March 20, 2014

"The way to prove you love thy neighbor is to warn them they’re committing sin."

"You’re not going to get nowhere with that slop that 'God loves you,'... That’s a diabolical lie from hell without biblical warrant."

Said Fred Phelps Sr., whose earthly days are over now after 84 years.


"You can’t believe the Bible without believing that God hates people... It’s pure nonsense to say that God loves the sinner but hates the sin. He hates the sin, and he hates the sinner. He sends them to hell. Do you think he loves the people in hell?"

Why did we pay attention to this man? Do you think that people who truly believe God condemns some of us to hell say things like he said? It's perfect nonsense, but he served some purpose for those who made him famous. Who really gives a damn?

133 comments:

Mark said...

"Do you think he loves the people in hell?"

Well, if there is a hell, I think Phelps is about to find out.

MathMom said...

Maybe fireworks and a Mardi Gras style party should break out at his funeral...

Terry said...

Who made Phelps a representative of Christianity? It's not a rhetorical question.

William said...

I don't think he ever had much of a following. He was mostly followed by networks because he so abundantly fulfilled all their stereotypes about Christian preachers.

mccullough said...

A media creation.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't want anyone in hell!

Do you?

YoungHegelian said...

...but he served some purpose for those who made him famous.

Fred Phelps served the purpose of those who believe that he was simply more honest & upfront in his faith-inspired hatreds, but that those hatreds are shared by a large chunk of American Christians.

It easy to identify these people. Just ask them if they think Phelps was a Republican or a Democrat. Ask them if they think Nazis & Aryan skinheads supported Obama or McCain in 2008.

YoungHegelian said...

@Althouse,

I don't want anyone in hell!

Go read Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands. You'll pray, that if there is a just God, there's a Hell & that many of the people in that book are in it.

Scott said...

Fred Phelps was a lifelong Democrat. He fundraised and organized; and was invited to attend both of President Clinton's inaugurations. Al Gore (who Phelps also raised money for) might call that an inconvenient truth.

Gahrie said...

I don't want anyone in hell!

Do you?


Yep..and we can start with Marx, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. I'll throw in Ida Amin and Margret Sanger for spice......

Skyler said...

He is properly hated. He had his own beliefs, which are as illogical as any religion the difference is that he created very public and painful spectacles at the funerals of people who generally were regarded well by our society: servicemen killed in action.

There's no excuse for rudeness.

Otto said...

Me think thou protest too much. He was never influential in the Christian community .However he has been given a lot of ink by the media. I think it is a subtle form of Christian bashing and I think you are party to it.

Scott said...

"I'll throw in Ida Amin and Margret Sanger for spice......"

Was Ida the wife of Idi? That figures. As they say, behind every great man...

Scott said...

"Hey honey, did you invite Ida and Idi over for bridge on Thursday?"

Lem said...

Why did we pay attention to this man?

He was the useful idiot who could be conveniently cited when calling for gay rights or whatever.

Vindication

Scott said...

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.

― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Lem said...

Hell is not having a good enough reason, in the eyes of other, for doing what you want to do.

Freeman Hunt said...

If you want anyone to be separated from God for all eternity, you're likely not a Christian.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

Maybe Hell isn't hot, but very cold and lonely-the perfect place for Phelps.

CWJ said...

Fred Phelps church doesn't even know who they are protesting. They protested at our parish a couple of years back with their usual God hates homosexuals nonsense; probably because they assumed a disgraced Catholic priest was after boys. They couldn't be bothered to read, hear, or watch the news that our disgraced priest was into little girls.

How can you love the sinner if you don't even know the sin. Do your homework you sub-rational cretins!

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I'm surprised by how few people seem to know what I heard about the Phelps clan on NPR years ago--that their dog and pony show was all an act. There are like 11 siblings and most of them are lawyers; their shtick was to travel around being hateful and then sue places that threw them out or denied their right to expression or assembly--then cash the settlement checks. Rinse and repeat.

Pogo is Dead said...

"I don't want anyone in hell! Do you?"

What we want is the problem, innit?

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

In other words please let's not get into the weeds taking the guy seriously as a believer. No one should.

Revenant said...

Well, Phelps is right about one thing -- the idea that a being would send people he loved to Hell doesn't make a great deal of sense.

jr565 said...

The way you prove you love thy neighbor is to warn them they are committing sin".
But not at a funeral, you dumbass.
And you can say it without coming across like a complete bastard.

somefeller said...

He was one of the most articulate, thoughtful and intellectually serious advocates for anti-gay social conservatism in contemporary American politics and culture. He was truly one of their shining stars. It's going to be hard for that faction to replace him, but I'm sure someone will work hard to try.

jr565 said...

I have misplace my pants wrote:
I'm surprised by how few people seem to know what I heard about the Phelps clan on NPR years ago--that their dog and pony show was all an act. There are like 11 siblings and most of them are lawyers; their shtick was to travel around being hateful and then sue places that threw them out or denied their right to expression or assembly--then cash the settlement checks. Rinse and repeat.

some of the signs held up were so over the top they seemed almost comical. So I wouldn't be surprised if this were actually true

Lem said...

BTw, in some regions, the religion of peace is not far off from where this guy was, vis-à-vis the gays.

Just thought I mention... some people don't cast a wide enough net when looking for comparative examples of what to avoid "don't be like him, so you yourself wont be cast off the fertile heavenly ground, right here at home, called the approval of fellow NYT readers.

