Sunday, November 11, 2007

God Doesn't Even Hate Fred Phelps

The Lord works in mysterious ways, and earlier this month Her choice of a modus operandi was the United States Federal Court System. Acting through the distraught father of a Marine who was killed in Iraq, God smote America's best known hate-monger, the Reverend (sic) Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church / Cult of Topeka, Kansas.

Do you know about Fred?

Fred Phelps was born in Mississippi during the Great Depression, did a stint at Bob Jones University without graduating, and eventually became a Kansas Attorney specializing in Civil Rights cases. And while he did assist in bringing an end to some of the Jim Crow legislation that was still on the books in Kansas, his gears soon began to slip and he was ultimately disbarred for bizarre behavior in Court. Fred's other accomplishments of note include fathering thirteen children, nine of whom still claim him, and founding a church - of sorts. That church, the Westboro Baptist, has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to Wikipedia, "60 of its 71 confirmed members are related to Phelps through blood or marriage or both." Both?

Phelps and his church/cult became famous and a national embarrassment primarily on one issue: their rabid stand against homosexuality. Their premier website, for those not overly faint of heart, is: godhatesfags.com. (Are you getting the picture?) It was the Phelps crew from Westboro who protested and heckled the Matthew Sheppard funeral. For awhile the group was content with just being cruel to the families of AIDS and hate crime victims. Somehow though, they have since conflated their homosexuality issues with the US Military, and are now protesting at military funerals on the premise that the United States has enabled homosexuality, and our dead soldiers are God's revenge for that transgression. The group also has up websites detailing their hatred of Canada, Ireland, and Sweden.

Though Phelps and his minions are openly hostile to the American government (and Fred himself has spoken glowingly of Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein because of their stands against gays), they are not too proud to avail themselves of the protections offered by the United States Constitution. Whenever anyone has summoned the courage to attack these bullies in Court, they wrap themselves tightly in the First Amendment and proclaim the sancity of their freedom of speech.

But maybe the lights are finally about to go out at the Westboro circus.

The Federal Court in Baltimore looked at more that just freedom of speech. Those judges also considered a family's right to privacy and the emotional distress that comes with having the funeral of a loved one disrupted with plackards and heckling. And when those good judges viewed the whole picture of what these homophobic crazies had hurled upon people who just wanted to bury their Marine son in quiet and dignified repose, they took a big step to righting a festering wrong. The Court awarded the family of the deceased Marine 10.9 million dollars to be paid by Fred, two of his children, and the Westboro Baptist Church.


May the verdict hold through appeals, may the government seize and sell the Westboro Compound to pay the damages, and may the whole place be bulldozed and salted by a team of gay construction workers so that nothing ever grows there again! And then may God bless us each and every one, especially Fred.

Amen

3 comments:

Molly said...

This is a great entry. I wasn't aware of Fred's history as a lawyer, etc. I heard about this lawsuit recently. FINALLY they got him, finally. I could never believe they were able to get away with their picketing. There were people in Topeka who formed a group that picket against Fred. Everybody's picketing! I used to see Fred & his clan of hate parading the streets of Topeka all the time when I lived there and also when I would just be visiting for a few days. They were out all the time...he had small children carrying around those signs on busy street corners. It's not only disturbing and crazy and harrassment..it's also really dangerous. When 911 came around Topeka's paper headlined with, "Not today Fred". Then there were shirts made. Seriously. This guy proudly flies an American flag upside-down in his backyard. Tim & I used to live close to him. Anyway, it's a big victory.. you wouldn't think it would take this long to stop him. Apparently he's a hard man to knock down.

Molly said...

This is a great entry. I wasn't aware of Fred's history as a lawyer, etc. I heard about this lawsuit recently. FINALLY they got him, finally. I could never believe they were able to get away with their picketing. There were people in Topeka who formed a group that picket against Fred. Everybody's picketing! I used to see Fred & his clan of hate parading the streets of Topeka all the time when I lived there and also when I would just be visiting for a few days. They were out all the time...he had small children carrying around those signs on busy street corners. It's not only disturbing and crazy and harrassment..it's also really dangerous. When 911 came around Topeka's paper headlined with, "Not today Fred". Then there were shirts made. Seriously. This guy proudly flies an American flag upside-down in his backyard. Tim & I used to live close to him. Anyway, it's a big victory.. you wouldn't think it would take this long to stop him. Apparently he's a hard man to knock down.

molly said...

And it probably isn't over...but still it's a step in the right direction.