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Steve Van Nattan



In Defense of the Westboro Baptist Church

By Gene Lalor

Now that the threat of a demonstration by zealots of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church to create a disturbance at the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards has passed, it's an opportune time to reassess just what Westboro is up to, what it wants, and why those zealots do what they do.

In a previous life, actually in a previous post dated almost a year ago, I wrote about that "The Westboro Baptist Congregation, the WBC, so thrives on outlandish and hateful propaganda that it must be regarded as one of the worst organizations in the nation in terms of vicious radicalism.

"Make no mistake, the WBC has countless hate-peers. Nevertheless, it's a standout performer, in a class by itself, especially when it comes to attacks on homosexuals and Jews.

"What makes the WBC even worse is that it cites both Old and New Testament scripture to bolster its points of view and its vile invective. Its website,, cites Calvinistic interpretations of Holy Scripture as Biblical truth."

I retract none of that, although some should be modified.

The WBC is still outlandish, hateful, vicious, and vile. However, even in its most recent outlandish, hateful, vicious, and vile theatened demonstrations against the memory of Mary Elizabeth Anania Edwards, protests that fortunately were never allowed to happen, reasonable people must grant that Westboro has some valid points.

Some additional points, negative points, are that,, and have made access to the Westboro Baptist Church home page virtually inaccessible. That concerted effort at internet censorship, assuming my browser isn't the culprit, stinks almost as much as Westboro's tactics.

Therefore, in the absence of any other active defense of the WBC and in view of the active suppression of the First Amendment rights of the WBC, I, grudgingly, offer my meager services.

To be blunt, Pastor Fred Phelps and Westboro's alleged 40,000 adherents may best be described as imbecilic in many of their activities, though not in their beliefs. However, in view of the fact that America regularly elects imbeciles to govern them and millions of Americans worship at the feet of imbecilic celebrities, how can America-and AOL and Google and Bing- presume to selectively censor the WBC?

The WBC's mindlessness at military funerals is clearly repugnant and indefensible but some of its views are reasonable and very defensible. Its vicious invective falls far beyond the pale of civilized dissent but the fundamental bases of the WBC's protests have more than some credibility.

I don't advocate in favor of Westboro's most reprehensible and despicable activities, those disruptions at the funerals of America's war dead, soldiers who gave their lives for their country who are then rewarded by Westboro mobs chanting and picketing within earshot of mourners, but I do endorse the basic principles of the Westboro Baptist Church, and they do have sincere, if rigid, principles.

To paraphrase Voltaire, I may not agree with what they do but I will defend to the death their reasons for doing it. Ok, not to the death but strongly.

Eighty one year old Pastor Fred Waldron Phelps Sr., father of 13 children, former civil rights attorney (now disbarred), Kansas Democrat Party stalwart, 1988 Al Gore supporter, "old school Baptist" and staunch Calvinist, recipient of various awards for his work in the 1980's on behalf of black clients, runs the WBC out of Topeka, Kansas.

In the 1980's Phelps and his family had a moment of disgust and enlightenment in Gage Park, a mile or so from their home and the Westboro church, which may have been their seminal, Eureka! moment as far as their understanding of the state of America.

Wikipedia capsulized those experiences: "In the movie Hatemongers, [produced by the WBC,], members of the Westboro Baptist Church claim their children were being 'accosted' by homosexuals in Gage Park... Phelps even witnessed a homosexual attempting to lure [his 5 year old granddson] Joshua into some shrubbery. After several complaints to the local government about the large amount of homosexual sex occurring in the park, with no resulting action, the Phelps' put up signs warning of homosexual activity. This resulted in much negative attention towards the family."

It got worse: "When the Phelps called on local churches to speak against the activity in Gage Park, the churches also lashed against the Phelps family, leading to the family protesting homosexuality on a regular basis." That defining moment apparently led to what the WBC is today and why it feels homosexuals are the bane of humanity.

Whether the incidents at Gage Park merited Phelps and the WBC unilaterally consigning all gays to Hell, which is God's prerogative, is another matter.

Another issue which deserves review is the question of the WBC being designated a "hate group."

There's no doubt its signs, chants, and hellish consignments are hateful and sick but the WBC sick hatred is more than counterbalanced by liberals/leftists who never seem to invoke anywhere near equivalent execration.

Statements by leftist Bonnie Erbe that Michelle Malkin deserved to be "hate f*cked," Melissa Lafsky rationalizing Mary Jo Kopechne's death, "Rush Limbaugh Should Die Slowly" entries on Facebook, KCRW FM's Sarah Spitz stating that if Limbaugh had a heart attack in her presence she would "laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out," virtually everything political emanating from the mouths of MSNBC's Ed Schultz and alleged comedienne Wanda Sykes, and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and many others in a similar vein all escape general vilification.

If we are known by the enemies we keep, Westboro's most avid foe, the Southern Poverty Law Center, SPLC, elevates Westboro to the rank of true American patriots.

The SPLC in its self-designated role of hate-group monitor has branded the WBC as a hate group at the same time the SPLC has been proven to be unadulterated hatemongers.

The SPLC calls the Tea Party movement a "vigilante" group of "terrorists" and condemns Americans for Truth about Homosexuality as a hate group because it promotes Biblical morality. Nevertheless, the SPLC maintains a position of authority for the Obama administration so much so that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reportedly relied upon the SPLC in preparing the DHS' slanderous, infamous "Right Wing Extremist" report for which she subsequently apologized.

It's no wonder Phelps and the WBC aren't happy campers.

Translating that unhappiness and discontent with the government and with societal misfits such as the SPLC and its like in no way excuses Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church from their own extremes but it does make them explicable. They feel God is angry with America and with many of the evils we tolerate, and He probably is

All sources are available at See The Westboro Devil Cites Scripture,, which pulls no punches with respect to homosexuality but which, I believe, is far more tempered than Westboro's extremes.

Article Source: In Defense of the Westboro Baptist Church


Gene Lalor is a seasoned, Long Island, N.Y. citizen, married for 41 years, with 3 grown, successful children and 4 grandkids, all gorgeous and brilliant unlike their gramps. I attended Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y. (B.A.) and St. John's University, Queens, N.Y., (M.A. 1973, Ph.D. 1977). A retired English teacher, I now devote my spare time to writing on my blog and spreading the word on my book, which is available at I sincerely believe the United States of America is in dire peril right now, and not only because of our new president. If I'm wrong on that--and I sincerely hope that I am--I'll be delighted to admit that fact in a few years. In the interim, I hope readers check out my website/blogsite, peruse the articles at their leisure--some of which Ezine won't allow me to publish on comment in a civil fashion. Uncivil comments will be forthwith deleted and the commenters forever banished to Un-civil Comment Hell. And, before I forget, May God bless and save America!

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Comment by editor: A reader reported that he was, in fact, able to raise the web page for the church. Perhaps Google did block it at one time and decided to release it.