CWJ said...

This comment's easy. Fuck you somefeller!

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

I have misplace my pants wrote:
"Their shtick was to travel around being hateful and then sue places that threw them out or denied their right to expression or assembly--then cash the settlement checks. Rinse and repeat."
So,would those saying that establishments have no right to NOT make a cake for a wedding ceremony they find objectionable side with the Phelps clan or the establishment if they ordered a cake that offended their sensibilities?

YoungHegelian said...

And, like clockwork, somefeller comes on board to prove my 10:01 point to be absolutely on point.

Hey, somefeller, didja take the test at my 10:01 comment & try and answer the questions?

Let me guess: you scored 0 out of 2.

jr565 said...

The Phelps clan are the straw man of Christianity that the left loves to attack religion over. What if it was all just an act? What if they are acting like stereotypical religious knuckle draggers specifically to undermine religion and make that the face of religion? And in fact are not even religious at all.
They seem like Internet trolls.

somefeller said...

YoungHegelian has a sad again. I understand, a giant of social conservatism has passed so it's a tough time for the movement and I'm trying to be sensitive to that agony. O bang the drum slowly.

Levi Starks said...

Nobody.... Nobody at NPR believes in God, And nobody at NPR believes in Hell.
But when reading the NPR comments about the dearly departed on Facebook, you get the feeling they might make an exception just this once.

jr565 said...

Why the westboro baptist church is a scam:

http://kanewj.com/wbc/

It does make a lot of sense. It's a well run well oiled scam to incite people so that they can make money in law suits.

And for all the somefeller douche sacks saying that phelps is a conservative hero lets not forget that he and his followers went after America itself and said to was going to hell and that soldiers blown up by IED's were going to hell. That sounds like something a lefty would say.
Yet he appeared to be an equal opportunity offender. Someone who offends THAT many people intentionally may in fact be running a game.

YoungHegelian said...

@somefeller,

YoungHegelian has a sad again.

Just as you, arrogant asswipe that you always are, can not produce one single example of the Right being associated with Phelps, but yet smear folks anyway.

You really have a problem, somefeller. You constantly come here and drop snarky comments that you think show you to some advantage, and they don't. You're the epitome of the clueless yet arrogant lefty.

You stay out of bars because you're the kind of guy who people break beer bottles over your head after you snark off to them, aren't you? 'Fess up!

Joe Shropshire said...

Why did we pay attention to this man?

Because he's right, and at some level you know that.

Lem said...

There is no butter in hell

jr565 said...

I said earlier that phelps reminded me of an Internet troll. Kind of like somefeller actually. Both he and phelps have mastered the art of acting like c*nts.

DKWalser said...

Althouse, I don't want anyone to be in hell. I also don't think it will be my call.

somefeller said...

YoungHegelian is really wound up now. He's talking about cracking beer bottles on people's heads. Get back!

But back to the topic. Was there anyone who took social conservatism to its logical conclusion better than Fred Phelps? Of course not. It's like Spinal Tap's Black Album. Perfection, none, none more black. His shoes will be hard to fill, but I have no doubt that someone will try to rise to the occasion.

YoungHegelian said...

Because he's right, and at some level you know that.

Let's see, first time commenter drops in and says something outrageous that's meant to bait us into agreeing that maybe Phelps did have some redeeming qualities after all.

Kidz, can you spell M-O-B-Y?

Kentucky Packrat said...

I've known Christian conservatives who were certain that Obama was the Anti-Christ. I've met people who were so rabidly anti-Semitic that they didn't even like to admit that Jesus was Jewish, and were absolutely certain that every Jewish person alive today wasn't really Jewish. I've even seen people who were certain that America was Babylon or Gomorrah for tolerating the existence of gays.

I have yet to meet a single Christian who ever supported or endorsed Phelps. Ever. The only group who ever wanted Phelps to be a Christian spokesman was the media, and the same media didn't like to talk about the Christian groups that worked to counter-protest and protect families from the Phelps machines.

When it comes to a God of justice, people are amazingly hypocritical. In the same breath where they demand that if God was just, he'd punish bad guys, they also declare themselves good enough for Heaven, no matter what sins they themselves have committed.

A conventional Christian agrees completely that God has no desire for any person to enter Hell: God so desired that none go to Hell that He sent His son to the Cross. As Mr. Lewis said, it is then the person's choice where they go.

The Bible also says it would be better for a person to have a a millstone tied around one's own neck and be thrown in the ocean than to lead one child astray from the Lord. Mr. Phelps has to hope right now that he hasn't led someone away from the Lord with his "preaching"; I can't help but suspect that he has.

cyrus83 said...

We paid attention to this man because a) he did something provocative and b) someone wanted us to pay attention to him other than Phelps. Ironically, his passing is more of a national story than anyone whose funeral he protested.

Phelps is like so many others: a man with access to a book he thinks he fully understands but does not, cherry-picking the pieces that support his view while ignoring ones that don't.

In this, he's not so different from a lot of internet posters: blind to reason, impervious to logic or counterarguments, loud, obnoxious, narcissistic, self-righteous.

Joe Shropshire said...

Redeeming qualities? Either there is a hell, or there isn't. If there is, then redemption is a bit past the post, don't you think?

Gahrie said...

Well, Phelps is right about one thing -- the idea that a being would send people he loved to Hell doesn't make a great deal of sense.

