Home > Uncategorized > Fred Phelps to Protest Memorial Service in Joplin, MO

Fred Phelps to Protest Memorial Service in Joplin, MO

by Noah Lugeons

There is no level of vile, inhumane, despicable, heinous, venomous heartlessness that would be considered unreasonable for the Westboro Baptist Church. There is no limit to their thoughtless bigotry. There is no act so unconscionable that we would put it passed Fred Phelps and his loyal band of homophobes.

No sooner had the dust settled over the devastation in Joplin, Missouri than the WBC was loudly proclaiming it to be the latest act of their spiteful and small-minded deity. Their website proudly proclaims this vast smiting to be yet another example of their fag-hating-god and his insatiable blood lust.

Filled with phrases like “We pray for your destruction…”, “God will not acquit you evil beasts of MO (who have sex with animals among your filthy sins)…” and, perhaps most telling of the dark and tortured part of the psyche their religiosity comes from, “Too many dead bodies to bury! That’s God’s Glory!”, their letter of praise to their vicious and petty lord reads like a love letter to death.

And they make it clear that this occasion requires the use of their most familiar weapon; bigoted picket signs.

It amazes me that our nation’s admirable defense of open-mindedness is such a ready tool for the small-minded. Our principled refusal to shut these people up exonerates our nation from the charges that Phelps levels against it (though I’m not sure it exonerates Obama from the charge of being the Anti-Christ). We, as a nation, are considerate even of the inconsiderate.

That is admirable if problematic. Putting up with the ranting, inbred fucktardery of people like Fred Phelps is a small price to pay for free speech and open dialogue. I just hope that there are plenty of us who are willing to stoop to Phelps level when he dies.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about protesting at Phelps funeral… or at least using it as an excuse to have a party as close to his funeral as legally allowable. I might be in for that, but ultimately it would be pointless. He’ll be dead and decomposing and won’t have the remotest inkling that anything ever happened. If you really wanted to turn the tables on him, it would have to be the funeral of his wife or a beloved son. Only then could he glean the slightest understanding of the suffering he’s caused to so many grieving parents.

But even then, his moral absolutism would shield him. When people speak for god, they are invincible. All who speak of god are in some way responsible for the misanthropy of douche-nozzles like Phelps. By empowering an invisible, fictional character with absolute ethical authority you leave a void where any lunatic who chooses to can stand in and speak for him. After all, it’s not like god can speak for himself. Does it matter if two people who claim to speak for the same imaginary space-daddy say different things? How can one message be more valid than the other?

  1. Caitlin
    May 28, 2011 at 12:24 AM


    I think that Fred Phelps is the epitome of disgusting. Actually, I think disgusting is too good of a word to use for him. I HATE what he preaches, says, does, thinks, I hate everything about him. He is the most vile and despicable person I think I have read about in a long time. I live in Springfield, Missouri and am completely sickened at the thought of him coming to Joplin to protest the memorial service. I have seen the disaster first-hand and cannot imagine what everyone there is going through. I can only relate by thinking of tragedies that have happened in my life and multiply it. If someone came to a funeral of my loved one and told me “God did it on purpose because you have sex with animals…” I would kill them.

    It makes me sad that he has helped with the terrible stigma that Christianity has. He is one of the reasons why people CANNOT stand Christians. I am all about equal rights and freedom of speech and blah blah blah, but doing the things that he is doing is not God’s work. Please do not base your opinion of Christianity on his actions alone. I’m sure you haven’t and have other valid reasons for being an Atheist and that is completely your right as a human being. I am not going to sit here and judge you, nor will I try to preach. I just want to stand up for those of us who are not trying to shove God down anyone’s throat and don’t believe that just because you are not a Christian, you are a terrible person and I should hate you.

    If these so called “Christians” knew ANYTHING about Christianity, then they would know that the Bible tells us NOT TO JUDGE and to be gracious and kind to everyone. We are NOT to Bible-thump or tell anyone that they are not worthy, that is the EXACT opposite of what the Bible says. It makes me really angry when people like Phelps do things like this that only further the bad image of the Church and of God.

    I’m sorry I went on a rant. Of course, I didn’t mean ANY of it towards you. It is all directed to Phelps and anyone like him. His work just PISSES me off . . .

    There are some cool people out there, even if we do believe in God 😉

  2. Caitlin
    May 28, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    . . .and of course, in my ranting, I did some judging of my own. I am only human and sometimes things fly out of my head before I think about what I am saying, that DOES NOT make it right. I felt guilty after saying things we should be “gracious and kind”, I was hateful and I apologize.

    When I said, “… I would kill them.” I obviously meant it figuratively. I apologize if I offended anyone by what I said, I meant no harm.

  3. May 28, 2011 at 1:28 AM

    First of all, I appreciate the gracious and eloquent way that you made your point. I think that even the most scathing of us do well to remember that no matter how much one opposes an institution, one need not dismiss the individuals that make up that institution. It would be unreasonable and unfair of anyone to judge Christianity by the standard of Fred Phelps, just as it would be unreasonable and unfair to judge Atheism by the standard of Stalin or Islam by the standard of Osama Bin Laden.

    Fred Phelps is not representative of any religion. I’m sure there are plenty of bigots who are as vile as Phelps that are atheists and I would not want to be judged by them.

    All that being said, there is still a strong anti-gay sentiment that is directly endorsed by a large segment of the Christian community. I understand that there are progressive Christians that have embraced equality for homosexuals but the dominant religious message on the issue is bigoted to an extreme level.

    Phelps is a gift to atheist writers. He would be a national joke if his actions weren’t too disgusting to laugh at. But he is also a warning. Religion is very attractive to submissive personalities, which means that religious figures should be extremely careful when they use harsh rhetoric. They aren’t. It is quite standard to hear a sermon on the evils of homosexuality in any number of churches throughout this country.

    Meanwhile, the secular world has stopped demonizing people and come to understand the futility in trying to “cure the gay”. We broaden our laws to accomodate a group that we now realize was being unfairly persecuted but the archaic voices in the church convince idiots like Fred Phelps that God’s wrath will be born if we become any more accepting of homosexuality.

    This problem will only get better when one of two things happen:

    (a) The progressive preachers start making as much noise as the homophobic bigots, or

    (b) Fewer people listen to preachers.

  4. Caitlin
    May 28, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    I completely agree with everything you said. Which I think is what makes me the most disheartened. I do believe in God and am a “christian”, meaning that I believe Jesus is the Son of God and was sent as the Messiah, etc. However, I do not believe in the “Church” anymore. I grew up in a fairly conservative home with very “godly” parents. They were never over-bearing or fanatics, but they also weren’t the brainwashed Sunday Christians who went because it was the “right” thing to do.

    When I got older and started observing how the church functioned and all the bull shit that was said and done every day just to make more money and “save” more people, I quickly turned away from it and began to worship on my own.

    Living in the area that is home to the headquarters for the Assemblies of God, it is even worse. We have churches that I commonly refer to as “Six Flags Over Jesus”. They have five services a day, over 15,000 members and have a Starbucks in the lobby. It is a sickening sight to see these people get sucked into the bigotry and fakeness of it all.

    There is a HUGE anti-gay movement in the church that is HIGHLY prejudice and just plain old hateful. “The leader of Girl Scouts is gay, therefore you shouldn’t buy their cookies.” “DisneyLand has an all gay day, therefore you shouldn’t watch Disney movies.” “But do make sure to pray for them and hope that part of God’s plan is to change them and you can help get them saved because every time you help someone find Jesus, you get a bigger mansion in Heaven” All crap coming straight from the mouths that preach on their pulpits about Jesus is love and live by example and “judge not, lest you be judged..”

    “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife…” but as long as you divorce your current wife and the coveted neighbor divorces her husband and then you get married in a church, then it is OK because you did the “right” thing. But God forbid that a gay man/woman walks into a church and expects to be treated as equal, let alone wants to “get saved”. Gay people can’t get saved, it’s just not Biblical. . . >:-|

    I get more out of Christianity by sitting at home, reading my Bible and praying on my own. I don’t go to church and don’t plan to until I can actually find a church that isn’t anything like the Church. I don’t see that happening ANY TIME soon so I don’t hold my breath.

