People Can't Stop Giving Hateful Westboro Church the Attention They Crave

Gay rights supporters can't stop picking this one festering wound


I'd be more worried about the Homeowners Association's reaction.

If people hate the virulently anti-gay, anti-non-Christian, military-funeral-picketing Westboro Baptist Church (and the Phelps family members who constitute it) so much, why are folks so insistent on doing things that garner the church/family additional media attention?

The latest effort, as attention-seeking as it is pointless (just like the Phleps family), involves a gay rights supporter buying a house near the church in Topeka, Kansas, and painting it all rainbow-colored. CNN reports:

The house [Aaron] Jackson initially wanted was sold by the time he got around to buying, but luckily for him, there was another one, on the corner of 12th and SW Orleans streets that was perfect. He paid about $83,000 — a bargain, he'd say, for what he was trying to accomplish. This week, he and others from his nonprofit Planting Peace painted the house in rainbow colors that represent gay pride. …

He said he'll use "Equality House" to raise money for an anti-bullying campaign. By Wednesday afternoon, Planting Peace had raised almost $22,000.

The Phelps family is obviously, predictably loving this. It means more sweet, delicious press coverage for their brand of lunacy:

"We thank God for the sodomite rainbow house," said a statement sent to CNN. "It is right across the street from the only church that loves people enough to tell them the Bible truth about the filthy, soul-damning, nation destroying sin of sodomy … . The sodomite rainbow house helps shine a bright spotlight on this!"

At times, it's as though the gay and gay-friendly obsession with the Westboro Baptist Church rivals the church's obsession with gay men's butts. It's frustrating, because the members of the Phelps family are such cartoonish outliers in the very real debate over gay rights. They're an easy piñata, but the effort spent whacking at them is time away from engaging opponents on gay rights issues who have actual power. There were probably more effective ways to spend $83,000, though no doubt Topeka's housing market appreciates the investment.

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  1. Westboro Church


  2. Pointless gestures are the most popular gestures of all, Scott. Because they’re easy.

    1. Every comment Episiarch posts, for example.

      1. Posting isn’t easy! I don’t even have a functioning preview button!

        1. Just because you don’t know how to use it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

          1. Don’t give him an opening that wide for a “your mom” joke. It’s not like he needs it.

            1. Don’t give him an opening that wide for a “your mom” joke.

              Is that a veiled “Yo momma so fat” joke?

              1. It was a veiled opening for one, at least.

              2. I think that’s more likely a not so veiled “Yo momma’s vag is so big” joke.

          2. Just like your mo…god damn it nicole!

            1. Some of us just think you deserve a challenge.

  3. “The sodomite rainbow” sounds like the MacGuffin from an off-color Miyazaki knockoff.

    1. Actually it would be a cool name for a band

  4. Didn’t someone post that on yesterday’s morning links?

    Oh yeah. I did.

    1. And you, naively, expected a hat tip?!

  5. The whole *point* is that they’re “cartoonish outliers” and “an easy pinata.” Because these bizarre fanatics go out of their way to embody just about every stereotype of a gay-bashing preacher. From the gay-rights point of view, when you *finally* find someone who embodies your own image of your opponents, you may even be perversely grateful that these people exist – it provides a noncomplicated, black-and-white way of Confronting the Enemy. Not to mention the fact that you can 0h-so-subtly insinuate that the Phelpses are simply more honest than your other opponents, who are more sophisticated haters but morally equivalent to the Phelpses.

    What’s not to like? It’s a symbiotic relationship. They’re jerking each other off.

    1. Oh my, your projection and delusion on this is simply delicious. You really do have a developmental disorder, don’t you. How wonderful.

      1. Tell your mom she needs to clean my jock strap and mail it back to me.

    2. “They’re jerking each other off.”

      I am just waiting for a sex scandal – preferably gay – in the Westboro Baptist Church.

