Fred Phelps is dying. That news has touched off rejoicing among many people who are angry and hurt about what Phelps has done with the anti-gay cult he founded in Kansas.
Phelps was the founder and former pastor of the group which calls itself the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. But his story is complicated. The Mississippi-born Phelps was an award-winning civil rights lawyer early in his career. How do we reconcile that with the subsequent career of the man who’s best known for preaching that “God hates fags“?
On Facebook, I saw many angry comments after the news came out Sunday that he’s dying.
“I hope it’s an awful and traumatic death,” one woman wrote in what was typical of the attitudes I noticed.
I disagree with Phelps and the group he founded. They’re wrong theologically and in every other way. They’re full of hate and anger. The things they say and do are vile and mean. And they’re terribly arrogant.
But I don’t hate Phelps or the others who are still part of the cult. Despite the terrible things they’ve done — and the hurt they’ve inflicted on many people, including some I care about — I’m not going to bring myself to their level and hate them in return.