    Find where it says in the Bible that gay = hell and I will eat my shoe.

    • May 28, 2011 at 10:06 AM

      Leviticus 18:22 – “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

      Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

      Of course, none of this suggests that homosexuals will go to hell, though the following passage more directly implies it:

      1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

      To be fair, one could easily use the bible in this cherry-picked way to justify slavery or to say that people with disabilities or tattoos go to hell. The problem might be that the modern theology that most people attach with Christianity is not contained in the Bible at all. It is an outgrowth of the values of our culture and incorporates many of biblical stories, but the actual words of the bible spell out a morality that was antiquated more than a millinea ago.

      I would think Christians would get more from studying a comendium of the philosophy of Christ than they would from reading the Bible. Churches dissuade their members from learning about the historical Christ and the history of how the bible came to be because knowing that history precludes thinking that the bible was a direct transcription from God. But if one takes the more progressive view that the bible is not intended to be taken literal, much more could be gained from studying the history of the bible than by studying the bible itself.

      By the way, I love the term “Six Flags over Jesus” for these Relgio-plex mega churhces. I hope you don’t mind if I use it in the future…

      • May 28, 2011 at 1:00 PM

        I was about to make the same point, that how one views scripture is purely about cherry picking. Who’s to say that Fred Phelps’ interpretation of scripture is less valid than Caitlin’s?

        Fred Phelps’ values are his own, and he finds the passages which support his position. In other words, believers in general bring their values to scripture, not take them from it. The problems begin when people don’t realize this and then try to shoehorn an antiquated moral zeitgeist into a modern (hopefully) more enlightened set of values, and use scripture in place of their brains.

        I don’t judge Christianity and Christians on their actions. That would be a logical fallacy. My only concern is whether Christianity is true, and I have yet to see any unequivocal or even good suggestive evidence to support any of its claims. Believers have a distorted view of who wrote the books in the Bible. They tend to think that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses (as if that is good evidence) when we know that this is simply false. And it just gets worse from there. But they are not told this, even though most pastors, etc. know this full well.

        However, the incidious nature of belief is ignored. It is not a coincidence that the US, unarguably the most religious of western nations, has the highest rates of violent crime, domestic abuse, teen suicide, teen pregnancy, teen STD transmission, etc. For some, religious belief is but one of a number of factors, but for others it is directly causal. For instance, I know of no secular groups promoting abstinence-only “education”. Yes, abstinence works. abstinence-only education, as study after study has shown, fails abysmally, and serves only to withhold critical information on safe sex and contraception. The result is that a teen in the US is four times more likely to contract an STD than in France.

        We have been watching religious zealots attempt to subvert constitutionally secular institutions. If you want to know why so many atheists are speaking up, this is the big one. Trying to marginalize such people (oh, but that’s not MY Christianity…, the “No True Scottsman” fallacy) is just willful blindness to the roll of religion in the theocratizing of the nation.

        When some nut tries to place a monument to the Ten Commandments in a courthouse (ignoring the fact that western legal systems are not based), we non-believers understandably object. My question is this: Where are the so-called moderate Christians? Where is their voice of dissent? If Christians don’t want to to be judged on the actions (or inactions), perhaps they should not put themselves in a position where they should be judged. I am under no illusions that US as a Christian nation would be less oppressive than Iran. The politically active religious right is far closer to Fred Phelps than moderates would like to admit.

        And, again, where are the dissenting voices of moderate Christians? My hypothesis is that while such people may make some quiet noises about “Fred Phelps being a hatemonger” (no disagreement from me there), most won’t protest loudly because a part of them agrees. Does anyone deny that most Christians – moderate or otherwise – believe that homosexuality is wrong? And they are very quick to voice this opinion and then in another sentence pull out the “judge not lest ye be judged” thing for something else that they happen to agree with.

        The US Constitution is based on Enlightenment values, which can not be arrived at from Christianity or any other religion. John Locke, while a Christian himself, had to put aside his religious beliefs in developing his political theories. In other words, he arrived at his conclusions not because of his religious belief, but in spite of them. I admire him for that.

