Alistair Newton, playwright and director of The Pastor Phelps Project: A Fundamentalist Cabaret, has invited the show’s inspiration, homophobic pastor Fred Phelps, to the opening night.
Phelps and congregation are doing what they know best and heading to Toronto, Canada tomorrow to picket.
78 year-old Phelps is a disbarred lawyer and current leader of fundamentalist Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church – slogan “God hates America, God Hates Fags.”
They claim to believe that disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq war are due to the “moral downfall” of the country.
The church runs a website, GodHatesFags.com, dedicated to “opposing the fag lifestyle of soul-damning, nation-destroying filth” and has protested at scores of funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty in Iraq.
Their campaign, “Thank God for Improvised Explosive Devices,” involves protesters holding up signs and chanting slogans such as “America is Doomed” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” at the widows of the servicemen.
The Pastor Phelps Project is part of a Toronto-based indie theatre and arts festival SummerWorks.
The show is described as: “homophobia versus burlesque in a musical cabaret showdown, sexy political satire with razor wire barbs.”
Newton wrote in his letter to Phelps:
“Our show is just like you: a shameless spectacle. It’s not just your fundamentalist hate-addiction that fascinates me; there’s something more.
“You’re not the type of conservative who hates fags but hides behind slick rhetoric about the sanctity of marriage and family values.
“No, you are the real deal: a balls-to-the-wall lunatic; spitting bile with all the conviction and dedication of a man possessed and there’s a part of me that can respect that.
“You are so utterly loathsome, your ideas so mind-bendingly facile and your tactics so crassly ludicrous that you provide the perfect mirror to reflect the awesome stupidity of religious homophobia.”
The Westboro Baptist Church responded to the letter in a press release:
“The Pastor Phelps Project is a tacky bit of filthy sodomite propaganda, with no literary merit and zero redeeming social value, masquerading as legitimate theatre.
“It is of the fags, by the fags, and for the fags – designed only to mock the word of God and the servants of God. “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.” Psalms 2:4.
“God Hates Canada – Land of the Sodomites.”
Newton’s letter will appear in print in today’s issue of Toronto’s gay scene publication, Fab Magazine.