Eleven things Westboro Baptist Church gets right, starring Lady Gaga, Sean Penn and … Betty White?

We all agreed long ago that Fred Phelps and the members of his Westboro Baptist Church are sad, terrible people, destined to be greeted at the gates of wherever they end up by an angry mob of shirtless, dildo-waving queens.

At this point, church members aren’t even protesting gays as much as they are anyone who has ever relied on the Earth’s atmosphere to survive because, you know, .000000001 percent of the carbon dioxide used in photosynthesis may have been exhaled by a homosexual. Even if we could somehow send all the Phelpses into low orbit, it wouldn’t be long before they started protesting faggy quasars. God hates that your high output of electromagnetic energy allows you to be the most luminous body in the universe! Queer!

In recent years, the shear breadth of their insanity and lust for attention has actually allowed them to hit upon some truths, if only by accident. And as long as we’re stuck with the Phelpses in our backyard, we might as well have some fun with their ubiquitous hatred, right?

(If you answered, “wrong,” please forgive us and see your way to the nearest exit. We hear that the music section is nice this time of year.)

With Lady Gaga, Westboro’s latest target of hate, headed to Kansas City next week, we present our list of people whom Fred Phelps might actually — however accidentally — be right about. Some of them have died, some are still with us, but all of them have been called out by the Phelps family. 

And you know you’ve fucked up when the members of Westboro Baptist have a point.

11. George Rekers, anti-gay activist

Usually, Westboro Baptist is just being a dick when criticizing someone for homosexual behavior. But George Rekers is the rare entity who compels you to nod in agreement when the Phelps clan calls him a lying, pretend Christian.

Until recently, Rekers and the Phelpses weren’t that different. Rekers made a name for himself as a Baptist preacher and one of the country’s most prominent anti-gay activists. He helped start the Family Research Council, a Washington, D.C.-based Christian lobbying group that supports criminalizing homosexual behavior. He also has acted as an adviser to national politicians and testified as a state witness in support of banning gay adoption in Florida.

Then The Pitch‘s sister paper the Miami New Times caught him with a gay escort, from rentboy.com, who was moving his luggage. “I had surgery,” Rekers said when confronted, “and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.” In the photo that busted him, Rekers is actually moving luggage. (And, no, that’s not a sex euphemism — at least not yet.)

Rekers made a living by degrading and terrorizing people who had the guts to live openly the way they wanted to (the way, apparently, he secretly wished he could). Fred says God hates a coward — in this case, we’re inclined to believe him.

10. Ann Coulter

Here’s Westboro Baptist on the woman they refer to as a “wild-eyed sorceress”:

“These blowhards would behead anyone who says words they don’t like, while demanding the right to scream meaningless nothings till our ears bleed.”

For complete gibberish, that line makes insanely good sense.

Of all the people on this list, Coulter might be the closet to the Phelpses, with her penchant for saying the most inflammatory things possible in her naked quest for more airtime. But while Westboro seems to be genuinely crazy — one could argue that Fred Phelps’ indoctrination of his children qualifies as child abuse — Coulter is a well-educated woman who knows exactly what she sounds like and calculates her next line for maximum vileness. She’s a smirking instigator who is actively striving to lower public discourse. Only in a media landscape this dumb could anyone take her seriously enough to buy her next book. Coulter is just disingenuous enough. When she throws around the word “faggot” or talks about killing Muslims (if they don’t convert to Christianity), she’s somehow slimier than the Phelps family when they say the same thing.

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9. Masturbating officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission

Lots of people had a hand in the destruction of the world’s economy. Some hurt it more than others. Some engaged in metaphorical self-pleasure, gambling with toxic assets that they knew were worthless but could provide short-term gains. Others sat at their desks, physically tugging at themselves.

Earlier this year, the Washington Times broke the story that at least two dozen employers and contractors with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission were regularly looking at scores of porn sites for the two years leading up to the financial collapse. The office computer of one SEC supervisor showed more than 1,800 attempts to look up pornography in just over two weeks. And at least one SEC employee made more than 300 attempts to access LadyBoyJuice.com — not over a period of months, but in one eight-hour business day. That’s a lot of juice.

It was as if that website were the only place on the Internet where you could see lady boys, and that your genitals would shrivel and be useless forever if you didn’t see lady boys that day. Right now, try loading just one Web page — non-porn if you like — 300 times. You should barely reach 30 before it feels like a drill bit is boring into your frontal lobe.

