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Westboro Baptist Church founder Phelps dies at 84

  • FILE - In this March 19, 2006 file photo, the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. preaches at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Phelps, the founder of the Kansas church known for anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals, died Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

    FILE - In this March 19, 2006 file photo, the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. preaches at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Phelps, the founder of the Kansas church known for anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals, died Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

  • CORRECTS DATE OF DEATH TO WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19 INSTEAD OF THURSDAY, MARCH 20 - FILE - In this March 19, 2006 file photo, the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., center, sits in prayer at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Phelps, the founder of the Kansas church known for anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals, died late Wednesday, March 19, 2014, his family said. He was 84. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

    CORRECTS DATE OF DEATH TO WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19 INSTEAD OF THURSDAY, MARCH 20 - FILE - In this March 19, 2006 file photo, the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., center, sits in prayer at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Phelps, the founder of the Kansas church known for anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals, died late Wednesday, March 19, 2014, his family said. He was 84. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

  • CORRECTS DATE OF DEATH TO WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19 INSTEAD OF THURSDAY MARCH 19 - FILE - In this July 1, 2007 file photo, the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. prepares to protest outside the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Phelps, the founder of the Kansas church known for anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals, died late Wednesday, March 19, 2014, his family said. He was 84. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

    CORRECTS DATE OF DEATH TO WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19 INSTEAD OF THURSDAY MARCH 19 - FILE - In this July 1, 2007 file photo, the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. prepares to protest outside the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Phelps, the founder of the Kansas church known for anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals, died late Wednesday, March 19, 2014, his family said. He was 84. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

  • This Nov. 18, 1989 file photo, Fred Phelps Sr. announced his plans to run for the Democratic nomination for governor of Kansas on Nov. 18, 1989. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church,  who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84.  (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

    This Nov. 18, 1989 file photo, Fred Phelps Sr. announced his plans to run for the Democratic nomination for governor of Kansas on Nov. 18, 1989. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church, who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84. (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

  • This Nov. 17, 1989 file photo shows Fred Phelps Sr. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church,  who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84.  (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

    This Nov. 17, 1989 file photo shows Fred Phelps Sr. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church, who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84. (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

  • This July 1, 1991 file photo, Fred Phelps Sr., demonstrates  in Topeka's Gage Park in Topeka, Kan.  Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church,  who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84.  (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

    This July 1, 1991 file photo, Fred Phelps Sr., demonstrates in Topeka's Gage Park in Topeka, Kan. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church, who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84. (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

  • This file photo shows Fred Phelps Sr. displays one of his many infamous protest signs. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church,  who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84.  (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

    This file photo shows Fred Phelps Sr. displays one of his many infamous protest signs. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church, who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84. (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

  • This file photo shows Fred Phelps Sr. displays one of his many infamous protest signs. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church,  who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84.  (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

    This file photo shows Fred Phelps Sr. displays one of his many infamous protest signs. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church, who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84. (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

  • FILE - In this March 19, 2006 file photo, the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. preaches at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Phelps, the founder of the Kansas church known for anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals, died Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
  • CORRECTS DATE OF DEATH TO WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19 INSTEAD OF THURSDAY, MARCH 20 - FILE - In this March 19, 2006 file photo, the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., center, sits in prayer at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Phelps, the founder of the Kansas church known for anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals, died late Wednesday, March 19, 2014, his family said. He was 84. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
  • CORRECTS DATE OF DEATH TO WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19 INSTEAD OF THURSDAY MARCH 19 - FILE - In this July 1, 2007 file photo, the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. prepares to protest outside the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Phelps, the founder of the Kansas church known for anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals, died late Wednesday, March 19, 2014, his family said. He was 84. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
  • This Nov. 18, 1989 file photo, Fred Phelps Sr. announced his plans to run for the Democratic nomination for governor of Kansas on Nov. 18, 1989. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church,  who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84.  (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)
  • This Nov. 17, 1989 file photo shows Fred Phelps Sr. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church,  who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84.  (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)
  • This July 1, 1991 file photo, Fred Phelps Sr., demonstrates  in Topeka's Gage Park in Topeka, Kan.  Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church,  who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84.  (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)
  • This file photo shows Fred Phelps Sr. displays one of his many infamous protest signs. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church,  who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84.  (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)
  • This file photo shows Fred Phelps Sr. displays one of his many infamous protest signs. Phelps, the fiery founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church,  who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died the family said Thursday, March 20, 2014. He was 84.  (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal)

Fred Phelps did not care what you thought of his Westboro Baptist Church, nor did he care if you heard its message that society’s tolerance for gay people is the root of all earthly evil.

