My last encounter with the wrong Reverend Fred Phelps of Topeka was a radio interview I did with him several years ago…
Amid all his anti-gay, “God Hates Fags” diatribe, I managed to offer a few choice comments and a pair of free tickets to the upcoming Melissa Etheridge concert at the Sprint Center. The interview then ended abruptly with Fred loudly calling me a sodomite, and slamming the phone down.
Fast forward to this week, when I’m co-hosting a nationally syndicated military and veteran’s show with the VFW headquarters. For no apparent reason in recent years, the military has become the target of the Phelps Family pickets and assaults. They’ve shown up at soldier’s funerals, and raised their bullhorns to proclaim their ignorance about God’s pleasure at improvised explosive devices.
Our guest today was Lauren Drain, the author of “Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church.”
Lauren is one of the lucky ones, she got OUT of that garbage. Her dad and mom joined Fred’s band of nutcakes when Lauren was 14, and she was sufficiently brainwashed into believing their reprehensible rhetoric until she finally opened her eyes at the age of 21 and escaped.
She has since been banished, admonished, and sentenced to Hell by the remaining cult members, including her mother, father and two younger siblings.
Lauren said they were “encouraged to read the Bible, but were punished and judged when they questioned any of the Phelps interpretations.”
She said the family believed that the acts of humiliation and judgement waged upon others were all justified under the church’s guidelines.
It was when Lauren was a part of a picketing at a child’s funeral that the lightbulb finally went on that she was a part of something truly evil and she decided that she had to leave.
Under the heading of “I think he doth protest too much,” I asked Lauren if Fred himself might be gay. She said she had gotten that question often, and couldn’t speak for him, but agreed that his protestations certainly raised a few red flags.
I admire the courage and intelligence it took for Lauren to leave…not only the Phelps family, but her own family, and can only hope it leads to a mass exodus from Topeka.