Fred Phelps

Fred Phelps

Infobox Person
name=Fred Phelps, Sr.


image_size=207px
caption=Fred Phelps on his pulpit
quote=
birth_name=Fred Waldron Phelps|birth_date=birth date and age|1929|11|13
birth_place=Meridian, Mississippi, U.S.
death_date=
death_place=
residence=Topeka, Kansas
title=Pastor
salary=
term=November 27, 1955–Present
predecessor=None (position created)
successor=Incumbent
party=Democrat
religion=Independent Baptist
spouse=Margie Marie Simms
children=13:
*Fred Phelps, Jr.
*Margie Phelps
*Shirley Phelps-Roper
*Jonathon B. Phelps
*Rebekah Phelps-Davis
*Elizabeth Phelps
*Timothy Phelps
*Rachel Phelps
*Abigail PhelpsEstranged from family:
*Mark Phelps
*Katherine Phelps
*Nathan "Nate" Phelps
*Dorotha Bird (nee Phelps)
parents=Fred Wade Phelps
Catherine Idalette Johnston
footnotes=

Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr. (born November 13, 1929) is an anti-homosexual American pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), an independent Baptist church in Topeka, Kansas. [http://www.xtra.ca/public/viewstory.aspx?AFF_TYPE=3&STORY_ID=5194&PUB_TEMPLATE_ID=3] [http://www.nerve.com/CS/blogs/scanner/archive/2008/01/23/homophobic-propagandist-fred-phelps-will-picket-heath-ledgers-funeral.aspx] [http://www.queerty.com/queer/fred-phelps/] [ [http://www.xtra.ca/public/viewstory.aspx?AFF_TYPE=3&STORY_ID=5194&PUB_TEMPLATE_ID=3 Flamers, family & fanaticism] ] [ [http://www.nerve.com/CS/blogs/scanner/archive/2008/01/23/homophobic-propagandist-fred-phelps-will-picket-heath-ledgers-funeral.aspx Homophobic Propagandist Fred Phelps Will Picket Heath Ledger's Funeral] ] [ [http://www.queerty.com/queer/fred-phelps/ Fred Phelps / Queerty] ] He is a disbarred lawyer, founder of the Phelps Chartered law firm and failed candidate for political office. He is known for preaching with slogans and banners denoting phrases such as "You're Going to Hell", "Don't Pray for the USA", "Thank God for 9/11", "Thank God for Katrina", "Thank God for Dead Soldiers", "America Is Doomed", "God Hates Fags", "AIDS Cures Fags", "God Is Your Enemy", "Too Late to Pray", "God Hates You", and "Fags Die, God Laughs (or Mocks)", and claims that God will punish homosexuals as well as people such as Bill O'Reilly, Coretta Scott King, Ronald Reagan, and Howard Dean, whom his church considers "fag-enablers". [God Hates Fags. [http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/nov2001/Bill_OReilly_11-9-2001.pdf Flyer dated November 9, 2001] .] [God Hates Fags. [http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/dec2001/Vt_governer_Dean_12-11-2001.pdf Flyer dated December 11, 2001] .] He has also thanked God for the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the 2005 flooding of James Bay in central Canada. [cite web|url=http://evolvinginkansas.blogspot.com/2007/04/king-of-sweden-suing-fred-phelps.html|title=earthquake]

Phelps and his followers frequently picket various events, especially military funerals, gay pride gatherings, high-profile political gatherings, and even Christian gatherings and concerts with which he has no affiliation, arguing it is their sacred duty to warn others of God's anger. When criticized, Phelps' followers say they are protected in doing so by the First Amendment. [God Hates Fags. [http://www.godhatesfags.com/featured/epics/2006/20060201_kansas-senate-epic.pdf EPIC TO THE KANSAS SENATE ON FEBRUARY 1, 2006 (PDF)] ] [God Hates Fags. [http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/jan2006/20060114_pandering-demagogic-legislatures.pdf Pandering Fliers, 2006 (PDF)] ] In response to Phelps' protests at military funerals, President Bush signed the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act into law in May 2006, [Pickler, Nedra, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/30/AR2006053000134.html "Bush Says U.S. Must Honor War Dead",] "The Washington Post", Associated Press, 2006-05-30. Retrieved on 2006-06-09] and, in April 2007, Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius signed into law a bill establishing a 150 foot no-picketing buffer zone around funerals. [Carpenter, Tim [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4179/is_20070413/ai_n19019012 "A Buffer For Mourners"] "The Topeka Capital-Journal", Associated Press, 2007-04-13. Retrieved on 2007-09-20]

