Those Phelpists aren't too clever, are they?

[originally posted at Tuesday 08-Jul-2003 2:15 PM]

Those Phelpists aren’t too clever, are they?

Surely that comes as a surprise.


Yes, I admit, I was curious about how the poor befuddled Phelpists were getting on, when I was out & about doing what I was doing Pride weekend instead of being in Anchorage taking part in events.

So when I got back I checked out the Anchorage Daily News coverage of Pride weekend. According to ADN, several hundred people took part in the Pride festivities — which makes me very happy, given how sparse participation used to be back in my early ’80s activist days; and then the next day, Sunday, about 20 Phelpists total picketed at the gate of Elmendorf Air Force Base, where a big airshow with estimated public attendance of 70,000 was taking place, and various churches, including Anchorage Baptist Temple.

Say what? [Double, triple take.] Did you say Anchorage Baptist Temple?

Indeed. Shirley Phelps-Roper told the ADN that they picketed Anchorage Baptist Temple — which is viewed by Anchorage’s lesbian/gay community as a sort of Homophobia Central — because it was the largest church in town, & its pastor, Jerry Prevo, didn’t condemn homosexuality “loudly” enough.

I suppose maybe because no matter how loud Prevo has gotten about it (& as a longtime Anchorageite, I can tell you he’s been very loud), Prevo has never called for homosexuals to be executed just because they’re homosexual?

Prevo himself seemed a bit bemused by Phelpist attentions, though he made clear to the ADN that his church is in no way affiliated with the Phelpists’ Westboro Baptist Church, and disagrees with Phelpist tactics and philosophy.

Good for you, Jerry.

[Double, triple take number two.] Did I say that?

By gods, I did. Good for you. Truth is, I don’t much like Prevo, or his tactics and philosophy (the ABT website doesn’t mention the slimy things he’s occasionally done in the past), but hey, on this one thing I can say I respect him. He does not so misread Christian scripture as to call for murder, or proclaim a gospel entirely based on hatred. And religious/spiritual differences aside, his church does seem to do real good for a lot of people (if harm, in my opinion, to a significant number of others).

[Update: But see Billboards, posted 12 June 2009, for a later analysis on the real differences — or not — between Phelpist & Prevoist tactics.]

That still leaves the question: how did the Phelpists come to target Prevo’s fine, huge, some would say ostentatious church on Baxter & Northern Lights?

Explanation #1: A few days after getting back to town, a friend told me that an Anchorage gay man in a trubba-making mood had called up the Phelpists and told them that Anchorage Baptist Temple ministered to gays. (In fact, they do: ABT sponsors one of those questionable little “stop being gay through Christ” ministries, or at least they used to.) But the caller didn’t tell them that, he just let them form their own conclusions about what kind of ministry it might be.

Explanation #2 (which probably is the source of Explanation #1): An Anchorage gay man wrote an email to the Phelpists in late May (I’ve seen a copy) posing as a homophobe who welcomed their visit, & directing them to the Anchorage Baptist Temple as the largest church in the state that, he claimed in his email, did “nothing” to discourage the “blight” of homosexuality. (No mention in the email of any supposed ABT ministry to gays, however.)

Explanation #3 (which goes hand in hand with either of the first two explanations): These Phelpists just aren’t very good with their research.

Not a surprise. After all, they don’t even know how to research their own holy book.


  • 6/20/2003. Fred Phelps coming to Anchorage. The “” followers of Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps announce plans to picket in Anchorage during PrideFest 2003.
  • 6/27/2003. Anchorage Pride 2003: Look how far we’ve come. A brief history history of the annual Pride parade in Anchorage from 1983, in which there were 19 marchers, to 2001, in which there were two to three thousand. Can the followers of Fred Phelps wreck that? Don’t think so.
  • 7/8/2003. Those Phelpists aren’t too clever, are they? Why did Westboro Baptist Church, famous for their website “,” picket Anchorage Baptist Temple — famous in Anchorage as the very center of antigay attitudes in Alaska?
  • 7/8/2003. Publicity, publicity, publicity.  Which Anchorage churches during PrideFest 2003 did the Phelpists picket, & which not, & why?
  • 6/12/2009. Billboards. While in 2003 Jerry Prevo decried Westboro Baptist Church tactics, in 2009 he & his allies didn’t hesitate to use children — even some younger then 10 —  in a very like way, as billboards for their parents’ prejudices.
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