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While reading reports about today's death of Fred Phelps, I happened on a story that ran in either Monday or Tuesday's Topeka Capital-Journal that seems to reveal why he was unceremoniously excommunicated from the church he founded.  Seems that Phelps wanted a slightly less authoritarian environment at Westboro Baptist Church.

The excommunication occurred after the formation of a board of male elders in the church. The board had defeated Shirley Phelps-Roper, the church’s longtime spokeswoman, in a power struggle, and Fred Phelps Sr. called for kinder treatment of fellow church members.

The board then ejected Fred Phelps Sr., who founded the church in the 1950s.

The board comprises seven longtime male members of Westboro.  One of them, Steve Drain, has taken over Roper's role as the mouthpiece of the church.  Fred Sr.'s son, Nate, who broke the story that his father was on his deathbed, said that in recent years, his sister had clearly fallen from her pedestal.  Nate also reveals that many members live in active fear of being tagged as "contrary" to the party line.

Looking at this story made me think, "What a hypocritical jerk."  If there is ever a cause for an exception to the rule against speaking ill of the dead, it is when a person finds it even remotely acceptable to picket the funerals of little kids.  Granted, the fact that Phelps and his gang think they can use people's grief as a venue for protest is galling in and of itself.  But it takes a particular sort of depravity to picket the funeral of a child.  

I wonder where Phelps' desire for kinder treatment of others was when he considered picketing the funeral of Christina Taylor-Green, the nine-year-old girl killed in the Tucson shooting.  Or when his people made noises about picketing the funerals of some Sandy Hook victims.  Anyone who even thinks this is OK deserves everything he gets.

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