Louis Theroux: The Return of America's Most Hated Family

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    • 00:30


    • 00:34

      SPEAKER 1: Go back to Kansas, assholes.[HORNS HONKING]

    • 00:42

      SHIRLEY PHELPS ROPER: (SINGING) You shouldhave listened to our words.(SPEAKING) Look at all these people coming out to see us.They're coming out.They think they're coming out to rage and rant.What they're coming out to do is to get bound to the standards.

    • 00:59

      LOUIS THEROUX: Does your bandana say "Thank God for Cancer"?

    • 01:01

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Every time a womandies of breast cancer-- or a man,you know men get it too-- you call that a God smack.You see, things are different todaythan they were when you were here four years ago,aren't they?

    • 01:14

      LOUIS THEROUX: Is it possible you've become even more weird?

    • 01:18

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Man, we've become more determined.

    • 01:21

      LOUIS THEROUX: The Westboro Baptist Churchis a fire and brimstone Christian group adamantlyopposed to homosexuality.

    • 01:27

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: It's this nation.Of these fags.It's this nation of fags.That's what fag troop means.

    • 01:35

      LOUIS THEROUX: And spreading their message of God's hateby picketing soldier's funerals.

    • 01:40

      FRED PHELPS, SR.: You're gonna eat your babies.And any preacher who preaches it any other wayis a lying, hell-bound, false prophet.

    • 01:48

      LOUIS THEROUX: In 2006, I made a documentaryattempting to understand their motivations.

    • 01:54

      STEVE DRAIN: You're supposed to rejoice overall of God's judgments.

    • 01:57

      LOUIS THEROUX: And do you rejoicewhen soldiers die in Iraq?

    • 01:60

      STEVE DRAIN: Absolutely, I do.

    • 02:01

      LOUIS THEROUX: And you rejoice when people are knocked overby cars and they get cancer?

    • 02:04

      STEVE DRAIN: Absolutely.I love it.And I can tell you right now, because it'sthe righteous judgment of God Almighty.

    • 02:11

      LOUIS THEROUX: Four years on, and therehave been a number of high profile defections.And their set of beliefs were becoming ever more bizarre.

    • 02:18

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: There's your goddess.You're worthless, flag.Your soldiers are still dying.

    • 02:26

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): There were signsthe group might be unraveling.Hoping to discover the truth, I decided to make a return visitto America's most hated family.

    • 02:57

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER) [continued]: Though the head of the church is its pastor,Fred Phelps Sr., the day to day running of the ministryand much of the decision making isleft to his daughter, Shirley.

    • 03:05

      LOUIS THEROUX: Hello.

    • 03:07


    • 03:07

      LOUIS THEROUX: Can I come in?

    • 03:08

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Yes, come in.

    • 03:09

      LOUIS THEROUX: Thank you.So should we look at the signs?

    • 03:11

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Yes.We can look at the signs.

    • 03:12

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): As on my first visit,I broke the ice with the infamous placards.

    • 03:16

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: See, first of all, because we'vegot lots of little people, so we made all these cutelittle miniatures.

    • 03:23

      LOUIS THEROUX: Mini signs.

    • 03:24

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Mini signs for mini hands.They're so cute.

    • 03:27

      LOUIS THEROUX: And are the mini signs also slightly less luridthan some of the other signs?

    • 03:35

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Is "Fear God" lurid?

    • 03:37

      LOUIS THEROUX: No.I mean, not really.I mean the stick men having anal sex and things like that.

    • 03:41

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: No.I don't think there are any of those.But there is these cute little onesbecause we have our Jewish friends.There's some cute little-- see, like that.Is that cute?

    • 03:51

      LOUIS THEROUX: The doctrine is the same now, correct?

    • 03:53

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Yes.Only we're down the timeline.

    • 03:55

      LOUIS THEROUX: But don't you always say that?It's always, Jesus is always around the corner, isn't He?And that's been the case for 2,000 years.

    • 04:01

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Well, there'sthis one little difference.You've got the Antichrist sittingin the most powerful office in the whole world.

    • 04:08

      LOUIS THEROUX: Whose brainwave was itthat Obama was the Antichrist?

    • 04:11

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: That is such a good question.You're going to love this.It was a whole bunch of us looking,and like, I'm thinking, this guy's got to be the Antichrist.He fits all the descriptors.So then, I think I was talking to Marge,and there was no question that a lot of us were thinking it.A lot of us.

    • 04:29

      LOUIS THEROUX: So what else has changed since I was here?

    • 04:32

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Well, except for the factthat we run faster, we're way clearer,we're smaller-- which is job security for allof the rest of us that are here-- every rebel thatgoes takes away a heavy burden.

    • 04:44

      LOUIS THEROUX: A lot of people leaving.

    • 04:45

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: We have had a lot of that.It's like freaking Exodus out here.But it's really good.So if you've got a rebel who wants to do this and that,then they're always dragging their ass.So you get rid of one of those and it's lighter.You're unburdened.[CHANTING]

    • 05:05

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): The Phelpsare notorious for their pickets at funerals, especiallythose of soldiers killed in action.But they also do a daily roster of local picketsof places of worship and other symbolic locations.[CHANTING]I joined some of the younger membersoutside a Catholic church.[CHANTING]

    • 05:25

      LOUIS THEROUX: Is it Noah?How are you doing?

    • 05:28


    • 05:29

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you remember me?From the BBC.

    • 05:31


    • 05:32

      LOUIS THEROUX: How old are you now?

    • 05:34

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: Eleven.

    • 05:34

      LOUIS THEROUX: Eleven.Anything change since I last saw you?Same old, same old.

    • 05:39

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: I guess so.

    • 05:41

      LOUIS THEROUX: You lost a few members of the churchsince I was here.

    • 05:44

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: More than a few.

    • 05:46

      LOUIS THEROUX: More than a few.Who did you lose?

    • 05:47


    • 05:48

      LOUIS THEROUX: Kay Hockenbarger.

    • 05:49

      SPEAKER 2: Katherine.

    • 05:50

      NOAH PHELPS ROPER: Kay Hockenbarger.Katherine.

    • 05:51

      LOUIS THEROUX: Katherine Hockenbarger.

    • 05:52

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: Libby.Libby, Lauren.

    • 05:55

      LOUIS THEROUX: Yeah.

    • 05:56

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: There's probably a few more.

    • 05:57

      LOUIS THEROUX: Were you sorry to see them go?

    • 05:59


    • 06:00

      SPEAKER 2: If they're not going to be one of God's elect,then they're going to leave this place.

    • 06:05

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: OK.Because--

    • 06:06

      SPEAKER 2: This is Zion.

    • 06:08

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you ever worry that you might go?

    • 06:11


    • 06:12

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you?

    • 06:13


    • 06:13


    • 06:14

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: Well, because you don't want to be cut off.

    • 06:16

      GABRIEL: Because the human heart is always evil.I mean, it's generally evil.So there's always a fight between the fleshand the spirit.And you're hoping that you won't leave.So it depends.If the Lord loves you, He'll give you grace.

    • 06:30

      LOUIS THEROUX: You feel you're beingpulled in the wrong direction by your thoughts, what do you do?

    • 06:35

      GABRIEL: You get out of there.You stop thinking about that.You put that away.You put that away.

    • 06:40

      LOUIS THEROUX: What do you struggle with most?

    • 06:43

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: Somewhat talking.And putting my thoughts into captivity.That's a big one.I talk way too much.

    • 06:49

      LOUIS THEROUX: And you, Gabriel?

    • 06:51

      GABRIEL: Pride of the heart.

    • 06:53


    • 06:54

      GABRIEL: Because it lifts you up,and then God will take you down.

    • 06:59

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): One of those most closely affectedby the defections was Steve Drain, whose daughter, Lauren,had left the church not long after my first visit.Like me, Steve had once been a filmmaker.But in the course of making his documentary about the Phelps,he'd been converted.

    • 07:16

      STEVE DRAIN: Louis.

    • 07:17

      LOUIS THEROUX: Hi, Steve.

    • 07:18

      STEVE DRAIN: Hi, Louis.My old friend.

    • 07:20

      LOUIS THEROUX: Good to see you.

    • 07:21

      STEVE DRAIN: Come on in.

    • 07:21

      LOUIS THEROUX: Thank you for having me.Come on in.

    • 07:23

      LUCI DRAIN: Come on in.

    • 07:24

      STEVE DRAIN: Want to see something?

    • 07:24

      LOUIS THEROUX: Sure.

    • 07:25

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): He now specializedin producing some of the church's online videosand provocative media.

