The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, is said to be on death's doorstep.
When he started it nearly six decades ago, Westboro was seemingly another small Kansas church. However, he turned it into a worldwide symbol of people who hate those who are different themselves--and the world generally--more than the God they purport to serve.
Some people--including the writer of a New York Daily News article--are gloating over the way his life and mission are ending. The man who started the custom of showing up for the funerals of victims of homophobic and transphobic violence with signs reading "God Hates Fags" was , according to at least one source, excommunicated from his own church several months ago for advocating a "kinder, gentler" approach than the one he espoused for so many years.
If that's true, it's a reason to be sad. Perhaps he learned, too late, what the results of hate are. You might say it's a case of someone dying by the sword by which he lived.
In any event, I'm not going to celebrate his ill health or impending death because doing so would only perpetuate the very worst things to which he devoted too much of his life. And I can only feel sorry for someone like his son Nathan, who left the church in 1977. "I'm not sure how I feel about this," he wrote on his Facebook page. "Terribly ironic that his devotion to God ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made. I feel sad for the all hurt he's caused so many."
Perhaps he can help to destroy the "monster".