Fanatic uses pulpit to preach hate

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 9, 2004

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church will travel this week from Topeka, Kansas to Montgomery to picket the Southern Poverty Law Center and then to Bay Minette to picket at three churches there. This is the group that is headed by the man who gives each church member his last name and then preaches hate across the country.

They profess memberships in the thousands but when it comes right down to it, it is just Fred Phelps (I will not call him reverend, if you please) and several members of his family.

Sadly, this message of hate that they spread is protected under the First Amendment, and with the job I have, I have to take that into consideration.

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I guess this is really the way democracy is supposed to work: The right to free speech is not denied anybody here.

Phelps and his disciples of his personally owned Westboro Baptist Church are known to us here in Alabama.

They picketed in front of Montgomery’s First Baptist Church on South Perry Street (the big one you see on television on Sunday mornings)

a few years ago.

I knew when they chose to picket a church like First Baptist that these people had truly gone round the bend.

The truth on these people is a simple one.

They number only a handful and they come armed with signs offering things like &uot;God hates Alabama,&uot; a sentiment so absurd it mitigates whatever impact it’s supposed to have.

They’ll have other signs — signs bearing words that are hateful and disgusting.

These morons spend their time searching about the Internet looking for targets, especially churches, to lay their peculiar wrath on.

When they find one, they always seem to have the time and resources to travel thousands of miles to stage their little protests.

For a few years, we as a country have tried to unite, to come together to a better understanding of each other and not to quite be so quick to tear others down. But the Westboro Church has made a conscious decision to move in the opposite direction from the rest of us.

They look for ways to continually tear our country and people apart.

When I think about Fred Phelps and his band of inbred followers, I am so reminded of the very people we are fighting against in the Middle East. I can so easily see Phelps standing behind the back of a bound individual reading off his latest manifesto of hate and then cutting the head off of whoever the victim is without remorse. Ladies and gentlemen, he is a fanatic just like the men who killed Nick Berg, Daniel Pearl and on Friday, Kenneth Bigley and the very outrage and disgust that we show towards the monsters who kill innocent people in Iraq, we should show towards this man.

However, I have a better idea. If Phelps and his followers do indeed have so much time and resources and like to travel about the world, then put them on a plane to Afghanistan or Iraq. I would have no qualms watching him and his membership stand in front of a cave holding signs that state &uot;God Hates Terrorists.&uot;

Jay Thomas is the managing editor of The Greenville Advocate.

He can be reached via phone at 334-382-3111, ext. 136 or via email at