My condolences to his family. Words cannot express how much sadness you must be undergoing at his passing.
I am aware that his estranged son is an atheist and a friend of our very own Ed Brayton. And to him I would say, my condolences too. Because in a situation such as death there is precious little right words that we can say. Particularly with regards to Fred Phelps. He was a professional troll, utilising religion as an excuse to agitate and harass those who had suffered great loss. But he also was a human being and even the worst human beings can be loved and cherished and missed by those who love them. I genuinely do not know what words to say with this.
But we cannot speak of his death without bringing up the pain and suffering he inflicted at others at their time of need. That he utilised the deaths of others to campaign for his doomsday ethos and his hatred for the GLBT.
But we must rise above him and his hate. We are better, we have always told ourselves this. We say “at least we are not the Westboro Baptist Church”.
If we are to remember Fred Phelps, we are to remember him as the man he was. The man who thought it was acceptable to harass family at their most vulnerable.
And we will do this by undoing his work. By destroying every thing his Westboro Baptist Church stood for until no one remembers those trolls. And we will do this by kindness and by love.
In memory of Fred Phelps? Treat your Veterans with kindness and think of patriotism as representation of your nation rather than blind faith and flag waving.
In memory of Fred Phelps? We will fight for gay rights and the equality of the GLBT.
In memory of Fred Phelps? We will try and fight for GLBT marriage.
In memory of Fred Phelps? We will fight bullying and encourage children who are being bullied to endure and survive and encourage bullies to stop.
In memory of Fred Phelps? We will help those who are at their weakest.
In memory of Fred Phelps? We will be kind and loving.
In memory of Fred Phelps? We will seek the good ideals that he opposed.
If you wish to crash his wedding and chant hate, then we cannot stop you. Freedom of Speech was his defence as it is yours. But consider how hated he was. Do you think repeating his actions is productive or healthy? It won’t change his Church, they will not gain wisdom from your actions. And you will merely have done the thing we hate him for.
You can remember him as the hateful bigot, you can remember him as the champion of free speech, but you must remember him as the driving force that made atheists get together and make real steps to oppose the damage he was causing.