Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr. (born 1929) is an American pastor, former attorney, and leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, a self-described Primitive Baptist, Calvinist
cult church in Topeka, Kansas, with around 60 members, most of whom are members of his extended family. Phelps and his church are infamous for their fanatical and vitriolic anti-homosexual rhetoric, made manifest by many demonstrations outside funerals and public events, which feature "colorful" picket signs emblazoned with cartoons of men having anal sex and mantras that usually take the form of "God hates [insert bête noir du jour here]." His conduct violates both the spirit and the letter of Christianity, and has garnered a widespread negative response, including a spot on the UK Home Office's list of individuals prohibited from entering the country. He has recently (as of 2010 or so) been making fewer public appearances and has handed over control over the day-to-day administration of the WBC to his daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper.
Once upon a time, Fred Phelps was a civil rights lawyer who eventually was disbarred for committing perjury on a case he filed on his own behalf. However, today his whole life is devoted to homophobia, to the point of alienating the entire world. Phelps' obsession with homosexuality raises a number of interesting questions.
Phelps is estranged from four of his thirteen children, allegedly due to "discipline that amounted to abuse". He has the dubious distinction of being the only person in recorded history who makes Sean Hannity (among others) seem rational.
 Westboro Baptist Church
Phelps's organization, the Westboro Baptist
Cult Church, is based in Topeka, Kansas, US. Its first public service was held on the afternoon of Sunday, November 27, 1955. Today, the church has about 40 members, most of whom are Phelps' family members. The church is described and monitored as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center.
The church makes a habit of picketing funerals, particularly those of soldiers (regardless of their sexual orientation), on the grounds that said soldiers did wrong fighting for a nation that doesn't execute homosexuals. They have been conducting these pickets since 1991. Interestingly, WBC also pickets many Christian organizations, including Jerry Falwell's funeral, because those organizations fail to believe that homosexuals should be executed, the viewpoint which WBC holds (that, and because Falwell referred to Fred Phelps as a "first-class nut"). In addition to their primary website, "God Hates Fags", they also run a whole site family, with URLs generally on the pattern of "godhatesexample.com". (Considering the views of Fred Phelps, you'd almost think that when they say "God" they mean "Fred Phelps.") Given the number of things that their god hates, he probably also hates the website, example.com, too, and possibly even Google, which might end up finding example.com for those searching for it.
Another notable target is Matthew Shepard, a homosexual who was murdered in a homophobic assault — the protest at his funeral initially gained Fred Phelps a good deal of attention. Phelps also hates Sweden for their policies on hate speech about homosexuals. He has even blamed the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on Thailand's large Swedish tourist population. Other targets are countries in general, politicians, anyone prominent, and victims of both crime and natural disasters. Anti-Semitism has been prominent in Westboro as of late: they now target Jews as frequently as homosexuals.
In 2012, the WBC apparently wanted to picket the funeral of Whitney Houston—but instead they decided to Photoshop themselves into a shot of the funeral procession.
Phelps's sermons, some of which have been broadcast on radio or on his website, tend to last for around an hour, and consist of an old man rambling incoherently to himself, getting agitated and shouting every few minutes, and quote mining the scriptures to support his warped and hateful attitudes.
Westboro Baptist Church consists mostly of Phelps's own family (though apparently not his entire family), and displays many of the indicators of being an abusive, coercive cult. Even the KKK has protested against it.
It's also considered very much an open question whether the Westboro Baptist Church is a church in fact as well as in name, or whether its churchness is simply a convenient legal façade with important benefits in the areas of taxes, finance, and First Amendment protections. Not many bona fide churches have a congregation composed (almost) entirely of one family, and the stunningly high proportion of lawyers among them is an added note of interest.
 Russell Brand interview
In 2012 British comedian Russell Brand did an interview with two of the members of the church on his his show Brand X with Russell Brand. The two showed up looking like biker gang wannabes. After a brief and largely mocking interview, Russell brought on three gay friends, who also largely mocked the two. Oh, and they gave him a sign that said "Fag Pimp Brand", a moniker he embraced for the episode.
