Fred Phelps Sr., the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., is near death.
The church has made a name for itself by staging homophobic demonstrations outside the funerals of U.S. military personnel killed in service to their country. Members staged a demonstration at a serviceman’s funeral in Montrose in 2006.
The church’s message is that these patriots deserved to die because they serve a country that has angered God by being too accommodating to homosexuals.
So, Phelps’ impending death raises the question: Should demonstrators give his family a taste of their own medicine by picketing his funeral?
It’s a tempting option. Phelps is a loathsome individual, but stooping to his level is not the answer. Best he be lowered into the ground and quickly forgotten.
“This is our moment as a community to rise above the sorrow, anger and strife he sowed,” Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, said in a prepared statement, “and to show the world we are caring and compassionate people who respect the privacy and dignity of all.”
Phelps is undeserving of compassion. Showing it to him sends a far more powerful message than dancing on his grave.