Two of Fred Phelps’ granddaughters defect from GodHatesF*gs Westboro Baptist

This is an interesting and surprising story.  Two of the granddaughters of Fred Phelps, the head of the Westboro Baptist Church, and owner of the notorious Web site “GodHatesF-gs.com,” have defected, for lack of a better word, and left their family.  The women, Megan and Grace Phelps, have posted a letter online.

Gay people are eminently familiar with the Phelps family.  They’ve been picketing our funerals for 20 years. But in recent years the Phelps’ branched out to protesting the funerals of US service members as well, with their tell-tale in-you-face signs, and the family’s notoriety went mainstream.

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From Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps klan (with permission)

I think what, for me at least, was the most shocking thing about what the Phelps’ did, was the children present at their protests. How could someone indoctrinate their kids into this kind of hate, I always wondered.

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From Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps klan (with permission)

How much different, I wonder, are they from the people who named their kid after Adolf Hitler?  Or for that matter, people who buy their children NRA baby bibs.

As any gay person can tell you, it wears on you, hearing anti-gay bigots raise in every discussion about gay rights the issue of “the children.”  Especially from the Catholics, and the religious right, it’s always “the children.”  Even though the Catholics kept some children as slaves, while raping others, they still love to invoke “the children.”

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From Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps klan (with permission)

And I think of what Catholics have done, what the religious right does on a daily basis, the hate they spew, and they surely indoctrinate their children in the same hateful ways – the Phelps aren’t the only ones who use their children as props in hate campaigns – and then you ask yourself is the Phelps are truly that different from all the other hate we have to face on a daily basis.  Oh sure, the Phelps’ signs are more colorful, and their slogans more pointed.  But the Phelps’ aren’t the only ones who live by hate.  They’re not the only ones talking about our deaths, calling for our deaths.  When two of the top religious right groups, that are both closely tied to Republicans, call for homosexuality to be punishable by imprisonment, is it really that easy to say that the Phelps’ unique brand of hate is really all that unique after all?

I’m glad there’s now a chink in the Phelps armor.  But I’m far more worried about the dangers posed by the kinder and gentler Phelps’ of the world, the ones who fly beneath the radar, and get invited on all the TV shows as if their hateful bigotry is just another legitimate mainstream opinion.

Be they Mormon, Baptist, Catholic or Phelps – they hate the same, they harm the same.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • darklight_413

    I grew up in a evangelical fundamentalist household, (my father was a Southern Baptist preacher), and I can tell you that most of the hate isn’t nearly this visible or obvious. Most of the time it’s quietly talked about behind closed doors and in private meetings. I’ve been sat down and read to out of the bible and been prayed for why I couldn’t wear bangs, why I couldn’t wear bell-bottom jeans, why I couldn’t wear jewelry, why I couldn’t dance and a few other things that won’t get into. The mind control and indoctrination of children is insidious and is widespread. And, it’s ingrained in our culture and has been since the 50’s with the Red Scare and the hunt for Communists.

    We changed our Pledge of Allegiance (…one nation, under God), injected religion into our money system (In God We Trust instead of E Pluribus Unum), and into our legal system. And the fact that you don’t have to back anything “faith-based” up with evidence makes any idea or belief valid, and an effective tool, as long as you can get a few people to believe it. And the ones who believe are so eager to believe SOMETHING that they’ll believe ANYTHING. That’s why the Republican party decided to get into bed with them.

    Republicans have a ready made army, ready to go at a moments notice, that they can maneuver into doing anything they want just by injecting the words “God”, or “Christian” into their side of the conversation. My parents still believe, and always will, that George Bush was one of the greatest presidents ever just because he uttered the words, “I’m a good Christian” and began to erase the line of separation of church and state. He was a true “soldier of God”. Churches preach that they are under constant attack and that the self-anointed “righteous” people are chosen by God. And who are the chosen ones? The ones who BELIEVE they are and are willing to fight to the death to defend that belief.

    I see the same thing with the suicide bombers in the Middle East. They are so programmed with fear of going to Hell to burn for eternity that they will blow themselves up and kill countless “infidels”, who are anyone that their leaders target as infidels. You’ll notice that none of their leaders blow themselves up for such a strong and “righteous” belief.

    If you believe in God, fine. You can believe the Moon is made of green cheese for all I care. But, when you start hurting people because of your “beliefs”, then it’s time to step back and take a good hard look at the big picture and see who’s pulling the strings, because it sure isn’t a God of Love.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    John A., apparently.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Inspite of this ‘stunning’ revelation I have not given up the belief that every last Phelps should be crucified for the sins of the father and to save the world in the most Christian sacrifice of all.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    No

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Who really gives a s**t that these repentant hate scags think?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I disagree that she’s given up the bigotry completely. I read the article, too, and I didn’t see anything from Megan Phelps to indicate she stopped believing that it is morally wrong to be gay. It read to me like she thinks gay people shouldn’t be executed like her daddy taught her, but instead need to repent.

