Dear Mr. Phelps,
You don’t know me, but I’ve heard of you. Last year when I went to the Final Four, I heard that some Westboro Baptist folks would be protesting there, and I thought about making a sign that said, “THESE PEOPLE DO NOT REPRESENT JESUS.” I’m so glad I didn’t waste my time on a sign. When I finally saw the protestors and heard their silly songs, it all just seemed comically sad. There is no way any thinking person could mistake that spectacle for anything that had to do with Jesus. I’m way more worried about the people calling themselves Christians who are trying to keep their hatred a secret…. At least your hatred was overt enough that everyone knew you were full of shit.
Since I heard the news a few days ago that you are close to death, I have been thinking a lot about you. It probably comes as no surprise to you that you have quite a few enemies out there. All over the internet, people are celebrating. The patriarch of the Westboro Baptist Church–The one that gained notoriety by picketing funerals and other big events with their famous “God Hates Fags” signs, as well as the lesser known “Pray For More Dead Soldiers,” “Thank God For AIDS,” “Thank God For 9/11,” and (just in case people couldn’t figure it out from the other signs) “God Hates You”–is apparently on his death bed! Well, I will not be one of the people celebrating your passing or dancing on your grave. Since I heard the news, all I have been able to think about lately is Jonah.
The story of Jonah is NOT (as some have made it out to be) a story that is meant to stir up debate as to whether a fish could actually swallow a man whole, or whether that man could actually survive for three days in that fish’s belly, or whether every word of the Bible is meant to be taken literally…. It is the story of a man who was told by God to tell a city (Nineveh, capital of Assyria, sworn enemy of Israel) that God loves them and wants them to change their hearts. You might try to use this story as some sort of proof that God is the sort of God who will destroy nations if they don’t repent, but I believe that the point of this story is for people to ask themselves, “Where am I in this story?” When have I, like Jonah, felt God urging me to go to my enemy and be a messenger of God’s mercy, but instead ran the other way? When have I been furious about God’s forgiveness? When have I been more concerned with my shade from a dying plant than with a dying person?
In my head, I have judged you as a man who will die hating his enemies…. And for whatever reason, you never understood that the one you claimed to follow died LOVING his enemies. I am sorry. In reality, I know nothing about you. I’ve heard a rumor that you got excommunicated from the WBC because you called for a kinder approach. I suppose that would be pretty cool. I have no idea how God has been working on your heart over these last few years or months or days.
I believe the only right and rational response to a man who spends his whole life carrying around signs (literal or figurative) that say “God Hates You” is to proclaim to the world, with our words and our life, that “God Loves You!” God loves you, Fred Phelps. He loves you like a teacher loves a student, even when that student kept getting the answers wrong over and over and over again. He loves you like a father who runs to meet his son–a son who demanded his inheritance, blew all of his money living wildly, wound up so poor he envied what the pigs were eating, and then crawled back home begging just to live as a slave in his father’s house. He runs to meet us, Fred Phelps. Members of your church carry around a sign that says “God Is Your Enemy,” and I’m sure there have been plenty of times in my life where that was true–Where I have acted like an enemy of God. I’m certain that there are many times where God looks at my actions and wishes I’d keep the whole “I’m a Christian” thing to myself. But lucky for both of us, God has always been the sort of God who loves his enemy. And he wants his people to be that way too.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
As people who call ourselves Christians, we believe that the best picture we have of God is this person named Jesus. The Jesus who, the story tells us, KNEW that Judas was about to betray him, but he got down and washed his dirty, smelly feet anyway. The Jesus who, while he was hanging there in agony, looking at his killers mocking him as he died, somehow managed to find the strength to ask God to forgive them. The same Jesus who looked at the crowd and said, “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Jesus seems to think that loving one’s enemies is being like God…. Wow. That actually sounds like good news!
You are my enemy, Fred Phelps. As your life ends, I want you to know that God is running to meet you. And if what I believe is true, I’m excited for you to find out just how wrong you’ve been about how good God really is. I’m excited for you to spend some time apologizing to all those gay people in Heaven who have already forgiven you. I’m excited for you to learn from the best teacher about what it really means to love your enemy. And I’m excited for you to discover how much God really loves us. Even you. Even me.
Love you man,
Thank you for thoughtful and loving comments. I have copied this for my Sunday School class this weekend. Bob Kennel
Wow, that’s so cool. Thanks Bob!
Wow – you said what I have been trying to find a way to articulate so very well. Excellent post.
I love when that happens. Thanks.
Nice one, dude. If it may be as we Christians have heard, in the afterlife, Fred, me, Ghandi, and Jimmy Swaggart will be playing beach volleyball on that crystal shore.
Hopefully everyone will have their shirts on…. 🙂
Reblogged this on Gil Gonzalez and commented:
As a blogger, there are two things with which I struggle. The first is not writing as often as I’d like. The second is not reading other people’s blogs as much as I’d like.
I took a moment to read the most recent post by Chris Boeskool. To say he’s an excellent blogger is an understatement. I am sharing his post with you because he’s able to capture so eloquently and sincerely the thoughts and feelings I have surrounding the news that Fred Phelps is near death. More importantly, Chris’ post is a perfect reminder of the grace we’re called to show on those who may hurt and persecute us.
Kudos, Chris, on a superbly written piece.
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You really did an amazing job in capturing what it means to display grace. I’ve been so conflicted with my feelings since I heard the news about Mr. Phelps. My instinct was to be cruel and mean. Your post is a gentle reminder that worldly emotions only hinder us on our faith journey. If we truly desire to be Christ-like, there should be no room in our hearts for bitter and/or retaliatory feelings towards others.
Hats off to you and your writing. Simply excellent.
I really appreciate it, Gil.
Chris, this is beautiful.
YOU’RE beautiful, Jerome.
Just fantastic, Chris!
as above, wrote a lot of what i was wanting to say so thankx for that – just the idea that whoever and whatever Fred Phelps has been, if our response is not love then we are heading down the same slippery slope…
love brett fish
Yup. That’s why I love that MLK quote so much…. Thanks Brett.
Very well written article. Fred Phillips obviously has some problems and he has never experienced the love of Jesus, We have an enemy that wants to pull us off balance anyway he can. He wants our soul. If he can’t get us to hate those living the nomosexual lifestyle….he will get us to believe the behavior has no consequence. If he can’t keep us from looking into the Kingdom of God……he will get us to believe there is no hell. The Word of God sharper than a two edged sword. It makes us introspective in the way we should go. To deny any part of it is eternally fatal. Blessed are the poor in spirit, they will humbly receive the written Word!
I’m glad you like it, Barry.
I think your “Blessed are the poor in spirit” quote is a little off, though. Please remember that “The Word of God” has always been, and will always be, Jesus. And not a book/collection of writings.
I truly pray that God has done a work of change in the man’s heart. I, as you, pray for him out of love and compassion.
Yeah, man. We’ve all got our garbage…. Some of it is just a lot more visible. Personally, I’d prefer people do their hating out in the open, like Fred. I think it makes it easier for people with the same feelings (that they keep hidden) to see how gross they are.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
I love what he says EXCEPT the “s” word. Blessing and cursing should not come out of the same mouth. It is not okay to cuss as a Christian. Words are containers of power. James 3:10 Amplified Bible (AMP) says:
“10 Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.”
Thank for reading, Tammy. Sorry to offend you. It’s just the way I talk.
For me, that word is just another word…. like if I said “garbage” or “crap” or “muck.” I definitely don’t consider it a curse. Not even close. I don’t view saying “I just stepped in dog poo” as being any more “Christian” than saying “I just stepped in dog shit.” A lot of those distinctions are separating the language of the poor/uneducated from the language of the rich/educated. I write the way that I talk most of the time, and I like to keep my language accessable to everyone. So instead of saying, “At least your hatred was overt enough that everyone knew you were duplicitous or disingenuous,” I made a conscious decision to write the other, more vulgar synonym. Please know that I’m not doing this to try to offend, but because 1) That’s how I talk when I’m not trying to watch what I say, and 2) I want the things I write to be accessible to the sorts of people who say “full of shit” instead of “duplicitous.”
But no…. It is not anything close to a curse.
This reminds me of that famous quote from Tony Campolo:
“I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”
The Bible does not say these words are “bad,” we do. I often find when I speak the same language as those “in the world” they tend to take me more seriously and listen to the gospel where as they might not if I only spoke in scriptures and squeeky clean language. It might not be your style Tammy, and that’s fine, but I have to say (as someone new to this blog) it’s what engaged me right off the bat and kept me reading because the author did not sound all “churchy” even though what he’s saying is very Biblically sound.
That said, I found this on another site and think it explains the “s-word” issue perfectly:
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…” (Philippians 3:8, KJV)
Ok, so this needs a little more context for understanding. The part which says “and do count them but dung”. In modern English this would say “I consider them as filth”. However, “dung” is an old word which actually used as the way that the S word is used today which refers to feces.”
So, if Paul pretty much used the word shit, I think Chris should be able to as well. 🙂
I believe the “cursing” referred to here isn’t specific words but a heart attitude. Just as oil and water don’t mix, neither does love and hate or “blessing and cursing”. And I agree that most people are much more likely to listen to a down to earth witness versus those who seem to be positioned in a higher place looking down in judgment. Both styles are acceptable to GOD because that’s how HE reaches everyone right where they are. Thank you so much for this wonderful good news message of GOD’S grace mercy forgiveness and above all….LOVE.
Thank you so much!
Dear Mr. Boeskool,
Having never heard of this Fred character, I decided to do some net searching. Reading a few articles about who and what he stands for? I’m in shock to find, the hurtful attacks and damage this person and his followers have done unto so many.
I’d personally like to THANK YOU, for writing such a wonderful ” love letter.”
Your comments, to say the least, very well explained and heartfelt!
Bless you Sir, for reminding us what ” TRUE CHRISTIANITY” is all about!
God Bless You and YOURS!
Also, I wanted to add, ( I live in Canada ) I thoroughly enjoy, reading all sorts of articles on many different topics! To add my 2 cents into the above post about ” cussing” I took no offence in your blogs/comments. I find your style of writing, very well, easily understood! Captured my interest!
I live in Topeka and have seen this church line the streets around my church for as long as I can remember. I usually ignore all posts that I see have to do with this family, but for some reason I clicked this link. And I am so glad I did! We used to counter-protest them with signs that simply said “God Loves You.” Of course, they laughed at us and called us terrible names, but at least I know they read our signs! 🙂 I am so thankful to have read this article, because it put down in words so many emotions that I have been feeling. I do not hate the Phelps. I know that their judgment will come from someone much higher than me. I never post hateful messages about them as most people do. I never spread that silly forward about sending disgusting things to their compound. Because the truth is, they are still God’s children, and in need of the most love. Thank you again for writing this. It was so worth the read!
Also, he passed away last night a little before midnight.
Great post. Love the hat/sign!
Wow! What a beautiful, insightful post! I almost passed it by, expecting a political or satirical tirade, but I’m so glad I took the time to read it. Thank you, for reminding everyone what Christianity is truly about. And for reminding me, specifically, that we aren’t called to judge someone else’s heart, and only God knows where this man’s soul is. No more stone-throwing, here. God bless.
enjoyed reading this 🙂
Well said, sir! This is an excellent post I want to post on my blog and Facebook, and print out and carry in my purse for a reminder when I’m being unloving. God bless you and yours.
Reblogged this on Smoking Love.
Reblogged this on Don't Panic and commented:
This is an excellent piece about real Christianity. Read it.
My first thought when I heard the news was, GOOD! Hope he dies. Then I thought, that is a terrible thing to say about anyone. I am just as bad as he is when I think like that. I am sorry he is dying and I hope he does meet God and God explains to him how wrong he has been. I hope he finds peace because I know he has not had any here on earth with all that hate in his heart. Thank you for this beautiful blog and I am going to share with my readers.
I love this and the photos/captions you added were funny. 🙂 I’ll have to share a link on my blog and/or my social networks later on. Thank you for the well-written post!
This is love. And grace. Thank you.
Thank you for reminding us of why we are Christians, and what we strive and/or TRY to strive for. It’s hard in this day of online bashing to sit back and not get into the “riot.’ More Thanks.
Pingback: A Love Letter To Fred Phelps…. | The Boeskool | A Day Job and a Dream
You go, man. You’re able to say all that I would want to say. Keep up the good work.
I also wrote a post about Fred Phelps. Loved your post! http://chasingdestino.com/2014/03/20/why-you-shouldnt-picket-the-funeral-of-fred-phelps/
The bible says…As Jesus is…so are we “in” this world! By your posting…you have confirmed that truth! Thank-you
This was awesome you helped me remember what we Christians are supposed to be doing out here
So proud to have my post next to yours on Freshly Pressed!
I am an atheist, but even so, this is a beautifully written piece. Thank you for sharing that 🙂
As an atheist raised in the Christian faith, I commend you wholeheartedly. If more Christians thought like this, I might have remained as such. If more Christians cared more about actual human beings and less about whether biblical fables were actual events and whether barbaric practices of the OT were justified, they all might be taken more seriously. Thank you, and again, kudos!
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2014 08:42:52 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wow. Just…wow. I live in Canada and thankfully I haven’t seen anything so hateful as the little I saw about Mr. Phelps and his followers through your post and a few related internet searches. Even the little I saw was enough to turn my stomach. But your message of love, forgiveness and faith really moved me. It was a (highly amplified) example of the attitude that I struggle to have every day. Thank you so much for putting this out there into the world!
Reblogged this on Turning Pages and commented:
I’ve been thinking of starting a ‘Feel Good Friday’ feature, and then I came across this. Pretty much nothing I could write would top the positive message this one post sends out! Sorry followers, but it’s all downhill from here 🙂 In all seriousness though, this is an amazing piece.
This was beautiful. Grace in action.
I hope the followers of Fred can not rethink and not hurt anymore people.
Reblogged this on First We Take Manhattan and commented:
The most appropriate response to the death of Fred Phelps that I have read to date. A wonderful act of grace with a healthy dose of mockery and derision.
It’s love that never fails isn’t it?
Your articulation of the Good News warmed the deepest recesses of my heart! Everything Jesus did was socially and spiritually radical. He loved the outcast, the rejected, the ignorant, the poor and most retched. Thank you for reminding us that loving our enemies is our highest and best calling. Because what makes an enemy but something in someone we reject. And what do we reject most vehemently but the unconscious judgement of our own shadows. As we love the ones we hate, we become more integrated and whole. “For love conquers all”.
Wow. Such a beautiful post.
It makes me wonder what was god thinking if he/she was thinking at all while designing creation…….such people are the programs which are defective….
Thank you for this. I had been feeling “happy” about his death and then I read this. Compassion may have crept in, even against my will, a little.
The hate spewers vile this world and make it a place of contention. I am not glad he is gone but I will not put up an memorial to his brand of hate.
We love this!!! Come write stuff like this for us!
Reblogged this on ohineedwax and commented:
My first thought when I heard the news was, GOOD! Hope he dies. Then I thought, that is a terrible thing to say about anyone. I am just as bad as he is when I think like that. I am sorry he died and I hope he does meet God and God explains to him how wrong he has been. I hope he finds peace because I know he has not had any here on earth with all that hate in his heart. Godspeed Fred
Love this post! Very well written, I hope everyone reading this today was reminded about what a gracious and loving God we serve. I know I was. Thanks!
Very interesting post. I check out the Westboro bunch on Twitter now and then, and they are idiots. Cool shirt, by the way.
This is very generous of you, and the story of Jonah is very appropriate. Thank you for the reminder of the burden of forgiveness that we tend to dismiss when convenient.
You yanks are funny with your religious
beliefs and time-wasting
cant you just
Wonderfully expressed… Thanks for reminding us of God’s love and forgiveness!
Insane people! U think God is like a toy that you will play around with?
Reblogged this on The Surf Report.
Way to bring His light into this dark circumstance. I had only heard of WBC and not Phelps himself. So not only was your love letter informative, it was honest, entertaining and most of all God filled in your distinct display of Gods love that transcends. This was refreshing to read.
Reblogged this on jdwiley23.
You display the perfect example of treating others as you would like to be treated. Loving others as you love yourself even if that means your enemies. Thank you for sharing God’s amazing loving light, even though it might not have been the easiest thing to do. Maybe I should write to people that I might not like all that well. You have giving me something to think about. Thanks brother
I must admit, I have been struggling since the news of his illness and death . . knowing I should have Christian compassion while fighting the urge to rejoice in this man and his hatred leaving this earth. This article is the first I have read that actually gave me the perspective I needed to further understand the concept of loving your enemy. Thank you so much for sharing.
Hello, and very well said , thank you.
The problem that bothers me the most about people like him and his followers is they “claim” to be Christians and give true Christians a bad name. The bible clearly tells us how to tell the differance.
1. I John 3 : 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
2. Matt 7:  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
I’m tired of the genuine being taking the wrap for the counterfeit , once again thanks for a extreamly well put blog, God bless
very thought provoking, thanks
This is fantastic!
This was beautiful, i’ve always felt this way and feel discourage when people who say they are Christians and yet act so wickedly. Jesus set a stadandard on how we should live that many of us today still fall short on, but the biggest short coming is Love. Jesus loved everyone even his enemies and yet Christians judge, dehumanize and disown people because of who and how they choose to live their lives. I only pray that they can see that you can be a child of gold and still be civil with those who live differently. Great post
Wow!!! I find this very inspiring and very big of you!! For real …. Great job! Reblog!
Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
Maybe this is the best way to “judge” Mr. Phelps ……
The only problem is someone else in the church will take Fred’s place and probably be even worse than him. Supposedly Fred was trying to take the church in a more peaceful direction in his last few years but the other members shot him down and tried to excommunicate him. So this despicable group will live on.
