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Thoughts on Death of Fred Phelps of Westboro Church

"Phelps' sordid contribution to history is that he amplified the Kulturkampf against Christian faith and ethics in public life by helping to portray Evangelicals as intrinsically hateful." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President

Contact: Jeff Walton office, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- 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.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

    "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."

www.TheIRD.org