    • 07:32

      STEVE DRAIN: Oh, yeah.

    • 07:33

      LOUIS THEROUX: Oh, wow.Look at that.

    • 07:33

      STEVE DRAIN: What do you think?

    • 07:34

      LOUIS THEROUX: Is that going to be a real sign?

    • 07:36

      STEVE DRAIN: I think so.If you want it to be.I mean, I designed it last night.I have the file.All we have to do is print it.But the reason why I thought I'd makethat sign is because you know, as much of a nice guyas you are, you know that you're oneof the chief workers of iniquity in the whole history of Man.

    • 07:58

      STEVE DRAIN [continued]: I mean, you're up there with Pontius Pilate and Pharaoh.

    • 08:00

      LOUIS THEROUX: Are you being serious?

    • 08:01

      STEVE DRAIN: Oh, yeah.

    • 08:02

      LOUIS THEROUX: How am I up there with Pontius Pilate?

    • 08:04

      STEVE DRAIN: He had considerable powerand a considerable platform to do things otherwise,and he did things the way that he did them.Just like you.You have considerable power.You could turn to the camera right now and you could say,you know what, I've done my research on these guys,and what they preach is true.In the Bible, it says it in the Bible.

    • 08:25

      STEVE DRAIN [continued]: And I fear God as well.And so what I think you guys should all dois listen to Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church.But instead, what you do is you kind of pickat us, and in a humanistic way, makeus look kind of clownish and buffoonishand that kind of stuff.But it's good for ratings.So, welcome back.

    • 08:44

      LOUIS THEROUX: Glad to be back.

    • 08:46

      STEVE DRAIN: OK.I'm going to show you the Jew thing.That's rocking.

    • 08:50

      CHARACTERS (SINGING): Israel, your doom is coming.Makes us so happy.God's promises are sure.Goel, he soon is marching.Makes us so happy.His covenant endures.Jerusalem's a spot the battle will rage hot.

    • 09:14

      CHARACTERS (SINGING) [continued]: The land will spew you out.With joy we shout.Hear our words on this day.God won't hear what you say when you bow down to pray.The beast is the one you worship.Obama has no mercy.Be glad.

    • 09:34

      CHARACTERS (SINGING) [continued]: He's undone.Look.The bridegroom comes.

    • 09:39

      LOUIS THEROUX: Even for you and the Westboro Baptist Church,that was surprisingly offensive.

    • 09:43

      STEVE DRAIN: Well, offensive in what way?

    • 09:45

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do we infer from the swastikathat you are basically pro-Nazi at this point?

    • 09:49

      STEVE DRAIN: No.No.What you can infer from the swastikais that was one of the ways that the Lord kickedyour ass for your disobedience.And when the nations march on Israel on the final days,the Holocaust will seem like a tea party by comparison.That's what that's for?

    • 10:06

      LOUIS THEROUX: And you'll be rejoicing about that?

    • 10:07

      STEVE DRAIN: Of course I will.When the Lord afflicts somebody with a thing,he's decided that that's going to happen.What are you going to do?You going to complain against God?

    • 10:15


    • 10:16

      STEVE DRAIN: Why?

    • 10:16

      LOUIS THEROUX: Well, because that's a human reaction.

    • 10:18

      STEVE DRAIN: No.It's a rebel reaction.

    • 10:21

      LOUIS THEROUX: So since I was last here,you lost a member of the family.

    • 10:25

      STEVE DRAIN: I did.

    • 10:25

      LOUIS THEROUX: And I'm sorry to hear that.

    • 10:27

      STEVE DRAIN: Yeah, Lauren left.

    • 10:28


    • 10:29

      STEVE DRAIN: Why are you sorry to hear that?

    • 10:31

      LOUIS THEROUX: Because I'm sorry for her because I knowshe's upset and I've spoken to her.And I'm sorry for you, because she was your daughter,is your daughter, and I know that you were very fond of her.

    • 10:41

      STEVE DRAIN: Once somebody comes to yearsand they decide that they would ratherenjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,rather than suffer afflictions with the people of God, we say,bye.

    • 10:54

      LOUIS THEROUX: Would I be correct in thinkingyou've now removed any photos that you have of Lauren?

    • 11:01

      STEVE DRAIN: Well, the ones that we had up, yeah.I mean, yeah.

    • 11:05

      LOUIS THEROUX: So you've kind of expungedmost of the pieces of evidence that she was evereven part of this family.

    • 11:12

      STEVE DRAIN: No.I've got a mind.

    • 11:14

      LOUIS THEROUX: You've chucked out the photos.

    • 11:16

      LUCI DRAIN: We have albums of photos.They're just not on the wall.It's such a petty thing that you're hanging this on.

    • 11:22

      STEVE DRAIN: And Louis, look at this.She left.She left out of here.I didn't chuck her into Connecticut.

    • 11:27

      LOUIS THEROUX: She said she didn'tget a chance to represent her point of viewat a church meeting.

    • 11:31

      STEVE DRAIN: Lauren got good words by everybodyin this place for a long time.She was prone to those sins for a long time.She got talked to by a lot of good people.

    • 11:41

      LOUIS THEROUX: Which sins?

    • 11:42

      STEVE DRAIN: You're talking about--

    • 11:43

      LUCI DRAIN: We aren't going there.

    • 11:43

      STEVE DRAIN: Well, I'll tell you what sin.Fornication, for one.She wanted a man.And she didn't want man according to the Scripture.She didn't want to be evenly yoked with somebody.She wanted a man.She was in the most blessed place on Earthin these last dark days.She rejected every one on that council.Her feet ran to sin whenever she had a chance.

    • 12:05

      STEVE DRAIN [continued]: And all we were doing was hemming her into obedience.She didn't have a heart to serve her God.And so, at the end of the day, weknow that the only remedy, and the only hope for herat that point is handing her overto Satan for the destruction of the flesh.

    • 12:19

      LOUIS THEROUX: You expect me to believethat it was in no way upsetting or difficult?

    • 12:23

      STEVE DRAIN: I was actually so relieved at the pointthat I said-- and I was the first one of the meetingto say, she's got to go.

    • 12:35

      LOUIS THEROUX: What about you, Luci?I understand you were crying whenshe came to get her things.

    • 12:39

      LUCI DRAIN: I knew you were goingto ask that question, Louis.I was crying because of what he's saying right there.Because I knew what was store for her soul of what choiceshe was making there.

    • 12:47

      LOUIS THEROUX: What was the hardest part for you?

    • 12:49

      LUCI DRAIN: Hardest part?

    • 12:51

      LOUIS THEROUX: Of saying goodbye to your daughter.

    • 12:53

      LUCI DRAIN: I don't think there-- I don't--

    • 12:55

      LOUIS THEROUX: You're not going to say it was easy.

    • 12:57

      LUCI DRAIN: Probably just the logisticsof what do we need to do so that we are taking care of her.She is our daughter.We're not going to just send her out there on her own.So we made sure she had transportation.She already had a full-time job as an RN.We found a place for her to be.

    • 13:11

      LOUIS THEROUX: Three nights at a hotel was also included.

    • 13:14

      STEVE DRAIN: We were willing to pay as long as we needed to.She found her own place.

    • 13:18

      LOUIS THEROUX: Very generous.

    • 13:19

      LUCI DRAIN: And Louis--

    • 13:19

      STEVE DRAIN: You know what?You're such a jack weasel.You know that?You really are.There's not a genuine bone in your body.All you want do is picket the saints of Godthrough a humanistic standard.And that's fine.We welcome that.

    • 13:30

      LOUIS THEROUX: I'm a jack weasel because I don't agree with you?

    • 13:32

      STEVE DRAIN: No.You're a jack weasel because whatyou do is you come here with your humanistic standard,you ask to apply it to us, when youknow it doesn't apply to us, the servants of the Most High God.Because at the end of the day, what we're talking aboutis scriptural processes for doing things.

    • 13:47

      LOUIS THEROUX: It's sad that a daughter no longer hasthe parents and siblings, and it's sadthat her parents no longer have a daughter.

    • 13:53

      STEVE DRAIN: That's your perspective, and maybea lot of your audience.

    • 13:56

      LUCI DRAIN: Do you understand that wedon't talk to our parents because our parents arerebellious?Do you understand that we have no communication with them?

    • 14:02

      STEVE DRAIN: And we're not sad about it.

    • 14:03

      LUCI DRAIN: We are not sad about it,because they teach rebellion.That whole situation to date, with Lauren,happened for His glory to magnify His name.Why are you back here, Louis?Why are you back here?

    • 14:14

      STEVE DRAIN: Exactly.

    • 14:15

      LUCI DRAIN: You're back here to pick at usbecause these children left the Church of the Lord JesusChrist, because they're rebellious.That's why you're back here and it's going to glorify God.

    • 14:23

      STEVE DRAIN: Every time you do a documentary filmabout the Westboro Baptist Church,you're going to show those signs, aren't you, Louis?Thank God for the BBC.Thank God for Louis Theroux.And thank God that Lauren left this house.

    • 14:38

      LOUIS THEROUX: Hello, how do you do?I'm Louis.

    • 14:40

      LAUREN DRAIN: Hi, Louis.I'm Lauren.

    • 14:42

      LOUIS THEROUX: Lauren, nice to meet you.

    • 14:43

      TAYLOR DRAIN: Taylor.

    • 14:44

      LOUIS THEROUX: Taylor.

    • 14:44

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): On my first filming trip,I'd spent a couple of hours with Lauren and her sister, Taylor.At that time, she'd only been in the Church a few years,and I'd been struck by her commitmentto the Phelps doctrine.If Taylor or Lauren decided to have a boyfriend,for example, how would that work?

    • 14:59

      STEVE DRAIN: Well, it wouldn't work.There are no boyfriends.

    • 15:03

      LAUREN DRAIN: It's not like you just decide, oh, I'm justgoing to go be perverted now.What's going to happen, dad?We know exactly what's going to happen.Our dad's going to say, get the heck out if you'regoing to sin against God.You know what the standards are in this house.

    • 15:16

      LOUIS THEROUX: Why is that perverted?Why is it perverted to have a boyfriend?

    • 15:19

      LAUREN DRAIN: There's a standard.One man, one woman for life.And that is the marriage bed.That is the marriage.That's it.

    • 15:28

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): She'd left in 2007,and now lived 1,300 miles from Topeka, in Connecticut.She still worked as a nurse, but she was no longer a partof the Westboro Baptist Church.

    • 15:42

      LAUREN DRAIN: Hello.

    • 15:42

      LOUIS THEROUX: Hi, Lauren.How are you?

    • 15:43

      LAUREN DRAIN: Hi, Louis.How are you?

    • 15:44

      LOUIS THEROUX: Nice to see you.

    • 15:45

      LAUREN DRAIN: Nice to see you again.

    • 15:46

      LOUIS THEROUX: Thanks for having us.

    • 15:46

      LAUREN DRAIN: Yes.

    • 15:47

      LOUIS THEROUX: Can I come in?

    • 15:48

      LAUREN DRAIN: Yes, you may.Do you want something to drink?

    • 15:51

      LOUIS THEROUX: Sure.That would be great.This is your place?

    • 15:54

      LAUREN DRAIN: Yes.I bought it in July of last year.

    • 15:57

      LOUIS THEROUX: So, for years.More than.

    • 16:01

      LAUREN DRAIN: Well, actually, it was when I was 21.I'm 24 now, so I'll be 25 in December, so almost.

    • 16:06

      LOUIS THEROUX: Yeah.You look quite different, too.

    • 16:09

      LAUREN DRAIN: Do I?Probably.Yeah.This is kind of like a collage of meand my little sister and my mom and dad when I was younger.

    • 16:19

      LOUIS THEROUX: OK.Here's a good one.

    • 16:22

      LAUREN DRAIN: That's a family photo, a long time ago.

    • 16:24

      LOUIS THEROUX: Your dad has an earring in that one.

    • 16:26

      LAUREN DRAIN: Yeah.Earring and long hair.He was like, in a rock band back then.

    • 16:31

      LOUIS THEROUX: Was he?

    • 16:31

      LAUREN DRAIN: Yeah.

    • 16:32

      LOUIS THEROUX: Was he pretty liberal?

    • 16:34

      LAUREN DRAIN: Yeah.Yeah, he was.I don't know.He had a lot of interesting friends.

    • 16:41

      LOUIS THEROUX: What had your dad been doing for a livingwhen you were growing up?

    • 16:44

      LAUREN DRAIN: He was still in school a lot of the timewhen I was growing up.He did different majors.He was professor of philosophy, Western civilization,he did film.He has so much potential.He's good at so many things.He's so well-rounded.But he just chose to get caught up in this crazy church

    • 17:08

      LAUREN DRAIN [continued]: that that's where he's manifesting his ego-- is there.And in this place where he can feel like he's rightand everyone else is wrong.And it's got to be a very powerful feeling.And he has power over his family because it's a very allor nothing situation.Either your kids are doing exactly what you tell themto do or they're not there.

    • 17:28

      LOUIS THEROUX: How did you come to be here?There was a guy in the picture, wasn't there?There was someone you'd been corresponding with online.

    • 17:36

      LAUREN DRAIN: I don't know.I guess I didn't think that my parents were literallygoing to throw me out, banish me, and never talk to me again.So I didn't really, I guess you'd say, completely shut himdown.

    • 17:47

      LOUIS THEROUX: Then what happened?

    • 17:49

      LAUREN DRAIN: Then one day, I came home from workand I was told there was a meeting heldthat I was kicked out, and that I couldn't livein my parents' house anymore.

    • 17:58

      LOUIS THEROUX: Who told you that?

    • 17:59

      LAUREN DRAIN: My dad.

    • 18:01

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you think, in a way,it's because they're capable of being so cold to membersof their own family, that makes them feel more OK about beingcold and horrible to other people's families who arebereaved-- the people at the funerals-- because they feel,well, we're holding everyone to an extremely high standard?

    • 18:20

      LAUREN DRAIN: I'm sure it is.I'm sure it gives them lots of leverage to say, well,you can't say we wouldn't treat our own people this way,because we do.And here's an example.I'm sure it gives them plenty of leverage to do that.

    • 18:31

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you think you'll eversee your family again?

    • 18:34

      LAUREN DRAIN: I'd love to see them.

    • 18:36

      LOUIS THEROUX: But it's certainly possible that youwon't.

    • 18:40

      LAUREN DRAIN: Right.I've already come to that realization.Some people lose their parents to cancer, or car accidents,or other things.I've lost my parents to a cult.[SINGING "STAR-SPANGLED BANNER"]

    • 18:59

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): One big changesince my previous visit was that the Phelps' pickets nowattracted large counter-demonstrations.No longer so focused on the funerals of dead soldiers,now like rock stars, they toured college campuses,where they were met by throngs of protesters.

    • 19:17

      SHIRLEY PHELPS ROPER: (SINGING) Oh,And when we see that fiery sight.Oh.You are a widow, not a queen.Fat-bottom whore, by our Almighty Lordgo down, town clown.Fat-bottom whore by our Almighty Lord go down.

    • 19:38

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): This appearance, 1,200 milesfrom Topeka, at North Idaho College,was in honor of the staging of a play.The director was among the onlookers.

    • 19:46

      LOUIS THEROUX: What is "The Laramie Project?"Because people in Britain may not know.

    • 19:50

      JOE JACOBY: It's a play based on the murder of Matthew Shepard.

    • 19:53

      LOUIS THEROUX: A young man who was gay.

    • 19:55

      JOE JACOBY: Exactly.

    • 19:55

      LOUIS THEROUX: A hate crime.

    • 19:56

      JOE JACOBY: Yeah.

    • 19:56

      LOUIS THEROUX: How do feel about them coming?

    • 19:58

      JOE JACOBY: Well, you never want to bringpeople who are so negative and hateful into your community.So I really don't want them here.But it has sparked some really good conversationsand some really healthy discussion.And so I think that this community is turning itinto a positive thing.

    • 20:16

      SHIRLEY PHELPS ROPER: (SINGING) Shut up.Shut up, rebel.You talk, God don't hear a thing.All you got is us, so won't you just obey, obey.What, what, what did you say?You think God loves your praying?He hates all you do 'cause you love fornicating,f-fornincating, f-fornicating.

    • 20:36

      SHIRLEY PHELPS ROPER [continued]: He hates all you do 'cause you love fornicating.No hesitation, you've got more perversion to display--

    • 20:44

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): It was not yet 9:00 AM,but this was already the third picketof the day for the Phelps.They previously hit two local high schools,having started in the dark at 5:30.

    • 20:56

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: These are the last hours for this nation.

    • 20:59

      SPEAKER 3: I just want to know your point of viewabout the First Amendment, because it alsoincludes the freedom of speech.

    • 21:03

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: The First Amendment is beautiful.

    • 21:05

      SPEAKER 3: Yes.

    • 21:06

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: We love the First Amendment.The default is hell.99.9% of mankind is headed straight for helland there's nothing you can do about it.

    • 21:14

      SPEAKER 4: That's you guys, right?