        Personally, I find the Bible to be boring, amoral and in places downright violates my principles and values. That goes for the NT as well as the OT. I get more from reading Mark Twain than I ever did reading scripture.

  5. May 28, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    I’d like to take one thing back- I do make pronouncements about on the ethics of Christianity (or any other religion) based the actions of its adherents if the actions are motivated by their religious beliefs. We SHOULD be doing that. But that does not mean that we should necessarily paint a whole religion one way or the other. The proviso is that if bad actions are motivated by a religious tenet which is ubiquitous to all of that religion’s adherents, then we certain can (and should!) judge it accordingly. I’ve never thought the whole “judge not lest ye be judged” thing made any sense. Legal decisions are called “judgements”, for crying out loud, and for a reason. The problem is when people judge unfairly or based on poorly-constructed principles.

  6. Caitlin
    May 28, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    I know those passages, but none of then directly say those people will go to hell. And of course the loophole is that as long as you are saved, you will go to Heaven anyway. I was proving a point and I know that we both agree.

    I have a Septagent which is supposed to be the most untouched version of the Bible. The common Bible today has been threw so many hands that there is no telling what is true and what was made up by King Henry XIII or Alexander or the Pope or whoever else changed it around.

    The debate could go on and on between Christians and Atheist but I think you and I agree on most things. I enjoy having a conversation without feelings getting hurt or being told that I am stupid for believing in the invisible God.

    Of course you can use my term. I think its clever 🙂

    • May 28, 2011 at 2:31 PM

      “I know those passages, but none of then directly say those people will go to hell.”

      But Caitlin, (I can’t speak for Noah) but I don’t believe that hell even exists. There is simply no evidence for it. My more immediate concern is that the Bible clearly states that homosexuals and apostates (such as myself) must be killed by stoning, which you curiously don’t even acknowledge. Do you agree with this? If not, then you have to reconcile that with what is actually written in scripture. If you do, well… You don’t want to know what I think of such people.

  7. Caitlin
    May 28, 2011 at 6:08 PM


    I am so sorry I didn’t respond to your comments sooner! When I was commenting earlier, all I could see was the conversation between Noah and myself. Yours didn’t show up 😦

    Now, to address the question “My more immediate concern is that the Bible clearly states that homosexuals and apostates (such as myself) must be killed by stoning, which you curiously don’t even acknowledge. Do you agree with this? If not, then you have to reconcile that with what is actually written in scripture. If you do, well… You don’t want to know what I think of such people.” – I do not agree with homosexuals and apostates should be stoned. The Bible was written in times where a daily stoning was normal and just what people do.

    What I believe, well that is a loaded question and has an equally loaded and sometimes confusing answer. I do believe in Jesus and believe that He was a wonderful man, sent to show the people that there are other ways to live besides hatred, killing, stealing, coveting, etc. I believe He is the Son of God. I believe Heaven and I also believe in Hell. Now, I also believe that the Bible has been through SO many different hands over the years and there is NO telling what is even true in it anymore. I believe if you do things, as Jesus did, like people without judging, being kind to everyone you can, help when others need it, lead by example, and spread your ways to others, that you will go to Heaven.

    Our God is supposed to be a loving God who opens his arms to everyone who seeks them. Why, if that were true, would He then say, “but only if you aren’t gay and you don’t steal and you don’t kill and you don’t covet and read the Bible everyday, go to church everyday, try to save as many people as possible and threaten those you can’t save with Hell.” I simply cannot allow myself to think of Him being so picky. I think, and I could be very wrong, that He does love everyone and will welcome everyone into His arms and into Heaven (of course, if they are not wicked and do believe that He is who He is). I know what the Bible says and it completely says the opposite of how I feel. I think of the Bible as a story book that has some good ideas on how to live, but I also think the majority of the ideas in the book are HIGHLY outdated both in age and ideology.

