Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #098 (3/30/14): Fred Phelps

Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with
a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of March 30th, 2014. The most hated man in America — well, besides
me — is dead. Fred Phelps, the founding pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas,
passed away of natural causes on March 19th. Somehow, he made it to 84 years old without
enemies taking a bat to his head or sprinkling anthrax in his undershorts. Now, we can’t expect right-wing Christians
to be forward-thinking or even moderate about such issues as abortion, gay rights and Lady
Gaga. Bible thumpers aren’t wired like that, and if they wanna tie a straitjacket around
the Old Testament and interpret it the way Muslim extremists bungle the Koran, that’s
their business. The reason Freddy Phelps was so loathed is that he went out of his way
to spread hatred, and he targeted people who were guilty of nothing more than living their
lives differently from what he thought the bible recommended. Fred Phelps was not a live-and-let-live
kinda guy. He was more a “hurt and disrupt” sort of person. H e didn’t start out that way. In 1954, on
the day Brown beat the Board of Education, Phelps, who had a law degree, took it upon
himself to fight civil-rights cases. I mean, on the black side — really! Really! Of course,
a few years later, he was disbarred for corruption, but there was something righteous in the guy
before he turned self-righteous. Back in the early `90s, he ran for governor, senator and
mayor — on the democratic ticket. He lost and lost and lost, and maybe that’s what set
him off on the path of bitterness and bile. Whatever goodie points Phelps racked up defending
schvartzes in Kansas have long been pissed away in his tirades and protests against homosexuals.
To preach in a sermon against the sin of being a buttmuncher is one thing. To send your followers
out in public on streetcorners with signs that read “God Hates Fags” is another thing.
But to bus your parishioners to funerals… that takes balls the size of planets. These
Westboro wackos would send — or threaten to send — protesters to everything from the
Boston Marathon bombing funerals to school-shooting victim burials, warning everyone that God
Hates America, which is why He kills people so randomly. On the web, these Baptist boneheads post gleeful
messages anytime an American soldier gets killed overseas. “You see?” they say. “That’s
God showing how much he hates gays and lesbians.” This has about as much logic as a guy tripping
over a curb and thinking, “Hmm, I know why this happened. Somewhere in the south of France,
a farmer is raising too many geese.” Here’s the truth, Fred Phelps, wherever you
are down there. God does not hate fags. Well, maybe Perez Hilton, but otherwise, no. If
he’s mean to them, it’s because he’s mean to everyone because he’s the Old Testament
fire-and-brimstone rageaholic we all know and love. And as far as God hating lesbians,
well, if man is made God’s image, that means God is a lot like man. And let me tell you:
men love lesbians. Case closed. Do I have a personal vendetta against the
WBC? Well, it’s not enough they hate gays; they hate Jews, too, saying we stole Israel
and killed their favorite Jew — the one on the cross with the big mouth and the death
wish. Westboro put up videos calling us filthy Jews and Christ killers and fag enablers.
All the way back in 1996, Phelps led a protest against the Holocaust Museum in Washington
DC — possibly the only decent institution in Washington DC — writing, and I quote,
“American taxpayers are financing this unholy monument to Jewish mendacity and greed and
to filthy fag lust. Jews, thus perverted, out of all proportion to their numbers energize
the militant sodomite agenda… Jews are the real Nazis.” And that was just his warm-up
joke. But seriously, now that Fred Phelps is becoming
fertilizer instead of spewing it, the question is, how do we react? I ask this because Passover
is coming in a couple of weeks, and during the Seder, we spill ten drops of wine when
talking about the Egyptians, because we’re not supposed to be a hundred percent happy
when our enemy is vanquished. Even though the Egyptians enslaved us, treated us like
cattle, turned us into fifth-class citizens in a country where we’d been welcomed just
a few Pharaohs earlier. Even though we were overjoyed to escape and watch the slave owners
get what was coming to them…still, death of the first born is a heavy price, and they
are God’s creatures, too, so…hold off on the noisemakers a bissel. Fireworks and disco
dancing — no problem, but in moderation. That can be a hard principle to accept, however,
in modern times. On May 8th, 1945, don’t tell me every surviving Jew in the world didn’t
want to drown every last German in the Danube. When bin Laden bought it, I danced a hora
in the living room and flushed a Koran down the toilet. I admit it: I was flooded with
emotion, and then just flooded — it’s a thick book in a very old toilet. But the point is,
I understand the desire to rejoice at the finish of Phelps. He’s not having a funeral,
but if he were, what release and elation to show up where they’re shoving him in the ground
and jeer at his inbred followers. Curse at them, mock them, drown them out with glam
rock, have gays and lesbians kiss and roll around — especially the lesbians…yeah — find
the triggers for these ludicrous people and pull those triggers till they go off. A bigger man than I would say we must take
the high road, lead by example, and don’t sink to the Westboro level by stooping to
their tactics. But that would be a bigger man than I. I’m a small, angry Jew, and I
hate these fucking people. If you find where they’re burying Phelps, or holding one of
their protests, go with a rainbow banner in one hand and a spray can of piss in the other.
But most of all — and I wish I had written this so I could take credit, but blessed be
the man or woman who wrote: “Live your life in such a way that the Wetsboro Baptist Church
will want to picket your funeral.” Isn’t that great? And then, during shiva, bend them all
over and show them exactly what you can do with a yahrtzeit candle. This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from
Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

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