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Anti-gay campaigner Fred Phelps has died

Anti-gay campaigner Fred Phelps has died

“Fred Phelps — the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals — has died, the church said Thursday.”

So begins Daniel Burke’s obituary of Phelps on the CNN website. Burke writes that Phelps/ Westboro Baptist Church:

has picketed more than 53,000 events, ranging from Lady Gaga concerts to funerals for slain U.S. soldiers. Typically, a dozen or so church members — including small children — will brandish signs that say “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

Phelps was often called “the most hated man in America,” a label he seemed to relish.

“If I had nobody mad at me,” he told the Wichita Eagle in 2006, “what right would I have to claim that I was preaching the gospel?”

Under Phelps’ leadership, Westboro members have preached that every calamity, from natural disasters to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, is God’s punishment for the country’s acceptance of homosexuality. Phelps had advocated for gays and lesbians to be put to death.

From Cathy Grossman at Religion News Service

The message he spread across the country never took root, and in fact helped galvanize the gay rights movement and put other Christians on the defensive. The image of Christianity he painted was a hateful, judgmental collection of rabble-rousers — an image that, paradoxically, did more to help his targets than it advanced his message.

What were your feelings about Mr. Phelps? How have you received the news of his death?

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Peter Pearson

I wonder what Mr. Phelps felt when he looked into the eyes of Absolute Love?

tgflux

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We’re all sinners in need of God’s mercy. I sincerely hope Fred finds peace.

JC Fisher

Matthew Buterbaugh+

There is nothing about this that doesn’t sadden me. I am sad for the hurt that drove this man toward the anger and hatred he held. I am sad for the hurt and pain that he caused to thousands of people. I am sad that a life was wasted this way. And, I am sad that none of us know whether or not he made peace with himself, others and God before dying. Since I was a teenager, growing up in Kansas, I have been appalled by Phelps and angry at the mayhem he was involved in. Now, in a weird little way, I just feel sorry for him.

David Curtis

Regardless of my feelings towards Mr. Phelps, I will pray for the repose of his soul and I will speak his name during the Prayers of the People during Sunday Eucharist. Why? Because that is what a crazy guy named Jesus would do.

Richard III

Fred Phelps from my observations was an angry, hateful individual who didn’t care who he upset. He had every right to his opinions but I believe he had a very distorted world view. It will be interesting as to where his soul ends up but I wager it won’t be where he probably thought it would be. RIP? I doubt it.

Richard Warren

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