Does Fred Phelps Work for Al-Qaeda?

If you're bin Laden, what's not to like?

I found myself wondering (because that’s how bored I get folding laundry) who funds Fred Phelps. It’s known that its traveling picket show costs Westboro Baptist at least $250,000 a year. That’s a lot of scratch for a small family church to choke up every year.

There’s no way those people have that kind of money.

So who, I wondered, is bankrolling Westboro?

I expected a simple Google search to answer that question. It didn’t. If the source of Westboro’s considerable funding is to be found anywhere online, I don’t know where.

Whomever is funding Phelps and his family is definitely keeping it secret.

So. Who would want to secretly finance Fred Phelps?

If you think about it for six seconds, on the seventh you’ll have your answer.

But of course: Osama bin Laden!

Does Fred Phelps do anything that doesn’t further Al-Qaeda’s agenda?


Well, let’s see. With relentless passion and tireless fury, Fred Phelps and his group vociferously:

1. Persecute Jews;

2. Hate homosexuals;

3. Revile American soldiers;

4. Make people hate Christians; and

5. Proclaim that America is a hedonistic, immoral, doomed country.

I of course have no idea what Osama bin Laden is paying Fred Phelps to do his bidding. But I do know one thing: both their covers just got blown!

[Update: Some in the comments thread below have said that Fred is a lawyer who purposefully antagonizes and provokes people in the hopes of eliciting from them a response for which he can then sue them or (ideally, I’m sure) the church or organization they represent. So he’s a sewer suer! Whether or not Phelps actually makes enough doing that to support Westboro’s toxic endeavors is still in question.]


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  • When you say Osama bin laden do you really mean Glenn beck?

  • Marie

    Ohhh my goodness I just aspirated a Saltine!! Nice, Shane. Niiiice! *applause*

  • Sam

    Maybe not "for" but definitely "with" in achieving the same goals. At what point does Fred Phelps' behavior and that of his followers become "aiding and abetting the enemy?"

    I think they have crossed that point when attacking individuals who served in the U.S. military. Phelps band of idiots have undoubtedly caused mental anguish to the deceased's survivors who sought a dignified memorial service for their loved ones.

    I hope the Supreme Court recognizes Phelp's behavior as going beyond "free speech" and crossing into that shady area of lending support to an enemy cause.

    If nothing else, take away their tax-free status and dry up some of that funding.

  • Serita

    It wouldn't make any sense if it wasn't so danged logical.

  • peet


  • The problem with writing about Phelps is that it might confuse some people into thinking his political group is a christian church.

  • Marty

    You really want that protest at your funeral, don't you!

  • Kelly

    "Sharia law" may be a term of Islam, but it's an unfortunately shared concept of the Phelps type crowd. Live one way – 'my' way – or be eternally punished.

  • Kelly

    Oddly enough, the same radio program (John & Kathy) recently hosted a guest discussing the dangers of following Glenn Beck. The discussion had very little to do with hate (which personally I have never seen from Mr. Beck – check out past interviews with Penn Jillette and Ben Stein for examples). It had more to do with the fact that Glenn is a Mormon, and accepts "multiple paths" to God by preaching to people to seek God in churches, OR synagogues, OR mosques. I actually think that's one of Glenn's good sides – encouraging people to find their faith once again, without demanding a specific starting point.

  • Argy-bargy


    You are the connect-the-dots-guy that this country has so needed for so long!

    You, sir, are a true patriot!

  • Crystal

    I believe that most if not all the Phelps children are lawyers as well, so I think that the comment above about suing people for money is probably partially true. Of course they also have tax exempt status since they are a "church" and I've heard things like their swimming pool was a tax write off because it also serves as a baptismal . . . I'm pretty sure these people are experts in working the system to their full advantage.

    That said, I have also wondered where they get all the money they need to finance their campaign of hate . . .

  • Love it!

