God Hates FagsYesterday, Facebook lit up with the discussion of the imminent death of Fred Phelps the King of Hatefulness who started the Westboro Baptist Church. His estranged son, Nate had publicized that his Father was in hospice care and close to death.

Reactions seemed to fall into two categories: those encouraging the Queer community not to take too much pleasure and glee in his passing, and those who were more than willing to do that very thing. I expect there was a third reaction, which was to not express anything. In one regard, this was news, but news of what? Does this signal the end of the brand known as GodHatesFags? Probably not. It is merely the beginning of the end of a very sad and hateful person.

I grew up with a rage-filled alcoholic, and have spent lots of time around 12 Step rooms for a variety of programs. I remember when my Great Uncle Fred died, the first death of an alcoholic in my immediate family. The terror he put my Great Aunt through was coming to an end, but that didn’t make it a happy thing in any way. Not was it the end of the terror in my own life at all. He was just the first of many addicts and drunks I have seen pass away whose lives were consumed in some horrific way. Phelps falls into this category for me, and I feel such sadness. Not for his imminent death, but for the life lost long ago to fear and hatred.

Since yesterday, the Westboro Baptist Church has released a statement that their work will continue which isn’t surprising theologically or psychologically. Hate is an evil force and tends to consume and distort in significant way. To expect that a group of people made within and by that Hate, would simply stop hating, is silly thinking. Westboro Baptist Church is forged within an Old Testament prophetic frame, and a prophet believes their job is to keep prophesying no matter what.

But Phelp’s death wasn’t the really interesting element of the story, even though most have focused on that. Nate Phelps claims his Father was excommunicated from WBC, and in a vague statement addressing questions today, the Church is only saying that membership issues are private. Was Fred Phelps excommunicated in August 2013 and why?


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