In case you haven’t heard, Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps is dead. I am not sad about this, nor are the rest of the members of our staff, because frankly, the guy was an awful human being. He was the sort of awful that even the Ku Klux Klan wouldn’t associate themselves with, as a friend of mine found a few years ago.
As founder of one of the most hateful groups in America, he advocated for the homophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, anti-semitism and so very many more horrible beliefs. He brought the phrase “God Hates Fags” into the forefront of the anti-gay rights movement, often through signs held up by members of the church picketing funerals–a hobby they have become notorious for.
So, while there are absolutely dozens of reasons that we’re not exactly bummed regarding the passing of Phelps, it’s the protesting of those funerals that he probably is going to miss out on heaven because of. Let’s take a look at some of the worst ones his group opted to cause mayhem, sadness and disgust at, shall we?
1. Matthew Shepard
For those who haven’t seen The Laramie Project (go do so, if not!), Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was murdered by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson in 1998. His funeral was protested by the Westboro Baptist Church, putting the hate group on the map due to their shockingly homophobic signs and slogans. Fortunately, the counter-protesters shielded Shepard’s funeral with large white “wings” to block out the WBC.
2. Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale
Roy Tisdale, a soldier and Texas A&M alum who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was killed by a fellow soldier in 2012. The WBC decided it was a great opportunity to show off how terrible they are at being decent human beings and protested his funeral. However, hundreds of students and alumni from Texas A&M blocked out the WBC by forming a human wall. [Edit: Sorry, they never actually wound up protesting! Hooray!]
3. Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach
Maria Lauterbach was raped and murdered by Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean in 2007. She was eight months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, so the Westboro Baptist Church not only protested in favor of Lauterbach’s murder, but also the death of her unborn child.
4. Elizabeth Edwards
Attorney, author, and wife of John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards died of cancer in 2010. For some inexplicable reason, the WBC opted to protest her funeral, even referencing the couple’s teenage son who died in a car crash years before.
5. The Illinois Holocaust Museum
While this isn’t technically a funeral, it’s pretty repulsive that four WBC protestors would seriously stand outside a Holocaust museum on the eve of Rash Hashanah saying things like, “Some Jews Will Repent” and “The Holocaust was a tea party [compared] to what’s coming.” It’s basically a celebration of the murders of millions of people, so…yeah. Still horrifying.
6. Norway Shooting Victims
While the actual funerals of those killed in the 2011 massacre were not able to be protested by the WBC (high five, Norway!), it’s the thought that counts. And the thought of protesting a bunch of murder victims’ funerals is kind of the worst thought ever, short of actually murdering people.
7. Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder
The Westboro Baptist Church protested Snyder’s funeral after the soldier died serving in Iraq. In response to this and all the other pain the WBC had inflicted on families whose loved ones’ funerals they had protested, Snyder’s family took the church all the way to the Supreme Court.
8. Arizona Shooting Victims
Six people died in the same shooting that Representative Gabrielle Giffords was severely injured in back in 2011. The Westboro Baptist Church rooted for the shooter.
9. Krystle Campbell
The WBC decided to protest the Boston Marathon bombing victim, tweeting “WestboroBaptist Church to picket funerals of those dead by Boston Bombs! GOD SENT THE BOMBS IN FURY OVER FAG MARRIAGE! #PraiseGod.” And once again, they proved themselves to have zero humanity running through their veins.
10. 9/11 Victims
Multiple times now, the Westboro Baptist Church has protested the deaths of 9/11 victims, insisting that they died because, as per usual, God hates gay people.
11. Sandy Hook
I saved this protest for last because it is one of the worst ones, in my opinion, given that the WBC actually wanted to “sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment” on the people who died in one of the worst spree shootings in history. Twenty children and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on December 14th, 2012. To even dream of protesting the funerals of human beings is repugnant; to do so in front of all those little kids’ parents who are grieving for their children who were murdered is beyond reprehensible, beyond reason. Fortunately, the protest was thwarted, but honestly? I don’t care–simply planning to do so makes these people actually unworthy of happiness.
Bonus: Everyone in the Westboro Baptist Church will sincerely regret protesting Taylor Swift, because she is the soundtrack to heaven. Oh, and Fashion Week, because WTF? But honestly, an incredibly important one that Esquire noted today: Fred Rogers, who would’ve been 86 today, and fought all the hate in the world with such a profound amount of love.
Photo: Monika Graff/Getty Images & Wikipedia.