Westboro Baptist Church Challenged By 9-Year-Old Boy!

The Westboro Baptist Church Is Made Up Primarily of One Family

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas is known worldwide for its extreme stance on homosexuality. Extreme, not because the members and Pastor Fred Phelps disagree with the homosexual lifestyle, but because of the way the church goes about letting their opinions be known.

Westboro Baptist Church protest activities against homosexuality include disrupting American servicemen’s funerals by picketing them during services, holding blatant hateful signs and shouting “Thank God for Dead Soldiers!” and “God Hates Fags.” These were the epithets shouted at the funeral of Matthew Snyder in Westminster Maryland. Snyder was a U.S. Marine who was killed in Iraq. These epithets were shouted all through the funeral service, not allowing Snyder’s family to say good-bye and grieve for their loved one in peace.

In June 2007, Shirley Phelps-Roper, a Westboro Baptist Church member and sister to Pastor Fred Phelps, was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a child, because she allowed her then 8-year old son to step on the American flag during a church demonstration. The arrest and charges took place in the state of Nebraska, a state where desecrating the American flag is against the law. There is some controversy regarding that law, some believing it is unconstitutional. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled that desecration of the U.S. flag could not be made illegal because it is a form of free speech (1989).

In an interview by Sean Hannity for Fox News, Shirley Phelps-Roper stated that the church membership was 80% family members with about 100 members total. According to Hannity, Westboro Baptist Church also protests Jews and Holocaust survivors.

Westboro Baptist Church protester.
Westboro Baptist Church protester. | Source
Hundreds of people show up to protect the Diaz family attending Sgt. Christopher Diaz's funeral from Westboro Baptist Church protesters.
Hundreds of people show up to protect the Diaz family attending Sgt. Christopher Diaz's funeral from Westboro Baptist Church protesters. | Source

A Courageous 9-Year Old Stands His Ground

Josef Miles, age 9, and his mother Patty Akrouche, were walking around the Washburn University campus in Topeka Kansas where they had just attended a graduation service on the Saturday before Mother’s Day and happened to come upon one of the Westboro Baptist Church protests.

The Augusta Chronicle reports that after observing and listening to the Westboro Baptist Church’s proclamations of “God’s hatred for homosexuals and other assorted groups,” young Josef asked his mother if he could mount a protest of his own.

With his mother’s permission, Josef then penciled a sign of his own on a sketchpad he was carrying. He wrote, “God Hates No One.”

Josef Miles then stood by church protesters with his own sign.

Josef Miles is not the first person to challenge the Wesboro Baptist Church, nor the first to protest that church’s protests, but he may be the youngest to have down so.

A Previous Westboro Baptist Church Threat Quashed

KTSM (television station) in El Paso Texas reported on October 10, 2011 that hundreds of people showed up to protect the privacy of the people attending the funeral of Marine Sgt. Christopher Diaz, who was killed the month before in Afghanistan. When people learned the Westboro Baptist Church planned to show up and disrupt the Sergeant’s funeral, as is their habit, hundreds of people showed up to make sure that did not happen.

The people who showed up to guarantee the privacy of the family and friend’s of Sgt. Diaz as they mourned his loss and said their last good-byes, according to KTSM, included “Hundreds of military members, veterans, Army wives, and Patriot Guard. Riders [who] lined the streets outside of St. Mark's Church and Ft. Bliss National Cemetery.” One person who attended said the number of people in attendance was easily 1000, many holding American flags.

Bikers To The Rescue

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle club formed in 2005 for the purpose of protecting families of deceased members of the military and others from protest groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, attend funerals when invited to physically shield the deceased family from protesters. Even thought the Club was formed by motorcyclists, anyone is welcome to join them whether they ride or not and regardless of political affiliation.

While there have been rumors that Hell’s Angels have attended these funerals where the Westboro Baptist Church has threatened to protest, in order to assist in protecting the privacy of the deceased families from protesters like the Patriot Guard does, no confirmation of that has surfaced. It remains a rumor.

Patriot Guard Riders Protect the Privacy of Grieving Families

What Has the Westboro Baptist Church Been Doing Lately?

The Westboro Baptist Church does its best to stay in the limelight. Fred Phelps Sr., or one of his representatives (usually his grandson Ben) makes a habit of threatening some unfortunate person or family that they are going to picket a loved one’s funeral or stage a protest somewhere around them.

Most recently Mr. Phelps and his grandson Ben have zeroed in on Taylor Swift. They have decided that she has dated too many young men and is therefore a harlot, in their expert pious opinion.

© 2012 C E Clark

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Comments 66 comments

Au fait profile image

Au fait 21 months ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W., thank you for reading and commenting on this article and for sharing your thoughts. Also for the pin and share.

The Bible does indeed endorse your ideas on this. Forcing someone to love the God of Heaven (can't say regarding 'other' gods), doesn't work because as we all know, forced love is not love at all. We must all answer for ourselves, our thoughts, words, and deeds, can't answer for anyone else even if we wanted to, so I say live and let live. So long as no one is being harmed (literally sacrificed or tortured, etc.), I believe we should remember our idea of freedom of religion here in the states.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 21 months ago from Houston, Texas

It seems that we have way too many radicals in this world today claiming to be of this religion or that. I don't think that a Supreme Being of us all would want such hatred being spewed and hurting so many people. Sharing once again and pinning to Awesome HubPages.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for commenting Shyron. There are new laws in most states relating to protesting at funerals as a result of the WBC. I don't remember what all of them are, but mainly that the protestors must be a certain distance away from the funeral and I think they may even be limited as to when they can protest, picket, etc.

Thank you for the votes and share too!

There simply isn't enough time in the day, and when I can't sleep I'm a total wreck making it even harder to accomplish anything in the little time I have. Hope everything went well with W. today (technically yesterday now).


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Sam, for sharing your thoughts. Appreciate your insight and your kindness. You are correct in that people interpret the Bible and other holy books, and sometimes not very accurately, and then they choose for themselves how they will adhere to what they have decided is the right thing to do. Neither God nor religion are to blame for people's wrong interpretations.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Au fait, this is one of your most interesting articles. I find it amazing that these people can get away with protesting funerals.

Voted up, interesting and shared.

Hope all is well with you.


samowhamo profile image

samowhamo 2 years ago

I just remembered. I read somewhere about a father who kicked his own son out of his house because he was Gay. There was a woman who said to the father people like you are why I don't like religion very much. Here we have another person blaming religion for a mistake that was made by a human. God didn't kick that boy out and religion did not kick that boy out the father did and the last time I checked there is nothing in the Bible that says kick your son or daughter out if they are gay or lesbian.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron, for commenting and for the votes and share. I'm not sure even the WBC would let Ted Nugent in . . .


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Learn Things Web, thank you for stopping by. Agree that it is a sad state of affairs when any adult behaves the way the WBC members do and I think it speaks volumes that a 9-year old boy has more maturity and compassion for other people. Agree with you!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

VVanNess, thank you for reading this article and sharing your thoughts on this important issue. I agree with what you've written and I hope we will soon hear no more about this group. I'm thinking their funding must be running out because what caring person would contribute to their cause?


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Crazyhorseghost, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this article and subject matter, and for voting on and sharing it too!

As a result of the demonstrations the members of this 'church' do at the funerals/burials and other events of deceased soldiers, celebrities, and children, new restrictions have been passed in many states regarding all demonstrators regarding how close they can be to the burial proceedings, funeral, etc.

Agree with your heartfelt opinion on this group and their activities.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 2 years ago from California

It's kind of sad that there are adults who are so stupid that even a nine year old has more maturity and commonsense.


crazyhorsesghost profile image

crazyhorsesghost 2 years ago from East Coast , United States

VVanNess I could not agree more. So many people who profess to know God and then do things like this church does do not know the same God I do. The little boy was so brave. So very brave. I believe in the right to protest but there is a time and a place for everything.


VVanNess profile image

VVanNess 2 years ago from Prescott Valley

How brave of that little boy! How could a group of people professing to know and love God treat people so badly. That goes against everything that Christianity stands for. Hooray for the courage of that sweet child!


crazyhorsesghost profile image

crazyhorsesghost 2 years ago from East Coast , United States

Voted up and shared. I'm proud of the young boy also. That church should be stripped of its tax exempt status. Westboro Baptist Church is so wrong in so many ways for what they are doing. They should lose their tax exempt status first of all and their demonstrations are way out of line. There is a time and a place for everything and doing what they do at soldiers funerals is so very wrong. So very wrong.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Au fait, I am with Deborah on this. I just wonder is Ted Nugent a member of this church/family.

Voted up, AI and shared.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Deborah-Diane, thank you for reading and commenting on this article! Most of the people in this small church are members of one family and I would expect they are very unpopular in their community as a result of their activities.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California

Thanks for sharing this story about this young boy. He's braver than many adults. I love seeing kids standing up for what's right.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for reading and commenting on this article Sam (samowhamo)! It's sad that some people in our world seem to seek out reasons not to get along and to hate people because they're different.


samowhamo profile image

samowhamo 3 years ago

You know this actually reminds me of an article I read recently about a father who disowned his daughter because she disowned her son for being gay.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Yes, Phelps is definitely a strange duck. His reasoning does seem a little questionable to say the least.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

@ Kyle, Fred Phelps may have been a Democrat, until his mind went the way of the WBC, I think he needed help. It is a good thing he did not get elected to the Senate. But, it would have been interesting to see him sitting on the wrong side, where he did not fit.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Kyle, thank you for taking an interest in this article. Fred Phelps may have been a Democrat 21 years ago, but all these years later he obviously isn't a Democrat any longer.

Democrats do not discriminate against gays and lesbians and in fact encourage acceptance. Frankly, I don't think either the Democrats or the Republicans would welcome Mr. Phelps at this time.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

They have a membership because 95 of the 98 members are all part of the same family that runs the church. Thank you for stopping Shyron.


Kyle 3 years ago

Their leader, Fred Phelps, is also a Democrat politician who received 30.8 percent of the vote in the primary when running for U.S. Senate in 1992.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

It is still hard to imagine a church that does this. How can they have a membership. Churches are supposed to preach love not hate, goodness not evil.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

vertualit, thank you for stopping by and learning a little about the WBC and for leaving a comment.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

sgbrown, thank you for reading, commenting, and voting on and sharing this hub! Agree with your evaluation of this bunch. Surprised they can afford to travel to these various events. Who is financing it? Would be interesting to know . . .


vertualit profile image

vertualit 3 years ago from Bangladesh

Very informative hub. thanks for sharing...


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

I have always been disgusted by these heartless protestors! Just recently an F5 tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma. It hit 2 schools which were full of children, killing several of them. The protestors made the mistake of coming to Oklahoma for these funerals. They were not allowed rooms at the hotels, they were not served in restaurants and were shielded from the funeral by bikers as well as people in their vehicles and on foot. Our current Governor, Mary Fallin, has just passed a law that only allows them to protest either 2 hours before or 2 hours after a funeral and then can only come within 1000 feet of the funeral site. Kudos to this little boy that stood his ground and his mom for letting him! Voting this up, awesome and sharing! :)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

samowhamo, thank you for letting me know about your new article. It's great.

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get to read it, but I give as much time to this site as I can, horribly neglecting a lot of other things, but I can't skip the paying job, so I can't be here as much as I would like.


samowhamo profile image

samowhamo 3 years ago

I have written that on article about Mary Anning that I said I would write.

http://samowhamo.hubpages.com/hub/Mary-Anning-The-...


samowhamo profile image

samowhamo 3 years ago

Thank you Au Fait and I am sorry I have not gotten to my email address or some of those other articles yet I have had other things that I have had to take care of I can't always get to them immediately.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you samowhamo for reading this article and commenting/sharing your thoughts. While I disagree extremely with what this group does, I would not try to do God's work for Him (judging people's souls) or give Him advice. In fact I wish He would give me some! Thanks again and hope all is well . . .


samowhamo profile image

samowhamo 3 years ago

I really admire that boy for standing up to that church as I have said some of my old high school friends were gay and lesbian and some of my family has military history. I hope God sends that church and its members to hell people like that don't deserve heaven.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

The WBC's main complaints are homosexuality and gay marriage. They believe they can put a stop to it all by picketing funerals of soldiers, celebrities, and children with ugly, ugly signs. I think they should sweep their own porch first.

Thanks for stopping by Shyron.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

I don't think this particular church worships God. It sounds more like a cult. I appreciate that you brought it to all your reader's attention, these people have no respect at all.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Nicole S for reading and commenting on this hub. Just recently the WBC was threatening to picket the funerals of victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings, but I don't think they followed through. The local Teamster's Union in that area promised to make sure the WBC didn't intrude on any funerals.


Nicole S profile image

Nicole S 3 years ago from Minnesota

Thank goodness there is more of us than them, and that we can come together to not let them ruin the mourning of a lost family member or friend.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for reading, commenting and sharing your thoughts, and for voting on and sharing this hub! Agree with you.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you tnderhrt23 for reading and commenting on this hub! Agree with what you've written here!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Kathryn Stratford for reading and commenting on this hub. I thought the young boy was someone we should all learn about and maybe even get some inspiration from him. I really think if more people would stand up to this bunch like he did, the WBs group (mostly one extended family) would fade from the spotlight. In fact they now mostly threaten to show up, but rarely do. It's expensive to travel all over the country to picket. I think their funds are drying up now that people see what they're really doing.


tnderhrt23 profile image

tnderhrt23 3 years ago

Au fait, I am proud of young Josef for having the courage, at such a young, tender age, to stand up for his convictions! I am also grateful for other Americans who, recognizing the serious wrong, come to the aid of grieving families out of compassion and respect for their pain and loss..Well written, informative hub. Thank you. I personally believe that Silence implies consent.


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I cannot stand this group. They sicken me. But I do enjoy your story of the brave young boy, as well as the other instances when groups of people came together to protect funeral-goers from that hateful crowd. Thanks for sharing this with us. But now I have a bitter taste in my mouth.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

"God hates no one." Words to live by! It is wonderful that so many caring people have organized to protect grieving families at funerals and such when they find out that the crazy people from that church are planning to attend and protest. That must be some doozy of a church! Too bad it is even called a church! I think it is wonderful that 9 year old boy was moved to do such a thing. He will undoubtedly grow up and become a caring and politically involved adult. We need more like him in this world! Up, interesting and sharing. (Like you, I doubt that this will do anything to help that so called church.)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping in and leaving a comment. You may be right . . .


Kat 4 years ago

Fred Phelps is a closet gay.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

50 caliber: Thank you for taking time to read and comment on my hub. Couldn't agree with you more regarding your comments, especially the one about "church." Whenever I look around I see a lot of people hiding behind the "Christian" label, but not resembling to any extent what the Bible describes as a Christian.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for your comments Shyron, and for taking time to read my hub. I really appreciate you and all my readers and commenters.

Yes, the boy was so courageous for someone so young. We should all take a lesson from him . . .


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 4 years ago from Arizona

Au fait, great article and kudos for bringing it forth and letting folks know that there is strength in Faith, the little boy showed it.

As well "church" preceded by any name does not mean God has ever been in side,

Peace,

50


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Henry for reading my hub. I don't think we should blame God for the bad decisions and judgment some people use in His name. God did give us all free choice, so unless you're taking issue with His doing that, I think the blame belongs entirely on the people of the WBC. God always seems to get blamed for things He didn't do.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

It is hard for me imagine this church. But I can imagine the boy, most kids have very high ethics. I am glad you wrote about him.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Tillsontitan: Thank you for your comments. Agree with you 100%!


Henry Westin 4 years ago

What a sicko god these freaks worship.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Jamie Brock: Thank you for your additional comments. I know how you feel and I can imagine adults might be afraid to challenge this bunch, so one can imagine it might be more scary for a child.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

While I believe everyone has a right to their beliefs, I also feel it is their belief and they have no right to shove them down someone else's throat. I think this whole thing is horrible and applaud the 9 yr. old boy and agree with him 100%...God Hates No One! God Bless the motorcyle riders participating.

Voted up!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Sherry: Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my hub!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Jamie, thank you for reading and commenting on my hub. This particular Baptist Church is not embraced by other Baptist churches, as you might imagine. Picketing funerals of anyone, but especially the men and women, who have bravely served our country, is unconscionable. I think all of our first reactions are repugnance at what these church members are doing.

These church members really need all of our prayers so that one day soon God will help them realize that what they are doing is not the best way to further their cause. However, my main point was to shed light on the courageous young man who stood up to this church group and pointed out that God Hates No One.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and may God be with your daughter's boyfriend and bring him, and all of our troops, back home safely, and soon.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Livia Jayde: Thank you for your comment on this hub, and for focusing more on the courage and conviction of the young boy than on the WBC. It is the boy's courage that I most wanted to bring to light.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Rommey: I thought it was notable that a 9-year old boy had the chutzpah to stand up to this organization and unfortunately it was necessary to give a bit of the church's background because not everyone knows the name of this 'church' or what it stands for. Some people may remember hearing about the pickets at military funerals on the news, but few likely remember the name of the organization behind the pickets.

I wanted to put some focus on this courageous young boy for standing up for a loving God. I hope he will do that for the rest of his life.

Apologize to you Rommey if you are offended. While publicity, even bad publicity, for celebs and some controversial activities may be helpful to them overall, I think given the nature of this particular organization (WBC), bad publicity will not benefit them. It could be that the reason the 'church' is made up mostly of extended family members is that the rest of the community is shunning them.

While most Americans agree that we all have a right to our own opinions, I think most of us also agree that we need to respect the rights of others as well. Picketing funerals, as the WBC is doing, is neither respectful, nor respected. While they're all (WBC members) proud of themselves, personally, I prefer to watch from afar. I don't want to be in too close a proximity when they get their reward!


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

Au fait- I wanted to come back and add one more thing to my comment that I left out yesterday, I was so disgusted learning about this group of people that I forgot to mention the little boy. Kudos to this little fellow for stepping up. I feel like it was very brave of him to do that... I think I would have been to scared just because obviously the people are not right "upstairs". Also, my daughters boyfriend just left for Afghanistan so I've been thinking about the soldiers a lot.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for your comment, Diogenes. When I researched this hub I found it interesting to note that there are only 100 members in this church and 80% of them are from one extended family, which may explain their odd thinking.

Mainly, I wanted to bring attention to Josef Miles, the 9-year old boy who has had the courage to stand up to their strange ideas about God wanting to kill soldiers and children, etc. as a punishment for something they had no part in, and no control over. I like little Josef's message: God Hates No One.


SherryDigital profile image

SherryDigital 4 years ago from Here. There. Everywhere. Currently: Portland, OR

I love this story. This young lad is a real gem!


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

Thank you au fait for bringing this to our attention. The arrogance of these Baptists is sickening and disgusting to me and that is coming from someone who grew up in a Baptist Church (I do not consider myself Baptist though) Their actions are appalling and it's things like this that make me ashamed to have been associated with the Baptist Church but I try very hard not to generalize. The church I attended, I could NEVER imagine them doing something so gross and disgusting. What a bunch of sickos!!!


Livia Jayde profile image

Livia Jayde 4 years ago from USA

Cute story about the boy. "From the mouths of babes"...


Rommey profile image

Rommey 4 years ago from Texas

I'm sorry to see that you fulfill the Westboro Baptist Family Church wishes of making their hate messages known to as wider as possible audience.

(Following the Hollywood dictum that there is no negative publicity... as long they talk about you, it is mighty good!)


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

The nuts are running the looney-bin, as ever.

Bob

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