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Thursday, March 20, 2014

A note on the death of Fred Phelps


This was originally written over 10 years ago. I found it in my hard drive and thought it would be worth sharing with the recent news of Phelp’s death. I don’t really remember what the genesis was for this, or who it was written for… but I do know that at the time, my thoughts on him and his work were quite different than they were today. As an artist, I support free speech, even if it’s hateful. This doesn't sit well with some of my friends and colleagues but I support it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with it, but I support his right to share his thoughts, even if they are hateful and ill-timed. And my views on religion have changed as well. Back then, we were going to church and I had an active prayer life. Now, we focus on our family and instead of sitting around talking to God in our heads. I am just happy I was able to outlive him and his hatred. Our rainbow flag is flying a little brighter today. 
Here is the letter:

Dear Reverend Phelps,

I was praying to God the other night, and asked Him to help me understand all the evils that are currently plaguing our world.  I couldn’t understand why such a benevolent creator would put such hateful and ungodly folks on this planet, and have them do work in His good name. Then it dawned on me…

I immediately thanked God for this revelation, and ended my prayer to write this letter to you. I did some searching on the Internet, and found that in all the places that you and your congregation gather to protest, there is a great deal of love and outpouring of support for LGBT people and issues.  Often times, there had been no support before, but with the advent of your protests, people rally and come together, united in their intolerance for hatred and narrow minds. 

You are doing God’s work, bringing people together to support LGBT concerns.  Look at all the money the folks in Ann Arbor raised when you were there!(see link) They couldn’t have done that without your help.  Other communities are beginning to use this method as well… making your protest pay off for other causes.  It’s a win/win situation for all the groups.  You get your protest, and they get the money.  The longer you protest, the more they make.  What a great plan!

And look at Ferndale, MI where you recently did your thing. The city really didn’t have a focus or any kind of support for LGBT supporters.  But once you announced you were coming, groups formed, support networks cropped up, and the whole city united against you and your message of hatred. And just in time for the holidays.  Without you in Ferndale, this new community wouldn’t have happened.  You really should have worn a bow that day, as this was a great present to this community!

Thank you Reverend Phelps and thanks you to your congregation as well.  You are doing God’s work, spreading His love and understanding, whether you realize it or not.  I now understand why you were put on this planet.  You are the galvanizer of communities and causes.  Where you wish to disband and protest, you instead create support and understanding.  Your little message of hatred spawns a greater message of love and Christian understanding.

Now when I pray, I thank my God each night for you and your congregation, and ask that He support you in your unintentional cause. You have much work to do Fred, you aren’t getting any younger.  Go out there and spread God’s word!

God Bless you Fred!