That (and Vatican II) is the reason I am no longer a Catholic, or even a Christian. I am a deist. However I do respect faith, and believe it is necessary to a healthy society.

traditionalguy said...

Keeping God's law is not the Gospel of Jesus taught by the Apostles.

Paul fought the Pharasee/Judizers. Wycliffe, Hus, Luther and Calvin fought the magnificent Roman Catholic legalists.

But Paul wrote Galatians to forever dismiss using any legalism as a Christian teaching. But men so loved trying keeping The Law of Sin and Death that they always end up condemning everyone over silly stuff hoping to feel a little better over their own complete failure to keep God's Law.

Phelps served as an ugly hyper legalist who was the bad example that should show crafty Christians that they cannot be half legalistic and and still claim to be a believer in the teachings of Jesus. Read Galatians!

jr565 said...

Some feller wrote:
YoungHegelian is really wound up now. He's talking about cracking beer bottles on people's heads. Get back!

But back to the topic. Was there anyone who took social conservatism to its logical conclusion better than Fred Phelps? Of course not. It's like Spinal Tap's Black Album. Perfection, none, none more black. His shoes will be hard to fill, but I have no doubt that someone will try to rise to the occasion.

spinal tap was a satire. Your depiction of social conservatives is just as comical only nowhere near as funny.

clint said...

Is it wrong that I want to picket his funeral with signs about how many days he's been in Hell so far?

Alex said...

What is with Christians and Hell House?

eric said...

Ann wrote;

"I don't want anyone in hell!

Do you?"

Yes, I do. Which is why I'm a Christian. I recognize my failings and strive to overcome them. If it matters, I'm sure God doesn't want anyone in Hell. Otherwise, why send His Son?

Freeman Hunt wrote;

"If you want anyone to be separated from God for all eternity, you're likely not a Christian."

I beg to differ. Christians want all sorts of horrible things. Some days, I want to cheat on my wife. We're not any different than anyone else as far as that goes. We are Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, Murderers, Thieves, Rapists, Homosexuals, and everything else under the sun.

And sometimes we want bad things for our fellow man. It just means we have that much further to travel on our road of redemption. Thank God He is not only merciful, but also filled with grace.

Unfortunately for some, He is also Just.

Zeb Quinn said...

The way I see it, God rejects no one, but some people choose to reject God. Upon death God grants them their wish: they are removed from God's presence. Permanently. That's what's called hell. Eternity apart from God.

Is Phelps in hell? That's between Phelps and God.

Jman said...

What's just about spending an eternity in hell?

Wilbur said...

Phelps is hated because he publicly got in the face of every Christian and non-believer with his taken-to-its-logical conclusion brand of fundamentalist Christianity. If you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, you must at some point come to grips with his Scripturally-based preachings.

If you don't understand the logic behind his railing against many groups and people, go to the website.

As an agnostic myself, it is interesting but horrifying.

Dr Weevil said...

Was Phelps a Christian? Probably not. I don't mean that he was a bad Christian, but that his beliefs do not seem to have fallen inside the set of agreed-upon Christian beliefs.

I'm pretty sure I posted the following here just a few weeks ago, with no effect whatsoever on other commentators, but Google disagrees. Here's something I posted on Patterico and Volokh in 2008:

"Two and a half years ago, Eve Tushnet quoted someone's argument that Phelps is not only not a Baptist, but not a Christian at all. Here's what she quotes:

'. . . In fact, it appears that Westboro has created not just an incredibly vulgar and non-Christlike approach to homosexuality, but that it's working on a new religion altogether, complete with new scriptures.

'Members of WBC generally avoid the name "Christian" when referring to themselves, preferring the mysterious term "Tachmonite." This apparently refers to a servant of King David's, but I’m not sure of the derivation or the intention.

'The Tachmonites believe Phelps is "the last prophet," with the power to determine who will be damned and who will be saved. They themselves, as followers of Phelps, also have the power to condemn souls to hell. Most people are destined for hell, but "Good Samaritans" who help the Tachmonites (for example, police officers who prevent counter-protesters from assaulting them) may be offered an indeterminate "reward" for their good conduct. Apparently "sola fide" is not part of the Tachmonites' creed.

'The new scriptures consist of the group’s own writings, which are divided into two categories: "delectable epics" and "letters to heretics."

'The "delectable epics" (the term is the group's) are based loosely on Acts in the New Testament. The epics detail the Tachmonites' various protests against gays, President Bush, Elton John concerts, and the military and portray the Tachmonites alternately as invincible "super heroes" and defenseless victims of brutal rage. Some of the epics are in prose, and some in poetry.'

[end Tushnet]

I haven't checked Tushnet’s source, and her link is now dead, but I've always found her trustworthy. I've also read in several places that Phelps is a registered Democrat, and has even run for office as such, contrary to the impression one would get from most people who mention him."

[end self-quotation]

I can't help thinking that this would be much better known if Phelps weren't such a useful stick to beat Christians and conservatives with.

Blair said...

There is a tendency in Western Christianity to see hell as an extension of God's justice, rather than something the damned do to themselves despite God's saving acts. But hell is simply the final exposure to God in all His Glory after having rejected Him.

Some good links about hell:
http://orthodoxruminations.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/st-john-of-damascus-on-hell/

http://glory2godforallthings.com/the-river-of-fire-kalomiros/

Saint Croix said...

the idea that a being would send people he loved to Hell doesn't make a great deal of sense.