  6. I would not be surprised if Fred Phelps were secretly a strong gay-rights supporter who realizes that his actions actually help garner more sympathy for the gay rights movement. Because it does. Even most hardcore Evangelical Bible-thumpers are turned off by their tactics. Protesting at funerals? You just can’t get any lower than that.

    1. “Even most hardcore Evangelical Bible-thumpers”

      I would say *especially* Bible-thumpers. Bear in mind that the Phelpses denounce America as a country, saying it lost God’s blessing, that it’s a sin to pray for America, and other lovely sentiments which are oh-so-popular with the Religious Right.

      1. Not to mention picketing military funerals because U.S. soldiers deserve to die. Bible-thumpers love that stuff.

      2. Some on the Religious Right seem to care more about blind patriotism than they do religous faith.

        Bill O’Reilly is one example I can think of.

        1. Bill O’Reilly is religious? WTF?

          1. At least he claims to be, but he is a blabbermouth so he may be lying.

            Just for clarification I mean the TV talk show host and not the publisher of computer and software guidbooks.

          2. He’s Catholic, and at least culturally speaking, quite into it.

            1. He practically invented the “War on Christmas” hyperventilating that goes on every year.

              1. You haven’t lived until you hear some clerk say happy holidays and then an aggrieved customer spit back in their most venomous tone “It’s merry Christmas, thank you.”

                O’Reilly has made the world a worse place to be around the holidays.

                1. Yeah. Retorting to someone’s expression of goodwill with a put-down is a jerk move.

                  When some theist says “God Bless You” to me, I just say “thank you” back.

        2. “Some on the Religious Right seem to care more about blind patriotism than they do religous faith.”

          They know that God has priority over Caesar, they simply don’t have a certain – preference – for this country as opposed to others. Many of them think that God has assigned America some special tasks for good – I don’t know if this is so, but it’s not the same thing as saying patriotism trumps faith in God.

          Your original remark was that “*Even* most hardcore Evangelical Bible-thumpers are turned off by their tactics” [emphasis added] – I challenged this formulation because I think your average American Bible-thumper would be among the firstnot the last, to take umbrage at what the Phelpses say and do.

          1. “they simply *have* a certain preference – for this country as opposed to others.”

  7. Hasn’t anyone heard of the Streisand effect?

  8. Sodomite Rainbow House

    1. Good name for a gay bar.

      1. Not abstract enough. The Cockpit would be a good name for an airport gay bar.

        1. Pirate Cove?

        2. Why does it have to be abstract? Go over the top with the name. That way no dirty breeders will walk in by mistake.

          1. Meh, dirty breeders seem to think hanging out in gay bars is hip or something.

          2. The Glory Hole.

            Just cut to the chase.

            1. The Rear Entrance

              1. The Blowhole

            2. The Crackdown Cafe

            3. Offshore Drilling Company

              1. Pen Island
                visit us at penisland.com

              1. Manhole.


          3. Until fairly recently, there was actually a gay bar in Topeka called the Tool Shed Tap.

            1. There was (and still is as far as I know) a titty bar in Boulder called the Bustop.

              1. Real gay bars in Chicago: Cocktail, Jackhammer, Cellblock, Manhandler, Closet, The Baton, Wang’s.

                I’d say they find abstraction overrated.

                1. Oh, and I almost forgot the new Boystown restaurant The Wood.

                2. Our local gay bar is called The Dolphin. I don’t know how we ended up with such a lamely named gaybar.

                  Long Beach has better named gay bars like The Mineshaft and Pistons.

  9. As a Kansan I can honestly say we hate these friggin Westboro people and Fred Phelps. The ironic thing is they both (Westboro and Sodomite House) vote down the same party lines.

    See below:

    Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr. (born November 13, 1929) is an American pastor heading the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), an independent Baptist church based in Topeka, Kansas. Phelps is a disbarred lawyer, founder of the Phelps Chartered law firm, and a former civil rights activist. A member of the Democratic Party, he has occasionally run for political office. In the election for United States Senator for Kansas in 1992, he received 49,416 votes (30.8%) in the Democratic primary, coming in second after Gloria O’Dell.

