Fred Phelps Is Dead. Now What?

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”  Matthew 5:44

pho 10sep26 2553281 Fred Phelps Is Dead.  Now What?

Fred Phelps, the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, died today. He is famous for his hatred for almost anyone and everyone. I am sure there will be many who will give back as good as they got. His signs will be there but held by those he once condemned: “Burn in Hell”, “God Hates Fred” “Bigots Are God Haters”.  There will be many who will take pleasure in pointing out that the church he founded on intolerance became so narrow that they no longer tolerated him.  They will chuckle at the excommunication of the excommunicator.   However, I have a suggestion. How about we don’t become Fred now that he’s dead.

Already, the Twitter and Facebook universe is buzzing with tasteless jokes and hate filled venting. But if Fred Phelps was the example of everything God calls us not to be when he was alive why on earth would we follow his example now that he is gone?  How about we recognize what his parting has blessed us with, a more peaceful place to discover what it truly means to be a follower of Christ.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – MLK

Comments

  1. says

    “How about we don’t become Fred now that he’s dead.”

    THIS.
    Very beautifully put. I am amazed at the mounting furor now that he
    has died. How are we any different at all if we answer hate with hate?
    Why not respond in the opposite spirit? It takes nothing from us, our
    messages, or our personal position on who this man was or what he did in
    his life. Wonderful post. I look forward to reading more of your
    writing!

    • Darian G. Burns says

      I’m glad you liked that line. At first I was afraid it sounded cheesy but decided it made the point very well. Thank you!

  2. Shawn Baldwin says

    Great post – just simply from a different perspective than my own. But whether Christian or secular, it’s difficult to argue with the words of Jesus: “Love Your Enemies and Pray for Those Who Persecute You.”

  3. Ron Aulbach says

    You are so right! A lot of what’s swirling around Twitter makes me sad. We need to take a deep breath and not respond with the same hate. Thanks for reading my blog as well Darian. It was my first post and I appreciate your comments.

  4. Grazer #E2H says

    There is an opportunity to show there is a better way than hate, but I understand some of the reactions to an extent

  5. BlvdCruiser1 says

    As an American, a Vet and a Patriot Guard Rider, I am sickened by what this man and his followers have done and how they have literally slapped Christianity in the face. As much as protesting and disrupting his funeral would bring some sense of satisfaction , it would only lower us to his level. By TOTALLY ignoring his passing I feel sends a much bolder statement. He is not worth my time or energy. I know deep down in my heart he has had to stand in front of his maker and answer for what he has done and will pay the ultimate consequence for his actions. “Vengeance is MINE saith the Lord”……………….

  6. JamesTheobald says

    as a secular, though spiritual person, i think you sum it up succinctly ‘ don’t become fred now that he’s dead’. those who are unaware of the recursive nature of darkness, or, perhaps, whose who lack a sense of irony. will not get it, though, but we ought to be forgiving of those who may revile Fred in his death, due to the vitriol that he incited, ought we not? . a very appropriate quote from MLK, too. cheers, and good job!

    • Darian G. Burns says

      Thank you James. As for your question, I absolutely agree. One of the solder’s whose funeral they picketed’s dad spoke after Phelps’ death and he was so gracious it blew me away. I have no idea how I would react if it were me.

  7. Hunter Nash says

    Awesome post. nice quote from MLK, who told us “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness. It’d be easy to condemn Phelps and dance on the man’s grave, God knows he probably deserves it. I prefer praying for him and his family. God’s peace has obviously eluded them for a long time, maybe he’s found it, finally.

    • Connie says

      It would be a really, really sad world if we never got better than we deserve, He was obviously a desperately unhappy man, or he wouldn’t have been so full of hatred and bitterness, I have no right to judge him, and I won’t dance on his grave. I hope his “church” goes quietly into the good night with him with the result that there is less hate in the world, and I hope his victims, including, maybe especially, his family, find peace.

      • Darian G. Burns says

        I agree Connie. Great point. However, don’t bet on his “church” going quietly. News reports are that they kicked Fred out last year because he was too nice.

        • Connie says

          I’m not betting on it, but I am praying for it! I knew he was excommunicated, but I didn’t know it was for being “too nice.” What a sad commentary on that group of people that a man who seemed to be hate personified was “too nice” for them. I really enjoyed your very well-written post.

      • Hunter Nash says

        I agree, Connie. My ‘deserve’ comment was mostly hyperbole. Fact is, and I’ve commented on this elsewhere, I’ve no idea what God has in mind for Phelps. I hope he has finally found the peace that evaded him, and that his surviving family (esp. family still in his church) find it too.The whole sad thing is just…sad.

        • Connie says

          It is indeed sad, and I think the saddest part of all is their indoctrination of small children into such a bitter and hate-filled view of such a loving God. I pray they find God’s love and turn all that zeal for good.