By the time you saw one of his outrageous and hate-filled signs – “You’re Going to Hell” was among the more benign – you were already doomed.

Tall, thin and increasingly spectral as he aged, the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. and the Westboro Baptist Church, a small congregation made up almost entirely of his extended family, tested the boundaries of the free speech guarantees by violating accepted societal standards for decency in their unapologetic assault on gays and lesbians. In the process, some believe he even helped the cause of gay rights by serving as such a provocative symbol of intolerance.

All of that was irrelevant to Phelps, who died late Wednesday. He was 84.

God is love? Heresy, he preached, and derisively insisted the Lord had nothing but anger and bile for the moral miscreants of his creation. In Phelps’s reading of the Bible, God determined your fate at the moment of your creation.

Informing the damned could not save them from eternal fire, Phelps believed, but it was required for his salvation and path to paradise.

And so he and his flock traveled the country, protesting at the funerals for victims of AIDS and soldiers slain in Iraq and Afghanistan, picketing outside country music concerts and even the Academy Awards – any place sure to draw attention and a crowd – with an unrelenting message of hatred for gays and lesbians.

“Can you preach the Bible without preaching the hatred of God?” he asked in a 2006 interview with the Associated Press. “The answer is absolutely not. And these preachers that muddle that and use that deliberately, ambiguously to prey on the follies and the fallacious notions of their people – that’s a great sin.”

For those who didn’t like the message or the tactics, Phelps and his family had only disdain. “They need to drink a frosty mug of shut-the-hell-up and avert their eyes,” his daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, once told a group of Kansas lawmakers.

The activities of Phelps’s church, unaffiliated with any larger denomination, inspired a federal law and laws in more than 40 states limiting protests and picketing at funerals. He and a daughter were even barred from entering Britain for inciting hatred.

But in a major free-speech ruling in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the church and its members were protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and could not be sued for monetary damages for inflicting pain on grieving families.

Yet despite that legal victory, some gay rights advocates believe all the attention Phelps generated served to advance their cause.

Sue Hyde, a staff member at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said plenty of churches and ministers preach a message that attacks gay people. But Phelps and his family had “taken this out on the streets,” forcing people to confront their own views and rousing a protective instinct in parents and friends of gays and lesbians.

“It’s actually a wonderful recruiting tool for a pro-equality, pro-social acceptance movement,” she said. “To the Phelps family, that is not particularly important or relevant. They are not there to save us. They are there to advise us that we are doomed.”

Once seen as the church’s unchallengeable patriarch, Phelps’s public visibility waned as he grew older and less active in the church’s pickets, with daughters Shirley Phelps-Roper and Margie Phelps – an attorney who argued the church’s case before the U.S. Supreme Court – most often speaking for Westboro. In the fall of 2013, even they were replaced by a church member not related to Phelps by blood as Westboro’s chief spokesman.

In Phelps’s later years, the protests themselves were largely ignored or led to counter-demonstrations that easily shouted down Westboro’s message. A motorcycle group known as the Patriot Guard arose to shield mourners at military funerals from Westboro’s notorious signs. At the University of Missouri in 2014, hundreds of students gathered to surround the handful of church members who traveled to the campus after football player Michael Sam came out as gay.

Phelps’ final weeks were shrouded in mystery. A long-estranged son, Nate Phelps, said his father had been voted out of the congregation in the summer of 2013 “after some sort of falling out,” but the church refused to discuss the matter. Westboro’s spokesman would only obliquely acknowledge this month that Phelps had been moved into a care facility because of health problems.

Margie Phelps did not reveal to the Associated Press yesterday the condition that put Phelps in hospice care. Asked whether he was surrounded by family or friends at his death, she would only say that “all of his needs were met when he died.” There will be no funeral, she said.

