American hatemonger (1929-2014). He was born in Meridian, Mississippi on November 29, 1929. His best-known occupation was as rabblerouser, hatemonger, and preacher for the Westboro Baptist Church, a Primitive Baptist church in Topeka, Kansas. He also worked as a vacuum cleaner salesman and as a lawyer. He was disbarred for defrauding his clients, lying in court, and harrassment. He enjoyed competing in triathlons and exercised daily.

Phelps was, by all accounts, a shy and unassuming, though frequently very angry, boy. He was an Eagle Scout, ran hurdles, played in the band, worked for the school newspaper, and was a Golden Gloves boxing contender. He graduated sixth in his class at the age of 16 and was recommended to West Point. Because of his age, he had to wait a year before he could enter West Point, and at some point during that year, he attended a Methodist revival, found God, and turned away from his military dreams to pursue a life as a minister.

Phelps attended Bob Jones University. In the summer of 1947, he and two other students were assigned to preach to and convert non-believers and encourage them to join fundamentalist churches. They chose to preach at Vernal, Utah, mainly because it was a hotbed of evil Mormonism. They met with limited success, mainly because Phelps was insulting and belligerent to everyone he came across. But at the end of the summer, they returned to the university, and Phelps was ordained as a minister at the ripe old age of 17.

Phelps had his first brush with fame when he moved to California and enrolled at John Muir College in Pasadena. He started a campaign to stamp out necking, petting, and dirty jokes on campus that landed him in the June 11, 1951 issue of Time Magazine. In 1955, he moved to Topeka, Kansas, where he was given a new church -- Westboro Baptist -- and quickly offended most of his congregation into leaving. Phelps believed that God hated almost everyone -- himself, his immediate family, and his supporters excluded, of course -- a doctrine which, surprisingly, found little support among the parishioners he railed against from his pulpit. Phelps has remained the sole pastor of Westboro Baptist's approximately 50-member congregation (almost all of the church members are also members of Phelps' family).

Phelps liked to present himself as an amiable family man, but there is plentiful evidence that he has been an abuser of his wife and 13 children for decades. Two of the four children who have left the family have reported savage beatings at the hands of their almost-constantly enraged father. They were beaten hundreds of times with mattock handles and leather straps, while their mother calmly watched and wiped their faces off between sessions. He would kick them in the stomach, twist their arms until they were almost dislocated, hold them in the air and knee them in the groin. He would scream invective for hours on end. For a time, he was addicted to amphetamines, but when he kicked the habit, he became a health nut and forced the children to exercise and run marathons. When he thought they were too fat, he put them on starvation diets which sometimes lasted for months.

Phelps was also emotionally abusive. In addition to his extensive and profane tirades about the kids, he also commanded that none of them could ever marry or live outside the home without his permission. He also insisted that they all get law degrees, despite whatever academic interests they had, because he wanted to have a whole family of lawyers on hand to help him sue his enemies.

Phelps hated his father for marrying again after his mother died, and he forbade his father from ever seeing him or his family. When his father sent their grandchildren photographs, Phelps cut the pictures up into tiny pieces and mailed them back.

His attacks have not been limited to his family either. Though he stridently defends his own First Amendment rights, he works overtime to shut up anyone who speaks against him, especially in his hometown of Topeka. He is an enthusiastic abuser of the lawsuit, blocking up court dockets in Topeka with frivolous lawsuits designed to harass and intimidate his opponents. He and his family picket public officials, businesses, and churches. They used to picket private homes until the city council banned it. He sends out hundreds of faxes libeling those he disagrees with. Of course, no evidence is ever provided to back up his charges. In many cases, the people who Phelps pickets, sues, slanders, or taunts are guilty of only minor crimes against Phelps -- they preached tolerance from the pulpit, they employed a homosexual, they got in his way at the track. But he very effectively cowed much of Topeka into silence. The police avoided him, the press avoided him, the churches avoided him. He beat them all.

Here's what two of his estranged sons, Mark and Nate Phelps, said about their childhood once in an interview: "We weren't allowed to participate in any activities at school. Not through most of our childhoods. No sports, not even track, until my senior year. And no outside friends. No one was allowed to visit, and we weren't allowed to go anywhere. To birthday parties or anything. Then, shave our heads. My father wanted the world to reject us. It would drive us right back to him. To the Place. The world-within-a-world. The one that was Fredcentric."

