Fred Phelps on His Deathbed

My friend Nate Phelps alerted the world on his Facebook page that his father, Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, is now under hospice care and his death appears imminent. Unfortunately, he is being denied the opportunity to go see his father one last time.

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.

I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.

Ordinarily, I’d be ready to dance on Fred Phelps’ grave because his life has been far more tragic than his death could ever be. But honestly, the only emotion I feel over this is for Nate, who is one of the kindest and most gentle people you could ever meet. And no matter how horrible and hateful his father is, I understand, to whatever extent I really can, how painful this all must be for him. My sadness at Nate’s pain trumps everything I might otherwise feel in this circumstance. I hope that he can find some peace over it.

This does not mean, however, that I think anyone who does respond with anger and wants to show up and protest his funeral is wrong. I’d be hard pressed to think of a more vile human being in every possible way and anger is an entirely valid response. I don’t think there’s anything wrong about it. I don’t think it would be “stooping to their level” to do to him what his family has done to so many others. There’s one crucial difference: He deserves it, while none of the people whose funerals he protested did.

So respond however you’d like to respond (within legal limits, of course) and I’m certainly not going to tell you you’re wrong. But at this point, my only concern is for Nate and the other family members who managed to escape that barbaric family.

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  • richardelguru

    Wouldn’t surprise me if poor old Fred Sr., facing his demise, finally came out to the family.

    That explains everything!

  • abb3w

    There’s a news report that it was over Fred Senior “advocating a kinder approach between church members”.

    Regardless, he’s still on my list of people I have an ambition of outliving.

  • dingojack

    No doubt Lady Hope will be there to hear his conversion.


  • Raging Bee

    Protesting at his funeral would be stooping to his level. We’d only hurt ourselves by doing that. We should set a better (if quieter and less obvious) example by getting on with our lives and letting this hateful attention-whoring pond-scum fade into irrelevance. He never deserved our attention in the first place, and we’ve already given him more than is good for anyone. Let his family mourn him in peace, as is their right, while we pay attention to his victims instead.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I know that I can’t really understand the pain and grief this waste of oxygen has caused. That said, it really seems to me that the sooner he’s forgotten the sooner we can all spite him by living well.

  • lordshipmayhem

    My deepest sympathies to Nate. and to the other members of his family. It’s painful to lose a father, even if you haven’t been getting along with him – perhaps even moreso.

    My protest shall consist of staying home and partaking of a book of the science variety. The Greatest Show on Earth, or A Brief History of Time. Or fitting the individual whose shell is being interred, Calculus for Dummies. I’d far rather learn something (or refresh my memory about something) that is real, than wallow in nonsensical fairy tales as the soon-to-be-deceased has done.

  • democommie

    Good. Let us know when he’s dead. Fuck Fred.

  • 5Up Mushroom

    Compassion will go a lot farther in convincing the folks that are still in that awful church that their ideas are wrong. I, too, would like to go dance on this monster’s grave, but if that act helps grow the seed of division that is already planted in the minds of the younger folk that are forced to attend his (former) church, than it’s the wrong approach.

    I’ve been following this blog for years now, and I’m curious. Why are your posts ALWAYS two or three days behind everyone else? Are you using some kind of posting service like buffer to spread out your posts evenly? Do you allow the news to ruminate for a day or two before writing about it? I’m honestly just curious. It only takes a way from the content a smidge as your position on the topic is more interesting than the timeliness.

  • Olav


    This does not mean, however, that I think anyone who does respond with anger and wants to show up and protest his funeral is wrong.

    I do think it would be wrong. Dwelling on hatred is always wrong. It would be understandable and forgivable, of course, if someone who has suffered personally as a result of mr. Phelps’ hatred would respond in that way. But still wrong.

    Or in other words, what Raging Bee #4 said.

    If it were Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld, it would perhaps be a different matter.

  • anubisprime

    Fred and his scam church probably did more in the last decade or two for the cause of atheism then any other advocate.

    I sincerely hope the whole clown shop folds now the king pin has been removed, but I suppose it all depends on projected income, and just how badly the ego’s left in titular charge need fluffing.

    After such a dynasty loses its rudder it usually undergoes a implosion because those left to fight it out are not the brightest bunnies in the warren.

    Time will tell, schism and power struggle and court battles over estate are likely to follow…they usually do!

  • dugglebogey

    It’s weird to me that they announced that he’s near death. Not waiting for him to die and announcing it, they’re giving people advance warning.

