User Login    
 + Register
PDQ Cleaning
TV Banner
News : Phelps' Hate Seen By Some As Aiding Gay Rights
Posted by Randy on 2014/3/21 4:24:29 (222 reads) News by the same author

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Fred Phelps Sr. led his small Topeka church for more than two decades in a bellicose crusade against gays and lesbians, saying they were worthy of death and openly declaring - often at military funerals - that the U.S. was doomed because of its tolerance of homosexuality.

Click to see original Image in a new window

But in targeting grieving families of troops killed overseas, taunting people entering other churches and carrying signs with anti-gay slurs and vulgar language or symbols, Phelps and his Westboro Baptist congregation created public circuses that may have helped the gay-rights movement.

Following Phelps' death Wednesday at age 84, some gay-rights advocates suggested that he and his church created sympathy for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered. Religious leaders who oppose gay marriage also said the pastor's tactics clouded the debate over such issues and put them on the defensive in discussing both policy and faith.

"The world lost someone who did a whole lot more for the LGBT community than we realize or understand," said Cathy Renna, a longtime consultant to LGBT groups. "He has brought along allies who are horrified by the hate. So his legacy will be exactly the opposite of what he dreamed."

Phelps founded the church in the 1950s, and it has drawn much of its small congregation from his extended family. Its rise to national and even international notoriety began in the early 1990s, as it picketed against gays and lesbians, then protested funerals of AIDS victims and, eventually, fallen soldiers.

The protests sparked outrage, with the federal government and lawmakers in more than 40 states passing specific laws to limit the protests and local residents using various tactics - including lining up to block views of the protesters - to protect grieving families.

Conservative religious leaders regularly denounced Phelps, worried that his relentless attacks would be perceived as representing the Christian case against same-sex relationships. At the 2003 annual Southern Baptist Convention, leaders spent a session drawing a distinction between their opposition to same-sex unions and Phelps' protests.

Phelps called his church Baptist but had no ties with the Southern Baptist Convention or any other mainstream Baptist group.

"Westboro Baptist is to Baptist Christianity what the "Book of Mormon" Broadway play was to the Latter-Day Saints," said the Rev. Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission. "They were kind of a performance art of vitriolic hatred rather than any kind of religious organization."

Phelps professed not to care what anyone thought of his church. He said in a 2006 interview with The Associated Press that no minister could "preach the Bible" without preaching God's hate. Westboro spokesman Steve Drain said in an email a few days before Phelps' death that the church's doctrines weren't changing.

"The church of the Lord Jesus Christ does not rise or fall with any man - in fact, the Lord doesn't need ANY of us," Drain wrote. "Any nation that embraces that sin as an `innocent' lifestyle can expect to incur the wrath of God."

Some gay-rights advocates argued that Phelps and his congregation were problematic for the religious right because they said what social conservatives truly believed but were careful not to publicly express.

"Fred was a loathsome creature," said Wayne Besen, executive director of the gay-rights group Truth Wins Out. "But I'll say one nice thing about him: He's the only honest person on the religious right I've ever met."

Phelps often reserved especially caustic comments for evangelical Christians and Catholics who view homosexual behavior as sinful but also preach that God also loves and reaches out to gays and lesbians. Phelps dismissed them as "enablers," and his congregation often picketed their churches.

The Rev. Terry Fox, a Southern Baptist minister who's pastor of Wichita's non-denominational-leaning Summit Church, once felt compelled to apologize for Phelps' shocking behavior on television. Fox called Phelps "a false prophet" and said Satan "greatly used him." Fox was prominent in a successful effort in 2005 to persuade voters to amend the Kansas Constitution to ban gay marriage and said Phelps "was an embarrassment" but had "become the face of Christian work in Kansas."

Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said Phelps and his congregation still represent "an easy device" for gay-marriage supporters to "short-circuit the conversation" on that and related issues in recent years.

