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Poisoning the Web: Hatred Online
Internet Bigotry, Extremism and Violence
Table of Contents

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Responding to Extremist
Speech Online:

10 Frequently Asked Questions
Homophobia Online:
The Westboro Baptist Church

Many racist and anti-Semitic Web sites also contain anti-gay propaganda, but some Web pages, in particular C.N.G. (Cyber Nationalists Group) and S.T.R.A.I.G.H.T (Society To Remove All Immoral Godless Homosexual Trash), focus their hatred primarily on gays and lesbians. Perhaps the most vile and best-known anti-gay Web site is God Hates Fags, which is maintained by Benjamin Phelps, grandson and compatriot of Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) leader Fred Phelps.

Incorporated May 15, 1967 as a not-for-profit organization adhering to Calvinistic Baptist beliefs,65 WBC (which is located in Topeka, Kansas) is well-known for picketing the funerals of AIDS victims and others it perceives as homosexual or connected to homosexuality. God Hates Fags contains an archive of photos depicting Fred Phelps and his supporters picketing, carrying signs bearing slogans such as "No Fags in Heaven"; "Thank God for AIDS," and "2 Gay Rights: AIDS and Hell." According to God Hates Fags, WBC has "conducted some 10,000 such demonstrations during the last five years at homosexual parades and other events," including the funeral of slain University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

The site reprints dozens of flyers promoting its activities, including a few regarding Shepard. One states:

Matt Shepard now believes the Bible. He checked into Hell Oct. 12 [1998] where the worm that eats on him never dies and the fire is never quenched...Not the wealth of the world, nor an act of Congress, nor a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, nor all the prayers of mankind, nor any power on earth can buy Matt Shepard a drop of water to cool his tongue or ease his pain or ease his sentence a day short of eternity.66

Citing the Book of Romans, WBC asserts that the Bible deems gays and anyone who supports them "worthy of death." The group believes the activities of gays and their supporters encourage God's anger against humankind. Addressing homosexuals, WBC states, "it was your ilk who brought destruction on Sodom, and it will be your ilk who fuels God's wrath to the point that there will be no remedy."

Reflecting a conspiracy-oriented outlook, WBC declares that gays have an "agenda" they are trying to impose on an unsuspecting public. This agenda involves "desensitizing the public," convincing people "to affirm their filthy lifestyle," and turning them away from Christianity. WBC believes, homosexuality is no longer classified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association only because gays used "guerrilla theater tactics" at that group's convention for two successive years. WBC also believes that gays "infiltrate the house of God to try to make themselves look holy," and calls religious congregations that welcome gay members, ordain gay ministers, or perform gay marriages, "fag churches."

While WBC's anti-gay activities have received much press coverage, its anti-Semitism has gone largely unnoticed. According to God Hates Fags

The only true Jews are Christians. The rest of the people who claim to be Jews aren't, and they are nothing more than typical, impenitent sinners, who have no Lamb. As evidence of their apostacy [sic], the vast majority of Jews support fags.67

In 1995, WBC picketed a synagogue in Kansas because it was holding a commemoration for victims of the Holocaust, including homosexuals.68

According to WBC, "fags" aren't the only people "God hates": he "hates baby-killers," too.69 Like God Hates Fags, the Christian Gallery Web site attacks gays, but its main focus is near-violent opposition to abortion.

Next: Anti-Abortion Extremism


65 "Phelps Flock: Afterlife is Prearranged," by Steve Fry and Joe Taschler, Topeka Capital-Journal, July 13, 1994

66 "After 4 Weeks in Hell, Matt Shepard Now Knows Better," from the God Hates Fags Web site, retrieved December 1998

67 "The Westboro Baptist Church FAQ," from the God Hates Fags Web site, retrieved December 1998

68 "Kansas Synagogue Picketed" by Terry Wheeler, Washington Jewish Week, January 5, 1995

69 "The Westboro Baptist Church FAQ," from the God Hates Fags Web site, retrieved December 1998


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2001 Anti-Defamation League