Nate Phelps is the son of the infamous leader of Westboro Baptist Church, a hate group that is renowned for turning up and picketing the funerals of dead soldiers, declaring the death to be God’s judgement upon the US. I don’t propose to go into too much detail on their antics, but needless to say, they are so far over the horizon that even other batshit crazy fanatics will disown them – but Nate and walked away from it and left it all far behind.
There is a very interesting profile in the UK’s Telegraph all about Fred Phelps, and consists of a lot of insights from his son, Nate Phelps. He was born into the group and steeped in the thinking, yet one day …
It was five minutes to midnight as Nate Phelps quietly picked his way through the three interconnected rooms where his siblings slept. At the end of the corridor there was the dining room. To the right, a closed door to the church which adjoined the house. There was no sound from the top of the staircase that led to his father’s room. Nate stood there in the darkness, staring at the old red clock in front of him and watched as the minute hand approached 12 and the moment he would turn 18.
He ran as fast as he could, back through the three rooms and out of the door into the night. Nate had no idea who had heard him or who, if anyone, was coming after him. He jumped into his waiting car, an old banger he’d bought for $300 from the high school security guard the previous week, and prayed as the engine spluttered to life. Then he disappeared, away from the church, from his father’s abuse and from the only life he’d ever known.
He escaped, successfully got away, and built a new life for himself. You may indeed have heard of these folks, because in the UK they were featured in a 2007 BBC documentary presented by Louis Theroux, called The Most Hated Family in America. Afterwards Fred’s daughter Shirley, had just one fault to pick with the film: she wished it had been called “The Most Hated Family in the World”. I should also point out that she is not a very nice human being and is apparently proud of that fact (that picture is her). This is a stance that has put her on the list of just 16 individuals banned from entering the United Kingdom for “fostering extremism or hatred.”
In the article, Nate Phelps talks in details about his past life and how truly abhorrent his father really is. What is very encouraging about it all is that he escaped … he successfully broke away and built a new life free from all the bigotry, instead choosing to be a decent human being. If somebody such as Nate Phelps who had been steeped in the thinking within the heart of the cult can redeem himself like that, then there is indeed hope for all.
He is not alone, others have also escaped, Mark Phelps his older brother also escaped, as has Nate’s niece Libby Phelps Alvarez (just last February), closely followed by her sisters Megan and Grace.