  8. Matt says

    I agree with you a hundred percent except that Pastor Phelps’ death, in my opinion, doesn’t make the world a more peaceful place. He left a church behind him whose radicalism led them to excommunicate their founder. If we don’t meet this church with love now then we’re opening the floodgates to a whole new generation of really bad, really loud, theologians. His death does not necessarily mean the end of Westboro Baptist. Their website still reads godhatesfags, the ticker of people going to hell is still on, and there’s an itinerary of funerals they’re protesting next. The church has moved on and his legacy lives on.
    The United States is far from peaceful. The world is far from peaceful. And until we reach out to the most hated with the love of God it never will be. It’s time to love Westboro Baptist.

  9. Ben Arrington says

    Thanks for the comment on my blog post. I definitely agree with yours as well. Continuing to hate only fuels the flame, but I think most people are unaware of how much we actually enjoy having a common enemy. And that’s a huge problem.

    http://benarrington.com

  10. Guest says

    I agree with you a hundred percent except that Pastor Phelps’ death, in my opinion, doesn’t make the world a more peaceful place. He left a church behind him whose radicalism led them to excommunicate their founder. If we don’t meet this church with love now then we’re opening the floodgates to a whole new generation of really bad, really loud, theologians. His death does not necessarily mean the end of Westboro Baptist. Their website still reads godhatesfags, the ticker of people going to hell is still on, and there’s an itinerary of funerals they’re protesting next. The church has moved on and his legacy lives on.
    The United States is far from peaceful. The world is far from peaceful. And until we reach out to the most hated with the love of God it never will be. It’s time to love Westboro Baptist.

  11. Matt says

    I agree with you a hundred percent except that Pastor Phelps’ death, in my opinion, doesn’t make the world a more peaceful place. He left a church behind him whose radicalism led them to excommunicate their founder. Sure, a great voice for their church is dead but i had honestly never heard of Fred Phelps until i was prompted by all of the Westboro Baptist stuff. Besides, they’ve been functional without him for, what the USA Today reports, almost a year. In fact, according to the same article, he was excommunicated for a “nicer” approach to church members. Yikes…
    If we don’t meet this church with love now then we’re opening the floodgates to a whole new generation of really bad, really loud, theologians. His death does not necessarily mean the end of Westboro Baptist. Their website still reads godhatesfags, the ticker of people going to hell is still on, and there’s an itinerary of funerals they’re protesting next. The church has moved on and his legacy will live on in our memories for a long time.
    The United States is far from peaceful. The world is far from peaceful. And until we reach out to the most hated with the love of God it never will be. It’s time to love Westboro Baptist.

  12. edwahzj_one says

    They hated Jesus too. They hated him for speaking against the mind set that just because they pursued the law of righteousness they though themselves NOT to be sinful (BY NATURE) Paul speaks of the reason why they let a promise of eternal life slip, or of entering into the Kingdom of Heaven here > Rm.9:31-33, He.4:1-5. I won’t speak against the conviction of another man no matter how is chose to speak of it. It is my observation that although Mr. Phelps spoke against many things they were all against the works of the flesh. I see a man who sincerely wanted to refrain and abhor the things people are wilful to run in excess to. After you strip away the layers of hate to provocation I see someone like John the Baptist whose was hated and beheaded for telling the truth. I’m sure they are will guilty of the very things John spoke against, THAT if they knew 1Co.13 the Love chapter they would have used it to validate why what John preached was not of God and Was a Hater and worthy of death. There was no gain $$$ in following John or Mr. Phelps, which was realized that many left off supporting his views. I love the law of God too much to speak evil of any mans (person) and I thank God It is Jesus the Christ whose hands possess the keys of life and death rather than a hater > 1Tm 1:15-16, Ps.119:165

    • Darian G. Burns says

      I am not sure what you are responding to. It does not seem to be the post above because I say nothing of people hating Phelps, though I m sure there were some. Your comparison of John the Baptist is terribly flawed in that John proclaimed a positive message of salvation and the coming redemption with God’s Kingdom. Pheleps only condemned and proclaimed damnation. Take the individuals out of the scenario and you have a message of God’s redemption through His son verses a message of damnation, one called people into fellowship with God while the other excluded people until it was little more than one family. Also, being slain in service is by no means a work of the flesh and mourning a slain loved one is even less so.

      I am confused further by your scripture references because they seem to condemn Phelps teaching although you present them in what appears to be a defense of his teaching. Phelps taught law rather than faith and grace. He taught that you went to heaven if you kept the rules God has established as interpreted by him. Scripture, and the text you have for support teach that our works are filthy rags. apart front he grace of a loving God no amount of doing good and condemning evil will win God’s favor. The phrases of Jesus day were right in regards to keeping the letter of the law but there hearts were evil because they used it to shut others out. Any defense of Phelps’ theology and teachings is either due to your not being aware of his teachings or not being aware of God’s redemption of grace through Christ.

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