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March 20th, 2014
07:12 PM ET

Should we celebrate Fred Phelps' death?

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - He was a preacher best known for his virulent anti-gay rhetoric, the force behind placards that read “God Hates Fags.” He taught that natural disasters and man-made horrors like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were God’s punishment for acceptance of homosexuality.

He believed gays and lesbians should be put to death.

On Thursday, the world learned that Fred Phelps, founding pastor of the small but infamous Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, was dead.

The news unleashed a firestorm of online chatter. In less than an hour after CNN posted an article announcing his death, more than 3,000 readers had weighed in with comments. By the end of the business day, that number exceeded 11,000.

Nearly as many readers “liked” a comment from humm61: “To paraphrase a famous actress, ‘My mother said to only say nice things about the dead. He's dead. How nice.’”

Mixed in were those who wanted to picket – or party – at Phelps’ funeral. Some relished the idea of him rotting in hell. Plenty others were horrified by the hatred and condemned the celebration.

The sometimes heated back-and-forth between readers at CNN and elsewhere got us thinking: What is the appropriate response to Phelps’ death? Is it right to damn him to eternal suffering, a dark wish he extended to plenty of others?

We reached out to several advocates for those who may have taken Phelps’ message most personally - Christians who are also gay - to see what they thought.

“The words and actions of Fred Phelps have hurt countless people. As a Christian, I’m angry about that, and I’m angry about how he tarnished the reputation of the faith I love so much,” Justin Lee, executive director of The Gay Christian Network, said in an e-mail message.

“But as a Christian, I also believe in showing love to my enemies and treating people with grace even when they don’t deserve it,” he said. “I pray for his soul and his family just as I pray for those he harmed. It’s easy for me to love someone who treats me kindly. It’s hard for me to love Fred Phelps. To me, that’s the whole point of grace.”

That Phelps is gone isn’t cause for joy for Jim Smith, either.

“There is a sadness as deep as the Grand Canyon over the harm that he has unleashed in our country, a sadness that can’t be quantified. But that still doesn’t mean I delight in his death,” said Smith, the associate director of Dignity USA, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ Catholics. “I’d delight in the end of the Westboro [Baptist Church] mission.”

But, Smith added, the “obsession with sexual orientation” isn’t Westboro’s alone. Plenty of other houses of worship and institutions fail to teach universal acceptance.

One need not specifically work on behalf of the LGBTQ community to see this broader point. Phelps was one small, albeit persistent and radical, voice in a larger chorus.

“A Christian can be glad that Fred Phelps will no longer be distorting the gospel into little spectacles of hate. But then he’s hardly been the only one doing that,” Mark D. Jordan, a professor of religion and politics at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote in an e-mail message. “As hate-mongers go, he was not particularly dangerous.”

Phelps “was a phantom of the media: he loved a TV camera – and the TV cameras too often loved him,” said Jordan, a leading expert on Christian ethics and sexuality.

“If we’re serious about stopping Christian persecution aimed at sex or gender, we’ll pay less attention to televised spectacles and more to the collusion of churches with bureaucracies of governmental power.”

Rejoicing in Phelps' death, or the loss of any soul, isn't the Christian way, Jordan added.

"If some Christians want to celebrate the death of Fred Phelps, I hope it's because they think he has been released from bodily suffering and is going home to God," he said.

"To rejoice because you hope that he's already in hellfire is to do exactly what he did to his enemies."

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Christianity • Discrimination • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Westboro Bapitst Church

soundoff (296 Responses)
  1. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    I am not christian... I would urinate on his corpse for his actions at my military brother's and sister's funerals. It is unfortunate that he didn't suffer and die in horrible agony.

    March 23, 2014 at 5:14 am |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      First you notice the eyes. As you follow his strong nose down his face you see the tight lipped grimace, betraying the sacrifice this man has made. His bible and his followers firmly in his grip, he sacrifices his own reputation to bring the truth of God to the people. It is his calling and the fags deserve to be called before the Lord. Alas this man of goodness is now basking in the glory of God…oh sorry, my bad. That is Lucifer's Evil Twin urinating on his corpse.

      March 23, 2014 at 10:39 am |
  2. haime52

    Some would say he is not dead, that his soul lives on but.....
    1 Timothy 6:15-16
    New International Version (NIV)
    15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

    March 22, 2014 at 11:00 pm |
    • saggyroy

      Some would say that. But I don't know why.

