No Funeral for Fred Phelps

LGBT group urges people to 'rise above all the anger'

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 20, 2014 6:34 PM CDT

(Newser) – Given how Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church picketed funerals to spread the word that gay people were evil, one of the top gay advocates in Phelps' home state could be forgiven if he were hoping for a little payback now that Phelps is dead. No such luck. The executive director of Equality Kansas tells the LA Times that he doesn't want people to entertain thoughts of picketing a Phelps funeral or celebrating his death. “We are asking that the LGBT community rise above all the anger we feel toward the Westboro Baptist Church and do what we’ve been asking the Phelps family do for 20 years, which is let us grieve in peace," says Thomas Witt. Instead of protesting, donate to an LGBT group instead, he suggested.

It turns out that Phelps' enemies won't be able to picket his funeral even if they wanted to, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. In keeping with church practice, the family isn't going to hold a service, daughter Margie Jean Phelps told a radio station. Funerals have become "the No. 1 idol of Americans," she said. Another daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, hung up on a reporter who asked whether Phelps was with family when he died. Four of his 13 adult children left the church years ago and were reportedly barred from seeing their father in hospice. (Phelps had been excommmunicated from Westboro himself.)

This undated photo shows Fred Phelps during a protest.
This undated photo shows Fred Phelps during a protest.   (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)
In this 2007 photo, Fred Phelps prepares to protest outside the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka.
In this 2007 photo, Fred Phelps prepares to protest outside the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka.   (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
Fred Phelps in 1988.
Fred Phelps in 1988.   (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)
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