 Theological views
The theology of the WBC is an extreme variant of Calvinism. According to their beliefs:
- Man is in a state of sin, and can only be saved by the grace of God.
- This grace is not given freely to all, but only to God's "elect".
- The elect are the people whom God has foreordained to salvation. All others are reprobates, who have been created for the express purpose of being sent to Hell. This is the Calvinist belief of unconditional election, a.k.a. "double predestination," which is a form of determinism; it explains why the Westboro Baptist Church protests aren't about proselytizing. The intent of their protests is to thank God for smiting us.
- Those whom God chooses to condemn, he causes to sin by "hardening their hearts" against himself.
- It is the duty of the elect to proclaim God's word (even though God will not cause the reprobates to listen). Their goal is not to win converts, or to "save" others, but simply to rebuke others for their sins.
- All events on earth happen because of God's will. This includes natural disasters and actions committed by people. Events such as Hurricane Katrina, the September 11th attacks on New York and the financial recession of 2008-09 are therefore celebrated by the WBC as God's righteous destruction of reprobates.
- It is also the duty of the elect to praise and thank God for all such judgments. This is why the Phelps family is often seen with signs reading "Thank God for 9/11" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers". They offered similar thanks for the recent $11 million judgment against them, because they see it as proof that God is hardening the hearts of men against them.
- The Elect pretty much includes the members of Westboro Baptist, and practically nobody else.
Their obsession with homosexuality is the result of the widespread acceptance of homosexuality in the world. For the members of the WBC, all sins separate man from God, and they do not claim that the elect are without sin. However, according to their beliefs, people must sincerely repent of their sins before they can be forgiven. For the members of the WBC, "gay pride" and the acceptance of homosexuality is tantamount to having "murderer pride" or thinking of child rape as being just another, equally valid form of sexual expression. Anyone who doesn't condemn homosexuality as evil is, according to the WBC, a "fag enabler", and deserving of divine retribution.
 Phelps and the religious right
While many conservatives try to disassociate Phelps from themselves and the conservative movement in general, some of his viewpoints are very similar to other members of the religious right. Like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, Phelps associates recent tragedies inflicted upon the United States with God's wrath for the nation's growing acceptance of homosexuality. The difference between them lies in Phelps's acceptance, and even encouragement, of these actions as part of God's will, while Robertson apparently thinks God is going too far by letting so many Christians die.
The extreme hate of Phelps's church has led to a multitude of vigilante responses, some of which have been violent, most of which are non-violent. The Patriot Guard Riders are a group that physically blocks the presence of the Westboro Baptist Church, and students at a school counter-protested the Church. The Phelps family also seemed to take offense to a reporter's very friendly questions during an interview.
For a time, the parody religion meme "God Hates Figs" was popular in colleges and online, under the theory that if you can't beat 'em, make fun of 'em. Another such parody was entitled "God Hates Shrimp", whose founder called up the Phelps' on their radio show.
At one instance, when the church was protesting a funeral at Topeka, Kansas, someone slashed the tires of their van. They drove all over Topeka, trying to find someone that would fix the problem, and every repair service told them that they wouldn't help them.
 Getting sued
Phelps and most of his spiritually malformed spawn are lawyers, and routinely threaten to sue anyone who interferes with their hatemongering.
In 2007, the family of Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder were awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages and a further $8 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress after Phelps and his fellow hatemongers had protested at Snyder's funeral by displaying signs including one that said "Thank God for Dead Soldiers". Phelps predicted that a higher court would overturn the decision "in five minutes" on freedom of speech grounds, and was proved right: the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal overturned the decision in September 2009, ordering Snyder's family to pay costs of $16,510. The family appealed to the Supreme Court in March 2010 and appealed for donations in order to keep the case going. March 2, 2011, The Supreme Court Ruled in favor of the WBC in an 8-1 decision, Justice Alito being the lone dissenter.
 Anonymous vs. WBC, or vice versa
In late February 2011, the WBC claimed that anonymous had threatened to take down their sites. Anonymous claimed it was an inside job, just an attempt to gain publicity, and not a genuine threat of attack.
