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Maricopa mayor's Fred Phelps Onion obit mea culpa

The vice mayor of the small Arizona town of Maricopa says he was confused when he praised The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., the late leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. Ed Farrell explained his controversial Facebook post to the Maricopa Monitor newspaper. Phelps died last week at age 84. He drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything on America’s tolerance for gay people. Farrell praised Phelps in a social post Monday, saying “We need more Fred Phelps in this world. May you rest in peace sir.”

But Farrell says he initially thought Phelps was just a Kansas-based minister and really had no clue about him. Farrell also says he didn’t realize the obituary he posted on was a fake article and he shamed himself. The obit was from the satircal site The Onion, and headlined “Fred Phelps, Man Who Forever Stopped March Of Gay Rights, Dead At 84″. In it, Phelps is lauded as a destroyer of gay rights:According to biographers and historians, many of the facets of modern-day society that we now take for granted—such as the ban on gay marriage in all 50 states and the inability of homosexuals to serve in the military—can be traced back to Phelps’ vocal public crusades against the unholy practice of homosexuality, which he began in 1991 and which quickly succeeded in bringing efforts to expand LGBT rights to a spectacular and abrupt halt.

Numerous commenters on Farrel’s Facebook page quickly pointed out the nature of The Onion and asked if he was kidding, to which he responded:“No, I’m not kidding! This world needs to get back to the biblical standards that our God made for us. This guy was not afraid to preach it, and I respect that.”

After Farrel found out Phelps’ bile extended to U.S. servicemen and their funeral, he backtracked a bit. But he remained steadfast in his criticism of the pursuit for equality for the LGBTQ community:“I am just having a hard time with all of this (sic) gay and lesbian rights thing. It has never been an issue until these kind of people made it an issue.”

Farrrel went on to continue the discussion on his page – not available to the public – essentially defending his stance and respects for Phelps. But he changed his opinion abruptly when the Maricopa Monitor called asking for clarifitcation. Farrel claimed he did know who Phelps was previously and thought he was just praising a priest – albeit one who spewed hate cpeach toward the gay community and made name for himself and his church trafficling in throwing bile onto anyone he found to be objectionable, something Farrel did not immediately acknowledge.“I had no clue about this guy; he’s an idiot,” he told the Monitor. “I can’t believe that I posted what I posted…shame on me.”

But . . . “If you read the article, it mentions nothing about him being anti military, which by the way, I support our troops 100 % and thank God every morning for the ones that put their lives and their families on the line for America. All the article mentions is how this guy fought against Gay rights on a biblical platform that God set before us.”

The, Farrel went on to recount a recent incident of having his nude picture taken in a Washington, D.C., health club shower as the main reason behind his Facebook ranting and said he has “many, many” gay friends. So, there’s that. (h/t Wonkette)Associated Press contibuted to this report