The Fred Phelps Deathwatch is over. Phelps was 84 years, seven months, and seven days old. He will now explain himself to his god and accept the consequences.
Hate is a poison to charity, and the church Phelps built on hate eventually killed him as if he had handled rattlesnakes instead of awful signs. There are dry eyes across the nation, but in a very real way Phelps has left the opposite legacy from the one he intended, and maybe we should all observe his passing by celebrating what he hated and damned most about America: our capacity to change, to evolve, and be a better people.
Reacting to his leadership, many Americans found solidarity with LGBT issues who might otherwise have not. Westboro Baptists protesting military funerals had a profound, yet hardly-spoken effect on the struggle against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The rapid advance of marriage equality is in part a result of general horror and anger in American society at what Phelps did with his “church.”
Ah, yes, his church: it still exists, and until it inevitably collapses into a black hole of hate, something should counteract its polluting effects with positive ones. And since Phelps will receive no funeral services for ironic picketing, we are giving a small donation to Equality House in order to do just that.
Equality House is a project of Planting Peace, an organization that works to oppose anti-gay legislation in Uganda as well as other important issues concerning freedom and equality. They own the rainbow-painted house across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church and hold all kinds of anti-hate events and activities. With that American flag flying over it, Equality House is the perfect symbol of the new America that Phelps feared, loathed, and condemned. Since we cannot mourn him properly, let us remember him with this monument to the power of love and charity.