On 27 February, the David Pakman Show hosted Shirley Phelps-Roper and a member of anonymous on a live call-in show. During the course of the ten minute segment, after denying previous threats, and in response to the shrill Godbotherer's claims of invincibility, the representative from anonymous pointed out that anon had left a message on their server. He - or they - then proceeded to hack the site.
Godhatesfags.com is still unavailable as of May 12, but its subpages can still be accessed via search engines. (Back up, unfortunately...)
After the Sandy Hook massacre, some part of Anonymous has released phone numbers and addresses of the clan to the internet after they cheerfully applauded the death of over twenty people.  If Westboro wanted attention from Anonymous now, they certainly got it. 
 Fred and family
 Domestic abuse
Many sources agree that Phelps regularly beat his children, especially his estranged sons, Nate and Mark Phelps. An exposé called Addicted to Hate, written by estranged members, sheds light on life with Phelps. Two of his children were briefly taken into protective custody after marks of abuse were found, but Phelps intimidated the Topeka authorities into dropping the case; the records of this would have been destroyed had he not sued the Topeka Public Schools over the matter. One Christmas Day, Phelps beat his son Nate into shock with more than 200 strokes from a mattock handle after receiving a report that he had nicked some bulbs for Christmas lights.
Phelps also encouraged husbands in his congregation to punch their wives; indeed, it was reported that one fellow took this to heart and later had to call Phelps for bail. Three of the children say Mrs. Phelps was thrown down a flight of stairs.
Nate Phelps finally ran away from home on his 18th birthday. He now lives in Canada, is an atheist, works as a public speaker on LGBT rights and the connection between religious extremism and child abuse, and is writing a book about his life as the son of Fred Phelps as well as the subject of a documentary currently in production.
 Fred's "work ethic"
Fred Phelps spent so much time hating everyone and beating his kids he couldn't be bothered to provide for his family, making his children earn most, if not all, of the money.
"It was an unusual family by any account. From a young age, Fred Phelps' children earned a major part of the family's income, perhaps even all of it, when they were required to sell candy door-to-door for hours after school each day."
 Margie Phelps
Perhaps because Fred Phelps is getting too old, Margie Phelps is playing a more prominent role in the WBC. A British youngster, Harry Moseley had recently died from a brain tumour at the age of 11, after raising £500,000 for charity.  Then Margie wrote to Harry’s devastated family telling them they should have taught him about Heaven and Hell instead of encouraging him to raise money for charity and help people. While Americans might be used to that type of unpleasantness from the WBC, people in the UK were surprised and shocked.  
 Shirley Phelps-Roper
Shirley Phelps-Roper (one of Phelps' children) is the church's most active spokesperson, runs the church's day-to-day operations and is in charge of organizing their many protests. By being so active in the church and speaking on its behalf so often, Phelps-Roper has likely doomed the lot of them to hell. She was featured heavily in the 2007 BBC documentary The Most Hated Family in America and the 2011 follow-up America's Most Hated Family in Crisis both presented by British documentarian Louis Theroux. She and her father were banned from the United Kingdom when they planned to protest in Basingstoke. Other members of Westboro could be flagged and stopped if they attempted to enter the country.
One example of Phelps-Roper's outpourings took place on October 3 2006, when she managed to shock Fox News pundits Alan Colmes and Sean Hannity by claiming that the five Amish schoolgirls murdered earlier that week deserved to die. Ironically, her first child (Samuel Phelps-Roper) was born out of wedlock, and everyone knows the Bible says that women who aren't virgins on their wedding night are to be put to death.
In 2013, her daughter, Megan Phelps-Roper publicly announced that she'd left the WBC, and that the family has since cut her off.
 Stephen Drain
Unlike most members of the church, Stephen ("Steve") Drain is not related to the Phelps clan by blood or marriage and was not born into it. In the late 1990s, he made a documentary film, known variously as Hatemongers or Fred: The Movie, which involved extensive interactions with the Westboro church. Following the completion of the film, he and his family joined the church. Drain handles much of the multimedia for the church. This includes designing the protest signs, maintaining its website, and editing video for the website.
