Archive for Saturday, October 7, 2000

Phelps wins dubious distinction

October 7, 2000


Topeka's Fred Phelps isn't just homophobic, a national organization says: He's racist and anti-Semitic, too.

The Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based anti-bigotry organization, issued a report this week quoting from dozens of Phelps' letters, press releases and other communiqusince 1996.

"We noticed there are disparaging comments about Jews, blacks, and other Christians, as well as our country," said Jordan Kessler, head of ADL's Internet monitoring unit.

News of the report drew chuckles Thursday from Phelps, pastor of Topeka's anti-homosexual Westboro Baptist Church. He said he was glad to get the attention of "God-hating, Christ-rejecting pervert Jews."

"This is a badge of honor," he said. "This is better than the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Medal of Honor that's the highest one, isn't it? all rolled into one."

Phelps, a disbarred civil rights lawyer, said the report quoted him accurately. He disagreed with ADL's contention that he's racist.

But the report mentions a Westboro Baptist Church flier that depicted a black Topeka city councilman as a gorilla talking in broken English, as well as a stereotypical depiction of a black federal judge.

Dr. Roy Menninger, chairman of the anti-Phelps Concerned Citizens for Topeka, said ADL's report "is long overdue."

"There's been an unfortunate attitude that if we ignore it, it will just go away. It hasn't," he said. "It's time we face up to what we have here."

Kessler was aware of Phelps' gleeful reaction to the publicity.

"Our view is that it is more important to expose these people, and help communities where he visits to know who he is and to speak out," he said.

"And we're saying to people in Kansas, 'We're paying attention to this, we care about this and you're not alone in being concerned about this church.'"

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