Fred Phelps

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Fred Phelps giving an interview in 2000
Fred Phelps is an extremist whose rallies display signs with highly inflammatory statements. He holds to a hyper-Calvinistic viewpoint which is generally regarded as far outside of mainstream Christianity by most Christian scholars. Phelps is founder and pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, most of whose congregants are related to Phelps either by blood or marriage.

Phelps has openly denounced the Catholic Church and Episcopal Church and has made claims these religious organizations tolerate and harbor homosexuals and pedophiles.

Phelps has led protests at military funerals based on his belief that America is a country that harbors homosexuals and is thus evil. As a result, President George W. Bush signed the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes act, which places limitations on protests at military funerals. These demonstrations led to the formation of the Patriot Guard, an organization of motorcyclists who attend military funerals in order to shield the families of the deceased from the protests by representatives of Phelps's Westboro Baptist Church.

Before beginning his protests in earnest in the mid 1990s, Phelps was a contributor to the Democratic Party who helped campaign for Al Gore in 1988, when Gore's viewpoints were not as socially liberal. [1] This proved to later be an embarrassment to Gore.


Phelps' Criticism of Religious Leaders

Phelps runs several websites on the internet which preach against homosexuality and immoral living. Phelps espouses a skewed version of his own "literal" interpretation of the Bible and the holy scriptures, and speaks against mainstream religious and Christian leaders who in his view, distort or twist the literal interpretation of the Bible. Phelps also speaks for greater accountability for religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, and has been vocal in the press and media concerning the abuse of young boys by Catholic Priests and Church Leaders, and practicing homosexuals in the Episcopal Church.

Criticism of Phelps

Phelps has been criticized by both liberals and conservatives. Jerry Falwell has referred to Phelps as "a first class nut". [2]

Lawsuits and Litigation

Phelps and his congregation were recently sued in US District Court in Columbia by Albert Snyder, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq. Phelps and his congregation protested the Iraq War at his son's funeral. The father is suing Phelps for defamation for stating his religious opinion that, . Mr. Snyder raised his son for the devil and hell .. during the funeral protest and in statements on his website. This litigation is currently pending.

Phelps has also been threatened with prosecution by the Canadian Government for alleged hate speech in Canada for preaching what he has stated are the literal teachings of the Bible against homosexuality.

References

  1. http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1999/03/lauerman.html
  2. http://cjonline.com/webindepth/phelps/stories/102498_protests.shtml

Outside links