My grandfather started the most hateful church in America

Libby Phelps Alvarez, 34, is the granddaughter of Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. — the most notorious anti-gay hate group in America. Libby fled the church and her family eight years ago, and in her new memoir “Girl on a Wire: Walking the Line Between Faith and Freedom in the Westboro Baptist Church,” she tells her story with the help of The Post’s Sara Stewart. Libby has a radically different life now, teaching her kids tolerance and respect for all, but, as she reveals here, her love for “Gramps” endures.

I have a 3-year-old son, Paxton, who is very opinionated. No fear. He’s a lot like me: independent. I take after my late grandfather, who taught me to stand up for my beliefs.

But Gramps also told me that gay people were sending America straight to hell. Given that I now believe that people should be able to love whomever they want, I have some very complicated feelings about our relationship.

Growing up, I thought Gramps had all the answers: His was the unambiguous word of God. Gramps came out of the old school, the teachings of 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards and Calvinism. He taught his followers that we were the only ones going to heaven; everybody else was going to hell. That put pressure on us. I felt like someone was constantly watching, like I had to be perfect.

I know most of the world saw my grandfather as a hatemonger. I can’t argue with that, but that wasn’t his entire personality.

There were two sides to Gramps: the preacher I feared, and the grandfather I adored. He’d be loving and silly, and then at the flip of a switch he’d be an anti-gay zealot.

A photo from Libby Phelps Alvarez’s scrapbookGabriella Bass

Gramps was the smartest person I knew — and the most fun. He was goofy with us kids. In the summers, we would play Marco Polo in the pool.

When I was applying to grad schools, he helped me study for the GRE, quizzing me on vocabulary words. I was terrified he’d yell at me for getting a word wrong — turn all fire-and-brimstone. But he would laugh it off: “That word’s in the Bible, girl!”

But then on Sundays he’d be a whole different person, leaning over the pulpit, banging it with his fist, yelling at us — the 70 or so Westboro Baptist Church members, most of them my family — to “wake up!” Telling us gay people are on the bottom rung of the ladder of depravity. He also railed against adultery, remarriage, abortion and laziness, but…

Read the full article from the Source…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *