Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fred Phelps Grandchildren - My Heart is Heavy

If you have been reading this blog for long, you will know I have two biases.  My greatest bias is toward women.  There is no greater living being on the face of this earth than a woman.  And I love them for everything they are.  My second bias is toward children and grandchildren of spiritually abusive caretakers. 

I just spent all night without sleep studying Fred Phelps, the elderly hateful "pastor" of the Westboro Baptist Church, and his extended family. Part of my research led me to the embedded video, which is part of a series by Louis Theroux titled, The Most Hated Family in America.

In this video, we watch as Theroux goes into the bedroom of Phelp's 11-year-old grandson to interview him.  Two things stood out to me during this brief discussion.

1. The young man was quite obviously parroting lines he had heard repeated over and over again.  Without even thinking, he said that "gay" meant "happy", which is a line from one of Phelps' many sermons, then he quickly listed "homosexuality" as another trite description of what are most definitely "filthy fags, so you can just shut up."  The boy quickly coughed on his words, realizing what just came out of his mouth and seeing Theroux's reaction and incredulous questioning of "you just told me to shut-up?!", quickly backpedaled in red-faced embarrassment and apologized.

He never meant to say those words.  You can watch the video and see it in living color.  The fact is, he had been trained to say them.  The rhetoric had been so etched into his brain that he never even batted an eye.  His training was such that he was taught to talk to a person as if they disagreed with his viewpoint.  I believe this young man has never met a person outside of his family who agrees with him.  It's sad.

2. When asked to validate the "end times" happenings in the contemporary world, he starts speaking incoherently about an aunt's vision of a pink cave that fits their extended family.  Then, he tells of them huddling around a computer screen, finding pink caves in Jordan.  Obviously, to this young man, this narrative is proof that the end is near.  Twice, he tries to get Theroux to acknowledge that the image was "cool".  Theroux graciously obliged him.  Again, sad. 

Reality is not a necessary ingredient in this young man's life.  Worse yet, a cave is only small enough to fit his entire 80-strong extended family in.  Thus, he has swallowed the idea that other members have set forth, that since nobody is doing what they are doing, there are no others in the elect of God.  All others will go to hell.

Then, Theroux moves on to the bedroom of one of the granddaughters.  Within seconds, he is surrounded by the other two granddaughters and some woman who I assume was their mother.  I stared in shock and wonder.  These girls were absolutely beautiful!  And they wore fashionable clothing.

Then they opened their mouths.  And I wept.

My heart is heavy.  I can only hope beyond all hope, that these beautiful young ladies will cast off the shackles of the embittered women they call their mothers, and the pompous pricks they call their fathers, reject the heavy handed, tunnel visioned, hateful, bigoted rhetoric of their master, Fred Phelps, and run.  The world needs their beauty for both a brighter canvas of life, as well as the intellect that they revealed.

While you watch the lengthy discussion between Theroux and the girls, note two things:

[Update: Oops!  While the video embedded above is the correct video for watching the young boy speak, it does not contain the content of the girl's flushed faces.  Watch it anyway to see a discussion about a Muslim wife dying because her husband didn't burn Korans with the faithful.  The correct link is here.  Start it at 47:00.]

1. The girls are in love with a young reporter from overseas.  You can see it in their faces.  They are flushed whenever he is referenced.  The most beautiful of the girls has his picture on her phone.  They have been exchanging gifts and following one another on Twitter.  And yet, they rejoice that God is good by sending him to hell.  Romance is out of the question even though there is so much there for them.

2. God is sovereign and the girls must worship him for all his naughty judgements, as well as his good ones.  Oddly enough, only their family receives the good ones.  Everyone else is going to hell.  They are not even interested in reaching this young reporter for God.  Hell, as his destination, is a bygone conclusion.  And they laugh, shrug it off, and go on with life.

I weep.  My heart is heavy.



    Not sure if the link still works, but I downloaded the content a few years back. I sent you an email with the files attached.

    As a Christian parent, HSLDA used to scare the hell out of me with all the evil things that would happen if parental rights were ever weakened. Then you see what people do with their absolute power over their children and it is way worse than anything HSLDA could dream up.

    Can these children legally leave at age 18? Yes, but at that point their minds are almost fully formed. After 18 years of physical/psychological/emotional/spiritual (and perhaps even sexual) abuse, what hope do these children have of ever being healthy? At that point, they are completely ill equipped to survive in any world outside of the family compound.

    They won't be able to make friends. They will suffer from deep depression and PTSD. Who will accept them? Where can they go to even begin to safely heal? How could that happen?

    HSLDA is wrong. The erosion of parental rights would not be the worst thing that could happen to American children. It appears that keeping things the way they are now would be the worst thing that could happen.

  2. Joe,
    When I hear about the Westboro Baptist people, I find a new low of religious abuse; but I also recognize myself in those kids. Growing up in fundamentalism really is cultish on so many levels. When I was interacting with my former pastor on Melissa's blog; I realized again just how hateful and cultish my upbringing really was. I just wish I knew what helps people break out of that system.
    Without much sleep; that can make for a long day! I wish you the best today and hopefully the despair of learning more about the Phelps won't drag you down today. Life is awesome; you are free and many untold others are getting free from hate based religion every year. That is something to celebrate!


  3. Thanks.

    I know I'm free. But those kids aren't and they are so lovely. The waste hurts.

  4. Great insight all around. A normal adult life is stolen when those formative years were filled with indoctrination of a hateful, arbitrary god by a violent arbitrary man. Watching Louis' second installment, I see the same is sadly true of my nieces and nephews.

    1. Nate,

      I too applaud you for the inner strength you must have had through what must have been hell on earth.

      I would like to know the background of your father. I do wonder if he is acting in a way to fulfill a void he had in his life. Was he abandoned and/or raised in an “emotionally stark” environment or got little to no attention growing up, etc?

      I just wonder if he is trying to prove something to others, i.e. he is worthy of recognition, praise, etc.

      Thanks if you read this.

  5. Whoa. Nate? Is that really you?

    I admire your story. I did exactly the same thing as you when I was 19 years old. I left my single mother's spiritually abusive home (we were worshipers of Bill Gothard) in the middle of the night on November 19, 1999.

    I get it.

    But, all my siblings left, as well. So, I cannot relate to the hurt you must feel when your siblings spread their message to those who don't give a rat's rear end - and shouldn't.

    Thank you for all you do. I'm honored that you would land on my blog.

  6. Wow, those people are way scary. It is sad that they think they represent God. It must grieve Him deeply. I weep with you.

  7. I cried at the end... I can't think of anything more horrible. I also have a hard time understanding their point(s). They beat around the bush and never clearly state what their reasoning is.

    I don't know much about God or Christianity, but what I do know is that he is supposed to love all of us, and never once have I had a pastor or priest or rabbi tell me differently.