Phelps Teaches Tolerance

Edgy performance artist, Fred Phelps came to Rhode Island with his traveling troupe to put on the show they have been doing nationwide. The response was gratifying. Phelps’ dramatization of the ugliness of hatred and the destructive and irrational face of religious bigotry taken to its logical extreme spurred Rhode Islanders to unanimously reject prejudice and violence.

We are, after all, the state founded by Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson.

It was heartwarming to see high school students on the front page of the Journal rallying for tolerance, supported by school superintendent Mario Cirillo, who is a military veteran.

Despite the effectiveness of Phelps’ strategy for promoting gay rights and discrediting prejudice, I can’t endorse his tactics. I have to say as a gay rights supporter that the end does not justify the means. Phelps’ performances are not nonviolent.

It’s a kind of accomplishment in reverse that in the 21st century someone has managed to invent a new form of disgraceful conduct, forcing states to pass laws against behavior that no one had thought of before.

I’m referring, of course, to harassing bereaved families at funerals. Nothing, not world peace and a cure for AIDS, and baldness, can justify such a tactic. That is violation of the worst kind. Phelps may be carried away with his urgent mission to discredit religious fundamentalism, particularly Calvinism. But like many performance artists he takes it too far.

Some might be led to think that he really believes the hateful slogans he and his fellow actors paint on signs.

Although he succeeded in organizing pro-gay rights demonstrations on short notice, and ensuring the demonstrations would be well-covered in the news, I wish he would go home. He has business of his own to take care of, unless the Lord takes him before the lawyers do.

Jesus Would be Really Mad

Jesus was no fan of people who use religion as a cover for bad actions, and he was known to get pretty ticked off at the self-righteous. So if Jesus is the guy we see when we leave this vale of tears I would not want to be Fred Phelps. He’ll have a lot of ‘splaining to do. Phelps, (nicknamed ‘The Rotting Cryptkeeper’ by Pam’s House Blend) is the cult leader who has driven states to pass laws against a behavior he pretty much invented — disrupting funerals to get attention for his anti-gay views. In the past few years he and his tiny band of followers (most of whom are his family) have been harassing the bereaved families of Iraq War soldiers.

While it is a great strength of our democracy that we allow freedom of religious practice within the boundaries of law and respect for others, there are some who have no respect and use religion as a cover for bigotry and disgraceful behavior. Fred Phelps may have reached the end of his free ride

A federal judge in Maryland on Thursday ordered liens on the Westboro Baptist Church building and the Phelps-Chartered Law office…

The $5 million penalty is the result of a lawsuit filed against three of the church’s principals by Albert Snyder, the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, whose funeral was picketed by church members.

The senior Snyder contended the picketing caused emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

For several years the Phelps clan have been spewing hate and persecuting people who deserve privacy and respect. It’s a shame that anyone was ever so disrespected as the grieving families Phelps preyed on in his greed for attention. I have often wondered where a guy like that gets the money to travel from state to state. Maybe now that a brave family won a lawsuit we will find out who’s financing him and his disciples.