How could they be expected to spot the worst market collapse in 70 years if they couldn’t even figure out how to properly look at porn while pretending to work? Don’t they have seminars for this sort of thing?

These chronic masturbators are symptomatic of all the reasons that you got laid off and are at home on your computer right now, reading this between 15-minute visits to the same websites that cost you your job in the first place. So have at ’em, Fred. They’ve earned it.

8. Former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates

Say you’re an embattled police chief, the kind who doesn’t think first about stirring racial tensions in one of the country’s largest and most diverse cities and, thus, says that black suspects die in chokeholds because their arteries don’t open as fast as they do on “normal people.” Say your men are accused of beating the hell out of an unarmed black suspect, and the whole thing is caught on tape, and you’re accused of protecting them. Do you (a) peacefully resign because it’s best for the city, and it avoids the drawn-out public shaming of your department, or (b) tell the mayor to go fuck himself, then spend the first night of the riots at a fundraising dinner?

Yeah, Gates went with the latter, and it didn’t escape the long lenses of Phelps’ hate-oculars.

Here’s the shockingly accurate description of Gates’ tenure as L.A. police chief, issued by Westboro Baptist following his death:

“As LAPD Chief, Daryl F. Gates engineered a paramilitary SWAT-philosophy, mercilessly increasing arrests of the impoverished, and insisting no one criticize the little darlings in uniform. After his ‘men’ beat a guy senseless, leading to punishing riots when more were acquitted, he bragged that their only mistake was not ‘blowing more heads off’ the night of the riots.”

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If Phelps keeps throwing around this sort of lucidity, his crazy card might get taken away. Or he may, at least, have to fill out some forms the next time he tries to renew.

7. Betty White

Don’t worry, God doesn’t hate Betty White. The former Golden Girl makes the list because she’s so awesome, even Westboro Baptist can’t deny her.

After White hosted Saturday Night Live in May, the church took a bizarre turn for the normal, posting a blog titled “Thank God for Old Whore Betty White.” Unleashing their inner E!, they noted that White “excelled” as the host and that the “crowd was delighted.”

(And before you criticize Westboro Baptist for calling White an old whore, recall, if you will, the sketch in which she played a bawdy senior citizen who regretted not going down on more women in her youth.)

Just like that old drunk Ben Franklin said about the sauce, Betty White is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

6. Sean Penn

Sean Penn sucks, but not, as the Phelpses suggest, because he played gay activist Harvey Milk. Yes, Mickey Rourke should have won the Oscar for The Wrestler that year, and Penn’s hammy, melodramatic scenery chewing has been enabled more than enough already. But that’s not why Penn is on this list.

No, he’s here because the dude just cannot shut his gaping, nonsense-spewing mouth. Look, Sean, if you want to go rescue people from hurricanes in your raft, that’s cool. We even admire it a little. But please: Zip your overprivileged yapper. You seriously think that Hugo Chavez — a man with a long and troubled history with human-rights groups — is a great man and that journalists should be punished for questioning him? Say what you want about W, but at least he allowed you to call him a Nazi instead of censoring you, Chavez-style.

5. Jerry Falwell

Oh, yes. Jerry.

Let’s play a game. One of these quotes is from the Phelps family. The rest are from “corpulent false prophet” Jerry Falwell (as the Phelpses refer to him, of course). See if you can tell which is which:

“The Jews are returning to their land of unbelief. They are spiritually blind and desperately in need of their Messiah and Savior.”

“I do question the sincerity and nonviolent intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer and others, who are known to have left-wing associations.”

“Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.”

“Boston is full of filthy people, hardhearted sinful cretins, cursing God with every breath. Crews are feverishly welding parts to try to restore water for 2 million who are without water. Somebody’s ‘flaw’ caused a pipe to burst? No! God did it!”

“And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this, but throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools — the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle — the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.'”

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Does it even matter who said what? They both are clearly destined to spend an eternity somewhere truly horrible, with uncomfortable bar stools and a very limited snack selection.

4. President George W. Bush

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, Westboro Baptist issued this press release aimed at Bush: “You are pouring gasoline on the raging infernos of God’s wrath in Iraq and New Orleans…. You are living for the devil in blatant defiance of your Creator and leading the country to Hell in a faggots handbasket … “

There’s a lot to despise in that statement. But if we’re being honest, it’s still batting at least .500.

