“Fred Phelps Hates ‘Fags’: Straight Talk With God’s Favorite Homophobe”
Interview by Dan Kapelovitz
Pastor Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas is one of the most controversial figures in America today. The 73-year-old founder of the “God Hates Fags” movement and his followers picket gay-pride marches and other queer-positive events, carrying bright, multi-colored signs with slogans such as “Thank god for Sept. 11” and “Aids cures fags.” The group’s Web site features a “memorial” to Wyoming hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard, where visitors can click on a picture of the slain Shepard’s face surrounded by dancing flames to make him scream, “For God’s sake, listen to Phelps!” I caught up with the gayer-hatin’ crusader.
KAPELOVITZ: When did you start your street ministry?
PHELPS: I started this particular mode of taking signs out and opposing this militant-fag domination of America in June 1991.
KAPELOVITZ: What prompted you to start the “God Hates Fags” campaign?
PHELPS: In June of 1989, we wrote a letter to the [Topeka] city fathers about the fags taking over Gage Park just a few blocks from our church. A person couldn’t go over there and have a picnic without being disrupted by fag lovemaking in the bushes. After two years, almost to the day, we decided to make some little dinky signs–nothing compared to what we do now—and we thought that if we went over after church on Sunday with those signs and had a 30-minute picnic, that would focus attention upon that filthy situation. Immediately, militant fags came out of the bushes ready to fight. They called the police, and the police came, and about half of them were fags, or at least they were siding with the fags; “The poor fags—you’re out here insulting them with these signs.” That was the mentality we faced. All the media turned on us like we were the Scrooge that stole Christmas for simply asking that they not copulate in our eyeballs when we’re over there with our church picnic.
KAPELOVITZ: Have there been any violent confrontations?
PHELPS: Lord, yes. Especially in those early days, before we’d been to court a hundred times. The militant-homosexual movement in this country has progressed to the point where you cannot, at any level of government, raise a voice to stop them from doing any filthy thing they want to do. [Just asking] “Are you sure it’s okay to be gay?” is enough to bring the wrath of the fag machine down on you.
KAPELOVITZ: You call President Bush a “fag enabler.”
PHELPS: Of course he’s an enabler. Two weeks before September 11—and that which triggered, in our theological opinion, September 11—[Bush] appointed Mike Guest, this out-of-the-closet fag, to be United States ambassador to Romania. One week after September 11th, he ordered Colin Powell, who’s against fags but not strong enough to do anything about it, to personally swear him in in the auditorium of the State Department with his parents there and with his butt buddy are sitting in the United States embassy in Bucharest today so that all of Europe looks upon this country as a fag country and Christianity as a fag religion. Bush did that. The only thing worse than a fag is a fag enabler, because they are not driven by that internal lust themselves, and therefore they are without excuse for promoting it.
KAPELOVITZ: Do you actually believe the appointment of Mike Guest prompted the events of 9/11?
PHELPS: Of course it did. That and stuff like it. It was a direct act of the wrath and vengeance of God Almighty upon this evil nation. Everybody who knows any Bible knows it. Falwell let it slip, and then he got so scared for his hide and for his revenues that he semibacked down.
KAPELOVITZ: Does that make Falwell a “fag pimp” for apologizing?
PHELPS: Of course he’s a fag pimp. Look, we’ve picketed three times at his [Thomas Road Baptist] church in Lynchburg.
KAPELOVITZ: Weren’t there some innocent, Bible-believing, heterosexual Christians who died on 9/11?
PHELPS: I doubt it. I wonder if there is anyone in this whole country who believes the truth anymore.
KAPELOVITZ: Does God hate gays more than he hates murderers?
PHELPS: Well, fags are murderers, and all that’s indistinguishable and highly irrelevant. If you’re going to hell, it’s gonna be little comfort to you throughout the ages of eternity with God Almighty tormenting you with fire and brimstone, whether your dominant sin was anally copulating your brains out or killing people.
KAPELOVITZ: Does God hate lesbians?
PHELPS: It’s the same. He says that they which do such things are worthy of death.
KAPELOVITZ: Is Satan gay?
PHELPS: I don’t like the word gay; it bastardizes a good Anglo-Saxon word. These creatures aren’t gay; it’s not descriptive. The etymology of the word stinks. These people are fags, a contraction of faggot. “I overthrew some of you as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were as a faggot, plucked from the burning.” [Amos 4;11] It is an elegant Bible metaphor for these Sodomites who fueled the fire of God’s wrath.
KAPELOVITZ: Let me rephrase the question, using your terminology; Is Satan a “fag”?
PHELPS: There’s some substantial authority in the book of Jude for the proposition that Satan and these fallen angels fell with him because they were not content with their makeup, with their nature. The lord Jesus Christ said, “In heaven they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God.” Nevertheless, when they left their first estate, there was some kind of aberrant, degenerate, abominable sex involved with it. It’s a satanic activity.
KAPELOVITZ: Do you believe gays are born that way, or is it due to their environment?
PHELPS: It’s a matter of supreme irrelevancy how they got that way to a Bible preacher. You got to stop it, and if you can’t control yourself any other way, castrate yourself. You hear me talking? I’m talking out of Matthew 19-12, where the Lord Jesus Christ said, “If you can’t behave, get a piece of rusty Kansas barbed wire and castrate yourself.”
KAPELOVITZ: I wasn’t aware that Jesus made reference to Kansas barbed wire.
PHELPS: Not quite like that, but he said, “There are some that make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.”
KAPELOVITZ: Has a man ever come on to you?
PHELPS: They wouldn’t dream of such a thing. What kind of question is that to ask a man like me?
KAPELOVITZ: I mean when you were a kid; maybe that’s the reason you focus your anger against homosexuals.
PHELPS: What turned me against them was that I had hands laid on my head, ordained to preach this gospel. Any preacher that’s not teaching “God Hates Fags” is a false prophet and a heretic.
KAPELOVITZ: Regardless, did you ever have any homosexual encounters when you were a kid?
PHELPS: The only thing that I ever had to do with such an experience as you’re talking about was when I was hitchhiking from Bob Jones University to go preach all summer to the Ute Indians. Some guy picked me up and put his hand on my knee and said something like, “How about it, fellah?” I didn’t know what in the world he was talking about, but I said, “Let me out now.” Looking back, he probably was a fag. I didn’t like his looks, his demeanor or any such thing. But fags do that—pick up on young guys they meet on the highway.
KAPELOVITZ: Do you possess gaydar, the ability to determine if someone is gay just by looking at him?
PHELPS: It puts you in mind of Isaiah 3, on about verse 7 [Actually, it’s verse 9—Religion Editor]; “The show of their countenance does testify against them. They declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not.” The trouble with fags is they can’t repent. You can’t repent of something you’re proud of, and by definition, they’re proud of their sin. They won’t even admit it’s a sin. Any preacher telling fags that God loves them and that Jesus died for them is a false prophet preacher. Barney Frank was out here, and we confronted him. He gets very mad. He was talking all in a rage about our signs, and security had to come. He’s insisting that it’s not a sin, and preachers who say it’s a sin are engaging in hate speech and ought to be put in jail like [they do] in Canada. Every time we go to Canada, we’re arrested because they have those hokey hate-speech laws. They think they apply to us, but they don’t. But they are trying to enact another law in Canada proposed by Svend Robinson, who’s been in the parliament up there for 19 years, and he’s an out-of-the-closet fag. He calls it the Fred Phelps law. He says, “We need something to put Fred Phelps in jail when he comes up here,” and it’s going to pass.
KAPELOVITZ: You’re against special laws for gays, but what about giving gays the same rights as heterosexuals, making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual preference?
PHELPS: Look, the only laws that they need to be passing for gays is the laws that criminalize it and enact the death penalty. Any nation or state or government that doesn’t have that law is an apostate, doomed state.
KAPELOVITZ: How do you respond to people who say that you must be gay because you are so obsessed with homosexuality?
PHELPS: Hogwash. The first thing they do is attack on a personal level, talking about “you must be gay.” What I’m obsessed with is the God Almighty.
KAPELOVITZ: What would you do if Jesus came down from heaven and told you he was gay?
PHELPS: Okay, nice to talk to you. Have a nice day. [Hangs up the phone.]
(This article first appeared in the September 2003 issue of Hustler Magazine)