Fred Waldron Phelps was born in Meridian, Miss., on Nov. 13, 1929. He was raised a Methodist and once said he was “happy as a duck” growing up. He was an Eagle Scout, ran track and graduated from high school at age 16.

Selected to attend the U.S. Military Academy, Phelps never made it to West Point. He once said he went to a Methodist revival meeting and felt the calling to preach. Ordained a Baptist minister in 1947, he met his wife after he delivered a sermon in Arizona and they were married in 1952.

Phelps was a missionary and pastor in the western United States and Canada before settling in Topeka in 1955 and founding his church. He earned his law degree from Washburn University in Topeka in 1964, focused on civil rights issues.

But in 1979, the Kansas Supreme Court stripped him of his license to practice in state courts, concluding he’d made false statements in court documents and “showed little regard” for professional ethics. He called the court corrupt and insisted he saw its action as a badge of honor. He later agreed to stop practicing in federal court, too.

Westboro remained a small church throughout his life, with less than 100 members, most related to the patriarch or one of his 13 children by blood or marriage. Its website says people are free to visit weekly services to get more information, though the congregation can vote at any time to remove a member who they decide is no longer a recipient of God’s grace.

The church’s building in central Topeka is surrounded by a wooden fence, and family members are neighbors, their yards enclosed by the same style of fence in a manner that suggests a sealed-off compound.

Most of his children were unflinchingly loyal, with some following their father into law. While some estranged family members reported experiencing severe beatings and verbal abuse as children, the children who defended their father said his discipline was in line with biblical standards and never rose to the level of abuse.

Phelps could at times, in a courtly and scholarly manner, explain his religious beliefs and expound on how he formed them based on his reading of the Bible. He could also belittle those who questioned him and professed not to care whether people liked the message, or even whether they listened. He saw himself as “absolutely 100 percent right.”

“Anybody who’s going to be preaching the Bible has got to be preaching the same way I’m preaching,” he said in 2006.

Despite his avowedly conservative views on social issues, and the early stirrings of the clout Christian evangelicals would enjoy within the Kansas Republican Party, Phelps ran as a Democrat during his brief dabble with politics. He finished a distant third in the 1990 gubernatorial primary, and later ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate and Topeka mayor.

It was about that time that Westboro’s public crusade against homosexuality began. The protests soon widened and came to include funerals of AIDS victims and any other event that would draw a large crowd, from concerts of country singer Vince Gill to the Academy Awards.

He reserved special scorn for conservative ministers who preached that homosexuality was a sin but that God nevertheless loved gays and lesbians. When the Rev. Jerry Falwell died in 2007, Westboro members protested at his funeral with the same sorts of signs they held up outside services a decade earlier for Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten to death in 1998.

“They’re all going to hell,” Phelps said in a 2005 interview of Christians who refuse to condemn gay people as he did.

It wasn’t just the message, but also the mocking tone that many found to be deliberately cruel. Led by Phelps, church members thanked God for roadside explosive devices and prayed for thousands more casualties, calling the deaths of military personnel killed in the Middle East a divine punishment for a nation it believed was doomed by its tolerance for gay people.

State and federal legislators responded by enacting restrictions on such protests. A Pennsylvania man whose 20-year-old Marine son died in 2006 sued the church after it picketed the son’s funeral and initially won $11 million. In an 8-1 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2011 that the First Amendment protects even such “hurtful” speech, though it undoubtedly added to the father’s “already incalculable grief.”

“The Westboro Baptist Church is probably the vilest hate group in the United the State of America,” Heidi Beirich, research director for the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Associated Press in July 2011. “No one is spared, and they find people at their worst, most terrible moments of grief, and they throw this hate in their faces. It’s so low.”

I find it shocking that people will try to change history to try to make it fit their needs. Like this Fox judge who has now decided to write that Lincoln started the Civil War on purpose. The south started to turn from the Democrats even during FDR's term because of Eleanor and her fight against racial injustice and continued during the '48 convention for Truman partly because of his desegregating the military. By the time of LBJ it was almost a done deal and Nixon used it as Bruce said to win the south. They can try to sugar coat it, but the Civil War was over slavery and the south turned Republican because of desegregation.

Fred Phelps was a lifelong Democrat. He supported Democrats. He died a Democrat. And that..is history.

