Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Midweek Cuckoo: Fred Phelps

I know I posted about this guy yesterday, but he really did deserve to be today's Wednesday Weirdo.

as an aside, looking at the website that directs you to, I think it is likely to be a spoof, although it's not immediately obvious because even fred's real sites look like a joke. However, is definitely Fred. So is But who doesn't.

The Reverend Fred Waldron Phelps Sr. is an evangelist of the old testament kind, with all the trappings of old fashioned fire and brimstone. He is the pastor and founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, the headquarters of which is in the basement of his private compound in Topeka, Kansas. Fred's house is on the compound, as well as the houses of 9 of his 13 children (the other four don't want anything to do with him for fairly obvious reasons). There are about 100 members of the WBC, the vast majority of which are related to Fred.

Fred's four estranged children, his sister and a number of people who have worked with him claim that he abuses his children and his wife, and may have been instrumental in the death of his 17-year old daughter in law. Even the minister who ordained him thinks he's mad. Phelps actively advises wife beating as a method of maintaining peace in the home. Quoted in a sermon, he said:

A good left hook makes for a right fine wife. Brethren, they can lock us up, but we'll still do what the Bible tells us to do. Either our wives are going to obey, or we're going to beat them!

The man also shot to death a dog that defecated on his lawn. Amazingly, although the dog's owner took Phelps to court, Phelps won the case. This says a lot more about the american legal system than about the rightness of his actions, though. In any event it lost him a lot of congregation members.

While he was an attorney in Kansas, he had more complaints filed against him than any other attorney in the history of the state, and possibly in the history of the country. His disbarment was signed by every single federal judge in the state, an unprecedented occurrence. Really, the story is just too bizarre for words, and continues on to fraud, extortion, child labour, attempted suicide, drugs, perjury, racism, exploitation, multiple arrests and AIDS conspiracies.

The wikipedia article on Fred is very well written and researched, and reads like an 8 hour HBO miniseries in the making. also has a timeline and collection of Fred's quotes, and a number of articles and at least one book have been written about him. He also appears as a character in a play called 'The Laramie Project', based on real events where Fred picketed the funeral of a young man who was murdered for being gay. He pickets every performance of the play, and has threatened to sue the writers for defamation, even though all the dialogue his character has in the play is directly from his own sermons of the time.

Truly a deserving midweek cuckoo. You couldn't make this stuff up.


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