The death of Fred Phelps

Pastor Fred W. Phelps Sr., of Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church, protested against all manner of behavior that he and his tiny congregation believed was sinful. I presided over two suits involving the Church. Most notably, I declared Nebraska’s flag desecration statute unconstitutional as applied to Margy Megan M. Phelps-Roper and members of the Westboro Baptist Church. See here.

Fred Phelps, the founder of the church, died Wednesday night. The Topeka Capital-Journal has printed a fascinating article about Phelps. See Phelps’ life turned from brilliance to hatred, Phelps was disbarred, reviled internationally by the time of his death (March 20, 2014).

How an eagle scout, who turned down an appointment to West Point, and who became a brilliant lawyer and fundamentalist pastor, came to be one of the most reviled human beings on the planet presents an absorbing story. Especially for the lawyers and judges in the crowd, that story is worth reading and thinking about.


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