Eulogy for Fred Phelps

Originally published by Vice News March 17, 2014

Yesterday, Nathan Phelps, the son of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, posted a note on Facebook claiming that his father is “on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas.” He also mentioned that Fred was excommunicated from the church in August of last year, but didn’t give any details as to why. Although the information at this point is sparse and unofficial, Westboro spokesman and Radiohead fanboy Steve Drain told the Daily News “Fred Phelps is having some health problems. He’s an old man and old people get health problems.”

In celebration of the icy hand of death caressing Fred’s gross old body, we reached out to Lucien Greaves, the leader of the Satanic Temple, who last summer performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of Fred’s mother in order to turn her into a lesbian in the afterlife. When we spoke to him at that time, he told us, “Fred himself is getting pretty long in the tooth, and I hope to be presiding over his Pink Mass before long,” so yesterday we asked Lucien what he thought of the recent news of Fred’s demise, and if there are still plans to turn him gay after he dies. We have republished his response in full below.

It is often considered proper form for the remaining party among two established enemies, when one is dead or dying, to make disingenuous statements of remorse—to express that “nobody wishes death” upon their opponent. You’ll find no such dissembling from me. As I write this, Fred Phelps is now in the process of doing probably the one thing that he’ll ever do for which he will have my gratitude: He is dying. And while some part of me thinks, the sooner the better, another part of me hopes he lingers long enough to savor the full terror that must consume a mind as superstitious and bitterly haunted as his during its last moments of life.

The claim that Fred Phelps had been excommunicated from the Westboro Baptist Church within its recent history is new to me. I only hope that it is true, and that the consequence of this excommunication is that Fred finds himself frightened and alone on his deathbed now, abandoned by the only people he personally shared his spiteful and depraved sense of mission with.

In his life, Phelps can be credited with many an inadvertent positive influence. As a caricature of cruel religious-based inhumanity, Phelps often rallied people in opposition to his stupidity, and he served as a ludicrous arch-villain. He was a living argument ad absurdum in support of all of the things he detested and decried. On the eve of Phelps’s death, I think there is much that the American public can be proud of. We can be proud not only of the strong counter-protests that followed the Westboro Baptist Church wherever they flagrantly and tastelessly displayed their disgusting malice, but also that we live in an environment where Fred Phelps was allowed to publicly spew his vindictive ideas with such infuriating and thoughtless impunity. It is infinitely better to suffer the few Fred Phelpses that will surely always exist than to live in a political environment in which odious speech is regulated by an officiating body.

The Satanic Temple exercised its own right to offensive Free Speech in our performance of the Pink Mass at Fred Phelps’s mother’s grave this past summer. After having two same-sex couples (one male, one female) engage in homoerotic activity at the grave site, we declared Fred Phelps’s mother a post-mortem homosexual conversion. At the time, I predicted that Fred hadn’t too much longer till he would pass, and I stated—in a direct tweet to the WBC—that I would be presiding over Fred’s own Pink Mass before too long. As I have made a promise to a dying man, I fully intend to do my very best to see it through, and the pomp and circumstance of this Pink Mass will surely far, far exceed that of the original event in Meridian, Mississippi.

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