Phelps says that he is a preacher who believes that homosexuality and its acceptance have doomed most of the world to eternal damnation. The church at Westboro which he leads has 71 confirmed members, 60 of whom are related to Phelps through blood or marriage or both.Fact|date=April 2008

The group is built around a core of anti-homosexual theology, with many of their activities stemming from the slogan "God hates fags," which is also the name of the group's main website. Gay rights activists, as well as Christians of virtually every denomination, have denounced him as a producer of anti-gay propaganda and violence-inspiring hate speech.Lauerman, Kerry. [http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1999/03/lauerman.html "The Man Who Loves To Hate".] "Mother Jones". March/April 1999. ]

Education

In 1947, Phelps enrolled as a student at the fundamentalist Bob Jones University, which he left after three semesters. [In 2006, Phelps--who has picketed BJU as well as funerals of servicemen--denied that he had ever attended BJU. [http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/nation/14299998.htm News article from the Columbia (SC) "State".] ] He then spent two semesters at the Prairie Bible Institute. In 1951, he earned a two-year degree from John Muir College. While at John Muir, Phelps' preaching on campus, attacking "sins committed on campus by students and teachers ... promiscuous petting ... evil language ... profanity ... cheating ... teachers' filthy jokes in classrooms ... [and] pandering to the lusts of the flesh", were written about in "Time Magazine". [cite journal | title=Repentance in Pasadena | journal=Time Magazine | date=1951-06-11 | url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,814897,00.html | accessdate=2008-04-06]

Civil rights attorney

Phelps earned a law degree from Washburn University in 1962, and founded the Phelps Chartered law firm in 1964. The first notable cases were of a civil rights nature. "I systematically brought down the Jim Crow laws of this town," he says. Phelps' daughter was quoted as saying, "We took on the Jim Crow establishment, and Kansas did not take that sitting down. They used to shoot our car windows out, screaming we were nigger lovers," and that the Phelps law firm made up one-third of the state’s federal docket of civil-rights cases.cite | author = Donna Ladd| title = A Love/Hate Thing: Web prank stonewalls anti-gay attorneys | url = http://www.ocweekly.com/news/machine-age/a-lovehate-thing/18104/ |date= 1999-09-09 | publisher = OC Weekly |accessdate = 2006-12-20 ]

Phelps took cases on behalf of African American clients alleging discrimination by school systems, and a predominately black American Legion post which had been raided by police, alleging racially-based police abuse. Phelps' law firm obtained settlements for some clients.cite | author = Joe Taschler and Steve Fry | title = As a lawyer, Phelps was good in court | date = | publisher = The Topeka Capital-Journal | url = http://cjonline.com/webindepth/phelps/stories/080394_phelps17.shtml |accessdate = 2006-12-20] Phelps also sued then-President Ronald Reagan over Reagan's appointment of a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, alleging this violated separation of church and state. The case was dismissed by the U.S. district court. [cite web | author = U.S. Department of Justice | title = On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit |url=http://www.justice.gov/osg/briefs/1986/sg860401.txt |accessdate=2007-11-01 |date=1986-10 |format=txt |publisher=United States Department of Justice ] Phelps' law firm, staffed by himself and family members also represented non-white Kansans in discrimination actions against Kansas Power and Light, Southwestern Bell, and the Topeka City Attorney, and represented two female professors alleging discrimination in Kansas universities.

In the 1980s Fred Phelps received awards from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Blacks in Government and the Bonner Springs branch of the NAACP for his work on behalf of black clients.cite
author =
title = Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church: In Their Own Words
date = 2006-06-21
publisher = Anti-Defamation League
url = http://www.adl.org/special_reports/wbc/default.asp
accessdate = 2006-12-14
]

Phelps Chartered also won one of the first reverse discrimination cases. [Phelps-Chartered. [http://www.phelpschartered.com/FirmHistory.htm Firm History] . Accessed April 2 2007]

Disbarment

A formal complaint was filed against Fred W. Phelps, Sr. on November 8 1977 by the Kansas State Board of Law Examiners for his conduct during a lawsuit against a court reporter named Carolene Brady. Brady had failed to have a court transcript ready for Phelps on the day he asked for it; though it did not affect the outcome of the case for which Phelps had requested the transcript, Phelps still requested $22,000 in damages from her. In the ensuing trial, Phelps called Brady to the stand, declared her a hostile witness, and then cross-examined her for nearly a week, during which he accused her of being a "slut," tried to introduce testimony from former boyfriends whom Phelps wanted to subpoena, and accused her of a variety of perverse sexual acts, ultimately reducing her to tears on the stand."State v. Phelps", 226 Kan. 371, 598 P.2d 180 (Kan. 1979) (Kansas Supreme Court opinion)] Phelps lost the case; according to the Kansas Supreme Court:

The trial became an exhibition of a personal vendetta by Phelps against Carolene Brady. His examination was replete with repetition, badgering, innuendo, belligerence, irrelevant and immaterial matter, evidencing only a desire to hurt and destroy the defendant. The jury verdict didn't stop the onslaught of Phelps. He was not satisfied with the hurt, pain, and damage he had visited on Carolene Brady.

In an appeal, Phelps prepared affidavits swearing to the court that he had eight witnesses whose testimony would convince the court to rule in his favor. Brady, in turn, obtained sworn, signed affidavits from the eight people in question, all of whom said that Phelps had never contacted them and that they had no reason to testify against Brady; Phelps had committed perjury. On July 20 1979, Fred Phelps was permanently disbarred from practicing law in the state of Kansas, but continued to practice in the Federal courts.

In 1985, nine Federal judges filed a disciplinary complaint against Phelps and five of his children, alleging false accusations against the judges. In 1989, the complaint was settled, with Phelps agreeing to stop practicing in Federal court permanently, and two of his children suspended for periods of six months and one year. [ [http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?sid=184 Southern Poverty Law Center, Fred Phelps timeline] ]

Activities and statements

All of Phelps' recent actions were in conjunction with the congregation of Westboro Baptist Church; see Westboro's notable activities.

Religious beliefs

Phelps says he is an old school Baptist, which includes John Calvin's doctrine of unconditional election, the belief that God has elected certain people for salvation before birth.Fact|date=June 2008

Two of his sons, Mark and Nate, who allege that their father is a child abuser who repeatedly beat them with a leather strap and a mattock handle (similar to an axe handle)Liberty Press, Kansas, 2001 [http://www.libertypresskansas.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=95&Itemid=30 "A City Held Hostage"] ] , insist that the church is actually a carefully planned cult that allows Phelps to see himself as a demigod, wielding absolute control over the lives of his family and congregants, essentially turning them into slaves that he can use for the sole purpose of gratifying his every whim and acting as the structure for his delusion that he is the only righteous man on Earth.Fry, Steven, and Taschler, Joe. [http://cjonline.com/indepth/phelps/stories/080394_phelps18.shtml "Phelps flock: Afterlife is prearranged."] ] In 1995, Mark Phelps wrote a letter to the people of Topeka to this effect; it was run in the "Topeka Capital-Journal".Phelps, Mark. [http://cjonline.com/indepth/phelps/stories/080394_phelps03.shtml "Letter from a Son Who Left."] ] The children's claim is partially backed up by B.H. McAllister, the Baptist minister who ordained Phelps. McAllister said in a 1993 interview that Phelps developed a delusion wherein he was one of the few people on Earth worthy of God's grace and that everyone else in the world was going to Hell, and that salvation or damnation could be directly obtained by either aligning with or opposing Phelps. As of 2006, Phelps maintains this belief. Phelps and his family picket approximately six locations every day, including many in Topeka and some events farther afield. On Sundays, up to 15 churches may receive pickets. [Mann, Fred, " [http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/living/religion/14243282.htm Road to Westboro: What led Fred Phelps to his beliefs and actions?] ", Wichita Eagle, 2006-04-02. Retrieved on 2006-08-24.] By their own count, WBC has conducted over 30,000 pickets, in all 50 states, in over 500 cities and towns. [cite web|title=animation|url=http://animation.speakfree.net/video/sott/wbcvn/qt/20070929ussenateframesmischiefbyalaw.mov] Their travel budget exceeds $200,000 annually. [Video: The Most Hated Family in America. Documentary by Louis Theroux; produced by the BBC.]

"The Laramie Project"

Many of Westboro's pickets revolve around the play "The Laramie Project"; Phelps says he consistently sends his followers across the country to picket every performance he finds out about. [God Hates Fags. [http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/fliers.html Fliers] ] [God Hates Fags. [http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/flierarchive2004.html Flier archive 2004.] ] The play documents the reaction of the people of Laramie, Wyoming, to the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Phelps is a character in the play and is portrayed negatively. When the play was made into a movie by HBO, ("The Laramie Project"), Phelps and the WBC traveled to New York City to picket the HBO home offices with signs reading "United You'll Fall." [God Hates Fags. [http://www.godhatesfags.com/photos/photoarchive.html Photo Archive] Accessed April 2 2007( [http://www.godhatesfags.com/images/2002/United_Youll_Fall_3-9-2002.jpgdirect link] to photo)]

Political views

Phelps' stated political views and activities are primarily driven by his view that the United States is "a sodomite nation of flag-worshiping idolators." [God Hates Fags. [http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/may2006/20060511_week-777.pdf Flier dated May 11, 2006] .]

Anti-gay

In the movie Hatemongers, members of the Westboro Baptist Church claim their children were being "accosted" by homosexuals in Gage Park, about half-a-mile from the Phelps' home. Shirley Phelps-Roper claims that in the late 1980s Fred Phelps even witnessed a homosexual attempting to lure her then 5-year-old son Joshua into some shrubbery. [cite web |title=Phelps children raised on faith |work=examiner.com |url=http://www.examiner.com/a-1068141~Phelps_children_raised_on_faith.html |accessdate=2008-07-13 ] 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. 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. [ [http://www.hatemongers.com/ "Hatemongers"] , Steve Drain]

In 2005, Phelps and his family held a signature drive to bring about a vote to repeal a law that protected homosexuals from workplace discrimination; they collected over 6000 signatures, enough to bring the measure to a vote. In the aftermath of the election, sixty-four individuals who'd signed the petition came forward to state that Phelps' family had lied to them about what they were signing, and asked that their names be removed.365Gay.com staff. [http://www.365gay.com/newscon05/01/010505topeka.htm "Phelps Clan Forces Vote on Gay Rights Law."] 5 January 2005.]

Also in 2005, Phelps' granddaughter Jael was an unsuccessful candidate for Topeka's City Council; Jael was seeking to replace Tiffany Muller, the first openly gay member of the Topeka City Council.Topeka Capital-Journal. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4179/is_20050223/ai_n11832063 "A District."] 23 February 2005.]

Anti-Semitic

Phelps was cited by the Anti-Defamation League for his numerous anti-semitic comments: [ [http://www.adl.org/special_reports/wbc/wbc_on_jews.asp Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church: In Their Own Words] ] On General Wesley Clark and John Kerry (of Jewish descent):

Anti-Swedish

Phelps and the Westboro church run the website [http://www.godhatessweden.com godhatessweden.com] . Phelps has declared that the heavy Swedish losses in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, initially overestimated to be near 20,000, were God's punishment of Sweden for the promotion of homosexuality. In particular, Phelps has criticized Sweden's prosecution of Åke Green. Phelps' website depicts a granite monument designed by himself that claims that Green is a Christian martyr and Phelps has announced plans to erect copies of the monument throughout the United States. [ [http://www.godhatessweden.com/html/green.html God Hates Sweden!!! Telling Bible Truth is not a Crime!!!! ] ]

In response, Green has called Phelps "appalling" and "extremely unpleasant", [ [http://www.thelocal.se/article.php?ID=818&date=20050107 "Swedish pastor disowns US hate site"] , The Local] which led to Phelps taking down his monument of Green.

Anti-Irish

In 2003 Phelps turned his attacks on Ireland. In a sermon preached on July 29 2007 in which he returned to the topic, he told his congregation that he had launched a website [http://www.godhatesireland.com godhatesireland.com] to "expose Ireland as the Emerald (now Pink) Isle of the Sodomite Damned, –saturated with fags and dykes at every level of society and government."Fact|date=April 2008 His most recent tirade was triggered off when the Literary and Historical Society, a debating society in University College Dublin invited Phelps to participate in a debate on homosexual adoption. The invitation was made in error, and was withdrawn within a few days. He told his congregation that in the past he had

Phelps' attack on former president Mary Robinson and Senator David Norris, both widely respected figures, drew ridicule in Ireland.

Against flag idolatry

Fred Phelps refers to the United States as "A sodomite nation of flag-worshiping idolators."

"Military funerals are pagan orgies of idolatrous blasphemy where they pray to the dunghill gods of Sodom and play taps to a fallen fool, 'They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.'" Jer. 22:18&19. [God Hates Fags. [http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/may2006/20060511_week-777.pdf WBC flier] . May 11 2006.]

