Westboro Baptist Church founder dies

Fred Phelps, Sr., despicable human being and founder of the notorious hate group Westboro Baptist Church, has died.

Family members have said that Phelps, who one estranged son says has been excommunicated from the church, will have no funeral to picket.

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51 Responses

  1. tigtog
    tigtog March 20, 2014 at 3:53 pm | *

    I would have hoped that most people would have taken the high road and refused to stoop to the WBC’s level by revenge-picketing his funeral anyway. Ensuring its obscurity would have been better.

    Sadly by keeping it private it means that the various estranged/excommunicated family members who never got a chance to come to some sort of terms with him before he died will probably be excluded from whatever ceremony the rest of the family decides upon as well, and they deserve better after all they’ve been put through. My sympathies are with them.

    I admit to a sense of schadenfreude about daughter Shirley getting the elbow from the WBC by this Council Of Elders though. (eta: [link])

    1. tigtog
      tigtog March 20, 2014 at 4:53 pm | *

      I like John Scalzi’s idea – donating to The Trevor Project as one’s comment on the passing of Phelps Snr.

      Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

  2. Andie
    Andie March 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm |

    #sorrynotsorry

    1. Donna L
      Donna L March 20, 2014 at 4:14 pm |

      I’m glad he’s dead, and am not the least bit apologetic for feeling that way. I would wish for the existence of a heaven and hell for the sole purpose of having him consciously experience being rejected by the former and sent to the latter. And for the existence of God just so Phelps could find out that God is a big old homosexual.

      1. EG
        EG March 20, 2014 at 5:02 pm |

        My only regret vis-a-vis his death is that it came so late. He had a long and busy life while plenty of better people suffered and died. To hell with him indeed.

    2. Kerandria
      Kerandria March 21, 2014 at 3:55 am |

      My Facebook feed has been flooded with douchebaggy messages about Phelps’ humanity/’if we hate him we are as wicked as he was’ ad nauseum.

      I am all about loving more, but I will never turn the other cheek and act like my natural reaction to shit people makes me like them. Fred Phelps..I refuse to acknowledge the supposed humanity of that shitty abusive wanker. His humanity doesn’t mean shit to me, nor should it. Phelps abdicated his right to me acknowledging his humanity when he poured the welfare of weak innocent people into the toilet.

      May a thousand cats pee on his grave and may whatever afterlife may happen be full of jagged legos at the most unexpected time.

      1. ldouglas
        ldouglas March 21, 2014 at 5:06 am |

        George Takei wrote:

        I take no solace or joy in this man’s passing. We will not dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding “God Hates Freds” signs, tempting as it may be. He was a tormented soul, who tormented so many. Hate never wins out in the end. It instead goes always to its lonely, dusty end.

        I can appreciate the sentiment, and even admire it, but I don’t feel a moral obligation to echo it.

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll March 21, 2014 at 9:28 am |

          Tormented soul my ass. Some people are assholes because they can be and enjoy it. Doesn’t automatically make them tormented. Just makes them mean. And Phelps was a mean old man. If that’s how George feels, more power to him but I don’t agee.

        2. EG
          EG March 21, 2014 at 12:43 pm |

          Not tormented enough, is what I say.

        3. Matthew
          Matthew March 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm |

          Totally agree with your comments Pheeno and EG.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L March 21, 2014 at 2:54 pm |

          I agree too. I hate the “we must forgive evil or we’re evil ourselves” argument. Way too Christian-centric for me.

      2. emily
        emily March 21, 2014 at 11:01 am |

        My Facebook feed has been flooded with douchebaggy messages about Phelps’ humanity/’if we hate him we are as wicked as he was’ ad nauseum.

        Yeah, mine too. I think there is a false equivalency in saying that if I’m happy someone is dead because of his choice to spread hate and make jokes about picketing his funeral, I’m just like someone who hates other because of who they are. No, I think it makes me just like a human.

        1. CartoonCoyote
          CartoonCoyote March 24, 2014 at 6:17 pm |

          “YOU’RE AS BAD AS HE IS IF YOU WISHED HIM/ARE GLAD HE’S DEAD!”–Message from far too many sanctimonious, condescending assholes. Fuck the lot of ‘em.

  3. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve March 20, 2014 at 5:57 pm |

    My mixed feelings about Fred Phelps’ death stem from the fact that I honestly believe that there are millions of people who share his core beliefs, but somehow their ideas of ‘good taste’ and ‘decorum’ prevent them from putting their homophobic hatred on signs. I believe these people will be relieved that he’s not ‘making them look intolerant bigots,’ even though they clearly are.

    Honestly, I don’t see a world of difference in a politician saying ‘I believe in the traditional definition of marriage,’ a preacher sermonizing about Leviticus 18:22 and ‘abomination’ or a bunch of attention seekers holding up a sign saying ‘God Hates Fags,’ apart from the fact that the first two manage to cloak their hatred of homosexuals in more politically correct rhetoric.

    1. ldouglas
      ldouglas March 20, 2014 at 6:07 pm |

      I agree on a philosophical level, but as someone who had a family member targeted by Phelps when I was about seven or eight years old, there’s something particularly terrifying about people who follow you to your house (or funeral or church or place of work) and who you can’t escape even there.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve March 20, 2014 at 6:47 pm |

        I agree on a philosophical level, but as someone who had a family member targeted by Phelps when I was about seven or eight years old, there’s something particularly terrifying about people who follow you to your house (or funeral or church or place of work) and who you can’t escape even there.

        I admit that I have no actual experience with these people IRL, so I bow to yours in this case. When you see clips on TV it’s sometimes easy to forget that the road you see the WBC people protesting is 100 yds (or 300 yds or whatever the legal distance is for protesting,) away from an actual funeral. (Though obviously, I think it’s great that they make them keep however many yards of they do distance from the families and stuff.)

        Another thing that angers me about these people is that they make certain things that I though had value seemingly valueless. I see these people and I literally start to think ‘what’s do fucking great about free speech?’ When I hear Shirley Phelps talk about how they are ‘non-violent’ that makes me sick to my stomach (normally I’m quite anti-violence.)

      2. Hugh
        Hugh March 22, 2014 at 6:26 am |

        True, but there’s something equally terrifying about somebody who wields legislative power, with all the coercive power and lack of official recourse that that involves.

  4. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll March 20, 2014 at 6:16 pm |

    Considering they have no idea how to properly behave at funerals, it doesn’t shock me.

    ” So…should we hold funeral services?”

    ” Im not sure, how do we do that?”

    “PUT THE SIGN DOWN, SHIRLEY”

    1. ldouglas
      ldouglas March 20, 2014 at 6:39 pm |

      I’m a terrible person but I’m cracking up now

      1. shfree
        shfree March 20, 2014 at 7:04 pm |

        I don’t think you are terrible person for mocking the shit out of the Phelps family.

    2. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll March 20, 2014 at 7:39 pm |

      I won’t deny I sported a big, shit eating grin while typing it out. There may have been giggling, too.

    3. dawnofthenerds
      dawnofthenerds March 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm |

      Full on belly laugh. And I needed that today. You are amazing.

    4. trans_commie
      trans_commie March 20, 2014 at 8:23 pm |

      You win the thread.

    5. Kerandria
      Kerandria March 21, 2014 at 3:46 am |

      I snarfed my tea, not going to lie.

  5. rip
    rip March 21, 2014 at 2:56 am |

    Let’s all have a slow clap for Fred Phelps, who successfully gentrified the planet in some small way by leaving it.

    I knew I opened this wine for a reason.

    1. seisy
      seisy March 21, 2014 at 8:55 pm |

      Honestly, I half feel like raising a toast to the rotten bastard because he united pretty much everyone, including people who could not have been on more opposite sides, in thinking he was a disgusting piece of shit excuse for a human being…and simply by existing, he tarred more covert homophobia with the same brush.

      1. Hugh
        Hugh March 22, 2014 at 6:28 am |

        This is actually part of the problem with Phelps. He allowed genuinely hateful ultra-conservatives to say “Hey, at least we’re not as bad as this guy, because we don’t go and yell at people’s funerals! We just legislate their rights away”.

        1. seisy
          seisy March 22, 2014 at 8:52 pm |

          Well….My impression has been that those corners hated Phelps because he made them look worse, not that they were happy he was there, making them look good in comparison. But I guess there’s no way to tell for certain.

