Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fred Phelps: Bringer Togetherer of People

Above: Fred Phelps holding a-hey, shouldn't
there be a comma after 'Fags Die?' it looks like Fred Phelps is in hospice and not expected to live much longer, and I'm feeling conflicted about this. On the one hand he's a fellow human being. On the other hand, holy shit, he's awful. Like really awful. If you don't remember who he is, let me refresh you-wait, no, refresh isn't really the right word. Everything about this guy will make you want to rage-vomit all over your screen and then cry. Here, let me re-cap instead: Fred Phelps is the former pastor of the rabid-foam, homophobic factory of hate, vitriol and protest signs of questionable grammar that is the Westborough Baptist Church.

Phelps and his church members have been protesting (or in some cases just threatening to protest), notable people's funerals for over twenty years in an attempt to draw attention to themselves and whatever the hell it is they believe in (World Government? Lizard people? I don't know, they're crazy). Also, as I may have mentioned before, they have a pool.
A goddamned pool. And it's a nice one. Clearly there is no justice in the universe.
Look over here! Puppies!
The first time I ever heard about Phelps was back in 1998 when he and his congregation picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a college student who was murdered because of his sexuality. Yup, that thing you're feeling now? That's the crushing sadness brought on by the realization that there really is no depth of horribleness to which someone, somewhere is incapable of sinking. These people got together, piled in their van and drove to Wyoming so they could wave their God Hates Fags signs at Shepard's grieving parents. Need a minute? Go ahead, I'll wait.

Picture: One of the greatest things ever.
Back? Ok. Phelps's protest did however inspire one of Shepard's friends, Romaine Patterson, to organize a protest of their protest (still with me?) in which she and other attendees came to the funeral dressed as angels with enormous wings which they spread in order to block the WBC members and all their hate-filled bullshit. She called it 'Angel Action,' and these counter-protests are still done today. So in a backwards, and more than a little fucked up sort of way, Fred Phelps's awfulness brought out the best in other people.

You can even get gay married
there just to stick it to them.
Remember that guy who bought the house across from The Westborough Baptist Church just so he could paint it rainbow and be gay at them? That was an amazing act of kick-ass and could never have happened if it weren't for Phelps and his followers being the worst people ever. In fact, if he's accomplished anything in life other than spreading hatred and misery, it's that he's brought people together in common cause. Against him and everything he stands for, but still, common cause, that's still something, right?

But, still, as tempting as it may be to do so, we're really not much better than him and his church if we celebrate the death of a bitter old man. That said, if you're anything like me (you know, petty), it might help you to know that Phelps was apparently excommunicated from the WBC last year. This means that not only was he kicked out of the church, but also that he's been damned to hell. Yup, a place, which according to Phelps, is full of gay people, soldiers, Mr. Rodgers, pretty much everyone he doesn't like.
Something tells me he wouldn't appreciate the irony.

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