    It is a tough situation to be in when I no longer hold faith in the Church or the Bible. I get told I’m wrong, a lot, and am highly criticized by other “Christians”. I don’t really care too much because in the end, we will see who was right and will have to deal with it then. Nothing I can do in my life will change what happens after I die. I believe in fate and that everything happens for a reason and that everything I do is already written. Everything I do is what I am supposed to do and I take it one day at a time. I can only lead by example and show others that my life is really good. I am a very kind person and nice to just about everyone I meet. I have the occasional attitude when it comes to road rage and terrible waitresses, but I am only human. I do pray and ask for help and strength and will to do whatever it is I need to do. Things have happened in my life that I only can thank God for helping me through, because others haven’t.

    I said earlier that if you weren’t wicked and believed in Jesus, no matter the circumstances, you would go to Heaven. “Caitlin, are you saying a murderer can just say ‘I believe in God’ and then go to Heaven?” Nope. I believe that if you are truly saved, then you won’t do those things. If a person who violently killed x number of people is on death row and right before they push the final meds he says, “I believe! HAHA!” then no, I don’t think he’s gettin in those pearly gates. But if after he committed those terrible crimes and truly thinks about what he did and why he did it, maybe he comes to the conclusion that those WERE terrible things and he should ask for forgiveness. God forgives, He forgives EVERYTHING. If after he asks for forgiveness and he changes his ways and then says, “I believe!” well I’m inclined to hope that yes, in fact, he would go to Heaven. Why, if you are gay but you lead a fantastic life of loving people and being kind and doing the right things would you be damned for eternity in a pit of fire? That’s just rude! I don’t think it works like that. I hope and pray it doesn’t work like that.

    So, I don’t know if what I said makes any sense or changes or view of me but that’s just how I feel. I’m young and fairly impressionable so maybe what I say sounds stupid and naive. But, I can only hope that there are more people out there like I am and are not bullying people around and trying to shove Christianity down others throats. Why would anyone want to be a Christian if that is how they’re going to act? Beats me.

  8. May 28, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    I believe that your answer, while in depth, really doesn’t speak to Shameless’s charge. Clearly he (or she) doesn’t beleive in the literal proclamations of the bible because he (or she) doesn’t believe in the bible at all.

    But what I’d like to address is in your 3rd paragraph where you give us a summary of your beliefs. You profess to believing in Jesus, believing that he is the son of God, believing that your soul can be redeemed by him. The only evidence to support such a claim comes from the bible and, as we’ve already established, you could use the same source to justify what Fred Phelps is doing.

    To say that you beleive in only the parts of the bible that you agree with is almost meaningless. If you change your beliefs, you can simply change what parts of the bible you believe in. Thus it is not a source of morality, but rather a means to an afterlife.

    I don’t doubt that you are a good and moral person and I would hope that you don’t doubt the same of Shameless or myself. I also believe that if you lost your faith entirely, you would be no less ethical for it.

    Finally, I would also like to apologize for holding up the conversation. I didn’t approve the comment quickly enough.

    • May 30, 2011 at 12:53 PM

      I believe that your answer, while in depth, really doesn’t speak to Shameless’s charge. Clearly he (or she) doesn’t beleive in the literal proclamations of the bible because he (or she) doesn’t believe in the bible at all.

      Exactly. Scripture is a Rorschach test which tells me a great deal about the person quoting it. Fred Phelps can equally justify his position through scripture as Caitlin can. Not a surprise when one considers the contradictory positions the various authors take on different issues. A number of books were written in direct opposition to others, or even (in the case of Luke versus Mark) to eliminate them. And Noah is correct. Caitlin, you did not answer the crucial question as to how you can justify the claim that your position scripturally while saying Fred Phelps can not when it is clear that he can and does.

      While I think a rabbinical teacher/carpenter named Yeshua existed (though there is an interesting set of arguments which refutes this) since there is nothing extraordinary about this claim (and there are some reasons to accept the claim a historical Jesus existed), the evidence for Jesus the son of god is nonexistent where extraordinary evidence is required in order to accept the claim. The Bible is not authoritative on anything, though it does offer insight into the thinking of the times. Nor do I find any evidence for souls, heaven, hell, etc. at all compelling, but whatever floats your boat. I’d far rather deal with believers that I can get along with than the Fred Phelpses of the world in which there are altogether too many.

  9. May 29, 2011 at 4:44 AM

    I never thought of it that way, well put!

  10. May 30, 2011 at 7:01 AM

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