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How Did Fred Phelps Go From Civil Rights Hero to Fag Basher? His Son Nate Tells All

Nate Phelps, son the son Fred, says his family’s Westboro Baptist Church engages in a “twisted thought process.” It’s enough to make you think Nate doesn’t approve of his father’s creation!

“Estranged” is perhaps too light a word to describe Nate’s relationship with his anti-gay family, known for their performance art. In what’s billed as his first television interview, Nate tells Peter Klein of Canada’s The Standard that growing up under Fred was all “about the religion,” complete with “corporal punishments” for “anything [including] not paying attention in church.” That includes Fred beating his wife (Nate’s mother). The beatings would sometimes “last for hours.” Then there was the part where he forced his seven- and eight-year-old kids to running marathon distances. Nate says he grew up “terrified of” his father.

But might, at the end of all of this, there be reason to believe Fred Phelps himself is a giant homo? Likely not, says Nate. “I don’t have anything that I can specifically point to. I’ve heard that kind of argument. There just isn’t anything there in my own experiences that would suggest that. In fact, there was no discussion about sexuality in any sense beyond that condemnation behind the pulpit.”

If you’ve got the time, watch this whole interview. Because while Fred’s granddaughter Megan offers entertaining interviews, Nate is the first to truly put these teachings in context.

By:           editor editor
On:           Apr 5, 2010
Tagged: , , ,

  • 30 Comments
    • David Ehrenstein
      David Ehrenstein

      Nate’s speech is on You Tube in six parts. It’s really worth looking at as it goes into his father’s beliefs and practices in great detail.

      Is Fred secretly a Big Old Mo’?

      Is the Pope Catholic?

      ALL hysterical homophobes are gay. ALL of them.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stef
      Stef

      What a good interview (granted Peter Klein is kind of bad with interupting and not letting Nate speak at times). I like Nate a lot. I like his outlook and how he came to make his decisions about religion, and his willingness to let his kids make up their own minds.

      I don’t think many parents get how utterly terrifying religion is for a 4, 5, 6 year old child. And I agree, inflicting that kind of fear – that you can go somewhere and burn and be tortured forever if you step out of line – is wrong, if not cruel. I understand the concept of punishment, but I feel like 10 minutes in time out is a far cry from eternity of damnnation.

      He didn’t mention that Shirley’s own son is also estranged from the family, with a wife and son of his own. He is also really cool and grounded.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • adman
      adman

      Hating Queers is big bu$ine$$, don’t forget. You never can tell with a true paranoid whether they believe what they say themselves, it’s all smoke and mirrors, as in drama.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 1 · David Ehrenstein wrote, “ALL hysterical homophobes are gay.” … not necessarily. Fred Phelps, based on what his estranged son said, seems to be an obsessive control freak taken to pathological extremes. He also seems to be a publicity whore.

      His hysterical anti-gay activities may have sprung from several sources:

      1. Extreme religious fundamentalism in which Biblical quotations are taken out of context and treated as absolute truths regardless of what was originally meant.

      2. An extreme reaction when his authority is questioned, typical of a control freak.

      3. An almost pathological need for public attention.

      Once he hit on the idea of picketing a funeral (outrageous enough to generate publicity) and got a severely negative reaction, his obsessive control-freak nature may have taken over, leading him to go on an all-out anti-gay crusade (perhaps figuratively resembling the crusaders who showed up after the fiasco associated with Walter the Penniless – the ones who left Germany following a goat and a goose, both supposedly divine [ http://www.logoi.com/notes/crusades/satans_soldiers_christs_livery.html ]). Let’s just say that the goat and goose people where not Western Civilization’s finest moment.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Ehrenstein
      David Ehrenstein

      No one goes on and on and on and on about getting fucked in the ass so much without wanting it.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alan brickman
      alan brickman

      Hating Homos is about money and a lot of it…..

      Apr 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 5 · David Ehrenstein wrote, “No one goes on and on and on and on about getting fucked in the ass so much without wanting it.”

      … no sane person does that. But who said Phelps is sane? Plus, he seems to really get off on pissing people off and in running other people’s lives. He goes out of his way to be as offensive as possible whenever someone doesn’t tote the line.

      He was at one point a civil rights lawyer. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Phelps , “Phelps’ daughter was quoted as saying, ‘We took on the Jim Crow establishment, and Kansas did not take that sitting down. They used to shoot our car windows out, screaming we were n****r lovers,’ and that the Phelps law firm made up one-third of the state’s federal docket of civil rights cases.” We normally think of civil rights lawyers as being the “good guys”, but in Phelps case (given his subsequent behavior) pissing people off or controlling them may have been his personal goal.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • joe
      joe

      Isnt it ironic that these cowardly members of Children of the Corn are afraid to use the N word in public, in reference to the Black Community, only cause the Blacks wouldn’t tolerate such behavior. and they would cause them bodily harm to these phonies regardless of any 1st amendments protecting them.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 3:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeremy
      Jeremy

      Gosh! Watching the interviewer talks is just awful. The worst I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, Nate speaks excellent.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Otis Criblecoblis
      Otis Criblecoblis

      Got to strongly agree with David E.

      No straight guy who is secure in his own sexuality has such a strong need to attack gays. The fact that Phelps is obsessed with gays is just not normal for an alleged straight person.

      Just as Ted Haggard regularly railed against gays – while simultaneously banging guys from his own church & paying for male sex – Fred Phelps is fooling no one with his charade.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 5:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 10 · Otis Criblecoblis wrote, “Got to strongly agree with David E. No straight guy who is secure in his own sexuality has such a strong need to attack gays. The fact that Phelps is obsessed with gays is just not normal for an alleged straight person.”

      But Phelps is very much an anomaly in so many ways that you can’t draw conclusions based on how a normal person would act and people who have had a lot of personal experience with him have come to a different conclusion. According to http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=44534 Suzanne James, one of Phelps’ targets, said, “A ‘fag’ is anyone who disagrees with Fred Phelps.” It seems that Phelps uses the word ‘fag’ like a typical pottie-mouth uses “m____f____r”.

      Read http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2001/spring/a-city-held-hostage :
      —-
      Suzanne James, who recently resigned after eight years in the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office as director of victim services, says Phelps’s opposition to homosexuality obscures a deeper purpose — promoting himself and hurting others.

      “I’m so tired of people calling him an ‘anti-gay activist’,” James told the Report. “He’s not an anti-gay activist. He’s a human abuse machine.”

      The most striking aspect of Westboro Baptist pickets is the relentlessly personal nature of their taunts. Their targets are only sometimes homosexuals; as often as not, they are simply people who somehow crossed the Phelpses, often unintentionally.

      WBC members have picketed the funerals of Bill Clinton’s mother, Sonny Bono and Frank Sinatra. Even Bob Dole, Jerry Falwell, the Ku Klux Klan, Santa Claus and the 17 sailors killed aboard the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen last October have been attacked as “fags” or “supporters of the fag agenda.”

      One little girl, going with her parents to see the “Nutcracker” ballet in a Topeka hall, had WBC pickets hiss at her: “Did your Daddy stick in his prick in your ass last night?”

      Typically, targets are Topeka locals, whose names are memorialized in lurid WBC picket signs protesting “Fag Meneley” (for former sheriff Dave Meneley), “Bull Dyke James” (Suzanne James), “Jo*ANus Hamilton” (Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton). Once the signs are made, the WBC congregants go to work.
      —-

      Apr 5, 2010 at 6:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hephaestion
      hephaestion

      I agree with David Ehrenstein: Fred Phelps is a self-hating closet case. Nate Phelps is a great guy, and I love this interview with him, but he might be convinced that his dad is a sociopathic closet case if he were made more aware of what to look for in such people. I suspect he just doesn’t know what signs to look for. But we may never know for sure.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 8:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • terrwill
      terrwill

      The the twisted “logic” of that band of wicked inbred scumbags defies definition. How can one spew the vile haterd they toss at the grieving families of dead soldiers, who are not even Gay? In many cases you will find a virulant anti-Gay person actually is in fact Gay. However to cast such a wide net of hatred to so many shows a truly demented mind “at work” if you can call it that.