    • 21:15

      SPEAKER 5: Wait, wait.I'm gay.Am I going to hell?

    • 21:16

      SPEAKER 6: The electorate of God is a very small remnant.Of course you are.If you don't repent, you're engaged in some filthy conduct,you're headed straight for hell and there'snothing you can do about it.

    • 21:26

      SPEAKER 7: You guys have to move back there.

    • 21:30

      SPEAKER 4: Thank you.[CHANTING]

    • 21:37

      SPEAKER 8: And Jesus can forgive you,but He doesn't forgive the rest of us?Did He just die for you?

    • 21:44

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: You mean, He didn't forgive you?

    • 21:46

      SPEAKER 8: Forgive me for what, honey?

    • 21:48

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: For what?Oh, you mean, you're perfect?You're sinless?

    • 21:51

      SPEAKER 8: No, I'm not.

    • 21:52

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Then why are you upset?

    • 21:54

      SPEAKER 8: Why are you upset?

    • 21:56

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: I'm not standingover here going-- honey, you're shaking with rage.

    • 21:59

      SPEAKER 8: I'm asking-- no, I'm shaking because I have MS.

    • 22:01

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Obey your God.

    • 22:02

      SPEAKER 8: I have MS.

    • 22:03

      SPEAKER 9: Well, if go this way, then they leave.

    • 22:05

      SPEAKER 8: Oh, I gotcha.

    • 22:06

      SPEAKER 9: That's the thing.

    • 22:08

      SPEAKER 8: I just wanted to know.

    • 22:11

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: You have a question?

    • 22:13

      SPEAKER 10: Yeah.So I mean, how do you respond to this?

    • 22:18

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Yay.How happy is that?

    • 22:24

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): Back in Topeka, and it was Sunday,the day of the church service.As ever, the sermon would be deliveredby Fred Phelps, Sr., the paterfamilias of the family,and fount of its doctrine.He and I had never really hit it off on my first visit.For my return, I was asked to sit near the back.

    • 22:44

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER) [continued]: Keeping me company, was one other mystery visitor.

    • 22:48

      FRED PHELPS, SR.: We [INAUDIBLE] Jews,that they should have Barabbas and destroy Jesus, so they did.And these modern Jews have the stinking smellof the criminal Barabbas about their person.And they have the blood of the Lord JesusChrist on their hands.

    • 23:08

      FRED PHELPS, SR. [continued]: They brag about it on the picket lines, don't they, beloved?With snarled, curled, furrow-backed lips.Ah, we killed Jesus and we'll kill you too.That what thanks we get for preaching some truthto Jews in Brooklyn.

    • 23:29

      FRED PHELPS, SR. [continued]: You cursed of God.That sounds awfully doggoned intolerant.Shut up.You and your intolerant boogieman.Preach a little truth to you, and you're allhell-bent for leather.Love you.Amen.And one out.

    • 23:48

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): Any hope of a one on onewith the pastor was soon dashed.

    • 23:53

      FRED PHELPS, SR.: Those guys are on the loose, sallying forthand you've got to get rid of them.

    • 23:60

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): Instead, I spoke to Jack.

    • 24:02

      LOUIS THEROUX: Can I have a quick chat with you?

    • 24:05

      JACK: Sure.

    • 24:05

      LOUIS THEROUX: What's your name?

    • 24:07

      JACK: Jack.

    • 24:07

      LOUIS THEROUX: Jack.How do you do?I'm Louis.

    • 24:10

      JACK: Hi, Louis.You're kind of infamous.

    • 24:13

      LOUIS THEROUX: Why did you say I'm infamous.

    • 24:15

      JACK: Well, it's because they've spoken about youand now they're calling you Ravens in their prayer.So--

    • 24:22

      LOUIS THEROUX: Ravens?

    • 24:23

      JACK: Yeah, ravens.Unclean ravens.That you're just here to be like a vessel.

    • 24:30

      LOUIS THEROUX: Are you part of the church?

    • 24:32

      JACK: No.No, not a member.

    • 24:35

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you aim to become a member?

    • 24:37

      JACK: Well, I hope, yes.I mean, if you're not a member of the Church the Lord JesusChrist, then you're probably going to hell.

    • 24:46

      LOUIS THEROUX: So as it stands, would yoube doing to hell at the moment?

    • 24:50

      JACK: Yes.

    • 24:51

      LOUIS THEROUX: Are you obeying the words at the moment?

    • 24:56

      JACK: No.Truthfully, no, because that is somethingthat I have to work on.

    • 25:07

      LOUIS THEROUX: Jack's interested in joining the church.

    • 25:10

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Have you talked to me about that?

    • 25:11

      JACK: Well, when we first met, maybe.

    • 25:13

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Oh, well, youmean when you got here from San Francisco?Well, hun, if you thought that cominghere right off the streets of San Franciscoand landing here the next day and say,I want to be a member, we wouldn't do that,because we didn't know you.And we have that scripture that says, "lay hands on no mansuddenly."We would have to see the fruit of your doing.

    • 25:35

      JACK: Yes, exactly.And I don't know if I've shown that,so that's something I have to work on.

    • 25:46

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): After the service,I've been invited to a display by the younger Phelps women.

    • 25:51

      LOUIS THEROUX: Am I supposed to sit here?

    • 25:53

      SPEAKER 14: Yes, you are.Sit, sit.

    • 25:55

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): I've beensurprised to hear them describe themselvesas "The Saucy Seven."[MUSIC - "TELEPHONE" LADY GAGA]

    • 26:06

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): It was one of their latestexamples of their practice of parodying topical pop songs,replacing the lyrics with abuse on a Biblical theme.[MUSIC - "TELEPHONE," LADY GAGA]

    • 26:23

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): There seemed to be two urges at work.One to spread the message in the provocative Phelps style,another simply to provide a hobby and an outletfor the younger members.[MUSIC - "TELEPHONE"]

    • 26:46

      JAEL PHELPS: So this is my room.

    • 26:48

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): On my previous visit,I'd spent time with Jael Phelps.

    • 26:51

      JAEL PHELPS: Hello.There's pictures everywhere.

    • 26:54

      LOUIS THEROUX: Has there ever beena time when you felt tempted?

    • 27:00

      JAEL PHELPS: I don't want to talk about that.I don't think it's appropriate.I'm not going to dwell on anything inappropriate,if I can possibly help it.

    • 27:08

      LOUIS THEROUX: I'll take that as a yes.

    • 27:10

      JAEL PHELPS: I'm not going to answer that question.I'm a dumb, young girl, but I'm not that dumb and goofy.It's so silly.I don't want to talk about it anymore.OK?

    • 27:26

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): I thoughtI'd seen a conflict in her, but four years on, shewas still in the church.I was curious to speak to her again.

    • 27:34

      JAEL PHELPS: This is our new house.This is my room.We moved in here the year that I graduated from college, in '07.And so I got to design it myself,and had help from my friends to paint it.And it's really awesome, I think.

    • 27:51

      LOUIS THEROUX: What do these pictures actually show?

    • 27:53

      JAEL PHELPS: You have these awesome tsunamis.We just had one the other day calledMaggie, which is very cute because wehave our little Megan.

    • 27:59

      LOUIS THEROUX: Are you kind of rejoicing in these calamities?

    • 28:01

      JAEL PHELPS: Definitely.Definitely.Yeah.

    • 28:03


    • 28:04

      JAEL PHELPS: Because they're the judgments of Godand we're supposed to rejoice in all of His judgments.

    • 28:08

      LOUIS THEROUX: And all the peoplewho die in calamities, like a tsunami or somethinglike that, they're deserving of death in your view?

    • 28:14

      JAEL PHELPS: All human beings deserve death,because they're born sinners.

    • 28:19

      LOUIS THEROUX: Wow.So this is four years on from I last saw you.Has anything changed with you?

    • 28:23

      JAEL PHELPS: A whole lot of things have changed.A whole lot of things have happened to us.

    • 28:26

      LOUIS THEROUX: You've also lost quite a few peoplealong the way, haven't you?

    • 28:29

      JAEL PHELPS: Right.

    • 28:30

      LOUIS THEROUX: Including one of your best friends.

    • 28:31

      JAEL PHELPS: That's right.

    • 28:32

      LOUIS THEROUX: Who would that be?

    • 28:33

      JAEL PHELPS: It was Lauren.Is that who you're talking about?

    • 28:34

      LOUIS THEROUX: Mm-hmm.

    • 28:35

      JAEL PHELPS: Yeah.

    • 28:35

      LOUIS THEROUX: And you were a nurse with her?

