Fred Phelps, founder of the viciously antigay Westboro Baptist Church and promulgator of such atrocious ideas as LGBT people being responsible for all the world’s evils, unsurprisingly had a testy relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the FBI has now released its 250-page file on the religious leader. It dates back to 1967, when a confidential informant told the Bureau that Phelps, whose Westboro Church was already more than a decade old, needed “psychiatric care.”
As The Hill reports, things really got going in 1993, though, when Phelps remained on the radar of investigators every year until 2006.
Sometimes contact was initiated by members of Westboro to alert the FBI of threats against the church, a tactic the Bureau saw through as early as 1993, when it wrote to a U.S. district attorney:
“It would appear that Mr. Phelps is intentionally provoking these types of responses. Large amounts of money and investigative time can potentially be wasted investigating these threat letters. Historically, very few, if any, of these types of cases have been prosecuted in the District of Kansas.
The FBI does have the responsibility to investigate and prevent potential violence against any person regardless of their religious or political views, however.”
Phelps is referred throughout the documents as a “zealot” and “radical extremist,” his behavior “almost militant,” and his church a “hate group.”
On a total side note, the file also shows the Bureau passing around the Wikipedia page for the Westboro Baptist Church, telling agents it had a “pretty good rundown regarding members and family.” It’s nice to know the FBI and undergrads have something in common.
You can find the full document here: