An elected official in Arizona is walking back his praise for the late Rev. Fred Phelps in a Facebook post.
Edward Farrell, vice mayor of Maricopa, posted a satirical obituary Monday morning of Phelps, who founded the virulently anti-LGBT Westboro Baptist Church, published by the fake news site The Onion, along with a comment of his own.
“We need more Fred Phelps in this world. May you rest in peace sir,” Farrell wrote, in response to the piece that satirically credited the pastor as the “man who forever stopped (the) march of gay rights.”
Phelps, who died March 19 at age 84, led the Kansas-based cult that picketed funerals with placards claiming “God hates f*gs” and blamed nearly everything on America’s tolerance of LGBT people.
Another Facebook user almost immediately asked Farrell if his comment was a joke.
“No, I’m not kidding!” Farrell replied, according to the Maricopa Monitor. “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.”
The vice mayor told the Facebook friend that he was “just having a hard time with all of this (sic) gay and lesbian rights thing,” and blamed LGBT people for his own homophobia.
“It has never been an issue until these kind of people made it an issue,” he said.
Farrell then claimed a male employee of a Washington, D.C., hotel had taken pictures of him recently in a health club shower.
“What in the heck makes these people think that they are so entitled?” Farrell said. “Yes, he was fired immediately! I don’t get it? It’s sick!”
Other Facebook users chided Farrell for praising Phelps and pointed out the Onion article was satirical.
Farrell, who was appointed Maricopa’s first mayor in 2003 and has served ever since on City Council, claimed he hadn’t realized the obituary was satirical and was previously unfamiliar with Phelps.
“Just got on a soap box for awhile,” he wrote. “I’m off of it now. Still very affected by what happened to me in dc.”
Watch the vice mayor discuss a past drunken driving arrest with high school students posted online by InMaricopa: