Westboro Baptist Church – Wikipedia

american hyper-Calvinist hate group

Westboro Baptist Church
Westboro-church1.jpg The headquarters of the Westboro Baptist Church with the sign “ godhatesamerica.com ”. The graffito on the sign of the zodiac reads “ God Hates The Phelps ”.

Theology Hyper-Calvinism
Headquarters Topeka, Kansas
Founder Fred Phelps
Members 70
Official website godhatesfags.com
Logo Repent or Perish.png

Westboro Baptist Church ( WBC ) is an american hyper-Calvinist hate group. [ niobium 1 ] It is known for engaging in incendiary homophobic and anti-american pickets, ampere well as hate lecture against atheists, Jews, Muslims, transgender people, and numerous christian denominations. [ nota bene 2 ] It is a baptist church service that is not affiliated to any Baptist denomination and has been denounced by the Baptist World Alliance, the Southern Baptist Convention, and other mainstream Christian denominations. WBC has been involved in actions against gay people since 1989, late seeking a crackdown on homosexual activeness at Gage Park near its headquarters. In addition to conducting anti-gay protests at military funerals, the administration pickets fame funerals and public events. Protests have besides been held against Jews, Mormons, and Catholics. many protests have included WBC members defacing the american masthead, flying the masthead top down on a flagpole, and holding protest signs with inflammatory statements ; the most celebrated of which being “ God hates fags “ and “ Thank God for dead soldiers ”. WBC is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2016, Forbes stated WBC had about 70 members. It is headquartered in the west side of Topeka, Kansas. The group was once headed by Fred Phelps, although its representatives said there had been no specify drawing card for some time before his death in March 2014. The group consists chiefly of members of Phelps ‘s extend kin ; however, family members have left the group in protest at its hostile actions and attitudes. several former members have accused the group of brainwashing .


Topeka Capital, 1955 ad for opening service of Westboro Baptist Church, , 1955 Westboro Baptist Church originated as a outgrowth of the East Side Baptist Church, [ 2 ] established in 1931 on the east side of Topeka. [ 3 ] In 1954, East Side hired Fred Phelps as an associate curate, and then promoted him to pastor of its fresh plant, Westboro Baptist, which opened in 1955 on the west side of Topeka. [ 2 ] Its beginning public service was held on the afternoon of November 27, 1955. After Westboro was established, Phelps broke ties with East Side to become independent of any Baptist denomination. [ 2 ] Phelps would go on to become a seasoned of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. [ 5 ] He founded the Phelps Chartered jurisprudence firm in 1964, which has since been used to sue communities that are targets of Westboro ‘s protests. [ 6 ]
Fred Phelps, who founded the church and was its leader for many years. Westboro Baptist first began protesting homosexuality in 1989 after the discovery of what they referred to as a “ teashop ”, meaning a public washbasin used for homosexual interactions. [ 7 ] The group later began picketing Gage Park six blocks northwest of its headquarters in Topeka in 1991, saying it was a den of anonymous homosexual bodily process. [ 8 ] Soon, its protests had spread throughout the city, and within three years WBC was traveling across the nation. [ 9 ] Phelps explained in 1994 that he considered the negative reaction to the picket to be proof of his righteousness. [ 10 ] On August 20, 1995, a pipe turkey exploded outside the home of Shirley Phelps-Roper, the daughter of Fred Phelps. The blast damaged an SUV, a fence, and separate of the house, but no matchless was injured. In 1996, two men were arrested for the fail, and both admitted to causing the smash. They had believed Phelps-Roper ‘s house was that of the curate, and wanted to retaliate against Westboro ‘s anti-gay protests at Washburn University. One of the bombers was fined $ 1,751 and was sentenced to 16 days in prison plus 100 hours of community service. [ 11 ] Fred Phelps died of natural causes on March 19, 2014. [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ] His daughter Shirley said a funeral would not be held because Westboro does not “ worship the dead ”. [ 14 ] He had previously been voted out of his leadership situation and, according to representatives, the arrangement had no defined drawing card in the clock time leading up to his death. [ 15 ]

