For the last few years, the Westboro Baptist Church has become famous for picketing funerals and spreading a message of offensive hatred. There can be few who haven’t seen the “God Hates Fags” posters.
When they first appeared, it seemed to be so vile that it might be a parody, but no, it turned out these people really did hate gay people (amongst others) as much as they said they did.
A great deal of the responsibility for this lies with the founder, Fred Phelps who is apparently now dying and has been ex-communicated or disfellowshipped by his church. Once again, hatred seems to be the order of the day, even amongst those who have caused such trouble for others.
I wouldn’t like to think that anyone died without someone praying for them. So, my challenge today is to those reading this to light a candle and say a prayer for Fred Phelps.
I think Fred Phelps has behaved reprehensibly during his life. I also happen to believe he is a beloved child of God who is in pain and who is dying.
You see, the thing is, God loves.
God loves Fred Phelps. That’s the point of the faith I believe. It is giddy, capricious love that gives meaning to life. Love that changes everything.
So, I’m lighting a candle for him. I hope his pain is eased and that he is found by love.
I pray that God blesses Fred Phelps.
And praying for him, and blessing him is the only way to win.
I have said a prayer for Fred Phelps – in accordance with the mind of Jesus, that we should pray for those who despitefully treat others – and in response to this thought-provoking message from Fr. Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow.
I believe, with Fr. Kelvin, that Love is stronger than hatred; and that our prayers for those who hate us are – in accordance with the mind of Christ – effective for their rehabilitation. I pray for Fred Phelps, and all who, like him have considered LGBT people to be unworthy of the Love of Jesus.
Jesu, mercy; Mary, pray!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand