Megan Phelps Explains It All, Sort Of

AKA William/February 4, 2010

With her already world-famous spoof of Lady Gaga and growing Twitter celebrity, 24-year-old Megan Phelps has become the new face of her grandfather Fred's infamous Westboro Baptist Church. On the surface she seems like a typical American woman: she watches Lost, wonders whether she'll find a husband, and listens to Green Day. But then there's that other, far more ghastly side, the side that declares "God hates fags" and claims Haiti deserves its massive earthquake.

Here Andrew Belonsky has an in-depth, all-encompassing chat with Megan about her religious mission, why God really hates fags, and why she can't wait for the United States to legalize same-sex marriage.

Andrew Belonsky: Hi Megan, how are you?

Megan Phelps: I'm excellent, thank you. How are you?

AB: I'm very well. So, let's just get right into this. I find you really intriguing. Obviously the Westboro Baptists have a long history of being rabble-rousers and largely on the fringe. But you are taking your family and your church's activism in an entirely new direction. You're really keyed into pop culture, like Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert. Do you represent a new generation of religious activism?

MP: I think we've always talked about pop culture; Elton John in the 90s is one example. We've done a lot of parodies even before Lady Gaga, so, no, I don't think it's new. I think it's just exploded recently because these icons are so huge, you know? I frankly am not sure why one thing over another will get more attention, except that I know all of these things are in the hands of God. He is the one who opens these doors and causes these words to go forth. It's an awesome thing to be a part of and I'm so thankful for my spot here.

AB: I know you tweet a lot. I have read your Twitter page. Now, your family and the church protested outside the headquarters recently and the press release that went along with that protest said that you're thankful for mass communication, because you have to use mass communication to get your message out, right, even if it is against the mass communication itself?

MP: That picket wasn't [about] the platform itself, and I've said this several times. Before you say that there's hypocrisy going on here, you have to look at the actual reason we were protesting. These mass communications and everything that we have - and when I say "we," I mean every human being - is a gift from God. Everything that you have is a gift of God and you have a duty to use it to serve him. The people we were protesting, the people who run Twitter, those people have a platform, God has given them a voice, and the fact that they don't use that voice to proclaim the truth of God, that testifies against them, and God is going to require that from their hand. We were there to warn them.

AB: I don't know if it's really a Twitter executive's job to use that platform to spread God's message, whatever that may be, but they are providing you and other people with a platform. Isn't that just as important?

MP: I'm talking about each human being, not just Twitter executives - everyone who uses Twitter and uses it for all the porn... They just put it out there. This generation puts out anything and everything perverted that comes into their mind. And they're proud and they feel okay about doing that, because no one is willing to rebuke them. No one is willing to tell them, "Hey, that's going to land you in hell." That's the definition of "Love Thy Neighbor:" rebuking them when you see them sinning.

AB: Okay.

MP: The definition of "love" to people in this generation is loving someone even when you see them doing wrong, saying, "Oh, that's okay, I'm going to love you anyway, because I'm just that good. I'm just a good person." That's not what God's standard of love is; He says, "Thou shalt not hate thy neighbor in thine heart," but instead of hating them, your job is to, "rebuke him and not suffer his sin upon him." So, again, loving your neighbor is warning him.

AB: If Twitter had been explicitly been established for a religious reason, would it still be worthy of protest?

MP: Here's what you have to understand about most religion today: it's fake. Most people don't follow the standards of God. We picket a lot of churches, Catholic and Protestant, because those people claim that they are preaching what the Bible says. And instead of saying what the Bible actually says - that God hates people, that you have a duty to obey God - they say, "God loves everyone" and, essentially, "You can live like the devil and still expect to go to Heaven when you die."

AB: Uh-huh.

MP: They preach that there is no standard except your own. You can live however you please and it's okay, because God loves you anyway. That is not what the Bible says. What the Bible says is "God hates all workers of iniquity." He says, "I set before you this day, a blessing and a curse; a blessing if you obey me and a curse if you won't." All these people are saying, "Oh, the earthquake in Haiti, that wasn't a judgment of God." Of course it's a judgment of God! It's a curse!

AB: So Haiti deserved the earthquake?

MP: Yeah, it's the judgment of God on a rebellious people. The vast majority in that country are Catholic. There's a three word indictment of the entire Catholic Church and it's "Priests rape boys." Plus, the Catholic Church is full of idolatry. In Haiti particularly, it's a satanic mixture of Catholic idolatry, the voodoo, and worshipping ancestors and nature. It's pantheism. What you have is a bunch of people setting up false Gods and worshipping them. God says that he is a jealous God, and that he is going to avenge himself on you when you set up and worship those false gods, and an earthquake is a prime example. 9/11 is another example.

AB: You said that most religion is fake. Obviously many people wouldn't agree. So, I'm curious, what makes the Westboro Baptist Church, out of all of the churches in the world, right?

MP: Here's why: we don't change the scriptures as we find them in the scriptures. Like I said, the vast majority of churches and this generation will say that God loves everyone when you have so many verses in the Bible that talk about the hatred of God for people. When God says that he hates people and you've got a whole bunch of people, everyone, almost to the number, saying that God loves everyone, that's a lie. That's a lie that has rendered their religion vain, because they haven't kept the standards of God, which are the standards that you're going to be judged by.

AB: I understand where you're coming from, and a lot of other religions say the same thing.

MP: But they don't stick to the words.

AB: Okay, well, fine, but they open the dialogue from a much different place. It doesn't seem to me that you guys are coming from a place where you're ready to dialogue. It's just so negative and aggressive. Is that the preferable tactic? Is that the best way to go about it?

MP: Yeah. We cannot change the standards of God. We did not make these words up. We read them in the scriptures; we believe them and we know that it's our duty to publish them. We're not there to say, "Okay, we can sit here together and hammer out a deal," or manipulate these word to be palatable. That's not our job, because how the word of God lands on the hearts of men is not up to us. All the prophets, their words were rejected, they were hated and they were persecuted because people hated these words of God.

AB: I want to switch directions for a minute: you have ten siblings, which is quite a lot. Did you guys go to public school or were you home schooled?

MP: Yeah, we were in public school. There's a couple reasons to go to public school. First, all of our parents work, so they can't be sitting around all the time teaching. Another reason, and I think this is a really important reason - we started picketing when I was five, so I was in kindergarten, and our manner of life was right there for everyone to see. We are a testimony to this generation. All the people in this town, the people that I grew up with, know that we are hardworking, we are friendly and we are easy to get along with, so it's a testimony to them that they see our manner of life. I can't tell you how many times people have said, "If it weren't this picketing thing, they would be great people." That's the only thing that they don't like. We can't change the words of God and we can't make anyone love them. But it's not merciful to lie to your neighbor, it's not kind to lie to your neighbor and enable them on their path to hell.

AB: Having picketed from such a young age, and feeling like you have this place in society to be a testimony, do you ever feel like you missed out on being a run-of-the-mill American teenager, running around, going on dates and getting into trouble?

MP: [Laughs.] Uh, no. I am extremely thankful for everything that I have in this life. I haven't had anything other than - I mean, we played video games and I love to read, so I don't feel like I missed out on anything. And as for what this generation calls "dating," all I can say is, "Uh, yikes." I read something on CNN that said 25% of girls that ages 14-19 have an STD. I am not sorry I missed out on that.

AB: That's scary. But you can go to a movie with a boy and not have sex with him, that's certainly possible.

MP: That's true, but what you have to realize is that there is not a single - have you seen that documentary that BBC did called "The Most Hated Family In America?"

AB: Yes.

MP: The director pushed that issue of dating and marriage. He pushed it the whole time he was here and my cousin said, ‘Are you kidding me? Who's going to marry us?'" And we all laughed.

AB: Do you feel that way? Do you feel like you're not going to be able to find somebody?

MP: I really, really doubt it. There are two sides to that coin: who wants a part of this? The Bible and this word of God, it permeates every aspect of our lives. We don't make decisions except that we see what the Scripture says about these issues. So, who wants a part of this? We are, hello!, the most hated family in America. And then there's the other way around: who in this generation has anything to offer me? There is not a single person on the landscape who has any clue about what God requires of them or any interest in knowing and the ones who do know sure as hell don't want to have any part of this.

AB: As you just said, you guys are known as the most hated family in America, and as you just acknowledge, "who would want to be a part of this?" There's no doubt that people think you're out there and nutty.

MP: Bat shit crazy is my favorite term.

AB: Bat shit crazy? Well, yeah, I suppose that argument could be made. But you guys have been marginalized. You're a very, very small church. Do you think that you're going to have an impact this way? I understand that you feel you have a duty to this, but what's the point?

MP: Like I said, how it lands on the hearts of men is not our interest. Our only interest is in publishing the message, so from that perspective, I would say "Hell yes we've had an impact!" That picket at Twitter - that just exploded all over Twitter. The Lady Gaga thing exploded on Twitter and everywhere. In the first week, more than a million people heard it, so our goal is to publish and our God is the one who is in charge of all these doors of utterance and he has thrown them wide open. So, yeah, I would say we had an impact.

AB: Right.

MP: So, what's the point? The point is that we're publishing the message. One of two things is going to happen - the vast majority of mankind is going to reject it and we have the words of Christ who said that was going to happen, so that's not a bad thing to us. In fact, it's another part of the testimony that shows that we are adhering to the word of God.

AB: Okay.

MP: I'm not saying that the fact that your message is hated is proof that your message is the truth. I'm saying that when you see that the message is what's written in the scriptures and it's hated because of that, that's proof. So we're happy when that happens, because that is what happened to the prophets and the Christ himself.

AB: And the second thing?

MP: The other thing that might happen is that if God gives you a heart to know him and to love his words, then you will love the words and you'll repent. Again, it's going to be a very small number of people who do that, and that's the will of God. He said that it's going to be a "very small remnant" of people that get the elect of God, those whom He loves. You can look at the flood: only eight people went on the ark and all the rest were killed. So the fact that there's only a small number of us - I mean, I would be worried if there was a lot, because that's not what the scripture says it will look like, especially in the last days.

AB: You think you're going to go to heaven, right?

MP: I have a hope, and I look everyday for evidence that my God has had mercy on me. But we search the scriptures every day. You can't hear what people say to us and about us, you can't hear these things - I mean, every once in a while you're like, "Am I just crazy?" And then you read the words and you see what the words say and you're like, "No, I'm not crazy."

AB: So, there are times that you doubt your beliefs and you have to reinforce them?

MP: It's a daily thing. The Bible talks about how [you should] search the Scriptures daily to see whether these things are so. It's not so much a doubting thing as it is a "what the hell is going on here" kind of thing. And you see that what's going on today, these world events, and these things are consistent with what the Scripture says is going to be. I wouldn't call it doubting.

AB: Let's get off of this track for a second: I want to go back to something a bit more frivolous. You mentioned that you play video games, you watch movies. So what video games did you play growing up? What video games do you play?

MP: Mario! It was all about Mario when I was little, but I don't play video games so much anymore. I'm about to start season five of Lost. We started watching it after we went to Hawaii. I missed my college graduation so we could go to Hawaii. We had several days of picketing and then we also had - it's a very beautiful place.

AB: How can you enjoy Lost or Mario if these things aren't being used explicitly to spread God's word?

MP: Well, you can be an actor and you can make these TV shows and you can do it without teaching rebellion against God. That's one thing. Secondly, the fact that they do use it to teach rebellion, I see that, but it's not like I'm going to be swayed by watching Lost to go commit fornication. Jesus Christ said it's not what goes into your heart that defiles you. It's the fact that you have a rebellious heart in the first place - that's what defiles you.

AB: You can enjoy things that might be morally objectionable?

MP: Right. I can listen to Lady Gaga's songs and say, "Oh, she has kind of a good voice," or "This has a sick beat, I can run to it." It's fun or whatever, but I can also hear those words, her lyrics, and be like "OMG, what a nasty, filthy perve!"

AB: So aside from your moral objections, you do like Lady Gaga's music?

MP: I don't know. Some of it's all right. I mean, mostly they have good beats.

AB: What other musicians or entertainers do you like?

MP: I really like Green Day, "21 Guns." Again, they have explicitly said that they are pro-fag, you know, whatever. I get that.

AB: Regarding your church's opposition to gay rights — we've seen an explosion of anti-gay marriage groups, like the National Organization for Marriage, because of the entire Proposition 8 thing. What is your church's position on groups like that, or Focus on the Family? Are you guys fighting the same fight?

MP: No. [Laughs.] Those people, I would say, it's too little, too late. Same-sex marriage is a fait accompli in this nation. I remember taking a government class and they were talking about the full faith and credit clause of the constitution. If all these states have to recognize marriages from other states and you already have Massachusetts, Iowa - they have same-sex marriage. The constitution trumps DOMA, so doesn't everyone have to recognize those marriages? That's a fact. Same-sex marriage is fait accompli. It's going to happen. It's going to be everywhere and I'm pretty sure that trial in California, I would be willing to bet that they're going to say that homosexuals have the right to marry and it's going to spread all across this nation. And I am happy about that.

AB: You're happy about that?

MP: I am happy about that. Here's why: it is a sign. This generation is going to be destroyed and their destruction is imminent and that destruction can't come until their cup of iniquity is full and everything that they do is furtherance of that. This isn't going to get better. It's never going to get better. It's only going to get worse.

AB: There's no way to make it better?

MP: There's no way to make it better. It's only going to get worse. My question is, "How fast and when exactly? What is that final straw that is going to cause the wrath of God to pour out and destroy this generation?"

AB: Good questions.

MP: When you read about the words of Jesus Christ about the last days, I'm pretty sure the final straw is going to be same-sex marriage. That's what I think, and until I'm proven wrong, that's what I'm going to think.

AB: Okay, fair enough. Now, I want to get back to Twitter real quick. Looking at your Tweets, you don't seem as inflammatory as your mother or your church is, in general. Are you consciously more - I don't know what word to use - "approachable," to make yourself more legitimate or more likeable? Do you in any way moderate your message?

MP: No, I don't. I don't change the message or moderate it or try to manipulate it to make it look nicer or whatever. And I don't get people saying that I'm more approachable. I get, "God hates you" or "I hope you die in a fire."

AB: Does that ever hurt your feelings?

MP: [Laughs] No! It mostly makes me laugh. The more outrageous they are, the funnier it is.

AB: People say the same thing about you, of course: the more outrageous you become, the more entertaining it is for people who object.

MP: Right, exactly, and that's fine, because, like I said before, we didn't make up these words, we just read them in the Scriptures and believe them.

AB: Do you ever disagree with your mom on religious issues?

MP: Religious issues? No. Fashion issues, yeah. Sometimes she'll wear something and I'll say, "Here, mom, wear this instead!"

AB: When you die, if there is a hell and you end up there, what would you think?

MP: If I end up in hell, that means that God does not love me, that I did not believe these words and obey him. But if I were in hell, I would probably be raging, just like everyone else there. But the cause is from God. Everything that happens is a cause from God. I strive against sin and I strive everyday to be an obedient servant of God and to submit myself to his will. But, if I were in hell, I wouldn't be thinking any of that, I'd be thinking -

AB: Ouch!

MP: Yeah.

AB: Finally, do you have any gay friends?

MP: When you say friends, the only true friends I have are the people in this church. My only true friends are those who are going to watch out for my soul and we're going to encourage each other in this work of God. So, from that perspective, I would say no. But from a worldly "this is a friendly person that I'm friendly with," I would say "yes."

Image via Megan's Twitter.

[Ed. note: Megan and I spoke for a little over an hour. Therefore, this transcript has been edited for length and, at time, syntax, to make for an easier read. We also have the audio for you on the next page, if you're so inclined.]

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