Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, and the Blasphemy Challenge

Don’t know if y’all have heard this, but Fred Phelps, the seriously insane right-wing hate-mongering funeral-picketing homophobic fundie nutjob, has announced plans to protest at Jerry Falwell’s funeral.

Believe it or not, that’s not the weird part.

Here’s what jumped out at me. Phelps’s reasons for hating Falwell and believing that he’s burning in hell are basically that Falwell disagreed with Phelps about the correct interpretation of the Bible. And one of the main pieces of Scripture he’s using to support his “Falwell’s in hell” thesis is the one about committing the one unpardonable sin and denying the Holy Spirit.

Exactly the piece of Scripture that the Blasphemy Challenge people are going on about.

The piece of Scripture that many Blasphemy Challenge critics claim is irrelevant.

Apparently, the whole “one unforgivable sin”/ “denying the Holy Spirit”/ blasphemy thing isn’t as irrelevant as some people think. I’m sure it doesn’t get much play in more reasonable, loving, tolerant churches and Christian families. But Ingrid’s dad grew up in a hard-core fundie household… and when we mentioned the Blasphemy Challenge to him, he knew exactly which passage we were talking about.

Now, I get that Phelps is the fringe of the fringe. He is almost certainly mentally ill, and I mean that quite literally. Even other hateful homophobic right-wing fundie nutjobs think this guy is a nutjob. This is the guy who went from picketing at funerals of gay people to picketing at the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq, on the theory that the war in Iraq is God’s punishment of America for tolerating gays and other evil people. His theory that disagreeing with his own interpretation of the Bible constitutes a denial of the Holy Spirit is hubristic to the point of delusional. He gets in the news a lot, but he doesn’t represent mainstream religion, or even a reasonably sizable rivulet off the mainstream, or indeed anything other than a handful of equally insane followers.

I’m just sayin’, is all.

Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, and the Blasphemy Challenge

8 thoughts on “Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, and the Blasphemy Challenge

  1. 1

    Fred Phelps protesting at Falwell’s funeral is really all the evidence I need about about the existence of a just and loving God.
    (said only somewhat snarkily… 🙂 )

  2. 3

    “You don’t regularly check visit Phelp’s site do you? I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. He deserves obscurity.”
    I don’t. That’s sweet of you to be concerned; but no. I just checked it recently when I was writing my thing on hate crimes, saw the thing about him picketing Falwell’s funeral, and had to say something. Especially because of the blasphemy thing. That was just too funny,

  3. 4

    I get that Phelps is a nutjob, what I don’t understand is that he has followers. Not a lot, but enough to form a small crowd and go around the country bothering those who are grieving. Maybe I’m too skeptical (not really a problem in my book) but I just don’t understand what these sort of mindless followers of people like Phelps or Larouche or whoever think they are doing. What do they get out of it? I always hear the “they become a part of a community” bit, but with most these fringe groups they aren’t in a very large group. If they are just doing it for friends why aren’t they part of a larger group where they would have a bigger feeling of community? Is loneliness alone enough to make you travel hundreds of miles to scream at grieving families?

  4. 5

    Some people get some sort of thrill or pleasure from making other people feel miserable, harassed, and under attack. I’ve even met a couple who — at least superficially — position themselves on the left.
    I have no idea what the psychosis is, but it’s twisted as fuck. And not in the good way.

  5. 6

    What Rebecca said. And I think there’s something else going on as well. Some people like to be in a group, but also like to feel like they’re oppressed maverick outsiders who nobody understands. And the latter can actually make the former feel tighter and more cohesive. I’m sure being in Phelps’s group gives them both, in trumps.
    Then there’s the self-righteous thrill of hating people. When you can really, really hate someone and blame all your problems and all the world’s problems on them, you get to feel smug and superior, AND you don’t have to take responsibility for the things that are fucked up in your life.
    And as Ingrid and I keep realizing more and more every day: Mental illness really is epidemic in this country.

  6. 7

    I was thinking that too, Greta, but I couldn’t find a nice, concise way to put it. Well said.
    And I bet Ingrid knows exactly who I’m talking about on the left 😛

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