      March 23, 2014 at 8:46 am |
  3. georgevreelandhill2010

    Fred Phelps was a loser in life who desperately craved for attention.
    He got the attention by using God and the Bible for his own twisted purpose.
    He also brainwashed his kids and family into believing he was right.
    Phelps was evil and his death needs to be celebrated.
    Maybe the few who believed him will wake up one day.

    George Vreeland Hill

    March 22, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
  4. metatronking

    I read so many of these,comments. I was flabergasted by how many people claim to be "christian" yet completely ignoring the infallible word of God.

    March 22, 2014 at 7:06 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Are you truly surprised by this ?

      March 22, 2014 at 7:12 pm |
  5. tstorm92

    Phelps was a true American "monster". So riddled with hate and disgust for his fellow man that all he brought to those around him was misery and gloom. Rot in hell, Phelps. You're the devil's problem now.

    March 22, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
    • saggyroy

      He was a "true Christian". One who followed the "good book".

      March 22, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
      • Russ

        @ saggyroy:
        the "good book" says very clearly that we are all sinners.
        did Phelps think he was one?

        March 22, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
      • tired-of-america.com

        I've always said that the only difference between Phelps and other Christians is that Phelps didn't hide what he really thought. I imagine most Christians secretly applauded Phelps hatred of gays.

        March 22, 2014 at 6:37 pm |
        • elucidated1

          One can learn a lot about others by how they react to their own. And considering the amount of traction that the Westboro pastor got nationally and how few national Christian figures and Americans called out Phelps certainly defines the reasons that Christianity is in decline. So much for Christian values.

          March 23, 2014 at 1:06 am |
        • pattysboi

          No true Christian would agree with fred phelps and his monstrous hate.

          March 23, 2014 at 4:58 am |
        • tired-of-america.com

          Are you sure? Every Christian group says "x" isn't a true Christian because they don't act like I (we) do. It's a bit of a joke for those of us on the outside of Christianity looking in.

          March 24, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • otoh2

          pattysboi,

          I wonder how many of the thousands of denominations of Christians say that **you** are not a "true Christian" either?

          It's a puzzlement.

          (but, yep, Freddy boy was a nasty piece of work)

          March 23, 2014 at 5:11 am |
      • timber72

        While he certainly behaved like many who call themselves "chistians", who have no use for God and His ways (though giving lip service to Him), he certainly did NOT follow "the good book", in any way.

        March 22, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
        • midwest rail

          He certainly followed Leviticus more closely than others.

          March 22, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
        • timber72

          How did he follow Leviticus? I find nowhere in Leviticus that says "condemn those in the world for their sins." In fact, that's nowhere in Scripture.

          March 22, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
        • midwest rail

          You're kidding, right ? Christians regularly invoke Leviticus to condemn gay people.

          March 22, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
        • Akira

          Leviticus 20:13 specifically says gays should be out to death.

          March 22, 2014 at 11:45 pm |
        • timber72

          Midwest rail: I'm quite aware that "christians" invoke Leviticus to condemn gay people...but you said he was FOLLOWING Leviticus...and the laws in Leviticus were for the Israelite nation....not the world. Nowhere in Leviticus will you find condemnation for people OUTSIDE Israel.

          Akira: Sure, everyone knows what the verse says...the important thing is not what it says, but to WHOM does it apply. And, of course, it applied to those in the nation of Israel, not those outside.

          Therefore, Phelps wasn't "following" Leviticus any more than atheists are. And that's really the point: lots of people claim to be followers, but don't actually follow. I can claim to be a toaster all I want, but if I can't put two pieces of bread under my armpits and pop out toast 30 seconds later, am I really a toaster....? No matter how "sincerely" I believe and claim I AM a toaster....?

          March 23, 2014 at 1:00 am |
        • observer

          timber72,

          Leviticus also says (Lev. 20:9) "If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death”.

          So you have no problem if Jews follow their Bible, right?

          March 23, 2014 at 1:08 am |
        • otoh2

          Odd, timber72; Fred said that you are just a presser of damp bread too.

