to mind your own goddam and goddamming business, we can talk about this mythical lack of hate.

          • Ray says:

            Ben, stop being an ass. All of what you said is true, but when you get on your soap box and start preaching, then you sink to their level, so shut-up and be nice to someone brave enough to apologize for things he hasn’t even done wrong.

          • Ben in oakland says:

            Apparently, Ray, you don’t read things the same way I do. absolutely your privilege. Calling me an ass, however, is all on you.

            I went and re-read all that he said and all that I said. Yes, there was a great deal about god’s love, and being apologetic, and all of that. That was good, and I congratulated and thanked him for it.

            And yet…

            And yet, as I read the screeds, what was also apparent was an undertone of the same old attitudes, just better dressed and with a nicer haircut. Despite all of the apologies for the ill treatment gay people have received for CENTURIES at the hands of so called Christians, or at least condoned by them– murders, jails, executions, destroyed lives– John P’s very first post declared his position, and it was completely uncompromising.

            You people are sinners, far worse than us. We’re all of us sinners, but we’re going to talk about you.

            God really, really loves you, but you had better change.

            I’m sorry for all the hurt, pain, and tragedy we have inflicted on you. We really shouldn’t have, because that disturbs our self-image as being really nice people. But oh, well! We did. Sinful Water under the bridge of hypocrisy. But you’re just not listening to us.


            Back to you, Ray.

            So, yes, ray, there were apologies. But were they gracious apologies, full of repentance? Absolutely not. Were there any attempts at redress, restitution, atonement, recompense? Also, absolutely not.

            the most telling comment was THIS: ” I hope you can do the same with me and begin to see there are many (most) Christians driven by love not by hate.” No, it’s where so many people who call themselves christians come from, and I said as much.

            So many so-called Christians are happy to tell me. “We love you love you love you.” Right before they tell me, “we just hate your disease spreading, child molesting, marriage destroying, god defying, nature contradicting, military demoralizing, civilization declining, family dissolving ways.”

            And really, how could anyone find hate in that kind of a comment?

            What I didn’t see was this. “Our belief in your extra special sinfulness was conflated with an ancient, vicious and durable social prejudice. We were wrong to do that, wrong to condone it, wrong not to see it, and wrong not to extend to you the basic courtesy and respect we routinely extend to all of the other people we believe are going to burn in hell forever.”

            and I will add THIS: “wrong to take some badly translated, if not wholly ambiguous passages in our bible, and use them to condemn people to a life of loneliness and ostracism.”

            I could be wrong about him. But I’ve been in this fight for 45 years, since I first came out. I’ve heard these comments many, many times. I have almost always found that when people still cling to their biblical worldview, where it applies to other people’s sins, but especially when it comes to homosexuality, all their protestations of love are nothing compared to what they actually do and are willing to do.

            What is very telling to me: He didn’t respond to my posts at all.

            You did.

    • Ray says:

      Are you one of those Christians that believes in Universal Salvation? Because you sound like one to me. I too believe we will all come to experience God’s love for us eventually. Therefore, I have never held ill will to the gay community, and I am happy for all they have accomplished.

  17. Kim Hamilton says:

    So much more “christian” than I…which is easy to do sine I’m an atheist. I’m gay friendly and always have been and always despised those who would make life hard in any way for gay people. Unfort. he has his minions. Let’s hope they die out like a tree with a dead root — a hateful rotten shitty bunch of rubes. They make me want to sink to their level. Grrrrrr.

  18. Pingback: “God Hates Fags” and influential power I found in Topeka, Kansas | The way of life is wonderful

  19. Bradford says:

    No I don’t believe that picketing Fred Phelps’s funeral is the right thing to do. It meets hate on hate’s battleground and fights with more hate. Better still to raise your Gay flag or American flag wherever you are and sing We Shall Overcome, Somewhere over the Rainbow or whatever song elevates your heart in the spirit of victory over a piece of hate’s demise. And then: Let it go. There are still more battles to fight, more ignorance to conquer, more people to educate. I think that is a much better use of our time, energy and sets a better example of humanity. There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.

