Sunday, July 23, 2006

Abuse as theology: Fred Phelps' son tells his father to stop venting his rage

By Diane Silver

The estranged son of anti-gay minister Fred Phelps is publicly calling on his father to stop his hate-filled picketing of funerals.

Nate Phelps also provides perspective on his childhood and his controversial father. That insight helps explain Fred Phelps theology, which may well conceive of God as an abusive parent. More on that below, but first the news about Nate Phelps.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports today:
Nate Phelps said he left home for good in 1980 after a terror-filled childhood in which Fred Phelps beat him and his siblings during outbursts of violence.

"When I watch what he's doing now, I see shadows and visions of who he was when we were growing up," he said. "When we were kids, he could vent his rage and anger on us. Now, I'm seeing the same kind of vicious rhetoric and cruelty, it's just that he can't beat these people up."
Nate told the newspaper that he hasn't spoken to his father or any of the family members who remain with the Westboro Baptist church in 15 years.

Fred Phelps and his minions have picketed just about everything in Kansas and the U.S. that might have the remotest gay connection. He was well known for picketing the funeral of gay-bashing victim Matthew Shepard and of the victims of AIDS.

Now the Westboro Church pickets the funerals of soldiers. He claims that U.S. deaths in Iraq are a sign that God is angry with this country for allegedly accepting homosexuality.

Leaving aside the fact that gay and lesbian Americans don't have anything close to equal rights, Fred Phelps' actions have united many Americans around the idea that it's abusive to picket funerals.

The Capital-Journal reports:
"The dominant feeling I have is anger," (Nate Phelps) said. "It's the idea that they can take something so private and personal and painful and be so hurtful about it. I categorically dismiss what he's doing and am appalled by everything he says and does."

Nate Phelps said he was speaking out about his family to provide another perspective about their protests.

"There's a perception that the family is unified on this, and that's not the case," he said.
Abuse allegations have swirled around Fred Phelps for a long time.
In a 1994 story in The Topeka Capital-Journal, he and his brother Mark Phelps said they and their siblings grew up in a violent household in which they were frequently beaten by their father. Mark Phelps, who also cut ties with Fred Phelps, said he used to beat his own siblings under orders from his father.

Nate Phelps said the story was accurate.

"It wasn't fantasy, it wasn't hyperbole," he said. "He was cruelly, viciously violent -- physically, verbally and psychologically."
First, if this is true, then my deepest sympathies go out to all of the Phelps children. My prayers even go out to those who stay with Fred Phelps. Out of their own pain, they are attacking me and other gays and lesbians, and seeking to inflict pain on the parents and spouses of soldiers who sacrificed in Iraq.

What I find most fascinating -- and sad -- about the accounts of Fred Phelps as an abusive father is the fact that he seems to conceive of God as being like himself.

In an earlier run-in on this blog with one of the members of the Westboro Church, that individual did a good job of summarizing the Phelps theology. In a sentence, it is:
You can't understand the love of God until you understand his hate.
The subtext of this "theology" is as follows.

If you conceive of God as a violently abusive parent, then understanding his hate is all important. If you don't know what God hates, you can't, well, not do that. If you don't avoid doing the forbidden thing, God will (1) hurt you (2) refuse to love you.

As all children of abusive parents know, such parent's love is conditional. That seems to be the God Fred Phelps describes, although that's not the God I believe exists.

One of the most horrible things about abuse is that the child can never please the parent.That's because the parent's problem isn't the child or child's actions, but the parent's own pain. Thus, the parent keeps raging and beating and verbally trashing the child.

If this is Fred Phelps' conception of God, then how horrible for him and his children and followers. Even in their own theology, they can never win because this kind of God can never be satisfied.


Paul said...

The Fred Phelps Expose`:
is worth a read. A sadistic pervert, brutalised and brutalising, the freak should be in a psychiatric ward. Did you know the pulsing arrows on his site are a subconscious slip up as to his love of sodomy? Actually, he chose them himself after the link was pointed out. He has a very long history of being sodomised and of sodomising, and hates himself for this. So, rather than admit he's ill, we get "God says I can". We call this projection, and it is a major tipping point in the psychology of faith in faith as a power in/of itself. Not just faith as a way to inner strength. The person in the main knows supernaturalism is unlikely - impossible even. Yet, they are forced to behave as if it is - and this inner conflict is turned outward. Oh! It correlates to low IQ also. Fred was tortured and regularly beaten on the head by his psycho old man - and beats his own thusly with pick handles - to the point where we may safely assume a few synapses are not firing.

God may hate everyone, but one thing we do know: Fred Phelps despises himself and his family. God - not existing - can by definition have no emotion. Even a child can see this guy hates the world - and uses fairy tales to act as a thug. Like a mass killing in slow motion, he rejoices in his destruction and pain spread to others. Psychosis indeed - classic, text book and oh so garden variety.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see one of F Phelp's children speaking out against him and their sister.

SteveMD2 said...

No sympathy for Phelps. Perfect case of abused become abuser.

But he should be made an exampe of. Toss him in a deep hole naked, and throw 50000 maggots in there. And put it up on Youtube as a message to all of his kind.

Anonymous said...

To Paul- the link you posted has been taken down it's too bad because I was going to read it I'd believe it if I heard he was once a sodomite he looks like the sick twisted type who enjoys anally raping someone just to hear them scream & I think he has the blood thirsty grin of a monster [much like that of dick chenney] well let me know how to find a similar article my email address is [yes death note fan lol] please contact me

Balti-Mocker said...

Instead of hating f. Phelps, let us celebrate the breaking free of hatred and violent anger that has been accomplished. Celebrate self respect and sanity. Please, Fred, make a video for the "It Gets Better" project. If anyone has a right to speak, you do.

Anonymous said...

I've come to understand that in a strange way, Phelps is a help to this country.

By his insanity, so obvious, it turns people into supporting gays and our military.

Yes, I do believe that Phelps and the adults in his gang should be tossed into a cage in the big house made famous in the movie one flew over the cuckoos nest.

And a little daily torture would help keep him venting his rage and by his very insanity, helps expose the other nut case xtians as similar.

A long life for these creeps. But if somebody took them out with a flamethrower, I'd pray I could be on the jury.

I'd go to hell to prevent a conviction for the brave person who scorched these creeps

isn't there anyone who doesnt have a family, and has no hope of living eg more then 6 mos longer.

do the job and that person should get the medal of honor

Anonymous said...

Let us hope that before he dies, Fred Phelps will be held accountable for his vicious physical and psychological abuse. Even his grown kids are still intimidated by him.

Phelps is a religious terrorist. If you or I committed assault and battery, would we have avoided prision for 50 years?