In the wake of news that Fred Phelps—famed for picketing funerals with signs of hatred toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people—died, I want to take this opportunity to release this statement of prayer for Fred Phelps and his family.
Members of the Metropolitan Community Churches do not celebrate the death of Fred Phelps.
We have lived under the shadow of his hateful messages, and we will not follow in his footsteps. Today, we pray for his soul and for his whole family.
Our love for all of humanity compels us to pray for Fred Phelps as he faces God and to comprehend all the harm he has done in this life. According to his son, Fred Phelps was excommunicated—shunned—from the church he founded, and so he went to his death painfully alone.
What pain or sorrow left Fred Phelps with only hate to give to others is not known. We can only pray for him and his family, that redemption and forgiveness becomes a reality for each of them.
We pray for healing for all those who have been harmed by his hatred for more than two decades.
Many of his own family have escaped his influence over the years; others carry on the messages of hate. We leave them in God’s hands while knowing our mission is to speak of God’s love and inclusiveness for all people, regardless of whom we love or how we express our gender.
The harm Fred Phelps did is undeniable. We grieve over every family member whoever questioned whether God loved them because of the destructive messages of Fred Phelps. Yet, our faith teaches us that hate is a dry and bitter fruit.
It is only the persistent and repeated decision to love that can break the cycles of hatred.
We choose love.
Intersections International will honor Rev. Nancy Wilson for her work at the intersection of religion and LGBTQ equality on May 29, 2014, at our 2014 Awards Celebration.
Photo via Believe Out Loud by Andrew Snow