Fred Phelps is “in a care facility” and it is a pretty reasonable speculation that this 84 year old man will soon meet his maker as he is “on the edge of death.” If you don’t recognize the name, Mr. Phelps is often referred to as “Reverend Phelps “ and founder of the Westboro Baptist Church. I will not be referring to him this way because I do not think of him as a Reverend or a Christian.
Members of this congregation and their supporters have shown up at the military funerals of those killed in action asserting that “Our attitude toward what’s happening with the war is the Lord is punishing this evil nation for abandoning all moral imperatives that are worth a dime.” Mr. Phelps was the reason for the creation of the Patriot Guard that attends funerals of our service men to “shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.”
As news of Mr. Phelps being in ill health is reported I have seen on Facebook and in the comment sections of online sources a call to protest his funeral. People are rightly upset that Mr. Phelps spent so much time and energy directing his followers to preach a gospel of hate. Is this what we should do? As people prepare to mobilize to hold up signs “God Hates Phelps” and “Phelps is going to hell” I hope they stop and think, “what would Jesus do?”
Mr. Phelps will die a lonely death and in my flesh I hopes it hurts, but does it give more power to his message to attend his funeral screaming the exact same message he did? What if there was a funeral and nobody showed up? Even better, what if protesters showed up, not with banners of hate but instead with messages of forgiveness? Instead of “God hates Phelps” what if the message reads “we forgive you, we’ll leave the mercy to God.”
In the end, Mr. Phelps will be remembered for his sins and the pain he caused to so many mothers who were burying their sons. Mr. Phelps will consistently be associated as the man that hurt so many. Mr. Phelps does not follow my understanding of Jesus and soon will be judged by his maker. Yes, the world will be a better place without him.