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Westboro Baptist Church: The Scourge of the Flatlands

By: Paul Ibbetson

When I think of my home state of Kansas, I think of a place where people are friendly, work hard, and moreover believe in the Christian values that this great nation was founded upon. I have always thought that the Kansas designation as part of the Bible belt was a badge of honor that many of the blue states just don’t often understand. However, there has been for some time a pestilence walking the flatlands of Kansas, a scourge that brings only pain and sorrow to all that find themselves within its path. I am talking about the members of the Westboro Baptist Church. The Westboro Baptist Church which comprises the immediate family of Fred Phelps and is based out of Topeka Kansas has made it their mission to spread a twisted religious philosophy of God’s damnation on the world one protest at a time.

            I ran across the Phelps clan a few years ago when they were protesting a church I was attending in Wichita Kansas. I had never heard of the group before and I suddenly found myself within swinging distance without any context of who I was dealing with. I assumed from their colorful “GOD HATES FAGS” signs that they were a pro-homosexual advocacy group possibly angry about a bible lesson on Sodom and Gomorrah that they might have heard at the church that did not fit their lifestyle. I later found that the Westboro Baptist Church was a small, crazy, dysfunctional family group turned cult that liked to travel to the funerals of dead soldiers to tell their families that their child was in hell due to the evils of homosexuality. These acts of lunacy and open displays of pure hate earned the Westboro Baptist Church the designation as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a designation that these folks have worked hard to earn.

Some might ask the question, why give this group any recognition? Is it not recognition that they seek? Is this not why this group will protest any event that brings more than three people together? I have thought hard about this because there are some valid truths to these questions.  However, I think silence can also be construed as a validation. Silence can also be seen as a weakness. It seems to me that many in Kansas have been using silence as the weapon of choice against Fred Phelps and family for far too long. Like disregarding a cancerous tumor in the hopes that it will die off by itself, the death of the entire body is the most likely result. The reality is that the tumor must be removed and this is always bloody work. Listening to the boastful exclamations of Fred Phelps when he says that his cult group has performed 30,000 protests in the last seventeen years with no signs of slowing down brings me to a reality that this group has to be dealt with.

What do I mean by that? Aren’t the Phelps group afforded the same free speech rights that I have to disseminate this article? The ACLU who always jumps to the aid of those who would undermine this country says so. In reality, the ACLU’s aid to the Phelps clan, which is part of the selective aid the organization gives those that they wish to assist, reflects only the anti-American agenda of the ACLU, not the championing of free speech. The reasons the Phelps congregation has no legal right to vomit their hatred of America upon military families in mourning is that hate speech has no protection under the constitution. The October 31, 2007 civil ruling against the group which amounted to the original sum of $11 million in damages is an example of the courts ability to distinguish free speech from the willful intention to inflict emotional distress on the families of fallen American soldiers. Now that was a happy day.

For Kansas, the Phelps cult makes our progressive state appear mindless, backward, and racist. Those who would like to continue the stereo types often identified with small rural states simply need to inject the Phelps cult into the debate. For Christians in general, The Westboro Baptist Church is a blight on the name of true religion. When Christians tackle the true social issues that face this country they must not only battle the secular liberal opposition that is always prevalent but also the damage to the credibility of Christian values itself brought forth by the evil labors of the Westboro Baptist Church. Lastly, the war effort itself is undermined by the treasonous acts of protests by this group. While legislation has been adopted to raise the penalties for funereal protests, this is only a mild rebuke compared to past war time legislation toward treasonous acts. It is in this arena that I believe that further action should be explored.

Over the long haul, Kansas will survive having these folks in their state, the good will win over the bad. Over the long haul, judgment will be handed down by a higher power for all of us including the Phelps clan. I could lament about the special place in hell I believe the members of the Westboro Baptist Church will be given but it would add nothing new from what so many others in this country have already thought of before me. Over the long haul, the United States will continue to champion freedom and protect this country by way of the proud men and women who serve and sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe. What do we the American people, who are protected every minute of the day by men and women of the military, owe to them as they are being heckled and verbally damned as they are laid to rest. You see, it’s not that legal action should be taken against the Westboro Baptist Church to simply restore the greatness of Kansas, or the true nature of Christianity, or even for the protection of the families of fallen soldiers to have peaceful, respectful funerals. I would submit that is because of the culmination of all three of these factors that the time is now for the collective effort of all Americans to call for the end of the mission of hate brought forth by the Westboro Baptist Church.   

Paul A. Ibbetson is a published author and lecturer on the Patriot Act. He is a former Chief of Police of Cherryvale, Kansas, and member of the Montgomery County Drug Task Force. Paul received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Criminal Justice at Wichita State University, and is currently completing his PhD. in sociology at Kansas State University. Paul is the author of the book “Living Under The Patriot Act: Educating A Society” that is available for purchase at, as well as other major book outlets. Paul is a regular writer for the Conservative Crusader as well as 35 other online websites. Paul is the host of the radio program the Conscience of Kansas on the wildcat 91.9 F.M.