    It’s as if they WANT people to protest his funeral, and they’re giving them extra time to make the arrangements.

    It seems like something he and his followers would want to keep secret.

    I guess any publicity is good publicity when you’re an absolute whore.

  • Doug Little

    Personally I don’t understand why you would want to waste any time on protesting his funeral, it just seems so obvious. I’m sure that the internet meme’s will be coming thick and fast after he’s gone anyways. I wonder if he’s having second thoughts?

  • TxSkeptic

    Cenk Uygur at TYT did a good piece on Fred, with some surprising information about his earlier life as a civil rights attorney. Fred Phelps Nears Death – Shocking Surprises In His Hate-Filled Life”

    It makes you almost fell sorry for him and his family. What caused him to become such a hate filled person?

  • left0ver1under

    So the Westboro scumbags have turned cannibalistic. Religion has always been based on the unholy trinity of money, power and sex, and they’re all competing to control it – both inside and outside their religions.

    One unconfirmed claim I’ve heard is that the church members kicked Phelps to the curb to avoid paying for his medical care, to make taxpayers foot the bill. I wouldn’t put it past them.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … protest his funeral …


    I’m too far away to attend, but would like to emulate Mr. Twain (or Darrow?) and send a letter of approval.

  • Raging Bee

    If it were Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld, it would perhaps be a different matter.

    Not really. Those are public figures of major consequence, so a public discussion of their deeds would be both appropriate and inevitable. But not at their funerals — those are still private matters, and their friends and families would still have the right to their private rituals and gatherings. Right of peaceful assembly, remember?

    OTOH, if they had big public funerals, as a former President would most likely have, then some public protest might be expected. At the very least, mourning their deaths should not be taken as an excuse to stifle public discussion of their public deeds.

  • cheesynougats

    As a resident of the state that produced the Phelps family, I want to hate him and his little band of haters. I did, for a while. Now all I feel is sadness that someone could waste most of their life hating others. I always wanted to bring donuts to one of their protests, just as a friendly gesture. Naive, I know, but I still want to believe in the inherent goodness of everyone.

    “[E]very thing that does evil is in pain.” Clive Barker, Imajica

  • democommie

    “Fred Phelps on His Deathbed”

    “Wyoming Republican Defends Appalling Views on AIDS”

    A door closes and a window opens, can’t explain that!

    Their GOD works in strange and monstrous ways.

    I wouldn’t walk across my living room to piss on Fred Phelps or anyone in his fucked-up family/church. Not vilifying him, however, demonstrates nothing to me except human decency which the piece-of-shit and his unrepentant followers don’t deserve.

    It’s guys like Phelps and the rest of the fundie homophobes who give cover to the assholes in the various leges to act on their fear and hatred in crafting homophobic, racist and anti-equality legislation. A schoolbus full of the fuckers going over a cliff–every day, until they’re all gone–would be a fair start to cleaning up the world.

  • Abby Normal

    I agree with Raging Bee @4. But if there are protestors I’d love to see the Patriot Guard Riders show up to shield the mourners from them. I can think of no greater “fuck you” to the man than to show him the mercy, compassion and respect he dedicated his life to opposing.

  • pocketnerd

    Any kind of protest would only play into the hands of the religious reactionaries. A single shooting is enough for the AFA to denounce those eeevil queers as uncontrollably violent psychopaths who want to murder all True Christians™; what do you think they’d make if the FABGLITTER community staged the kind of deliberately offensive mass protest for which the WBC is famous?

    But beyond that, I think atheists should be absolutely the last group to celebrate or jeer when somebody dies. This life is all we get; there’s no promise of redemption or justice afterward. A horrible human being who dies still a horrible human being has missed his last chance. The ending has been written and it sucks. That’s not a victory for Our Team just because it happens to somebody on Their Team.

  • cry4turtles

    I do feel bad for Nate, but not because his father is dying, but because he never had a daddy. Plus, it’s hilarious he (Fred) was booted out of his own nasty nest! Ha Ha!

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    I’d be hard pressed to think of a more vile human being in every possible way . . .


    I don’t find Fred Phelps all that more vile than a standard-grade fundie. Phelps was a more transparent fundie where his hatred didn’t distinguish him, his being overt about it and his being honesty about his hatred is where he distinguished himself from the general population of fundamentalists.

  • bryanfeir

    Fred and his scam church probably did more in the last decade or two for the cause of atheism then any other advocate.

