Westboro Baptist Church

Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps Is Dead

Notorious anti-gay activist Fred Phelps has died, according to news reports.

Fred Phelps was the founder and patriarch of Westboro Baptist Church, which he and his family members used as a base for attention-grabbing protests at funerals of people who had died from AIDS, at gay-rights rallies and marches, at churches he deemed insufficiently anti-gay, and later at the funerals of American soldiers (based on the “logic” that America itself is vile and hated by God for its growing acceptance of LGBT people).

It is hard to know how much pain Phelps caused individual LGBT people and their families, particularly young people struggling with their sexuality and/or faith, with his denunciations.  But he certainly failed in his mission to frighten or harass Americans away from support for equality. In fact he may have accelerated the trend by putting such an unappealing face on anti-gay bigotry that many American Christians wanted nothing to do with him.

Phelps did allow other anti-gay leaders to posture that he was the face of hatred, not them. But the substance of their message to gay people is similar: repent or be damned – it’s just that Phelps framed it as “God hates fags” while people like Bryan Fischer say God loves them and wants them to abandon their demonic lifestyle. They may have disagreed on rhetorical strategy, but they shared their hostility to an America in which LGBT people are treated equally under the law.  In the end, other anti-gay religious leaders, even ones who distanced themselves from Phelps’s rhetoric, were tainted by him.

The Phelps family has inspired some truly creative activism by pro-equality activists, who used their appearances to raise funds for progressive organizations, and who created visually striking walls of “angels” to keep Phelps family protesters out of view of grieving family members.

Fred Phelps’s decision to protest military funerals may have accomplished the most in terms of helping more Americans view anti-gay bigotry as broadly un-American. He may have left exactly the legacy he didn’t want.

Daubenmire Defends Westboro Baptist Church Because 'What If God Really Told Fred Phelps To Do That?'

One thing that we have rarely, if ever, heard from the ardent anti-gay bigots that we monitor on this blog was any sort of defense of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for their "God Hates Fags" protests.

Even the most militant anti-gay activists tend to distance themselves from the Phelps cult and decry their protests as vile and unchristian ... but not "Coach" Dave Daubenmire who today defended Westboro on the grounds that Christians have no right to judge the way in which this church carries out its mission.

Defending both Koran-burner Terry Jones and Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, Daubenmire said that while he personally might not do things the same way, he is in no position to criticize them because "what if God really told Fred Phelps to do that?"

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Towleroad: The FBI Invited Westboro Baptist Church to Train its Police Officers and Agents.
  • Bill Berkowitz @ AlterNet: Why Is Jerry Falwell's Evangelical University Getting Filthy Rich off Your Tax Money?
  • Steve Benen: How health care rulings are covered.
  • Carlos Maza @ Equality Matters: Pat Robertson’s “Sodom” Comments Are In Line With Those Of NOM, FRC.
  • Good As You: Santorum says marriage equality 'an assault at the very core of America.'
  • Media Matters: The 50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Said On Fox News.

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • FRC hails the failure of the DADT vote.
  • Speaking of FRC, they remain very upset about being classified as a hate group by the SPLC.
  • But I do want to highlight this good post by Tom McClusky pointing out the ridiculousness of Grover Norquist's self-serving rationalization.
  • What a surprise: Westboro Baptist Church is going to protest Elizabeth Edwards' funeral.
  • Finally, CNSNews has started asking members of Congress whether they believe Jesus had a right to life at the moment of conception.  I have no idea why.

Remembering Christine O'Donnell: Praising Helms, Missing Lenny and Squiggy, and Worries of Rampant Satanism

I searched around in the newspaper archives for articles from Christine O'Donnell's days with Concerned Women for America and her time as Savior's Alliance for Lifting the Truth and found some rather interesting quotes and articles that are worth sharing.

Like this article praising Sen. Jesse Helms for opposing funding for HIV victims: 

AIDS BILL PASSES IN SENATE; SEN. JESSE HELMS' VIOLENT OPPOSITION MADE MEDIA WAVES, BUT DIDN'T SWAY THE 97-3 VOTE.

28 July 1995
Charlotte Observer

Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., lost his battle Thursday to stop a special funding program for AIDS sufferers, but won an opportunity to publicize his views to a nationwide television audience during a two-day debate.

Over Helms' objections, the Senate voted, 97-3, to pass the Ryan White Care Act, which funnels money to states to help AIDS and HIV-positive victims who can't get help elsewhere ... Helms lost overwhelmingly because senators were disgusted by his remarks implying that AIDS sufferers didn't deserve federal help

...