          March 23, 2014 at 1:12 am |
  6. jaareshiah

    Many who condemned Fred Phelps for his vitriolic comments were guilty themselves of the same thing, spewing out hate. However, what does the Bible say ? At Proverbs 24, it says: "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice, and when he stumbles, do not let your heart be joyful; Otherwise, Jehovah will see and be displeased, and He will turn away his anger from him."(Prov 24:17, 18)

    Thus, we should not rejoice when ' our enemy falls ' or stumbles. Only our Maker, Jehovah God, has the right to deal with an "enemy" by his anger. Why ? Proverbs 25 says that "if your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; If he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will be heaping burning coals on his head, and Jehovah will reward you."(Prov 25:21, 22; see Rom 12:20)

    What does it mean to ' heap burning coals on (an enemies' ) head ' ? It relates to an ancient smelting process, whereby ore was melted and released the desired metals from between the charcoal used to reach a high temperature. This practice apparently gave rise to the proverb: Kindness toward an enemy is like coals of fire upon his head; it softens his anger and brings out the good in him. Thence, the Bible recommends that a person treat his enemy kindly. Kindness draws people toward our Maker, Jehovah God, and the result could be that they too take up true worship of God, becoming one of his people instead of remaining as his enemy, as the apostle Paul did.(Acts 9:1-20)

    Also Proverbs 17 says that "whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker, and whoever rejoices over another’s disaster will not go unpunished."(Prov 17:5) And Elihu told Job and his so-called comforters: "Have I ever rejoiced over the destruction of my enemy or gloated because evil befell him ?"(Job 31:29) Elihu knew the importance of waiting on Jehovah God to deal with "enemies" (Rom 12:19), not rejoicing that "evil befell him".

    It is true that it is a test of strength to not vitriolically retort, for only God has the right to do such, and those that remain as "enemies" until everyone on earth is judged by Jesus Christ either as a "sheep" (those who are meek, teachable by God) or a "goat" (those who reject Jehovah, remaining his enemies, Matt 25:31-33) at the beginning of Armageddon (Rev 16:16), he will deal with them this way at "the war of the great day of God the Almighty" (Rev 16:14), in which Jesus said in an illustration: "Moreover, bring these enemies of mine here who did not want me to become king (Jesus as God's chosen king since 1914) over them and execute them in front of me.’”(Luke 19:27)

    March 22, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
    • unsername1

      well that is what anyone calling himself or considering himself equivalent to God is supposed to say "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice, and when he stumbles, do not let your heart be joyful;..", we are human being, so excused.

      March 22, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
      • new-man

        so in other words, you reject the teachings of wisdom in order to make your flesh feel good about itself.

        March 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
        • observer

          new-man,

          The "teachings of wisdom" included support for some of the horrible things that Phelps did.

          March 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
        • Akira

          New-man, Phelps thought he was spreading the Word of God.

          Do you agree with his message?

          March 22, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
    • observer

      jaareshiah,

      Phelps may be sitting next to God right now. All he had to do was repent on his deathbed and that made up for ALL the horrible things he did. Easy out.

      March 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
      • timber72

        Thankfully, that's not true. It's not the testimony of God or His Word. The "thief on the cross/deathbed repentance" is a fable, inserted by later "editors", to appeal to their sin natures. Never, in all the testimony of Scripture, do you find anyone "repenting at the last minute." Every person whom God dealt with, He dealt with over a long period of time. Salvation is a journey, not a destination. And, since God Himself says "every matter must be established by two or three witnesses", and there is no other witness to the "deathbed repentance" other than what is found in Luke (not that Luke, himself, wrote it), then it is spurious.

        There is no "easy out" for anyone. ALL must go through the cross, whether in life or after it, and the beauty is that all WILL go through the cross, each in his own time. There is no life before the cross...there is only life after it. When we have died to ourselves, been buried, and resurrected with HIS Life, then, and only then, will we be saved.

        March 22, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
        • observer

          timber72,

          John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him SHOULD NOT PERISH, but have EVERLASTING life.”

          March 22, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
        • timber72

          Observe:

          Indeed, it is as you have said.

          And that only comes through the cross: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."(Gal 2:20)

          March 22, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
        • Akira

          Another interpretation? Is it any wonder there are so many Christian sects?

          March 22, 2014 at 8:55 pm |
        • fintronics

          Yup, the bible is all about interpretation..... the great book of "this means that"

          March 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
  7. His Panic

    Given the Fact that the good old US of A is and has been for quite some time now, the biggest nest of False teachers, false prophets and Cults the History of the World has ever known. There's for sure an almost endless source of them. So somebody will certainly take his place within a generation or less.

    March 22, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
  8. timber72

    We should not rejoice at the death's of our enemies. Fred Phelps was, according to Scripture, an enemy of God, as are we all at one point or another. He thought his religion would save him, but man-made religion has never saved anyone, ever. Man-made religion, as all denominations are, kills.

    But God makes alive, and He saves in His time, and for His purpose. Fred Phelps is destined for fire, but it is not eternal (a vicious lie perpetrated by vicious men), and it will do the work Jesus meant for it to do: purge. It is not for punishment, but for correction.

    March 22, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
    • new-man

      happy to have read this comment.
      very rarely do I come across a believer who doesn't subscribe to man-made doctrines.
      glad you posted this: "But God makes alive, and He saves in His time, and for His purpose. Fred Phelps is destined for fire, but it is not eternal (a vicious lie perpetrated by vicious men), and it will do the work Jesus meant for it to do: purge. It is not for punishment, but for correction."

      I've said before, everyone's foundation is Jesus... now what a man choses to build on that foundation will be tested by fire; so hay, stubble and wood will be burnt but the foundation will remain; those who built with silver and gold, even those too will be tried by fire but will be purified.

      Blessings!

      March 22, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
  9. gigi77407

    People and Christians celebrated the death of Osama Bin Laden. We celebrated the death of Saddam Hussein and his sons. Why not celebrate the death of Fred Phelps who while wasn't a terrorist taking down planes and killing Americans, was still a horrible, rotten soul. He was a hateful person and I feel no remorse for his death nor the suffering of his family. It that makes me a bad Christian, so be it.

    March 22, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
  10. mikeyjt

    Of course we should ALL rejoice that this disgustingly offensive, child-abusing reprobate is finally dead. (Now if the the rest of his clan of follow suit, that would be fine, too.) Why? Because he with his god (snicker) and slowly spit-roasting over some hot coals and brimstone.

    March 22, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
  11. davidlamartindavidlmartin1960

    All Christians should take the high road. We should not stoop to his and his followers level.

    March 22, 2014 at 11:47 am |
  12. Jill

    Rainer Helmut Braendlein, loosen your flee collar to let the grasshoppers escape and grow new leotards. Don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent. Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently.

    So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril. Think about how you can stripe the sea.

    Regale the storm to those who (6) would thump the parrot with the armband. Corner the market on vestiges of the apparent closure but seek not the evidential circumstance. Therein you can find indignant mountains of pigs and apples. Descend eloquently as you debate the ceiling of your warning fulcrum. Vacate the corncob profusely and and don’t dote on the pancreas.

    Next up, control your wood. Have at the cat with your watch on the fore. Aft! Smarties (12)! Rome wasn’t kevetched in an autumn nightie. (42) See yourself for the turntable on the escalator. Really peruse the garage spider definitely again again with brown. Now we have an apparent congestion, so be it here. Just a moment is not a pod of beef for the ink well nor can it be (4) said that Karen was there in the millpond.

    Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.

    And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

    March 22, 2014 at 11:29 am |
  13. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    Of course, every true Christian wishes for the repentance and conversion of the sinner (for example gay people) to Jesus, and doesn't wish the sinner's death (neither the physical death nor the eternal death).

    It is only that stubborn sinners (sinners not wanting both to repent and to convert) should be aware that they will not inherit the Kingdom of God but God will condemn them at Judgement Day. Yet, it is not necessary that Christians antedate Judgement Day, and presume to deal with God's task. Christians should focus on the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ who can change sinners, even the worst ones.

    If the state would act on behalf of God, the state would try to prevent the legalization of gay lifestyle. At any rate it must be prevented that gay lifestyle becomes as legal as marriage between a man and a woman. If gays would be forced to live at the very edge of society, it would work to their's advantage. They would get a feeling that they indeed approach a very dark future remote from God's place.

    The Church should always try to attract sinners through love, and the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If a sinner, even a very bad sinner, repents, believes and gets sacramentally baptized, he becomes a member of the Church. God will release him from all malice, and enable him or her to practice love of neighbour instead of serving his or her lust.

    Jesus, the Son of God, can set us free!

    March 22, 2014 at 9:56 am |
    • midwest rail

      Well, at least you quit stealing advertising. Now if you could rid yourself of the condescension and bigotry, you might actually begin to sound human.

