It’s not often that you hear a Fox News anchor shouting “You are the devil!” at an interviewee. Is Shirley Phelps Roper really the devil? Click here to decide for yourself:
It’s perhaps appropriate that I’m writing this as a thunderstorm of biblical proportions rages on the horizon a few miles down from here. Yesterday, via a capricious trail from this rather amusing wiki, I learned for the first time about the Kansas-based ‘Westboro Baptist Church’.
The WBC, in brief, believe that “God hates America” for, among other things, its tolerance of homosexuality. They claim that 911, Hurricane Katrina, the 2003 Space Shuttle disaster, and, especially, the deaths of US servicemen in Iraq constitute deserved punishment from the hand of God. The WBC’s favoured method of getting this message across is to turn up at the funerals of US soldiers killed in Iraq, wave placards, and shout slogans which include “God Hates Fags”, “God Hates You”, “Thank God for 911”, “Pray For More Dead Soldiers”, and perhaps most sensitively of all, “Your Sons are In Hell”.
This hobby has, unsurprisingly, won them very few friends – or converts (almost all the members of the WBC appear to be close relatives of its founder, Fred Phelps). But they did get to appear on Fox News, in one of the most surreal – and painful – pieces of television I’ve ever seen.
The Westboro Baptist Church appears to be going for full spectrum media dominance. The campaign is backed up with a series of technically slick websites, listing all the people and places that God hates. Alongside www.godhatesfags.com (“welcome, depraved sons and daughters of adam”) we have www.godhatesamerica.com, www.godhatessweden.com, www.godhatesireland.com – with www.godhatesaustralia.com reportedly in the offing. www.godhatestheworld.com gives a handy interactive map identifying which countries God hates, and why he hates them. Disappointingly, information has so far been posted for only a few of the countries on the map (mostly this seems to relate to homosexuality and Islam), but we are assured that the explanation of God’s hating Nepal, Turkmenistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be ‘coming soon’.
The more I read about the WBC, the more they start to sound like characters from South Park. I’m particularly fond of the phrase “Repent, dummies! The wrath of God is upon you!”.
There has been some speculation that the entire WBC operation could be the work of “deep cover liberals” seeking to give homophobia a bad name. While that’s an interesting idea, it seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to…