I read today that The Reverend Fred Phelps Sr. died today. For those unfamiliar with this man count yourself lucky. He was the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, not affiliated with any denomination. And pretty much disavowed by all mainline Christian churches including Baptist churches. He taught a religion of hate. He and his church members, almost all blood relatives ho him and his children and those married to his children, demonstrated at military funerals saying that God was punishing the US for its acceptance of homosexuality. They held signs at funerals and public events that used ugly slurs and read “Thank God for dead soldiers.” They frequently demonstrated at gay events and always were ready to call down the wrath of God on anyone who disagreed with their narrow interpretation of scripture. Philips was quoted by The Associated Press in 2006 saying “Can you preach the Bible without preaching the hatred of God?”
In comments to this blog Philips has been used to show how intolerant we Christians are. I would never try and discern if a person is saved or not. Only God knows that. What I can say that saved or not Fred Phelps’ message was definitely not Christian. It is as if he took only the parts of the Bible where we see the wrath of God and left out all the parts that show the love of God. He was especially scornful of those conservative pastors who preached that homosexuality was a sin but that God still loved them.
It boggles my mind that someone could be so filled with hate and yet claim to follow Jesus. So, is God a God of hate? Not the God I see described in the Bible. Not the God I hear preached form the pulpits in churches I have attended. And not the God I have been writing about these past three plus years. I truly pray that Fred Phelps had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and was like many who just found themselves on the wrong road. His ministry caused a lot of hurts and damage. I only hope that the number of people turned off from Jesus were few.
The article I read was a sad one. It appears he died alone even though family lived nearby. One of his daughters said there would be no funeral. It appears that all the demonstrations done by members of Westboro Baptist Church did more to advance Gay rights than to advance God’s Kingdom. I have to admit I had mixed emotions when I read about His death. A part of me was glad that he would no longer cause pain to the families of our brave men and women who have given their lives to protect our freedom. Another part wishes that somehow he could have found the error in his preaching and actions.
Unfortunately his daughters now head the church and it looks like there will be no change in their mission of hate. Hate is human and it is of the devil but it is not of God. God is love. He has always been love and will always be love.
Have a blessed day.