Concerned Women for America, a 600,000-member Christian group, praised Helms.

Federal money from the Ryan White Act has in the past gone to teach teenagers to use condoms to engage in homosexual behavior that includes anal sex, said Concerned Women spokeswoman Christine O'Donnell.

Or this article attacking Coors Brewing Company for offering benefits to same-sex couples:

At Coors, a Brewing Dilemma Over Gay Rights

16 September 1995
The Washington Post

The Coors Brewing Co. is run by a family that has helped fund a conservative backlash against gay rights, but has become one of the first companies in the country to extend health benefits to the partners of its homosexual employees.

As a consequence, the corporation, whose annual beverage sales total $1.6 billion, finds itself boycotted both by gay and lesbian activists and by anti-gay Christian fundamentalists.

...

Fred Phelps Sr., minister of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., announced a boycott of Coors and began organizing a picketing and lobbying campaign. In an interview, Phelps said his church has only 150 members, but has 10 fax machines he uses to publicize the boycott. One fax that he said was sent to churches throughout the country said, "The Coors family of hypocrites claim to fear God, but sponsor filthy fags!"

Christine O'Donnell, press secretary of the 600,000-member Concerned Women of America, said her conservative group also opposes the new Coors policy. "We think that it legitimizes the homosexual lifestyle," she said.

Or this one in which O'Donnell longs for the days when Lenny and Squiggy didn't sleep with Laverne and Shirley: 

AMERICA'S SEXUAL RIGHT TURN
INSIGHT
2 June 1997

"In general, my generation is confused," says Christine O'Donnell, 27, head of the Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth, a Christian youth group that advocates sexual abstinence. "We're craving more conservative values, more boundaries." O'Donnell lectures at high schools about abstinence and says there always is a sigh of relief when teens hear that it's okay to wait. "A lot of these kids have never had anyone tell them no, and they want that," she explains.

Despite O'Donnell's modest success - she has been featured on MTV and will fence comedian Al Franken on an upcoming episode of Politically Incorrect - her mission, she says, is a struggle against the still-dominant liberal culture. "People are always talking about how bad the seventies were, but things in the popular culture have gotten much worse even since then. I grew up watching Laverne and Shirley, and Lenny and Squiggy never slept over. Now with shows like Friends or Married i With Children, sex is everywhere. I mean, can you imagine the minds that were raised on those shows?"

Ot this one that O'Donnell wrote about handing out S.A.L.T literature at the annual HFStival in Washington, DC in which she warned at Satanism had become the religion of choice for her generation:

Opposite Attraction; Pitching Abstinence to the Young and the Restless at the HFStival
By Christine O'Donnell

15 June 1997
The Washington Post

Walking through the crowd I also noticed more pentagrams than crosses around the teenage necks. "Satanism is the religion of the '90s," I was told. "It means I worship nature," responded one girl when I asked her what the pentagram meant to her. I explained that the pentagram is to Satan what the cross is to Christ. She didn't want to believe it.

Others knew exactly what it meant.

"I'd rather go to hell and do what I want than go to heaven and do what others say," said a pale boy wearing smeared red and black eyeliner who had deep scars along the insides of both arms.

This boy mirrored "The Satanic Bible's" basic philosophy, "Do what thou wilt." Satanism has re-emerged among Generation X with an arrogance that mocks its members as it blatantly destroys them. Was this boy so consumed with his right to worship Satan that he couldn't see Satan's true purpose, which is to devour and destroy his worshipers? Past generations have broadened the boundaries so much that this generation must go to great extremes to rebel.

The generation of young people that questioned the establishment in the '60s is now middle-aged, and has become the establishment itself. Moral absolutes have been eliminated, "feel-good" religions created, and free sex legitimized, paving the way for disposable marriages. The results of these tailor-made values are new strains of sexually transmitted diseases, more potent drugs, more broken families and out-of-wedlock pregnancy rates and worrisome suicide rates. It's time for this generation of young people to question the new establishment.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Guess who is confirmed for the next Values Voter Summit?  The Duggars!
  • We can all rest easier now that the Ohio Legislature has banned animal-human hybrids.
  • VA Gov. Bob McDonnell said AG Ken Cuccinelli’s office was entirely responsible for the decision not to join 48 other states in filing a supporting legal brief on behalf of Albert Snyder, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq. Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas picketed the Marine’s funeral.
  • James Dobson has endorsed Bob Vander Plaats in the Iowa GOP primary for Governor.
  • Rob Schenck has been named the first chaplain for the Capitol Hill Executive Service Club.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Sen. Orrin Hatch: "Gays and lesbians don't pay tithing, their religion is politics."

