Fred Phelps (1929-2014): The Logician Made Flesh

He’s dead, but who was Fred Phelps, really?

He was a logician; a logician made flesh; the reductio ad absurdum of the anti-gay rights movement. God hates fags. It’s right there in the Bible. Thus he believed, thus he preached, and thus he lived. He took opposition to gay rights to its logical conclusion.

So helped Mr. Phelps the gay rights cause. He showed the anti-gay rights movement to be, at base, intellectually and morally bankrupt. People looked at Fred Phelps on the street corner with his religious dadaist signage and concluded, with Shakespeare’s King Lear, “Oh, that way madness lies. Let me shun that” (4:3:23).

The reverend Phelps thus became the face of gay equality opposition, serving the very movement he fought. He was a man who sunk his own ship of fools; a man who scuppered himself.

File:Narrenschiff (1549).jpg


“Ship of Fools” woodcut (from Germany, 1549). Image source: Wikipedia Commons.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to Fred Phelps (1929-2014): The Logician Made Flesh

  1. andrewclunn says:

    He’d been preaching for much longer than the tides turned. It was his rallies at soldier’s funerals that many hated him for. Oddly, his daughter’s defense of the First amendment will perhaps be the most lasting impact of his church.

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