It is rumored that Fred Phelps, the controversial leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, is under hospice care and is close to death.
The Westboro Baptist Church, a cult-like group that very brashly and rudely protests against homosexuality - even to the point of protesting at military funerals saying the reason a soldier dies is because "God Hates Fags," has been in the news on numerous occasions over the last several years. The church is made up of mostly Phelps family members even though two of Phelps' sons say Phelps himself was excommunicated from the church last year. One can't help but wonder what Fred Phelps did to get excommunicated from his own hateful church.
The Westboro group got so annoying protesting military funerals that the motorcycle group "Rolling Thunder," made up of military veterans, began escorting military funerals all over the country so the Westboro group couldn't get close if they showed up. In some states legislation has been passed preventing groups like that from protesting near a funeral.
So now Fred Phelps is dying. How do you feel about that? Some on Twitter have posted tweets saying things like "Good!", "Thank God", and "Can't wait!" On Facebook a page was created called "Fred Phelps Death Watch." People are chiming in from all over the country and expressing their joy that Phelps will soon be dead. But what are Christians supposed to feel?
The Bible says we are supposed to love one another as God loves us. It doesn't say we have to like each other or like what someone else does. Can a Christian who follows God's teachings be happy about Fred Phelps' pending death?
It would be so easy to join those who are celebrating the demise of Fred Phelps. Personally, I detest what the man stands for. He and his "church" have been spreading hatred in the name of God for years. They call people derogatory names. They desecrate and dishonor the service and sacrifice of our military members and their families pretending that they are the ones who speak for God. Yet we are supposed to love them. And wouldn't celebrating his death take us down to their level?
What Fred Phelps needs is our pity and our prayers. As difficult as that may be to do, it seems obvious he needs to confess his sins, particularly the sins of hate and self-righteousness, and get his life right with God while he is still able to do so - if he is still able. Otherwise Fred is going to find himself in a place he's not much going to like; that place to which he and his followers have been condemning everyone else.
It will be a difficult prayer to pray given the life he has so publicly led and the numbers of people he has hurt. But we must remember that God loves Fred Phelps and He wants Fred Phelps to repent and spend eternity in heaven. Just as He wants for all of us.
Will you say a prayer for Fred Phelps today and ask God to forgive him? After all... it is the Christian thing to do.