Freedom of speech

Phelps is critical of laws against hate speech pertaining to homosexuality as sin. Hate speech laws in Sweden, resulting in the trial of Pastor Åke Green, and Canada are given particular emphasis by Phelps. Phelps has used the term "homo-fascist" to describe countries with such laws. [ [http://www.godhatescanada.com/ God Hates Canada] , a Phelps website]

Democratic Party

Phelps has run in various Kansas Democratic Party primaries five times, but has never won. These included races for governor in 1990, 1994, and 1998, receiving about 15% of the vote in 1998. [http://edition.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1998/08/05/kansas.results/ 1998 Kansas Primary Results. Compiled by Congressional Quarterly.] ] In the 1992 Democratic Party primary for U.S. Senate, Phelps received 31% of the vote [ [http://www.kssos.org/elections/elections_statistics.html State of Kansas Secretary of State Website] ] Phelps ran for mayor of Topeka in 1993 [ [http://www.religionnewsblog.com/1128/kansas-anti-gay-church-embarrasses-topekans Kansas anti-gay church embarrasses Topekans ] ] and 1997. [ [http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=21229 FrontPage Magazine ] ]

upport for Al Gore

Phelps supported Al Gore in the 1988 Democratic Party primary election. [Tooley, Mike D. (February 9, 2006). The " [http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=21229 God Hates Fags" Left] . FrontPageMagazine.com] In his 1984 Senate race, Gore opposed a "gay bill of rights" and stated that homosexuality was not something that "society should affirm". [cite news
last = Hohler
first = Bob
coauthors = Michael Crowley
title = Bradley rips Gore's 'scare tactics' to win gay votes
publisher = Boston Globe
date = 2000-02-15
url = http://graphics.boston.com/news/politics/campaign2000/news/Bradley_rips_Gore_s_scare_tactics_to_win_gay_votes+.shtml
accessdate = 2006-10-01
] Phelps has stated that he supported Gore because of these earlier comments.cite news
last = Hogenson
first = Scott
title = Gore Sought Support of 'God Hates Fags' Creator in '88
publisher Cybercast News Service
date = 2000-10-16
url = http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewPolitics.asp?Page=Politicsarchive200010POL20001016c.html
accessdate = 2006-12-14
] According to Phelps, members of the Westboro Baptist Church helped run Gore's 1988 campaign in Kansas. Phelps' son, Fred Phelps Jr., hosted a Gore fundraiser, which Al and Tipper Gore attended, at his home in Topeka. Fred Phelps, Jr. served as a Gore delegate to the 1988 Democratic National Convention. [cite news
last = Ivers
first = Kevin
title = Gore Political Ties to "God Hates Fags" Founders Uncovered
publisher = Georgia Log Cabin Republicans
date = 2000-10-25
url = http://www.lcrga.com/archive/200010251159.shtml
accessdate = 2006-09-19
] Gore spokesman Dag Vega declined to comment; "We are not dignifying those stories with a response." [cite news
last = Dougherty
first = John E.
title = Gore sought help from anti-homosexual group
publisher = World Net Daily
date = 2000-10-25
url = http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=15559
accessdate = 2006-09-19
]

Opposition to Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and Hillary Rodham Clinton

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Phelps protested Hillary Rodham Clinton during a campaign speech in support of the Clinton-Gore ticket at the University of Kansas on October 14, 1992. In Bill Clinton's second presidential campaign, Phelps and the Westboro church also opposed Clinton and Gore because of the administration's support for gay rights. The entire Westboro congregation picketed a 1997 inaugural ball,Friedman, "et al." [http://www.qrd.org/qrd/media/radio/thiswayout/summary/newswrap/1997/461-01.27.97 "This Way Out Newswrap"] , 25 January 1997] denouncing Gore as a "famous fag pimp."God Hates Fags. [http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/nov2002/Al_Gore_11-18-2002.pdf Westboro Baptist Church Flier (PDF)] , distributed 18 November, 2002. ] In 1998, Westboro picketed the funeral of Gore's father, screaming vulgarities at Gore and telling him, "your dad's in Hell."

addam Hussein

In 2003, before the fall of Saddam Hussein during the Iraq War, Phelps wrote Hussein a letter praising his regime for being, in his opinion, "the only Muslim state that allows the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to be freely and openly preached on the streets."Anti-Defamation League. [http://www.adl.org/special_reports/wbc/wbc_on_america.asp "Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church: In their own words."] 2006.] Furthermore, he stated that he would like to send a delegation to Baghdad to "preach the Gospel" for one week. Saddam granted permission, and a group of WBC congregants traveled to Iraq to protest against the U.S. The WBC members stood on the streets of Baghdad holding signs condemning both Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as anal sex.Tooley, Mark D. [http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=21229 "The 'God Hates Fags' Left."] Front Page Magazine. February 9 2006.] After Saddam was executed in 2006, Phelps released a video commentary that stated that both Saddam Hussein and Gerald Ford (who had died the same week) were now in Hell.

Arrests

United States

Phelps was first arrested in 1951 and found guilty of misdemeanor battery after attacking a Pasadena police officer. He has since been arrested for assault, battery, threats, trespassing, disorderly conduct, contempt of court, and several other charges; each time, he (along with Westboro and its other members) has filed suit against the city, the police, and the arresting officers. Though he has been able to avoid prison time, he has been convicted more than once: [http://www.nndb.com/people/908/000025833/ Notable Names Database. Fred Phelps entry.] ] Southern Poverty Law Center. [http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?sid=184 Timeline of the life of Fred Phelps, Sr.] ] Musser, Rick. "Fred Phelps versus Topeka." Republished from Culture Wars & Local Politics, ed. Elaine B. Sharp. University of Press Kansas. 2000.Cloth ISBN 0-7006-0935-0, Paper ISBN 0-7006-0936-9.]
*1994: Contempt of court
*1994: Two counts of assault (reduced to disorderly conduct on appeal)

Phelps' 1995 conviction for assault and battery carried a five-year prison sentence, with a mandatory 18 months to be served before he became eligible for parole. Phelps fought to be allowed to remain free until his appeals process went through. Days away from being arrested and sent to prison, a judge ruled that Phelps had been denied a speedy trial and that he was not required to serve any time.

Canada

Phelps has also claimed that his congregation, along with him, have been arrested in Canada for hate speech. [Dan Kapelovitz Interview. [http://www.kapelovitz.com/phelps.htm "Fred Phelps Hates Fags: Straight Talk With God's Favorite Homophobe"] ] This prompted the founding of "Godhatescanada.com." He has also strongly opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada and Canada's Supreme Court.

Lawsuit against Fred Phelps' Church

On March 10, 2006 WBC picketed the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder. On June 5, 2006 the Snyder family sued Fred Phelps, WBC, and unnamed others for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. [ [http://www.matthewsnyder.org/ Snyder family web page] On 31 October 2007, WBC, Fred Phelps and his two daughters, Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebecca Phelps-Davis, were found liable for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. A federal jury awarded Mr. Snyder $2.9 million in compensatory damages, then later added a decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and an additional $2 million for causing emotional distress (A total of $10,900,000). [Citation | last =Dominguez | first = Alex | title = Jury Awards Father $2.9M in Funeral Case | newspaper = Associated Press | year = 2007 | date = 2007-10-31 | url = http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8SKEED02&show_article=1] [Citation | last =Dominguez | first = Alex | title = Jury awards father $11M in funeral case | newspaper = Associated Press | year = 2007 | date = 2007-10-31 | url = http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/11/02/military/6_23_2911_1_07.txt] The organization said it wouldn't change its message because of the verdict.

The lawsuit named Albert Snyder as the plaintiff and Fred W. Phelps, Sr.; Westboro Baptist Church, Inc.; Rebekah Phelps-Davis; and Shirley Phelps-Roper as defendants, alleging that they were responsible for publishing defamatory information about the Snyder family on the Internet, including statements that Albert and his wife had "raised [Matthew] for the devil" and taught him "to defy his Creator, to divorce, and to commit adultery." Other statements denounced them for raising their son Catholic. Snyder further complained the defendants had intruded upon and staged protests at his son's funeral. The claims of invasion of privacy and defamation arising from comments posted about Snyder on the Westboro website were dismissed on First Amendment grounds, but the case proceeded to trial on the remaining three counts.

Albert Snyder, the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, testified:

In his instructions to the jury U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett stated that the First Amendment protection of free speech has limits, including vulgar, offensive and shocking statements, and that the jury must decide "whether the defendant's actions would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, whether they were extreme and outrageous and whether these actions were so offensive and shocking as to not be entitled to First Amendment protection." See also Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, a case where certain personal slurs and obscene utterances by an individual were found unworthy of First Amendment protection, due to the potential for violence resulting from their utterance.

WBC is seeking a mistrial based on alleged prejudicial statements made by the judge and violations of the gag order by the plaintiff's attorney. An appeal is also likely. WBC has said that it is thankful for the verdict.

