Friday, March 30, 2007

Shocking revelation about Kansas' Westboro Baptist Church & other strange tales

By Diane Silver

[updated 4/2/07]
It's a busy day in stormy Kansas, so here are a few interesting things to read while I meet some deadlines.

The BBC finds Topeka's Fred Phelps family to be "kind" and notes that "some of the girls look All American." The BBC's Louis Theroux thinks "Gramps" Fred is "a not very nice person," though.

The most shocking revelation of all is Theroux's claim that if I, as a lesbian, showed up at the Westboro Baptist Church, the Phelps wouldn't humiliate me or even be rude.
They'd shake their (gay) hand and welcome them in.
As someone who has lived near the Phelps for quite some time, my only comment is to say, ah, sure... And if said gay person believed in fairness and equality, then what would happen?

I've never been one of those folks who think the Phelps are demons. They are mere human beings who have been led astray, but forgive me if I don't buy what this fellow is saying. He seems amazed that the Phelps don't have horns and froth at the mouth. The ability to be nice to someone like Theroux who is publicizing their cause does not give them the ability to be kind to anyone else.


One more thought on the Phelps thing and BBC naiveté ... I live in Lawrence, a city about 30 miles from the Phelps. They picket here frequently. I also visit their neighborhood often, have many friends who live in the Phelps' neighborhood or work in Kansas government in Topeka with the Phelps.

In more than 20 years, I haven't heard of any instances of the Phelps family being kind or charitable to others outside of their church.

Many churches, even fundamentalist anti-gay churches, are known for helping the poor, sending aid in times of disaster like Hurricane Katrina. I know of no instances when Westboro or the Phelps have done that. On the contrary, they have a reputation locally of being a tad disagreeable, even in person. (I know I'm painting with a broad brush here. Many apologies for that.)

I could well have missed something. If so, I hope that the wisdom of the blogosphere would send me some information about Westboro Baptist Church, the Phelps and how they have helped anyone besides themselves. Can you even send me one instance of when they've been kind or generous to others? If you don't want to comment in public, email me at

Also in the news...

Pam Spaulding interviews a former staff attorney for the virulently anti-gay American Family Association and finds that he isn't all that homophobic and never was.

Democrat Nancy Boyda of the Kansas 2nd District is on everybody's hit list, including Karl Rove's. Meanwhile, the state GOP is sending out emails to one and all (even ole' liberal me), noting the so-called horrible things Boyda is doing. To be fair, these Republican emails slam everything Democratic in Kansas.

The New York Times profiles the fate of an Iraqi widow, a Sunni Arab who resisted being thrown out of her home in a Shiite enclave in Baghdad, only to be shot to death the next day. And this happened during the surge that was supposed to make everyone safer.

An English-only bill in Kansas is stalled and near death, while an anti-bullying bill languishes in a conference committee as the regular session nears the end. Meanwhile, Kansas somehow has ended up entering the casino business. (Should I say this makes me nervous? It does. Yup, I believe in freedom and giving the people the right to gamble if they want it, but all gambling all the time can really ruin a neighborhood.)

Finally, I admit to being impressed. A 64-year-old blogger has financed her own trip to cover the war in Iraq. Darn. I wish I had that kind of moxie.
Photo: One of those All-American Phelps folk.


Anonymous said...

And in other good news, Affordable Suites does not rent to gay couples. They didn't need my money anyway.

Diane Silver said...

Thanks for providing the link. I meant to link to that story, but missed it.

Anonymous said...

I saw the documentary here in the UK and they looked and sounded to me like any normal fundamentalist Christian outfit with broadly the same views.

A home schooled, home churched Christian of my aquaintance (an ex colleague) also hated gay people and once set fire to a tramp (vagrant/homeless person) in a disused warehouse when he was a young man.

He was still unrepentant about it even well into adulthood (he was proud to tell the story) and explained it was because God told told him to do it!

He also believed that anyone who was not a member of his 'Home Church' would burn in hell.

Yes indeed, the Westboro lot seem pretty typical of their type.