Talk about beauty and the beast!
Out journo Josh Kilmer-Purcell recently launched Phags for Phelps, a group who believe “the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church’s gospel actually helps the GLBT cause”. Kilmer-Purcell’s initiative may be one of the most clever queer developments in recent memory: keep the crazy Phelps clan funded and let America ridicule their backward propaganda.
Australia-based Same Same caught wind of Kilmer-Purcell’s mission and organized an email conversation between Kilmer-Purcell and Westboro’s lady leader, Shirley Phelps-Roper. We’ve included the entire transcript after the jump with minimal edits.
Our favorite part: when they discuss Phelps-Roper’s gay icon status and Kilmer-Purcell suggest a new musical: “Shirley You Jest!”
Q. You say that people are either with the gay community or they’re with the Phelps. Why do you believe that there is no in between? There would be a lot of people out there who disagree with you.
Josh Kilmer-Purcell: Last time I checked there was only an equal sign or a not equal sign. (I mean, I vaguely remember an equal sign with a little squiggly mark above it from high school math that meant ‘sort of equal.’ Then again, I nearly always almost failed math.) My point is that many gay people let their politicians, family, and friends get away with “homophobia-lite.” By that I mean things like civil unions, but not marriage. Loving the sinner but not the sin. These are all very polite ways of telling us that we’re not equal to them. We’re something that should be pitied and treated nicely, but not respected. I believe that God Hates That.
Like these polite “stealth homophobes,” Shirley and the rest of the Phelps also don’t think we’re equal to them. They call us perverted sinners. And they say it in a more straight-forward fashion. I happen to respect their integrity more than the polite homophobes.
By the way, I believe Shirley agrees with me on this choice. To quote her reaction to “either you’re with the GLBT or you’re with the Phelps,” she’s responded “You are exactly correct”. She adds, however, that this decision is actually a choice between God or Satan.
Shirley Phelps: That is exactly correct! Josh got it â€“ I did well in math, but you can make this even easier than that â€“ so to say you are a little here and a little there on these issues would be like saying you are a little dead or a little pregnant! YIKES!
Q: I see that you’ve been having regular correspondence with Shirley. Do you find it amazing that you’ve managed to find common ground with her?
JKP: I’m never amazed to find common ground with anyone. I’m more amazed that most people think they’re unique. Shirley grew up in a religious belief system that happens to be different than mine. But she also grew up with brothers and sisters, and favorite foods, and sunshine, and toys, and crushes, and children, and a whole lot of the same things that I did. The same things we all did.
I like Shirley. She has a wicked sense of irony, and exposes hypocrisy with cutting insults and smiley face emoticons.
Personally, I think we all spend too much time trying to change each others’ mind on issues. Shirley sincerely believes I’m going to hell. I don’t believe that. There’s no way that either one of is going to scientifically prove anything. No one will ever discover that “oxygen + hydrogen – uranium = gays are going to hell.” That’s a belief system based on a certain faith.
I’d rather spend my time clarifying peoples’ positions. Ie: you’re either a homophobe or you’re not. After that’s clear, we can all just get on with the things we have in common. I believe that Shirley and I work in tandem on that. Not together, but in tandem.
SP: What Josh said in response to #2 â€“ good stuff â€“ except this â€“ you are either a servant of the Living and True God â€“ whose name is Jealous â€“ whose name is a Man of War â€“ and he said â€“ thou shalt have NO OTHER GODâ€™S BEFORE ME!! Therefore, the God of the Sodomites is OUT! J So I say â€“ you are either a servant of that God that created you and is the ONLY source that can bless or curse you and is the ONLY one that holds the keys to death and hell, or you serve your father the devil! You canâ€™t cut that knot.
Q: Did she ever come to your farm for that visit? Have you met in person?
JKP: She hasn’t come to our farm yet. But I hope she does. Her daughter apparently likes chickens, and we have all sorts of animals that kids enjoy feeding, milking, etc. We’ll probably meet in person for the first time when she comes to New York in April to protest the Pope’s visit. Since I’m no big fan of the Pope either, I suggested some busy intersections for them to picket at near his mass in Central Park. Maybe we’ll grab lunch or something if she has time. I’ll certainly bring eggs from the farm.
SP: And if he does not throw the eggs at us, we will be grateful! J Meanwhile, the Pope, the Pope, the Pope is on fire, he donâ€™t get no water let that heretic burn! First he was a liar, now heâ€™s on fire â€“ he donâ€™t get no water let that heretic burn! He headed up the largest pedophile machine in the whole world!
Q: Have you had any radical responses from other people, about the fact that you’re siding with the enemy per se?
JKP: I had some reactions expressing extreme disagreement. And many other people write that they don’t agree with my points, but say that I’ve made my case as well as I could – which is pretty much exactly what I say about the Phelps. The Phelps have been dealing with radical responses for decades. But they choose to provoke in a radical manner, so I doubt it ever surprises them. In fact it energizes them. To them, angry responses are a sign that their message is being validated by God. Biblical scripture is replete with proselytizers being persecuted for their beliefs, so actions taken against them simply reinforce what they already believe.
I will always go on record, however, condemning the Phelpsâ€™ picketing of funerals. They have explained their reasoning, which I disagree with, but I’ll always help protect their legal rights to do so.
Personally, I’d rather provoke people with radical thinking expressed rationally. I don’t think that will garner me as many death threats.
Perhaps the most “radical response” I’ve received is from one of the first people who emailed me to sign up in support of “Phags for Phelps.” It was from Nate Phelps â€“ Shirley’s brother, and Fred’s son. He has been estranged from the family for over a decade, and he wanted to express his agreement with the position that Westboro Baptist Church does more good for gay rights than bad.
SP: I would only add one thought here â€“ Nathan (he was named after the prophet Nathan â€“ he was a prophet to David) has been gone for over 30 years â€“ he does not know us â€“ before he left at 18, he co-existed among us â€“ the lights were on, but nobody was home! He always had his mind on the next mischief he was going to engage in! J
Q: Has Shirley told you anything about how the family intends to address the huge debt that’s been handed down to them by the courts?
JKP: I haven’t asked Shirley about how they plan on dealing with the financial judgment against them. But I assume, since many of them are lawyers, that they will keep appealing as long as they can. They will (I believe rightly) frame the issue as a First Amendment issue, (free speech, religious freedom.) People mistakenly conclude that the Phelps’ are uneducated whackos. But they’re actually very well educated. Several family members make up a law firm dating back decades, and have made a specialty out of defending civil rights. Fred Phelps, the patriarch, has even received commendations for his work defending civil rights of African Americans. They are a far more complex family than people assume them to be.
SP: Just this – we have the touted First Amendment! You cannot put people on trial for their religious beliefs and practices in Doomed america, that is the most fundamental and organic law of this land! â€“ OOPS â€“ they put us on trial for our religious beliefs and practices in Doomed america â€“ before the eyes of the whole world! YIKES! I guess Wolfe Blitzer owes the men from China that he harangued on his program about their lack of religious liberty a HUGE apology! The law of this land may fall to the ground at the hands of a military judge and some military mutts with law degrees (all of whom raised their right hand to the Lord their God and SWORE to uphold and defend the constitution) but you have to understand â€“ that case is going to accomplish NOTHING for them as far as what they are after! They announced early and often that they will shut us down â€“ they will make us spend so much time and money defending that case that we will have to stop picketing! Well â€“ it didnâ€™t work! It caused us to run faster and picket MORE of those soldiers funerals because we are NOT in their hands to save or to destroy! The promises from our faithful God to his faithful people is that he is willing, able and delights in delivering his people! That judge was determined to put us on trial for our religious beliefs and practices because he HATES these words! He is NOT going to have anyone tell this arrogant nation of rebels against their God with NO cause that their destruction commeth! In his goofy analysis of things this nation is built by the strength and power of their own hand! YIKES!! God hates America for her filthy, disobedient, idol worshiping, rebellious and did I mention FILTHY manner of life! So here is how that went â€“ we hit the streets â€“ EVERY DAY for 17 years â€“ in excess of 34,000 pickets to date and covered this nation delivering the truth of God and praying EVERY DAY for our God that holds the keys to the doors of utterance to open unto us great doors and effectual so that we may preach to the whole world! Now what happened when we were put on trial for our religion in arrogant, first amendment bragging Doomed America? You know!! Our words exploded all over the world!! Yea baby â€“ when Al Jazeera called me a few days after that verdict and said â€“ I am calling because your message has exploded all over the world â€“ well â€“ it doesnâ€™t get any better than that! J In the providence of God it was the right time for the words to be heard! We must preach to the whole world in these last days of all before the Lord Jesus Christ returns through the clouds in a flame of fire with the shout and the voice of the arch-angle and the trump of God to execute judgment on this generation that knows not God and obeys not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!! That is just a tiny portion of what was accomplished by that verdict â€“ time would fail me to lay it all out here, but it is altogether lovely! And as for those dolts that lifted their hand against the people of the Living God â€“ it sucks to be them! Their destruction commeth and there is NOTHING they can do about it! It is like a moth eating a garment â€“ they are toast at the hands of their creator â€“ there are again, not enough words or time to explain that excellent doctrine adequately in this space. To shorten it up, they have put their hand to a thing they CANNOT accomplish! J Now that is a LOT of good words! They help us, but they donâ€™t intend to help us, so they get NO credit for helping us!