Satan is a spirit with free will. All spirits have free will. Free will means you go where you want to go and do what you want to do.

People choose hell every day.

Helenhightops said...

What always amazed me is how Westboro went into all kinds of back hollers to protest at soldiers' funerals in Appalachia and the South - and nobody killed them.

If you EVER want proof positive that this is a great country, with great people, there it is.

tim in vermont said...

Who is this guy? Sounds like Peter Griffin's dad.

tim in vermont said...

Let's take socialism to its "logical conclusion." Oh wait, we already did. Mao,Stalin,Hitler,Pol Pot...

tim maguire said...

I think belief in hell is incompatible with belief in a just god. (How can infinite punishment for a finite sin be just?)

Fred Phelps always seemed mentally disturbed. Someone who would be no more than a local character if the media hadn't loved to hate him. Did he have any following beyond his immediate family?

Sharc said...

Christ's death was an act of substitutionary atonement, taking the sins of the world on himself. Accordingly, there are at least two schools of thought. First, that through an affirmative act of faith, believers can be saved from the default setting for humans, which is eternal death. Or second, that by paying for the sins of humanity, Christ paved the way and saved all human souls, regardless of faith. Either way, no one reading this is any more entitled to this gift than Pol Pot, et al. At worst, it's not about reward and punishment -- it's about choice. Grace will be a mystery until it's not, but we should all be trying harder to deserve it.

surfed said...

He reminds me of Bill Maher.

surfed said...

He reminds me of Bill Maher.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Christianity is based on wanting people to go to Hell.

The desire, the lust for blood is soothed by the religion, which when devised reduced the killing a bit by offering peace of mind in that vengeance wasn't ours to be had but His. As it has evolved, Christianity has become the highlight of the world.

Having determined as a ginger I have no soul, my thinking is now that I will be with God in determining who goes where.

sykes.1 said...

Phelps was an early civil rights hero. From Wikipedia:

The first notable cases were related to civil rights. "I systematically brought down the Jim Crow laws of this town," he claims.[8] Phelps' daughter was quoted as saying, "We took on the Jim Crow establishment, and Kansas did not take that sitting down. They used to shoot our car windows out, screaming we were n***** lovers," and that the Phelps law firm made up one-third of the state's federal docket of civil rights cases.[18]
Phelps took cases on behalf of African-American clients alleging racial discrimination by school systems, and a predominantly black American Legion post which had been raided by police, alleging racially based police abuse.[19] Phelps' law firm obtained settlements for some clients.[20] Phelps also sued President Ronald Reagan over Reagan's appointment of a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, alleging this violated separation of church and state. The case was dismissed by the U.S. district court.[20][21] Phelps' law firm, staffed by himself and family members also represented non-white Kansans in discrimination actions against Kansas City Power and Light, Southwestern Bell, and the Topeka City Attorney, and represented two female professors alleging discrimination in Kansas universities.[18]
In the 1980s, Phelps received awards from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Blacks in Government and the Bonner Springs branch of the NAACP, for his work on behalf of black clients.[20]

Pogo is Dead said...

If Phelps is a cult, it will whither away, and soon.

But if Phelps, Inc. is instead a lawsuit machine disguised as a religious sect, it may last forever.

Now if they can just attract a few Hollywood types, they may give Scientology some competition.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"It's like Spinal Tap's Black Album. Perfection, none, none more black."

You racist, "Death To All But Metal" by Steel Panther is blacker than anything the PG-rated Tap can come up with.

This is a link to the song, but you will be Phelps-level offended if you aren't laughing. And you're too old to laugh.

Scott said...

"Members of WBC generally avoid the name 'Christian' when referring to themselves, preferring the mysterious term 'Tachmonite.' This apparently refers to a servant of King David's, but I’m not sure of the derivation or the intention."

Yeah, I learned about tachmonite in grade school. They used to mine it in northern Minnesota. It's a low-grade iron ore that they use in blast furnaces in steel mills.

Oh, wait...

Renee said...

"Why did we pay attention to this man? "

Ratings. I have one aquaintaince so riled up by the death of Phelps, she donated money to a GLBT group yesterday. He was good for marketing, and I think many will miss him.

The media ignored his anti-Catholic views, because the media agreed with them. The man owned "priestrapeboys" url.

----

God loves everyone, but we have the free will to love or not. Hell was created when some angels revolted.


jacksonjay said...

Pastor Fred reminds me of Pastor Jerry over in Chicago. Don't see a lot of difference.

You know Jerry? The Pastor who married Barry and Michelle. Baptized Barry's kids. Inspired a Barry Bestseller. Barry later said he wasn't at church that day!

They both thought America was going to Hell! I guess there is one big difference. Pastor Jerry has a huge following of "Christians" who love to hate.

SJ said...

@Ann,

I don't want to see any person in hell.

However, I recognize that most people who are in hell, are there due to choices they made.

With that in mind, the opening sentence, The way to prove you love thy neighbor is to warn them they’re committing sin, is pretty standard Christian teaching.

Event the sentence You’re not going to get nowhere with that slop that 'God loves you,' is defensible.

Yes, God is love, and has unmeasurable love for every human. But He recognizes that some people do not choose Heaven, and He lets them choose Hell.

When Phelps arrives at a conclusion stated as It’s pure nonsense to say that God loves the sinner but hates the sin. He hates the sin, and he hates the sinner., he wanders from Christian teaching.

