Fred Phelps is America's most notorious anti-gay activist. On his "God Hates Fags" website and in tracts sent from his church compound in Topeka, Kan., Phelps and his congregation — composed mainly of his extended family — pump out reams of anti-gay material, much of it so vulgar that many anti-gay activists complain that Phelps has given them a bad name. Phelps and his followers have crisscrossed the country to picket the funerals of AIDs victims and engage in other, similar protests. But it is his group's picketing of the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq — to tell the world, as Phelps argues, that their deaths are God's punishment for America's "fag-enabling" ways — that has inspired almost universal revulsion and contempt.
In His Own Words
"America is doomed for its acceptance of homosexuality. If God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for going after fornication and homosexuality then why wouldn't God destroy America for the same thing?"
—Undated pamphlet, "What is the message of the Westboro Baptist Church?"
"Rabbi Lawrence Karol is an apostate Jew who denies the faith of his fathers, militantly promotes the anal-copulating agenda of Topeka's filthy fag community, and persecutes the Lord's people just as his vermin ancestors did in killing the Lord Jesus Christ and their own prophets and persecuting the apo[s]tles of Christ. Hence they live filthy lives of sexual perversion, greed, violence, and oppression of the Lord's people. This is why the vile Jews of Temple Beth Sholom promote sodomy and persecute Baptists."
—1996 press release regarding Westboro Baptist Church's protest of a Topeka, Kan., synagogue
"The Rod of God hath smitten fag America! ... At left is the filthy face of fag evil. [Hijacked American Airlines pilot] David Charlebois. One of the hundreds of fags and dykes and fag-/dyke-enablers working for American Airlines... . If the fags have a secret funeral for David Charlebois — in order to frustrate WBC's [Westboro Baptist Church's] plan to picket his funeral — WBC will picket his house... . The multitudes slain Sept. 11, 2001, are in Hell — forever!"
—2001 comments on one 9/11 victim
"Military funerals are pagan orgies of idolatrous blasphemy where they pray to the dunghill gods of Sodom and play taps to a fallen fool."
—2006 comment on picketing soldiers' funerals
Since 1951, Phelps has been arrested repeatedly for assault, battery, threats, trespassing, disorderly conduct, and contempt of court. He has been convicted four times, as well as disbarred, but has successfully avoided prison.
From a small compound in Topeka, Kan., Fred Phelps and his 100 or so followers at the Westboro Baptist Church have made their mark on history by pumping out what may be the most crudely vitriolic and sustained expressions of unrelieved hatred of LGBT people in America today. He and his flock — primarily composed of most of his 13 children, their children and other relatives — have picketed events ranging from theater performances to the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers to children murdered or killed in traffic accidents. These protests share a simple theme: Attacking America's perceived tolerance of homosexuality and celebrating God's perceived wrath as just rewards for "fags" and "fag-enablers." Phelps' activism is driven by the worldview expressed in his infamous catchphrase, "God Hates Fags," which is also the name of his church's website.