Fred Phelps was, in all likelihood, a sadist.

Eventually, his children grew up. Some of them gathered up their courage (Phelps had promised them that if they ever left home, he would excommunicate them and they would instantly go straight to hell) and left the family. In at least one case, one of his kids threatened him with a butcher knife if he wouldn't stop beating their mother. Clearly, the time was coming when he wouldn't be able to inflict physical and emotional pain on his family, and he needed a new target for his cruelty. The growing panic over AIDS in the 1980s inspired him to launch his infamous campaign against homosexuals. He and his family conducted daily demonstrations outside their church, waving signs that said, "GOD HATES FAGS", "FAGS HATE GOD", "AIDS CURES FAGS", "THANK GOD FOR AIDS", "GOD GAVE FAGS UP", and other similar slogans. They also like to conduct these demonstrations at the funerals of homosexuals who died of AIDS or were killed by gay-bashers -- Phelps took special pleasure in the Matthew Shepard case -- the church's website includes a counter proclaiming how many days Shepard has been burning in hell.

After 9/11, Phelps added a new gimmick to his repertoire -- America-bashing. His reasoning seemed to be that 9/11 was God's punishment on America for failing to kill gays enough. Unsurprisingly, this made more people hate him than ever before. Judging this new spin on his ministry to be a great success, Phelps has taken to denouncing anything that makes it onto the nightly news. Dead miners in West Virginia? God hated them. Major city destroyed by hurricane? God hated them. Beloved celebrity dies? God hated them. Phelps and his congregation have even started picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in the Iraq war. Anything to get more attention and to spread more pain.

Phelps died on March 20, 2014, a week or so after he'd actually been excommunicated by his own church. A council of elders, including several of Fred's children, had recently taken over the ministry and downgraded Phelps' daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, from her role as church spokesperson. The issue was apparently quite contentious within the church, and Fred requested that the church members and his family be kinder to each other. Apparently, the fact that their eldritch sire wasn't a complete monster was enough to get the council to excommunicate him. The shock of so cruelly losing the church he'd dedicated his life to appears to have sent him into a tailspin, healthwise.

It seems Fred trained his family well.

Here are some choice tidbits from Westboro Baptist's FAQ:

(Question: Why do you preach hate?) "Because the Bible preaches hate. For every one verse about God's mercy, love, compassion, etc., there are two verses about His vengeance, hatred, wrath, etc. The maudlin, kissy-pooh, feel-good, touchy-feely preachers of today's society are damning this nation and this world to hell."

(Question: Didn't Jesus die for everyone?) "No. Jesus died only for His sheep (John 10). His church (Ephesians 5:25). His elect (I Peter 1:2). If He died for everyone, everyone would go to heaven. All sins of all people would be forgiven. But obviously, all sins aren't forgiven, because people are burning in hell."

"The only true Jews are Christians. The rest of the people who claim to be Jews aren't, and they are nothing more than typical, impenitent sinners, who have no Lamb. As evidence of their apostacy, the vast majority of Jews support fags. Of course, there are Jews who still believe God's law, but most of them have even departed from that."

As any halfway decent theologian can tell you, Phelps' grasp of Biblical principles is ludicrously weak. He seemed to know this, because he always refused to debate Biblical scholars about his beliefs. But if Phelps was a poor evangelist for God, he was an excellent evangelist for hate. If I were a more Christian person, I would point out that his detractors hate him and are led to damnation, while his family and supporters hate for him and are led to damnation. A win-win equation for Old Scratch...

Some final thoughts, first from Mark Phelps: "If my father's going to become a spokesman for the Christian Reform Movement, it's important Christians realize who he really is. What worries me most is my brothers and sisters may see him as a Christ-like figure. He has nothing to do with Christ. He is a sad, sick man who likes to hurt people. For as long as I've known him, he has been addicted to hate."

And from me: It's tempting to dismiss Phelps as a small, insignificant nobody grabbing a place in the national spotlight by shouting "FAG!" a few times. One wants to avoid calling him evil or a monster or anything like that, because you can sense that's what he really wants. But, strictly based on his sadistic treatment of his family, I think words like "evil" and "monster" are perfectly acceptable.

Information derived from the website and from an unpublished (and essentially suppressed) story by Jon Bell for the Topeka Capital-Journal (it used to be available online, but the Capital-Journal got it safely hidden away. Some background on that is available at .) ((UPDATE: Bell's article is back online at

(The suffering I go through for this site. /me goes for a walk in the park to expunge some of Fred's website from my brain.)

