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April 17, 2014 0

Westboro Baptist Church to Picket Kansas Shooting Victims’ Funerals

Shirley-Phelps-RoperThe vir­u­lently anti-gay, anti-Semitic West­boro Bap­tist Church has announced that it plans to picket the April 18 funer­als of two of the vic­tims allegedly killed by white suprema­cist Fra­zier Glenn Miller in Over­land Park, Kansas. The group sent out faxes, includ­ing to sev­eral Anti-Defamation League offices, declar­ing their inten­tion to protest at the funerals.

West­boro, based in Topeka, Kansas, is noto­ri­ous for hold­ing up hate­ful signs near the funer­als of sol­diers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They also draw atten­tion to them­selves by protest­ing at funer­als of vic­tims who were killed or died under other tragic circumstances.

Despite the March 2014 death of Westboro’s founder and leader, Fred Phelps, the group is clearly con­tin­u­ing his legacy of hate and divisiveness.

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March 20, 2014 3

What Next for the Westboro Baptist Church?

fred phelpsThe vir­u­lently homo­pho­bic, anti-Semitic West­boro Bap­tist Church (WBC) is enter­ing a new stage now that founder and patri­arch Fred Phelps, Sr., has died. An estranged son, Nate Phelps, who first described his father’s impend­ing death on Face­book, also claimed that WBC mem­bers excom­mu­ni­cated the senior Phelps in August 2013.

WBC would not con­firm whether Fred Phelps had been excom­mu­ni­cated, assert­ing that infor­ma­tion on WBC’s mem­ber­ship was pri­vate. A March 16 press release on the group’s web­site stated that the group has no sin­gu­lar leader but is headed by an eight-member board of elders.

Accord­ing to Nate Phelps, WBC has under­gone a num­ber of changes over the last year. He claimed that ten­sions rose within WBC when the all-male board of elders mar­gin­al­ized WBC spokesper­son Shirley Phelps-Roper.  In response to the power strug­gle between Shirley and the board, Fred Phelps allegedly called for kinder treat­ment between WBC mem­bers. The board then sup­pos­edly excom­mu­ni­cated Fred.

The ongo­ing inter-family strife within the orga­ni­za­tion, if true, sig­nals a new chap­ter for WBC.  Shirley Phelps-Roper, Fred’s daugh­ter, has been the most pub­lic face of WBC and acts as a lawyer for the group, as well. Nate Phelps claimed that Shirley could never be the leader of WBC because of pas­sages in the Bible that cite women’s sub­servience to men. Another issue that could affect Shirley’s sta­tus within the church is her two daugh­ters’ very pub­lic defec­tion from the church about a year ago.

A new leader of WBC may emerge in the com­ing months now that Fred Phelps has actu­ally passed. Nate Phelps spec­u­lated that pos­si­bil­i­ties include one of Fred’s sons, Tim Phelps, or Steve Drain, a mem­ber of the church who is not part of the extended Phelps fam­ily.  In the last few months, Drain appears to have super­seded Shirley Phelps-Roper as spokesper­son for the church.

Fred Phelps’ death and Shirley Phelps Roper’s alleged mar­gin­al­iza­tion may change the pub­lic face of WBC but pre­sum­ably not its mes­sage. The church will likely con­tinue its many protests at the funer­als of sol­diers and other indi­vid­u­als and pro­mote hate towards any­one who dis­agrees with its viewpoint.

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April 18, 2013 1

Extremists and Conspiracy Theorists React to Boston Marathon Terrorist Attack

Forty-eight hours after Monday’s hor­rific ter­ror­ist attack tar­get­ing the Boston Marathon, which left 3 peo­ple dead and close to 200 injured, extrem­ist and anti-government con­spir­acy the­o­ries about who was respon­si­ble are spread­ing across the Internet.

A screen­shot from the anti-Semitic con­spir­acy web­site “nodisinfo.com.”

The lack of infor­ma­tion cur­rently avail­able to the pub­lic about pos­si­ble per­pe­tra­tors has not kept extrem­ists from jump­ing to con­clu­sions.  Con­spir­acy the­o­rists span­ning the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum – from anti-Muslim big­ots to white suprema­cists – have accused dif­fer­ent groups and indi­vid­u­als of per­pe­trat­ing the bombing.

Here’s just a sam­pling of these accu­sa­tions. A com­pre­hen­sive overview of extrem­ist reac­tions to the Boston attack can be found here: Boston Bomb­ing Prompts Extrem­ist Con­spir­acy The­o­ries.

Con­spir­acy the­o­rist Mark Glenn claimed that the bomb­ing in Boston may have been orches­trated by Israel as a “way of not only rub­bing manure in Barack Obama’s face” but also to demon­strate what Israel is capa­ble of doing to the United States. He blamed the Jew­ish com­mu­nity and the State of Israel for a num­ber of attacks against Amer­i­cans, adding “You in the Jew­ish com­mu­nity and in the pro-Israel community…you have a crim­i­nal record.” Glenn con­cluded, “It is very pos­si­ble that this is an Israeli false flag event, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Oth­ers claimed they were sure Mus­lims were behind the attack. Quran-burning Florida pas­tor Terry Jones released a state­ment that read, “Is it an Islamic attack? It looks like it. The bomb­ing came on Patri­ots Day. It has all of the ear­mark­ings (sic) of an Islamic attack but will there again be a great coverup by the Great Satan Obama? His Admin­is­tra­tion, the peo­ple he has sur­rounded him­self with, are all some type of closet Mus­lims, heav­ily influ­enced by Islam because of their background.”

Anti-government extrem­ists have described the attack as a “false flag” oper­a­tion orches­trated by the U.S. gov­ern­ment as a pre­text to cur­tail Amer­i­cans’ civil liberties. 

Other extreme orga­ni­za­tions seemed sat­is­fied with the attack and went so far as to describe it as a divine act. The vir­u­lently homo­pho­bic West­boro Bap­tist Church, for exam­ple, announced that it would picket the vic­tims’ funer­als and that the attack was a result of God’s anger about gay rights in America.

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