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The Miserable End Of The Miserable Fred Phelps

From the Facebook page of Nathan Phelps, who left the family business decades ago, and is now an atheist:

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.

And so it ends. Can you imagine having come to the end of your life, very nearly to the moment in which you will meet your God and be reckoned with, and all you have to show for it is … that? I’ve always thought the Westboro Baptist Church people were despicable, but there is something about the thought of that old man lying on his death bed, forsaken, the victim of his own sins, that makes me pity him. One tear of repentance from the vicious old preacher will open the floodgates of the divine mercy he spent his life trying to deny to others. I pray for that tear.

And I hope no one pickets his funeral, giving to his family the mercy they do not deserve.

131 Comments (Open | Close)

131 Comments To "The Miserable End Of The Miserable Fred Phelps"

#1 Comment By Franklin Evans On March 17, 2014 @ 9:53 am

WBC and their entire public record are one of the most important challenges to the American secular morality of the modern (1900 on, more or less) era. They overshadowed the KKK and the neo-Nazis on every aspect. They pushed the limits of harmful speech, and for the most part produced successful results that speak to the strength and endurance of the First Amendment.

Let there be no mistake. The moment we enshrine controls on thought and speech in our laws is the moment we hold a knife to our own throats. All the fears of persecution, disenfranchisement, discrimination and so on become valid as soon as the powerful obtain the right to sanction individual belief and speech.

Take a long, hard look at “hate crime” legislation. It is a bold step towards criminalizing “hate” speech, and no one can predict where the destruction of liberty from the demise of the First Amendment will end.

#2 Comment By ratnerstar On March 17, 2014 @ 10:13 am

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 tend to think Phelps has been done in by illness. Is it too much to ask “Nathan Phelps” to make sense?

His illness didn’t excommunicate him and leave him to die alone.

#3 Comment By WorkingClass On March 17, 2014 @ 10:19 am

Phelps is small change in the economy of evil. He didn’t murder three million people in South East Asia nor three thousand in New York City. Phelps is just a mean old man. He will not be missed.

#4 Comment By Barry On March 17, 2014 @ 10:28 am

“After a disaster occurs here in the US (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, etc.) there is almost always a conservative Christian leader who puts the blame on gays or at least tolerance of gays. That doesn’t seem like much of stretch from what the WBC does, does it?”

M_Young: “But such pronouncements are straight out of biblical tradition, particularly the OT which influences fundamental protestantism so much. BTW, they often add (or only mention) abortion in these jeremiads.”

And they never, *ever* mention the sort of things which really ticked off God and the prophets, such as injustice and mistreatment of the poor.

#5 Comment By Barry On March 17, 2014 @ 10:29 am

Athanasius says:

“If there were no Fred Phelps, the Cultural Marxists would invent one….”

(1) No.
(2) They didn’t have to. And much of what Phelps did was only outstanding in the public crudeness; if he smiled and talked pleasing words while preaching the exact same ideas, he’d be well accepted in the mainstream.

#6 Comment By icarusr On March 17, 2014 @ 10:45 am

“If Phelps hadn’t existed, LGBT propagandists would have invented him.”

What utter tosh. People want to be left alone. It was not LGBT people who ran constitutional amendments across the country banning something that was not yet in place in any event. The “propagandists” did not need to invent hatred, prejudice and discrimination; it was there. It was there two days – two days after 9/11 when popular televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blamed the attacks on “the pagans, the abortions, the feminists and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way.”

So yeah. Whatevs.

Then again, one could say the same about Lucifer and Satan – so I guess those who come to the brilliant insight above are just projecting.

#7 Comment By Joseph Dooley On March 17, 2014 @ 11:02 am

Phelps’s son’s atheism proves nothing hurts faith more than doing evil in God’s name. Thou shalt not carry the Lord’s name in vain.

#8 Comment By CharleyCarp On March 17, 2014 @ 11:10 am

EC, I don’t see how protesting the death of some ordinary (straight) serviceman to bring attention to an anti-gay agenda is anything but reprehensible. The parents have lost a child. The siblings have lost a sibling. His community has lost a friend. Protesting the war at such a thing is both inappropriate and offensive, but to protest something that has nothing to do with either the deceased or the actual cause of his death is just gross.

Folks can’t have it both ways: you can’t say ‘he’s nothing like us’ and then also say ‘well, he wasn’t that bad, just went a little overboard in his methods.’

