Friday, March 21, 2014

Fred Phelps – When Hierarchies Hide Behind Religion

Fred Phelps Sr., the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, passed away, and with him, hopefully, will weaken one of the best examples in recent time of using religion to shield actions that build hierarchies.

He and his church are famous for picketing funerals of gay and Jewish people, including that of Matthew Shepard in 1998. Westboro had no problem adding a soldier killed in action, or a movie star, or an innocent child victim in a mass murder to the church’s picketing calendar.

Just a few weeks ago, the church members went to a University of Missouri vs. Tennessee men's basketball game to protest football player Michael Sam's announcement that he is gay, but students at the university blocked the church members by forming a human wall. 

Even though Mr. Phelps used his church to justify his hate, groups such as The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center saw through his use of religion to justify building hierarchies. The SPLC called the Westboro Baptist Church, "arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America."