On February 4, 2008 U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett upheld the ruling but reduced the punitive damages from $8 million to $2.1 million. The total judgment now stands at $5 million. An appeal by WBC is still pending. Court liens have been ordered on church buildings and Phelps' law office in an attempt to ensure that the damages are paid. [Citation | title = Damages Reduced in Funeral Protest Case | newspaper = Associated Press | year = 2008 | date = 2008-02-06 | url = http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid52070.asp]

People targeted by Fred Phelps

Since the early 1990s, Phelps has targeted several individuals and groups in the public eye for criticism by the Westboro Baptist Church after their deaths. Prominent examples include President Ronald Reagan, Diana, Princess of Wales, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, National Football League star Reggie White, Sonny Bono, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Islam and Muslims, murdered college student Matthew Shepard, the late children's television host Fred Rogers, Australian actor Heath Ledger, Jews, [Anti-Defamation League. [http://www.adl.org/special_reports/wbc/wbc_on_jews.asp Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church:In Their Own Words] . Accessed April 2 2007] Catholics, Swedes, the Irish and US soldiers killed in Iraq. He has also targeted the Joseph Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington, Massachusetts, center of the David Parker controversy. In 2007 he stated that he would target the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's funeral. [Bonisteel, Sara. [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,273313,00.html "Anti-Gay Kansas Church Members Plan to Picket Falwell Funeral"] , "FOX News", May 17, 2007.]

Shirley Phelps-Roper, a daughter of Fred Phelps, has appeared on Fox News, defending the WBC and attacking homosexuality.

In a recent video sermon, Phelps targeted comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, claiming that they are among the "scoffers and mockers" referred to in the Bible, and used them as evidence that we are in the "last of the Last Days." He was particularly critical of Colbert's Emmy Awards show performance, in which Colbert, tongue-in-cheek, called the Hollywood audience "Godless sodomites." [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e647x8xFKTs YouTube - Evil Reverend Fred Phelps Diatribe Against Stewart/Colbert ] ] He compared Colbert's comments to the "blaspheming comics" of Sodom and Gomorrah and referred to both Colbert and Stewart as "sacrilegious buffoons."

Phelps' followers have repeatedly protested the University of Kansas School of Law's graduation ceremonies.

In August 2007, in the wake of the Minneapolis I-35W bridge collapse, Phelps and his congregation have stated that they will protest at the funerals of the victims. In a statement, the church said that Minneapolis is the "land of the Sodomite damned." [ Black, Eric [http://www.minnesotamonitor.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=2184 "Fred Phelps is Coming"] , "Minnesota Monitor", August 7, 2007.]

Efforts to discourage funeral protests

Legislation

On May 24 2006, the United States House and Senate passed the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act, which President Bush signed five days later. The act bans protests within 300 feet of national cemeteries — which numbered 122 when the bill was signed — from an hour before a funeral to an hour after it. Violators face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/25/AR2006052500431.html Congress Bars Military Funeral Protesters ] ]

As of April 2006, at least 17 states have banned protests near funeral sites immediately before and after ceremonies, or are considering it. These are: Illinois, [ [http://cbs2chicago.com/local/local_story_137154351.html Blagojevich Signs Funeral Protest Bill.] ] [ [http://www.illinois.gov/pressreleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=1&RecNum=4891 Illinois.gov - Illinois Government News Network (IGNN) - Search the News Results ] ] Indiana, [ [http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=16584 Ind. enacts funeral-protest law] ] Iowa, [ [http://www.dailyiowan.com/news/2006/04/19/Metro/Vilsack.Orally.signs.Funeral.Bill-1860685.shtml Vilsack orally 'signs' funeral bill - Metro ] ] Kansas, [http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/14090898.htm] Kentucky, [ [http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=16699 Ky. enacts limits for funeral protests] ] Louisiana, [ [http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/wwl041806jbfunerals.4b3d754c.html Senate committee approves bill to limit funeral protests.] ] Maryland, [ [http://wjz.com/topstories/local_story_082070525.html Funeral Protest Ban Clears Maryland House] ] Michigan, [ [http://www.wlns.com/Global/story.asp?S=4942358&nav=0RbQ WLNS TV 6 Lansing Jackson Michigan News and Weather - WLNS.COM | Our Apologies ] ] Missouri, [ [http://www.thekansascitychannel.com/news/7597398/detail.html Blunt Signs Funeral Protest Bill - Kansas City News Story - KMBC Kansas City ] ] which passed the law, and Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, [ [http://okinsider.com/topic_01OF0MMAHW/readstory.oki?storyid=0QX0W1CXY OkInsider.com - Selected News Story ] ] South Carolina, [ [http://www.scstatehouse.net/sess116_2005-2006/bills/4965.htm 2005–2006 Bill 4965: Funeral services - www.scstatehouse.net - LPITS ] ] South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. [ [http://www.wwrn.org/article.php?idd=20530&sec=36&con=4 WorldWide Religious News-Wisconsin enacts ban on protests at funerals ] ] Florida increased the penalty for disturbing military funerals, amending a previous ban on the disruption of lawful assembly. [ [http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=33923 HB 7127 - Disturbance of Assemblies ] ]

