Regarding the Westboro Baptist (so-called) Church
Yes, we all have our perceptions of those people (and I use the word people loosely) and how hate-filled they are. I mean they broadcast their hate constantly and consistently. I’ve read here and there that some people think they’re in it for the attention or the money. They tend to sue when they don’t get to “protest” the way they want. They’re all lawyers for a reason you know. Some folks even think they’re frauds and are not religious at all.
I can’t say what I thought of those rumors. I have such a disgust for most overly-religious people that any of those ideas sound reasonable. How could any human have such hate for everyone else and still think they’re doing God’s work? To me it’s the epitome of hypocrisy. But then again I tend to think of most religious people as hypocrites anyway.
So the other night I went to an event, Journey to Reason, an Evening with Nathan Phelps. He’s one of those people (7th of Fred Phelp’s 13 children) that escaped and now leads a life of reason as the Executive Director of the Centre for Inquiry Canada, and an LGBT advocate.
He started his speech with a recital of every book in the bible, something he was forced to memorize at age 7. He spent the next hour describing his home life as a child. The constant beatings first with a razor strap and then with a wooden rake handle. Even to describe that the handle left welts that would open and bleed/infect on continued beatings. When in perceived trouble his father would alternate beatings with fire-and-brimstone rants. The boy grew up in fear for himself and everyone on the planet. His father thinks God will only save that family and every other person will go to hell for eternity. Fred Phelps drummed into his children that every moment, every thought had to be controlled to his standards to retain God’s grace else they end up in hell. Nate had questions growing up (as anyone with intelligence would have) and paid for those questions with anger and violence. When he was 16 he started planning his escape and on the night of his 18th birthday he waited downstairs for the clock to hit midnight and left. Never went back.
Then he talked about moving from church to church, always questioning. The extremes his father had taught him against the real world. Women not being allowed to cut their hair. He fell in love but internally battled the inner voice of his father condemning him because she was a divorced woman. It took him years and years to slowly chip away those childhood teachings. He couldn’t get excited about his first child until he held the baby in his hands. He knew from his teachings that God only blessed his chosen with children and since he’d defected he figured the child wouldn’t live to be born. Not taking into consideration babies are born to truly bad people every day.
I swear I’m not a hugging person but the whole time he was talking I just wanted to rush up on the stage and give this guy a hug. Nobody should have to live like that. It ruined his life. Even after leaving at 18 his childhood brain-washing ruined his life. Ruined his first marriage, ruined any chance at happiness. Until he met his current wife(?), renounced all religion and moved to Canada. He’s still haunted now. Questions come up in his life and he has to misdirect those hateful thoughts towards reason. His baggage is trunk-loads compared to most people.
But the main message I got from his speech is Fred Phelps really believes he’s chosen by God. To preach, to protest, to reach every person on earth with the message that they are going to hell. Only then will God come and take he and his followers up to heaven to watch everyone else burn for eternity.
How is this man not diagnosed with some mental disorder? If he believed he was Zeus’s messenger or George Washington’s or something else as crazy he’d be locked up. But because he believes it’s God giving him these thoughts it’s okay? That because his anger and hatred for the world is backed up by (specifically and no other) The King James Version it’s just fine? That he can abuse his children because the bible says it’s okay. That he can do half the shit he does and nobody stops him because it’s ordained? Why can’t child abuse charges be filed? The man believes he will never die, that he’ll live on and on until his message reaches every person then God will strike us all into hell and take him up into heaven to sit at his right hand.
Why would anyone want to sit next to a God like that? A God that expects constant adoration and fear? A God that allows, no encourages a man to beat his children with a rake handle for any mistake? A God that makes little children cry every night at the thought that everyone in the whole world except his family will burn in hell for eternity? This is just sick.
Well, I’m happy that Nate got out. That he eventually found reason and happiness. He never should have had to go through that bullshit to begin with. He seems to think the family is running out of funding and followers so maybe sooner than later we’ll be rid of the WBC.
All’s well that ends well?