Matt Barber: I Know You Are But What Am I?

Matt Barber's latest column is quite a work of art. 

Still upset about the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled his good friend Peter Labarbera's Americans for Truth a hate site, Barber begins by attacking "progressives" for their use of ad hominem attacks ... by likening them to pig farmers: 

“Progressives” are like pig farmers. In an effort to bury opposing viewpoints they sling pejorative slop, labeling as “bigot,” “hater,” “wingnut” or “racist” those with whom they disagree. It’s the height of intellectual sloth.

The ad hominem approach – chief among logical fallacies – undergirds an effort to both marginalize conservative viewpoints and avoid arguing on the merits the controversies of the day. For liberals, to set sail in fair debate is to navigate treacherous waters.

Apparently unaware of the irony of decrying ad hominem attacks by launching ad hominem attacks, Barber then moves on to making a point that is actually semi-reasonable, at least by his standards, in which he agrees with the SPLC's designation of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group:

Cult leader Fred Phelps and his Westboro brood of “God hates F-gs” fame are infused to the marrow with pure, unadulterated hate.

Phelps hates homosexuals. He hates the military. He hates America. He apparently hates everyone. But he also hurts people. Intentionally, I believe.

The point Barber is trying to make is that it is people like Phelps who are the "real haters" and it is unfair to lump people like LaBarbera or Barber in with these sorts of bigots ... and then Barber proceed to proclaim that it is really "leftists" who are the Phelps-like bigots: 

So, Fred Phelps aside, every time you hear some lefty like Anderson Cooper or Keith Olbermann despicably refer to Bible-believing Christians as “homophobes,” or who call grandma a “teabagger” (slang for a vile homosexual act), consider who the real haters are.

Whenever Mark Potok, Rachel Maddow or some liberal politico in Congress attempts to equate conservative Joe to a “right wing extremists” or a “domestic terrorist,” contemplate who the true bigots are.

The palpable irony is that leftists – with their slanderous name-calling, harsh judgments and ad hominem attacks – are, in truth, more like Phelps than those they falsely accuse.

So, to recap:  Liberals engage in ad hominem attacks when they equate anti-gay activists like LaBarbera or Barber to bigots like Fred Phelps, and that is unfair ... because it is liberals who are bigots just like Fred Phelps.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Bill O'Reilly has offered to pay the cover $16,500 in legal costs for the father of a fallen U.S. Marine who sued Westboro Baptist Church for picketing his son's funeral.
  • PFOX is now targeting Pepsi.
  • Molotov Mitchell once again defends Uganda's "kill the gays" bill.
  • Harry Jackson's astroturf "Stop the War on the Poor" effort is back, but now known as the Affordable Power Alliance.
  • Gary Bauer says "there just can be no doubt here that this is the most anti-Israel president of the United States that we have seen in the history of our country."
  • Finally, allow me to make a few small changes to this assertion from the AFA's Bryan Fischer to highlight its ridiculousness: "Despite the ACLU's contention that Ms. McMillen was being treated unfairly, in point of fact she was being treated with absolute equality. She had exactly the same right to bring a white date to the dance that every other student had. The same rule applied to her and to everyone else. You can't get any more equal than that. The ACLU and civil rights activists are not after equal rights, since Constance already had that. No, they're after special rights, rights based exclusively on race."

Right Wing Round-Up

  • David Hart explains why the US Commission on Civil Rights' opposition to hate crimes legislation comes as no surprise.
  • Speaking of hate crimes, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights has released a new report finding that "the problem of hate crimes continues to be a significant national concern that demands priority attention."
  • Pam's House Blend points out that anti-gay activists in Maine have hired the California public relations firm that ran the successful Proposition 8 campaign.
  • David Corn reports that Ken Starr has endorsed Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Jodi Jacobson of RH Reality Check reports that a Republicans are obstructing a Senate resolution condemning clinic violence.
  • As David Neiwert asks, what should the media be calling Shawna Forde and her Minuteman gang if not "extremists"?
  • Finally, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the Westboro Baptist Church is now targeting Jews.

Right Wing Round -Up

  • Iowa Rep. Steve King has been up in arms since the state's Supreme Court ruling on marriage, saying it is making it more likely that he'll run for Governor next year. Steve Benen takes on King's assertion that letting gay people can get married will lead to the downfall of civilization.
  • On a related note, John Aravosis posted a good video of Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal saying he won't take part in any effort to overturn the ruling, while My DD reports that Iowa Governor Chet Culver has also stated that he will not support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the state.
  • Publius is doing a good job of taking on Ed Whelan's attacks on State Department nominee Harold Koh.
  • Good as You notes that the line between Westboro Baptist Church and Matt Barber is getting thinner by the day.
  • Andrew Sullivan responds to this remarkably dismissive National Review editorial on "The Future of Marriage" by noting that "as far as National Review is concerned, homosexuals can go to hell."
  • When I read the transcript of this interview that Rick Warren gave to Hugh Hewitt, I assumed that he didn't really liken Democrats to prostitutes and that the transcript only made it seem that way, but after listening to the audio posted by Think Progress, I am not so sure.

Anti-Choice Activists to Protest During Inauguration

Earlier this week we mentioned that Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition announced that he would be leading a daily prayer vigil outside the White House until Barack Obama's inauguration that would coincide with his own 21-day hunger strike to "stand in solidarity and identify with the homeless, poor and disenfranchised of America, as well as the 50 million innocent victims of abortion."

As we noted before, the focus of Mahoney's stunt was far more about abortion than any sort of concern regrading the homeless and poor - and now it looks like it will culminate with a CDC-led anti-choice rally during the Inaugural Parade:

The Christian Defense Coalition has been issued a permit to conduct a pro-life vigil and display along the parade route during the Presidential Inauguration.

The permit was issued after discussions between the American Center for Law and Justice, who is representing the Christian Defense Coalition, and the National Park Service and the Secret Service.

The group plans to display 25 large signs on Pennsylvania Ave. showing the development of life from conception until birth.

...

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, comments,

"It is critical that moments after Barack Obama takes the oath as the 44th President of the United States he drive by a visible reminder of those who will have no voice or rights in his Administration. Those are the over 50,000,000 innocent lives that have been brutalized and lost through the violence of abortion.

"While millions will be celebrating along the Inaugural Parade route, we will be speaking 'truth to power' and calling for justice and equality for all Americans. Sadly , President-elect Obama is on the wrong side of history and human rights by embracing the most radical abortion policies of any President in American history.

"This display will also serve as a 'teaching moment' for the new President in helping him understand that life begins at conception and that social justice begins in the womb.

You can see the full series of CDC signs here.

But speaking of this event, it looks like the CDC aren't the only ones planning on staging a protest during the inauguration - they'll have some company in the form of members of the militantly anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church: 

The U.S. Park Service granted some groups permits to protest on Inauguration Day.

The Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kan., will have 15 people at the northeast corner of John Marshal Park protesting military funerals and gays until the parade clears, the park service said.

Protesting abortion clinics in front of the Canadian Embassy will be 100 to 200 people from the Christian Defense Coalition in New Jersey.

If At First You Don't Succeed, Invite Westboro Baptist

What happens when a local gay organization in Florida can't get any of the people working to pass the anti-gay marriage amendment to come and debate them? Well, if you are the Stonewall Legal Alliance at FIU College of Law, you go out and find some other anti-gay activists who will - in this case, members of the Westboro Baptist Church:

A church known for spewing anti-gay rhetoric and picketing military funerals is slated to debate a state marriage amendment at a forum next week at Florida International University.

The Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church accepted an invitation from the Stonewall Legal Alliance, a gay group at the FIU College of Law. The debate will focus on Amendment 2, the initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would add Florida's existing ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution.

...

Jose Gabilondo, an associate law professor at FIU, plans to argue against the amendment, while two daughters of Westboro Pastor Fred Phelps will speak for it.

Westboro has gained national notoriety by picketing at gay pride events as well as funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq; it equates modern America with Sodom and Gomorrah.

Westboro members agreed to pay their own expenses to Florida.

"The message of Westboro is the message of Amendment 2," Gabilondo said.

Debate organizers said they invited members of a state coalition supporting the amendment, as well as several other groups, but they declined.

"That's the most heinous thing I've ever heard. They go to the most radical group," said Janet Folger, an Amendment 2 supporter who heads a more mainstream Fort Lauderdale-based group called Faith2Action. "It's a deliberate attempt to make the pro-marriage people appear to be something they're not."

Of course, if Folger is so concerned that her movement is being represented by a bunch of vicious bigots, perhaps she should attend the debate herself and explain exactly how her belief that gay marriage = end times actually differs from those espoused by the Phelps clan.

Syndicate content

Westboro Baptist Church Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Thursday 03/20/2014, 12:33pm
Notorious anti-gay activist Fred Phelps has died, according to news reports. Fred Phelps was the founder and patriarch of Westboro Baptist Church, which he and his family members used as a base for attention-grabbing protests at funerals of people who had died from AIDS, at gay-rights rallies and marches, at churches he deemed insufficiently anti-gay, and later at the funerals of American soldiers (based on the “logic” that America itself is vile and hated by God for its growing acceptance of LGBT people). It is hard to know how much pain Phelps caused individual LGBT people and... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 09/27/2013, 9:58am
One thing that we have rarely, if ever, heard from the ardent anti-gay bigots that we monitor on this blog was any sort of defense of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for their "God Hates Fags" protests. Even the most militant anti-gay activists tend to distance themselves from the Phelps cult and decry their protests as vile and unchristian ... but not "Coach" Dave Daubenmire who today defended Westboro on the grounds that Christians have no right to judge the way in which this church carries out its mission. Defending both Koran-burner Terry Jones... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 06/30/2011, 5:55pm
Towleroad: The FBI Invited Westboro Baptist Church to Train its Police Officers and Agents. Bill Berkowitz @ AlterNet: Why Is Jerry Falwell's Evangelical University Getting Filthy Rich off Your Tax Money? Steve Benen: How health care rulings are covered. Carlos Maza @ Equality Matters: Pat Robertson’s “Sodom” Comments Are In Line With Those Of NOM, FRC. Good As You: Santorum says marriage equality 'an assault at the very core of America.' Media Matters: The 50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Said On Fox News. MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/22/2011, 6:53pm
Alex Alvarez @ Mediaite: Anonymous Claims Westboro Baptist Church Initiated Feud For Attention, IP Addresses. Andy Birkey @ Minnesota Independent: Bachmann: Glenn Beck can solve the budget deficit. Michael Cole-Schwartz @ HRC Back Story: HRC & Soulforce Present 70K Petitions To Lou Engle. Joe.My.God: GEORGIA: Wingnut GOP Rep Wants Police To Investigate All Miscarriages. Media Matters: Huckabee Upset That Christians Are Sharing Their Buildings With Muslims. Dump Bachmann: Will Michele Bachmann & Tim Pawlenty Be Hanging Out With Bradlee Dean at Freedom... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/22/2011, 6:53pm
Alex Alvarez @ Mediaite: Anonymous Claims Westboro Baptist Church Initiated Feud For Attention, IP Addresses. Andy Birkey @ Minnesota Independent: Bachmann: Glenn Beck can solve the budget deficit. Michael Cole-Schwartz @ HRC Back Story: HRC & Soulforce Present 70K Petitions To Lou Engle. Joe.My.God: GEORGIA: Wingnut GOP Rep Wants Police To Investigate All Miscarriages. Media Matters: Huckabee Upset That Christians Are Sharing Their Buildings With Muslims. Dump Bachmann: Will Michele Bachmann & Tim Pawlenty Be Hanging Out With Bradlee Dean at Freedom... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 01/10/2011, 6:38pm
Michael B. Keegan @ Huffington Post: Denouncing Violent Rhetoric, the Sheriff Gets it Right. Towelroad: Iowa Christian Group Blocks Gay Candidate Fred Karger from Debate. Stephanie Mencimer @ Mother Jones: Does Bachmann Believe Congress Should be Run by Christians? Alvin McEwen: Pete LaBarbera accuses me of being a hypocrite while ignoring his own activities. Steve Benen: Rand Paul's Bill Frist Moment. Good As You: Nice. Kevin Drum: The Wages of Sin Are....Nothing Much. Huffington Post: Westboro Baptist Church To Picket Funerals Of... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 12/09/2010, 6:45pm
FRC hails the failure of the DADT vote. Speaking of FRC, they remain very upset about being classified as a hate group by the SPLC. But I do want to highlight this good post by Tom McClusky pointing out the ridiculousness of Grover Norquist's self-serving rationalization. What a surprise: Westboro Baptist Church is going to protest Elizabeth Edwards' funeral. Finally, CNSNews has started asking members of Congress whether they believe Jesus had a right to life at the moment of conception.  I have no idea why. MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 09/15/2010, 2:17pm
I searched around in the newspaper archives for articles from Christine O'Donnell's days with Concerned Women for America and her time as Savior's Alliance for Lifting the Truth and found some rather interesting quotes and articles that are worth sharing. Like this article praising Sen. Jesse Helms for opposing funding for HIV victims:  AIDS BILL PASSES IN SENATE; SEN. JESSE HELMS' VIOLENT OPPOSITION MADE MEDIA WAVES, BUT DIDN'T SWAY THE 97-3 VOTE. 28 July 1995 Charlotte Observer Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., lost his battle Thursday to stop a special funding program for AIDS sufferers... MORE >