  • berkshire

    Here's the best counter-protest I've heard of:

    There is a large LGBT synagogue in Manhattan whose lead Rabbi is a woman who identifies as a lesbian. This synagogue, by the way, holds it's Friday Shabbat services in borrowed space–at the Church of the Holy Apostles Episcopal Church.

    Anyway, I hope I don't get the details wrong here, as the story comes to me second-hand from a friend who attends this synagogue, and he told me about it a year ago. A hate-group showed up outside their offices or their services (can't remember which), and I seem to recall it was Phelps group–who would thoroughly enjoy attacking a group of gay jews. If it wasn't, it was one very like them (and I hate to think there could be another like them, but I just don't want to definitively say it was them when my memory is fuzzy on this).

    While they're out there with their signs and chants, the wise Rabbi organizes her congregation and it's network of supporters, and comes out with her announcement to the hate-group: thank you for your assistance. As of now, for every 5 minutes you stand out here, our members and supporters will donate X-amount of dollars to gay and lesbian causes (I think she even had a website related to this, or people were making donations through the congregations regular website). She let them know that the clock was officially running.

    They left.

    Now I'm inspired to contact my friend again and get more clarity on the details of this, as it's just too good. Would that we had more of that kind of wisdom in high places.

  • Tim

    Whenever I see Phelps and his skeletal progeny, I can't help but think of the creepy Reverend Kane from Poltergeist iI.

  • erika

    like x 10,0000000

  • Marie


  • michael

    i agree with the commenter who discounts the idea that what the Phelps' are up to has anything whatsoever to do with Christ's church. The Phelps' ideas and behavior are evidence enough that they have 'left the building' that is 'Christianity.'

    John, i think your question leads to the truly scary part of the Phelps political machine, namely, that there are people [haters] all over the country who are willing to send money to the Phelps to further 'the cause.'

    It also goes to show that folks on the far fringe of any side of an issue have more in common with each other than they do with anyone else [i.e., the hate that bin Laden and Phelps have in common trumps any, comparatively, minor differences they might have. imhv]


  • They were at this year's San Diego Comic Con; spent 45 minutes across the street waving signs while Storm Troopers & Buddy Jesus mocked 'em. The police maintained a cordon between the 5 or 6 Phelp family fundies & 30+ counter-protestors.

    45 minutes. There were people waiting in line all morning to get into the convention, & Phelps' crowd couldn't even last an hour in the sun.

    My take on the group:

  • tavdy79

    I always figured they were being funded by a group like the KKK or Watchmen on the Walls. That way their funders could point at Westboro Baptist Church and say "we could be worse, we could be like them".

  • Westboro probably isn’t being funded by Bin Ladin and company, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they didn’t get funding from domestic hate groups. I haven’t heard lately of any forays out to do their “mission work”, but I do know that they are getting some creative push back by people who have decided to also stage “protests”. The Westboro group is always vastly outnumbered in these cases, and often they leave sooner then planned. The larger group is always peaceful,often festive and expectedly diverse, and display the obvious opposite message that the Westboro group hopes to bring. Guess who gets the better press coverage when this happens? Yep! the positive protesters.

    Here is one example from when the Westboro group decided to protest Twitter

  • Mindy

    Yay, Don! Mr. Phelps is at the center of a Supreme Court ruling – can't wait to hear that one from the Roberts court.

  • There are no "privacy rights" beyond the Fourth Amendment's unreasonable search and seizure and not quartering troops in private homes. That idea was the figment of the imagination of an earlier Supreme Court. So it is really just a question of free speech verses disturbing the peace.

  • denver

    I have always enjoyed this clip from an old Michael Moore show:

  • Argy-bargy

    Uh, sorry, but "privacy rights" have been recognized in a number of still-standing U.S. Supreme Court precedent (Griswold, Roe v. Wade). The Court has gone back and forth for years on what that means exactly, but such rights are derived from that Amendment and other principles.

    But you're right about the free speech issues. The case turns on these questions (From the Scotusblog):

    Issue: (1) Whether the prohibition of awarding damages to public figures to compensate for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, under the Supreme Court’s First Amendment precedents, applies to a case involving two private persons regarding a private matter; (2) whether the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment trumps its freedom of religion and peaceful assembly; and (3) whether an individual attending a family member’s funeral constitutes a “captive audience” who is entitled to state protection from unwanted communication.

    Plain English Issue: Does the First Amendment protect protesters at a funeral from liability for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the family of the deceased?

    I have to tell you…I'm not sure where I come out on this one. I'm an ardent free speech advocate. Having lived formative years in countries where we had no such rights, I'm very sensitive to these issues. This is a fascinating attempt to balance religious and free speech rights versus the right not to have assholes pour out hate at your own child's funeral.

    It will be VERY interesting how this particular court ends up ruling. For, against, or…they'll simply punt.

  • Actually it’s mostly a scam. Fred Phelps is also a lawyer. What they do is try to make as much noise as possible to get people to do things that they can sue them for. They then use that money to fund their hate tour.

  • And I think if we sent them all to Guantanamo Bay, everyone would reverse their opinion of that place. Two sticky PR problems solved in one fell-swoop.

  • Soulmentor

    I've often wondered about that myself. Your bin Laden suggestion is an amusing way to bring focus to the matter but it is, of course, preposterous. Phelps was around long before bin Ladin became an issue. There really can be only one source of their funding and it's probably a kind of octopus source; a small number of the more radical "christian" fundamentalist religious groups secretly funneling money to them. Wouldn't surprise me to discover that Pat Robertson and James Dobson type oranizations, along with the radically militant Reconstructionists and Dominionists are all part of it. Possibly even the Wash DC H Street organization with it's international web. There are certainly ways they can do it without leaving a money trail. Flat out under the table cash is all it would take. $250,000 and even more would be no problem for those organizations to simply hand over in an envelope. Conspiracy?! Believe it.

    To the question of: Would they help fund an organization that brings so much undesirable publicity to "christianity"? Hey, those people are blind to that kind of consideration. They can do now wrong, after all. God is on there side and they simply won't and don't believe it could possibly have a denigrating effect.

  • Soulmentor

    Ah!! Arrrggghhh. I do know the difference between there, their and they're.

  • Argy-bargy

    Actually, he’s a disbarred lawyer. He manufactured supposedly sworn statements.

  • jes

    How dare you, Tim? I mean really? NOT wanting to bomb abortion clinics? That's…that's… practically UnAmerican of you! *snerk*

    I get so freaking tired of this pointless crap from people like WBC. Protesting churches for being too tolerant?! And don't even get me started on PeTA picketing the AVMA!

  • So I was thinking about this issue (sort of).

    Given that (a) the supreme court is probably going to do something crazy like defend the constitution and that (b) 47 states have passed legislation keeping Westboro 100 yards from the funeral site… could we maybe advertise a military funeral 80 yards from Dick Cheney’s duck blind?

    I’m just thinking out loud here…

  • jes

    It's an organization that follows Phelps' protests, collecting donations to support whoever he's protesting. arose when Fred Phelps from the Westboro Baptist Church came to Boston to protest a local production of “The Laramie Project.” Many in the local LGBT community were outraged that he was coming to Boston to spread his hateful message. There were calls for counter-protests but no one knew exactly how to handle the situation. I had been to a few Fred Phelps counter-protests before and had witnessed the way the Phelps' clan incites the pro-LGBT side. is a pro-LGBTQ organization focused on channeling passion against Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church into donations to make positive change for all people affected by the hateful message being spread by WBC.

  • Crystal

    TOTALLY!! *creepy singing voice* "God is in his holy temmmmple …"

  • Tim

    BINGO!!! Phelps and his group picketed my church last spring. Some of our security team approached one of the more reasonable acting picketers, and asked that very question. “Who funds your groups’ travel, hotels, and meals?” They are coached exhaustively in the methods of stirring up people’s emotions while they keep their emotions in check. When any of their members “takes one for the team”, they have a stable of attorneys in their flock that swoop in and file civil suits for personal damages, then turn over the cash settlement to the WBC. We must’ve had a bunch of bush-league newbies, they did a piss poor job of stirring it up. They were completely ignored and packed up after the first service.