  20. Many people seem to buy into the illusion that Phelps is a Christian fundamentalist and that Westboro Baptist is a “Church”

    Phelps is neither a Christian nor a pastor. He IS a lawyer, a con artist selectively using bible verses and positioning the words god and hate together to benefit his family’s behind-the-scenes business as litigation trolls and media whores. The church he founded is a front for a for-profit hate group cabal of lawyers posing as fundamentalist nutjobs so they can exploit religious liberties as a cover for all the money they make from instigating lawsuits everywhere they stage their public trolling sessions often mistakenly referred to as “protests.” Westboro Baptist needs to have its tax exempt status revoked. The only god they worship is the almighty dollar.

  21. Ben in oakland says:

    “Fred Phelps became the example that no self respecting Christian wanted to become.”

    I’d have to disagree with that. There is a great deal of power, money, dominion, self-aggrandizement, self-righteousness, and self promotion to be found in homohatred. and for the homo-hating-homos– and I would be willing to bet that little Freddy Krueger was one of them– there is a huge amount of exorcising of one’s personal demons as well. There are LOTS of self-respecting Christians who buy their self respect with the betrayal of their Christianity and the easy coin of other people’s lives.

    That being said– picket his funeral? Why would I want to bother? I’ll need a better excuse than that to go to a hell-hole like Kansas in the middle of winter. whatever happened to Kansas– a former progressive state held in thrall by the people who think exactly like Miss Krueger did.

    I will limit myself to a glass of wine in celebration of his demise. We should only speak good of the dying.So, I will say it:

    “Good. He’s dying.”

  22. Brittany says:

    My sentiments exactly. Thank you for putting Phelps’ contribution into words so eloquently. It is our refusal to celebrate his illness and possibly imminent demise that gives away the lie at the core of his cause.

  23. An abusive, hate filled man is dying, his daughter has taken his reins, yet I know that his son broke free and considers himself an advocate and gives speeches at LGBTQ meetings about the way they were treated. (Fred was abusive on many levels in their family home). It shows that hate breeds hate, (She even got her son to trample on the American flag at a funeral). Yet it shows it can also breed love and joining community strengths, an example of this is the bikers, community members, family and friends stopping them getting to funerals, and standing together all as one, no questions, no form barriers, (Age, beliefs, race, ect). And I hope when the time comes, no-one, (Or few). Lowers themselves down to their level, and continue to keep love above all x

  24. ktah says:

    At Matthew 19:12 Jesus actually states that not all men will marry a woman and he refers to three distinct groups of men who typically won’t take a wife i.e. those who have been physically castrated in their youth, those who choose to be celibate such as priests, and those who are born that way. So Jesus acknowledges that some men by their own nature and birthright will not be inclined towards heterosexual relationships and it’s stated as a simple fact of life without any judgement or talk of people being unnatural or abominations. Jesus actually goes on to say that those who can accept this truth should accept it. It amazes me how many “christians” ignore this passage or try to argue that it must mean something else despite the fact that Jesus never condemned homosexuality.

    • Randall says:

      I find it best to read a full chapter to really get the context of a single verse. In Matthew 19, Jesus is talking about marriage and divorce. He says in verses 4-6 “Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them MALE and FEMALE, and said, ‘For this cause shall a MAN leave father and mother and shall be joined to his WIFE, and the two shall be one flesh’? Wherefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” His disciples then, seeing that God felt so strongly about the sanctity of marriage, asked why Moses wrote in the law the stipulations for divorce. Christ responds that because of the “hardness (sinfulness) of their hearts”, God, through Moses’ leadership, allowed people to get divorced, though this was not the intent and design of marriage in the beginning. Jesus then went on to give even further stipulations on divorce in verse 9. He says that other than the case of unfaithfulness, a man divorcing his wife and then marrying another woman would be adultery, and if another man married the former wife, they would be committing adultery. With such a severe statement, the disciples then come to the conclusion that if there are so many stipulations to divorce and such strict teachings against remarrying, then it is best to never marry. Jesus then tells them that only certain people can physically cope with singleness for their lifetime. It is actually viewed as a gift for those have this mindset. Some people are physically born without a real need for intimate relationships. This does not mean that a man is born with a desire for men in lieu of women. To suggest that eunuchs were homosexuals is just plain crazy. The very essence of a eunuch was that they DIDN’T have sex because they were born either without a desire and/or without the necessary physical organs. Others were forced to be eunuchs by cruel rulers who had them castrated. And yet another group had the physical organs still in tact but chose to remain so completely focused on Christ and advancing his kingdom that they stayed celibate and unmarried for all their lives. Eunuchs were not homosexual. If anything they were asexual. I said all of this simply to say that you absolutely CANNOT use the Bible as a justifier of homosexuality. I don’t hate anyone. I was sexually abused by a family member when I was child, and I still don’t hate them. I have nothing but love for LGBT. I do not like your lifestyle because I so believe it is a sinful lifestyle. But I also have had things that drive me crazy when I’ve done them. Jesus clearly taught that to look at a woman in lust was the same as committing adultery with her in his eyes. I tried to justify it all, but eventually I just had to come to an agreement with Christ that it was a sin and I turned away from it. The world says it’s okay to look. They say, if ya got it, flaunt it. But the Bible clearly teaches the severe implications of that lifestyle, just as it teaches the implications of a homosexual lifestyle. I know that people tend to pick that as their “pet sin”, but all sin is equal before God. The only means of being forgiven for any and all of our sins is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. God bless you all and may the love of Jesus turn you to him.

      • Ben in oakland says:

        “I have nothing but love for LGBT. I do not like your lifestyle because I so believe it is a sinful lifestyle.”

        Your first statement contradicts your second. I know YOU don’t think so, but the very use of the term lifestyle says that you don’t have any knowledge of what it means to be gay, you have an opinion based upon ignorance, preferring to dub your ignorance and misunderstanding as “sincere religious belief”.

        “But the Bible clearly teaches the severe implications of that lifestyle, just as it teaches the implications of a homosexual lifestyle.” Neither the word homosexual nor lifestyle appear anywhere in the bible. The word homosexual didn’t make an appearance until 1948.

        “I know that people tend to pick that as their “pet sin”, but all sin is equal before God.” And that’s why I pay no attention to your particular, peculiar version of god. He has the morals of a reprobate child.

  25. When says:

    It wouldn’t do history credit to point out that he did not begin his crusade with Matthew Shepherd. That event simply catapulted them into the limelight. I was 15 and deeply in the closet the first time I saw Fred Phelps on TV. He was a guest on Rikki Lake in 1993 or so. He was so outlandish and awful that she kicked him off the set mid-show. He came across as the devil made real, and pure evil in human form. That memory and his hatred haunted me for years after that (fortunately I grew stronger then that quickly after I came out). He has been peddling his hatred for a very long time.

  26. marc adams says:

    Fred is just one of MANY MANY ministers like this. Unfortunately our media likes to latch on to one person and it gives the impression he really was who he felt he was… Job. Fred’s messages were dangerous and caused emotional and physical death. Those who do not have the same media coverage do the exact same damage every day, and will continue to do so long after this man has become plant food. Our job is not to forgive, our job is to empower and enlighten our GLBT brothers and sisters who are still subjected to the concept of sin, self-hatred and fear. Our job is to provide as much light as possible to help them on their way to wholeness. People like Fred Phelps will always exist, getting our GLBT brothers and sisters to see past them, is a doable task.

  27. Beautiful, eloquent and true.I have only sadness and pity in my heart for Phelps and his family. No anger, no hatred – simply that if they do not allow the God we love to transform their hearts from stone they will never experience the eternal life that Christ so nobly and courageously gave us. We were are all sinners in our own way, and have allowed Jesus to free us and transform us through his love. The members of WBC sadly remain in the captivity of their own hatred.