Drain looks like he may be Phelps' successor, judging by the video "Lying False Prophets Are To Blame" in which he is captioned as "Watchman", is wearing a suit and tie, and gives a very Fred-like rant.
 Lauren Drain
This former member of the Westboro Baptist Church (daughter of the aforementioned Stephen) has written a tell-all book called Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church. In an interview, Drain hinted at the possibility that Phelps may be a self-hating gay. While she hasn't actually directly stated that Phelps is gay, the possibility raises the question of Haggard's Law.
 WBC makes videos!
Fred hates Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. For someone who seems to hate sex, he sure is obsessed with coming. Note that this is probably the only time someone has claimed that The Daily Show was predicted in Biblical prophecy.
And Fred hates da media.
For some reason, Westboro also makes Lady Gaga parodies.
 An incomplete list of things Fred Phelps and his god hate
- Countries and nationalities
- The Irish
- The United States (fag country)
- The British
- China (for being an atheist country)
- Uganda (Ironically, since they are anti-Gay)
- Literally every single nation and disputed territory 
- Organisations and companies
- NASA (for not believing in a young Earth)
- The Roman Catholic Church
- The Media (Fag Media Shame)
- Professional basketball
- KKK - Even they found WBC extreme
- Other groups and demographics
- Homosexuals (obviously)
- People who don't hate gays as much as he does (pretty much everyone)
- Adulterers (unless it's Shirley Phelps of course).
- Anyone who believes in free will
- American soldiers
- Children from Oklahoma
- Conservatives (not anti-gay enough).
- Anti-Nazi Groups
- Neo-Nazis - "Fags are the real Nazis" - WBC (even though Hitler executed homosexuals in gas chambers)
- Anonymous, 4chan, /b/ - Hacked their website which apparently had "protection from God", where can I get a God-level security server?
- His children
- Steve Jobs  
- Matthew Shepard
- George W. ("Fag Pimp") Bush
- Oprah (along with "filthy nigger bitches" in general)
- Mr. Rogers (a minister with a popular children's television program who didn't use it to attack gays)
- Barack Obama, who to them is the Antichrist predicted in the Bible.
- Jerry Falwell (Too nice to gays)
- Michael Jackson
- The "ol' fag-enabling heretic", Billy ("Balaam") Graham
- The Queen Mother (widow of King George VI)
- Heath Ledger
- Lady Gaga
- Ronnie James Dio
- Jon Stewart
- Stephen Colbert
- Anonymous readers of this site.
- Everything else
- Formula 1
- Santa Claus
- The World (godhatestheworld.com)
- Heavy metal music
- Earth - godhatesearth.com
- Jesus. No, seriously. 
- Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
- Long walks on the beach
- Alpha Centauri
- Everything not listed below. (They don't yet have a reason to hate it? Don't worry, they'll find one.)
 A complete list of things Fred Phelps and his god don't hate
- Fred Phelps
- Westboro Baptist Church
 See also
- Addicted to Hate
- American Taliban
- Reaction formation
- God hates shrimp
- A page which includes what
Fred PhelpsGod hates
- The Church at Kaweah
- Haggard's Law
- The Most Hated Family in America , BBC documentary
- BBC News - Louis Theroux: Westboro Baptist Church revisited - Theroux presents a follow-up documentary on the Phelpses.
- Phelps' websites. Unpleasant and NSFW. Enter at your own risk... ideally, from the rear. Give them a giggle.
- Things have to be pretty bad if even Sean Hannity thinks you're a scumbag
- Nate Phelps explains his family. "Of course, this was all interpreted by him as the actions of god’s enemies trying to destroy him and his church."
- Fred Phelps exposed The complete text of Addicted to Hate provided by Topeka's anti-Phelps underground.