Sometimes, Bible translators use the English word "hate" where the meaning appears to something along the lines of "set my face against". Usually, it's in regard to people who ought to be in a good relationship with God, but have turned away.
(Esau, brother of Jacob and grandson of Abraham, got this treatment. But many outsiders, who didn't have the advantage of being descended from Abraham, didn't receive a direct statement about Divine "hatred".)

harrogate said...

Given how much Phelps has been in the news, and how he distilled hate speech in such a brutal way, it is odd indeed to have absolutely net zero emotion over his passing. But that's where I landed nonetheless.

gerry said...

I don't want anyone in hell!

God wants no one in hell. It's just that some people reject God and end up not being with Him. Forever.

mrs.e said...

Zeb Quinn - very nicely said.

Mark said...

I don't want anyone in hell!

Do you?


If there's a hell (personally, I don't believe in either a heaven or hell separate from our daily lives) then strictly from a artistic/literary perspective Phelps certainly made himself a prime candidate for admission to the Devil's Domain.

If hatred is a sin (and that I do believe) then Phelps had so much of his own and planted so much in others that it would be kind of a shame if he didn't reap the produce, if you will.

Tank said...

If there is a judgment day for each of us, will God balance Phelps' anti-racist activism against his anti-gay activism. If he was right about one, was he right about both? If he was wrong about one, was he wrong about both?

If you have a lifetime of x, can that be wiped out by a decade of y? Is there a scale?

He was a Democrat, and a true hero. Does that count for anything? Or does being an old time traditional fire and brimstone (asshole) of a preacher trump that and send him to Hell for eternity?

I'd like to be there for the hearing.

Paco Wové said...

Why did we pay attention to this man?

A. People can't help but respond to trolls, God knows why.

B. He was a media symbiont.

C. He stroked a lot of people the right way (e.g., somefeller).

D. Surprisingly few people have learned "When a lawyer is trying to provoke you, it's probably best to ignore him".

E. ??? Out of ideas, sorry.

harrogate said...

Tank,

How was Phelps a "true hero" again? I missed this.

Tank said...

Harrogate

From Wiki

The first notable cases were related to civil rights. "I systematically brought down the Jim Crow laws of this town," he claims.[8] Phelps' daughter was quoted as saying, "We took on the Jim Crow establishment, and Kansas did not take that sitting down. They used to shoot our car windows out, screaming we were n***** lovers," and that the Phelps law firm made up one-third of the state's federal docket of civil rights cases.[18]

Phelps took cases on behalf of African-American clients alleging racial discrimination by school systems, and a predominantly black American Legion post which had been raided by police, alleging racially based police abuse.[19] Phelps' law firm obtained settlements for some clients.[20] Phelps also sued President Ronald Reagan over Reagan's appointment of a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, alleging this violated separation of church and state. The case was dismissed by the U.S. district court.[20][21] Phelps' law firm, staffed by himself and family members also represented non-white Kansans in discrimination actions against Kansas City Power and Light, Southwestern Bell, and the Topeka City Attorney, and represented two female professors alleging discrimination in Kansas universities.[18]

In the 1980s, Phelps received awards from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Blacks in Government and the Bonner Springs branch of the NAACP, for his work on behalf of black clients.[20]

Mary K said...

I, for one, am grateful for the contrast provided by WBC. They provided so many wonderful opportunities to come together in solidarity and love. Thank you for your local coverage of his church, here, back in the fall of 2011

harrogate said...

Well alrighty then.

David said...

Ann Althouse said...
I don't want anyone in hell!

Do you?


An eternity of suffering for just a lifetime of sin? Sounds cruel and unusual to me.

Unless there is a actual Hell, in which case it is quite usual.

Freder Frederson said...

and was invited to attend both of President Clinton's inaugurations.

Liar!

"The entire Westboro congregation picketed a 1997 inaugural ball,[60] denouncing Vice President Al Gore as a "famous fag pimp" (Gore had changed his positions on gay rights since 1984). In 1998, Westboro picketed the funeral of Gore's father, screaming vulgarities at Gore and telling him, "your dad's in Hell".

Unknown said...

I actually thought the first somefellar post was satire. The later vitriol against him made me go back & I'm still not sure if he's just yankin' the chain or not.

OTH, as cyrus83 said 3/20/14 1151 pm: "In this, he's not so different from a lot of internet posters: blind to reason, impervious to logic or counterarguments, loud, obnoxious, narcissistic, self-righteous."

=============================

Joe Shropshire said...
Redeeming qualities? Either there is a hell, or there isn't. If there is, then redemption is a bit past the post, don't you think? 3/20/14, 11:51 PM

-- "all your righteousness is a filthy rags" in comparison to the Almighty. When asked by a patriarch to see the face of God, he was told that if he did, he would die. Not that God would kill him, just (IMO) that he could not exist in the purity and holiness of God. Like smoking in an oxygen tent. The only way in is by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which ought to be easy but because we are rebellious and anti-authoritarian by nature somehow isn't.

================================

Wilbur, I totally reject that Phelps "publicly got in the face of every Christian and non-believer with his taken-to-its-logical conclusion brand of fundamentalist Christianity." The best lie starts with a truth, and takes it to a "logical conclusion," but logic is a construction and warppable with the simple expedience of selecting a premise that supports your position. e.g., communism or socialism, social security, welfare, and gay marriage.

Marshal said...

tim in vermont said...
Let's take socialism to its "logical conclusion."