Get yourself a rubber bone, it will last longer.

facts are stubborn things....

This thread has taken quite the revisionist tone, with the usual suspects on here clearly intent on trying yet again to rewrite history by confusing those who stood yesterday and stand today for civil rights with those who did so in another time. To be clear: at the national level in the 1960's it was the Democratic Party that most strongly supported civil rights legislation and pushed legislation through Congress. The Dixicrats of the South, and the south as a whole turned to the Republican Party--Strom Thurmond was one of the first to switch parties. Principled northern moderate Republicans--the kind that made me aspire to be one--are an extinct species. Chafee, Javits, Saltonstall, Chase Smith, Percy, are just a few of the names on that roll. And make no mistake; the Party of NO, that laughably pretends to be the party of opportunity, daily puts new obstacles in the way of access to voting rights, to the right to love and marry the person of your choice, to a woman's reproductive rights, is busy re-segregating schools all over the country. The new G.O.P. daily mocks the poor and the unfortunate, while idolizing the billionaires who call the tune in the new G.O.P., which has not been the party of Lincoln for a long time. Now it's the party of Jefferson Davis. Without the "solid south", the Republican Party would not exist today as a major party.

Glad you are back Bruce. With Sail posting 20 times a day and GWTW and Rabbit posting as a duo, I am getting quite overwhelmed. I find myself agreeing with Hunter more than anyone and that is weird. I had said I would not vote for a Republican even though I have in the past. I did like Huntsman though I did not agree with him on some things, RTW for one, but it is useless to vote for a Repub these days because of the tilt to the right. I would just be aiding and abetting the tea party. Moderate Repubs have been purged from the Republican party and may never come back.

Yes the site propagandist has returned. Where are the "moderate" Democrats? Oh Republicans are coming back, just wait 8 more months.

It!s often futile to argue with a Carper. In this case, GWTW is in full troll mode, claiming black is white and ignoring the facts of history. Fred Phelps was a miserable man with reprehensible views, but milder forms of many of his views can be found on Tea Party sites and on Granite Grok. Phelps almost makes ordinary bigots seem normal by comparison.

In all honesty, tillie, your posts are little more than snarky and snyde attacks on people with whom you do not agree. Your constant attacks on people by name or handle is really lame. You constantly put others down in an attempt to diminish their views, why not bring up facts, arguments, ideas? I am beginning to think that all you have are talking points you hear on MSNBC.

ITSA, I see you are back at your SNYDE remarks. You think by figuring out who I am you are a smart fella. But in my eyes your are not. You love to hint at other's identity at the same time giving all kinds of excuses for hiding yours. I know, I know the big bad progressives that you might work for might fire you. If anyone fires you, it is probably for your "know it all" attitude and biting the hand that feeds you. You, Rabbit, Sail, GWTW are a mutual admiration society and always agree with each other so I am sure you all get your news from the comedy channel called Fox.

Bruce, saying things like: The new G.O.P. daily mocks the poor and the unfortunate, while idolizing the billionaires who call the tune in the new G.O.P., which has not been the party of Lincoln for a long time. Now it's the party of Jefferson Davis" is simply hyperbole and rhetoric to stir up false imagery of those who disagree with you.

I don't think my post was hyperbole at all.The new GOP doesn't mock the poor? Just visit the comment thread on this site on "Working at McDonald's" to see examples of mockery, scorn, and victim-blaming by posters. I don't know what else you would call it. And there are many in the GOP who seem to think that Lincoln was a tyrant and that the nation would have been better off had the South won. Likely many of the same folks who see the Confederate flag as something other than a symbol of both racism, and treason. Their ignorance and misreading of history is inexcusable, and their views are repugnant. Few such "thinkers" (loosely applied) are to be found in the Democratic Party.

I read the same "Working At McDonalds" and I did not see mockery, scorn or victim blaming. Somebody working at MD's and is 25 should not start a family. Those are entry level jobs to get kids in the workforce, and hopefully instill in them what your life will be like if you stay there and do not better your situation. Read the stats about who works part time. As far as rewriting history goes, the Dems are all about that, especially in our schools. They preach to the uninformed in my opinion and they buy it. For some reason the reality of poverty seems to be a concept the left just does not get. Instead their programs seem to me to extend the poverty cycle. Who gets hurt the most by a large minimum wage increase, is the poor. When minimum wage goes up, the employer is pretty picky about who he or she hires. Diploma's, references, and past job history becomes important. Add the extra cost and small business will pass it on, and most likely lay folks off and charge more for that burger. read the stats from the CBO about who works part time. They also stated that raising the minimum wage will cost 500,000 jobs. I am fine with a small increase by the way.

