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.
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.
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.”
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.