Fred Phelps: The Unsung Hero of the Gay Rights Movement

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


phellps

If there is one man who can be credited for the success of the gay rights movement, it’s Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps.

Phelps did more than anyone to make opposition to homosexuality seem as toxic as possible by picketing the funerals of soldiers with anti-gay slogans. There probably wasn’t a more inspired way to make anti-gay sentiments seem as unacceptable as possible.

If the Phelps clan had deliberately set out to implement gay marriage in America, they could not have chosen a better method and who is to say that they didn’t.

The Phelps, with their background in civil rights lawsuits and ties to the Gore campaign, weren’t really anti-gay. They were and are willing to do anything to get attention. They were trolls before the word had become common internet parlance. They understood that negative attention could be monetized, literally through lawsuits, and more indirectly through recruitment.

The protests of the Westboro Baptist Church were cartoon efforts at extracting maximum outrage. The people they trolled helped pay their bills.

Fred Phelps began by monetizing civil rights legislation and ended by cashing in as the default villain of a culture of perpetual outrage. If Fred Phelps should be known for anything, it should be as the man who did more than anyone else to promote gay rights in America.

  • De Doc

    Apparently ol’ Fred is nearing the end of his days and was reportedly ex-communicated from WBC. His heresy? He supposedly advised the church council on taking a ‘kinder approach’ to wayward members of the flock. Here again we are reminded of the old adage, “The Revolution eats its children.” A fitting, if ironic, end to a man who for so long claimed the moral high ground over others.

    • UCSPanther

      I call it karma at work, and it will come for the other members of his former cult.

  • A Z

    “monetizing civil rights legislation”

    Okay, I’ll ask. How?

    They did spend an awful lot of time protesting, a person wondered and still wonders how they could support themselves. They are a large group, but where is their means of support?

    I never heard of one of them being fired from a job, because their employer did not want the attention, nor did I hear of one of their businesses being picketed.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      lawsuits against local areas that interfered with their protests

      • A Z

        And they were adjudicated hundreds of thousands of dollars on a regular basis so that all the had to do was color new poster with crayons and show up to the next local?

        Well, there is the purported framework. When I look up the actual lawsuits and see their monetary awards, it will flesh it out. That and the WBC employment or non-employment history. G-d how I hate this.

        To speaker no grammatically.

        It keeps getting worser and worser.

        • UCSPanther

          Scumbag lawyers and irrational hatred. What a combination.

      • A Z

        Not finding a lot to easily fill a spreadsheet

        “Shirley Phelps-Roper esq., daughter of Rev. Fred Phelps and an attorney at the Phelps Chartered Law firm, is a prominent member of WBC and often a spokesperson for WBC. For the last couple of years, she has been running the day-to-day operations of the church.

        Phelps Chartered law firm

        All the principals of the Phelps Chartered law firm [2], a firm founded by WBC founder Fred Phelps, are members of WBC. Phelps Chartered handles most of WBC’s legal work and has received significant awards of attorney’s fees from the Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Award Act of 1976 when WBC has been improperly prevented from picketing.”

        http://ezineblog.org/social/westboro-baptist-church/

        “One of Westboro’s followers estimated that the church spends $250,000 a year on picketing

        In the 1990s the church won a series of lawsuits against the City of Topeka and Shawnee County for efforts taken to prevent or hinder WBC picketing, and was awarded approximately $200,000″

        - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church

  • West_Coast

    Don’t forget. Fred Phelps in an ardent Democrat. The Left has that little known fact hidden from the lime light.

    • Jose Soto

      And lets not forget that it is Republicans who want gays in jail.

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        And lets not forget that it is democrats who side with Islamofascists who want to kill gays.

      • Leah

        Can you cite an incident to prove that outrageous and insane comment?

        I thought not . . .

  • UCSPanther

    One could wonder if those Westboro crazies were set up as a front group to specifically demonize Conservative ideology and Christianity, because they are so over the top in terms of raw hatred that they practically draw their own caricature.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      It wouldn’t surprise me

    • A Z

      I don’t know. I think Fred Phelps failed to mature at 16 and became what he is to day. It is worth noting that he was a Democrat

      - http://www.kansas.com/2012/12/18/v-print/2608194/2006-what-led-fred-phelps-to-his.html

      - http://cjonline.com/indepth/phelps/stories/080394_phelps01.shtml

      Hockenbarger is supposedly a member of the Christian Identity movement or has sympathies with it.

