Death of Fred Phelps Lightens Christians' Fight Against Abortion, Gay Marriage

( [email protected] ) Mar 21, 2014 07:56 PM EDT
An incendiary Kansas cleric who infamously picketed the funerals of military service members and declared a message of God's wrath on the United States has died. Fred Phelps, leader of the small Westboro Baptist Church, was 84.
The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., is seen in 1999. (Associated Press file photo)

Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps' death placed a period behind decades of hateful propaganda, which he and his cult followers picketed at funerals of military service members and celebrities. Their method of proseyltizing has contributed to the negative steretype towards the conservative Evangelicals. 

While some Christians have called for grace, others who have been in the fight for traditional marriage and pro-life consider this time as a turning page. His estranged son predicted over the weekend that his father's death would bring the downfall of Westboro church. 

Institute on Religion and Democracy is a ministry that advocate transparency, renewal, and Christian orthodoxy in the mainline denominations in connection to the broader evangelical movement. Their president Mark Tooley released a statement reflecting on the death of Phelps and his church's negative impact on the mission of Evangelicals: 

"Fred Phelps of the Westboro Church was a huckster who gained notoriety because his over 20 years of 'hate' vigils fulfilled a desired stereotype of conservative Evangelicals. His sordid contribution to history is that he amplified the Kulturkampf against Christian faith and ethics in public life by helping to portray them as intrinsically hateful.

"So good riddance to Phelps and hopefully also eventually to the small family cult that forms his Westboro Church. But Christians and other traditionalists today are more embattled than ever in a postmodern, drifting culture that seeks to deconstruct marriage, gender and countless other ethical norms. Any resistance to the latest fads is now quickly demonized as intolerant and hateful.

"Christian teachings and Christian social witness must now even more deeply, thoughtfully and boldly proclaim a Christian and natural law based anthropology that explains God's gifts of marriage, family, the two genders, and each person as God's image bearer. There are many political, cultural and spiritual battles ahead. Fighting them may be a little easier in the absence of Fred Phelps."