Nate Phelps, son of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, sheds new light on his father's inflammatory rhetoric in a British newspaper interview, shattering perceptions that the pastor was once a staunch defender of African American civil rights.
In a story published in U.K.'s Telegraph Tuesday, the younger Phelps, who fled the church in 1976, describes his father as "deeply prejudiced" and says his civil rights involvement was purely profit-driven.
Nate Phelps says the perception in some circles that his father was once this champion of civil rights, railing against discrimination, is laughable. “We would all call black people ‘DNs’ at home. It stood for Dumb N------ and was our private language,” he says. “We thought it was clever to call them that in front of them. He was deeply prejudiced, and he believed the Bible said they were cursed.”
Nate says Fred Phelps saw an opportunity with the passing of the Civil Rights Act to cash in. “There was a lot of money, and a lot of opportunity,” he says. “And suddenly my father was the man to go to.”
It's hard to be surprised by any bigoted remarks coming from the leader of "America's most hated family." Westboro Baptist Church's most famous mantras are "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." However, Nate Phelps' new account of his father's hateful spewings challenges the sincerity of Fred Phelps' past civil rights work, once lauded by the NAACP.
Nate Phelps has emerged as one of the most outspoken opponents of his father's church, condemning the congregation's often offensive public demonstrations.
Nate Phelps is not the only member of his family to leave the church and publicly criticize its teachings. In the past year, sisters Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper cut ties with their grandfather's church and apologized for "inflicting pain on others." Libby Phelps Alvarez, another of Phelps' granddaughters, left the church in 2009 and later recounted her experience of being forced to "pray for people to die."