Ex-WBC Leader Fred Phelps May Not Have a Funeral
It was revealed over the weekend that the former leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, is dying in a hospice in Kansas. Since the news broke, social media exploded with many asking the question: "Should we picket Phelps' funeral." But as the Huffington Post reports, there may be no funeral to picket.
"God Hates Fags" church member Margie Phelps told HuffPo editor Nick Wing via Twitter in February that memorials are not part of the WBC's teachings.
In reply to Wing's question, "Would the WBC ever consider picketing one of their own member's funerals? Why or why not?" Margie Phelps said last month:
"@nickpwing We don't worship the dead in this church, so there'd be no public memorial or funeral to picket if any member died.
Fred Phelps' estranged son Nathan Phelps, took to Facebook Sunday to announced that his father was on his deathbed, and also revealed that his father was excommunicated from the Topeka, Kanas-based hate group last summer.
"I've learned that my father, Fred Phelps, Sr., pastor of the 'God Hates Fags' Westboro Baptist Church, was ex-communicated from the 'church' back in August of 2013. He is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.
I feel sad for all the hurt he's caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I'm bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes."
As HuffPo notes, members of the WBC have pointed media to a FAQ page regarding inquires about the organization and Fred Phelps' status with the church.
In response to whether or not Fred Phelps is still a member of the WBC, they write, "Membership issues are private."
They also write about who leads the WBC, nothing that they will press on if Fred Phelps dies:
"The church has no singular human leader - our head is the Lord Jesus Christ. The church currently has 8 male members who have been serving the church in the capacity of 'elders' for several years (this word is synonymous with 'bishop,' 'pastor,' and 'overseer') - all of whom minister to the members of the church, preach, and are involved in doctrine and teaching. These men were unanimously chosen by the members of the church to serve in this capacity, having evidenced the proper scriptural qualifications..."
After Nathan Phelps made his post, some wondered if gay rights activists would protest Fred Phelps' funeral. Gay Star News aggregated a few Twitter users who called for a picket. You can read the tweets here.
Other activists, however, are urging people not to protest the possible funeral.
"If the reports of Fred Phelps' declining health are accurate, then his family and friends are certainly saying their goodbyes and preparing to mourn his loss," Sandra Meade, chairwoman of Equality Kansas, said, according to GSN. "We ask that everyone understand the solemnity of the occasion, and honor the right of his family and friends to remember and mourn his loss in private without interruption or unseemly celebration."
George Takei, gay actor and activist, took to his Facebook as well and wrote:
"I take no solace or joy in this man's passing. We will not dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding 'God Hates Freds' signs, tempting as it may be.
He was a tormented soul, who tormented so many. Hate never wins out in the end. It instead goes always to its lonely, dusty end."