    • 28:37

      JAEL PHELPS: Yes.She worked with me at first.We had the same job.

    • 28:39

      LOUIS THEROUX: Were you sad to see your friend go?

    • 28:41

      JAEL PHELPS: She wasn't my friend.

    • 28:43

      LOUIS THEROUX: Well, she had been until that point.

    • 28:45

      JAEL PHELPS: She had.But you see the about-face that she did.And everything that I thought she was,she wasn't that person.

    • 28:50

      LOUIS THEROUX: Yeah, but it can'tbe easy to reset your whole thinking about a personovernight.

    • 28:54

      JAEL PHELPS: She was a liar, hun.And so, I didn't know her.A person all of a sudden craps up, I don't know that person.

    • 29:00

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you worry that it could be you?

    • 29:04

      JAEL PHELPS: Anybody that has any right thinking, it says,take heed, don't think that you stand, lest you fall.Because if you think-- you get your chest puffed up--I'm serving God, I'm all that and whatever,your ass is out of here.Pride has no place in serving God.There's no pride.

    • 29:22

      COUNTER PROTESTORS: We can't hear you.We can't hear you.

    • 29:25

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): One of the biggest developmentswith the Phelps, was a court casethat had been brought against themby the father of a young soldier, whosefuneral the family had picketed in 2006.

    • 29:35

      ROD DANIELS: The Supreme Court heardan emotionally-charged case that could redefine the FirstAmendment right of free speech.

    • 29:41

      ALBERT SNYDER: There's a civilized wayto express an opinion in America,but it does not involve intentionally inflictingemotional distress on others.

    • 29:49

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): Albert Snyderhad won $13 million from the Phelps.The decision was overturned on appeal,and was now before the Supreme Court.The Phelps elders, many of whom are lawyers,had made a high profile trip to Washington.

    • 30:02

      SPEAKER 10: Reporters ask whether the Phelps family everconsidered the Snyder family's feelings.

    • 30:07

      PHELPS LAWYERS (SINGING): Crying about your feelings,for your sin, no shame.You're going straight to hell on your crazy train.

    • 30:20

      SPEAKER 11: That's our answer about feelings.Stop worshipping your feelings and start obeying God.

    • 30:26

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): But the national exposureseemed to have spurred a sense of urgency in the church,and fed into a concrete timetablefor the second coming.I wondered about the younger members,and so I'd arranged to spend timewith a couple of Shirley's children.First up, 11-year-old Noah.

    • 30:43

      LOUIS THEROUX: Can I come in?How are you doing?

    • 30:45

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: I'm good.

    • 30:46

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you feel you understand the messagea little bit better now?

    • 30:49


    • 30:50

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you understand that gay people-- homosexuals--find the word "fag" offensive?

    • 30:56

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: I really don't care.It's a good way to put it."Gay" actually means "happy."And so, it's way better than that.And you can put all those big words, homosexual,they're just a bunch of filthy fags.I don't care if they find it offensive.It's wrong.The Bible says it's wrong.So you can just shut up about that.

    • 31:14

      LOUIS THEROUX: Did you just tell me to shut up?

    • 31:16

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: OK.Sorry, sorry.I'm just saying you can-- OK, sorry.

    • 31:19

      LOUIS THEROUX: One of the things I'vebeen learning since I was back isthat we're actually quite close to the end of the whole processof the world, in a sense.And that Jesus might be coming back.Do know anything about that?Would you like to explain it?

    • 31:34

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: Which part?

    • 31:36

      LOUIS THEROUX: Well, where are we at?

    • 31:39

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: We're at the part with the beast.He's already ascended.And there are things that are happening--

    • 31:45

      LOUIS THEROUX: Who is the beast?

    • 31:47

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: The beast?Well Antichrist Obama, possibly.There's a lot-- we see all these last things happening,and it says there's going to be a beast.And he's getting all sorts of popularity.He's fitting all the roles that it talks about.And it's working perfectly.So we have all reason to believe he's the beast.

    • 32:06

      LOUIS THEROUX: And so what will happen next?Do you know?What do you expect?

    • 32:09

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: My aunt, Paulette, she had a dreamand she imagined us all in pink-- all of our people--in a pink cave and far away from the place we are now.Nothing like it.And so, guess what?We looked up on the internet and we're looking for things.Someone looked for that, and do you know what we found?

    • 32:31

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER [continued]: Somewhere in the Fertile Crescent,in Jordan, which used to be Moab,there are pink caves, that are big.Isn't that kind of cool?

    • 32:41

      LOUIS THEROUX: You could end up in a pink cave in Jordan?

    • 32:44

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: I guess so.I'm just saying that that's what happened.Isn't that kind of cool though?

    • 32:49

      LOUIS THEROUX: Yeah.

    • 32:49

      NOAH PHELPS-ROPER: I just wanted to tell you that.

    • 32:50

      LOUIS THEROUX: That's cool.

    • 32:52

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): Next door to Noah,was the room of Shirley's youngest daughter.

    • 32:56

      LOUIS THEROUX: Can we come in?

    • 32:57


    • 32:58

      LOUIS THEROUX: So tell me a little bit about you.

    • 33:01

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: Well, I'm Grace.I'm 18 years old.What else?

    • 33:06

      LOUIS THEROUX: We got three chaperones today?

    • 33:08

      JAEL PHELPS: Why not?She's one of our fair little maidens,and we guard our little fair maidens.

    • 33:16

      LOUIS THEROUX: You were probably not much older than Gracewhen we interviewed you last time.

    • 33:20

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: Here's the thing.Grace asked, because she knows.She knows you.She knows that, and she recognizesthat you would, if you could, entrap us in our words.

    • 33:29

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: I'm sorry.You just make me a little nervous.

    • 33:32

      LOUIS THEROUX: OK.Basically, I don't believe what you're doing is right.I view it as deeply wrong and offensive.And I don't believe that the Bible is the word of God.So, you understand that I'm comingat it from a completely different point of viewthan you are.

    • 33:48


    • 33:50

      LOUIS THEROUX: You get that?But did you like that?Because that was me sort of going on recordas-- I feel like I've got this reputation for beingsnakelike and insidious.And I feel like actually, I've come herewith a fairly clear and open agenda.And my agenda is to try and understand, on a human level,what has motivated the people in this church

    • 34:11

      LOUIS THEROUX [continued]: to engage in the behaviors that they have done.So tell me about you.What do you like doing?

    • 34:19

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: Well, obviously, I like running,and I like weight lifting, and I like painting,and I like ceramics.

    • 34:26

      LOUIS THEROUX: And you like photographyand you got some photographs in here.Is that right?

    • 34:29

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: Correct.

    • 34:30

      LOUIS THEROUX: Would you show us those?

    • 34:31

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: Sure.This one's of my cousin.And then this is my niece, Mariah.This is an adorable little Muslim boy.We were picketing at the funeral of a Muslim in town,and we were a couple blocks away.And I walked down with my camera just because I

    • 34:53

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER [continued]: wanted to get some pictures.And I got that one.

    • 34:56

      LOUIS THEROUX: You know, that's kind of striking,because the way you were saying youwere picketing the funeral of a Muslim,and then you found an adorable boy a couple blocks awaywho was a Muslim.Do see any contradiction there?

    • 35:09

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: I didn't set the bounds of his habitation.I can't change that.And saying that it's a cute picture doesn't change that.

    • 35:18

      JAEL PHELPS: Tell him about the circumstances of it too.Because we had burned the Quran--

    • 35:22

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: Oh, yeah.

    • 35:23

      JAEL PHELPS: --and the guy that was out there blasting usfor doing the right thing, burning the Koran,showing its proper respect that it deserves,because it's idolatrous piece of trash, his wifedied the next week.And we picketed her funeral and that's the event that Gracetook this picture at.

    • 35:40

      LOUIS THEROUX: Wow.There were so many things there that were offensive,it was amazing.Do you know how much trouble you can get into for speakingdisrespectfully of the Koran?

    • 35:50

      JAEL PHELPS: Do you have any idea what kind of Godthat backs us and that is the God of the Bible?He's a terrible, and jealous, and vengeful God.All those angry little Muslims can just shut their mouths.

    • 36:04

      LOUIS THEROUX: And you're saying his wife diedbecause he denounced the Westboro Baptist Church?

    • 36:08

      JAEL PHELPS: In part.In part, yes.In part, yes.That's the judgment of God falling on his head.He ought not to have ever opened his mouth.And he ought to have been burning the Koran with us.That's the righteous judgment of God and you can dispute thatbut you're on the wrong side of that.

    • 36:26

      LOUIS THEROUX: So what would you say next few years looklike for you, Grace?

    • 36:31

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: Well, if the Lord tarries,I'm going to graduate in December.

    • 36:36

      LOUIS THEROUX: You said if the Lord tarries--

    • 36:38


    • 36:38

      LOUIS THEROUX: Ah, if He delays.In what respect?

    • 36:41

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: Well, we're expecting that the SupremeCourt's going to rule in our favor,because they know it's the right thing, because we have a FirstAmendment in this country.And the people, they aren't going to stand it.They're going to be angry, and they'regoing to demand that we leave.

    • 36:56

      LOUIS THEROUX: Leave?

    • 36:58

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: The country.

    • 37:00

      LOUIS THEROUX: Really?

    • 37:01


    • 37:03

      LOUIS THEROUX: And where will you go?

    • 37:06

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: What we're expecting-- again,the word "expecting"-- is to Jerusalem.

    • 37:11

      LOUIS THEROUX: Oh, that will be interesting.

    • 37:13

      JAEL PHELPS: Then what happens, Grace?Tell him what happens next.We're in the wilderness, we're in Jerusalem, wherever we are,then what happens?

    • 37:19

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: The 144,000 Jewswho are going to have a heart to know their God, who'sgoing to repent for killing their Savior, the Lord JesusChrist, we're going to be helping them.And then we're expecting, soon after that,is the Lord's going to come.

    • 37:38

      LOUIS THEROUX: You really do believe that?

    • 37:41

      JAEL PHELPS: Yes.Of course, we do.You were here four years ago.You're here again.You think that we really don't believe what we say we believe?

    • 37:50

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: That's the timeline.

    • 37:52

      LOUIS THEROUX: This is the gym?

    • 37:53

      LIBBY PHELPS: Yep.Right there.

    • 37:54

      LOUIS THEROUX: Should we say hello to your mom?

    • 37:55

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): There was another womanI'd filmed who was no longer in the church, Libby Phelps--Shirley's niece, the daughter of Fred, Jr., and his wife, Betty.

    • 38:03

      LOUIS THEROUX: And you're just going to stay on the sidelines?

    • 38:05

      BETTY PHELPS: Yes.Yes, I'm just going to watch.

    • 38:08

      LOUIS THEROUX: Libby's what, 23 years old,so most people would say, well, that's old enoughto be able to handle yourself or be unaccompanied.What's your perspective on that?

    • 38:19

      BETTY PHELPS: I'm sure she could handle herself just fine.I just didn't have anything else to do this morning right now.

    • 38:27

      LOUIS THEROUX: In five years, where will you be?

    • 38:29

      LIBBY PHELPS: I don't know what'sgoing to happen in five years.And I hope the Lord comes before five years gets here.But I hope that-- if we're still hereon this Earth in five years-- I hope that I'm still here.

    • 38:40

      LOUIS THEROUX: Where?

    • 38:40

      LIBBY PHELPS: Yes.At the Westboro Baptist Church.

    • 38:42

      LOUIS THEROUX: Why do you hope you're still hereat the Westboro Baptist Church?

    • 38:43

      LIBBY PHELPS: Because I don't want to go to hell.

    • 38:45

      LOUIS THEROUX: Well, maybe you wouldn't go to hell.

    • 38:47

      LIBBY PHELPS: Where the worm that eats on younever dies the fire is never quenched.That's scary stuff.

    • 38:55

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): Four yearson, and Libby was still living in Kansas,working as a physiotherapist, but no longerpart of the church.I visited her at home.

    • 39:05

      LOUIS THEROUX: Hello.

    • 39:06

      LIBBY PHELPS: Hey, hi, Louis.

    • 39:07

      LOUIS THEROUX: How are you doing?

    • 39:09

      LIBBY PHELPS: Great.

    • 39:09

      LOUIS THEROUX: You look great.

    • 39:10

      LIBBY PHELPS: Thanks.

    • 39:12

      LOUIS THEROUX: And this is a lovely place.

    • 39:13

      LIBBY PHELPS: Thanks.

    • 39:14

      LOUIS THEROUX: Thanks for having us.

    • 39:16

      LIBBY PHELPS: No problem.

    • 39:17

      LOUIS THEROUX: So why did you leave?

    • 39:19

      LIBBY PHELPS: What happened that really caused me to leavewas me and my family went to a Puerto Rico,and we got back, we had a picture of memy sister wearing--

    • 39:28

      LOUIS THEROUX: Sara.

    • 39:29

      LIBBY PHELPS: Yeah, my sister Sara, yes, wewere wearing a bikini in a shot.And my family saw the picture and theythought that we shouldn't be wearing bikinis.So they called both of this up and were telling usit's inappropriate to wear that.It's the four B's.You're not supposed to show your boobs, your belly, your back,or your butt.

    • 39:49

      LIBBY PHELPS [continued]: That's a rule.So when my cousin Megan came up to me and asked me about it,I told her that she wore bikinis beforeand then all hell broke lose, pretty much because of the wayI reacted.Because I stood up for myself and didn't thinkit was right that I was pretty much kind of picked on

    • 40:12

      LIBBY PHELPS [continued]: for wearing it.

    • 40:13

      LOUIS THEROUX: Were they telling you that you had to shape up,or were they telling you this is why you're being expelled?

    • 40:19

      LIBBY PHELPS: Well, they were pretty muchtelling me to shape up.They didn't say I was going to be expelled or anything.But they kept calling me at work.And I was trying to work, and so I was like,down in the basement, crying all the time.

    • 40:36

      LOUIS THEROUX: At work?

    • 40:37

      LIBBY PHELPS: Mm-hmm.

    • 40:38

      LOUIS THEROUX: They're calling you to say what?

    • 40:40

      LIBBY PHELPS: Well, I didn't answer the phoneuntil my grandpa called.And he was last person that I talked to.And I wasn't thinking about leaving.And he said, you're not going to leave, are you?And I said no.And then, like 30 minutes later, I justhad this really strong feeling like, I got to get out of here.Right before I left, my mom sent me

    • 41:06

      LIBBY PHELPS [continued]: a text message that said, "are you having a good day?"And that was the last thing I saw.And then I moved out.

    • 41:27

      LOUIS THEROUX: You get upset thinking about your familyand that you're separated from them, is that it?Or is it the sense of unfairness you feel?

    • 41:36

      LIBBY PHELPS: Separation from my family.Because we had a really tight family bond.And I miss my mom and dad.

    • 41:47

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you still worry that youmight be going to hell?

    • 41:51

      LIBBY PHELPS: Sometimes, yes.

    • 41:55


    • 41:57

      LIBBY PHELPS: Because of how my family raised me.And when everybody else left, theysaid that we were going to go to the hottest part of hell.

    • 42:10


    • 42:12

      LIBBY PHELPS: Who said that?

    • 42:14

      LOUIS THEROUX: Who's going to the hottest part of hell?

    • 42:15

      LIBBY PHELPS: The people who have left.

    • 42:19

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): A little later, Iwent to see Libby's parents, Fred, Jr. and Betty.

    • 42:25

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Entre, entre.

    • 42:26

      LOUIS THEROUX: Hello.Hi, Fred.

    • 42:27

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: How's it going?

    • 42:28

      LOUIS THEROUX: How are you doing?

    • 42:28

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: I'm good.

    • 42:29

      LOUIS THEROUX: Hi, Betty.

    • 42:30

      BETTY PHELPS: Hello.

    • 42:30

      LOUIS THEROUX: How are you?

    • 42:31

      BETTY PHELPS: I'm good.

    • 42:34

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Did you see my dog?

    • 42:35


    • 42:36

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Somebody tried to cut her head off.

    • 42:38

      LOUIS THEROUX: Oh, my goodness.

    • 42:38

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: You didn't hear about that?

    • 42:39

      LOUIS THEROUX: Why would they have tried to do that?

    • 42:41

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: It's a mystery.We hadn't been here very long.We just moved in.And we have a privacy fence, so.

    • 42:47

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you think it's related to your ministry?

    • 42:50

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Well, most peoplewere very angry about it.But every so often, somebody will drive byand say they wish she was dead.Is that sick or what?

    • 42:60

      LOUIS THEROUX: Since we saw you four years ago, Libby's gone.So I just was curious to talk to you about what happenedand how that felt.

    • 43:08

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: I hear she contacted you.

    • 43:10

      LOUIS THEROUX: Yes.That's true.

    • 43:12

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: What did she say?

    • 43:14

      LOUIS THEROUX: She just said that she's left the church,and she was living out in the world.

    • 43:19

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Well, we live in the world.