Positions and views


WBC is known for its anti-homosexual palaver. [ 16 ] [ 17 ] The Anti-Defamation League ( ADL ) describes the group as “ virulently homophobic ”, saying its anti-homosexual rhetoric is much a screen for anti-semitism, anti-Americanism, racism and hatred of other christian groups. [ 18 ] The Southern Poverty Law Center ( SPLC ) has added WBC to a list of hate groups for its homophobia. [ 19 ] [ 20 ] The group has besides expressed transphobic messages in its protests. [ 21 ] Its homophobic mentality has led its members to protest LGBT pride events and funerals of those who died due to HIV/AIDS, arsenic well as incrimination homosexuals for tragedies such as the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. [ 7 ]


Whatever righteous causal agent the jewish victims of the 1930s–40s Nazi Holocaust had ( credibly small letter, compared to the jewish Holocausts against Middle Passage Blacks, African Americans and Christians – including the bally persecution of Westboro Baptist Church by Topeka Jews in the 1990s ), has been drowned in sodomite semen. american taxpayers are financing this sinful memorial to Jewish mendacity and greed and to filthy cigarette lecherousness. Homosexuals and Jews dominated Nazi Germany … The Jews now wander the land despised, smitten with moral and spiritual blindness by a divine discriminative stroke … And God has smitten Jews with a certain unique madness … Jews, therefore perverted, out of all proportion to their numbers energize the competitive sodomite agenda … Jews are the substantial Nazis .Fred Phelps on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum[22]

In 1996, Phelps began a campaign called “ Topeka ‘s Baptist Holocaust ”, whereby he attempted to draw attention to attacks perpetrated against WBC picketers, saying they were not random but form attacks orchestrated by Jews and homosexuals. Phelps announced, “ Jews killed Christ ”, and “ Fag Jew Nazis are worse than ordinary Nazis. They ‘ve had more experience. The foremost Holocaust was a jewish Holocaust against Christians. The latest holocaust is by Topeka Jews against Westboro Baptist Church. ” [ 22 ] In another statement, he said “ Topeka Jews today stir up Kansas tyrants in persecuting Westboro Baptists. They whine about the Nazi Holocaust, while they perpetrate the Topeka Holocaust. ” [ 22 ] A March 25, 2006, flier regarding a jewish adversary of Phelps uses the give voice “ bloody Jew ” four times and the phrase “ evil Jew ” more than once every 12 sentences. The Anti-Defamation League has criticized WBC and Phelps, [ 23 ] and keeps a sampling of WBC ‘s fliers regarding judaism on their web site. [ 24 ] In an interview, Margie Phelps said WBC targeted the american Jewish residential district because members had “ testified ” to gentiles for 19 years that “ America is doomed ” and that “ now it ‘s besides belated. We ‘re done with them. ” She besides claimed Jews were “ one of the loudest voices ” in favor of homosexuality and miscarriage, and that “ [ Jews ] claim to be God ‘s chosen people. Do you think that God is going to wink at that everlastingly ? ” Phelps concluded by stating, in an apparent reference book to the Book of Revelation, that all the nations of the world would soon march on Israel, and that they would be led by President Barack Obama, whom she called the “ Antichrist “. [ 25 ]


Jael Phelps said in a 2011 interview that she and the other members of WBC tauntingly and publicly burned a copy of the Quran while being scolded by a Muslim man, calling it an “ idolatrous firearm of pan ” and that they were giving it the “ proper respect that it deserves ” by doing so. They picketed the funeral of the Muslim serviceman ‘s wife the follow week. Jael Phelps said the wife ‘s death was partially due to her Muslim conserve having spoken out against WBC, and therefore rule out God and bringing his “ righteous judgment ” down upon him. She besides commented that “ all those angry little Muslims can precisely shut their mouths. ” [ 26 ]

Barack Obama conspiracy theories

Margie Phelps, daughter of Fred Phelps and lawyer for WBC, said in an interview with Fox News that Barack Obama would “ absolutely ” be going to Hell and that he was “ most probably the Beast talk of in the Revelation. ” She besides said Obama ‘s presidency was a sign of the Apocalypse. [ 27 ] On January 20, 2013, picketers of the Westboro Baptist Church protested Obama ‘s irregular inauguration. The protesters had a legal let and used signs with homophobic messages deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as referring to Obama as the Antichrist. [ 28 ]

structure and picket

WBC consists primarily of members of Fred Phelps ‘s extend family. [ 29 ] According to Forbes, it has approximately 70 members as of 2016, having previously had 80 members in 2011. [ 30 ] [ 7 ] Rebecca Barrett-Fox, a professor at Arkansas State University, who completed a dissertation on Westboro Baptist, has labelled it as “ hyper-Calvinist “. [ 31 ] Members attend a weekly service and believe in a theology of predestination which includes believing all disasters and catastrophes come from the hand of God. [ 7 ] Members follow the organization ‘s ‘literal ‘ rendition of the Bible which informs their attitudes towards homosexuality and towards Judaism. [ 32 ] The religious justification for active agent political hate address has led to much controversy. [ 33 ] WBC ‘s travel expenses have exceeded a much as $ 200,000 annually. [ 34 ] One of Westboro ‘s followers estimated the administration spends $ 250,000 a year on picket. [ 35 ] According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, it is funded entirely from within the arrangement and accepts no outside donations. [ 36 ] WBC has received money from lawsuits and legal fees, through the closely refer Phelps Chartered law firm, when its protests have been unlawfully disrupted. [ 36 ] [ 37 ] [ 38 ] For exemplar, the tauten sued the city of Topeka several times in the 1990s, [ 36 ] and received $ 16,500 in legal fees for a court case won against a Marine ‘s bereaved father. [ 37 ] Because the firm represents WBC in its lawsuits, it can use money from cases it wins to further fund the organization under the Civil Rights Attorney ‘s Fees Award Act of 1976. [ 36 ] [ 39 ] WBC is considered a nonprofit organization constitution by the federal government, and is consequently exempt from paying taxes. [ 40 ] All five of Phelps Chartered ‘s lawyers are Phelps ‘s children, and eleven of his thirteen children are lawyers. [ 41 ] Members of the Phelps class are expected to give ten percentage of their earnings to WBC. [ 42 ] WBC carries out day by day picket in Topeka and travels nationally to picket the funerals of gay victims of murder or gay-bashing, adenine well as those of people who have died from complications related to AIDS. It besides pickets other events related or peripherally related to homosexuality ; Kansas City Chiefs football games, and live crop up concerts. At its bill, the group was able to picket roughly 15 churches a sidereal day, including many in Topeka and some events far afield. [ 43 ] The group has protested a number of high-profile events such as the funerals of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shoot and the West Nickel Mines School shooting. ampere well as protesting these high-profile events, WBC protests many local low-profile events. While the messages are widely condemned, it always ensures its protests are legal in nature. Through keeping the protests non-violent and acquiring the proper permits, WBC avoids legal fuss. however, it is the protest of military funerals that led to the organization receiving much attention. [ 44 ] Its public acts have cast a political foreground on the group that has given it huge attention for its small size. [ 7 ] On two occasions, WBC accepted offers for radio receiver air time in substitute for canceling an announce protest. [ 45 ] [ 46 ] WBC besides releases parody songs. According to Steve Drain ( WBC ‘s public information military officer ) in an interview with Vice News, “ When we make our option of songs, that actually revolves around by and large popularity. It ‘s largely mainstream stuff, the whole idea of our doing parodies is to preach. ” [ 47 ]

