The Most Hated Family in America – Harsh or Fair?

The Most Hated Family in AmericaWikipedia link

Over the last week or so I have really been enjoying a bunch of documentaries by one of my UK luminaries, Louis Theroux, on Netflix. He generally travels to America investigating weird sub-cultures of society and gets under the surface of some really varied and interesting topics. One particular subject that he investigated I found fascinating and posed a lot of serious questions as well as answers. That episode was The Most Hated Family in America. Type that in Google and you will instantly be met with what and who I am talking about: a church set up by now dead pastor Fred Phelps to essentially indoctrinate his entire family into believing the Word of God as sacred and that nearly all other human beings are condemned to go to hell because of the sins of them or their forefathers. First point, they believe that children born out of wedlock are a sin from God. They also famously bear signs reading ‘God hates fags’. True that this message does come from the Bible, but their way of going about things is a bit warped.

Listening to Louis interview the children poses the most fascinating set of circumstances. They seem so young and yet so brainwashed. They have weird nodding head movements and they speak without any real emotions. Their young lives are spent going to school and picketing the word of their so-called mothers and fathers that God Hates Fags and that Jews Should Burn in Hell (and anyone else otherwise). The interesting thing I want to raise from looking at this subject is that they are not bad people. Deep down they want to be loved. They have a home where their children are fed and they go to school and they get an education, but they are weird.

A lot of these young children are growing up and escaping the life of this church. More than a couple of the younger girls especially have left the church where they are not allowed to do ‘normal’ teenage things, such as have boyfriends or go out drinking, and embarked on their own journeys of self-discovery. It is a growing trend within this church, I think, and the tiny and outrageous beliefs that these people firmly held will one day die and burn out. There will be nothing left of this church. It is not a set of beliefs that can work in the long-term, because it’s heavily biased and outrageous. There is no doubt that some of the teachings in the Bible are noble and good, but it should not be used as a stick to beat others with.

My point about the mum, Shirley Phelps, is this: she was brought up into this world being heavily influenced by her father and those around him. She has willingly taken the words that she was taught, rightly or wrongly, and ran with it. I don’t think she is a bad woman. Not at all. She raises her children well, despite the frankly appalling things she teaches them to believe and to say, and yet they all could still be fully-fledged providing members of society. She won’t be winning the Mum of the Year award any time soon, but to hate on these people only further fuels the fire. If they were ignored, they would most probably just go away. Human beings are supposed to be in groups and hold beliefs together, it creates unity. It’s fair that a family has such a strong community.

I don’t know what the point of this blog post is. I just felt compelled to try and defend Shirley Phelps, the mother, because I believe she has produced some really great kids. I kind of want to defend her, and I kind of want to put my arm around her and just say, “It’s okay.” I think she would weep. There’s a lot of anger in that woman and I don’t think it’s healthy. Hopefully the church will burn into flames, a bit like it would in hell, that would be a laugh actually. I mean metaphorically, of course. I kind of hope that one day all the members wake up and just go, “This is really silly. We’re wasting our lives and creating hatred, and for what? We’re all going to die one day. There is no heaven and there is no hell. We’re just beings on earth.” I don’t see it happening, unfortunately.

The documentary can be watched here, or on Netflix.

The Most Hated Family in America – Harsh or Fair?

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