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You can't preach the Bible without preaching the hatred of God.
John Whitehead: Your theological position is that God hates America. Why does God hate America at this particular time? Why do you feel that you have to get out there and proclaim this message?
Margie Phelps: Our role is simple. We are prophets and prophetesses. Throughout the history of humankind, there have been some people on the Earth who have an unction with God, whose hearts He impresses with light, knowledge, and understanding.
Will God do a thing and not tell his people? Of course He won't. As the passage in Isaiah says, God won't spring something on His people without showing them what He will do. It is like the example of God telling Abraham that he was going to destroy Sodom; or like the example of telling Noah that after 120 years he was going to destroy the world by a flood.
As to why we say "God hates America," of course that is an elliptical term that fits on a sign that captures people's attention so that you can flush it out. And the flush-out is a nation that forgets God will be turned into Hell. We are not talking about a nation where there are some sinners over in a corner who either quietly, privately engage in sin, or they engage in a sin and then it becomes public and they are remorseful and they repent. That is not what goes on in this nation. This is a nation that has institutionalized sin at every level.
I was talking to a young man on the street the other day. I said, "Tell me an institution in this country that does not aggressively teach fornication, adultery, divorce, and remarriage, which Christ said is adultery, idolatry, greed, pride, murder." Well, he puffed up his chest and said, "The United States military." I laughed out loud. If I had to list the institutions in rank order by who's doing it the worst, right after the churches would be the military.
This nation had enormous blessings from the Lord God--like people in the pulpit who preached about Hell, who warned you about your sin, who actually told you what the Bible really says. And that went well for a while, but then, like King Asa, they commenced giving themselves the glory.
JW: In the Bible Belt, the divorce rate is at least 50 percent. It is very high even in Christian churches in general. Isn't divorce a bigger issue than homosexuality because divorce destroys families and people's lives?
MP: Look, they are all big issues and we preach about all of them. [B]ut homosexuality is on the front page every day. We didn't make homosexuality the centerpiece. You all did that. And you know how you did that--by your preachers and so-called Christians fornicating, divorcing, and remarrying and committing adultery.
You've handed the keys to the church to the fags. You've got no moral authority left in this nation. There are over 600,000 so-called houses of worship in this country and over 2 million so-called clergy in this country. None outside of Westboro Baptist Church are doing right. They don't have orderly walking members. They don't have faithful preachers. They fill up the pews and the pulpits with proud sinners and you gloss over it all with the lie that "God loves everybody."
JW: But Jesus did talk about loving your enemies. You know these verses.
MP: How do you love your enemies? How do you love your neighbors? You love your enemy by telling him the truth and you love your enemy by imprecatory prayers. Why don't we do what Jesus did? Why don't we do what the apostles did, and what the prophets did, what the good kings did, and what David did? That's how you love your enemy. That's called the "royal law" by James, and it is one of the two greatest commandments on which all the rest of the commandments hang--the other one being to love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, body, heart, and soul.
To fulfill the royal law, you do it in three ways: First, you obey the commandments of God. Don't sleep with your neighbor's wife, for instance.
The second way you do it is you urge your neighbor himself to obey the commandments of God lest He bring the wrath of God down on his household.
And third, when he doesn't, you rebuke him openly. If you don't rebuke your neighbor, you hate him. In Ezekiel 33, it says when the sword comes and your soldiers are dying, you are the watchman. If you don't open your mouth and tell them to stop sinning, their blood is on your hands.
WHY JESUS DIED
JW: So you are speaking truth to power?
MP: Don't rephrase what I said. That's a glib catchphrase. We rebuke them for their sin.
JW: Jesus spoke truth to power. He fought the priests. He fought the Romans, and they crucified Him for it. But here is my question: Wouldn't it be better to be out in front of the White House preaching?
MP: We have picketed the White House many times, and we have picketed every president. Now, they crucified Christ because He preached about Hell and said He was the Messiah and said that those false, phony religionists were going to Hell. That is His message to them. That is why they crucified Him. Not because He "preached the truth to power." They crucified Him for precisely the same message that we deliver.
JW: It is very clear why they crucified Jesus. He claimed to be God. That was Pilate's question to Jesus: "Are you the king of the Jews?" Once Christ said it, He was gone.
MP: And Jesus told them just like we are telling the Jews today--that is, "Don't tell me that you are the son of Abraham and that therefore makes you the chosen people and you get in Heaven because of that. He can make sons of Abraham out of these stones. Obey. Obey." That was Christ's message: Obey.
Now as for the government, [t]he proper way to present truth to any person in government power is precisely the way you present it to average citizens. Tell them the truth. Nothing more, nothing less. And render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. It is proper to obey the law. It is also proper to go into the gate in whatsoever fashion the Lord opens the door of utterance for you and say the word.
NATION OF 'BRUTES'
JW: You exercise your First Amendment rights. You are heavily criticized for your expressive activities, but you also come under physical attack. A large group of people surrounded six members of your church in West Virginia. They tried to set your hair on fire. Somebody spat tobacco on your face. How do you feel about that?
MP: Are you kidding me? This nation, every man and woman in it, has no respect for God's law. Why would they have any respect for man's law?
Let me tell you something: This nation is full of thugs--lawless thugs and brutes, and the reason they are that way is because they have been taught to be that way by every parent, teacher, preacher, and leader of this land. Not only does that stuff go on with our church members, it goes on with scores of police officers standing 5 feet away laughing at it. But though 1,000 fall at my side, and 10,000 at my right hand, they are not going to harm us.
The U.S. Supreme Court is going to rule in our favor. This nation is going to rise up in such a rage, such a mutinous rage, it will become necessary for us to be expelled from this land. And we will be. And when that happens, it's all over for this country. You need to study carefully Jeremiah, Chapters 50 and 51, and Revelation, Chapter 18, for this nation's destruction is imminent.
We told you 20 years ago that if you didn't stop this sinning, this place was going to turn into a foul land. Now that has happened, and this land holds every foul creature. That is the first phase of the fall of Babylon, which is doomed America.
JW: There is no hope for America? No hope at all?
MP: Precisely. Precisely.
JW: What about the Bible story of Jonah and Nineveh? There was hope there.
MP: That's right, and what was that example? They repented.
TURNING FROM WICKEDNESS
JW: That is what I am getting to.
MP: You don't think that is on the horizon in this God-forsaken country, do you? Are you kidding me? They would make a mockery. They want to put you in jail for saying it's a sin. The thought of repenting is not on the landscape.
JW: I believe your case is a very important Supreme Court case. What do you think the court's decision is going to hinge on legally?
MP: The Supreme Court has never ruled on the privacy of a funeral, and so I could see where they would have some interest in doing that. But when they set their hands to do that, first you have to keep in mind you are going to be bound by the facts and not what anybody else says about this case.
The fact is that we were over 1,000 feet away if you go as the crow flies, almost 1,500 driving distance. We were out of sight, out of sound, and we had left before the funeral started.
So what they are going to have to do is take hundreds of years of law about privacy, captive audiences, reasonable time/place/manner restrictions [and discard them] as a whole to rule against us. There is no way around that. They would have to uproot. They have never found a privacy interest that far away.
JW: What about Frisby v. Schultz, the residential picketing case, where the court limited expressive activities? Do you think that they could extend that to funerals?
MP: Well, let's say they did. "Directly in front of" is the standard. Focused picketing is the question. We never engage in focused picketing anywhere. Never. That is not our modus operandi. Furthermore, Frisby gives residents a zone, a very narrow zone, of privacy if you are using it as a residence. If you hold a union meeting in it, you don't get protection. These funerals are not private events.
From the minute that soldier dies, every aspect of his life, death, burial, and funeral becomes public fodder. Politicians use those events to politic. The media use those events to tell sensational sappy stories. The military uses those events to hold patriotic pep rallies. The clergy use those events to mug for the cameras because they love to be greeted in the marketplace. The families use those events to have a big worshipfest--a public worshipfest of that dead body.
We watched that go on at these soldiers' funerals for two years before we started picketing at them. We realized that they have turned those funerals into an international public platform. Everybody uses that funeral to engage in expressive activity, and it is all one side of the dialog.
What's being said is, "He is a hero, and God Bless America." Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell me about what a blessing it is to have your young son cut off in his prime lying there in a closed coffin in little tiny pieces. Have you people taken leave of your senses? So we joined that public debate.
THE FLATTERY OF HATE
JW: How does it feel to be so disliked and hated?
MP: I love that question. And if you knew the words of Christ like a professing Christian should, you would know what a great token of salvation it is, because, as the Scripture says, "Marvel not when the world shall hate you." Do you think the servant is greater than the master? I love that they hate it. I can hardly believe it.
Every time you guys do something to us in this country--like our case now going up to the Supreme Court--big chunks of the rush-to-the-world media come flocking. We have had almost every nation send a big camera crew here to spend a week or two with us. This is reaching the whole world, and without exception, they hate what we are saying.
We are called the most hated family in America. Thank you, Lord! What evidence of our salvation.