Q: Strangely enough, gay friends of mine have become obsessed with Shirley – in some kind of fucked up way to them she’s practically become a gay icon. I really struggled with this, trying to work out how it could make sense. I finally think you’ve helped me understand it – her message of hate not only makes us look good by comparison, but it galvanises us. Do you think there’s a way the gay community could turn this around to make it work for us?
JKP: I love the idea of Shirley as a gay icon. She’d probably get a kick out of it too. Maybe we can all work together on a musical… “SHIRLEY YOU JEST!”
SP: Only add this â€“ our message is a message of LOVE â€“ NOT HATE â€“ you donâ€™t get to set the standards â€“ God has already done that! By Godâ€™s standard â€“ we are the ones that love our neighbor â€“ if you donâ€™t warn your neighbor that their sin is taking them to hell, or by GODâ€™s standard, you hate your neighbor in your heart! I am NOT hatin!
Q: What does Shirley think of the way you view the Phelps’ work? Does she agree that their homophobia actually works in our favor?
JKP: I don’t know if Shirley really cares whether or not their actions work in our favor. Shirley and the entire church believe that warning the world about the sin of homosexuality is the gospel which God sent them to preach. So as long as they’re doing their best to deliver it, I don’t think they care what the results are.
They do not hate GLBT people. They believe God does. As she’s explained to me: if she didn’t warn me that I was going to hell, that would be an act of hatred. She loves me enough to tell me her truths. Not my truths. Her truths. And as long as I believe that someone is sincerely acting out of what they think is love, I have no qualms with loving them right back.
SP: Could I just add this right here J here it is â€“ as we have criss-crossed this nation for these many years â€“ WAY before there was any dead soldiers, it played out like this â€“ we send notice we are going to picket this or that event and why â€“ then the media would begin to beat the drum and blather on and on â€“ then the so-called preachers would run their rotting, lying truffle chutes and belch out death to the effect that God loves everyone, blah, blah, barf, barf, whine, snort, burp, fart! Then we would come to the town and put the words into the air â€“ the media would have round two and then we would leave and here is what they would say, again and again, all over this nation, to wit: They have brought the community together â€“ they have made us see that it is OKAY to be gay â€“ it is just ducky and we are so happy they came â€“ God loves everyone and we hate them! Stuff like that! To which I say this â€“ these words of God are living and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword â€“ they pierce even to the dividing asunder, soul/spirit; joint/marrow and they are a discerner of the thoughts and intents of their dark evil hearts! Which is to say â€“ they hated God and his judgments all along. They hated each other all along. They would sit on the fence looking down their pointy noses at the fags and say that they are above it all â€“ and this does not pertain to them â€“ they have their adultery and fornication and idols, blah, blah but they are â€œNOT THAT BAD â€“ they are not as bad as the fagsâ€ â€“ and then we come alone and make what is in their hating hearts come out of their vicious hating mouths! It was already there â€“ we just knocked them off the fence and into the WRONG side of the issue!! Okay â€“ one more thing â€“ Josh â€“ it is NOT my truth â€“ it is the Word of God! We are simply ambassadors for our God so we must deliver HIS words and we must deliver them as they were delivered to us! That just means that one must crack a Bible and READ THE WORDS and they will see that we are faithful messengers! J One final thought â€“ Josh is right â€“ if it is okay to be gay â€“ they need to SHUT the heck up about no gay marriage â€“ no gay this or that â€“ they need to SHUT UP about sin, etc. Further â€“ where was their outrage about the funerals we picketed before the dead soldiers? They are so mad because they worship the military, the dead and the flag and we have stomped all over their idols and false gods!
Thanks so much for letting me weigh in here! Now I must go see my new grand baby!
Donâ€™t mistake my happy faces and smiles to mean that Iâ€™m not dead serious â€“ these issues of eternity are so critical that it is scary how lightly this generation approaches their never-dying souls! Draw a line around the universe and put a tiny tick mark on it â€“ that mark represents the time we spend on this earth and the balance represents eternity â€“ it you are in hell where the worm that eats on you never dies and the fire is never quenched and the smoke of your torment ascendeth up for ever and ever â€“ did you hear me â€“ for ever and ever in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb of God â€“ HOW BAD IS THAT??? How short sided are we to let that fall by the way??