Fred Phelps Sr., a fierce opponent of homosexuality whose protests at military funerals prompted two federal laws, died early Thursday, his daughter Margie Phelps says. She didn’t give the cause of death or the condition that recently put him in hospice care. He was 84.
Phelps headed the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., and was occasionally involved in politics. He gained national prominence for organizing protests against gays and Jews, including at military funerals.
The Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is a small virulently homophobic, anti-Semitic hate group that regularly stages protests around the country, often several times a week. The group pickets institutions and individuals they think support homosexuality or otherwise subvert what they believe is God’s law.
Incorporated in 1967 as a not-for-profit organization, WBC considers itself an “Old School (or Primitive)” Baptist Church. WBC’s leader is Fred Phelps and several of his children and dozens of his grandchildren appear to constitute the majority of the group’s members. WBC has no official affiliation with mainstream Baptist organizations.
While WBC members have protested at Jewish institutions over the years, such institutions were not a major focus for the group until April 2009. Since then, WBC has targeted dozens of Jewish institutions around the country, from Israeli consulates to synagogues to Jewish community centers, distributing anti-Semitic fliers to announce planned protests at these sites. WBC has also been sending volumes (in some cases dozens over the course of a week) of faxes and emails with anti-Semitic and anti-gay messages to various Jewish institutions and individuals.
In addition, in April 2010, the group began mailing a virulently anti-Semitic DVD to Jewish organizations and leaders. The DVD also attacks President Obama, describing him as the anti-Christ, and is filled with anti-gay and anti-Catholic vitriol.
Kathy Shaidle, September 13, 2011: Ever seen those ‘God Hates Fags’ guys and wondered: why doesn’t somebody mess with those mo-fos?
Well, guess what I did at the WTC?
If you were born in the middle of the 1960s, the Manson family imprinted themselves on your brain.
The girls looked like this.
I finally saw, up close, those (registered Democrat) Fred Phelps “family” members, with their “God Hates Fags” signs, outside the WTC memorial ceremony.
We wandered over to the location, knowing it was invitation only, but got as close as we could to the loudspeakers and giant TV, outside of Brown Brothers Harriman.
So did the Phelps gang.
I am not joking.
Same long straight brown hair, although mostly casually “up” in ponytails that morning.
And worst: the same creepy, post-orgasmic, beatific smile of every gnostic heretic; the one that says, “I know something you don’t know: God loves me SO much more than you.”
The cops told them to pack up. They put their signs back into the extra large black artist portfolio cases I now know they carry them in.
And the cops herded them away. Right past me.
So I stuck out my foot and tripped one of the girls.
Yeah, it felt fabulous.
She recovered herself, put her weird “I’m in a cult” smile back on and said, “Ha! Subtle!”
(This from a chick who’d been holding a “You will eat your babies” (?) sign.)
Her friend behind her, this old hag who looked like if the school librarian who’d been trapped in a fire, got in my face and with the most twisted expression you can imagine growled:
“You’ll go to hell for all your violence!”
“See you there,” I managed to croak.
images via The Guardian and ADL