#9 Comment By JonF On March 17, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

EliteCommInc

the Phelps clan is full of lawyers and his cult makes much of their income off lawsuits. They are EXTREMELY careful to stay on the right side of the law– not because of any desire for civic virtue, but because it’s where their bread is buttered.
And please provide examples, from the United States, of liberals doing the dastardly things you mention. Maybe there are some crazies out there like that (with 300 million people anything that doesn’t violate the laws of physics is possible). But there have been crazies on the Right who have used murderous force– Tim McVeigh, assorted abortion clinic shooters, the guy who bombed the 1996 Olympics etc.
As for “It is unlikely that Pastor Phelps would seek to create the appearances of ‘evil’ to advance his agenda,” he doesn’t have to create the appearance”. His behavior is the real thing.

#10 Comment By L617 On March 17, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

While certainly no admirer of Mr. Phelps – quite the opposite, actually – I take no glee in whatever twists and turns he faces.

#11 Comment By Art Deco On March 17, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

the Phelps clan is full of lawyers and his cult makes much of their income off lawsuits. They are EXTREMELY careful to stay on the right side of the law– not because of any desire for civic virtue, but because it’s where their bread is buttered.

I would be very skeptical of contentions that they made themselves wealthy by filing nuisance suits.

#12 Comment By Art Deco On March 17, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

EC, I don’t see how protesting the death of some ordinary (straight) serviceman to bring attention to an anti-gay agenda is anything but reprehensible.

(2) They didn’t have to. And much of what Phelps did was only outstanding in the public crudeness; if he smiled and talked pleasing words while preaching the exact same ideas, he’d be well accepted in the mainstream.

a. Rubbish.

b. The media love a freak show, and Phelps is a useful one. He’d be ignored if he were not.

#13 Comment By Lemmy C On March 17, 2014 @ 2:10 pm

The one correction I would make would be your claim that his family does not deserve mercy. Everything I’ve read suggests that his family suffered, physically and otherwise, more at his hands, than did anyone else.

#14 Comment By icarusr On March 17, 2014 @ 2:21 pm

Take a long, hard look at “hate crime” legislation. It is a bold step towards criminalizing “hate” speech, and no one can predict where the destruction of liberty from the demise of the First Amendment will end.

Franklin: for its own reasons, Canada has had hate crimes and the crime of hate speech on its books for a long time. We have a vibrant public commons, even if occasionally how we go about ordering ourselves irritates purists and right-wing-victimhood-complainers.

The problem with First Amendment absolutists is that each is a situational absolutist. Justice Black is the paradigmatic example: “no law means no law”, he said, but then found that burning a draft card is not “speech” (technically, it is not, of course, but there is yet another reason why black-letter constitutionalists make no sense). There is also the “can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre” adage, which is in equal measure true and helpful in underscoring the absurdity of a quasi-religious Biblical-literalist veneration of the First Amendment. (Or the Second, for that matter.)

This is not to say hate crime legislation, or hate speech prohibitions are good policy; or that the broadest possible interpretation of the First Amendment is not good constitutionalism. I would have had deep reservations about prosecuting Phelps and his spawn for any number of principled and practical reasons; the KKK marching through Skokie, different issue. For this reason, I think there really are no lessons to learn from Phelps one way or another: a bunch of lunatic haters who could easily have been Marxist or PETAites, they chose the mantle of Christianity to propound a philosophy of exclusion; they changed no views except against them; there were and remain marginal to both Civil Society and Christianity – even Christianists; with typical Biblical justice, Phelps is reaping upon deathbed what he sowed in life; death is always sad and should rarely be celebrated, but we are allowed not only not to mourn, but to condemn a hater’s life.

#15 Comment By JonF On March 17, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

Re: I would be very skeptical of contentions that they made themselves wealthy by filing nuisance suits.

Wealthy? no– they certainly are not 1%ers. My point is that they make a significant fraction of the income that funds their antics off these suits. On one occasion they went so far as to insist that a grieving father of a deceased soldier whose funeral they picketed should have to pay even their own legal costs.

#16 Comment By Franklin Evans On March 17, 2014 @ 3:29 pm

As usual, icarusr, you make compelling points. In this case, I’d ask for some leeway to clarify my otherwise heated post. Ahem. 🙂

Following your excellent examples:

In the US, the informal and legislated concept of “conscientious objection” was implemented in nearly ever war in which the US was involved, with the notable exception of the War of Independence. It came and went rather than be permanently codified until the 1990s. It speaks to the dynamics of the First Amendment, not to its literal interpretation.