      March 22, 2014 at 9:59 am |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        Condescension? You impute something.

        I am endangered too every day to follow my sinful lust, and to extinguish the Holy Spirit whom I received through sacramental baptism. I thank God for every moment when I don't serve my lust, and allow the rule of the Spirit.

        March 22, 2014 at 10:10 am |
        • midwest rail

          It is not imputed – rather, it is logically deduced from the evidence presented every time you post.

          March 22, 2014 at 10:15 am |
        • Akira

          You should probably lock yourself up like you want to do to a bunch of people who lives impact you not at all.

          March 22, 2014 at 10:41 am |
        • houstonbaynes

          At some point, perhaps you will learn to keep your highly-subjective interpretations of what scripture says about sin to yourself. In case you didn't know, not everyone agrees with your version.

          March 22, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
        • Akira

          He has his own private blog; as long as he keeps posting his "interpretations" on a public blog (he said the other day that Jesus really knew the date of the second coming but chooses not to reveal it, this saying Jesus is a liar), he should expect criticism for his ruminations.

          March 22, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
    • christianguy17

      Well said.

      March 22, 2014 at 10:11 am |
      • Akira

        So....you think it's a great idea to force gay people into concentration camps? Not very Christ-like.

        March 22, 2014 at 10:42 am |
    • Akira

      Someone who wants to contain gay people in concentration camps?
      How very Hitleresque.
      How very evil. How very...Rainier Helmut Braendelein.

      Achtung, baby.

      March 22, 2014 at 10:38 am |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        You impute too much! What is the point of that?

        March 22, 2014 at 10:57 am |
        • Akira

          You have stated this repeatedly. Over several pages. You reposted this again today.

          Keep reposting this hateful diatribe and I will keep pointing it out.

          March 22, 2014 at 11:17 am |
        • sam stone

          We do not impute anything, Rainy, your arrogance and condescention flow out of the verbal diarrhea you spew every time you come on here

          March 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
    • leetilson

      You write:

      " If gays would be forced to live at the very edge of society, it would work to their’s advantage. They would get a feeling that they indeed approach a very dark future remote from God’s place."

      Matthew 25:40
      "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

      It follows that you are doing this to Jesus:
      "would be forced to live at the very edge of society"

      That is what you are doing to Jesus. Remember it.

      You are not showing Jesus compassion. You are not listening to Jesus. You are not supporting Jesus. You are not allowing Jesus to choose how to live his own life.

      You are saying that Jesus "would be forced to live at the very edge of society."

      If you say Jesus is important, how can you treat him this way?

      March 22, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
      • observer

        leetilson,

        Excellent comment.

        March 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • leetilson

          We will not persuade others just by disagreeing with them and arguing. We need to do what King did in his "I have a dream" speech. King linked his conclusion to things the racists believed, to sentences that had been drilled into all of our heads since kindergarten:
          From the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson's fundamental American sentence:

          "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal."

          We need to find grounds of agreement to persuade others.

          We should always treat the least of our brethren well. Those who use the Bible as an excuse to mistreat others are, in fact, mistreating Jesus.

          March 22, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
        • fintronics

          bull crap.... there are plenty of examples of women being mistreated in the bible, just for starters..

          March 25, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
    • timber72

      There is no such thing as "eternal death." That would make death the Omega, and not Jesus, who said "I hold the keys to death and hell." "Eternal death" is antiChrist. And there is no such thing as a distinction between "a sinner" and "a very bad sinner." We are all "very bad sinners." It is only by God's grace (His enabling power) that there is any good at all.

      March 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
      • fintronics

        Speaking of "no such thing"............. no such thing as god, heaven, hell or any of the rest of that mythological munbo jumbo you posted.

        March 25, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
  14. leetilson

    What a wonderful message of compassion sent to the Westboro Church. Strategy: When haters try to provoke you, focus on doing the right thing. Just do the right thing. You will be judged by your actions, not by what others say about you.

    March 22, 2014 at 9:39 am |
    • leetilson

      http://bit.ly/1ewnXqM

      March 22, 2014 at 9:40 am |
  15. kenniston85

    Fred Phelps, though a disturbed man and quite often the source for much disdain and hatred brought out the worst in people. His ideology was one of promoting hatred. In hating him we are following his doctrine and spreading his ideals. Use your own love and kindness and show the world what else is out there besides hate.

