Friday, March 30, 2007

Inside The World's Most Evil Sect

By EMMA COX


THEIR young children go on marches waving placards that read: “Thank God for 9/11”.

Members openly admit that the thought of an outsider being hit by a car or dying of cancer makes them laugh.

Their hatred is targeted at a massive range of people including gays, Jews, soldiers, the Irish, anyone who has sex outside marriage — and SWEDES.

But the most scary aspect of this cult is that, far from being an isolated community, its followers hold down normal jobs, mix with normal people and send their children to normal schools.

Welcome to the Westboro Baptist Church — the most evil religious sect in the world.

The group — established in the 1950s by ordained Right-wing Christian extremist Pastor Fred Phelps — are the subject of a new film by TV documentary-maker Louis Theroux.

Accompanied by a BBC film crew, he spent three weeks with the 71-strong cult — most of whom are related to Phelps — in Topeka, Kansas. His findings make shocking viewing.

In one scene, the fanatics picket funerals of US war heroes, claiming their deaths were punishment for America’s tolerance of gays. They stand yards from the grieving family of Kevin Zeigler, 31, who died trying to disable a bomb in Iraq.

Their placards, some carried by children as young as six, read: “Thank God For Dead Soldiers”, “Don’t Worship The Dead” and “Fag Marines”, accompanied by a crude drawing.

One poster even depicts Princess Diana — who had many famous gay friends — with the words “Royal In Hell Whore”.

Particularly shocking is the way the cult involve youngsters.

At one point a pretty seven-year-old called Shirley, wearing a pink hat with the slogan “Girls Are Cool”, is asked if she knows the meaning of her placard. She answers: “No”.

Six-year-old pal Noah is asked what you are if you are not a “fag”. His response: “A dyke?”

Later, a child no older than eight sobs as a passing motorist incensed by the placards lobs a bottle at him, cutting his head.

Yet the group’s leaders defend their sickening tactics.

Pastor Phelps’s daughter Shirley, who has 11 children, says: “The world hates us. So? It’s very sad at these funerals, it’s true. It’s very sad that these people won’t get the message.

“You are not going to make me feel bad about it. If they’re offended, that is a clear indication they hate God’s word and are headed for hell.”

The cult’s marches have enraged America and been condemned on chat shows including Oprah Winfrey’s.

They have been branded a “hate group” by renowned civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center, which compares them to the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. Yet the family revel in their notoriety. Shirley says: “When we picket a funeral, I do it to help him (the victim).

“He was fighting for a nation that has made God their enemy.”

She also boasts of sending letters to grieving families. “They say, ‘You angered God’.”

In Louis’s programme — America’s Most Hated Family — he attends a sermon where Pastor Phelps says of the war in Iraq: “God duped you into starting a war so he could punish you. And you fell for it. They’re eating their babies! You will eat your babies!”

The cult’s children sing songs with lyrics such as: “I’m ashamed to be an American where fags are free to roam.”

Their definition of a fag is not only homosexuals but anybody who has sex outside marriage.

They hate Swedes because the pastor was once jailed in Sweden for preaching against homosexuality. And Louis is told he deserves to be KILLED for having a child out of wedlock.

The cult’s children have been brainwashed into total obedience.

Despite going to a normal school, they will never have boyfriends or girlfriends due to their extreme beliefs. One girl says: “We don’t have anyone we consider a true friend because that takes time away from God.”

Yet Louis does get friendly with the family, even going bowling with them. He admits: “They’ve made a life that in many ways is appealing. It was easy to become desensitised to what they were doing.” His point was chillingly proved by another documentary maker — Steve Drain — who joined the cult after making a film about them, despite having held liberal views.

Asked if he is glad when “sinners” get cancer or are in car accidents, he replies: “I love it — it means God is doing his job.”

Fellow member Jael, 21, explains why she laughs when she says Louis is going to hell — “It brings me pleasure to think God will carry out his wrath.”

Louis told The Sun last night: “The children are intelligent and kind for the most part. But what they’re doing is terrible. It doesn’t make sense. I was as challenged as I’ve ever been in this film.”

The Most Hated Family In America is on Sunday, 9pm, on BBC2.

© 2006 News Group Newspapers Ltd.

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