I am going to try to make this post evenhanded and thoughtful, though I am sure just by putting these names together I have stirred up feelings from you unintentionally. How dare I take the most hated man in the US and compare him to the most beloved woman in the world? You will understand shortly.
As I am sure you are aware, Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, died just a few weeks ago. Because he was such a high profile character, news organizations reluctantly eulogized him. In the process I learned something amazing, he was a good man.
Now hold onto your hate for one second, let me explain. Before “god hates fags”, Phelps worked as a civil rights lawyer in Kansas. In 1964 he graduated from law school and began taking on the Jim Crow laws plaguing his state. In 1980, he was even honored by the NAACP for his work.
Does this sound like the same man who protested military funerals?
In the 1980′s, his then 5 year old son was propositioned by a pedophile in a local park by their home. The park was a known hangout for gay men and the Phelps family began trying to get local authorities to clear it out. This was the beginning of his turn.
Mother teresa, who received the Nobel peace prize for her work with the poor in India, died in 1997. Just being a high profile woman in the Catholic Church she should be remembered. She worked most of her life with the impoverished of Calcutta, India.
Now, you ask, what can I say to make you question your absolute belief in her sainthood? Well, the first is a pretty obvious one: she was a staunch catholic. Not that that is inherently bad, but it does mean she was against abortion. In her own words, she said “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is ‘Abortion’, because it is a war against the child…” She was also against contraception, even though her order is heavily involved in working with AIDS patients.
Her religious devotion was her strength and weakness. The Catholic Church has a historical problem with money. Mother Teresa raised quite a bit for her order and the church. She did not use it to improve the facilities where she served the public. Part of this was because she saw suffering as a gift.
I don’t mean to come off anti religion. Both of these figures felt the bible and Christianity guided their lives. This served them both positively and negatively. I just wanted to point out that even the worst of us is not all bad and the best of is not all good.
Have I given you something to think about? I hope so.