Thanks to wertperch for tracking down Fred's birthdate...

Westboro Baptist Church is not affiliated, as far as I know, with any type of Baptist church, Southern Baptist or otherwise. I'll expand upon this later in this writeup.

Aside from opponents and others listed in the aforementioned writeups, Fred Phelps also employs the detestable practice of picketing funerals. He's picketed the funerals of AIDS victims, those who worked for gay rights, politicians and the families of politicians (He picketed the funeral of Bill Clinton's mother) and gained national media attention by picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and left for dead because he was gay.

On a side note, Matthew Shepard eventually died of his injuries after days on life support. A bit of bitter irony here is that while Shepard had nobody to protect his life when it was in danger, Fred Phelps and his cult of hate had a barricade as well as police protection so that he could spread his message of hate without harm coming to him or his followers.

As well as picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, Phelps maintains "a Gospel memorial to poor Matthew Shepard" at which includes:

  • An animated image of Matthew Shepard engulfed in hellfire
  • A sound bite that is supposed to be Matthew Shepard exclaiming "For God's sake, listen to Phelps!"
  • A running count of days since October 12, 1998 (the date of Matthew Shepard's death), that states the following:

    Matthew Shepard has been in hell for X days.

    Eternity - X days = Eternity

    (X, FYI representing a number generated some type of server script)

  • "Matthew Shepard's Message From Hell", which consists of some of the bible passages Phelps uses to support his hate of homosexuals.

On the death of Matthew Shepard and the Westboro Baptist Church picket of Shepard's funeral, Phelps has this to say on the "memorial" page listed above:

When Matthew Shepard died on October 12, 1998, every pervert in this country (from Bill Clinton on down) used his death as a soap box to promote so-called "gay rights." In religious protest of this, WBC picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, to inject a little truth and sanity into the irrational orgy of lies consuming this world.

Thanks to Wharfinger for poiting out to me that truly warped bit of irony. Quoth the Wharfinger: "Sanity? SANITY?!"

As for his picketing of churches, I've seen his group picket a church once, though Fred Phelps himself was conspicuous in his absence. This was the picket of the Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Ames, Iowa. He was picketing because Rev. Steve Sabin was homosexual, and the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was considering action against Rev. Steve Sabin and the Lord of Life Lutheran Church because of Steve Sabin's homosexual relationship with Karl von Uhl. A minister of a Baptist Church in Ames (I don't recall the affiliation, but I know it was a mainstream Baptist church, unlike the Westboro Baptist Church) wrote a letter to Fred Phelps stating that while he agreed that homosexuality was a sin, he did not think the actions of Phelps were in "the spirit of Christ". Phelps didn't hesitate to then call this conservative preacher a "sodomite".

The following are a few examples of the signs that Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church uses in its pickets (some of them seen in the photo at

Westboro Baptist Church also picketed Iowa State University, alleging that ISU was made up of "fags" and "sodomites," particularly because of its on-campus Gay and Lesbian group.

Incidentally, Fred Phelps uses the labels "fag" and "sodomite" interchangeably for pretty much anyone who doesn't agree with him wholeheartedly.

For some of the details about the Iowa Synod, the ELCA, and the proceedings, I used the following website:

Fred Phelps is the minister of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas and an arch-homophobe. He is also the owner of the web site.

He likes to travel the country "protesting". Recently we had him here in College Park, Maryland. This was taken from a flyer at UMCP "WBC to picket fag-infested Univ. of Maryland at the football game vs. North Carolina State, The Laramie Project fag play, and 5 queer-friendly pseudo churches -- Nov. 8-10 schedule below -- in religious protest & warning: 'God is not mocked!' God Hates Fags! and Fag-Enablers! Ergo, God hates Pres. C.D. Mote, Jr., his administration, staff, faculty, alumni, and student body!"

Well, my son does stage crew and this did not fly with him so we/me (I'm the internet researcher in the house) did some digging to try to come up with counter slogans to the "God sent AIDS to Kill Fags" genre of posters. So sad, we were really looking for some awful tragedy to mock but it seems the worst that God has done to Topeka is cause droughts and floods, killer winter storms and killer summer heat...."God sent hot and cold to kill your corn and soy beans" just didn't have the right ring. Topeka has more emergency preparedness information but less emergencies than I could have imagined. We are sorry Topeka, we were not good people that day. We couldn't find a catchy counter slogan, this is probably a good thing.