    They were picketing us, because we were “Luke warm”. That means we didn’t want to murder homosexuals and bomb abortion clinics.

  • Gina Powers

    YES!! Love the Sodomobile!!! And DAMN, do those WBC'ers manage to butcher the Carpenters, huh? 😉

  • Ace

    I would at least like to see their picketing of FUNERALS put to an end. That is not free speech, that is harassment, plain and simple. I don't understand how they get away with it.

  • Ace

    The term you are looking for is "Theocracy"

  • jes

    So far, they get away with it by standing on public ground near the funeral… How many cemeteries have you been to with no public inlet? They stand at the gate and sprinkle hatred on anyone who wants to come in to the funeral. And since they're standing on public ground, and not technically physically barring entrance, what can the attendees do but put up with the crap? That's what the court gets to decide. Nobody (well, except the Phelps' themselves) is claiming their actions aren't abominably poor taste and rude as all get out, it's just that nobody's sure their actually illegal.

  • jes

    I think, if the WBC noticed me enough to picket my funeral, I'd take that as a sign that I did something very right. I should work on that! 'Course, then I'd have to die afterward and I'm not sure I'm in a hurry to do that…

  • jes

    Gads. "nobody's sure their actually illegal" should be "nobody's sure their actions are actually illegal."

    Some day, I will learn to use all the words that belong in a sentence.

  • Don Whitt

    The "Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act" only requires Phelps and his fellow creeps stay 90 meters away from the entrance to the cemetery 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after the funeral ceremony such as the one for LCpl Matthew A. Snyder. As long as they follow that statute, their actions are protected by our freedom of speech. That doesn't mean they aren't horrible people. It just means that what they are doing is legal. God bless America.

  • Don Whitt

    And Phelps has been disbarred from law, so he has to pay a real lawyer to sue people.

  • And in my local paper this week was this editorial .

    The writer is correct as far as the free speech debate goes, but the problem is, is that these yahoos expect to get sued and then get funding to further their cause out of it, if my suspicions are correct in this. Even if they lose a case, they just may win by gaining more financial supporters, sick as that is. So at that point is it free speech or is it making money?

    Then we can get into the debate of, is our right to speak freely license to speak hatefully? Is it also within our rights to counter that sort of speech or to do even better, completely, and very purposefully deciding to refuse to listen? In that I think reaches at the heart of the matter of people like the Phelps. They depend on the media to give them a free publicity ride. Every time they get a press release with their name, they consider it a victory.

    What should happen is, when they show up, is the press focus on the actual event, the positives that are being seen, mention that there were a small group of protesters present, without mentioning their names, or show any photos etc. then back to the actual event. Make them work for their own publicity instead of handing to them already gift wrapped.

  • Dr. Jackass

    There alot who is funding Fred Phelps conspiarcy

    1) I’ll be you Geroge Soros the Partisian left wing millionaire who oppose the Iraq War and Bush’s agenda in general. He even funded a primary chanleger to Steven Sixx AG reelection to AG.

    2) the Religous Right

    3) The Anti-War Left

    3) Hugo Chavez

    4) Mad Mullas of Iran

    5) City of San Fransico (since they hate the Military and America in General)

    6) Howard Dean and his Deanics fund rasing machianery

    7) Move

  • I find it odd that the United way merged with the VFW at the same time Phelps started his protests. I find it disturbing that the United way recieves 1/3 of every dollar donated to the VFW. I find it disturbing that the United way would finance Phelps so he can keep upsetting people so they keep giving to the Unioted way and the VFW. That is a Felony. It is a form of Hate Crime Propaganda. As a former candidate for Kansas Governor, 2009-2010, I researched Phelps. he is way off base.