God Hates Fags founder may have changed his mind about gay people
Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, known for his ‘God Hates Fags’ message, may have changed his mind about gay people before his death.
The revelations comes from Louis Theroux’s BBC documentary Surviving America’s Most Hated Family, which aired on Sunday (July 14).
In his third documentary based on the church, Theroux investigates rumours that Phelps, one of the world’s most vocal homophobes, may have changed his mind about gay people shortly before his death in March 2014.
Fred Phelps allegedly told LGBT+ activists: ‘You’re good people’
Phelps is rumoured to have approached LGBT+ activists outside the rainbow-coloured Equality House that stands opposite his church, calling out: “You’re good people.”
His granddaughter Rachel Hockenbarger, who has since left the church and repented its anti-LGBT views, opened up about the incident.
She said: “He had told the people across the street at the rainbow house that they were good people.
“I do think it happened. I didn’t see it, but it’s been talked about with [church members].”
Hockenbarger explained that the incident and Phelps’ failing health were both taken as evidence that he “had fallen out of faith,” claiming that decision was taken to quietly expel him from the church and isolate him to his own house.
She continued: “They don’t like to talk about it, because if you kick him out, then what strength do you have? What’s your foundation?”
Phelps’ granddaughter Megan Phelps-Roper, who left the church before the rumoured incident, also confirmed to Theroux that she had heard the claims from “multiple people.”
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She said: “They all point to the day where he was voted out, when he had gone out onto the front lawn of the church, and called out to the people to the Equality House, and said ‘you’re good people.’
“I think he did have a change of heart. [Church members] will tell you, ‘of course he didn’t have a change of perspective’, but the fact it was the thing that triggered his expulsion made me believe it was real.”
Westboro Baptist Church insists Fred Phelps didn’t mean to condone homosexuality
Church leaders persistently refused to address the claims in the documentary, attacking Theroux as “slimy” over the questioning
However, Phelps’ daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper appeared to admit there was some truth to the allegations.
She insisted: “He did not mean, in any of his words, to say that it is OK to flagrantly violate the commandments of God.”
Asked whether the incident had led to his expulsion as the church’s leader, Phelps-Roper said: “You don’t have the full facts, from the day you’re speaking of to the day that he died. You don’t have the full facts.”