Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hatemongers or Misunderstood: My Interview With the Westboro Baptist Church

Interview Conducted On: 9/4/2012, 4:01-5:02 PM
Article Written and Posted On: 9/5/2012, 9:14 PM

Let me first start off by saying, I do not support the Westboro Baptist Church or their views, but I support their right to say it. I conducted this interview with the sole purpose of hearing certain viewpoints straight from their mouths. Every person has a right to free speech. I was curious as to how they feel about the 1st Amendment and their portrayal in the international media.

I want to start this with a little background on the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), their leader/pastor Fred Phelps Sr, and what they stand for. I want everybody to know, I read my questions and the answers I received, back to the member I was interviewing via phone (Abigail Phelps, Daughter of Fred Phelps Sr), and the following ANSWERS to the questions I asked were approved, however this article has not yet been reviewed by them, nor do I care if it ever is. I also want to add, that the questions I asked were a small portion of the 1 hour+ long conversation I had with Abigail, most of it included a bible lesson, hate preaching and even at one point her starting to cry, due to her passion on the question about their portrayal in the international media. Though they promote views that I disagree with extremely, they seemed very polite (I had to make multiple calls until I got a call from a blocked number from Abigail), but she seemed to get offended by some of my questions and interpretations.

Fred Phelps Sr born in Nov of 1929, is the leader and pastor at the Westboro Baptist Church located in Topeka, Kansas. He, along with his “church” are self-proclaimed “primitive Baptists” or “Old School Baptists”. They believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and by literal, I mean their perspective on the book, but according to them they use “Calvinist principles”. The WBC is notorious for their public protests and picketing of Military Funerals, churches and organizations supporting equal rights for homosexuals, Jewish institutions, Schools (they came to my old high school, we had a large Jewish population), and even memorial services for events such as the 2011 Tucson shooting and the 2012 Aurora shooting. They gained national spotlight when in 1998, they protested the funeral of Matthew Shepard , a University of Wyoming student who was tortured and beaten to death due to his homosexuality. Since then they have showed up to the formerly mentioned events and more, with signs like “God Hates Fags”, “Thank God for 9/11”, “America is Doomed”, “Thank God for Katrina” and many more along the lines of that. They are listed as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. I also find it crucial to note that they are not affiliated and are denounced by the two major Baptist organizations, Baptist World Alliance and Southern Baptist Convention. 

The following questions were just 6 pre-screened questions, and the answers were read back and approved by Abigail Phelps (the interviewee). The rest of the hour long conversation was very strange and hate filled, I am almost certain I will include more in a future article. These questions were centered around their views and stances, not their religious beliefs. Though she quoted the bible many times, I will only include the chapters she found crucial to her answers, and even then it will be up to you to look them up for clarity.

Me: Does the WBC or Pastor Fred Phelps believe in First Amendment abuse? If so, do they/he believe they have committed abuse of the 1st amendment?

Abigail: No it is not possible to abuse. 11 of his [Fred Phelps] children have J.D. degrees. You will not find people like the WBC who fight for the 1st, but also the gospel. They are only the true warriors left. The WBC does NOT take collections (she wanted to make that clear)

Me: When you say the word “fags” do you mean homosexuals? If yes, then why the protest of military funerals?

Abigail: Every adult has a responsibility to know what words mean. Fag is short for faggot, which means men who commit sodomy. They burn in their lust like faggots used to light fire (faggot also means, a bundle of sticks or twigs, esp when bound together and used as fuel.) It includes their enablers also. They do not do their duty to their neighbor who is committing that sin. Those liars who say its okay to be gay, and say its okay to commit sodomy, sloth and adultery, are as much or more to blame as fags. Quoted: Rev. 22:15.

Me: Are the people outside your church fags?

Abigail: You’re either a vessel of righteousness or a vessel of wrath. She went on to quote “Matthew 25” from the Bible. I believe she used the King James Version.

Me: Do you see any presidential candidates viable for the prosperity of our nation? If yes, than who and why?

Abigail: No and No. These are the last days, we have a duty to look at the signs of the times. There is not one candidate that sees that. The nation deserves them, they will lead this nation to its ultimate destruction. He [Obama] believes in Islam. Obama is the anti-Christ. He is only interested in declaring war on god. He is demon possessed. The same with Mitt Romney (except she went on to insult Mormonism instead of Islam)

Me: Why do you feel your church is often misrepresented in the media?

Abigail: The reason we are misrepresented in the media is because Satan is the prince of the power of the air, he is trying to keep the last little lamb (the people)  from being called. Ephesians 2:2

Me: Is there a chance a member of the church will run for public office to represent the interest of the American people on behalf of the WBC?

Abigail: No. You will never see a member of the WBC run for public office (she implied it was because that would be useless, because these are “the end times”).

Again, I have to make it clear, I DO NOT SUPPORT THEIR VIEWS, I VIEW THEM WITH DISDAIN. However, it is my purpose and duty as a journalist to make sure that the truth is sought, and with such a negative portrayal from "the big media", I found it necessary to seek the answers from the source. I may not agree with them, but I agree with their right to say it. The New Skeptic does not condone the activities performed by the WBC, and encourages counter-protests (their picketing schedule can be found on their website linked earlier). If you find yourself confronted by the WBC, keep calm, don't react with violence (they have a family of lawyers), and most of all, make sure that any potential victims of their hate speech are protected and shielded (even the KKK and Hells Angels have blocked their protests with American flags, shielding victims and their families from said hate speech). 

Sean Rankin
Chief Blogger
The New Skeptic 

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