legal responses

Laws limiting funeral protests

In reply to the protests conducted by Westboro members at Indiana funerals, a bill was introduced in the Indiana General Assembly that would make it a felony to protest within 500 feet ( 150 molarity ) of a funeral. The bill provides penalties of up to three years in prison and a $ 10,000 very well for those found to be in violation of the law. concisely before this bill was signed members of the church had threatened to protest in Kokomo, Indiana, at a funeral serve that was being held for a soldier who was killed in Iraq. On January 11, 2006, the bill unanimously ( 11–0 ) passed a committee vote, [ 48 ] and while members of the church had traveled to Kokomo to protest, they were not seen during or after the funeral service. On May 23, 2006, the state of Michigan banned any designed dislocation of funerals within 500 feet ( 150 meter ) of the ceremony. Violating the codified would be a felony, penal by up to two years in prison and a $ 5,000 fine for the first offense and up to four years in prison and a $ 10,000 ticket for a subsequent crime. [ 49 ] On May 17, 2006, the country of Illinois enacted Senate Bill 1144, the “ Let Them Rest In Peace Act ”, to shield grieving military families from protests during funerals and memorial services of fall military service members. A first-time violation of the Act is a class C misdemeanor, penal by up to 30 days in imprison and a $ 1,500 fine, and a second or subsequent offense is a classify 4 felony punishable by one to three years in state prison and a finely of up to $ 25,000. [ 50 ] On March 29, 2006, the Respect for America ‘s Fallen Heroes Act was introduced by Mike Rogers, a republican member of the House. The bipartisan bill received a 408-3 vote in the House, after 21 representatives chose not to vote. The united states senate unanimously voted in approval of the law. On May 29, 2006, President George W. Bush with capital symbolic significance, signed the poster into law at a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. [ 7 ] [ 51 ] The charge prohibits protests within 300 feet ( 100 molarity ) of the entrance of any cemetery under control of the National Cemetery Administration from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral. Failing to adhere to this law can lead to a hearty ticket of up to $ 100,000 or improving to a year in prison. [ 51 ] The group responded to the newly law with a series of tweets condemning the restrictions. [ 52 ] On January 11, 2011, the department of state of Arizona held an emergency legislative session to pass a bill barring protests within 300 feet ( 100 meter ) of a funeral and within an hour from its begin or conclusion. The bill was swiftly signed into police ahead of the January 12 funeral of those killed in the 2011 Tucson shooting. [ 53 ] [ 54 ] On August 2, 2012, Congress passed a bill that included restrictions on demonstrators at military funerals, which became law four days late when signed by President Obama, who condemned WBC. [ 55 ] The poster says that for 2 hours before until 2 hours after the funeral service demonstrators must stay at least 300 feet ( 100 m ) aside from the limit of the funeral placement and away from the residency of grieving class members. [ 56 ]

Supreme Court encase

On March 10, 2006, WBC picketed the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder in Westminister, Maryland. [ 57 ] [ 58 ] [ 59 ] A cordoned off picket was held approximately 1,000 feet ( 300 thousand ) from the church for about 30 minutes before the funeral began. [ 60 ] Snyder ‘s father, Albert, sued for aspersion, invasion of privacy, and designed imposition of emotional distress. [ 61 ] [ 62 ] [ 63 ] The lawsuit alleged Fred Phelps, Rebekah Phelps-Davis, and Shirley Phelps-Roper were creditworthy for publishing calumniatory statements about the Snyder family on the internet, including that Albert and his wife had “ raised [ Matthew ] for the satan ” and taught him “ to defy his Creator, to divorce, and to commit adultery ”. other statements denounced them for raising their son Catholic. Snyder further alleged the defendants had intruded upon and staged protests at his son ‘s funeral. The aspersion count was dismissed on First Amendment grounds, but the character proceeded to trial on the remaining two counts. [ 64 ] [ 65 ] District Judge Richard D. Bennett instructed the jury to decide “ whether the defendant ‘s actions would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, whether they were extreme and exorbitant and whether these actions were therefore unsavory and shocking as to not be entitled to First Amendment protection ”. [ 66 ] On October 31, 2007, Phelps, Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebecca Phelps-Davis were found apt for invasion of privacy and designed imposition of emotional distress. The jury awarded Snyder a total of $ 10,900,000 ; $ 2.9 million in compensatory damages, $ 6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $ 2 million for causing aroused distress. [ 67 ] [ 68 ] [ 69 ] The group unsuccessfully sought a mistrial based on alleged prejudicial statements made by the estimate and violations of the gag decree by the plaintiff ‘s lawyer. [ 70 ] On February 4, 2008, Bennett upheld the rule but reduced the punitive damages to $ 2.1 million. [ 71 ] Liens were ordered on WBC buildings and Phelps ‘s law office in an undertake to ensure the damages would be paid. [ 72 ] On September 24, 2009, a federal appeals court reversed the lower court ‘s award. It found the picket near the funeral was protected manner of speaking because it involved “ matters of public concern, including the issues of homosexuals in the military, the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, and the political and moral impart of the United States and its citizens ”, and did not violate the privacy of the service extremity ‘s family. [ 73 ] On March 30, 2010, the appeals court ordered Snyder to pay WBC ‘s court costs of over $ 16,000, a affect Snyder ‘s attorneys referred to as “ adding abuse to injury ”. [ 74 ] On March 8, 2010, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Snyder v. Phelps. [ 75 ] On May 28, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and 42 early Senators filed an amicus brief in digest of Snyder. On June 1, Kansas Attorney General Stephen Six filed a break abbreviated supporting Snyder which was joined by the Attorneys General of 47 other states and the District of Columbia. [ 76 ] [ 77 ] Several news and civil rights organizations filed amicus briefs in documentation of Phelps. [ 78 ] [ 79 ] The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phelps on March 2, 2011. headman Justice John Roberts wrote of the 8–1 decisiveness : “ What Westboro said, in the solid context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to ‘special security ‘ under the First Amendment and that protection can not be overcome by a jury finding that the picket was hideous. ” [ 80 ] Justice Samuel Alito, the lone dissenter, said Snyder wanted only to “ bury his son in peace ” and “ Our profound national commitment to barren and open debate is not a license for the condemnable verbal rape that occurred in this case ”. [ 81 ]

other legal responses

One local lawyer, Pedro Irigonegaray, came up with a novel way to battle the Phelpses. When Phelps Chartered, alleging ’emotional wrong, ‘ sued person who had filed a criminal complaint against a leukocyte penis, Irigonegaray ‘s team requested court approval to have a psychiatrist measure Phelps family members to determine the allege damage. The Phelps firm settled without delay .Southern Poverty Law Center[82]

In 1995, Phelps Sr. ‘s eldest grandson, Benjamin Phelps, was convicted of assault and disorderly conduct after spitting upon the face of a passerby during a picket. [ 83 ] In the 1990s, WBC won a series of lawsuits against the City of Topeka and Shawnee County for efforts taken to prevent or hinder WBC picket, and was awarded approximately $ 200,000 in lawyer ‘s fees and costs associated with the litigation. In 2004, Phelps Sr. ‘s daughter Margie Phelps and Margie ‘s son Jacob were arrested for trespassing, chaotic conduct and failure to obey after disregarding a patrol officer ‘s order during an try protest. [ 84 ] In June 2007 Shirley Phelps-Roper was arrested in Nebraska and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The apprehension resulted from her allowing her ten-year-old son to step on a U.S. flag during the demonstration, which is illegal under Nebraska law. The defense contended that the child ‘s actions were protected actor’s line, and that the state law is unconstitutional. The pursuance claimed the demonstration was not intended as political lecture, but as an incitement to ferocity, and that Phelps-Roper ‘s conduct might besides constitute child pervert. Prosecutors late dropped charges against Phelps-Roper. [ 85 ]

On July 14, 2006, Mundy Township, Michigan billed WBC for $ 5,000, after it had informed the township authorities on June 28 that a protest was planned at the Swartz Funeral Home. The circular to WBC result, according to the local anesthetic police chief, because the administration failed to keep a verbal sign for security. Fred Phelps ‘s daughter claimed that the Holy Ghost had informed them not to fly to Michigan even though they had already purchased airline tickets. security at the Webb funeral was high ; 15 fire trucks were involved, angstrom well as numerous police officers from nearby jurisdictions. [ 86 ] The township has immediately stated that it will not pursue the matter .

entry bans

In August 2008, canadian officials learned of WBC ‘s purpose to stage a protest at the funeral of Tim McLean, a Winnipeg house physician who was killed on a bus. The protests intended to convey the message that the man ‘s mangle was God ‘s response to Canadian laws permitting miscarriage, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage. In response, canadian officials barred the organization ‘s members from entering the state. [ 87 ] In February 2009, british news program sources discovered WBC had announced, via its web site, its purpose to picket a youth production of The Laramie Project to be held at Central Studio, Queen Mary ‘s College in the township of Basingstoke, Hampshire, on February 20, 2009. [ 88 ] This would have been its first picket in the United Kingdom. [ 89 ] In the lead-up to the picket, Members of Parliament, LGBT groups, and lobbyists appealed to British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, requesting WBC be blocked from entering the UK, on the basis of it inciting hatred towards LGBT people. [ 90 ] [ 91 ] On February 18, 2009, two days before the intended picket go steady, the Home Office announced Fred Phelps and Shirley Phelps-Roper would be specifically excluded from entering the UK for having “ engaged in unacceptable behavior by inciting hatred against a number of communities ”, and besides other members “ could besides be flagged and stopped if they tried to enter Britain ”. [ 92 ] [ 93 ]


Counter-protester stand in front of WBC at Brown University in May 2009. A motto normally invoked at the counter-protests is “ God hates figs ”. [ 94 ] Parodying WBC all-capitals “ God hates fags ” signs, the counter-protest signs much invoke a passage in the Biblical book of Matthew to justify the claim about God and his feelings about figs. The signs have been noted at counter-protests at the University of Chicago ; [ 95 ] in Spartanburg, South Carolina ; [ 96 ] and in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, [ 97 ] american samoa well as at the non-WBC-themed Rally to Restore Sanity. [ 98 ] The use of these satirical signs has been praised by the ACLU [ 99 ] and others. [ 98 ] Documentation given out at versatile counter-protests reference biblical verses [ 100 ] in which Jesus says that none should eat the fruit of a libyan islamic fighting group tree, [ Mark 11:12–14 ] in which Jesus causes a fig tree to wither, [ Matthew 21:18–20 ] and in which God promises as a punishment to make person like bad figs. [ Jeremiah 29:17 ] early sites and organizations have parodied the slogans of WBC, including God Hates Fred Phelps, [ 101 ] God Hates Bags, [ 102 ] and God Hates Shrimp. [ 103 ] The Cooper family in Kevin Smith ‘s 2011 movie Red State was reportedly inspired by WBC. [ 104 ]


criticism from Christians and Christian organizations

baptist churches, Baptist-affiliated seminaries, and Baptist conventions, including the Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention ( two of the largest Baptist groups ), have denounced WBC over the years. [ 105 ] In summation, other mainstream Christian denominations have condemned the actions of WBC. [ 106 ] Katherine Weber of The Christian Post states that “ Westboro is considered an extremist group by most mainstream christian churches and laic groups, and is good known for its aggressive protest style. ” [ 107 ] An alliance of six british religious groups ( the Methodist Church of Great Britain, Baptist Union of Great Britain, United Reformed Church, Evangelical Alliance UK, Faithworks, and Bible Society -funded thinktank Theos ) made a joint instruction on February 19, 2009, in support of the government ‘s submission ban for members of WBC. They condemned the activities of WBC, state :

We do not partake their hate of lesbian and cheery people. We believe that God loves all, regardless of sexual orientation, and we unreservedly stand against their message of hate toward those communities. Neither the style nor means of their sermon expresses the historic, orthodox Christian faith. And we ask that the members of Westboro Baptist Church refrain from stirring up any more homophobic hatred in the UK or elsewhere. [ 106 ] [ 108 ] [ 109 ]

Evangelist curate Jerry Falwell Sr. referred to Fred Phelps as “ a excellent crackpot ”. [ 110 ] WBC picketed Falwell ‘s funeral avail on May 22, 2007. [ 111 ] In 2013, Christian rock set Five Iron Frenzy recorded a song titled “ God Hates Flags ” condemning the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church and exchangeable organizations, including such lyrics as “ If God is love you got it wrong waving all your placards and flags ”. [ 112 ]

