Farewell to Fred Phelps

Many, many, many people know of Fred Phelps. He was a pastor. He headed the Westboro Baptist  Church. He’s associated with some pretty hateful ideas and acts. And he passed away today.

Plenty of people are glad to see him go. They think it’s the end of an era, that his church will slowly peter off without him.

But guess what. . . Phelps was a father. He was a grandpa. And he was a human being.

I have a dad. We’ve had our ups and down, and have finally figured out a relationship that works for us. I love him and would be sad if he died.

I have a grandpa. Actually, I have a Papaw (and, yes, there is a difference). Not only was my Papaw my favorite person, but he made a difference in a lot of peoples’ lives just by being kind, considerate, giving, funny, patient, etc. And the day he died, some of the light went out of my life.

Because of those reasons, I can’t be glad that Fred Phelps is dead.

Just like my dad and Papaw, Phelps had people who care about him. . . who still care about him, and who are sad to see him go. They can be sad because they’ll miss him–he wasn’t always the hate-filled guy we see on the news. They could be sad because they had unfinished business and now have to live with a sense of longing for what could have been. They could be sad because they’ll miss his leadership. The reasons are many.

Are Phelps’ people sad in a way I’d hope they’d be sad? Probably not as far as ideological reasons go.

Do they represent the things I think are good and right? Definitely not. And the same works in reverse–a biracial bisexual who loves the Constitution is probably very high on WBC’s list of people going straight to hell.

But the death of another human being is not something to be celebrated. And for that reason, I’m putting the call out for everyone who would otherwise be celebrating (especially my LGBT kin) to simply do nothing.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and to celebrate the death of someone whose views you don’t agree with makes you no better than how low you think Fred Phelps was. Or at least that’s how I’m choosing to look at it.

To say, “Good,” about the death of another human being is barbaric, unkind, and downright petty.

And I’m moving past the “fight hate with love” idea. It’s been said that the opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. So, it makes sense that the same works to combat hate. Sure, the entire WBC group probably needs a good hug, a fishing trip, and some WWJD-style TLC. . . but they also need to see that their message did nothing to persuade people and that, no matter how much bile they spewed, that the very same people WBC is determined to hate will not return the negativity nor be worthy of hate.

Don’t picket.

Don’t revel in the loss of human life.

Rise above.

As “bad” as the WBC people think everyone is, be just as good. Actually, be better.


Check out these quotes about hate I came across while brainstorming.