There are only two ways to motivate people: carrots and sticks. Socialists believe using carrots is abhorrent.

garage mahal said...

He was one of the most articulate, thoughtful and intellectually serious advocates for anti-gay social conservatism in contemporary American politics and culture

It must really suck being on the same side of an issue as Fred Phelps and the Taliban.

Anglelyne said...

Paco Wové

D. Surprisingly few people have learned "When a lawyer is trying to provoke you, it's probably best to ignore him".

Certainly nobody commenting here has learned to resist being provoked by a lawyer.

Nichevo said...

I'm not even Christian and I certainly hope there is some form of hell. Otherwise known as Eternal Justice. Else how do you resist killing everyone who offends you? You can stand to let them live because you know they'll get theirs.

If there is no hell (and Judaism is unclear on the concept but there is negative reinforcement after death even if just separation from God/Paradise), I have a very long list and should get busy.

CR said...

I think WBC should stand for We're Basically a Cult. That's what the WBC folk are, a cult, in spite of their facade of Christianity. It takes a lot more than quoting Bible verses to be a genuine church.

Kristian Holvoet said...

My reading of the Bible is considerably different than Mr. Phelps:

'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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.'
John 3:16-17

Kristian Holvoet said...

Also, does it strike anyone as ironic that Bill Maher and Fred Phelps believe that God is hateful? Interesting fellow travellers...

Anglelyne said...

Nichevo: I'm not even Christian and I certainly hope there is some form of hell. Otherwise known as Eternal Justice. Else how do you resist killing everyone who offends you?

I always thought that was more of a logistics problem.

(As my uncle used to say, "Let the bastards live, there's too many of them, you can't kill them all".)

Alex said...

I think Christians choose to make a hell on earth for themselves to justify their failures. The rest of us are liberated by not believing in your "hell".

The Crack Emcee said...

"Who really gives a damn?"

The people subjected to his nonsense and their supporters. They feel betrayed by everyone else - not just Phelps' group.

"Who really gives a damn?"

The question, itself, should speak volumes,...

CStanley said...

The precepts of this cult weren't internally consistent. They had Calvanistic views but applied that to whole societies,..but then somehow they believed that their group was exempt from this judgement even though they were Americans too. I guess they thought they were earning an exemption because of their protests or some such nonsense...I don't know, it's confusing and time wasting to try to make sense of the jeremiad of a madman.

I don't buy the claim that this was just a scam to make money. I may be wrong, but don't think they've been terribly successful in their litigation. To an extent, the money scheme may have been part of things, a way to fund the church, but I got the sense that Phelps really believed this stuff and brainwashed his family to believe it too.

Patrick O said...

"I don't want anyone in hell!

Do you?"

I think this shows your privileged life. That's not dismissive, just how things are.

Hell was preached, in the NT, to a people who were being overwhelmed by injustice and were looking for both redemption and justice.

How do you say, don't return evil to someone if accompanied by the idea that both the good and evil people are going to end up entirely fine.

There has to be justice.

Throughout history, that has been the message of hope to those who are suffering. There is justice. But, the trouble comes when the powerful start preaching the message of hell so as to control people or judge others. The oppressors use Hell as a threat.

Those who still encounter real evil and real injustice get the idea of hell in a way most of us in America can't.

Someone like the German theologian Jurgen Moltmann, who watched friends and family die in WW2 and then, in a POW camp, was confronted with the reality of the holocaust. He talks about the evil of Hitler and others. Yet, he, personally still holds out hope in God's ultimate love that involves justice but ends in grace.

He has said that there are people he would like to see in Hell, that he personally isn't a universalist. Then he adds, but he thinks God is, that God does not want to see people in hell either.

He loves people so much he sent his only son to die for them, he seeks all to be saved, and what God, in his sovereignty wants, God gets.

Phelps's god may not feature love. That just tells me he's worshiping a different god than the Bible talks about.

southcentralpa said...

Considering the number of times he ran for state-wide office as a Donk, I'm forced to conclude he was a big-time Moby. (consult the urban dictionary for the definition of Moby)

Mike said...

My impression is Phelps and his hateful clan were clowns. I also believe that "christians" like Phelps are really doing the work of the Devil, sowing confusion as to what God is or isn't and on whom He bestows His love or not. Their message was evil, not evangelical, and goes against everything the Baptist Church stands for. That Phelps was a convenient symbol of "christianity" for the Left and Media (but I repeat myself) is supremely sad and aggravating to me. I've known thousands of Christians over the last 40 years and none would find common ground with the filthy Westboro assholes.

I don't give a damn about his politics, Phelps mission was to sow hatred and evil, not to "save" anyone for Jesus. "Pastor" my ass!

Revenant said...

Otherwise known as Eternal Justice. Else how do you resist killing everyone who offends you?

Person X murders person Y. Person Y goes to Heaven, which is much better than Earth, and is soon reunited with all his loved ones. Person X goes to Hell for eternity doing this.

Justice? Hm.

Alex said...

If I brought up Fred Phelps to a family member they would not know who I was talking about. Believe me, this guy was little known outside political junkie circles.

Rusty said...

I'm just reminded of the devil in "the Master nand Margarite" when he confesses that even he must bend to the will of heaven.

madisonfella said...

You stay out of bars because you're the kind of guy who people break beer bottles over your head after you snark off to them, aren't you?