other criticisms

A act of Phelps ‘s critics have suggested that the actions of WBC are merely a ploy to receive attention and promotion above all else, though the Phelpses themselves deny this claim. Counter-protesting against the group, they suggest, gives them attention and bonus that they do not deserve ; and a more effective reception against Phelps would be to ignore his kin and congregation completely. [ 113 ] [ 114 ] [ 115 ] A patronize critic of WBC is political observer Bill O’Reilly, who regularly calls WBC “ evil and despicable ”. [ 116 ] During Snyder v. Phelps, O’Reilly offered to pay the stallion amount of Albert Snyder ‘s legal costs. [ 117 ] [ 118 ] Documentary film maker Michael Moore has besides criticized WBC. [ 119 ] In reception to WBC ‘s announcement that they would picket the vigil for victims of the December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School shoot, several petitions to the White House ( using the We the People arrangement ) were submitted, calling on the President to legally recognize WBC as a hate group, revoke its tax exemption for religious organizations, and to ban protests at funerals and memorial services. [ 120 ] One petition, backed by the hacktivist group Anonymous, was submitted the day of the shootings, and reached more than 75,000 signatures within two days. [ 121 ] Rapper Mac Lethal uploaded a television titled “ Beatbox + iPhone + Guitar + Fast Rap = Win By Mac Lethal ” on December 18, 2012, that took inspiration from the actions of WBC and the media after the Sandy Hook Elementary School inject. Some of the lyrics include : [ 122 ] [ 123 ] [ 124 ]

And I might suck at guitar
but at least I ‘ve never protested a dead soldier ‘s funeral,
and I might be losing my hair, but at least I ‘ve never judged a charwoman for thinking another woman is beautiful,
and sometimes, I mean sometimes,
I might even text message while I drive,
but I ‘ve never thanked God when a cherished 5 year old child was shot, and died …

erstwhile members

Since 2004, over 20 members of WBC, largely family members, have left the arrangement and the Phelps syndicate. [ 125 ] Several of them have accused WBC of brainwashing. [ 126 ] [ 127 ] [ 128 ] Mark Phelps, estranged son of WBC ‘s founder, Fred Phelps, left the organization in 1973 and began “ formal healing therapy in 1988 and worked toward healing and restoration, overcoming the atrocious pain and fear from the 19 years of animation with ” his father. Mark was re-baptized in a local church in 1994 and stated : “ If I had to take my family to court and convict them of being followers of Christ, I am not sure where I would find the evidence. ” [ 129 ] Libby Phelps-Alvarez, a granddaughter of the late Fred Phelps and daughter of Fred Phelps Jr. left WBC in 2009. In 2017, she released a script entitled Girl on a Wire: Walking the Line Between Faith and Freedom. The book documents her years in WBC and what lead up to her decisiveness to leave and eventual departure. Phelps-Alvarez is now an advocate for brave equality. Zach Phelps-Roper is the grandson of Fred Phelps and the fourth sibling of the Phelps-Roper family to leave WBC ( besides Megan and Grace mentioned below, sibling Joshua has besides left ). After attempting to leave the organization five times previously, he finally left in 2014 after his views began to change. He now preaches about a life of empathy and categoric love. [ 130 ] Danielle Phelps, granddaughter of Fred Phelps, left the church service in 2014 concisely after her grandfather ‘s death. She is openly brave and joined the US Marine Corps after leaving the church service. [ 131 ] In an consultation with Harry Robinson on the All Out Attack Podcast, Danielle revealed that Steve Drain, forefather of Lauren Drain and one of the elders of the church service after Fred Phelps ‘s travel by, and the rest of his family had reportedly been excommunicated from the church service. [ 132 ]

Nathan Phelps

Nathan Phelps is another estrange son of Fred. He left Westboro on his 18th birthday in 1976, claims he never had a kinship with his abusive founder when he was growing up and that WBC is an administration for his father to “ vent his ramp and anger. ” [ 133 ] He alleges that, in addition to hurting others, his father used to physically abuse his wife and children by beating them with his fists and with the handle of a mattock to the point of bleeding. [ 133 ] [ 134 ] Phelps ‘s brother Mark has supported and repeated Nathan ‘s claims of physical pervert by their father. [ 135 ] In March 2014, Nathan posted on Facebook that his beget was in a hospice in Topeka and was near death. Furthermore, Nathan besides stated that he learned that Fred was excommunicated from WBC in August 2013, for unclear reasons. [ 136 ] [ 137 ] These assertions were late reaffirmed by Mark Phelps. [ 138 ] Nathan had previously predicted the organization may fall into leadership and theological crises when Fred died, because he had been the bind figure and because their beliefs hold that they are deity, which would be disproved with the end of a penis. [ 139 ] WBC spokesperson Steve Drain denied Fred Sr. was on the verge of death and refused to confirm the reported excommunication. [ 140 ] Fred Sr. died three days belated. [ 12 ]

