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April 26th, 2009

Nate Phelps

Nate Phelps

From Life Without Faith:
The Incredible & Brave Nate Phelps!
“If you were fortunate enough to attend the American Atheist Convention in Atlanta, you were obviously moved by the incredible speech of Nate Phelps. If you are not familiar with Nate, he is the estranged son of the Pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps (”

From Atheist Nexus:
Nate Phelps 2009 AA Speech
“For me, the story of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church is a very long and painful one. But the first time that the wider community became aware of them was in 1991, when my father led his church in Topeka, Kansas to stage a protest against gays at a local city park. Almost the entire membership of the church consists of 9 of my 12 siblings and members of their immediate families. The community reacted with outrage at the mean-spirited and hateful nature of the protest, and sentiments on both sides escalated quickly. However, far from discouraging my father, this incited him to much greater efforts at publicly protesting all that he decided was wrong. The church was soon staging dozens of protests every week, against local politicians, businesses, and citizens who dared to speak out against him and his church. But public protests weren’t enough. My father equipped his church with a bank of fax machines, and daily sent faxes to hundreds of machines across the city and state, filled with invective and diatribes against anyone who had offended him.”

Years ago I knew a woman who was a former member of the Phelps church. She didn’t talk much about it but one time confided that she protested at funerals and had spouted the anti-gay rhetoric. She had young children and they were the reason she left.

I’m originally from the Midwest and though I’ve never had encounters with the Phelps church I have had run ins with fundamental Christians. I remember once in college a man got about two inches away from my face and screamed I was going to burn in hell because I was wearing my pentacle.

I’m impressed that Nate is talking publicly about his abusive childhood. It must be incredibly difficult but sharing his experiences gives important insight into growing up in that kind of environment.

You can read an excerpt of his upcoming book here.

Posted by Vixen as Activism at 11:13 PM CDT