Difficult to Mourn: Rev. Fred Phelps Dead at 84

20 Mar

fred-phelpsI just learned that the infamous leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., died yesterday.  Phelps, who will be best remembered for his legacy of hate, such as: “Thank God for dead soldiers,” and “Thank God for 9/11,” because all of those deaths were “God’s punishment” for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.  Those of us in the LGBTQ community and our allies would usually hear his name and cringe, thanks to all of the damage he has done to our community.

Typically, Phelps and his family could be seen holding huge signs that read: “God Hates Fags.”  Phelps’ picketing of the late Matthew Shepard‘s funeral catapulted him and his organization into the national spotlight.

While I will forever hold a space of sadness for all the lives he hurt, I have to say that I am holding a space of sadness for Phelps.  What an awful legacy he leaves — a legacy that now he has no chance of doing any repair.  He will always be remembered as a man of hate — a reputation he worked hard to earn.

I can only hope as we reflect on his passing, that we also reflect on what it means to preach such vitriol.  My experience has been that people who have the most difficulty with LGBTQ folk, are usually battling their own internalized homophobia.

Call to action: I also hope that with Phelps passing we look at institutional and structural power that works to target and disenfranchise LGBTQ people.  How do we make a difference and make the lives of LGBTQ people easier? How do we enlist our allies to help us pressure those in power to create policies that create equity and equality?

I suspect there will not be many mourners of Phelps; that is quite sad.  Sad because he leaves only a legacy of hate. I invite everyone to reflect: What do you want your legacy to be?

Update: March 25, 2014:

Nathan Phelps, son of the late Fred Phelps, released a rather compassionate statement regarding the passing of his father. I have included a particularly poignant excerpt from his statement:

The lessons of my father were not unique to him, nor will this be the last we hear of his words, which are echoed from pulpits as close as other churches in Topeka, Kansas, where WBC headquarters remain, and as far away as Uganda. Let’s end the support of hateful and divisive teachings describing the LGBT community as “less than,” “sinful,” or “abnormal.” Embrace the LGBT community as our equals, our true brothers and sisters, by promoting equal rights for everyone, without exception. My father was a man of action, and I implore us all to embrace that small portion of his faulty legacy by doing the same.

It is nice to see that some type of repair work is being done by Nathan.

Advertisements

26 Responses to “Difficult to Mourn: Rev. Fred Phelps Dead at 84”

  1. Central Oregon Coast NOW March 20, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

  2. Elizabeth Brett March 20, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    He was consumed and spit out by the beast he created. A morality tale for all of us.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2014 at 9:56 am #

      Liz, yes! It really is a morality play. Let us hope humanity will learn something from it.

  3. Xena March 20, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Reblogged this on Blackbutterfly7 and commented:
    When he made his transition, I hope he was greeted by Liberace.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2014 at 10:40 am #

      Xena, thank you for reblogging this. Yes, let’s hope Liberace greeted him with a huge wet kiss! 🙂

      • Xena March 20, 2014 at 10:42 am #

        Michael,
        LOL!

  4. holley4734 March 20, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    I wrote a blog about Phelps today also. http://chasingdestino.com/2014/03/20/why-you-shouldnt-picket-the-funeral-of-fred-phelps/

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2014 at 11:08 am #

      Holley, thank you for commenting here. I love one of your calls to action: “What about sponsoring a LGBT activity or charity in his name? In my opinion, doing something in his honor that he disdained would be a more peaceful resolution.” I think that is brilliant!

      • holley4734 March 20, 2014 at 11:22 am #

        Thank you so much! 🙂 Glad you had time to comment. I enjoyed your post also.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2014 at 11:25 am #

        It is always nice to meet other people who are doing good work to make life easier for all. Peace, Michael.

      • holley4734 March 20, 2014 at 11:48 am #

        That’s true!

      • Rupert Kinnard March 21, 2014 at 11:53 am #

        What a good idea!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 21, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

        Thank you, Rupert! Peace, Michael.

  5. ambulivictor March 20, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Reblogged this on ambulivictor's Blog.

  6. sachemspeaks March 20, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    My GOD loves everyone of Gods Children!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

      Thank you for commenting here, Sachem. Your voice for peace and social justice in the world is appreciated and needed. Peace, Michael.

  7. penguinlad March 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    Thank you for your though-provoking words, Michael. I appreciate your distinctive approach. I have read a LOT of “good riddance” pieces and a reasonable handful of wimpy “who am I to judge” posts. I am grateful that you took the time to look at the impact Phelps’ actions have on his own dignity and legacy. This is a real opportunity for all of us to pause and think about the footprints we leave on the world.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

      Thank you for commenting here, Penguin. I like how you frame it: “the footprints we leave on the world.” Peace, Michael.

  8. trp2011 March 20, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    This is a fantastic perspective on the passing of an anti-gay icon of the 20th century. Rejoicing in his death only brings more pain for us. Your last line says it all.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

      Thank you for your very thoughtful comment here. Yes, I wholly agree with you: “Rejoicing in his death only brings more pain for us.”

  9. omtatjuan March 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    Fred Phelps had a membership at Steamworks in Berkeley… Don’t ya know….

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

      If that is true, I’m not surprised. How sad that he could not do the necessary repair work.

      • omtatjuan March 20, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

        The biggest haters hate themselves… yet when they get the urge…. well….

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 20, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

        Which is testament to all the work we have yet to accomplish in eradicating homophobia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: