So I got a call from the Westboro Baptist Church on Friday…

Some of you are probably scratching your head and wondering why the name Westboro Baptist Church is familiar. That’s because it’s the church associated with Fred Phelps of God Hates Fags fame. He and his fellow church members have a habit of going around picketing the funerals of military people and celebrities with signs that express such warm and uplifting messages as “God hates America” and “Thank God for another dead soldier” because apparently we’re way too tolerant of homosexuals so God feels compelled to off random soldiers and celebrities as punishment. If only we’d stop being so nice to the fags then no one would die ever again in America. He’s basically an asshole with nothing better to do with his time and he’s got a bunch of asshole followers who, well, follow him around in imitation. They certainly have every right to express their sentiments just as I have a right to call them assholes for doing so.

Anyway, it seems some of the church’s parishioners had come across some SEB entries about Westboro that offended them and so a couple of representatives of the church called me last Friday evening to see if there was something they could do to convince me to either remove or modify the entries in question as to be less offensive. There was the surprising suggestion that perhaps I’d be amiable to some amount of cash in exchange for deleting the entries, but they were open to entertaining whatever demands I might have. Needless to say I was taken aback by the sudden concern for what was being said about Westboro Baptist Church as there’s been no indication that anyone associated with the church was at all concerned with what Phelps was doing or how it might make the church look to everyone else. In fact, as far as I’m aware, Phelps was the head of his church and this clearly wasn’t any of the Phelps clan I was speaking with.

The call came at the tail end of my work day on Friday and I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to it so things got a little confused. For starters I wasn’t able to definitively determine if the two gentlemen represented THE Westboro Baptist Church which Phelps calls home or some other Westboro Baptist Church that has nothing to do with him and his gang of merry bigots. There is, for example, a Westboro Baptist in Ottawa, Canada as well as a few other places I’m sure. The voices on the phone sounded African-American, which seemed out of place and prompted me to ask if this was the church Phelps was associated with or not. They didn’t exactly confirm that it was, but they seemed to suggest that the answer was yes and got right back to asking me what I’d want to modify my entries. I tried a couple of more times to confirm for certain by referencing Fred Phelps by name when saying things like I found his actions easily as offensive as anything I’d written about him and that I’m not sure why I should be expected to temper my speech when he’s out shouting about how God hates fags. They were emphatic that they didn’t want to tell me I didn’t have a right to say what I have said about Phelps and the church, but that they were just checking to see if I was open to modifying some of my comments. So I told them that if the church were to distance themselves from Phelps that I’d be more than happy to make that fact known and modify my entries to mention that they were attempting to disassociate with him, but it would depend on what they did to disavow him. They asked if perhaps a press release would help and I said it would depend on what the press release said, but that it was a start. That seemed to satisfy them and they thanked me for my time and hung up.

I figure there’s a few possibilities of what the phone call really was. First there’s the possibility that Phelp’s church really isn’t happy with him and are going to try and break away and distance themselves. I find that unlikely, but it is possible. Second it’s possible that it’s a different Westboro Baptist Church that’s aware of Fred Phelps and is looking for ways to get the word out that they’re not the same church. And third it’s possible it was an attempt at a prank of some sort, to what end I’m not sure. They blocked their number from showing up on Caller ID so I wasn’t able to call them back later when I had more time and that gives some weight to the idea that it might be a prank. Your guess is as good as mine as to which of the three it is, but so far I’ve yet to receive a press release so I’m inclined to think it was a prank.

12 thoughts on “So I got a call from the Westboro Baptist Church on Friday…

  1. I’m not sure they would ever separate from Fred. Most of the people in the church are his family and it is mostly led by his daughter Shirley now. Those in the family that didn’t like what they were doing left. So its just the dedicated inbred family and a few wackos who agreed with them.

  2. I would guess it’s a prank too, but why?  Very mysterious.  Perhaps there are many levels of irony here.

  3. Very strange indeed.  I wouldn’t discount the press release yet…this maybe something that has to be hashed out first if they are going to distance themselves and they may have to speak with others of a like mind of their congregation and that may take time. 


  4. So I told them that if the church were to distance themselves from Phelps that I’d be more than happy to make that fact known and modify my entries to mention that they were attempting to disassociate with him, but it would depend on what they did to disavow him.

    As AngryArcheologist said most of the church are his decendants. So that isn’t likely.

    Be carefull – this guy is a real jerk (yeah you obviously know that already) and is very quick to sue people who he sees as a threat. He’d stoop to picketing your home and place of work or flooding your office with faxes.

  5. How were they going to pay you? It could be a ruse to get your bank info or other personal ID? Other than that, sounds like either a prank or some other Westboro Baptist. How did they get your phone number? I’m posting via iPhone at the moment and can’t do a whois easily, is your phone in your DNS record?

  6. Interesting. You sure it wasn’t Landover Baptist Church? wink

    You lucky dog! I’d be happy to have those Westboro clowns call me. I could have a real good time with them. Maybe I need to post something on my blog to draw them in.

    There are a few lawyers in that Phelps family, which leads me to believe if they thought they had a case against your postings, they would make it. They’re not afraid of litigation. The fact that they’re trying to entice you to remove the postings makes me think they know they don’t have a leg to stand on.

    (Unless you make some defamatory statements or infringe on some of their intellectual property, they don’t have any legal claim. It’s protected speech.)

    That said, be careful what you say to them on the phone. I’d hate to see them twist things around into something they might feel like pursuing.

    My guess is that they are trying to “whitewash” their online image by reaching out to you. I wouldn’t be surprised if those callers were some third-party hired to contact owners of sites critical of WBC.

  7. Les, this sound to me like somebody was checking out you and SEB. Seeing, if you would compromise your opinions for money.

    And our survey said, “SEB is not for sale”.

    ..because Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church don’t give a rats about their public image.

    ..and a Prank? To qoute Cenk Uygur from “The Young Turks”, “It’s weak sauce”.

  8. It does sound like some kind of prank or attempted scam.  Personally, I would have deflected the entire thing by requesting they call back when I had the time to deal with their complaints in depth.  I would have blocked out an entire afternoon for them.  In the meantime, I would have gotten the address of their church and the name of the one who was talking to me.  With that info, you can tell if they are (or are trying to make you believe) that they are the nasty Westboro and not one of the others.

    And of course if they don’t call you back, then you know they were kidding or that their ‘problem’ isn’t really that important.

  9. I’m assuming they got my number via my DNS record for SEB. I’ve said before it’s not too hard to track it down on the Net.

    Again, not sure what the intent of the call was, but if you guys hear me on some morning radio DJ’s prank call segment then at least you’ll know why.

  10. Those guys are lawsuit happy, so unless they threatened to take you to court, it probably wasn’t from the real thing

  11. If you had agreed to money, they’d have probably asked for your checking account number, and social security number, and credit card numbers, and a whole lot of other personal information so they could “deposit the money directly into your account”.  Barring that, they’d have asked for some earnest money from you to show that you are serious about the changes.  Sounds like the Westboro Baptist Church of Nigeria.

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