    1. “and a former civil rights activist”

      Oooo the irony …

      1. Isn’t he a current civil rights activist? I mean, not that many people would actually call him that…he’s of course not an activist for the civil rights of gays, but for freedom of speech.

        1. You are correct. I can’t stand these douchebags but believe they have the right to be as big of douchebags as they want.

      2. It’s not irony.

        It’s their fucking business model.

        They go out and concern troll as offensively as possible. The locals get upset and call the cops. The cops arrest them, violating their civil rights in the process. The ‘church’ then sues the cops. The county government eventually settles or loses the suit.

        This is their source of income. If people ignored these idiots, they would be starving within a year!

      3. It’s even crazier the more you read into it. Phelps endured all manner of harassing phonecalls and threats against his family one would expect to be directed at a Civil Rights’ laywer in that time and place, only to turn around and become the exact same thing he was fighting.

        1. “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

          — Friedrich Nietzsche

        2. As I said above, he knows civil rights law very well, and exploits it to put food on the table for him and his relatives.

          Their antics are designed to get them arrested so that they can turn around and sue people.

  10. The media is not EVER going to stop paying attention to them, so someone might as well do something that annoys them. That way everyone is happy.
    Unhappy. Whatever.

  11. The colors look a little off. He should have looked up the ISO standard for the Pantone colors in the gay flag.

  12. So we have two progressive institutions across the street from one another. One advocates gay equal rights. The other is a champion of the first amendment (if you want to ban speech because of the bad feelings it causes you, you better make a very good case). For that matter, the Phelpses are such obviously bad and counterproductive frontpeople for the anti-gay-rights crowd, they might as well be considered champions of gay equality too.

    1. The word “progressive” is meaningless unless you specify what is being progressed toward. But in this case, if the goal is gay rights I happen to agree with you. I see no logical reason two oppose acts of love between consenting adults. And I agree that the Westborow people have been more of a help to the gay-rights movement than most gay-rights organizations.

      1. two=to ; I can’t believe I did that.

      2. so westboro represents the closeted supporters of gay rights then?

        this group manages like no other to irritate people of all political persuasions.

        1. I think that is the most logical hypothesis based upon the available evidence. Especially given Phelps’ history as a civil rights leader.

  13. I’d love to paint my house in razzle dazzle camouflage, just for the lulz of pissing off my neighbors.

    1. Do it! Pics or it didn’t happen.

      1. The house or the pissed off neighbors?

        1. Oooh, do we have to choose? Maybe a photo gallery of the house, and then your pitchfork and torch wielding neighbors storming the house in the middle of the night, with a few pictures of the carnage the next morning.

  14. The guy who bought the house says he did it because he wanted to be an activist for gay marriage. But how is this useful activism? Does he really think he can change Phelps’ mind? Does he think he can reach those three people still left who don’t despise Phelps? Does he think he can actually change anything with the house?

    This isn’t activism, it’s signaling.

    1. I stated the very same thing yesterday. This isn’t “activism,” it’s just SWPL status-signaling to get superficial e-cred. It’s not going to change anyone’s mind one way or the other, and people who aren’t politically inclined will just think, “What an ugly-looking house.”

  15. If people hate the virulently anti-gay, anti-non-Christian, military-funeral-picketing Westboro Baptist Church (and the Phelps family members who constitute it) so much, why are folks so insistent on doing things that garner the church/family additional media attention?

    asks Scott Shackford, in his column for Reason.com.

  16. Property values in the neighborhood must suck even more now.

    1. Maybe the Neighborhood Association could do tours.

  17. I know that Phelps and the Westboro Baptish Church are irritating, but they are also comedy gold.

    The belly laughs I get from their antics are priceless.

    1. They also bring out the ridiculous in the counter protesters.


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