    I rather like Fred Clark’s One Cheer for Fred Phelps version:

    So it turns out that the litigious old bastard has at least one useful social purpose. The unimpeded, undiminished work of his infamously evil anti-gay “ministry” emphatically disproves every Scary Story promoted by anti-gay religious groups who claim that recognizing marriage equality or including sexual orientation in existing hate-crime or anti-discrimination legislation will lead to Christian ministers being thrown in jail for saying they believe homosexuality is a sin.

    Fred Clark’s post on the current Phelps status is very simple:

    The Rev. Fred Phelps is dying. And I find … I find that I don’t want to think about the Rev. Fred Phelps.

    … followed by talking about a much nicer Fred, Mister Rogers.

  • daved

    Picket his funeral, but carry blank signs. That’ll confuse ’em.

  • dingojack

    Yeah we should just ‘man-up’, ‘grow some balls’* and forget about it (like we did the Khmer Rouge and the Nazis) ’cause sayin’ a hater is hateful is just hatin’ (or something). @@



    MALCOLM Dispute it like a man.

    MACDUFF I shall do so; But I must also feel it as a man:

  • John Pieret

    George Takei’s take on it:

    “I take no solace or joy in this man’s passing.

    “We will not dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding ‘God Hates Freds’ signs, tempting as it may be. He was a tormented soul, who tormented so many.

    “Hate never wins out in the end. It instead goes always to its lonely, dusty end.”

  • busterggi

    I’d hate to be the groundskeeper whereever Ol’ Fred gets planted.

    Never get rid of the urine smell from that grave.

  • cycleninja

    I think the best way to mark Phelp’s passing is with a contribution to PFLAG.

  • davem

    I can’t understand how it is that Nate can’t see his father. Do hospices in the US work differently to those this side of the pond? Here, anyone can see the patients, at any time. That ‘s a big part of their raison d’etre. Who would physically stop him visiting? His family?

  • neonsequitur

    I’m thinking of making him a posthumous Discordian. Or Pastafarian. Maybe both.

  • Synfandel

    What Raging Bee said @4. Exactly.

  • Sastra

    Protesting this funeral is very likely to play right into the Church’s hands because it sounds to me like they kicked him out and probably plan on protesting Fred Phelps’ funeral themselves.

    Won’t that be a kick in the head? Show up with hate signs and it turns out that you’re standing side-by-side with the Westboro Baptist Church and THEIR hate signs. Don’t bet against it.

    As for me, I am refusing to pray for Phelps’ soul. I never pray for anyone’s soul, of course, since I am an atheist, but I’m going just a little extra this time.

  • anubisprime

    The only thing that an atheist has that no one can take away is their innate humanity…lets keep it and honour it.

    We are not that petty as to throw it away for a futile gesture….we are not Fred Phelps or his misbegotten church, we are far far better then that.

  • Fail Blue Dot

    Ed, I completely agree that we shouldn’t police other people’s reactions, and if I may be forgiven for a sel-promotional link, I wrote about the reaction to the reaction a few days ago:

    Bottom line is I don’t see how it’s anything like “stooping to his level” when his level is “helping create a culture that fosters systemic discrimination and drives many to self harm”.

  • Kamaka

    Ouch, nobody here has gotten it.

    This whole nasty “god hates gays” bit was nothing more than a money making operation. There was no “evil”, no hate, no nothing but inciting civil human beings into reactive behavior that could buy the Phelps a big fat juicy lawsuit. The Phelps clan are nothing more than litigious coprophiles.

    Fred Phelps money-making operation did not work out so well for him in the end. Such is the criminal life.

  • lorn

    Is it too early to reveal that he had a deathbed conversion to the one true religion, Rastafarianism, and/or flaming homosexuality? I’m pretty sure if we all look around we can find footage of Fred strutting his stuff in high-heel combat boots, dreadlocks, and a tiger stripe Speedo.

  • Fail Blue Dot

    Kamaka, what is this based on?

  • democommie


    Fred had a habit of suing people who attacked him while he and his followers protested. He supposedly made some money with that gambit, others have furnished links to reports in the past.

  • anubisprime

    Ding Dong the bigot is dead….

    Condolences to family members who will miss him…but as for the rest…popcorn and a cold tube, settle back and watch the spectacle begin…

    Church will implode…to many greedy ignorant clowns think they can emulate Fred and his modus operandi and make it work.

  • Fail Blue Dot


    I know that but I’m not sure why that would show it was never “about” the homophobia.