3. Pope Benedict XVI

Before he received his cool pope name, Benedict XVI was warned by several American bishops that failure to defrock a Wisconsin priest would allow a sexual predator to continue preying on children who put their faith in men whom they thought had their best interests at heart. Benedict decided that embarrassing the church was worse than punishing a man who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, and he didn’t even respond to the bishops’ letters. And he was rewarded for his loyalty to the institution by being named to one of the most powerful, respected posts in the world. It’s as cold as that.

So when Westboro Baptist dubbed him “the godfather of pedophiles,” you could ding them for creativity, but for accuracy? Not so much.

2. Lady Gaga

Megan Phelps Roper, following in the hateful footsteps of Grandpa Fred, turned into the Weird Al Yankovic of hate with her video parodies of Lady Gaga and her constant press releases about God hating the rock star of the moment.

But just because Megan Phelps Roper is entirely unhinged doesn’t mean she might not have a point about Gaga wrapping her otherwise disposable pop with pretension, to make it seem way more valuable than it really is.

“‘Art’ and ‘fashion’ are the euphemisms, the guise under which proud whore Lady Gaga teaches rebellion against God,” Westboro Baptist wrote in one statement. “As much as she’d like to pretend otherwise, there’s nothing new or different about this particular hussy’s pretentious prancing.”

Hey, it’s better than anything you’ll read on Pitchfork.

1. Ronnie James Dio

Within 24 hours of Ronnie James Dio’s death in May, Westboro Baptist announced plans to picket the metal singer’s funeral, certain that God would not allow Dio into paradise. They were right, but not for the reasons they thought.

The truth is, God fears Dio.

We all know the official story: Dio succumbed to stomach cancer, but that’s only true if “succumbed” is defined as “summoned stomach cancer to tame and ride, like a tiger through a window in time itself, so as to begin the next phase of his interdimensional ascension to the highest throne of evil.”

Taking the reigns of Black Sabbath was only a means to an end for the master. Let Ozzy have the reality shows and the catchphrases for the masses to feed upon like rotting chum. Every worried parent was right all along: Your children gave their souls to Dio willingly, and now they serve him in the new hell where Lucifer himself kneels beneath Dio’s horned fingers.

Soon he will begin his assault on heaven, tearing the crown of thorns asunder, and his malignant wisdom will echo into eternity. It’s already too late, and we all are better for it.


In Defense of Lady Gaga

Hey, guys. ’Sup?

I take pride in all my creations, big and small, significant and insignificant, etc., ad nauseam. (All right, I have forsaken Branson. Sorry, Missouri.) So even the poor misguided souls of Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church are mine. And, yes, I’m obligated to love them, despite the fact that they try me. Repeatedly.

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I try to take the high road. But as my son Peter has so eloquently outlined (advanced peaks at stories is a perk of the job), there are some things I’m willing to let people assume that I hate.

Hear me, children: Lady Gaga is not one of them.

Yeah, yeah, I’m breaking the whole omniscient-but-invisible deal that we’ve had for thousands of years, but I will not allow Lady Gaga to be desecrated — or, worse, misunderstood. That’s such a party foul.

Your elders have taught you that every creation of mine has a higher purpose. Frankly, kiddos, that simply ain’t true. Sometimes I just get bored and make stuff, things that I hope will shock or fascinate you. (See: pop music.)

But I’ve been lazy lately. I haven’t bestowed upon you a proper pop tart to entertain your tongues and tabloids, instead leaving you with pieces to build your own: Beyonce’s ass, Britney’s shaved head, Jessica Simpson’s brain. But the time has come for a truly worthy attention whore, and so I have ordained Lady Gaga.

No one could be worthier. True, her face is busted (sorry, darling), and her husky alto is a dime a dozen in New York City’s lounges. Gaga’s genius is that she has taken the talent I’ve endowed her with and turned it into something extraordinary, something fueled by her delusional assurance that she is my gift to pop music. I didn’t even have to tell her. She sings about it herself: Baby, there’s no other superstar.

I might quibble with “no other”; Bono makes a pretty good case. But star she is.

In fact, Lady Gaga is more than a star. She’s a reflection of you reflecting me. And she knows it. Unlike Fred Phelps, she’s one monster for whom I don’t mind taking responsibility.

Besides, “Alejandro” is the most played song in my iTunes right now. <3

— God

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