There is the difference between the left and the right. Extremists on the left pour out a beer on the head of those they disagree with while extremists on the right break a beer bottle over your head for disagreeing.

Big Mike said...

So that's what the smell of brimstone around Topeka was all about.

... but he served some purpose for those who made him famous. Who really gives a damn?

Well, you give a damn because you bothered to post it. He and his followers intruded into events where they did not belong strictly for purposes of attracting attention. His entry in Wikipedia describes Phelps as a Democrat and former civil rights activist. I'm not surprised at his in-your-face tactics.

Sigivald said...

The man was a lousy theologian.

Gahrie said...

There is the difference between the left and the right. Extremists on the left pour out a beer on the head of those they disagree with while extremists on the right break a beer bottle over your head for disagreeing

I constantly see comments like this, but in the real world..it is the Left that resorts to violence as political protest. The Right organizes town hall meetings and writes letters.

Anglelyne said...

madisonfella: Extremists on the left pour out a beer on the head of those they disagree with while extremists on the right break a beer bottle over your head for disagreeing.

Too wordy. Tighten it up so it works as a bumper sticker slogan. It's not that the other leftists aren't suckers for made up shit like this, it's just that complex sentences will leave them confused and unhappy.

madisonfella said...

i The Right organizes town hall meetings and writes letters...

...and spits on people gathering signatures for a recall petition, and blows up abortion clinics, and throws rocks through the windows of coffeehouses with pro-union signs, and beats their wife if she is going to vote against Scott Walker.

Just because the conservative-owned mainstream media ignores this violence against the left doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Ken Lighcap said...

Meade and Garage Mahal had a little run in with the Phelps clan a few years back in Madison. He even posted the video as I recall. Maybe it could be re-posted.

Big Mike said...

Too wordy. Tighten it up so it works as a bumper sticker slogan.

@Anglelyne, do you mean like this?

Big Mike said...

Just because the conservative-owned mainstream media ...

And which "conservative-owned" media might that be? The New York Times? The Washington Post? Perhaps you mean MSNBC?

Paul said...

"You can’t believe the Bible without believing that God hates people... It’s pure nonsense to say that God loves the sinner but hates the sin. He hates the sin, and he hates the sinner. He sends them to hell. Do you think he loves the people in hell?"

No, God only sends those to hell that reject Jesus.

But I guess this guy hates himself for he seems to reject God's love.

Quaestor said...

Jman wrote: What's just about spending an eternity in hell?

Bingo. No Christian has adequately answered that question to my satisfaction. Sometimes one hears the claim that god's notion of justice is perfect and ineffable, that mortal minds cannot comprehend it. If true this means god is fundamentally unjust for holding his creatures accountable to laws they cannot know. For this and many other reasons Quaestor is an atheist.

The pernicious and illogical theory of justice behind the myth of hell also discredits a central pillar of Christianity, specifically the doctrine of expiation.

Let us posit an example from earthly justice. Suppose a serial killer has just been sentenced to die by lethal injection for the brutal slayings of several young children. Then a righteous, upright and productive citizen who hasn't even garnered a parking ticket in his life stands up and demands to be executed in the condemned man's place. What would we think of a judge who would for the merest moment countenance such a proposal? Do we really think that the law simply demands bloodshed for bloodshed and makes no distinction of whose blood is to be shed?

Christianity is based on assumptions that no thoughtful person can accept.

Anglelyne said...

Quaestor: Christianity is based on assumptions that no thoughtful person can accept.

Oh come on, Quaest. This is Inga-level blither. Are you saying that no Christian has ever been thoughtful enough to question the assumptions of his belief, and remain a Christian? Or that no thoughtful non-Christian ever examined the assumptions of Christianity and became a Christian? Or just saying that thoughtlessness is a prerequisite for being a Christian? Any of the above statement is demonstrably false.

But you knew that. 'Cause I know you're not dumb enough to believe that you have a finer mind than any Christian going or gone.

Anglelyne said...

Big Mike: @Anglelyne, do you mean like this?.

Lol.

It's hate speech when you do it, Big M.

Nick Carter M. said...

Althouse is right. God does not want anyone o go to Hell, since it was not created to house human souls, but Satan and his demons.



2 Peter 3:9
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

eric said...

"Althouse is right. God does not want anyone o go to Hell, since it was not created to house human souls, but Satan and his demons."

This sounds like it's straight out of Hollywood, not the Bible.

Nick Carter M. said...

I remember walking to the Washington National Cathedral from my apartment one day and saw these people protesting a funeral that was occurring at the Cathedral.

I spit in the face of one of the ladies and she tried to get the cop to do something about it, but he wouldn't. She called me something along the line of a "Hell Demon" and I remember how clear you could hear the hate in her voice.

It's funny, because just a couple years later I was born-again inside that Cathedral.

They were wrong, I was right. They are all going to Hell.

eric said...

"No Christian has adequately answered that question to my satisfaction. "

The answer is in that statement there.

Or as C.S. Lewis put it long ago,

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened. ”

Nick Carter M. said...

Hey eric, I put a line from the Bible in there.
You can try to prove me wrong, but you won't.

Nick Carter M. said...

Also, to prove eric wrong for calling me out once again. Straight from Jesus' mouth:

"Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” - Mthw 7

eric said...

"Hey eric, I put a line from the Bible in there.
You can try to prove me wrong, but you won't."

I'm not sure what you mean here. Your quote from the Bible in no way demonstrates that Hell was created for fallen Angels, that demons serve Satan, etc.