  28. HddenValley Girl says:

    Might I suggest that, instead of hateful picketimg, that Cbristian gays send loving messages and sympathy cards, signed “your gay/lesbian” or whatever your orientation, sister/brother in Christ?

  29. John says:

    Fred WHO?

  30. Ike Rose says:

    I do not agree. Fred will be burning in Hell, but his sick pseudo-church will continue to disrupt the funerals of service men and women. Perhaps a taste of their own medicine will force them to see a Light, and abandon that tactic in their political agenda.

  31. Matt Kovach says:

    His family will still picket funerals and continue to be antigay, no matter how much love and understanding you show.

  32. Well written, beautifully stated!!!!!! I would only advise you in one way: seek your heart to forgive! You only hold onto that hatred for him, if you don’t!!!!! We CHOOSE to forgive or not; but, per my counselors, throughout the 4 years of learning from them, ‘without that forgiveness, THEY RETAIN POWER OVER YOU, and don’t even know it! I had several to forgive, for repeated offenses of sexual abuse as a child; as well as repeated offenses of extramarital affairs, from my ex husband. Those were NOT easily forgiving offenses, but I did it, in order to move on and free myself, from their power over me!! I know it will not ever be an easy thing for you to do, but I am praying that you will one day be able to do it, for yourself, not for the offender!!! Forgiveness is NEVER, EVER, about the offender, it is all about freeing ourselves, from their power over us!!!!!!! Much love and many blessings to you and yours!!!!!

  33. Rebecca Adams says:

    Eloquently stated… love is all we need to survive these hateful people.

  34. Ono Kono says:

    I hope that people do not picket his funeral. What that family sorely needs is for us to show them love and compassion. Because that is the only thing that can heal them. Those that picket will be no better than that which they loathe–in my not so humble opinion–and is just more hatred. We always need to be the change we wish to see in this world. Tough to do, when there is so much hurt and anger, but I believe it helps us heal too, when we remain compassionate.

    • Ursomniac says:

      Um – how about no?

      Showing them love and compassion would be completely lost on them – they have never shown ANY ONE ELSE love or compassion. Instead they have caused pain, suffering and grief – all at the expense of someone innocent, and without any remorse whatsoever. The WBC would love NOTHING MORE than to be left alone when Fred finally dies – because then they “get away with it” in the ultimate fashion. With no consequences to one’s deeds, why even think of repenting?

      Typically we say that the funeral is for the family and friends who are grieving, who need closure, who want to say goodbye.

      In THIS case, the funeral is for US: everyone who was hurt by the WBC, everyone sickened by the WBC, and everyone who feels that despite the noble-ness of turning the other cheek, sometimes justice simply needs to be served. There’s a lot of potential healing in justice as well.

      • Ono Kono says:

        In my opinion, those that picket the funeral, and I’ve no doubt that there will be some who do, is just mirroring the Phelp’s behavior. This group is always met with disdain, hatred and distrust wherever they go, it never stops them, Just because one group behaves in such a manner, doesn’t justify someone to behave in the same behavior.. All hatred and revenge does it begat more hatred and revenge. And on and on it goes.

        And I don’t agree that the funeral is for anyone else. That is what the Phelps clan feels about funerals, that it is a platform for them.. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they will get any message if others protest. Especially not from anyone who disrupts in the same despicable behavior as the Phelps do. How about we be the ones that walk the high ground and show them how to behave. Picketing Phelps funeral, won’t teach them a thing. And if you or I picket his funeral, then we better not be complaining about how wrong it is of them to do it. Justifying a wrong does not make it right if we do it the wrong way.

        I realize the anger towards this group. I have too felt much anger. But I don’t want to stay there, it only turns my heart dark and does nothing to help me. Also those children need to see the rest of the world do the right thing. Maybe more will escape their parents hatred.

        I can’t tell anyone what to do in this case, this is just how I feel about it. I understand the anger towards him. But someone needs to stop the hatred of another group–justified or not. We too have to be sure that we do not become that which we abhor when we are the target.

  35. Ben says:

    Beautifully written!

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