Did Fred Phelps Accept the LGBT Community Before He Died?
The founder and ex-leader of the vehemently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, known for their "God Hates Fags" slogan, apparently came around and accepted LGBT people not long before he died.
According to the Huffington Post, officials from Planting Peace, an anti-bullying and equal rights group that founded the rainbow-painted Equality House that is located across the street from the WBC's headquarters in Topeka, Kansas, posted to Facebook recently. The posting claims to be former WBC member Zacharias Phelps-Roper, who left the group earlier this month.
The post reads:
Specifically, on the day that he was excommunicated, he stood outside of the front door of the church (but not within anyone's earshot but a few members of WBC who happened to be in the immediate vicinity)... I say, he spoke words to this effect to the Equality House: "You are good people." I feel like he had a change of heart after my grandmother nearly passed away, and he felt the pangs of loss... he waited for news of her every day and night while she was in intensive care. I think this triggered a chain reaction whereby he developed great empathy for others... which would explain why he would support Planting Peace's anti-suicide and anti-bullying platforms, and their charities across the world... I love my grandfather! And I believe people DO change, if they are inspired enough!
Zacharias Phelps-Roper, 23, also spoke with HuffPost Live last week, and said his grandfather had a change of heart. Fred Phelps, however, never directly said anything to him but Zacharias Phelps-Roper believes "he seemed to express a change of heart" while in hospice care.
"I think that he got over that [homophobia]," he said. "I don't think he hated homosexuals by that point. Planting Peace, you know, the fact that it's a rainbow house kind of implies that maybe there is a homosexual connection there. So, yeah, I figured that he was supporting them, too. The day that he was excommunicated my family took great notice of that and they called it rank blasphemy that he was coming out in support of the homosexuals."
Zacharias Phelps-Roper says he left the WBC because his views no longer match up with his family's teachings.
When Fred Phelps' estranged son, Nate Phelps, first announced his father was dying, he also revealed that his father had been excommunicated from the WBC. In the weeks before Fred Phelps died, many questioned what had gone down between him and other WBC members but the members remained tight-lipped on the incident.
Fred Phelps died on March 20. He was 84.