The founder of Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, died this week.
The church has made headlines the past few years, most famously for picketing military funerals, saying that God is punishing the United States for homosexuality by killing soldiers.
They have caused a lot of pain to grieving families, and could be in the running for one of the most hated groups in America. Many people had a “good riddance” attitude when they heard of the founder’s death.
Westboro’s signs read things like “God hates fags” and “Thank God for dead soldiers.”
So when some members of the gay community suggested responding to his death with love, it was a surprising move. One blog suggested the following:
“You see, I believe Christ has grace for people like Fred Phelps as much as he has grace for me … I wish hell upon no one, because I want all souls to encounter the true love that God has to offer … My final prayer is that people do show up to his funeral as a show of pageantry. I hope they show up with large, decorated signs and billboards. I hope they line the streets leading to the funeral home, and I hope that they make sure they are seen. Finally, I hope every one of those billboards and signs read, ‘We forgive you.’ … Maybe that little sign of love will do something to the remaining members of WBC, and show them that a life filled with hate is really no life at all, but that a life filled with love is the only way to live.”
It reminds me of another person who forgave his enemies, even as they were crucifying Him.
“Forgive them father, they do not know what they do.”