We talked to a friend in Kansas City, Kansas. Peggy says Phelps goes everywhere protesting and the people in Kansas hate his actions. He even protests at funerals - that of a doctor in Kansas City who worked with the poor and that of Matthew Shepard were two examples she gave us. She said the Kansas police who are familiar with Phelps and Friends make them hold the line but when they go places where they are not known they frequently push past the legal physical line that protestors are not supposed to cross. It may help to for your police to know this ahead of time if Phelps and Friends come to your town.

Some other URLs found in our search:
all satires...which are well and good when one needs the humor to defuse the anger but when one needs a bit of sustenance there is also (Thanks to cbustapeck for pointing out this overwhelmingly positive website.)

and "Addicted to Hate" chronicling the life and times of a Fred Phelps lawsuit - amazingly icky stuff.

But all are not so evil as the "Rev" Phelps: In a reference to another minister said. "If you want hate, you will find it there. These self proclaimed “Christians” stand and condemn homosexuals, not accepting that they are children of God, loved by God as each and every one of us are. Rev. Phelps says, “It’s too late to rescue Matthew Shepard from the life of sin and shame to which he was lured by the perverted, depraved and decadent American society into which he was born. All who say, ‘It’s o.k. to be gay.’, have the blood of Matthew and millions more on their hands.” Rev. Phelps is the one who organized members of his congregation to go by bus from Topeka, Kansas to Laramie, Wyoming to protest at Matthew Shepard’s funeral, to condemn him and all gays. Rev. Phelps said Matthew Shepard’s blood is on our hands if we show any understanding or acceptance or love for those who are gay." This was a part of the Children’s Sabbath sermon preached by the Rev. Walter Boris on 10/18/1998 as he encouraged his congregation to become "open and affirming"; "a congregation that welcomes gays and lesbians, bi-sexual and transgendered people, as children of God, deserving of their love"

I am happy to say I just peeked at the web page and the Kirkland Congregational Church now proclaims themselves to be an Open and Affirming Church on their splash page of This came from Rev. Boris's rejection of Fred Phelps! Good from know...look at the bright side and all.

We never did find a counter slogan we liked but it is over here, Phelps has left Maryland. Beware, he may hit your town next. /msg me if you come up with something catchy to share (but not so mean to the innocent people of Kansas. We were mad and spiteful that day).


unperson says I wanted to do something against Phelps, but in the end I decided ignoring him was probably the best course. He seems to feed on conflict, and since at the university his view is clearly not prevalent, I decided it was best to emphasize how irrelevant and uninteresting it is. I think the best ideas against it, though, were the ones that used his protests to raise money for gay advocacy groups. I also found the godhatesfigs website, and I really wanted to print the pamphlets they had and go stage a mock protest complete with anti-fig signs. The thing is that he has no real rational arguments or coherent message, just irrational hate. There is no rational counterpoint to that, but you can show how ridiculous it is.

Jet-Poop says Y'all could try what's been used against the KKK a few times: Collect pledges for every minute that the protest goes on, with all contributions going to anti-hate organizations, AIDS charities, gay rights organizations, etc. If someone pledges a dollar per minute, and Phelps goes on for a half-hour, that's $30 in the bag. And it's important to set up a large clock where he can see it, so he'll know y'all are keeping track of how long he's going and how much his efforts are benefiting his opponents. Also, the guy thrives on other people hating him, so it's best if he sees either lots of smiling faces or, perhaps better, no one paying real attention to him at all...

But Lady Midnight says "Interestingly, the idea that Jet-Poop poses that you have at the end of your Fred Phelps w/u is now mentioned/detailed on the site.

I checked this out and it is indeed correct. See:


cbustapeck says I find the best solution is to just be happy around such people.... they just don't get it.

Radar says re Fred Phelps - It's an old joke, but I might have an anti-Phelps poster slogan for you. "Q: What's the difference between Fred Phelps and God? A: God doesn't think he's Fred Phelps".

12/24/02 I was also told the Associated Press had " something about Fred Phelps the other day that said that he always has people videotaping his protests, so if anyone touches him, he can sue them. So Freddy should always be treated as 'hands-off'."

Jan.'06 Poor God, with such a "representative"


In addition to his profane statements about gay people, Phelps has taken up a new object of hatred: America.

