People are starting to make noise about Nate Phelps joining the Reason Rally lineup last week. And for good reason: the Westboro Baptist Church / God Hates Fags hate-speech advocates may be clashing face to face with Nate (son of the infamous patriarch behind WBC, and blood-relative to nearly all them.)
But I don’t think word has gotten out that Nate is also slated to speak at Fort Bragg’s upcoming atheist festival. This will bring Nate’s story full circle in a triumphant way. Look:
And his family probably can’t even protest anywhere near the stage. By the way, one of the WBC nutters did contact me earlier. Their demand was cute. They said:
“Justin, If you want real balance, invite us.” – WBC
I don’t think it’s legal for them to protest anywhere near our stage, so maybe they were hoping to coax me into ‘inviting’ them. Our latest press release explains further.
(*below the fold*)
FORT BRAGG, NC – Nate Phelps, son of the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, is scheduled to speak at the upcoming atheist festival on Fort Bragg. His family, the Phelps family, is famous for picketing at the funerals of American soldiers killed in combat and victims of 9/11.
Nate left his family’s church at the age of 18. He will be speaking about his experiences in the church and his journey out of the extremism taught by his family. He initially fled to Canada to put as much distance between himself and his abusive family. But now his journey brings him full circle, on exactly the opposite side of the fence. He’s an atheist, and he supports the troops.
The atheists in the military are making waves this year, including an on-post festival at Fort Bragg. Nate Phelps will be joining Richard Dawkins and several prominent speakers and musicians for ‘Rock Beyond Belief’ on March 31st.
Rock Beyond Belief organizers are enthusiastic about Nate Phelps speaking at the event. Lead organizer and American Atheists Military Director, Justin Griffith said, “His support of the soldiers and their families is a strong testament of his struggles to overcome the intense religious dogma his family ingrained in him. His family is overtly hostile and unpatriotic, and he grew up on that. It’s impressive to see such a dramatic change in a person.”
Fred Phelps and his family of about 60 have been protesting since 1991. It is unclear whether they plan to attend this event, and if they are legally permitted to picket anywhere near the on-post stage. In fact, the family did contact Griffith, “Justin – if you want real balance, invite us.” Griffith declined to invite them.
Griffith explained, “I told them that they’d probably even be helping me out. It would present a false dichotomy of ‘rational calm atheists’ vs. ‘soldier-hating Christians’. It would also do a great deal of good to have all of the normal Christians unite with us in mutual disgust, perhaps breaking down barriers. Despite all of this, I don’t want to be responsible for their antics, so an invitation is not happening.”
The festival is an American Atheists event. It was made possible by a $50,000 donation from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. For more information on the event, check the festival’s website.