Hate in Uniform

Reverend Fred W. Phelps, Sr., of Topeka, Kansas, has had more than his share of press in recent years. The rabid gay-basher and his clan of sign-waving true believers have traveled far and wide, outraging locals by protesting at funeral services for soldiers killed in Iraq and in the wake of various national disasters and school shootings. Their message is that God hates America, especially its homosexuals, for straying so far from His Word -- as interpreted by the Reverend Phelps, of course.

But credit the maverick monthly Prison Legal News for shedding some fresh light on Fred and his prodigious brood. According to an article by Alex Friedmann in the December issue, eleven of Fred's thirteen children are lawyers. And six are or have been employed by the Kansas Department of Corrections.

When not attending her dad's "God Hates Fags" protests in her free time, Margie Phelps works as director of re-entry planning for the Kansas DOC; her brother, Fred Phelps Jr., is a staff attorney for the agency and a former parole officer. Other siblings work as a county spokesman, with a local sheriff's department, or for the state's juvenile justice system, according to PLN. Their right to spew their views on their own time is fully protected by the Constitution and Kansas' civil service rules.

Still, it makes perfect sense that the world of corrections would provide a haven for folks like the Phelps. Check out our Crime and Punishment archive for tales of sexual harassment and assault, foot fetishism, thuggery, and other bad behavior among employees of Colorado's own penal system. If God hates America, he must really hate its prisoners most of all.--Alan Prendergast

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun