The Great Courses

The Legacy That Fred Phelps Never Intended

Mar 16, 2014 at 10:02 AM
4 years ago

Nathan Phelps just made a sobering Facebook post about his father, Fred Phelps, who is in hospice and near death.


I've learned that my father, Fred Phelps, Sr., pastor of the "God Hates Fags" Westboro Baptist Church, was ex-communicated from the "church" back in August of 2013. He is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas. 

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made. 

I feel sad for all the hurt he's caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I'm bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.

As Nate and the other "free" siblings are being barred from seeing their father in his final hours, it would seem that the tragedy of Fred's life will ripple out to his death, marked by isolation, division and pain.

A Westboro way of living. A Westboro way of dying.

fred phelps preaching

In many ways, Nate has been mourning his father since the day he turned 18 and escaped the Westboro home to freedom. He mourns the strong, loving family unit he never had. He grieves for those who remain locked inside the halls of hate. And he sees the wasted potential of a natural leader who might have accomplished so many wonderful things had he not been poisoned in his mind and heart.

If Fred Phelps has any legacy worth celebrating, it is the life of Nate Phelps, a son who refused to echo his father's voice and spoke in his own, and who has dedicated his own life to countering the Westboro rage, to promoting love over hate, and to fighting for human rights.


nate phelps quote

From one perspective, Nate lost a family. But in other ways, he gained a family. To the people of this community and so many others, he is the brother, the son, the father, the friend. He is our family, and we are his. 

In this difficult moment, we're with you, and we love you. 

-Seth Andrews

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