Fred Phelps

By Liz Welch, LGBT Advocacy Coordinator

Regardless of how you felt about Fred Phelps, the patriarch of the Westboro Baptist Church, this is a good moment to pause and reflect as we mark the moment of his death.  While certainly not a celebration, a protest, or to honor his life mission,  perhaps taking  a moment to pause and recognize both the good and bad that has come from his work is in order.

The Westboro Baptist Church has created a lot of pain for the LGBT community, the family and friends of military members, and many communities touched by tragedies with their outlandish, hurtful and harmful expressions of their unique brand of free speech and extreme evangelism .

Montana communities have been targeted by the WBC for protests and yet, the communities have always risen and shown that here in Montana love will always win. Countless people have had to confront and ultimately change their own feelings about sexual orientation in the face of the hate that spews from WBC.  And the group has been a lightening rod for organizations and individuals to organize and join together in the face of such harmful messages and protests.

While I have no love for the Westboro Baptist Church as a hateful, harmful, and dangerous organization, I have compassion and extend sympathy to the family who has lost their father. He died knowing that he lost the battle.  May he find the peace, compassion and unconditional love that he never knew, nor extended to others, on this earth.  May his family learn from this experience that kindness, compassion and privacy matter when you are faced with losing a loved one. And may their hearts soften and open to what humanity and kindness can offer in times of loss.
May we all keep to the high road and continue working for equality in a rational, ethical and kind way. Love will always win.