Fred Phelps Sr. was born November 13, 1929 and died March 20th, 2014. He leaves behind a family. He also leaves behind a legacy of judgment and finger pointing that Jesus Christ would have smacked him down mightily for.
I first became aware of Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church when Howard Stern had them on his radio show. Phelps and his family were the “God Hates Fags” people, and that little three word phrase will be what Fred and his ilk are remembered for, though hopefully in a couple centuries’ time Phelps will be as forgotten as he should have been. Only the Internet and our modern media machine could have extended Phelps’ fifteen minutes as long as it did, and the world is not a better place for it.
What Stern did though, that I think is so powerful and good, is that he didn’t filter Phelps’ abrasive and disgusting rhetoric. He shined a light on it and let everyone in his listening audience here and see for themselves just how obnoxious and toxic Phelps and his clan were. It’s one of Stern’s greatest assets — his ability to use his show to push the envelope and expose the underbelly of humankind with humor. Stern used humor and condescension that Phelps was either too stupid or too proud to hear, and it is in that same vein that I pen this charlatan’s Political Garbage Chute obituary.
The ultimate irony of Fred Phelps Sr.’s life story is that God hated him. How do I know this? I don’t, of course. But if that wrinkly old sack of bile and hatred can spend 84 years on this blue and green orb making up shit that God thinks, so can I. Unlike Phelps though, I think I have some biblical basis for my assertion that the Almighty loathed Fred. For starters, according to the Bible, Jesus was sent here as God’s son to wash away all men’s sins, and in doing so he preached “agape love,” which is acceptance of all mankind. That’s why Christ hung around with the dregs of society. He was leading by example. Christ would never have held any sign that professed his father’s hatred for anyone. If anything, he’d have been on the street holding a sign that said “God loves everyone, and so do I.”
Secondly, Jesus deplored hypocrites, and he really deplored people who used their faith in his father as some kind of wedge against the rest of humanity. Jesus told people to stop praying with great volume and spectacle in public, but instead to pray and commune with God in the quiet of their own hearts. Christ would have taken one look at Westboro Baptist and ripped it in two, smashing pews and tearing walls up from their foundation.
The biggest reason that God clearly hated Fred Phelps is that Fred was just bad PR from the get go. If you ran a Gap store, would you want a salesman out on the floor telling customers the CEO thinks they look fat and gross in those clothes? Phelps wasn’t going to win over any converts. Phelps wasn’t going to carve out a new space for evangelicals in the new world. All Phelps was ever focused on was sucking up the attention and spewing vile, hate-filled rhetoric. Phelps was a liability to God’s domestic marketing plan, the worst possible representative that Christianity could possibly hope for.
Some will read this obituary and accuse me of playing the very same game that Phelps did. Some will say I’m no better if I profess a hatred for Fred Phelps, and if I encourage others to hate him. Some will say that God doesn’t hate anyone, and so my assertion that he hated Phelps is no different than his claim that God hated homosexuals. Sometimes it’s okay to wear the mantle of hypocrisy, and this is one of those times.
Some men do not deserve common decency in death because of the damage they did in life.
There comes a point in time when even the most strident of progressive liberal has to admit that some people are simply a blight on humanity. These people aren’t numerous; they aren’t pervasive. Truth to be told, they are quite rare, which is why they garner so much of our attention. But they do exist, and pretending that they aren’t every bit the plague on our species that they are is to turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering they created.
Not a single tear should be shed for Fred Phelps. Not a single ounce of compassion should be given to him. He made the world around him a worse place than when he found it. And he did so with intent, forethought and unrepentant furor. He was everything that is wrong with life on Earth; a twisted, cold, shallow pit of a man. Figures like Phelps can sometimes illicit posthumous sympathy because it’s just human nature to not bash the dead. We here at the Chute submit that there are just some people evil enough to not deserve even the most basic of respectful tones upon their passing.
There are some people whose deaths are good for humanity. When you make your life’s mission the abuse, subjugation and dehumanization of innocent people you can be counted among that group. Fred Phelps helped coin a hate speech catchphrase, for God’s sake. If ever there was an example of a man who deserved no human decency, it’s Fred Phelps. A lot of us can be assholes in our daily lives, but most of us don’t start a crusade against people who just want to be treated equally. Most of us don’t devote our lives to hurting other people in the most forceful of ways.
There have been some to say that in a strange way the LGBT movement should be thanking Fred Phelps for helping to quicken the pace with which discrimination is being attacked now. To me that seems like saying that the Native Americans should thank the U.S. government for committing genocide on them, because if it hadn’t been for the horrible way we treated them, no one would be advocating on their behalf. It’s like saying we should thank rapists for shining a light on rape. We know rape exists, and we didn’t need to savagely wipe out the natives in order for us to value their existence.
The only thing I’ll thank Phelps for is having the decency to finally draw his last, hateful breath.
What possible reason would God have to not hate Fred Phelps? What kind of all-powerful deity would God be if he couldn’t take a look at ol’ Freddy and say, “Yeah, I really fucked that one up, didn’t I?” Of course God — were he to exist — would hate Fred Phelps. If he was willing to wipe out humanity in a great flood, he’s got it in him to hate someone who so richly deserves it. And again, I have to insist that if Freddy can spend his whole life writing God’s script for him that I be given the same chance.
Why should a dead homophobe get to keep being God’s head writer?
Of course God hated Fred Phelps because Fred Phelps made people hate Christians and Christianity. God hated Fred Phelps because every time Freddy opened his mouth he was saying things that were anathema to the whole reason God sent his son down from Heaven, assuming you go in for that. God hated Fred Phelps because nothing about Fred Phelps was Christian about Fred Phelps. God hated Fred Phelps for the same reason the rest of us did — because of everything that Fred Phelps stood for. Simply stated, God hated Fred Phelps because Fred Phelps was Fred Phelps.
And who could blame him?