  6. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated March 21, 2014 at 9:07 am |

    Local veteran’s comment: “He’s gone to that big court-martial in the sky.”

  7. Athenia
    Athenia March 21, 2014 at 10:02 am |

    My question is–who is the douchebag family member that is going to pick up his torch? It’s not like he was the one out there actually picketing!

  8. Matthew
    Matthew March 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm |

    What annoys me are all the comments in various opinion pieces that because he was incredibly homophobic, he MUST have been a repressed homosexual. I know of course that there are people who are homophobic because they have not come to grips with their sexual orientation, but the assumption that homophobes are only ever gay seems to be a get out clause for straight people who clearly would never EVER have a reason to be homophobic.

    Apologies if this is a little ranty, and the occasional caps lock.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L March 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm |

      Thanks. I have always despised the “homophobe = repressed, self-hating gay person” argument, even when it’s made by LGBT people themselves. Some people are just vicious bigots, without any complicated underlying psychological explanation whatsoever. I can’t help being reminded of the great energy some people used to expend trying to prove (entirely unsuccessfully, by the way) that Hitler was really part Jewish, in order to explain his anti-Semitism.

      1. Ophiuchus
        Ophiuchus March 21, 2014 at 3:22 pm |

        Another real problem with the whole “homophobe = repressed, self-hating gay person” idea is that it is, in my opinion, deeply homophobic, because it is not like “oh he must be gay” is put forward as a compliment. It’s like saying that being gay is the WORST THING and so the homophobe must be punished by being thought of as gay, not because the homophobe would find that to be the worst thing, but because the person claiming the homophobe is really gay also finds “he’s gay” to be an insult.

        I am similarly disheartened by the number of alleged liberals who say things like, “I hope he chokes on a dick” like having a dick in your mouth if you are a dude is the worst possible thing that could ever happen. If one’s insult is also homophobic, one is scarcely helping.

        1. Matthew
          Matthew March 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm |

          Donna L and Ophiuchus

          Yes to all of this. I was thinking in particular this article:

          But others have also argued this elsewhere.

          Here the above author, who is also gay writes:

          ‘I have always thought Fred Phelps was gay. Where else would such an inflamed, all-pervading obsession arise but from continually suppressed homoerotic fantasies? We hate what we can’t have. Freud identifies the defense mechanism “reaction formation” to denote those who so despise a part of their inner world that they outwardly campaign against it. Phelps is its utmost illustration.’

          I really think that here is an evident confusion over where homophobia can stem from. And it infuriates me completely.

          And Ophiuchus you’re so right. I’ve read comments where they list his faults and this is placed there (along with mental illness) as something that makes him even more ‘disgusting’.

        2. ldouglas
          ldouglas March 21, 2014 at 5:47 pm |

          Another real problem with the whole “homophobe = repressed, self-hating gay person” idea is that it is, in my opinion, deeply homophobic, because it is not like “oh he must be gay” is put forward as a compliment. It’s like saying that being gay is the WORST THING and so the homophobe must be punished by being thought of as gay, not because the homophobe would find that to be the worst thing, but because the person claiming the homophobe is really gay also finds “he’s gay” to be an insult.

          This. The idea that the correct response to “gay people are evil” is “yeah, well, you’re gay, asshole” is incredibly stupid.

        3. DouglasG
          DouglasG March 21, 2014 at 6:52 pm |

          Well put.

          I see this response from supposed allies a lot more with Dr Bachmann(?), who is presumed by a large and increasing number of people to be in the closet. There is often an accompanying explanation that the taunter views the closet as the real villain in the piece, but a lot of non-gender-conforming same-sexers have enough on their plates already without having to be lumped in with non-gender-conforming presenting-as-straight people.

          I suppose it’s also an egregious attack on Mrs Bachmann, who has earned more than enough legitimate criticism for her policies; one hardly needs to be questioning her attractions.

          One could also go on at length about such attacks being largely biphobic as well, but I quite understand if advocates of increased bisexual visibility would rather state most of their case elsewhere.

