(Photographs © Todd Bigelow/All Rights Reserved)
The death of Fred Phelps, the founder of the anything-but-a-church Westboro Baptist Church can only bring hope that this nation’s most vile group of haters will reconsider their lives.
I’ve photographed the WBC, though I never saw Fred Phelps on the streets. What I did see was enough to make anyone wonder who could develop a mind so consumed with hate, bigotry, and complete falsehoods. Even more repugnant is the fact that these “god fearing” Christians were raising young children and indoctrinating them on the streets by having them scream that “God Hates Fags” and other equally disgusting and hurtful words. Who in their right mind can fathom teaching children such behavior?
This much I know about the WBC from my time on the streets photographing them; they are cowards. No, let me emphasize that a bit. They are COWARDS of the likes few can imagine. Their modus operandi for staging one of their hate rallies is to notify local police and demand protection. Of course, given their disdain by 99.9999999% of the public, the police wisely grant them the protection. They strut up to their pre-determined spot with puffed-up chests and “Tap Out” t-shirts acting the role of tough guy as they scream at kids half their age. Yes, they are COWARDS. The WBC haters will only stay in a area for thirty minutes or less and, of course, request a police escort back to their cars while they continue to claim that “Your Rabbi is a Whore” or “God Hates Israel.”
The Supreme Court in 2011 ruled that the WBC’s vile language is protected by the 1st Amendment, so they’re free to show up at funerals and spew their hatred at grieving families as they are well known to do. But let me remind you that the WBC are COWARDS of the ultimate degree. Back on January 14, 2011, the WBC had announced plans to picket the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who died in the hail of bullets directed at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona. I was dispatched to photograph the potential confrontation. As word spread of the WBC’s intentions, a outlaw motorcycle gang put word out that members would readily accept jail sentences for assaulting the hate mongers if they followed through on their plans to picket. Well, being COWARDS of the ultimate degree, the WBC wisely avoided the tragic funeral of the nine year old little girl.
More than a few of the WBC, including Libby Phelps, have left the hate group (trust me, they’re not a church). Let’s hope that the rest follow suit upon the death of the ultimate hater in the country.