      I would like to see demonstrators single out a single younger generation member at each protest and mercilessly personally attack that one with signs and chants like taunting Jacob as being a fag, or Megan as a reprehensive looking girl.They all attend public schools. If they knew that at each protest they would be singled out and the taunts would be all over the web, I think the appeal would soon die out for the newer inbred members of the clan to attend and continue the protests…………..

      Apr 5, 2010 at 8:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jeffree
      jeffree

      @terrwill: Great idea! The younger Phelps may possibly be salvageable from the family business. And spill secrects from the inner scrotum –i mean sanctum,,,,

      How brave it was for Nate 2 break away & speak the truth. I hope hes got 24 hr armed guards & a panic button 2 stay safe from those nutbaggers !

      Apr 5, 2010 at 8:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 12 · hephaestion wrote, “I agree with David Ehrenstein: Fred Phelps is a self-hating closet case. Nate Phelps is a great guy, and I love this interview with him, but he might be convinced that his dad is a sociopathic closet case if he were made more aware of what to look for in such people.”

      Nate Phelps seemed to agree that his father is a sociopath but he saw no evidence of his father being a closet case. Aside from that, don’t discount Fred Phelps’ Calvinist theology, particularly the idea of a a chosen few who will go to Heaven while everyone else goes to Hell.

      Since there is no procedure to determine who is saved and who is not, they look for any confirmation that they are saved. One is provided by the idea that the “righteous” are reviled by men. E.g., 1 Peter 4:12-14 : “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (Note to atheists: you do not have to believe what is in the Bible to note that particular parts of it might motivate people who do believe it in strange ways.)

      So, using his twisted logic, if you get “the world” (i.e., everyone else) to revile you, that can be used as proof that you are “saved”. Fred Phelps thinks he is one of the few people who are saved. So, he may be using the expected response from gay-rights activists to generate proof (in his mind) of his “salvation”. This hypothesis BTW not only explains his inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric, but also his earlier career as a civil-rights lawyer – the general population (due to the prejudices of the time) reviled him for that too – and his picketing of military funerals.

      Keep in mind too that his ability to control his followers is predicated on the belief that he is in some sense the chosen one. He has a lot of motivation to do anything that helps confirm that to his followers.

      Apr 5, 2010 at 10:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sol Invictus
      Sol Invictus

      All of you assholes miss the core point. Fred Phelps was an Al Gore delegate in 2000, there are pictures of him and Al Gore with their arms around each other, and Fred came in third for the Democratic nomination for governor of Kansas recently.

      Got a clue now?????

      Apr 6, 2010 at 1:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jeffree
      jeffree

      @Sol Invictus: Helpful hint: calling other people a$$holes in your opening phrase makes them:
      **Flag you for violation of Queerty’s posting policy
      **Disregard whatever you have 2 say after the insult
      **Realize you have a poor vocabulary, no logic, & a grudge,

      When you manage to graduate from Itawamba Agricultural High School & get a job as GREETER at Walmart, please let us know, sugarpie.

      Apr 6, 2010 at 1:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CondeNasty
      CondeNasty

      All I have to say is that when Fred Phelps dies we must mobilize in the millions to picket his funeral…

      Apr 6, 2010 at 6:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • terrwill
      terrwill

      @jeffree:
      “When you manage to graduate from Itawamba Agricultural High School & get a job as GREETER at Walmart, please let us know, sugarpie”……….Smack,Bam,Pow! You Go Jeffy!

      @CondeNasty: I agree, however I kinda sorta hate to say this, but I think karma would make the world right if of his kids die before him, and have the masses picket that funeral to see how quickly the “FUN” comes out of a FUNeral for that scumbag savage………

      Apr 6, 2010 at 8:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shawn
      Shawn

      @CondeNasty: I was thinking the same thing today after watching this and the BBC’s documentary on them.

      Apr 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 16 · Sol Invictus wrote, “All of you assholes miss the core point. Fred Phelps was an Al Gore delegate in 2000, there are pictures of him and Al Gore with their arms around each other, and Fred came in third for the Democratic nomination for governor of Kansas recently. Got a clue now?????”

      This Sol Invictus character needs to provide a citation for that claim as a Google search turned up no such statement.

      This guy’s adolescent language aside, you can read a short history of Fred Phelps at http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2001/spring/a-city-held-hostage/fred-phelps-timel , including: “1988 Phelps provides rooms for Democrat Al Gore’s presidential campaign workers. Though the Phelps-Gore connection will grow increasingly distant, Phelps’ oldest son, Fred Jr., is invited to the first Clinton-Gore inauguration in 1993. By 1998, Gore will be seen as such an enemy by WBC that its members picket the funeral of Gore’s father.”

      Also, Fred Phelps Jr. (not Fred Phelps Sr.) served as a Gore delegate in 1988 (according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Phelps#Support_for_Al_Gore ) and just below that, you’ll read that in 1997 the entire Phelps clan denounced Al Gore as a “famous fag pimp,” citing Phelps web site although the link is now broken. In 1998, Phelps picketed the funeral of Al Gore’s father.

      Meanwhile, Phelps did not appear on the national “radar” until he picketed Matthew Shepard’s funeral. It would hardly be surprising if overworked campaign workers didn’t notice that Phelps was going to become a national embarrassment given how little was known about him in 1988.

      Apr 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jason
      Jason

      It would explain MOST everything.

      Apr 7, 2010 at 10:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ioan
      Ioan

      I think that Fred is completely bonkers and that his insanity manifests as a rabid hatred of gay and lesbian people. It’s a shame his wfe can’t/won’t leave him. I mean if someone were treating my or any kids we might have, the kids and I would be outta there and Fred would be the object of a big civil/ and possibly criminal trial.

      I really don’t think he is himself gay, something the community should be glad of. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a part of anything this creature is part of only if by dint of a suppressed sexual orientation.

      Apr 9, 2010 at 11:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 23 · Ioan wrote, “I think that Fred is completely bonkers and that his insanity manifests as a rabid hatred of gay and lesbian people.” Insanity may run in most of the family. Look at http://www.mikeadkins.com/article/westboro-baptist-church-fox-news-shirley-phelps-interview/ for how rabid Shirley Phelps-Roper is.

      Apr 10, 2010 at 12:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SteveDenver
      SteveDenver

      Picketing the funerals of Fred Phelps or his kids has been mentioned several times, but I don’t think average people are as hell-bent on being mean and poisonous as Phelps.

      Apr 12, 2010 at 10:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Pip
      Pip

      obviously crazy cult leader is obviously crazy. this isn’t really big news. its like the ancestors of hitler being like ‘we’re totally against what our great grandfather did’

      Mar 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree
      Jeffree

      @Pip: Hitler’s ancestors had no idea what all he did because they were dead before he was born. “Obviously crazy” doesn’t stop with the Phelps or Hitler; get my drift Pip?

      Mar 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LauraNo
      LauraNo

      I think the thing is that people are (most of us)unaware of our motivations? Phelps is likely a homophobe because he worries he might be gay. Doesn’t matter if he actually is and furthermore I don’t think that could be determined as he’s spent so much ego on opposing those who are. Hitler hated Jews while thinking he was one. Doesn’t matter that if he really was, it was what he thought that mattered.

      Mar 12, 2011 at 9:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      Doesn’t matter to me if Phelps is gay or not, I sure as hell don’t want us to be socially responsible for him. I personally think he’s a hateful loon all the way ’round.

      But serious props to Nate. I’ll watch the interview when I have more time.

      Mar 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • FlameoftheWest
      FlameoftheWest

      I applaud Nate Phelps for speaking against his fathers evil teachings and I’m glad that he him self was able to break out from his hatful environment as a child.

      Mar 13, 2011 at 12:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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