Phelps’ son had this to say on his Facebook account regarding his father’s imminent passing and legacy:
“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,” Nathan Phelps wrote. “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.” Image credit: david_shankbone
Nathan Phelps left the church 37 years ago.
Although his son shows contempt for his father’s views and actions directed toward the LGBT community, he also doesn’t want the funeral to be marred by protests.
He told reporters that although he won’t be surprised if there are protesters at the funeral, he said, “I wish they wouldn’t.”
Likewise, the leading LGBT organization in Phelps’ home state of Kansas is urging activists to “understand the solemnity of the occasion, and honor the right of his family and friends to remember and mourn his loss in private without interruption or unseemly celebration. Our focus must remain on our mission: ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The organization, Equality Kansas, added: “This is our moment as a community to rise above the sorrow, anger and strife he sowed, and to show the world we are caring and compassionate people who respect the privacy and dignity of all.”
However, the irony can’t be missed in asking the LGBT community and allies to respect the funeral of someone who had no respect for the funerals of countless members of the LGBT community. Westboro Baptist Church was also well-known for protesting the funerals of non-LGBT soldiers who died in combat after the passage of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” sporting signs that read “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”
Phelps passed away on March 21.
Emerson Rensink is an Olympia-trans*planted activist, organizer and citizen journalist. He helped organize the global March Against Monsanto in May 2013. In addition to writing for The Anti-Media, Emerson’s work can be found at Center for a Stateless Society. In his free time, Emerson likes to watch depressing documentaries and find funny, pointless things on the Internet.
Follow Emerson on Twitter: @emersonrensink