I was thinking of another article and its thread--the one on the shelters closing. As for the minimum wage, I support raising it, and wrote a letter to that effect. By your logic, we should abolish the minimum the wage, and then all will be well. There are a number of studies that show that, while there may be some job losses--an increase in the minimum will benefit many--far more than will be hurt. An increase in the minimum is long overdue, and will do much to make the circumstances of those who labor for minimum wage better. Some of that increase should come at the expense of executive pay--which is way out of line with other nations. For too long, we've rewarded incompetence at the top--executives overly concerned with stock options and obsessed with quarterly reports, share prices, and choosing to boost same with job cuts and outsourcing. I prefer the Henry Ford model--pay the employees a living wage that give them a leg up into a better life. Failing that, stronger unions as we have in Germany, along with workplace reforms like giving workers a say in corporate governance, better vocational training programs, an end to outsourcing and unfair trade agreements like NAFTA and Obama's Transpacific Trade Agreement will begin to restore our middle class.

Robert Byrd was a dixiecrat...he never switched parties...so was Al Gore Sr..so was William Fulbright...shall I go on?

Interesting comment..but nothing you stated refutes anything I said.

Make no mistake, you make the liberal philosophy sound so noble but the truth is your stand promotes voter fraud, tries to bulldoze religious organizations that don't agree is same-sex marriage, kills babies, and is trying to brainwash our children in the classroom. The GOP does not mock the poor - they try to help them by giving them a hand up not a hand out. Not everyone wants to raise their families without God so we can all have children that behave like Kim K and Miley C. thank you very much.

Actual evidence of voter fraud is almost nil. Those who don't approve of same-sex marriage don't have to have one and are quite free to practice and preach their doctrine, but no one should use religion to justify their bigotry. That's exactly what's going on with those who claim a religious justification for discrimination--the same rationale"because it's in the Bible"-- has been used in the past to discriminate against other whole categories of people. When you live in a pluralistic society, you don't get to impose your own religious views on the larger world, not when they directly conflict with other equally valid values. I don't know where the rest of your piece comes from, but if you think Fred Phelps was an exemplary Christian, I strongly disagree. There are many good, sincere people of faith who happen to support a woman's right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy, just as there are many who also see no conflict between belief in a supreme being and in rejection of Biblical literalism. Belief that humanity began with 2 naked humans, a magic tree, and and a talking snake doesn't necessarily make one a good Christian. One can simultaneously believe it's absurd when taken literally and still believe in its fundamental tenets. As for your claim the GOP does not mock the poor, if cutting food stamp allotments, demanding drug tests of anyone receiving benefits, and generally doing all in their power to blame the victims of poverty for their plight are examples of GOP concern, I'd hate to see real mockery.

Bruce, although I think your heart may be in the right place, your views seem very narrow-minded and misguided. First off I think Fred Phelps was a cruel beast. Secondly, I personally don't have issue with gays as we're all human. However I don't like gays trying to force via court order religious organization or private businesses into doing business with them if it goes against their own moral view point. There are occasions where the LGBT world seems as bad as Fred Phelps when it comes to shoving their opinion in your face. As far as a woman's right to choose. Yes, she has a right to choose...choose not to get pregnant in the first place...use birth control or don't have sex. I personally know women that use abortion as birth control. They continue to have unprotected sex and just pop into their local abortion clinic to "get rid of it". It is heart breaking. Now I know from reading your past posts that you are a man of science. Keeping this in mind you must know abortion is killing a child. Think about it for a moment....No one says "yeah, I have an embryo...they say "I'm having a BABY". Now I know this is inconvenient for you to understand but IT IS A CHILD. There are now studies that say these children can feel what is happening...not to mention the disastrous results when the child that is aborted is still alive on the table....in my humble opinion it is simply horrendous. Now I'm not going to bother wasting my time arguing your thoughts on the Bible but I would suggest watching the 1943 Warner Bros movie “The Song of Bernadette” or the 1952 movie “Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima”. There is a lot more to this world that we just don’t understand but you couldn’t possibly think it is all by accident do you? Who do you think orchestrated the big bang? Lastly and finally getting to the point, I wonder have you ever lived in poverty yourself. Do you even know anyone on food stamps? I have and I do. The worst possible thing in the world that you can do is call them victims. They’re not victims. You act like there is something wrong with being poor. Not everyone grows up with a silver spoon and that is ok. We all have crosses to bear and obstacles to overcome and when we do, the sense of accomplishment you receive is extremely empowering.