There is so much in your one statement that sound Hollywood, rather than Biblical, why would one need to refute it, until you were able to plausibly establish it?

Quaestor said...

I didn't expect to convert the heathen with one question, or even two, so the hostile reception doesn't surprise me. However the replies are surprising.

Anglelyne says basically this: Smarter people than you, Quaestor, see no problem in the model of justice proposed by the Bible, ergo they're right and you are wrong. To which I reply, even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally. The appeal to accomplishment is pervasive, our leaders fall back on it all the time.

Eric doesn't even bother to refute my thesis, he just consigns me to hell. I seems to me that a Christian, a person whose god is supposedly good, would show me the error in my thinking instead. I'm open to reason. Are you?

Quaestor said...

Anglelyne wrote: [Are you] just saying that thoughtlessness is a prerequisite for being a Christian?

Not exactly. Ever heard of cognitive dissonance? Everybody is liable to this weakness, including me. Perhaps cognitive dissonance prevents me from seeing Christianity in a better light. If so show me my error. Explain the justice of hell.

Dr Weevil said...

Richard John Neuhaus wrote a pertinent article "Will All Be Saved?" (link), arguing that Catholic teaching does not in fact say that anyone, even Judas, is necessarily damned eternally, that we may hope (but not assume) that everyone is saved eventually ('universalism') and thereby hope that Hell will eventually be empty and (my interpretation) that Hell and Purgatory are really the same place. Some theologians have taught that even Lucifer may be saved in the end.

Too many people on this thread are criticizing Christian doctrine without finding out what it is first, and whether Christians might already have asked the questions they assume are unanswerable.

Rusty said...


"This sounds like it's straight out of Hollywood, not the Bible."


I think the Bible came first. Hollywood just uses the best bits for scripts.

Rusty said...

Althouse said...
"I don't want anyone in hell!

Do you?"


just selected people. You know. To keep me company.

Nichevo said...

Quaestor, what don't you get?


Revenant,
Revenant said...
Otherwise known as Eternal Justice. Else how do you resist killing everyone who offends you?

Person X murders person Y. Person Y goes to Heaven, which is much better than Earth, and is soon reunited with all his loved ones. Person X goes to Hell for eternity doing this.

Justice? Hm.
3/21/14, 10:59 AM

What do you mean?

Nichevo said...

Eric, his interpretation of that quote seems plausible to me. Perhaps it is your turn.

Anglelyne said...

Quaestor: Anglelyne says basically this: Smarter people than you, Quaestor, see no problem in the model of justice proposed by the Bible, ergo they're right and you are wrong. To which I reply, even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally. The appeal to accomplishment is pervasive, our leaders fall back on it all the time.

and...

If so show me my error. Explain the justice of hell.

No, Angleyne didn't "basically say that". Re-read my question and stop being an idiot. Here's a hint: I'm not a a Christian. I'm an atheist.

I'm not arguing theology with you. I'm pointing out that you said something stupid and flatly false: "Christianity is based on assumptions that no thoughtful person can accept."

So don't change the subject. Whether anybody has persuaded you of the truth of his beliefs is irrelevant to his status as "thoughtful" or "intelligent". I know plenty of people more thoughtful and intelligent than I am who haven't persuaded me of their views on a lot of things, including Christians of towering intellect. Geddit?

(Btw, for such a thoughtful guy, your comments here give the strong impression that your knowledge of what various flavors of thoughtful Christians actually believe about hell pegs somewhere between "squat" and "diddly". Jus' sayin'.)

Jason said...

Yeah, he couldn't even get the analogy right.

Christians don't believe an innocent third party took the punishment. It was the Judge and Jury who stepped down from His bench and proved that while His justice was boundless, so is His grace, mercy and love - and took the punishment Himself.

Quastor didn't understand that, and so missed everything else.

Or, if you prefer a more etched version of the Trinity, the Father gave his only begotten son to pay the price for the sins of mankind. It happened both ways, but this is a look at it foretold by the test of Abraham, whose faith was so strong that he himself was willing to sacrifice his own son, in obedience to the will of God. While God did not allow Abraham to follow through on that, Abraham's line was richly rewarded for his submission to God.

God would not insist that Abraham be willing to sacrifice what God Himself could not. The standard was already set, long prior to the Crucifixion... itself a Passover sacrifice.

Quaestor said...

Christians don't believe an innocent third party took the punishment.

Oh, really... so Jesus wasn't innocent? I'll grant you your "third party objection" since that calls into question your doctrine of the Trinity (no point killing two bird with one stone). So the murder trial analogy is thus amended to your satisfaction: The judge pronounces sentence, "I find you guilty of murder in the first degree, however, since I love you I sentence myself to death by lethal injection. You are free to go and murder no more on the following conditions..."

Letting a duly convicted murderer go free, forgiving him as it were, might conceivably be within the power of a judge, not in any modern nation state I'm aware of, but under the common law of Henry II the sovereign in his role of supreme justiciar of the realm could absolve anyone for any reason. However, the judicial suicide accomplishes nothing; it's pointless.

Then you go on to beg the question with quotes and paraphrases from scripture. You cite the myth of the human sacrifice god demands of Abraham, then you don't finish the story. Blood is still demanded as a token of submission, but a substitute victim is provided, an innocent victim. The god in the myth doesn't care whether the petitioner pays with his own blood or someone else's blood.