In the late 90’s, I first saw photos of signs that read “God Hates Fags” and “AIDS cures Fags” among others. My heart ached as these photos made the front page of my hometown GLBTQI newspaper. Since that time, I’ve come toe-to-toe with this church that I prefer to reference as a “cult” and I’ve realized that I’m ready to speak out about Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas.
First off, what they believe and “preach” is the opposite of the message of God according to the Bible and other scriptural transcripts. It is a delusional, twisted blasphemous message and I’m curious of what fuels their fire. Is it FEAR?
Fred Phelps’ son, Mark W. Phelps, wrote a statement back in 1994 (19 years after he left home) that I found most intriguing:
“He [Fred Phelps] can seem very intimidating. He can use foul language and come across with a booming voice to the community, but the truth is, like the Wizard of Oz, when Toto pulls the curtain back, instead of this big powerful individual, it’s only a small, pathetic old man.
I feel sorry for my father as I would for anyone who displays this kind of hate and evil viciousness. These can only be the manifestations of tortured, injured and agonizing souls.”
One thing I find interesting is the fact that what Phelps leads is listed as the one unpardonable sin in the Bible. What is that? Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The simplistic meaning of this is to do works of evil in the name of God. This is the one sin that casts you out forever. Looks like Phelps and his posse might have a not-so-friendly meeting with Karma one day. Of course, Fred Phelps has been known to claim that “homosexuality” is the one unpardonable sin. I’m not quite sure where he read that or attained that “fact” since that is no where found in the Bible. Like I said … KARMA.
Besides the doom and gloom they try to rain on every PRIDE parade, they also protest at local High Schools, Catholic churches and even at funerals of soldiers. I recently received a letter from someone who’s brother was killed in Iraq. Phelps was at the funeral holding up signs of protest since the fella who wrote the letter to me was queer. Here he was mourning the death of his 19-year-old brother and was met with hate on an already dark day.
What disturbs me even further is the fact that they have their own children holding signs and engaging in this madness.
This is NOT the truth. God does NOT hate anyone. God’s message is that of love and it’s pathetic how people like Phelps twist the truth around to project the opposite.
We sometimes have community counter-protests which is wonderful, but I’m now going to point a quick finger at mainstream churches. Whether they agree with our community or not, I’m shocked they aren’t counter-protesting the anti-God message of hate led by Phelps and his counterparts.
My parents did. Their choice to respond tops my list of things they have done that make me most proud. Around 10 years ago, I showed my parents the front-page of the community paper with Phelps and all of the nasty signs. They were shocked. My parents didn’t “approve” of my “lifestyle”, but they certainly were opposed to this incorrect message.
My parents showed up at PRIDE that year holding a huge yellow sign that read: “We apologize for the church. REAL Christians love EVERYONE! With God there is HOPE for us ALL!”
Needless to say, they spoke a word of love, not hate. They were met by strangers walking up to them giving them hugs and saying, “Thank you for being here!” Others even stood by the sign and took photos saying they would send it to their parents.
My heart aches when I think of this event because of how shunned our community as been from mainstream churches and our cry-out for love. Phelps and his followers do nothing but push us farther away from our childhood beliefs. Phelps does nothing more than encourage us to believe God really does hate us.
I was lucky enough to find a family-friendly church that spoke a truth unlike one I had heard before. A church who stood up for the reality of God and pushed aside the judgment and fears that have been forced down our throats for centuries. A message of LOVE.
Phelps is an extremist. Yet, many mainstream churches are not far behind. To me, they also fall short of the truth. Instead of making us feel welcome, we feel rejected. Sure, we can join the church if we conform to their ways. Sure, we can help them out and sing in the choir or play the fiddle as long as we stay “hush, hush” about our sexuality or identity. When I find a church that is not GLBTQI-based and is welcoming, I literally jump for joy on the inside (sometimes on the outside, too).
It is unfortunate that scripture has been translated into the interpretation of the person re-writing it. There are so many different versions of the Bible that I believe many have never read the original text which was written in. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek.
The first translation of the English Bible was initiated by John Wycliffe and completed by John Purvey in 1388. (ref) When you read about these two men, it is common to assume that their translation of scripture was a reflection of how they interpreted the Hebrew and Greek.
Somehow, in some newer versions, the word “homosexual” has made it’s way into the Bible. I’m sure one day we might even see “lesbian” or “transgender”.
You see, the Bible is supposed to be a revelation of what God reveals to you. In many cases, the “stories” in the bible are merely a shell of what the core message is truly about. It really can be looked upon as hundreds of pages of code. Of course, this is my personal opinion and this is one of those topics that has been a never-ending war for ages.
I encourage those to read this book as close to the original text as possible. I hope many pastors in churches do this. It might open their eyes to a new revelation that they have preached against for so long.
Back to Phelps
“The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has declared the Westboro Baptist Church a hate group, one of over 750 in the United States.” (ref)
The “cult” likes to refer to Phelps as a prophet.
Definition: “A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed.”
I notice it says “a god” not “The God”. I’m highly interested to know which “god” Phelps reports to?
This link provides insight into the personal life of Fred Phelps. It talks about everything from his beliefs, “therapeutic malicious” law practice to his home life and domestic abuse (BIG surprise).
It’s amazing that the men in this world that hate themselves the most are the ones that outwardly express hate towards everyone else. Napoleon and Hitler once had a seat in the same boat of disgust. I’m sure we all know people like this. They could be family members, neighbors or co-workers. Hate, to me, is the root of all evil. I guess what RuPaul says is true, “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love someone else? Can I get an AMEN?” Our world is full of self-hate which, in turn, is reflected as hate overall for everyone and everything.
I wrote a post in October 2009: To Discriminate Only Generates HATE
What do we do?
I find is best not to lower ourselves to the level of ignorant others. Fighting hate with hate is tit for tat. It doesn’t resolve anything. It doesn’t make a valid point besides generating more hate.
Sure, we’re angry. Sure, we’re disgusted.
Recently, their was a counter-protest at Grady High School in Atlanta, GA and The GA Voice made a wonderful video showing the demonstration and even interviewed both sides.
I feel the counter-protests are well received and keep things on civil ground. Sometimes, I feel this is a difficult situation because we do not want to be silent to this, yet I wonder if our rise against them is what makes them keep going.
It’s like the annoying person who keeps poking you. After a while of ignoring them, they finally stop.
Would they stop?
They must know we are not a silent bunch. We are a powerful mix of activists, queers, transgender, lesbians, homos, gay, straight allies, gender benders, feminist outlaws, fierce femmes, leather bears, educators, entertainers, law enforces, doctors, mothers, fathers, in-betweens, we are the GLBTQI and every other letter of the alphabet…we are pro-PROGRESS, we demand EQUALITY, we fight for CHANGE. We have come far and we are no stranger to “haters”. We are a powerful family that can chant “We WILL Overcome!” because we have and will will continue.
BBC’s Louis Theroux about the family at the core of the Westboro Baptist Church.headed by Fred Phelps and based in Topeka, Kansas, It runs the website GodHatesFags.com, and GodHatesAmerica.com, and other websites expressing condemnation of LGBT, Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Sweden, Ireland, Canada, The Netherlands, USA and other groups. The organization is monitored by the Anti-Defamation League, and classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has achieved national notice because of its picketing of funeral processions of U.S. soldiers killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Please feel free to express your comments below.
Written by TQ Nation President & Co-Founder
Tristan “SHIMMER” Skye