Nate Phelps, Son of God Hates Fags Westboro Baptist Church, Reveals All Part 2 of 2


David Pakman: So Fred Phelps, he beat your
sister for trying to leave? Nate Phelps: Oh, he… yeah. He was very physically
violent with all the kids and with his wife for years, you know. He called it Biblical
discipline, but it was the worst kind of abuse. David: And did anybody think to call the police? Phelps: Well, you know, there was one event
when I was in junior high school where the authorities there at the school had observed
it, you know, time and again, that one of the kids would come to school and wouldn’t
be able to suit up for gym or other evidence of physical abuse. And finally, after myself
and my younger brother John had been beaten severely, they called the authorities, and,
you know, a case was filed, but my father, through manipulation and literally, you know,
violation of the law, wouldn’t allow us to work as we were supposed to with the court-appointed
attorney that was assigned to John and I, eventually got the charges dropped. So the
effort was made, but he was, even backed in, effective enough in the courtroom that most
folks just didn’t have the will to challenge him. David: So as a child, you were in a legal
case where you had a court-appointed lawyer and you were against your father in a legal
case? Phelps: Right. David: Wow. Phelps: I mean, the state was filing the action. David: Right, yeah. Phelps: We were victims, John and I were the
victims. David: On your behalf, sure. Phelps: Right. David: Let me remind our audience, we’re speaking
with Nate Phelps, the estranged son of Fred Phelps, of course of Westboro Baptist Church
fame. So where did you go when you left? Phelps: Well, actually, I spent my first three
nights sleeping in the bathroom of a gas station because I had absolutely… gave no consideration
to what it was going to look like, I just wanted to be gone from there. David: Right. Phelps: And eventually ended up moving in
with a friend and rented a room upstairs in their house for a time, and then from there,
got involved with… connected up with my brother Mark and moved forward from there. David: So was it easy to leave in the sense
that, not emotionally, but in the physical sense, once you left, was there an effort
to find you, to get you back, anything like that? Phelps: Well, it wasn’t as aggressive as it
had been with my brother Mark, but there was some efforts over the years. Actually, my
sister Margie, who’s a year older than Shirley, had left at that time also, and so her and
I spent time together and were working in the Kansas City area for a law office. And
then she, you know, some bad things happened with her, and she ended up going back home
and has become a rabid spokesperson for that situation as well. David: Yeah, because I… she’s, this is the
Margie that we see on TV with Shirley just a few weeks ago, is that right? Phelps: Yeah, and she’s the one who actually
tried the case or argued the case before the Supreme Court back in early May. David: Right. Phelps: So she’s, you know, she’s deeply involved
in that situation now, but at the time, like I said, she had left and was living on her
own, and her and I were working together. So when she went back home, she started a
campaign with my sister Shirley to draw me back there arguing that our father wasn’t
violent anymore, that things were different, and convinced me to go back. So I was back
there for another 10 months or so only to discover that yeah, while there wasn’t physical
violence anymore, there was plenty of emotional and psychological, you know, control kind
of behavior going on there that just wasn’t tolerable for me. David: How long ago was that? Phelps: Well, that was in ’79, I think, so
it was just a few years after I’d left. David: Right. Phelps: And then I left in October, I think,
of 1980 for good. David: So since then, I mean, what level of
contact do you have with your family? Phelps: Virtually none. There was the odd
situation here and there, like they flew out to… I had moved to California and was working
with my brother Mark in the printing industry, and a group of them were coming out to Southern
California for some trial lawyers’ convention and got in touch with me and said they wanted
to see me. And at that point, I was struggling a lot with the decisions that I had made and
with, you know, the anxiety I had about the notion of God’s anger and that kind of thing,
so I basically just told them, if you want to see me, that’s fine, but we’re not going
to talk about God or religion. And they agreed to that, so we spent a nice evening having
dinner, and then… but that’s probably about the only time I’ve seen or spent time with
any of my siblings that are still there. David: So that’s interesting because the impression
that I get and my audience has of Shirley, and we’ve interviewed her a couple of times,
is that there’s no turning of the God-talk with her, but you’re saying it is, in small
doses, it was possible? Phelps: Well, yes, and you’ve got to remember
now, we’re going back to the early- to mid-80s. David: Right. Phelps: And you can’t look at this campaign
that started, you know, in 1991, and so we’re talking almost 20 years now that this has
been going on. David: Yeah. Phelps: You can’t look at this and not say
that this thing has ramped up. And you know, they’re now involved in an endgame, because
they truly believe, Shirley said this at a, you know, on-camera at Obama’s inauguration,
their belief system and the idea that they’re moving forward with is that God is going to
come back on July 21st of 2012, and he’s going to take them up into Heaven, so none of them
are going to have to die, and then the Tribulation is going to start here on Earth. David: July 21st, 2012? Phelps: 2012. So… David: Do you believe that they are capable
of some kind of cult suicide? I mean, what do you think is going to happen on that date? Phelps: Well, I don’t know. All I can say
is when I think in terms of… or, try to put myself in their shoes and think in terms
of an endgame, that there is going to come a specific point in time when all this is
over, the very least I can imagine happening is that they become even more aggressive,
take greater risks, that, you know, their rhetoric’s going to ramp up, they’re going
to make people that much angrier, and you know, it’s frightening to consider the possibilities.
I, you know, there’s no evidence that they can or that they have or that they would,
you know, commit violence on themselves or someone else, but you know, this is a dynamic
that most of us can’t even get our minds around, that we’re literally thinking in terms of
we’re not going to be here at a specific date in the future. David: When you think about all of what’s
been in the public eye since this kind of more vocal campaign started in the early 90s,
what is there that hasn’t been asked by the mainstream media of Shirley and all of the
interviews she does or that’s not known that would be interesting or compelling or would
in some way change how people view, not… for the better or for the worse, either way?
I mean, what hasn’t been brought out to the open about what is going on with the Westboro
Baptist Church? Phelps: Well, I… honestly, I don’t know
that there’s anything that hasn’t been addressed at some level. It’s hard for me to get a sense
of whether, you know, how much of it is generally understood by the public, you know. There
has been some discussion that most, if not all, of my siblings have at some point in
their lives been in direct violation of the very tenants that they impose on the rest
of the world, you know. If they truly believed the Commandments of the Old Testament and
all these edicts that they say God has imposed on man, then they’re as bad off or worse off
than any of us are. So… David: So for example, you mean like, I know
a lot of people talk about Shirley had a child out of wedlock that is… she doesn’t mention
unless it’s forced upon her in interviews. Is that one of the things you mean? Phelps: Yeah, and several of my other siblings,
several of my nieces and nephews, are in the same condition, if you want to say that. See,
here’s the thing, when I talk about this, David, it’s very important that people understand
that I’m not judging. As far as I’m concerned, they’re humans just like the rest of us, they
make the same kind of decisions and choices, and I’m, in a lot of instances, not even necessarily
inclined to call them bad decisions, they’re just human decisions. David: They’re just not decisions that were
right for you. Phelps: But you and I aren’t going out there
in the world and telling everybody that they’re going to Hell or that there’s going to be
some extreme consequence for some of these decisions that have been made. And so it’s
important for people to understand that if they’ve got this notion in their head that
these people are who they say they are, that they’re somehow unique and they’re different,
that they behave differently, that they have a moral standard that we are to aspire to,
the evidence just doesn’t hold up in that case. David: And you’ve actually… are you an atheist
now? You’re not… are you not religious at all? Phelps: Well, yeah. We’ve got to be careful
when we use that kind of language, because people hear words like atheist and they draw
conclusions. David: Sure. Phelps: I am satisfied at this point in my
life that the proposals of who God is that exist out there in the world don’t… they
don’t stack up, they don’t make sense to me, they don’t work. So I’m willing to acknowledge
the possibility of a god in some form, but I just don’t think we know who or what it
is at this point. David: So it sounds maybe agnostic is a better
term? Phelps: Yeah, but agnostic I struggle with
because agnostic says it’s unknowable, it’s just, you can’t know that, and I don’t know
necessarily that I go that direction. David: You just don’t know it yet. Phelps: Yeah. David: Interesting. Do you regret not having
a relationship with your father over the years? Phelps: Absolutely. I mean, in a theoretical
sense, I do, you know. And a lot of those problems came up and had to be dealt with
when I became a father myself and had those strong emotions and, you know, what I… you
know, people talk in terms of spirituality, and to me, that was a spiritual experience
for me to be connected to my children like that. So yeah, that creates a lot of problems,
a lot of conflicts, you know, why was it not so for us? And the bottom line is, you know,
at some point you have to let go of that, you know. I tell people that I literally went
through, when some people that I know over the years have described the mourning process
of losing a loved one, I had to go through that as part of the process of letting go
of my temporal family. David: Sure. We’ve been speaking with Nate
Phelps, estranged son of Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. Incredible insight,
thanks so much for joining us, especially on short notice. Phelps: Yeah, my pleasure, David. Transcript provided by Alex Wickersham. For
transcription, translation, captions, and subtitles, contact Alex at [email protected]

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