"People were justifiably, appropriately outraged by the things that they did," Schuttloffel said of Phelps and his church. "As soon as someone, then, is able to tar you as being related to them or thinking the same way as them, right away you're starting behind the eight ball."

Gay-rights advocates, meanwhile, were assessing Phelps' place in the history of their movement.

"An obscene footnote" is how Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, the state's leading gay-rights group, believes Phelps and his followers will be remembered. Witt said progress began well before Westboro's protests and will continue long after Phelps' death.

However, James Esseks, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, acknowledged that he eventually saw Phelps' protests as helping his own movement.

"He would show up with his extreme anti-gay views, and a bunch of people in the middle would think, `If that's what it means to be anti-gay, I want no part of it,'" Esseks said.

Printer Friendly Page Send this Story to a Friend Create a PDF from the article


Other articles
2014/8/30 0:20:00 - Lexington Runs Over Trenton, 34-6
2014/8/29 16:07:54 - "Kaleidoscope Run" To Start Homecoming Week At THS
2014/8/29 15:51:13 - Trenton, In Return To Class 2, To Host District 16 Softball Tournament
2014/8/29 15:36:48 - Trenton Golfers Take Fifth Place At Lafayette Tournament
2014/8/29 15:32:52 - Drive One For Your School Event To Raise Money For Three Area School Districts
2014/8/29 15:27:34 - Princeton Chamber To Meet Concerning Cow Palace Repairs
2014/8/29 15:23:47 - NFL Suspends Former Mizzou Standout Aldon Smith For Nine Games
2014/8/29 15:21:23 - KC Chiefs Lose Preseason Finale, 34-14 At Green Bay
2014/8/29 15:00:00 - KC Royals Claim Veteran Jayson Nix Off Waivers
2014/8/29 10:05:43 - Lawson Softball Tips Chillicothe, 3-2
2014/8/29 9:51:45 - Truman State Hoops Coach Leaves For Pro Job
2014/8/29 9:50:00 - CHS Lady Hornet Volleyball Opens Season With Sweep Of Trenton
2014/8/29 9:40:04 - Softball Scoreboard : Gallatin Tips Milan 2-1
2014/8/29 9:22:50 - Savannah Tennis Beats Trenton, 8-1
2014/8/29 7:28:34 - Amber And Jim Shippen Latest Contributors To WMH Foundation
2014/8/29 6:20:30 - Hamilton Resident Life Flighted After Accident South Of Cameron
2014/8/29 5:21:37 - Trenton Downtown Improvement Association Approves Loans For Building Projects
2014/8/29 4:35:36 - Crews In Hazmat Suits Search Springfield Home For Ricin
2014/8/29 4:27:55 - Suspect In 6-Year-Old's Death Charged With First-Degree Murder
2014/8/29 4:23:52 - Missouri Unveils Aid Effort To Ferguson Businesses
2014/8/29 4:19:11 - Cat-Astrophic Revelation Purr-Turbs Hello Kitty Fans
2014/8/29 4:15:39 - 4-Year-Old Expelled Over His Mother's Facebook Post
2014/8/29 4:10:25 - Date Set For Local Recount On "Right To Farm" Issue
2014/8/29 4:03:50 - One Injury In Accident West Of Trenton
2014/8/28 15:01:25 - KC Royals Turning Back Clock To 1974
2014/8/28 14:50:00 - Milan Coaches Shows For Thursday, 8/28/14
2014/8/28 12:50:00 - Chillicothe Hornets Have Dominant Tennis, Golf Performances
2014/8/28 12:32:42 - KC Royals Urge Fans To "Wear Blue" For Rare Sunday Night Game
2014/8/28 12:27:24 - KC Royals Place Top Prospect Starling In Arizona Fall League
2014/8/28 12:21:45 - Brookfield Wins Extra-Inning Showdown With Penney, 3-2



Bookmark this article at these sites

                   

Listen to KTTN-FM