      “Charles William “Bill” Hockenbarger, allegedly a member of Christian Identity”

      http://ezineblog.org/social/westboro-baptist-church/

      • UCSPanther

        That could explain that cult’s racial hatreds. WBC’s insane homophobia is always front and center, but few people are aware of their racial hatreds as well.

        As we have all seen, it is so over the top, that one can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to be part of a cult that literally makes a mockery of itself whenever it goes out in public.

        They must be fishing for attention, good or bad, because that is the only probably the only reason they show up in public and make complete fools of themselves.

        • DB1954

          I think part of their game is to hope that someone will assault one of the WBC’s crew at one of their “protest” events–preferably someone with a deep pocket.

      • Daniel Greenfield

        Except that Phelps made his initial cash with civil rights lawsuits, but defecting family members claimed he hated blacks while he was fighting civil rights lawsuits on their behalf.

        So…

        • A Z

          I don’t dispute that he made a wad of cash on civil rights lawsuits initially. The TampaBay.com article you linked was interesting. It seems that they survive as Correction officers and other state government jobs. The lawsuits now seem to fund their out of state protest trips.

          I also do not dispute that he may hate blacks while litigating on their behalf (maybe for no other reason than $). That would be par for the course for Democrats.

          I wanted to say the group will break apart on Fred Phelps death. It would not be an uncommon event given the dynamics of groups especially given the Elder Phelps misgivings as he approaches death.

          But I suspect as many other do his misgivings were the reason for his excommunication. Shirley Phelps-Roper is probably taking over the group behind some male figure. She is the one with the law degree, the knowledge of the group’s accounting books. She is the key IMHO. If she could be persuaded, things would be better. But a person would have to overcome the knowledge that “I have wasted my whole life until now”. No matter how sound your argument is that will most often drive a rationalizing person right back into their old ways.

    • Jose Soto

      Nah, they just repeated what the Christian bible told them to do. They are opposed to homosexuality as much as any other Christian Conservative bigot.

      • DB1954

        Here’s the angry troll with the usual smears.

        • Jose Soto

          And this is coming from the peanut gallery that loves to call Ellen Degeneres “Ellen Degenerate” – that smear was actually started by the Phelps clan then picked by Brietbart, Stormfront, Free Republic readers. What does that tell you?

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        Nah, they just repeated what the Islamic koran told them to do. They
        are opposed to homosexuality as much as any other Islamofascist Conservative
        bigot.

        • Jose Soto

          Yup and you and the GOP and no better than Islamofascists.

        • Jose Soto

          Oh and whenever the State Department denounces executions of gays in Islamic countries the Family Research Council, American Family Assoc, and other Christian Conservative groups go into a hissy fit.

          And then we have Christian Conservative Pastor Bradlee Dean who said that Islamofascists are more hollier because they execute gays.

          And now we also have Christian Conservative countries considering death penalties and life sentences for homosexuals.

      • UCSPanther

        Sorry, but these losers represent Christianity about as much as Neo-Nazi gutter trash represent Conservatives.

        Assuming that we are like those freaks shows a serious error in your judgement.

        • Jose Soto

          The basic apprehension to homosexuality and gay rights are no different. The only obvious difference is that Phelps actually said it and just repeated the god-inspired book of the bible, while other Christian conservatives just gave a nod to the basic message of WBC and agreeing with its basic premise that America is in demise due to the acceptance of homosexuality.

          • UCSPanther

            Nice try at generalization, loser.

            You may want to see what other cultures and religions think of homosexuality before making a blanket statement about Christianity. And you are importing them as well.

  • DB1954

    Nothing about this scumbag would surprise me. Phelps’ association with Al Gore is reason enough to suspect him of the most diabolical schemes imaginable. I also suspect that Phelps is himself, homosexual.

  • Adam

    The right should take note of Phelps in regards to fighting things like environmental activism, government involvement in reproductive rights/”family planning”, and all their other agendas latched onto otherwise valid problems and issues. If your too fanatical about something and cant call it for what it is, then you pretty much all but ensure the other side wins. Its a good case study in how NOT to fight something.