Megan Phelps-Roper

Megan Phelps-Roper, a grandchild of Fred Phelps, left WBC in 2012 together with her sister Grace, and explained her reasons and experiences in a TED talk. [ 141 ] In 2015, Sam Harris published an interview with her. [ 142 ] She has written a record entitled Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope, leaving the Westboro Baptist Church. She has been making a film about her experiences and notes that three of her siblings have besides left WBC. [ 143 ]

Lauren Drain

Lauren Drain, another former member of WBC who was excommunicated in 2008, released an autobiography titled Banished in March 2013. She characterizes children, like herself, as being brainwashed into their belief system and identify consequences of questioning their impression system, such as her banishment. [ 144 ]

documentary media coverage

The Howard Stern Show in 2004 Members of the Church on the set ofin 2004 In 2001, Sundance Channel aired the film A Union in Wait, a documentary about same-sex marriage directed by Ryan Butler. Phelps and members of WBC appeared in the movie after Phelps picketed Wake Forest Baptist Church at Wake Forest University over a proposed same-sex union ceremony. In 2005, the british satellite party British Sky Broadcasting produced an fact-finding part using hide cameras, which included footage of two of Phelps ‘s granddaughters, Libby and Jael. [ 145 ] In the testimonial, Libby and Jael explain that they hope and pray that no one outside of Westboro becomes “ elect ”, [ 145 ] because they want everyone else in the world to die dreadfully and burn in Hell, [ 145 ] and that even if they did not believe their actions were dictated by God, they would still do and enjoy them anyhow. [ 145 ] On April 1, 2007, british television channel BBC Two broadcast Louis Theroux ‘s The Most Hated Family in America. [ 146 ] Theroux has presented a number of documentaries about strange or improper people and groups in the UK, the US and elsewhere. [ 147 ] In the objective, Theroux questioned Shirley Phelps-Roper as to whether she had considered if Westboro ‘s protests were more probable to “ put people off the Word of Jesus Christ and the bible ”. In reply, she said, “ You think our job is to win souls to Christ. All we do, by getting in their face and putting these signs in front of them and these knit words, is make what ‘s already in their center come out of their talk. ” [ 42 ] Later in the documentary, Phelps-Roper agreed the $ 200,000 WBC annually spent to fly to funerals to protest was money spent to spread “ God ‘s hate ”. [ 42 ] While being filmed by Theroux, it picketed a local appliance store because the shop sold swedish void cleaners, which the group viewed as being supportive of gay people because of swedish pursuance of Åke Green, a curate critical of homosexuality. [ 148 ] The web site godhatesfags.com was prominently featured in The Jeremy Kyle Show, a talk show aired on the ITV network in the United Kingdom on June 5, 2007. Shirley Phelps-Roper and her daughters had been invited to express their beliefs live via satellite. On the show, Kyle criticized the Phelpses for their beliefs and referred to the Phelps children as “ wholly and absolutely brainwashed “, and to Phelps-Roper herself as “ deranged “. [ 149 ] In the June 21, 2007, Channel 4 documentary Keith Allen Will Burn in Hell, starring Keith Allen, on which Phelps-Roper and some of her children agreed to appear, Phelps-Roper admitted on television camera that her oldest son, Samuel, was born out of marriage. Allen declared Phelps-Roper ‘s vocal music execration of strangers having sexual congress outside of marriage to be hypocritical as she was guilty of the same thing. [ 150 ] Louis Theroux made a follow-up to his inaugural objective which was broadcast in the UK on April 3, 2011, America’s Most Hated Family in Crisis. Theroux reported that Westboro was in a state of “ crisis ” and documented the passing of several young members. [ 151 ] Since then, two more big members have left WBC. [ 152 ] Louis returned for a third objective, Surviving America’s Most Hated Family, in 2019. [ 153 ]


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