Fred has started a sister site, creatively titled On Sept. 11th, 2001, Fred and his merry band of followers were seen trotting about his hometown of Topeka, KA, carrying signs that read "FDNY (the New York Fire Department) IN HELL". Fred also posted the following message on his web site:

"The Rod of God hath smitten fag America! … At left is the filthy face of fag evil. (Hijacked American Airlines pilot) David Charlebois. One of the hundreds of fags and dykes and fag-/dyke-enablers working for American Airlines… . If the fags have a secret funeral for David Charlebois — in order to frustrate WBC’s plan to picket his funeral — WBC will picket his house… . The multitudes slain Sept. 11, 2001, are in Hell — forever!" (1)

In the months following 9/11, Fred also claimed that murdered New York Times reporter Daniel Pearl, the seven astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster, and even children's television show host Fred Rogers ("Mister Rogers' Neighborhood") were suffering similar fates. For even though these people had not been gay, they had not been preaching Fred's message of a Biblical Reconstructionist America where gay people are executed for being gay. Therefore, they were all labeled "fag-enablers", and confined to the same fate as gays.

I will put it as simply as this: Fred Phelps is, by no means, a man of God. He is a man who picks and chooses from the Bible to further his own malicious ranting. I try not to be judgmental, but I truly believe that Fred will be first against the wall when Jesus comes again.

Footnotes (1) Southern Poverty Law Center. "Reaping the Whirlwind". Winter 2001.


It is not enough that Fred has damned Matthew Shepherd to Hell, picketed his funeral with signs that read "AIDS CURES FAGS" and other cheerful bon mots, and placed a ticker on his website ( that illustrates how long Matthew Shepherd has "been in Hell." Now, he's taking his hatred to Matthew Shepherd's hometown, Capser, Wyoming. reports that Phelps has petitioned for a "memorial" to Matthew Shepherd that would be erected in downtown Casper. The monument would be 5 to 6 feet high, made of marble or granite, and bear a plaque:

"MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22."

Sadly, it appears that there is nothing that would prevent Phelps from erecting such a monument. This is due to the fact that, in 1965, the city of Casper erected a monument depicting the Ten Commandments in the same park where Phelps plans to erect the statue. Phelps is arguing that if one part of Scripture is represented on public property, then any other part of Scripture can be represented on that selfsame property. He has also made it known that if he does not get his way, he will sue the city of Casper.

My only interaction with the infamous Mr. Phelps was five years ago in Boise, Idaho. I had recently been spit forth from a much beleaguered cross-country Greyhound bus and was ambling my lonely way around with no particular aim; I crossed State St. to 27th and headed south into town. A beautiful day in late June I had my head in the clouds as I rounded a bend in the road. On the other side, kitty-corner to me, were two groups of demonstrators separated by a side street. The crowd closest to me were shaking signs and shouting loudly while the further group sang and danced around in an apparent parody of their competing protestors.

My squinting myopia kept the signs blurred and the general throng of noise was unintelligible until I was far too close. “Thank God for 9-11” and “Fags Die and God Laughs” signs were turning towards me and the jeering becoming pointed in my direction. The slogans and frothing hate are familiar to anyone not raised in a deep cave and certainly not to someone of my… persuasions. I became familiar years ago with the hate filled ranting of Mr. Phelps as he brought his family out from the dark underbelly of religion into the limelight by picketing Matthew Shepard’s funeral. The bilious feelings this man and his ignorant hate mongering rises in me are beyond rational words but I never conceived that I would, one day, stare him down. I realized that even from a distance I looked the part of his hated female fag with short hair, combat boots. Their nasty crowd began taunting me (about my forthwith decent into hell and the sins of my perceived homosexuality) and crossing the street to where I stood-jaw agape at the reality of what I was seeing. I didn’t want to ignore them and walk/run faster but acknowledge that there is no rationalizing with them.

While pondering my quickly approaching problem I was suddenly surrounded by no less than a half dozen drag queens dressed in billowing white gowns replete with long wings and glistening silver halos. They circled me and ran, diagonally, to a fenced in building across from Phelps’s screaming mob. I was served cold tea, met the folks who fled, selflessly, to my salvation and was invited to the protests after party. In short, I can thank Mr. Phelps for handing me over to some of the finest, gayest, most upstanding and community oriented people in Boise.

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