If you don’t recognize the name, Fred Phelps was the founder and the pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church which is the congregation that was and is vehemently anti-gay and repeatedly protested at the funerals of service men and women blaming their deaths (and a number of other tragedies) on our country’s tolerance and acceptance of those who are gay. As reported in one news source, he believed in and preached the hate and judgment of God, and that any who did not think as he did were going to hell.
On one hand, hearing that he was dying, and today that he had died, I am sad. I am sad for all the people he hurt and the hatred he added to our country and world. And, I am sad his life was so full of anger and condemnation and alienation.
You might say he got what he deserved.
Maybe you are right.
But I am still sad anyone goes through life like that.
But, as a result of his venom and hate, some good did emerge.
Individuals, who otherwise might have been silent, stood up against his hate and countered it with a show of compassion and love. When the Westwood Baptist Church would show up or threaten to show up to protest whether a funeral or an event, hundreds of others would also show up to form a protective, non-violent circle around the person or family. To my way of thinking, that circle rather than the preaching of Fred Phelps embodied what I know and name as God.
I don’t know what happens after one dies.
I don’t know about any of us coming before the judgment seat of God to receive approval or disapproval for the choices we have made or how we have lived, and either be rewarded with heaven or condemned to hell. I know I don’t believe in hell other than the hell we make for ourselves and each other here on earth.
In the end, I believe, love wins.
In the end, I believe, LOVE wins.
Even for someone as full of hate as Fred Phelps.