- Nate Phelps' own website
- ↑ "My take: Fred Phelps is wrong about the gospel, right about the law." Wayne Grudem (Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary_, CNN.com
- ↑ State v. Phelps, 598 P. 2d 180 - Kan: Supreme Court 1979
- ↑ http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2001/spring/a-city-held-hostage/on-the-inside
- ↑ http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,217975,00.html
- ↑ For example, http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2009/10/13/westboro-baptist-attacks-%E2%80%98filthy-jews%E2%80%99-in-new-videos/
- ↑ "Westboro Baptist Church Tweets fake image of Whitney Houston funeral protest", GoPride.com
- ↑ "[Fred Phelps]'s a sociopath.", "Rev. Fred Phelps' son tells about years of abuse at Westboro Baptist Church", GoPride.com
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Addicted to Hate. (http://blank.org/addict/) Fred Phelps exposed. The complete text of Addicted to Hate provided by Topeka's anti-Phelps underground.
- ↑ KKK protests Westboro Baptist Church at Arlington National Cemetery
- ↑ Interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JAErHl7lZ4
- ↑ A Bible passage cited in opposition to making these sorts of judgments is Luke 13:1-5, in which Jesus disavows the idea that some people who had suffered badly were "worse sinners" than others.
- ↑ http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=S8cN2pB3MCE
- ↑ $11 Million Awarded in Funeral Protest Suit, The Washington Post, November 1, 2007
- ↑ 4th Circuit nixes $5 million verdict against funeral protesters, First Amendment Center, September 9, 2009
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 Father Of Dead Marine Ordered To Pay Legal Fees Of Westobro Baptist Church Protesters, The Huffington Post, March 29 2010
- ↑ Westboro Church Protests Head To Supreme Court, The Huffington Post, March 8 2010
- ↑ High court finds for WBC, Topeka Capital-Journal, March 2, 2011
- ↑ US Supreme Court allows anti-gay funeral protests, BBC News, March 2, 2011
- ↑ http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/304090
- ↑ http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/02/phelps_v_anonymous_or_phelps_v.php
- ↑ http://anonnews.org/?p=press&a=item&i=494
- ↑ http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57559468-93/hackers-target-westboro-baptist-church-after-newtown-threat/
- ↑ Anonymous Vows To 'Destroy' Westboro Baptist Church Over Plan To Picket Sandy Hook Funerals
- ↑ Largely confimed by Nate Phelps at http://reedsecular.org/2008/12/18/like-father-like-son-inside-the-chaotic-world-of-nate-phelps/
- ↑ http://hopeandpolitics.blogspot.com/2006/07/abuse-as-theology-fred-phelps-son.html
- ↑ Nate has his own Wikipedia page
- ↑ http://www.alternet.org/activism/son-bigot
- ↑ http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2001/spring/a-city-held-hostage/on-the-inside
- ↑ History of Harry Moseley
- ↑ http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/10/10/harry-moseley-s-mum-hits-out-at-vile-christian-group-s-twitter-tirade-97319-29567350/
- ↑ http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/10/10/harry-moseley-s-devastated-mum-hits-out-at-vile-christian-group-s-attack-on-11-year-old-hours-after-his-death-97319-29567350/2/
- ↑ 1 Corinthians 14:34-35: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
- ↑ Brit ban for hate Preachers, The Sun, 18 February 2009
- ↑ Radical Westboro Baptist Church Claims Amish Community Was Punished by an Angry God, Fox News, 5 October 2006
- ↑ Megan Phelps-Roper Has Left the Westboro Baptist Church
- ↑ http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/10/banished-surviving-westboro-drain-review
- ↑ Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps May Be Gay, Suggests Former Member Lauren Drain
- ↑ http://youtu.be/Xmm-4HQ_hFU?t=11m37s
- ↑ http://www.godhatestheworld.com/india/index.html
- ↑ http://www.godhatestheworld.com/
- ↑ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2013/05/01/westboro-baptist-church-to-protest-nba-playoff-games/
- ↑ 
- ↑ KOCO (Oklahoma City): Kansas Church Plans To Picket Child Funerals: Westboro Baptist Church Cheers Child Deaths
- ↑ http://rt.com/usa/news/westboro-funeral-jobs-phelps-247/
- ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/06/westboro-baptist-church-steve-jobs-funeral_n_998032.html
- ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/05/fred-phelps-lady-gaga-par_n_412080.html
- ↑ 
- ↑ 
- ↑ https://mobile.twitter.com/WBCSays/status/377212727346724864