How broad or narrow the judicial interpretation may be is, with respect, irrelevant. Cases came (and continue to come) along that require resetting the judicial precedent in some way. Criticizing any given jurist’s or panel’s decisions is a valid aspect of the ongoing dynamics, not a rebuttal per se to the motivations behind them.

In terms of relative impact on society-at-large, Phelps and WBC are as [un]important as the KKK-Skokie case. They do, however, hold a valid place in the history of the statutes being challenged or used for protection. The judicial process, when used, provides lessons in both its proper use and its abuse or misuse. Those are the benefits, and the specific case(s) involved are important at least for creating the environment in which the lessons can be learned.

#17 Comment By Art Deco On March 17, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

We have a vibrant public commons, even if occasionally how we go about ordering ourselves irritates purists and right-wing-victimhood-complainers.

You’re going to have to do better than that to justify the harassment of Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant and hundreds of less prominent souls.

Memo to decent people everywhere: rank-and-file leftists are happy to make excuses for your tormenters.

#18 Comment By William Dalton On March 17, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

““After a disaster occurs here in the US (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, etc.) there is almost always a conservative Christian leader who puts the blame on gays or at least tolerance of gays. That doesn’t seem like much of stretch from what the WBC does, does it?””

“M_Young: “But such pronouncements are straight out of biblical tradition, particularly the OT which influences fundamental protestantism so much. BTW, they often add (or only mention) abortion in these jeremiads.””

“And they never, *ever* mention the sort of things which really ticked off God and the prophets, such as injustice and mistreatment of the poor.”

I think it is fair to say that what sets apart the Westboro Baptists was not their habit of speaking for God in their judgment of current events, but their willingness to get out on the streets in the face of people they desired to offend, and their habit of picketing funerals served to offend even those who agreed with their judgment. But what REALLY set them apart was their penchant for condemning to Hell straight, All-American boys who died “in service to their country”, the sort you are used to seeing lauded and venerated by most right-wing elements in society. In making this break, I have to admit the Westboro Baptists gained my admiration.

In the Bible, there are a lot of stories of the righteous speaking offensively to the faces of the powerful – Nathan to David, John the Baptist to Herod, Jesus to Caiaphas. We hold them as heroes because we are taught that they spoke TRUTHFULLY, even if offensively. As noted, a lot of preachers have identified the cause of America’s financial decline, as well as numerous natural disasters, as being God’s displeasure with the evil values in our culture. Fred Phelps was one of a few I know who stood up to say the same applies to America’s attempts, by military force, to extend those values abroad. When tempers have cooled and he is cold in the ground, I hope more Americans will remember to thank him for that.

#19 Comment By Jamie O’Neill On March 17, 2014 @ 4:23 pm

I see him in a very white room in an elegant eternal mansion. There are windows to the fiery pits of hell, and, time to time, he looks through those windows. At first he laughed at his lost grandchildren’s screams: but the novelty of that faded. Now, though he looks, he rarely sees. Nobody visits, save from eternity to eternity (or time to time) Freddie Mercury calls by and tells him of some party down the hall. He doesn’t know who Freddie Mercury is. All he knows is that he’s in heaven.

#20 Comment By Andyra On March 17, 2014 @ 4:46 pm

Please note that Equality Kansas has asked their members and supporters NOT to picket the funeral should this report be true.

Link: [1]

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 17, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

Franklin is absolutely correct. To bend the First Amendment so that Phelps could be suppressed would be a precedent that would ultimately be used in the classic manner of “when they came for me there was nobody left but good Germans.”

We usually think of this in terms of Jews, trade unionists, communists, not of rabid rude obnoxious people making mourners miserable. But the constitution is a jurisdictional document. It does not prescribe what is good or bad, it limits the jurisdiciton of government to determine what is good or bad.

Hate crime legislation is unnecessary. If the “hate crime” is an act of assault, battery, rape, murder… then the prescriped penalty for those acts is quite sufficient. It only gives the perp a feeling that they are special to invoke their motives as lending a special status to their crime.

I thought that protecting funerals from disruption might be a reasonable measure even under the First Amendment — but the Supreme Court decision upholding Phelps emphasized that his little parade was actually a discrete distance from the funeral itself. If a narrow law had proscribed standing immediately outside the church yelling at grieving relatives, it might have passed constitutional muster.

#22 Comment By Richard Parker On March 18, 2014 @ 2:52 am

“I would be very skeptical of contentions that they made themselves wealthy by filing nuisance suits.”

Did someone claim that they made themselves ‘wealthy’? Lot’s of posts; I could of missed it.

#23 Comment By Franklin Evans On March 18, 2014 @ 9:05 am

Siarlys: If a narrow law had proscribed standing immediately outside the church yelling at grieving relatives, it might have passed constitutional muster.

I’m not completely sure, but I don’t think I’m crossing the confidentiality line by saying here that had that been the decision, there are some places with some people whose response would have been WBC blood in the street (and perhaps on the church steps).

I’m not being hyperbolic. I am also implying that local law enforcement likely would have acted to push the WBCers away, with the practical result being the actual decision. I’m guessing — not being a witness to any of the pertinent discussions — that minimizing violence was a rational part of the actual decision.

Dear readers, I wish to join Siarlys in emphasizing this basic truth:

But the constitution is a jurisdictional document. It does not prescribe what is good or bad, it limits the jurisdiction of government to determine what is good or bad.

I would just quibble trivially that a clearer phrasing of the last statement might be “it sets the parameters” instead of “it limits”.

#24 Comment By Richard Parker On March 18, 2014 @ 11:24 am

“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.”

Is there any evidence other than Nathan’s comment about his father that Phelps was excommunicated from the WBC?

#25 Comment By icarusr On March 18, 2014 @ 12:16 pm

You’re going to have to do better than that to justify the harassment of Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant and hundreds of less prominent souls.

Meh. There are no hundreds of others. Levant and Steyn are just two more examples of right-wing professional victims, who throw incendiaries and cry “woe is me” when their victims fight back. And neither has been charged under hate speech legislation in any event.

Here is one of Levant’s supporters commenting on Levant’s sabotage of his own cause/case:

[2]

Next.

#26 Comment By Art Deco On March 18, 2014 @ 1:43 pm

There are no hundreds of others. Levant and Steyn are just two more examples of right-wing professional victims,

They were made victims at the initiative of the Canadian government. Any decent person can Google the name “Richard Warman” to learn something of the activities of these star chambers.

The left has turned sociopathic and vicious. Icarusar is merely an example of that.

#27 Comment By Franklin Evans On March 18, 2014 @ 1:48 pm

Everyone knows, icarusr, that one’s own feet are the easiest targets for the gun one thinks he is aiming at someone else. Practice makes perfect, as they say. 😉

#28 Comment By Uncle Billy On March 18, 2014 @ 4:28 pm

The First Amendment allows for obnoxious people like Phelps to offend us. It’s ugly, but perhaps necessary. Otherwise, where do we draw the line?

#29 Comment By Lewis Grant On March 19, 2014 @ 8:47 am

Meh. There are no hundreds of others.

That’s precisely because Levant and Steyn have been hauled up before ‘Human Rights’ Tribunals at significant cost to themselves.

Our public realm is a “vibrant public commons” for those on the left, as well as those on the center-left. Anyone else is passive-aggressively informed that they are not welcome. It’s almost like the Canadian variant of (left-wing) McCarthyism.

Our national niceness often makes our daily existence much more pleasant, but it also seems to make us afraid of genuine debate. As much as we get annoyed (sometimes rightly) by American libertarianism, one of its great benefits is to produce far more freedom of speech than we give our own people.

#30 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 21, 2014 @ 8:15 pm

“Maybe there are some crazies out there like that (with 300 million people anything that doesn’t violate the laws of physics is possible). But there have been crazies on the Right who have used murderous force– Tim McVeigh, assorted abortion clinic shooters, the guy who bombed the 1996 Olympics etc.
As for “It is unlikely that Pastor Phelps would seek to create the appearances of ‘evil’ to advance his agenda,” he doesn’t have to create the appearance”. His behavior is the real thing.”

Your comments do not reflect the context in which my comments were intended.

Nevertheless, I am not sure that Pastor Phelps has any impact on the actors you note. And I am unaware of anyone who commenced to doing harm to others in response to Pastor Phelps’ crusade.

#31 Comment By Mark Syman On October 7, 2016 @ 10:26 pm

I liked the commentary by WBC. Wish they were still in the news.