- Smart takes March 18
Most people who favor gay rights are appalled at Fred Phelps, the founding pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church who is infamous for sending congregants to picket the funerals of soldiers armed with signs that read "God Hates Fags." Phelps, a one-time celebrated civil rights lawyer, is on his deathbed, according to an estranged son. When he dies, says Mark Silk at Religion News Service, instead of picketing his funeral "we should give thanks for his gift to American society." Silk, a professor of religion in public life at Trinity College, lays out his counterintutive rationale:
So what's the gift? It's that he made religious hostility to homosexuality repulsive.... The picketing of military funerals, the rejoicing in all domestic tragedies, the celebration of whatever punishment God allegedly metes out to Americans. No one, not even Sean Hannity and the KKK could stomach this stuff. [RNS]
By being so flagrantly awful, Silk concludes, Phelps and his church have probably "increased the sum total of tolerance in America." It's something to think about, anyway.- -
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- 10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2014
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Hey, grammar nerds! Stop freaking out about 'alot.'
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
Subscribe to the Week