“THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS” A sign commonly held up by the Westboro Baptist Church as they protest at the funerals of Soldiers. Recently, the Supreme Court upheld their right to continue to do this.
WBC is largely comprised of a single extended family, the Phelps family. Fred Phelps is an aging hate-mongering idiot who generally stays behind when the rest of the gang travels the nation to ‘protest’. Half of the family have trained to become lawyers, as they fund their hateful ideology by suing the people who assault them, or otherwise violate their rights.
They bring their children to these protests. When not attending some rally, a strict adherence to Fred’s controversial interpretation of scripture is brutally enforced.
Some of Pastor Phelp’s 13 children have escaped the madman and the bizarre lifestyle. Nate Phelps is the most outspoken amongst them.
Nathan ‘Nate’ Phelps was the seventh child, and he ran away from his abusive father at age 18, on his birthday. Decades later he is now actively engaging his past, and serves as an extremely powerful speaker against child abuse and hateful ideology. He currently works for the Center For Inquiry, who have been quite vocal supporters for Rock Beyond Belief.
We are proud to announce that Nate Phelps is joining the lineup at Rock Beyond Belief, now being reworked for the Fall. Our festival has received quite an outpouring of support since our first attempt was met with last minute crippling restrictions. Nate was among the many notable people who extended a helping hand, standing in solidarity with us.
His story is obviously exceptionally poignant, with the years of WBC’s “Thank God for IEDs” protests at fallen Soldier’s funerals. We are proud to have him stand up to those monsters and stand up for rationality, tolerance, and equality for the non-religious Soldiers of the United States Army.
From Nate’s bio:
Nate Phelps is the son of Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, which gained infamy from their protests at soldiers’ funerals around the United States. He is the seventh of thirteen children, and was taught his father’s extreme version of Calvinism from an early age. This was accompanied by extreme physical punishments and abuse, extreme dietary and health requirements, and other extreme expectations. Nate left home at midnight on his eighteenth birthday, and moved to California where he built a new life away from his family. He later moved to Canada, and only recently began speaking out about his story after a chance encounter with a reporter while driving a cab in Cranbrook, British Columbia. Nate has now spoken about his story to many groups around North America, and even returned home to Topeka in 2010 to tell his story to the people in his hometown. Today Nate lives in Calgary, Alberta and works for the Center For Inquiry. He is a vocal LGBT advocate, and speaks out against the dangers of religion and child abuse.
He is currently working on a book which covers his exceptional story, and is the subject of an upcoming documentary film.
I asked him how he felt about possibly attracting the attention of his infamous family.
As for whether my family shows up, I have a strong conviction that they will deliberately avoid “supporting” my counter voice by protesting events where I’m speaking. That said, this would be the first time that there was a variety of speakers so that should increase the chances that they will make an issue of it. Whatever the case, I’m completely willing to follow through with my commitment regardless. As far as I’m concerned, it could only improve the attendance at the event if they announced plans to protest there.
Clearly, the Westboro Baptist Church would be foolish to attend, so I don’t expect them either. They would probably be pretty scared at the prospect of facing such a large population of Soldiers, many of whom would be atheists and humanists. Their previous encounters have been met with insanely successful counter-protests, as they continue to become the butt of the nation’s jokes. They are the cartoon version of the ‘evils of religion’, a caricature that moderate religious people try desperately to shed.