As I sit here typing this story, Fred Phelps is in a hospice bed with probably just a few days left on this earth. A lot of people have discussed whether or not it would be poetic justice to show up at his funeral with signs and harass the family in a way similar to his hateful church has done to military families for years. I’ll admit, it would be a great dose of their own medicine fed back to them but I honestly don’t think the sewer scum that is Westboro Baptist would be bothered by it at all, nor would it really accomplish anything productive.
However, I have another idea. At Fred Phelps’ funeral, I want a thousand or more members of the LGBT community to be present to stand in respectful silence holding signs thanking him. Seriously, hear me out.
As vile and utterly hateful as his message was, he unwittingly did the LGBT community a huge favor. You see, before the so-called “church” began picketing military funerals, they mostly drew the ire of the left. Picketing rock concerts and Matthew Shepard’s funeral were probably deemed either silly or in poor taste by more conservative people. But once they decided to bring their hatred to military funerals, a lot of socially conservative folks out there decided that perhaps it was time to tone down their own rhetoric against LGBT people lest they get lumped in with the unprecedented level of bat shit cray cray that is and was Westboro Baptist.
Perhaps it was just the changing of the times and a new generation being less homophobic than the past, but nobody – and I mean absolutely nobody – could bring together liberals and conservatives, Christians and atheists like Fred Phelps could. Whether you are a complete pacifist or decorated combat veteran, a small town conservative or a big city liberal, the one thing we can all agree on is that Westboro Baptist is the epitome of hatred hiding behind religion in America. These people were so reviled that even the KKK showed up to counter protest them at one funeral. Yeah, that actually happened in 2011:
Hours before President Barack Obama led the nation’s Memorial Day observances at the Tomb of the Unknowns, three members of the Westboro Baptist Church were challenged by others who disagreed with them — including members claiming to be from the Ku Klux Klan.
The Kansas-based church has attracted nationwide attention for its angry, anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. military members.
Among those counter-protesting at the cemetery’s main entrance: About 10 members of a group that claims to be a branch of the Ku Klux Klan from Virginia called the Knights of the Southern Cross. They were cordoned off separately in a nearby area, but drew little attention as they gave out small American flags behind a banner that read “POW-MIA.”
They said they were there to object to the Westboro Baptist Church’s anti-troop message.
“It’s the soldier that fought and died and gave them that right to free speech,” said Dennis LaBonte, the self-described “Imperial Wizard” of the KKK group that he said he formed several years ago. (Source)
Fred Phelps created a monster that he may perhaps be regretting now that he ponders his legacy and I can only hope that he comes to the realization that ironically, he did a lot to further the rights of the LGBT community. No, I’m not going to lump him in with folks like Harvey Milk or others who lost their lives because of hatred and he certainly isn’t a hero, but I believe he made a contribution whether he realized it or not.
As much as I have expressed my utter disgust with this man and everything he has done, I will just close with this wish for him, courtesy of one of my favorite religious pages on Facebook, “Unvirtuous Abbey“:
As Fred Phelps approaches death, we will not comment on his hurtful beliefs & actions. May angels watch over him. Really gay angels.
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