hate group

A Westboro Change of Heart

Sojourners June 2012 cover photo with Megan Phelps-Roper

Sojourners June 2012 cover photo with Megan Phelps-Roper

Picketing the funerals of soldiers. Protesting against female pastors. Condemning gays and lesbians to hell. You name it, the members of Westboro Baptist Church have done it. 

As the June 2012 cover story of Sojourners magazine illustrates, Westboro has become “The Face of Hate.” But thanks be to God, that is not the end of the story. 

In a shocking turn of events, Megan Phelps-Roper — granddaughter of Westboro Baptist founder Fred Phelps — recently left the flock along with her younger sister Grace Roper. Abandoning family, friends, and everything they have ever known, the two sisters have publicly denounced their connection with Westboro and the gospel of hate that consumed their lives for so long. 

Fred Phelps’ Son Condemns Westboro’s Plan to Picket Newtown Funerals

Religion News Service photo courtesy of Nate Phelps

Nate Phelps, shown here with fiancee Angela Feldstein. Religion News Service photo courtesy of Nate Phelps

The estranged son of a Kansas pastor famous for protesting the funerals of soldiers and AIDS victims has condemned his family’s plans to picket the funerals of the 26 people — including 20 children — who were killed when a gunman stormed a Connecticut elementary school.

In the wake of Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Conn., members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., posted Twitter messages saying they would picket outside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The messages provided no information on the time of the planned picketing.

"Westboro 'God hates Fags' Baptist Church is planning to picket at Sandy Hook, to praise 'God's judgment,'” was posted by Margie Phelps, the daughter of Westboro leader Fred Phelps Sr. Her sister, Shirley Phelps-Roper, tweeted Saturday that the group would "sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment."

In Defense of the Southern Poverty Law Center

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, speaks at a press conference August 16. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Image

When I was in junior high, I attended a private Christian school where my youth pastor used to show us videos of Christians in public schools being arrested for praying at the flagpole, as well as future Christians being executed because of “liberals who want to take away our right to worship.”

So I get it. When a guy walks up to a conservative Christian organization’s headquarters and starts shooting, it confirms what many people already believe: Evangelical Christians in America are a persecuted minority; and the people behind the persecution are groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that labels anyone who “takes a stand for Biblical righteousness” a hate group. The storyline would sound reasonable if it weren’t for one small problem: It’s completely ridiculous.

Family Research Council Accuses Southern Poverty Law Center of Sparking Shooter’s Hatred

RNS photo by Chris Lisee

Tony Perkins speaks outside the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C., RNS photo by Chris Lisee

WASHINGTON — The head of the Family Research Council on Thursday accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of sparking hatred that led accused gunman Floyd Lee Corkins II to shoot a security guard at the conservative Christian lobbying group’s headquarters.

FRC president Tony Perkins called the Wednesday shooting “an act of domestic terrorism.”

“Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations as hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy,” Perkins said.

The SPLC tracks domestic extremists and lists the FRC as an “anti-gay” hate group. On Thursday, Perkins called “an end to the reckless rhetoric that I believe led to yesterday’s incident that took place right here.”

The SPLC's Mark Potok called Perkins' accusations "outrageous," and said his group is committed to offering "legitimate and fact-based criticism."

Faithful America to MSNBC: Stop Inviting Tony Perkins to Speak for Christians. He Doesn't.

Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Tony Perkins speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in DC last week. Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, New York faith leaders, and members of Faithful America  delivered a petition with 20,000 signatures to MSNBC studios in New York City's Rockefeller Center on Tuesday asking that the network stop inviting Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on its programs as a "Christian" spokesman.