This via Hemant Mehta's site "Friendly Athiest
Not a lot to add to the story. Some sites discuss picketing Phelps' funeral, when it happens.
It's strange he was ousted from his own church.
Phelp's son Nate has been / is a member of Atheist Nexus. I suggest offering support and condolences. Even though the gut reaction is understandably a response to Fred's hate mongering, many family members have been estranged. Losing a parent, even a cruel, abusive one, opens wounds. When there are unresolved conflicts, especially in such a severe situation, the lack of closure can be hard. I hope we can take the high road, even though our feelings about the man's abuse and demagoguery are sincere.
All else is speculation at this point.
Nate, if by some chance you read this, my best wishes to you and your family. I hope in whatever way possible, there will be healing and closure.
I agree - good way to see things Daniel. It is so wonderful to have you on this site.
I agree that in addition to causing pain, they unwittingly created more tolerance outside their church, even among confirmed Christians.
("You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image, when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.")
(from a collection of counter-protest signs)
Mindy, I think so, too.
Daniel, you remind of Lincoln's 1st inaugural address. You represent the better angels of our nature.
Pat rest assured, I can be devilish. But thank you.
I don't think anything can be gained by protesting a funeral. I hope no one does that. Why in the world was he ex-communicated? That's what i want to know. Did he regret his actions? It's sad, but change will happen when these old mindsets die off.
If every man's death diminishes me, this one will less than most. But I feel for his family; the loss of a father is terrible in any circumstances, and family friction usually makes it worse. I can wonder what effect his death, whenever it comes, will have on the church he founded. But on a personal level I can offer sympathy.
The positive aspect is that Phelps at 84 has lived a long life in which he was able to project his views to public notice, raising so much opposition that their effect was nullified. The negative aspect is that he will be remembered for causing great pain to the families of the deceased whose funerals he picketed. Death at age 84 is not a tragedy or a triumph in any sense, but a completely natural event.
I share your sentiments in regard to Nate. I do wish him comfort and peace. The hate-mongering of his father and the dysfunction of the family can easily be understood. I find it interesting he was excommunicated from his own church. There will be a lot of healing possible with the patriarch gone; hopefully his family can find more productive use of their thoughts and actions than when they followed his lead.
One precaution we should remember. Even with a sincere, honestly intended report, it's possible that Phelps is not passing as we speak. The Kansas branch of the Phelps clan is known for nothing if not their drama. For all we know, Fred Phelps has been his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper's sock puppet, in his dotage, for years. Or not. I don't know.
Even with the best of intentions, the timing of someone's death is often a guess. An experienced doctor calls on their experience and education, but may think someone has days, and they last years; or may think they have months, and are gone tomorrow. People sometimes "graduate" from hospice because they "fail to decline". In personal experience when I took my dad off chemotherapy and entered him into hospice, he improved markedly off the chemo, regained his mental status, started walking again, quit bleeding all over the place, quit getting infections, and was quite sparky for another year. But it looked like he was on his death bed when we went with hospice.
And families, seeing their loved one in terrible shape, may conclude - in some cases, hope - the end is near, only to find they have much more time left together. Phelps may be completely delirious, slobbering and eyes rolling, then sit up and ask for a sandwich.
Or he might be dead already.
In any case it's very hard on folks like the family members who are locked out of the first-person contact, and for sincere family members who are up close and personal with the dying person.
Daniel, you're a better person than me that's for sure. And, as usual, you're correct. No good can come from protesting an old mans funeral no matter his past. It wouldn't be fair to his family.