I am an atheist, but reading this I can’t help thinking that if all religious people were this kind and followed the LOVE part of their religion, what a better world this would be and how much less turned off by religion I’d be! I still wouldn’t believe in any of, but maybe I wouldn’t be hoping so strongly that it would go the way of old mythology.
Bless you Boeskool… for being a shining example of love and mercy and a great representative of Christ and His followers. Love & Peace.
Beautiful. Almost makes me want to read it again.
That was an awesome read.
This is beautiful. It reminded me of some things i needed to be reminded of. Thanks.
(i was, in fact, fixated on your mustache, initially. ^_^)
Personally I stronglt feel that one msut walk in love in love if they proclaim to love God. Love is a decision one makes not one does out of just feeling. There must be a balance with ones beliefs. We cannot judge or condemn people for living a different lifestyle we as believers must learn to help and not hurt people who dont know the Lord. I respect everyones beliefs and convictions but i dont agree with gay or homosexual people making it into heaven less they turn thier ways to God. I am not here to say i am Mr. Right or Mr. Perfect i just personally have differently beliefs and stand by them regardless of what others may think. To conclude I know that this man at one point might of had the right intentions to let people know of God but unfortunately developed a paradigm that hurt and offended many people along the way. One must always be prudent and wise when speaking or expressings one religious or spiritual beliefs.
God absolutely Loves homosexuals. It is they who only claim to love Him. They don’t trust him. They want to accept His Grace, without accepting His correction. We all sin. Sinners who refuse to confess their sin as sin and seek His forgiveness will not make Heaven. God does not expect us to conquer our sin nature. Jesus died to cover our failures, and to begin the process of putting aside our sin. This is why the Bible says He died for the “Remission” of our Sins. Anyone who has agreed with God, and confessed our sins, is under the promise that God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us. The only people in heaven that define themselves as thieves will be those who are doing it the way a member of AA defines themselves as alcoholics. Fill in the blank any way you want. I am a recovering liar, cheater, boaster, hater, luster who is going to heaven, because I have confessed my sin as sin, and I am trusting Jesus and am in remission. If however, I refuse the treatment for my Sin from the Great Physician, I have chosen to retain my disease and die.
Hatred is a sin, and it is unnatural and disgusting. It is downright sickening! This Hater is blind to it, and if He trusting Jesus, and the remission hasn’t restored his sight yet, he will be in heaven. Unfortunately, homosexuality is also a sin rooted in blindness. We cannot defend it and confess it at the same time.
Great stuff. Just great. Such a good reminder to remember Jesus’ words to love our enemies. It’s easy to determine our enemies at times and less so our neighbour. Who is our neighbor? Could Fred be our neighbor also.
Let’s all just focus on the worship of our God rather than the behavior of each other.
Man, cutting onions all day! Thank you for writing this beautiful letter.
I loved this, so so much. I am atheist myself but I know a couple of my Christian friends are homophobic and pick and choose parts of the bible to believe in/practice, and it drives me mental. They act like they’re wonderful people, yet they bully one of my other friends because he’s gay? For me, it’s like a breath of fresh air knowing that there are sane minded, non judgemental Religious folk out there, who truly understand the message of Jesus and who aren’t homophobic. I’m very passionate about equal rights and stopping hate in it’s tracks. What a beautiful post. Thank you, stay amazing.
I posted on Rev Fred and the WBC a couple of days ago. Hope you get time to read it
Thank you for sharing your wise, loving words instead of spreading more hate or even disappointment and saddness.
This is one of the best posts I have read in relation to Fred Phelps. As a Christian, it’s often really hard for me to understand how people can be so hateful and judgmental while following a God who is the opposite. The natural response for me is to be angry. To side with people who are being hateful and judgmental of him. After all, doesn’t he deserve it? But then I remember how lucky I am to be a child of the God who doesn’t give based on what we deserve (thank goodness!). Thanks for reminding me of that today.
Reblogged this on Nerdy Life of Mine.
Reblogged this on daddyspaintedfairytail and commented:
Great message and Truth! Well written, I’m sharing!!
I posted some similar sentiments on FB and its refreshing to see someone else feel the same way. We can’t stop hate with more hate. We’ve got to drown it with love. Thank you for posting this.
I can count on one hand (missing two fingers) the number of people who leave me with a positive view of their religion, and you are one of them.
Look up the book “Addicted to Hate” if you ever want a very extensive profile of Fred Phelps and his cult.
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