Why having Nate Phelps at Fort Bragg is important

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:

Westboro Baptist Church

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.

About Justin Griffith
  • Gregory in Seattle

    Nothing — NOTHING — pisses the WSB off more than being ignored.

    You gave the perfect response.

  • Randomfactor

    You gave the perfect response.

    In contrast to the National Atheist Party, which blew it big-time.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    What were those idiots (or possibly just that idiot) at the National Atheist Party thinking?

  • Rando

    Everyone is giving the National Atheist Party crap for inviting the WBC, I think they did a smart thing by doing that. Think about it, the average Christer thinks Atheists are immoral monsters who want to eat their babies, steal their women and control their children’s minds. By having the WBC there we can insure that argument can’t come up, cause all we have to do is point to the WBC and say “they get their morals from the same Bible you read, so why would I want to follow that kind of crazy belief?”

    The WBC also makes for good entertainment. It will be fun watching the Christers try to avoid associating themselves with the WBC while simultaneously worshiping the very same god. Watching religious people grapple with their double standards and shameless hypocricy is always fun to see.

  • Aquaria

    Ask the WBC if they’d let us go to one of their family reunions–er, church socials, and have our say.

    And then tell them to go fuck themselves.

  • Aquaria

    Everyone is giving the National Atheist Party crap for inviting the WBC, I think they did a smart thing by doing that.

    It isn’t a smart thing.

    Think about it

    You first.

    They’re only there to try to get somebody to do something they can sue over. They’re not worth the pain in the ass that they are, or the disgusting things they’ll say.

    And, like I said above, if they want to come, then we get to go to one of their church events.

    They wouldn’t like that, and they wouldn’t allow it. So why give them space to be assholes at an atheist event?

  • Rando

    Most Atheists know that the WBC are sue crazy maniacs, that’s why most of us will be watching them like hawks waiting for them to go too far.

    As to going to their church, they will let you go, you can even debate them, but after awhile of proving them wrong they usually make you leave.

    I did think it over and I love to watch religious people squirm in the face of their extremist counterparts. That’s the main reason I approve of them being invited. There will be dozens of protests being carried out by many different Christian organizations, and they will have a hard time avoiding being associated with the WBC, because they will be protesting for the very same reason. And like I said before, it’s fun to watch religious people grapple with their double standards and shameless hypocrisy.

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