    • 43:21

      LOUIS THEROUX: Well, but you're not Earth dwellers.

    • 43:24


    • 43:24

      LOUIS THEROUX: Why did she leave?

    • 43:26

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: That's a good question.She didn't tell me.

    • 43:28

      LOUIS THEROUX: She didn't.

    • 43:30

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Did she tell you?

    • 43:31

      LOUIS THEROUX: Betty, do you have inkling why she left?

    • 43:34

      BETTY PHELPS: I believe that she determinedthat she was of the world as opposedto wanting to submit to the Church.

    • 43:44

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Somebody told methat she was carousing around.

    • 43:48

      LOUIS THEROUX: After she left?

    • 43:50

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: I don't know.What can you tell me?

    • 43:55

      LOUIS THEROUX: You should get in touch with her.

    • 43:56

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Well, she didn't leave any forwardingaddress or number or anything.

    • 43:59

      LOUIS THEROUX: I imagine that if you sincerelywanted to get in touch with her, youwould be able to find a way of doing it.

    • 44:04

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: That's probably true.That's probably true.

    • 44:06

      LOUIS THEROUX: Would you like to see Libby?

    • 44:11

      BETTY PHELPS: Not necessarily.I mean, I don't know what I'd see her for.I guess if there was any talk on her part of repentanceor anything like that, perhaps then.But she's got her own thing going.

    • 44:28

      LOUIS THEROUX: It's quite normal for parents and childrennot to see completely eye to eye,but still to find a way of getting along, getting togetheron holidays, seeing each other.

    • 44:38

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: The Savior said that thiswas going to be happening.Children against their parents.The enemy's in your own house.

    • 44:45

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you see her as an enemy in this sense?

    • 44:46

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Well, I don't see her as a friend.I don't see her as an ally.

    • 44:48

      LOUIS THEROUX: Why not at least acknowledgethat it was, in some ways, emotional or difficult?

    • 44:54

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: I mean, I'm a human being,so obviously, it was not somethingthat you want to go through every day.Let's put it that way.

    • 45:02

      LOUIS THEROUX: Is it upsetting when it happens?

    • 45:04

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Well, everybody has their own level.Upset.Clearly there were moments where,I'm not sure that's the right word. "Disappointment,"probably, would be a better word.

    • 45:17

      LOUIS THEROUX: What about you, Betty?Was it--

    • 45:20

      BETTY PHELPS: Pretty much the same as what he said.

    • 45:22

      LOUIS THEROUX: Was it easy?

    • 45:24


    • 45:26

      LOUIS THEROUX: The thing that confuses me is that--

    • 45:28

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: No.You're not confused.You're not confused.You know what's happening.

    • 45:34

      LOUIS THEROUX: Well, to me, as an outsider,that seems very, very strange, and a little bit inhuman,if I may say.

    • 45:40

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: Well, that's because youdon't believe the Bible.And if you want to talk about inhumanity,I've spent the last 20 years working in corrections.I know what inhumanity is.This is not inhumane.This is what she needs, and this is what our obligation is.

    • 45:55

      BETTY PHELPS: Our concern is towards the elect.

    • 45:57

      LOUIS THEROUX: You feel she's not among the elect,she's not part of the church.But don't you still owe her a duty of care?Some level of concern as parents?

    • 46:07

      FRED PHELPS, JR.: No.I've discussed with you our obligation.

    • 46:12

      LOUIS THEROUX: You feel the same way, Betty?

    • 46:14

      BETTY PHELPS: Yes.

    • 46:14

      LOUIS THEROUX: You don't need to check in with her,just to make sure, as parents, that she's OK?

    • 46:18

      BETTY PHELPS: Right.

    • 46:19


    • 46:20

      BETTY PHELPS: I said, right.

    • 46:22

      LOUIS THEROUX: I said, why?

    • 46:24

      BETTY PHELPS: For what he just said.

    • 46:29

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): It wasodd seeing people so obviously distraught by the turnevents had taken, and yet so incapable or afraidof expressing their feelings.I couldn't help feeling sorry for Fred and Betty,and wondering at the strange exile they'dimposed on the daughter and on themselves.

    • 46:51


    • 46:55

      LOUIS THEROUX: Hi, Shirley.

    • 46:56


    • 46:58

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): The younger members were,if anything, even more constrained.Unable to be friends with anyone not part of the family,and therefore with no prospect of marriage.But for them, there was a small loophole.They could have contact with outsidersin the form of the journalists who would come and visit.I'd heard some of the girls talking about a young film

    • 47:19

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER) [continued]: crew from Holland.Gifts had been exchanged and they'd kept in touch.

    • 47:23

      SPEAKER 12: Did you see that sign?The one right across the street that way?

    • 47:26

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): During my conversationin Grace's bedroom with Megan and Jael,more details had emerged.Who are your Dutch friends?

    • 47:34

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: OK.There was a Dutch film crew that came.It was actually part of a student project.And so we've kept up with them on Twitter.We talked to them on Twitter sometimes.And they ask-- they have a lot of questions,and see that's the thing, when we interact with peopleon these levels, they know who we are,and they know how we live our lives.

    • 47:55

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER [continued]: And the fact that they see that we can live in this Earth,and do all the things that they do--not all the things, but a lot of the same things that they do--and still have this public testimony,it's a testimony against them.That's what it is.

    • 48:10

      LOUIS THEROUX: Against them?

    • 48:11

      MEGAN PHELPS ROPER: Against them.

    • 48:11

      LOUIS THEROUX: I was following you up to the very end,and then suddenly, I lost it.

    • 48:15

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: Because they seethat it's possible to live in this Earthand live and live sober, righteous, and Godly.

    • 48:21

      LOUIS THEROUX: But isn't that, if you'll forgive me,isn't that a little two-faced?If you sort of are saying you enjoy corresponding with them,and chatting to them, and exchanging gifts,but at some level, it's all a wayof proving how inferior they are?

    • 48:37

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: No.No.What it is is, it does, in the end, it testifies against them,if they continue to reject it.It's worse for them than for peoplewho've never seen these things.And me and Grace, see they left us a little flip videocamera for us to shoot some footage of ourselvesand leave them messages or whatever, before they left.

    • 48:57

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER [continued]: And the last thing we did was we wrote this thing,we tried to say it ourselves, but we were crying.So me and Grace couldn't say it, wehad to give it to my mom for her to say it.

    • 49:10

      LOUIS THEROUX: Why were you crying?

    • 49:12

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: Because we--

    • 49:14

      SPEAKER 13: It's a sorrowful thing.

    • 49:16

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: Yeah.Exactly.

    • 49:17


    • 49:17

      SPEAKER 13: We know their end.

    • 49:18

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: Because we spent a week with these people.We know who they are.We interacted with them.

    • 49:24

      LOUIS THEROUX: You enjoyed their company enoughto harbor a hope that maybe they might be receptive?

    • 49:30

      JAEL PHELPS: They did not make any accommodationsfor the flesh.

    • 49:34

      LOUIS THEROUX: What are you, like the Gestapo now?You interject-- your role is interjectthe doctrinal hard line at key moments, when peopleare showing vulnerability?

    • 49:43

      JAEL PHELPS: I'd like to curtsy to that.

    • 49:45

      LOUIS THEROUX: Can I tell you what I see?I see someone who's having their cake and eating it.Someone who's toeing the line, verbally,about this is God's judgment and this is what I believe,but all the time, is fulfilling themselves emotionallywith something that's exactly likeany other earthly friendship.

    • 50:04

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: The difference is I know,I know what I'm dealing with.We know that this guy is an Earth dweller.

    • 50:11

      LOUIS THEROUX: This guy's a student filmmaker?How old is he?

    • 50:16


    • 50:17

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you have a picture of him?

    • 50:19


    • 50:21

      GRACE PHELPS-ROPER: Why do you want to see a picture of him?

    • 50:24

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: Yeah, I'm wondering that too.He's holding a chocolate that we deliveredto him via his roommate at a hotel in New York.

    • 50:30

      LOUIS THEROUX: Why do you get sad, when what's his name?Pepin?

    • 50:33


    • 50:33

      LOUIS THEROUX: Why do you get sad thinkingabout Pepijn going to hell?Aren't you supposed to rejoice in all of God's judgments?

    • 50:39

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: Yes.And I am.I'm thankful for it.And I know that if that's the judgment of God--

    • 50:43

      LOUIS THEROUX: So why did you get sad?

    • 50:44

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: But it doesn't change the factthat it is a wrong, wrong, wrong thing at that his parents didin raising him for the devil.

