Friday, March 21, 2014

DING DONG FRED PHELPS IS DEAD

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I've always been the kind of person who refuses to condemn someone to hell. I always say every so sweetly that we can't know what's in someone's heart, so we should never assume that someone has died and gone to hell. I'm breaking my rule today. I'm 99.99% sure that Fred Phelps has gone to hell.

I hope he found redemption and didn't go, but that would be quite a stretch.

On May 30, 2011, I wrote this post about the Phelps family and Westboro "Baptist Church". I think today is a good time for a re-run.

Here's MEMORIAL DAY: AFTER THE FALL:


Memorial Day, for most of us, is a day to honor our fallen heroes. But for a particular hate group in my home town of Topeka, Kansas, every day is a day to despise our fallen heroes.

Yes, you may have heard of them before: It's Fred Phelps and his family, who use their Westboro Baptist Church as a front for their campaign against the people they call fags. According to the Phelps, 9/11 was caused by the fags because God was showering his wrath on the people of the United States. And people who serve in America's military are fags, and I'm a fag, you're a fag, everyone except the Phelps family is a fag, fag.

(By the way, they call their church Baptist, but they are not recognized as such by any other Baptist churches.)

I'm not going to provide a link to any of the Phelps' Web sites. You can find their crap if you want. I write this to call attention to their activities in case you are not aware of them, and because my dad served in the military and died on Memorial Day. I know my parents detested the behavior of the Phelps.

The Phelps like to protest. They go out with their signs and call people fags and blame the fags for everything that's wrong. Worst of all, they protest at the funerals of our fallen soldiers. Because of them, President George W. Bush signed a law that prohibits protests within a certain distance of military cemeteries before, during, and after a funeral. But that doesn't stop them from protesting at other cemeteries and it doesn't stop them from protesting at other venues and it doesn't stop them from protesting at other times. They also protest at the funerals of gay people. They were there for Matthew Shepard's funeral, as if his family hadn't already suffered enough.

I've seen some news clips about various ways people deal with the Phelps. And don't think the Phelps are just a Topeka problem. They show up all over the place. In one town, the Phelps obtained permission to picket on a certain corner. So, many people in town showed up and parked their vehicles near the corner so the Phelps would have difficulty getting a place to park their bus, and then the townspeople took over the corner and left no room for the Phelps, who actually gave up and left. When they protest at a funeral, sometimes motorcyclists show up and form a ring around the family and rev their engines to drown out their noise.

Yes, the Phelps family is entitled to freedom of speech. But families should be entitled to bury their loved ones in peace.

I recall Fred Phelps mostly from his days as a lawyer, when I was growing up in Topeka. His antics were always in the news, and eventually he was disbarred for unethical conduct. Some of his 13 children have become lawyers and they now fund the protests with the money they earn from the family law firm, according to an article I read in the Topeka newspaper. Although Topekans hate what the Phelps do, one person admitted that if you want to win your case, you go to the Phelps. It's a shame Kansans don't boycott the firm in a shared commitment to dry up their money.

Recently I watched a documentary about the family called Fall From Grace: Westboro Baptist Church. It was  made by a young man named K. Ryan Jones, first as a short film for a film class he was taking at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and then it became a full-fledged documentary. As Jones himself says in a DVD extra, he had to try very hard to be fair to the Phelps because "everybody hates them."

As I watched Fall From Grace, there I saw one of the boys, now in his fifties just as I am, but with the same face he had when we were in the seventh grade together. And I saw one of the girls, who was in the ninth grade. I sometimes saw the girl in the ninth grade laughing and talking with other kids, but the seventh grade boy seemed to stick pretty close to his brother, who was in the eighth grade. Those boys looked so sad, and I have never forgotten the miserable and embarrassed silence that fell over the school cafeteria the day those two boys came to school with their heads shaved. Guys did not shave their heads then, and we felt so sorry for them.

Other students who had known the Phelps for years explained to me that Fred Phelps had shaved his sons' heads to punish them, just as they were punished by having to run to Lawrence from Topeka and then back home again. They also had to sell candy for hours after school to support the church. One of them came to our door once, and my mother said NO immediately. She mentioned afterwards that she knew the money went to the church so she wouldn't buy anything from the Phelps.

What I didn't know was that the children and Mrs. Phelps were severely abused, according to two of the children who have left the family. One of them, Nate Phelps, writes a thoughtful and intelligent blog that I suggest you check out. Nate is interviewed by telephone during the documentary, and he recommends ignoring his family if you should encounter one of their protests. They are definitely attention whores, so cut them dead (figuratively of course). Don't engage them in an argument; don't give them what they want so desperately.

Why do they do what they do? Who knows why such evil lives in the hearts of humankind? Fred Phelps is a sick man and his sickness has infected most of his children. And now his grandchildren, right down to the youngest ones who are barely understandable when they speak, parrot what they hear from their parents and their grandfather, although it's obvious they don't know what they're saying. They are already brainwashed and if someone doesn't help them, it will only get worse.

I found it fascinating that in the documentary one of the Phelps daughters says, My father had 13 children. Hmmmm . . . did he become pregnant and give birth? Mrs. Phelps is never mentioned, I think because her husband's control over the family is so complete.

Thus, I recommend the documentary; I recommend Nate Phelps' blog; and I recommend ignoring the Phelps family if you should ever have the misfortune of seeing them in your town. They have fallen. Don't let them take you down with them.



Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

43 comments:

  1. I just hope people like him go someplace I won't be going to. Child abuse is a big problem and I know exactly what I would do if someone were to ever touch my kids. But I'm a gentleman, so I won't share that with you dear.

