— abused the positive teachings of so many religions for so many years with his leadership of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka.
And yet the God that Phelps Sr. said he prayed to when he talked about how much the church hated gay people and others just might forgive Phelps now that he’s dead at the age of 84.
Yes, Phelps might be in heaven right now.
How, why and whether that could actually occur is one of the greatest mysteries of many mainline religions.
Yet the rest of society does not have to forgive him — or the small number of his followers who to this day continue his campaign of hate.
The Westboro Baptist Church had and has a knack for gaining publicity for its many marches to protest behavior that its members detest.
The numbers of people participating in these protests has always been relatively small. But the causes they have picked, such as protesting the funerals of fallen military personnel, have angered many Americans so much that court cases have been fought over the rights of how we can behave in this country.
Correctly so, the U.S. Supreme Court even upheld the rights of the Westboro Baptist members to participate in some of these hateful activities, showing that the freedom of speech is alive in the nation.
But look at what else happened:
Along the way, people have rallied to the side of gay people and military men and women.
Americans have formed lines of protection at certain events, as they did just recently at the University of Missouri when the church was rumored to be ready to protest the gay Mizzou Tiger player Michael Sam.
It will be difficult to forget the legacy of Fred Phelps Sr.
Some people will do exactly as their god commands them and forgive Phelps for his wayward behavior.
Others won’t, and for good reasons.