Westboro’s New Targets: Hockey and Lady Gaga

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday December 24, 2009

Anti-gay street preacher Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church has long made headlines for targeting high schools, government buildings, and military funerals for picketing demonstrations at which his congregation (consisting mainly of Phelps' extended family) carry signs emblazoned with messages such as "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for Dead Troops."

The congregation claims that God is punishing America for what they see as a lack of persecution of gays and lesbians. Proof of God's wrath, the church's members suggest, takes the form of war casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan and natural disasters. The group have also targeted high schools and colleges, including schools where student productions of the play The Laramie Project take place. The play is based on 200 interviews with residents in the Wyoming city of Laramie, where openly gay Matthew Shepard was beaten by two young men and then left tied to a fence. Shepard later died of his injuries.

Westboro came to national prominence in the wake of Shepard's murder, after carrying signs proclaiming that Shepard was burning in Hell for having been gay. The group later targeted other deceased individuals such as Princess Diana and Heath Ledger.

Lately, the Phelps clan has added pop singer Lady Gaga and hockey to their picket list. A picketing schedule posted at the Phelps congregation's Web site lists a demonstration for January 7n in St. Louis, outside the Fox Theater, where Lady Gaga will be in concert. Text at the site declares, "'Lady' Gaga has no qualms about displaying her filth for all the world to see, using the platform given to her by God to teach rebellion against Him. She loudly and proudly proclaims her fornication and 'sexual relations with women,' saying that she wants to 'free' and 'liberate' her young fans. Gag!

"She glories in her shame, encourages everyone she can get her hands on to do the same, and pretends that God is just great to go along with her plan," the text continues. "She wasn't lying, however, when she said, 'This is for God and the gays,' during the MTV VMA's. What she meant by that was: 'In your face, God! You can call gays abominable, but here I stand, Best New Artist, and I say gays are great!'"

The text goes on to proclaim, "There's nothing new about the antics of this silly girl; she got here late! Like the many whores who came before her, 'Lady of the night' Gaga thinks she can change God by teaching you to hate Him and 'liberating' you from His standards. And like those whores, she will not escape the destruction that awaits her for her hatred and deceit."

After extensive Biblical quotation, the text continues, "Because you won't obey, God will cause you to eat your children, He'll cast your dead bodies on those of your idols, and He'll abhor you. Obeying God is your only recourse at this hour. But because you heed the words of stupid rebels like Lady Gaga INSTEAD of the God who created you, this generation is doomed."

The schedule also lists a Jan. 2 hockey game at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, as a target for the congregation's brand of street preaching. "Hockey freaks God H8s U!" text at the site reads. "Wheelock St. & S. Park St WBC will picket your stupid, cold (really, ice hockey in the middle of winter?! COULD YOU BE MORE LAZY AND UNIMAGINATIVE?) violent, time-wasting crappy Hockey game - your SPORT.

"You know there will be only a few more of these entertainment events before God lets Obama simply destroy this nation," the text continues. "God does not have anything good to say about your sport(s). Check this out, and be afraid - be very afraid: Judges 16:25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars. Judges 16:27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. Then right after they made sport of harassing the blind Samson, God DESTROYED ALL those Philistines! YAY!"

In recent months, the group--which has always had anti-Semitic inclinations--has taken to picketing Jewish institutions and houses of worship. On January 3, the schedule says, the congregation will picket the Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas. "The sorrow which some Jews experienced during the WWII Holocaust, at the hands of the vicious German, and other Gentiles is NOTHING compared to what the Lord Jesus Christ is going to inflict upon His return after He lets Obama beat the dog pooh outta you heartless, merciless Jews. Check it out, suckers," the text reads, going on to cite a Biblical passage that speaks of God smiting the enemies of the faithful with fire. "Flaming fire = holocaust, dummies!" the posting declares. "The Lord Is Coming. AMEN!"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.