I can’t say I’m happy, although Phelps and his followers did nothing to create any positive feelings.
But look at his face. There’s a pathetic sadness there. I can’t imagine living my life with so much hatred in my heart.
Phelps hated gays. I mean, he really hated gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered people.
Before the Affordable Care Act passed, my nonprofit held a health care rally outside the Statehouse in Raleigh. I jumped through all the hoops and got a permit, but when I arrived to set up, there were the Westboro Baptist folks right across from me. Nobody wanted to go by them to attend our rally, so it was short.
As we broke down, Phelps’s people started calling us “pro-abortionists” because we wanted universal access to health care. They screamed hateful things at us. I told them God loves all of us — even them.
That set them off even more. We weren’t sure whether we should be amused, repulsed or scared. We went with repulsed.
I don’t know how anyone can spew hatred like that and claim to be a follower of Christ, who told us to love each other and to not judge one another.
I will not rejoice at the passing of Fred Phelps. In fact I’m saddened that he never learned how to be loving and kind. I’m sad he never felt the redemptive power of forgiveness.
I know people are lining up to piss on his grave. I won’t waste my time doing that.
He’s gone, but his followers, who are even more hate-filled than he was, are still with us. All of them will face judgment one day, albeit not from me. I will oppose everything they stand for, but I have no desire to engage them or vilify them. I’ll save my energy for more positive endeavors.
I support the people he considered enemies, organizations like the Campaign for Southern Equality and Equality North Carolina, who work in positive ways to gain equality in our marriage laws for LGBT people.
Rather than stand and scream at people whose minds we never will change, I think it’s wiser to take a positive approach. You can’t attract reason with vitriol. People like Phelps and his followers are screamers. They don’t want to have a discussion, so it makes no sense to try and reason with them.
If you yell at me, I will walk away; if you want to have a discussion with me, fine, we can talk like adults.
I feel sorry for Fred Phelps and his followers. Their lives are miserable, their minds clouded and their hearts always in upheaval.
I can’t say I’ll miss Fred Phelps, but I am sad for his life without joy.