These bans have not been uncontested. Bart McQueary, having protested with Phelps on at least three occasions,http://www.aclu-ky.org/Funeral%20Protest%20PI%20Order%20&%20Opinion%2009%2027%2006.pdf] filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of Kentucky's funeral protest ban. On September 26 2006, a district court agreed and entered an injunction prohibiting the ban from being enforced. In the opinion, the judge wrote::Sections 5(1)(b) and (c) restrict substantially more speech than that which would interfere with a funeral or that which would be so obtrusive that funeral participants could not avoid it. Accordingly, the provisions are not narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest but are instead unconstitutionally overbroad.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in Missouri on behalf of Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church to overturn the ban on the picketing of soldier's funerals. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/22/AR2006072200643.html ACLU Sues for Anti-Gay Group That Pickets at Troops' Burials - washingtonpost.com ] ] The ACLU of Ohio also filed a similar lawsuit. [http://www.acluohio.org/pressreleases/2006_press_releases/2006.05.08.htm]

Other responses

WBC is listed as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. [Southern Poverty Law Center. [http://www.splcenter.org/intel/map/hate.jsp?T=29&m=4 Active U.S. Hate Groups in 2005.] Accessed 5 October 2006.]

To counter the Phelps protests at funerals of soldiers, a group of motorcycle riders has formed the Patriot Guard Riders to provide a nonviolent, volunteer buffer between the protesters and mourners.

In addition, when Phelps and his Westboro followers have shown up at Walter Reed Army Medical Center or other locales in the Washington area, they have been actively protested by the DC Chapter of Free Republic, a conservative website.Fact|date=July 2008

Fictionalized portrayals

In early 2007, Kevin Smith announced plans to produce a horror film entitled "Red State" featuring a religious extremist based on Phelps as a villain. [ [http://www.slashfilm.com/2007/04/07/kevin-smiths-red-state Kevin Smith’s Red State | /Film ] ]

Electoral history

Democratic primary for Governor of Kansas, 1990
* Joan Finney - 81,250 (47.18%)
* John Carlin - 79,406 (46.11%)
* Fred Phelps - 11,572 (6.72%)

Democratic primary for United States Senate, Kansas 1992
* Gloria O'Dell - 111,015 (69.20%)
* Fred Phelps - 49,416 (30.80%)

Democratic primary for Governor of Kansas, 1994
* Jim Slattery - 84,389 (53.02%)
* Joan Wagnon - 42,115 (26.46%)
* James Francisco - 16,048 (10.08%)
* Leslie Kitchenmaster - 11,253 (7.07%)
* Fred Phelps - 5,349 (3.36%)

Democratic primary for Governor of Kansas, 1998
* Tom Sawyer - 88,248 (85.28%)
* Fred Phelps - 15,233 (14.72%) [http://www.ourcampaigns.com/CandidateDetail.html?CandidateID=22659 Source]

ee also

*A Union In Wait
*Shirley Phelps-Roper
*The Bible and homosexuality
*Christianity and homosexuality
*Violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgendered
*Homophobia

Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ad7_1176164822] - Phelps explains what "God Hates Fags" means.:"For external links related to Westboro Baptist Church and not Phelps specifically, see this section."

Biographical information

* [http://www.phelpschartered.com/home.htm Phelps-Chartered, Attorneys At Law] - A law firm founded by Fred Phelps, Sr., in 1964 and staffed by WBC members
* [http://cjonline.com/webindepth/phelps/ Topeka Capital-Journal Phelps and WBC archived stories]
*Imdb|1662196
*TV.com person|537112
* [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,814897,00.html Repentance In Pasadena] The Jun. 11, 1951 TIME magazine article mentioning Phelps.

Defenses of Phelps

* [http://www.therighttobewrong.net/ In Defense of Westboro Baptist Church Pickets]

Criticism of Phelps

* [http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?pid=421 A City Held Hostage] - Southern Poverty Law Center article on Phelps' activities in Topeka
* The family was the subject of the TV programme "The Most Hated Family in America"; presented on the BBC by Louis Theroux. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6507971.stm]


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