Nate Phelps Issues Statement Condemning His Family’s Upcoming Protests in Newtown

Nate Phelps, the (awesome) atheist and son-in-name-only of Westboro Baptist Church’s notorious Fred Phelps, just issued this statement in response to his family’s intent to protest the funerals for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre:

“My heart goes out to the grieving families as well as the rest of the surrounding community during this time of unthinkable mourning & tremendous loss. The news that my sister & the rest of my family intend to protest the funerals of those lost in this national tragedy is, to me, a stark reminder that anyone’s interpretation of religious texts serve more as a reflection to the character of those reading it than whatever the author intended in the first place. My sincere hope is that the Sandy Hook community is able to grieve & mourn privately, & with whatever peace can be had in knowing the rest of the world mourns with you.

To those considering offering WBC an alternative to protesting these funerals, I say, ‘let them show up’. WBC is running out of money & their leader is a frail old man whose power & reach is tremendously limited to those who provide them an audience. Their recent tactic has been accepting media air time in lieu of protesting high profile funerals. By allowing them this luxury, they get free publicity with no effort or expense on their part, while potentially traumatizing a much wider audience than those strong enough to stand against them in silent but effective counter-protest. These counter-protests have, many times, prevented the grieving mourners from being impacted by WBC’s childish, attention seeking behavior. Please do not allow WBC the option of a less costly alternative. By calling their bluff, they will either ask for police protection, which allows police to control where they are located, or not request police protection, which would clearly be an unwise decision considering the emotionally charged environment they will be entering. Either way they alone will bear their costs, along with sole responsibility for harassing the community, without the benefit of a national platform in which to do it.”

(via Recovering From Religion, an organization on which Nate Phelps serves on the board)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • GodlessPoutine

    It’s amazing someone as wonderful and decent as Nate could have arisen from such a crazy family.  I guess he got out of it all in time.   Hope Westboro don’t protest – it’s horrendous.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gwydionfrost Daniel Parker

    …so, it’s NOT a genetic disorder, as I was inclined to believe concerning the Phelps “family”.

  • Wazzy

    Its great to see someone can make it out of an insane religious family – I had a hard enough time and my family is religiously sane . . . 

  • Elizabeth

    Remember that time someone found out where they were staying and blocked in their passenger vans with pick up trucks so they couldn’t get to where they wanted to picket? Someone do that again! 
    Nate Phelps is awesome, what a good statement from him.

  • Coyotenose

    Nate Phelps is a strong reason why we don’t “just ignore” WBC. He can’t be the only one who is capable of escaping that, and the others stand a better chance with exposure to the outside world.

  • Cecelia Baines

    May I suggest we begin putting out the word (someone far savvier than I with social media) to organize a human barrier between the assholes at WBC and the mourners at the Newtown vigils?

    I will fly to CT to be part of any human barrier plans.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
      • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

        D’oh!  Sorry for the repeat below, your link didn’t appear on my page until after I had posted. :P

    • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

      https://www.facebook.com/events/303841059732404/

      The response has been overwhelming.  Over 12,000 people have already offered.  I posted as a “maybe,” because so many people and so much traffic in such a small town could also easily distract from the good intentions and solemnity of the services.

      • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

        I think everyone who listed themselves as being from CT received an invite on Facebook.

  • Bo

    This blog post is also giving free publicity to WBC. Please stop posting about them, and encourage all other media to do the same.

    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      Has to be a troll. This post is awesome.

      • Bo

        Nope, not a troll. I’ve just noticed that WBC is always going to events that have lots of media coverage. And everywhere they go the media rewards them with airtime of their own.

        If the media stops giving them so much free publicity they’ll stop travelling all over the country to bother people. (At least I assume so. They are rational enough to notice if nobody is paying attention to them, right?) 

        • RowanVT

           You assume wrong.

        • Agold

          You are SO wrong in your logic, BO.

        • Bo

          It’s pretty obvious they follow the media. Look at their record. Do they go to the funerals of obscure car crash victims? No. Funerals of unknown prostitues or dug abusers? No. Instead they go to funerals of celebrities and victims who are already in the news.

    • Coyotenose

      The best thing to do when there’s a pothole in the road is to ignore it. Don’t call the DoT or local government, don’t let your family and friends know about it before they set out, don’t even change course; otherwise, you’re just giving danger some unearned attention.

  • LesterBallard

    They sure do make the case for retroactive abortion.

    • Rory

       Yeah, in the wake of a mass killing I was just saying more people dying is what we need. That’ll solve’ er.

      • LesterBallard

        I wasn’t really advocating the deaths of the Phelps clan, but I won’t lie and say I would care. I trade all of them for just one of those kids. They’re not equal.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Two children where laid to rest today and nobody showed up to protest.

  • S_beth2009

    Let them show up and try to protest. I have no doubt that the amazing men an women of surrounding communities will show up as they have done in the past to block their protest and help shield the families that have been so horribly hurt. My heart breaks for that community.

  • Aspieguy

    What kind of people protest funerals of little children? I would like to say that the Westboro clan are monsters and ogres, but that would be insulting to monsters and ogres. 

  • Rory

    One thing I don’t like about this is the implication that is the WBC shows up and doesn’t receive police protection violence could ensue. It might very well–and the famously litigious Phelps would then no doubt sue the pants off of the perpetrator and possibly the town for not protecting them. If they really are going broke, let’s not check their descent into irrelevancy by giving them funds via a softball lawsuit.

    • Rory

       *if the WBC shows up


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