I love old movies too, I just finished watching "Planet of the Apes" It doesn't mean I think in the future apes will be riding horses in NYC. I have never heard of a woman dropping in for an abortion clinic to "just get rid of it" as a means of birth control. Only a man could think of something like that. Maybe if Republicans did not make it so difficult for women to get birth control there would be fewer abortions. For some reason this common sense approach does not seem to penetrate conservative brains. One more thing it takes two to make a baby why should the women give up sex? You seem to be one of the barefoot and pregnant crowd.

Oh dear...where to begin....I think you're a little to quick to jump to conclusions tillie. The two movies I mentioned above are based on actual events whereas the one you mention is a work of fiction. This could be the root of the problem for you, you don't know fiction from fact. Secondly, if you've never heard of women using abortion as birth control maybe you don't know as much as you think you do. I'm not even going to bother with the rest of your post....you have the second half as backward as the first part.

Anyone who uses Hollywood movies from sixty years as facts should not call some one else backward. If you want to find out more about saints, I urge you to read some biographies even ones sanctioned by the Church are more accurate than Hollywood movies. You maybe surprised to find that even Pope Francis does not agree with your depiction of the poor. As for abortion and birth control and the Big Bang you might want to start watching more recent movies and bring yourself up to date.

Tillie, I think you need to go back and reread the posts you're commenting on unless of course your plan is just to twist my words.

Welcome to Tillie's World Cy. She twists more than the girl's head in the Exorcist. When she is not twisting, she is assuming. She will not answer your questions, and she will most likely insult you. Trying to have a civil conversation with her will not work. She will attack, and she will do it without facts.

Remember, Ignore, Ignore. Can't help yourself can you?

You know, it would take two trains, a bus and a cab ride to get this back on topic.

let me help...Phelps, a life long democrat..is dead.

I could register as a republican with the check of a box. If you have a point, what was it?? I did that when I was 18 to piss off my parents.

No point to be made, G . . . don't waste your breath.

If they had any sense, they would have been proud. I guess progressivism is like welfare, it is multi-generational dysfunction and skewed views of reality.

Phelps...life long democrat..facts are stubborn things.

Geez are you still harping on that. You're like a dog with a bone.

And Kyle Tasker is a Republican . . . SO?!?!

They should protest his funeral. Good riddance.

A group of people did stand at his church with a sign " We are sorry for your loss." Maybe to prove they were better than he was.

On second thought . . . that was a much better response than staging a protest. Takin' the high road and proving that you're the better person.

incorrect...they were not at the church...they we at the latest WBC protest.

So Bunny Rabbit, did you need a ladder to climb on that high horse? Funny Bunny, but that is how I first noticed you on these pages correcting someone's grammar (Dem of course) GWTW is pretty adept at picking up on other's mistakes, and doesn't really need you to defend him or her. Of course you realize now I have got the perfect line for next time you do it.

Wrong again Tillie. I would never correct anybody's grammar or spelling, for the simple reason, mine is not too good. I would be a hypocrite if I did that. I have called you to task for correcting my spelling on occasion, and I see that is a habit you have. And as I said, it is rude and condescending. You have accused me of being on a high horse and other things many times on this forum. You do not like what I say, and refuse to prove me wrong so you name call. You pretty much do that with everybody who disagrees with you. That is a Dem tactic. That way you do not have to discuss what is said.

Rabbit, you stuck your cute little bunny nose into a discussion that was not directed to you and decided to pick a fight. I am not in the mood tonight. Just be careful not to fall off that horse.

This is a forum. We all comment on what is said. You are not the moderator here Tillie. You were suppose to be ignoring me remember. If you give a comment directed at me, do you think I am suppose to not respond? That is not how it works on a forum. Comments are not fights, unless I guess if you are a Dem and someone disagrees with you. I love the way you folks try to have your cake and eat it too.

Hey Long Ears, you were the one who directed a comment to me. If you don't remember reread this page. Again with the clichés that mean nothing. GWTW is able make his (her) own comments and does. Who asked you to butt in and then complain that I comment on your butt in. GWTW picked on e sentence out of an article to blame Dems for Phelps, even though in the article it says his views were more in line with Kansas Republicans and then for good measure she decided to say that the KKK were Democrats.

|Robert Byrd was not a republican as I recall...

Again, this is a forum. Folks comment. You butt in (your words) all the time without being asked on everybody. So explain to me how a forum works Tillie. Do we all have the same rules, or are Dems the only ones allowed to comment without being accused of butting in? You are a perfect example of someone who believes that any discussion that disagrees with your beliefs should be shut down.

Bunny nose, Long Ears, etc. A bit immature, I would say.

Also, correcting someone's spelling is rude and condescending.

Try to imagine what you 2 would say if Phelps ran for office as a republican...and for once try to be honest..

I am always honest. I would not have said anything if he ran as a Republican, because as evil as he was I would not have blamed the Republicans for him Naturally as the article said, it was unusual for someone with his views to be a Democrat so it may have just be easier to get on the ballot as a Dem. I know a couple of Free Staters in the Nashua area ran as Democrats and were elected even though they vote straight Republican. To be honest with you, and I am always honest, I don't have the hate you do and if someone goes against what is tolerant and right as Tasker and Phelps did I don't care what how he votes.

Phelps remained prominent in state and local politics, working for years as a major organizer for the state's Democratic Party. In 1988, Phelps housed campaign workers for Al Gore's first presidential run; in 1989, his eldest son, Fred Jr., hosted a fundraiser for Gore's Senate campaign at his home. Phelps has frequently run for public office -- for governor in 1990, '94, and '98, for the Senate in '92 -- always losing the primaries by a landslide. Because of their years as loyal Democrats, the Phelpses have even been invited to -- and attended -- both of Clinton's inaugurations....Mother Jones.

Well let's look at it this way. He was obviously so stupid he kept running in the wrong party. I am sure he would have done much better running as a Republican.

a Great Ronald Reagan quote applies here... "Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant ( honest ) , but that they know so much that isn’t so."

At least he called us "friends".

Fred Phelps...Democrat.

Whatever hate drove Phelps it wasn't politics. What is your excuse?

didnt you say that you would never ever vote for a republican? Good thing Phelps never won a primary huh?

And what Democrat would you ever vote for with the attitude you have? Phelps was a horror of a human being and a disgrace as an American, but all you could get out it was he was a Democrat. He was no more a Democrat than he was a Christian.

I always voted for the Democrat running against Ray Burton...on principle ..Hey..maybe they KKK will morn at his funeral...after all..democrats!

The word is mourn and I think you have missed the whole change over in the south when the south all left the Democratic party because of desegregation and became Republicans. You would be hard put to find a Dem in the KKK but maybe you know more about them than I do.

thats odd because it was Nixon who desegregated the schools...

And Lincoln freed the slaves.

No he didn't. The Nixon administration actively opposed school desegregration efforts that included "forced busing." Most of the gains in desegregation occurred in the years after 1964 and the passage of the landmark civil rights/voting rights legislation. Whatever happened after 1968 happened in spite of--not because of Nixon. He pursued a calculated 'southern strategy" designed to neutralize Wallace and appeal to white southern voters. To be clear: the south turned to Republicans principally due to the support the Democratic party gave to the civil rights struggle in the 1960's. Nothing has changed since. Reagan's Nashoba County "states' rights" speech kicking off his election campaign was a classic racist dog whistle--given less than 2 decades after the brutal murders of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman in the same county.

Really???? Then our tax dollars are funding these lies......http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/nixon-domestic/

Do you realize that you just accused GWTW as having hate Tillie? Twice I might add. But then again, that is how you roll.

Really? that is what you get from that?

I never knew he was a Democrat...did you?

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