Fred Phelps was excommunicated from the Westboro Baptists and died this past Thursday; it has been rumored that his excommunication stemmed from a change of heart about Westboro’s message. Whatever the reason, they are various opinions on how the LGBT* community should react to Fred Phelp’s recent passing. While some call or a celebration, I hope the queer community falls more in line with George Takei’s message:
“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.”
I know that the urge to dance on Fred Phelp’s metaphorical grave is extremely tempting. His group has been the face of hate throughout the United States. I attended a counter-protest of the Westboro Baptists at my Graduate school; Fred wasn’t there, but seeing the group across the street was enough to creep me out. While I don’t believe in Christianity, I do know that the Westboro Baptists do not reflect peace and love that is supposed to be central in the Christian faith.
We just have to be better people. As a non-profit / aid works, do we ever get sustainable positive gains through being vindictive and cruel? Without love of what we do, our passion would fizzle out or be corrupted. We became humanitarians to put good back into the world. We need to be better people in all of this. Being joyous about someone’s death only brings more hate into the world.
We don’t gain anything from hate. Yes, there might be some initial joy after mud-slinging, but after that where does that leave us? Our hate does not change what Fred Phelps or the Westboro Baptists have one, and I doubt it will change what they decide to do in the future.
We are not Fred Phelps. We are not the Westboro Baptists. We are loving, caring, passionate LGBT* individuals who help our local and global communities.
At the end of the day, we are responsible for what we put back into the world. Let’s choose love over hate.