    Anybody can repent if God gives them repentance, according to the church. But this one thing—it gives the impression that homosexuality is an unforgivable sin,” (Megan) says. “It didn’t make sense. It seemed a wrong message for us to be sending. It’s like saying, ‘You’re doomed! Bye!’ and gives no hope for salvation.”

    I’m sorry, but that reads to me like she still thinks being gay is something that needs repentance.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Indeed. Until she gives up believing that being a gay person is morally wrong, she hasn’t really given up the hate. She’s merely mellowed a bit.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    I love that she somehow sounds reasonable for coming to the realization that the death penalty isn’t appropriate for the sin of being gay. She still thinks it’s a sin, she just thinks the gays need an opportunity to repent. Perhaps she’s realizing how the hole house of cards collapses when a few wobbly cards fall; remains to be seen.

  • MyrddinWilt

    People often see it as a way to gain acceptance in a higher social circle.

  • pappyvet

    It’s a fever, an addiction to poison

  • pappyvet

    From Megan and Grace’s letter;

    “We know that we dearly love our family. They now consider us betrayers, and we are cut off from their lives, but we know they are well-intentioned.”

    Defect? Yes. Escaped? No

  • Stev84

    It’s the third one who left. There is also Libby Phelps

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Actually there was that guy a few years ago, I forget his name, but we did a chat with him on the blog.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’ve always felt it’s more an obsession, if not a fetish, for the die-hards.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Reading the article and the statement she wrote I think it pretty clear that she is distancing herself from the bigotry of the WBC completely.

    It also looks to me as if she would be very likely to be a rising star in her new church. Damascene conversions and repentance go down pretty well in Christian churches.

    So it does look like she could be a future leader of one of the churches and would be steering a path far away from the Phelps/Robertson/Graham bigotry of the past. But it does not look to me as if she is going to be marching in parades for gay rights or coming out as gay any time soon.

    I am not sure that you would want her to either. Folk who make 180 degree conversions often change rather less than their policy shift makes it appear. The infamous neo-cons who organized the Iraq war have their roots in a Trotskyite faction at a New York university. They drifted into the conservative movement after shopping their former Stalinist rivals to Hoover and McCarthy in the 50s. The Stalinists were anti-Semitic so Jewish communists joined the Trotskyites. The Neo-Cons flipped from right to left but they remained inflexible ideologues.

  • Drew2u

    Are they willing to fight as fervently and vociferously for the side of truth, equality, fairness, and justice as they fought against it with their family?

  • MyrddinWilt

    Atrios had a post last week where he pointed out that gun nuttery is just a hobby for people, just like any other. Fred Phelps has a hobby of being hated.

    The big tell was when they started picketing the military funerals which started before the repeal of DADT. That started after the gay rights movement and the mainstream media had decided to not give him any more publicity.

    What happens when Fred Phelps dies has always been an open question. The church is entirely made up of his family. It will probably wither away in any case. There was a dreadful bigot called Mary Whitehouse in the UK, her organization is still going but it hasn’t done anything of note since she died a decade ago.

  • ninjakiller

    They’re not the first, there’s 2 or 3 other grandchildren that have already left. Kevin Smith talked to them briefly on one of his podcasts. It’s the same story that’s happening nationally, a generational shift.

  • bejammin075

    Of any activist group though, they make the best protest signs. That takes some real talent.

  • caphillprof

    We don’t have a gay crisis in this country; we have a religious crisis. Our religions have degenerated into cults of hate. Take away the hate and the religion collapses. It’s the same hate that dwells within the Republican party. I hope and pray that it too is collapsing.

  • http://blogvader.tumblr.com/ Blogvader

    John, you’re right. The hate is the same, and if you haven’t noticed, they all use the same Bible to justify the terrible things they support. The Bible supports the Phelpses view every bit as much as it supports the inclusiveness of the UCC. The Bible supports the pro-bullying laws, like the one Republicans tried to pass in my state last year, failing pretty spectacularly when one of their own came out of the closet as a gay man in opposition to the bill. It supports the local districts in Kansas that are trying to petition for the repeal of non-discrimination policies and the massive donations by Chick-Fil-A to organizations dedicated solely to destroy the civil rights of gay people.

    Christians like to try and distance themselves from these elements, but they are all the same. It’s like you said. Gay people have dealt with the Phelpses for two decades, and until they turned their attention on soldiers, mainstream America were perfectly cool with their behavior.

    Personally, I learned all I needed to learn about Christianity and gay people when Christians were bullying the first-ever out student at my high school. That’s one belief system that I decided I could no longer be associated with in good conscience.

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