    March 22, 2014 at 9:23 am |
  16. adamscooking

    His ignorance and hate actually brought a lot of people, both straight and LGBT together in support of the LGBT issues... so while he was a POS, inadvertently, his negative hate-spewing rallied a lot of support FOR gay issues..... Or simply because he was such an ass. Looks like the joke was on him.

    March 22, 2014 at 8:53 am |
    • Aquarian Treasures

      That old man's job was to be a nuisance. He spewed lots of hate and bigotry in his lifetime. He'll be where he needs to be...

      March 22, 2014 at 9:02 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        You mean a rotting corpse, 6 feet underground or perhaps ashes in an urn?? That's all there is to it.

        March 22, 2014 at 9:12 am |
  17. joeyy1

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_F9nIps46w&w=640&h=360]
    .

    March 22, 2014 at 8:45 am |
  18. albell2014

    No matter how hard the liberal media tries to link this perverted individual to mainstream Christians it won't work. Linking this freak to gay hating by Christians leads to another poorly written story. Ravitz is a Christian hater and her stories always slam Christians.

    March 22, 2014 at 7:37 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      No trues Scotsman fallacy...his take on Gullibles Travels (aka the bible) is simply a different interpretation of it. He wasn't a good man but there are many many many more like him and until the book is shelved and no longer followed we'll see more!

      March 22, 2014 at 7:46 am |
      • albell2014

        There are many many anti-Christians out there as well. It's too bad CNN the lead anti-Christian site always finds the kooks claiming to be Christians and the rest of the liberal sheep Baa Baa along. This is definitely a book that should be "shelved".

        March 22, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Not unlike the christian sheep who follow one outdated fallacious book! I'd rather be a liberal sheep than one who follows such a vindictive vicious god. Yes the bible should be shelved.

          March 22, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
        • observer

          albell2014,

          Speaking of sheep:

          (John 10:14) “I know my sheep and my sheep know me” [Jesus]
          (John 10:16) "I have other sheep that don't belong to this fold. I must lead these also, and they will listen to my
          voice. So there will be one flock and one shepherd." [Jesus]
          (Psalm 23:1) “The Lord is my shepherd.”

          March 22, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
        • fintronics

          Speaking of quotes from fiction...

          ""It's true. I am the Chosen One, only I can destroy him, but in order to do so, I need to know what Tom Riddle asked you all those years ago in your office, and I need to know what you told him. Be brave, sir. Be brave like my mother."

          Harry Potter

          Means as much as what you posted.

          March 25, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
    • akmac61

      Gee, I missed the "Christian hating" part. There was general mention of organizations who are anti-gay, but no universal condemnation of Christianity as a whole. I did see quotes from gay people thinking in a very Christian way.

      March 22, 2014 at 10:58 am |
      • albell2014

        You seemed to have conveniently missed the whole point of the story. The writer isn't Christian and her disdain for the religion shows. She likes to tie an extremist like Phelps to mainstream Christianity and the rest of you jump on board. I don't know anyone who believed as Phelps did or liked anything about him or what he represented. Why didn't she interview the relatives of the deceased Christian soldiers who who had to deal with Phelp's protests at the cemeteries? Because that would make Christians look human and draw sympathy. This writer would never do that.

        March 22, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
        • observer

          albell2014,

          Read the story. She SUMMARIZED the comments and interviewed gays who were the targets.

          March 22, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • Akira

          She's talking about a Christian. You trying to slander JR doesn't make the subject of this story any less Christian.

          March 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • xusmcvet

      You are obviously delusional! The HATRED spewed by Phelps is no different than what is heard every Sunday in thousands of "Christian churches" across this country!

      Now go ahead and deny it!

      March 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
  19. jvance83

    To activists, a preposterous figure can be useful. There's no way of knowing whether Rev Phelps really believed in his rhetoric or was just an attention-getting huckster, but for many Americans he represented the kind of warning once seen on ancient ocean maps: "Beyond there be dragons".

    March 22, 2014 at 7:09 am |
  20. angelaegambrel

    My reaction – Pray for his soul and let the Lord take care of the rest. No matter what, I can't celebrate the death of a human being....I just can't. I just hope that mercy and kindness entered his soul before death. I have no other answer. And I hope his death serves as a catalyst to open dialogue about the hatred he and his church spewed out, and end that hatred. That is all.

    March 22, 2014 at 7:06 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.