Fred Phelps Renews Push for "Matthew Shepard in Hell" Monument
On Monday morning, Casper, Wyoming dedicated a "historic plaza" containing monuments "honoring the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, the Mayflower Compact, the Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta, the 13th-century law edict that restricted the powers of England's monarchs."
It also contains a monument to the Ten Commandments, which was put into storage in 2003 after the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened a lawsuit over a religious monument on public property.
The Jackson Hole Star Tribune reports: "Adding to the controversy, the Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., offered to place a monument anywhere on city property declaring that slain gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard is in hell. The council rejected Phelps' offer and looked at the historic plaza idea after Grand Junction, Colo., won a lawsuit against the American Civil Liberties Union. That ruling found that a Ten Commandments monument could be allowed if it were displayed in a context that played up its historical merit, instead of its religious attributes, so that a reasonable person would not think the government was endorsing a particular religion."
Now, after four years, the "historic plaza" idea has come to fruition: "A marker at the entrance to the plaza refers to all six monuments as essential elements in the foundation of law in this country. 'All great ideas evolve, and these principles are no exception,' the marker states. Most of the documents refer to God, but only the Ten Commandments are considered to be the word of God. A marker next to the Decalogue refers to them as a 'starting point of law.'"
But, like a bad stench, Phelps just doesn't go away.
According to the Casper Star Tribune, he's back pushing for the Matthew Shepard monument again: "Phelps said he would be willing to make his monument resemble the six others and would include a picture of Shepard and the engraving: "MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, at age 21, in Defiance of God's Warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22." Mayor Kate Sarosy said she had not received Phelps' letter Monday evening and said she would speak with the city attorney and the other council members. 'Mr. Phelps' message is full of hate and not in the spirit of the monument plaza,' Sarosy said."