Fred Phelps coming to Anchorage

[originally posted at, Friday 20-Jun-2003 12:04 PM]

Fred Phelps coming to Anchorage

This today from an Alaska LGBTA events announcement list:

The Pride parade and PrideFest Celebration is on Saturday, June 28th, downtown on the Park Strip. The parade begins at 11, the picnic at noon. It is believed Fred Phelps will be visiting Anchorage to make a number of protests, including the parade and next Sunday’s MCC service. Here’s his planned schedule, as copied from his website

June 28, 2003 10:30 am – end of parade Anchorage, AK 2003 PrideFest Parade, 6th Ave. & E St.
June 28, 2003 5:00 pm – 5:30 pm Anchorage, AK Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 2901 East Huffman Road
June 29, 2003 9:00 am – 9:30 am Anchorage, AK All Saint’s Episcopal Church, 545 West 8th Ave.
June 29, 2003 9:30 am – 10:00 am Anchorage, AK Lutheran Church of Hope, 1847 West Northern Lights
June 29, 2003 10:15 am – 10:45 am Anchorage, AK Unitarian Universal Fellowship, 32nd St. & Turinigan Blvd
June 29, 2003 10:30 am – 11:00 am Anchorage, AK Unity Church of Anchorage, 10821 Totem Road
June 29, 2003 1:30 pm – 2:00 pm Anchorage, AK Metropolitan Community Church, 2311 Pembroke St.
June 29, 2003 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm Anchorage, AK St. John’s United Methodist Church 1801 O’Malley Road
June 30, 2003 7:45 am – 8:45 am Anchorage, AK City Hall (Municipal Hill Building), 632 W. 6th Ave.

Fred Phelps, for those who don’t know him, is a disbarred lawyer and the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, whose manifesto is contrary, to put it lightly, to what Jesus preached as documented in the Gospels.

Westboro Baptist Church manifesto:

To every lover of Arminian lies — believing and preaching that God loves every individual of mankind — we say, You are going to Hell! Period! End of discussion!


Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5:43-45, KJV)

Guess Jesus is going to hell, according to the Phelpists.

Fred Phelps came to national prominence in the wake of the death of Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who in October 1998 was deceived by two homophobic men into leaving a gay bar with them. They drove him to a remote area, tied him to a split-rail fence, and pistol-whipped, beat, and robbed him, then left him there to die. He was found the following day by two bikers, and died in the hospital four days later, never having awakened from a coma. (His murderers are each serving two consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole.)

Fred Phelps came to Matthew Shepard’s funeral — not to mourn, but to picket with signs saying things like “No Tears for Queers” and “God Hates Fags” (also the name of Phelps’ website). This wasn’t new, however. Phelps and his congregation (which reportedly is made up primarily of family members) had already made a career of picketing businesses, churches, and events perceived to promote homesexuality, harassing Topeka city officials with faxes full of namecalling & vitriol, & adding to the sorrow of families grieving the deaths of family members lost to AIDs or hate crimes.

Reactions range from outrage to education to humor to fundraising to…hmmm, what would one call it…anarchic creativity? This last for the Des Moines cell of the Biotic Baking Brigade, which on May 31 launched a pie attack on Phelpists protesting a local high school commencement ceremony because of a college scholarship awarded to a graduating (gay) senior in honor of Matthew Shepard.

Meantime, a local Iowa gay organization raised $80 for each minute that the Phelpists ran their picket (just over a half hour)– a fundraising technique that has become an increasingly popular way for LGBTA organizations to make the best of Phelpist hate tactics. Even the Topeka Symphony Orchestra has made money off the Phelpists.

The best piece written on a humorous note that I’ve seen on Phelps thus far is a February 2000 story in the international (English) edition of the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, which reported on Phelps’ plans to come to Finland because he objected to the human rights record of then newly-elected Finnish President Tarja Halonen. Actually, they accused the (heterosexual) Halonen of being a lesbian, and even wrote a letter to the Finnish ambassador to the U.S. to say so. Phelps also asked the Finnish ambassador to provide 25 applications for visas — not required for visitors from the U.S. — and, per the Helsingin Sanomat story, “In a display of grit and determination, the Westboro Baptist Church claims that if Finland denies the-visas-that-are-not-required, the Church will take the matter to the EU and the United Nations.”

Factually speaking, two good sources are the Topeka Capital-Journal‘s online archive of their coverage of Phelps and’s page on Phelps, which includes the full text of Addicted to Hate by Jon Michael Bell with Joe Taschler and Steve Fry, a book about Phelps that came into the public domain as a result of a lawsuit by Bell against the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Westboro Baptist Church announced their visit to Anchorage in a press release cleverly entitled

WBC to picket Anchorage PrideFest 2003 fag/dyke Parade and Festival, the fag-infested Univ. of Alaska, Anchorage, and the sodomite whorehouses masquerading as churches in Anchorage* –June 27-29 — in religious protest & warning: ‘God is not mocked!’ God Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers! Ergo, God hates Anchorage: “Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum is therin.” Ezek. 24.6.”

Except for the specific event & location names, this is essentially identical to the announcements the Phelpists make for every other picket they decide to hold.

Needless to say, we are quaking in our shoes.

But that’s okay, we’re used to earthquakes hereabouts.


  • 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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