Entertain the thought that maybe, just maybe, the Reverend Fred Phelps, the same registered Democrat who ran for office five times as a Democrat and who was never a Republican, was talked one day into creating a character, a bombastic character that would rival any World Wrestling Federation nut, and have people naturally assume that the character is not only real, but that it correctly projects a true image of the average right wing conservative.
Of course, the character would have to be a real person, not a fictional character, so as not to be outed as a Potemkin Village of a man. And he’d have to be an ordained minister, since the conservative right flowed from the churches. His being a fat, pasty white guy also fit nicely into the narrative. And bombastic, someone who shouts superlatives and extremes as his normal speech since a conservative is too dense to be calm and rational, much less to appreciate nuance and know there are levels to everything.
Now Mr. Phelps, you’re tapped to be this guy. You don’t want to be hated? Oh, the public will hate the conservative exaggerated parody you portray, but the ones close to you will know. Half the guys in the WWF are hated rivals so there can be beloved good guys for whom the paying customers can root. Besides, you and your family will never want for anything again. The added plus is that as you keep on being the Westboro pastor Phelps, the people who you hate, true conservatives, they are the people that the general public will grow to hate more and more the more you portray the Christian Conservative parody. We even have an ultra-liberal talk show with a lesbian secular Jewish (you can’t get better liberal props than that) hostess where you can launch your new conservative nutjob act and have it soar nationwide.
His church was independent, and never directly connected to any Baptist confession in spite of the name on the marquee. Its only congregation was his immediate family. Yet he and they were able to afford to cross the country with no expense unmet; how did they earn the money? Can you come up with a more blatant front? No conservative individual or group would make allegiance or even fellowship with Phelps, yet the press portrayed him as a sort of spokesman for the religious right. Right to Live rallies in the dead cold of January turn out hundreds of thousands every year, but they get ignored by the press so the nation thinks they don’t happen, but a rally by four members of the Westboro church, there’s ten minutes of a thirty minute news show.
America, you’ve been punked!