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    1. You will not be with Fred Phelps for all eternity. I feel sure of it.

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  2. I doubt Phelps considered himself evil. He was a misguided crusader. He operated from a belief system that does not match ours. We let people like Phelps win if we become haters on the other side of the issue. I believe the way to conquer hate is to love it to death.

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    1. He believed in a fire and brimstone church. I made up my mind long ago that if I ever encounter the Phelps at a protest, I'll wave and say, Hi! We went to school together! How are you?

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  3. Awesome! I just did a quick search. So he's really dead is he? Suddenly my Friday outlook just improved. Could be a hoax of course, let's hope not.
    I had forgot all about that f**ker.
    If there is a hell, sure hope he's on his way.
    Is anyone going to show up to protest his burial? If it were closer, I'd be there!

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    1. I don't think it's a hoax. It's all over the news and family members have commented on his death.

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  4. I don't think you got my previous comment as my pc went off line at the same time I sent it. Anycomment...
    I read somewhere, and it may have been a hoax, that the Westboro Church asked that no on demonstrate at his funeral out of respect for the family. ARE YOU SHITTING ME??? If I had the money I would send all the Freedom Riders across the country to the funeral and set up a band with huge speakers so everyone could dance and yell out hatred for all those motherfuckers. I rejoice in his death and all that he suffered before. And I wish the same to all his followers and his family. They are the worst of what this country is about.

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    1. Shirley Phelps Roper, who is the family spokesperson, said they won't have a funeral because they don't worship the dead.

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  5. What a powerful post Ms. Bug. I will never understand people like this. I will not research their websites because I will not give them the satisfaction of a single pageview. I have hopped over to Nate's page and will peruse. Kudos to him for getting out from under the oppressive thumb and breaking the cycle. And Kudos to you for bringing awareness.

    Love, andi

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    1. Two daughters left the family, too. They stay under the radar, and one of them changed her name.

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  6. It makes me sad and angry that men like Fred Phelps claim what they're doing is from God. No way. No stinkin' way. Unfortunately, it is something for people to grab onto so they can stereotype, even though true Christians find the Phelps family's behavior abhorrent. I can't imagine living with that much hate inside.

    I may be crazy, but I'm crazy for my own reasons. My faith has nothing to do with it. I can do crazy all by myself.

    I'm glad at least one of their sons has his head on straight.

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    1. I don't think many people associate the Phelps with Christianity. It's obvious that their heads aren't screwed on straight.

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  7. Thanks so much for the personal angle(s) on the Phelps. I won't go so far as to rejoice that the man is dead, but I can't help cheer the fact that there's one less source -- and he truly was a source -- of hatred in the world.

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    1. The Phelps clan will carry on. They're very tightly knit.

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  8. I am glad Nate Phelps is shedding light on this. I, for one, will not miss Fred Phelps at all. Your advice is good. Ignore them as much as possible.

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    1. It was so brave of Nathan to leave the family. Two daughters left also.

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  9. Ashes and dust to the cause, too. Amen.

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    1. The kids will carry on the cause. They won't fall apart without Fred.

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  10. Did you see how the TMZ peeps did the slow clap over his death? That made me a little sick...no matter how horrible the man was.

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    1. I think that's going too far. Better to just say, Farewell, we won't miss you.

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  11. I don't believe in hell, other that that made by humans, but I'm glad this person has departed. If only his terrible ideas had departed with him.

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    1. Fortunately, the Phelps family comprises most of the members of the "church". Their crusade is not widely accepted.

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  12. Phelps must've had a serious mental problem! Too bad he had so many kids. They're all going to need professional help.

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    1. I think the kids who have stayed with the cause might be beyond help. They're around my age and older; maybe a couple are younger. We can always hope and pray for them to change.

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  13. I think the best thing everyone can do is to carry on as if nothing had happened, which is pretty accurate. The world will never miss people like that. But to "celebrate" and do slow claps, etc. is to behave as badly and as hatefully as the Phelps. It's tempting, I know, but it's best to rise above. Stay classy.

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    1. I hope the title of my post doesn't imply that I'm celebrating. I'm not, but I don't mourn his death, either.

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  14. Satan is working hard in Fred Phelps. Sickening man.

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    1. He's not here with us anymore. He's gone wherever his new home is.

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  15. There are only 20 church members, all family I thought read. I think they were afraid of protestors at his funeral. I would go and protest his funeral if I could, IF he had had one. He is/was a megalomaniac! Good post. Thanks for the personal knowledge.

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    1. It's a very small "church" -- either all or mostly family members and their spouses. They work extremely hard at wreaking havoc.

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  16. Hi Janie,
    I've been enjoying the last few blogs and commenting. For some reason, they aren't going through. Ugh…Google??

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  17. Sadly, I wouldn't doubt the church will go on in his martyred name. Gag! :(

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    1. The remaining children are dedicated.

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  18. It's pretty ironic that his family has asked to be "left alone" to grieve "in peace."

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  19. Where did you see that? Do you remember? I read a number of articles and didn't find it. Shirley, the family spokesperson, said there wouldn't be a funeral because they don't worship the dead. The mayor of Topeka asked people to leave the family alone to grieve-- he was probably trying to avoid violence.

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  20. I dont know who this terrible person and certainly not interested in him. How come there are other stupid people following them?
    www.thoughtsofpaps.com

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    1. He didn't have a lot of followers. The members of his church are mostly some of his kids and their spouses and children. A lot of people were united in hatred of him, though.

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