    • 50:51

      LOUIS THEROUX: Wasn't that God's doing?I mean, isn't he a vessel made for destruction?

    • 50:55

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: If in the end,that's what it is, then that's what it is.

    • 50:58

      LOUIS THEROUX: So why sad?

    • 50:60

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: Because of what his parents did to him.

    • 51:02

      SPEAKER 13: And if put in the right circumstances,he would do precisely what Cain did to Abel.If push came to shove, he'd kill her in a heartbeat.

    • 51:13

      LOUIS THEROUX: Based on?

    • 51:14

      SPEAKER 13: Based on reality.

    • 51:17

      LOUIS THEROUX: He'd kill-- why on earth--[INTERPOSING VOICES]

    • 51:20

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: And also when you lie to someone--

    • 51:23

      SPEAKER 13: There's murder in your heart.

    • 51:25

      MEGAN PHELPS-ROPER: Exactly.When you lie to someone about the word of God,that's worse than any physical thing you could do to a person.So we can talk to him, and we can fun and talkabout books or whatever, but in the end, I knowand he knows that there is a day coming,and he's going to answer to the Lord for what he's done.

    • 51:50

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): With my return visit to the Phelpsnearly at an end, I was with Steve,attending one of their local daily pickets.

    • 51:58

      STEVE DRAIN: Do you want to hold a sign?

    • 51:60

      LOUIS THEROUX: It's against my ethics.

    • 52:01

      STEVE DRAIN: It's against my religion--why are you trying to pose a difference between religionand ethics?

    • 52:06

      LOUIS THEROUX: Because I don't believe in God.

    • 52:08

      STEVE DRAIN: Yeah.Well, you know what the Bible says about you, right?The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.The fool, Louis.

    • 52:15

      LOUIS THEROUX: Well, the Bible would say that, wouldn't it?Are these some of the new ones?

    • 52:18

      STEVE DRAIN: Oh, look.This is good.

    • 52:20

      LOUIS THEROUX: What about that?That's a weird one.

    • 52:21

      STEVE DRAIN: Bitch burger?I like that.I made that.The idea is it's less cruel for them to put them on a bunand eat them than what they do.They break their moral compasses,they take them into those--

    • 52:31

      LOUIS THEROUX: Who is the bitch?The baby?

    • 52:33

      STEVE DRAIN: No, no, no, it's the woman.[MUSIC - "POKER FACE"]

    • 53:08

      SPEAKER 14: Why you guys think that you can speak for God.Did I tell you to come be His speaker?

    • 53:14

      STEVE DRAIN: Because we can read.You read the Word of God.That's how we can speak-- you can read, right?

    • 53:19

      SPEAKER 14: Yeah.I can fucking read.

    • 53:21

      STEVE DRAIN: So, "cry aloud.Spare not.Lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show my peopletheir transgressions."That means your sin, that means your manner of life,make it crystal clear what the manner of your sin is.God hates fags.What part of that don't you understand, girl?

    • 53:34

      SPEAKER 14: I don't fucking understand why God hates fags.I don't fucking understand why God hates anyoneexcept for fucking bigots.

    • 53:40

      STEVE DRAIN: Because He can.I'm sorry that you were raised for the devil,but I'm going to teach my children whatthe Lord their God doth require of them.

    • 53:47

      SPEAKER 14: I'm the devil?

    • 53:47

      STEVE DRAIN: You was raised-- you were raised for the devil,and I'm sorry about that.But your parents obviously did not love you.They hated you.

    • 53:55

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you like it better when she gets upset?

    • 53:57

      STEVE DRAIN: It's not a matter of what I like, Louis.What I'm telling you is, her moral compass is broken.I told you at the house.The youth of America, they have no idea what the Lord their godrequires of them.

    • 54:07

      LOUIS THEROUX: To me, as an outsider,it's mildly upsetting to see someone get upset.Do you feel that in any way?

    • 54:12

      STEVE DRAIN: I know it's mildly upsetting to you.

    • 54:15

      LOUIS THEROUX: Is it upsetting to you to see her get upset?

    • 54:16

      STEVE DRAIN: No.It's upsetting to me that her parents raised herfor the devil.And I'm not going to lie to her.She's been lied to way too much already.So what I'm going to do instead, out of my love her--

    • 54:26

      LOUIS THEROUX: You don't accept that you just made her upset?

    • 54:28

      STEVE DRAIN: I didn't make her upset.The Word of God made her upset, Louis.Do you understand at the end of the day,we know that even though people get upset at us,they're not really upset at us.They're upset with the Words.They're upset with the Word of God.In the same way when Christ was alive,we will not have this man to rule over us.We'll not have this man to rule over us.It's the Word.It's not us.

    • 54:49

      LOUIS THEROUX: Are you happy?

    • 54:50

      STEVE DRAIN: I'm as happy as a man can be on this Earth.On this Earth.I hope for better things.I seek-- I don't live in a continuing city.I don't have a place here.I'm not of this world.I hope for an eternal spot with the King.I hope to behold the beauty of the Lord.

    • 55:10

      STEVE DRAIN [continued]: I hope to inquire in His temple.I hope to dwell with the Lord for allof the days of eternity.That's what I hope for.

    • 55:20

      SPEAKER 14: Great God and Saviour, wethank thee for those promises.We pray that the judge of all the Earth would do right.And we know he will.And those that have surrounded us, to come upon us, to eat upour flesh, that posse of Satan that hasbeen deluded into thinking--

    • 55:35

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): My return visit to the Phelpshad convinced me that they were embarkedon an eccentric mission to live life in denial of the mostbasic human emotions.

    • 55:44

      SPEAKER 14: We pray that those that haveencompassed about us, to do war against us,that thou has promised that they that are incensed against usshall perish.That is to say--

    • 55:54

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): Stifling their own feelings,they felt entitled, in fact compelled,to trample on those of other people.[PIANO MUSIC]

    • 56:12

      BETTY PHELPS (SINGING): Oh, land of grass for thee I sigh,when will the moment come.When I shall lay my--

    • 56:22

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): Whether they reallywould move to Jerusalem, let alone a pink cave in Jordan,seemed doubtful.More likely was a pattern of more media stunts, moredefections, and a trail of tormented families--those they picketed and increasingly, their own.

    • 56:41

      CONGREGATION: Till Jesus comes.We'll work till Jesus comes and we'll be gathered home.We'll be gathered home with the Lord.

    • 57:09

      LOUIS THEROUX (VOICEOVER): My time with the Phelps was up.But before I left, I had one last conversation with Shirley.

    • 57:16

      LOUIS THEROUX: Has it been stressful or weirdfor you seeing so many people leave?

    • 57:20

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: No.Actually, with each one, it gets kind of expected,and just a blip on the radar.

    • 57:32

      LOUIS THEROUX: As far as you're concerned,it's the correct thing to do for a parent of a childthat they've raised for 20 years or more to turn their backand say, actually, from now on, we have no contact,and you are as good as dead to me?

    • 57:46

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: They have walked awayand they have crucified the Son of God afresh,and laid Him to an open shame.Before I would go comfort any of those rebels in their sins,I would first have to mistreat-- what would Ibe saying to my children?My faithful children.

    • 58:06

      LOUIS THEROUX: We're just talking about some bare bones,minimal human contact.

    • 58:11

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: Life is too short.Eternity is too long.Hell is too hot.I'm not getting anywhere near that edge.

    • 58:19

      LOUIS THEROUX: Do you think you'll lose more of your kids?

    • 58:22

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: I don't know.I always keep my eyes open and watch my children.And sometimes I see something in them that disturbs me.But I can't be, and I am not outcome-oriented.I have to stay on task.I just have to be sure they know what their duty is,

    • 58:44

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER [continued]: and that they obey.

    • 58:47

      LOUIS THEROUX: If you lose another one,another two, another three, another four,does anything change?

    • 58:53

      SHIRLEY PHELPS-ROPER: No.And if the Lord tarried, and all of them left,it wouldn't change anything.

Louis Theroux: The Return of America's Most Hated Family

View Segments Segment :


BBC reporter Louis Theroux makes a return visit to the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. On this second visit he finds a leaner, more aggressive organization--one that has lost a few of its members since his first visit four years prior. But the group's rhetoric remains the same, preaching the condemnation of homosexuality and the idea that tragedy is God's punishment.

Louis Theroux: The Return of America's Most Hated Family

BBC reporter Louis Theroux makes a return visit to the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. On this second visit he finds a leaner, more aggressive organization--one that has lost a few of its members since his first visit four years prior. But the group's rhetoric remains the same, preaching the condemnation of homosexuality and the idea that tragedy is God's punishment.

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