As an ordained minister (Yes, I am & I have diplomas and a NYC certification), and as an equal rights advocate, I actually do have something to say about Fred Phelps.
You see, without the vile behavior exhibited by people like Phelps and his WBC associates, without their unending efforts to show God as hatred, without their laser-beam focus becoming akin to an obsessive disorder, the equal rights movement would not have gained such momentum with such a solid, moral base, a base that believes the moral and Godly thing to do is to recognize equal rights and allow marriage equality to become the law of the land.
Some people will use the term “backlash” when describing how America met Fred Phelp’s words. While there is some truth to that term in this case, I prefer to cast what happened in a more positive light, that these words of hatred did unite us; they educated a great many of us about the ugliness of homophobia; and we all decided, no more. No more hatred. No more cruelty. Enough. And marriage equality is spreading everywhere. It has become inevitable.
Fred Phelps himself was supposedly thrown out of his congregation. He was reportedly “ex-communicated” because he began to advocate kindness between church members. If this is true, it is an ultimate irony.
I feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for the WBC in general. Taking such joy in hatred, turning all of their spiritual energy and effort into sour wine for bloodless communions must take a toll on their souls. When they filled themselves with hate, they left little room for the true love and light. It is something that they will never know. And yes, that makes me sad and sorry for them.
So goodbye, Fred Phelps. Where you are is not for me to judge. My condolences to your family, for their loss, and their own sad souls.