In a joke that must have Lucifer chuckling, members of Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) announced today that there will be no funeral for recently-deceased Fred Phelps, who will be gay soon. So if you were planning on picketing, find someplace else to tote your signs.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Margie Phelps, daughter of the pastor and founder of Westboro Baptist, confirmed that no one gets the chance to respond to Phelps in kind for all his funeral picketing.
Phelps and his Westboro minions have forged a reputation out of funeral picketing, always with vulgarly-worded signage carried by church members, even children.
In the early days of the Westboro gay and military funeral picketing activity, they would turn out in "full force" - even though that was still only a couple dozen people - and spend the day shouting their twisted version of street preacher messages at anyone who passed by. They waved the placards that made them famous:
God Hates Fags
God Hates You
Pray For More Dead Soldiers
Thank God For 9/11
Thank God for IEDs
God: USA's Terrorist
Plane Crashes; God Laughs
But over the years things changed. Their reputation preceded them, and always intentionally.
Their modus operandi changed. It now was to send announcements ahead to a town, usually to local press, letting their intent to come protest be known. They maintained a blog of their upcoming stops. The local press would then run with the news, spawning lots of vitriol and discussion. On the date WBC was slated to arrive, a scant handful of members would hop out of their bus or van, march around for less than an hour, waving their signs, until the local photographers had taken all the pictures they would, then hop back on the bus and skedaddle out of town.
The method worked over and over again. They used local press to spread their hate further than their own marching ever could have done alone. Crowds many times the size of their own cadre would turn out, making it a real media event, instead of the mumblings of a few sad haters, which was all it would have been without the press.
The WBC denies the rumors that they had excommunicated Phelps in his final weeks. They posted a statement on their blog titled "Your Dashed Hopes", which says, in part:
The world-wide media has been in a frenzy during the last few days, gleefully anticipating the death of Fred Waldron Phelps Sr. It has been an unprecedented, hypocritical, vitriolic explosion of words.
It’s like every journalist in the world simultaneously set aside what little journalistic integrity they have, so that they could wait breathlessly for a rumor to publish: in-fighting, succession plans, and power struggles, oh my! How shameful! You’re like a bunch of little girls on the playground waiting for some gossip!
Listen carefully; there are no power struggles in the Westboro Baptist Church, and there is no human intercessor – we serve no man, and no hierarchy, only the Lord Jesus Christ. No red shoes, no goofy hat, and no white smoke for us; thank you very much.
And for those who are truly the enemies of God – ordained of old to such a condemnation – we pray his righteous wrath and vengeance, wherein we rejoice.
Image via Westboro Baptist Church blog