What happens when you constantly preach hate until it gets to the point that it's too far even for you? Well, apparently you get kicked out of that organization. Fred Phelps has been excommunicated from Westboro Baptist Church according to his estranged son, Nathan Phelps.
Nathan Phelps announced on his Facebook page that his father had been excommunicated in August 2013 and is gravely ill. Nathan Phelps, who left the church and became an LGBT and anti-child-abuse advocate, did not indicate in the post why his father was excommunicated last year or what he was dying of. His post offered mixed feelings about his father, whose former church was famous for leading protests at the deaths of war veterans and waving signs that say "God hates fags."
Nathan Phelps wrote, "I feel sad for all the hurt he's caused so many," but also "I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved." He also stated "I'm bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their goodbyes."
The big story from Natan's Facebook post doesn't seem to be that his father is dying but that he was excommunicated from the church he founded. Though WBC has been tight-lipped about his membership status and the reasons behind his reported banishment, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that he was thrown out for "advocating a kinder approach between church members."
According to a recent interview with Nathan Phelps, who left the church 37 years ago, Fred Phelps was ejected from the group following a power struggle between a board of male elders and longtime spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper. After the elders defeated Phelps-Roper, Fred Phelps reportedly called for "kinder treatment of fellow church members," a sentiment which was ill-received.
WBC spokesman Steve Drain declined to comment on Phelps, saying "We don't discuss our internal church dealings with anyone."
A media FAQ page set up about Fred Phelps simply said, "Membership issues are private."
Speculation about the funeral arrangements for Phelps may be pointless, as a WBC member previously told The Huffington Post that WBC does not believe in having funerals or memorials because "We don't worship the dead in this church, so there'd be no public memorial or funeral to picket if any member died."
Since he was excommunicated and WBC is so well known for its "God hates _____" signs, I wonder why they have not been holding up signs that say "God hates Fred Phelps." Considering that he was excommunicated, WBC must feel that God does hate Fred Phelps. Maybe WBC should be picketing the hospice where he lays dying with signs " God hates Fred Phelps" or maybe "Burn in Hell, Fred Phelps." But then again, the WBC has never realized their own hypocrisy.
When the Bible actually discusses hate, it only says that when you hate you cannot know God:
If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
Sadly, the WBC fosters hate instead of the true message of love in the Bible. Fred Phelps taught hatred as a way of life. When he felt it might have gone too far, when he asked the WBC elders to show mercy to church members, the elders did just as they had always been taught. They showed the hatred that was spewed by their former leader.