There are reports that long time Westboro Baptist Church leader and controversial anti-gay figure Fred Phelps Sr. is on his death bed.
The next question is a fairly obvious one: Will there be a huge picket at his funeral?
After all, that's a large part of how the WBC came to be so widely known and despised. No matter what the tragic occasion, The 84-year-old preacher and his loyal following was there to declare the matter proof that God hates gays. Fallen soldiers, murdered school children, a terrorist attack—there was no tragedy too big or too painful for the church to threaten pickets in order to garner attention.
It didn't matter if they actually followed through; the threat alone was enough to get people outraged and talking.
The logic behind Phelp's behavior has long been that anything bad that goes on in the world happens because God hates homosexuals.
The Westboro Baptist Church preacher and those closest to him also made a point of wrapping themselves in their constitutional right to be a disrespectful presence with no consideration for the mourning family members of the deceased.
News of Phelps Sr.'s health making a turn for the worse seems to be a sign that the shoe is on the other foot. Members of the Phelps family may find themselves subject to the very same behavior they acted out on others.
#TweetYourUnpopularOpinion While Fred Phelps has done extremely hateful things in his life, I take no joy in knowing he is on his deathbed.
— Jo Alabaster (@joalabaster) March 17, 2014
Hearing now that Fred Phelps was recently excommunicated and is on his deathbed. Wondering if his family will be protesting his funeral.
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckGLP) March 17, 2014
— Elaine Clisham (@eclisham) March 17, 2014
Though the exact nature of Phelps's health is unknown, Church spokesman Steve Drain did share with the Topeka Capital-Journal that Fred Phelps Sr. is a patient in Midland Care Hospice. Drain says he hasn't been there for "too long".
This statement corroborates the Facebook update made by Phelps's estranged son, Nate, who wrote:
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.
Nate Phelps also claims that his father was ex-communicated from the WBC in August 2013.
For Phelps to die in such a way would almost seem like a twist out of the Twilight Zone, particularly if his exit is marked by picketing.
Still, one wonders whether or not this seemingly obvious response to a man who made a name for himself based on hate would be the best possible response. The one thing that would likely hurt a man like Phelps the most would probably also be the classiest possible approach: Ignore him.
Ignore him in death in the way Phelps should have been ignored in life.
Image via Wikimedia Commons