        4. Ophiuchus
          Ophiuchus March 21, 2014 at 9:15 pm |

          The other problem with the whole “he must be gay” thing is one of logic. Like the only reason you can hate something is because you secretly are that thing. Using that reasoning, misogynist dudes are all secretly women or want to be women. Uh, yeah, I’m going to go with “nope.”

        5. Andie
          Andie March 22, 2014 at 3:26 pm |

          I am similarly disheartened by the number of alleged liberals who say things like, “I hope he chokes on a dick”

          The rapey sex-as-punishment vibe of this type of comment is shudder-inducing. Its like people who joke about prison rape as a punishment for pedophiles. Never cool, not even for the likes of Fred Phelps.

        6. Ophiuchus
          Ophiuchus March 22, 2014 at 6:17 pm |

          Yes, Andie, good point.

  9. Jerry
    Jerry March 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm |

    More than likely, one of Fred Phelp’s biggest fears was that his passing would be ignored and he would be forgotten. We can do that, and not even get our hands dirty.

  10. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen March 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm |

    Phelps did more to damage the anti-gay cause — including those who claim they just want to “protect traditional marriage” — than any public figure. He accomplished that through the sheer absurdity of his violent rhetoric and tactics, which simply vocalised what supporters of his ilk believe without voicing it in his language. I can’t speak for me, but the classmates I work with would prefer a loud homophobe over a closet one any day. Hey Phelps, thanks for making your cause unsupportable to an entire generation!

  11. Ms. Kristen J.
    Ms. Kristen J. March 22, 2014 at 2:31 am |

    What I find…inexplicable? I guess is the right word…is that in his early years he was apparently a civil rights attorney who fought against Jim Crow laws, police brutality, and school segregation. According to his bio he even received an award from the NAACP in the 1980s.

    But he was still a total shit even back then beating his wife and children, humiliating and slut shaming a colleague in court, etc. And then of course the vile, bullshit he pulled later in life.

    I don’t really know how I feel about the juxtaposition, other than mildly ill.

    1. Matt
      Matt March 22, 2014 at 7:06 pm |

      Apparently he said some really awful things about his civil rights clients back then, but just not where the client could hear. He only wanted the money.

      1. BroadBlogs
        BroadBlogs March 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm |

        Such a surprising revelation.

        But even if he insulted Blacks behind their backs I wonder why he didn’t make $ another way, given his views?

        Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

        1. ldouglas
          ldouglas March 23, 2014 at 9:22 pm |

          As far as I can tell, he genuinely believed segregation was against the will of God.

        2. ldouglas
          ldouglas March 23, 2014 at 9:25 pm |

          Which, incidentally, is compatible with still being profoundly, bitterly racist.

  12. AMM
    AMM March 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm |

    The idea that the correct response to “gay people are evil” is “yeah, well, you’re gay,…”

    IMHO, the proper response is, “no, you’re evil. (for saying stuff like that.)”

  13. ldouglas
    ldouglas March 24, 2014 at 4:32 pm |

    If you didn’t see Nathan Phelp’s statement on his fathers death, it’s worth reading in it’s entirety:

    Fred Phelps is now the past. The present and the future are for the living. Unfortunately, Fred’s ideas have not died with him, but live on, not just among the members of Westboro Baptist Church, but among the many communities and small minds that refuse to recognize the equality and humanity of our brothers and sisters on this small planet we share. I will mourn his passing, not for the man he was, but for the man he could have been. I deeply mourn the grief and pain felt by my family members denied their right to visit him in his final days. They deserved the right to finally have closure to decades of rejection, and that was stolen from them.

    Even more, I mourn the ongoing injustices against the LGBT community, the unfortunate target of his 23 year campaign of hate. His life impacted many outside the walls of the WBC compound, uniting us across all spectrums of orientation and belief as we realized our strength lies in our commonalities, and not our differences. How many times have communities risen up together in a united wall against the harassment of my family? Differences have been set aside for that cause, tremendous and loving joint efforts mobilized within hours…and because of that, I ask this of everyone – let his death mean something. Let every mention of his name and of his church be a constant reminder of the tremendous good we are all capable of doing in our communities.

    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.

  14. McMike
    McMike March 30, 2014 at 8:04 am |

    That was a real thing? I thought it was satire.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog March 30, 2014 at 8:16 am | *

      The Landover Baptist Church is the satirical one, McMike.

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