Nate Phelps, CFI:Calgary executive director, describes his life growing up with the Westboro church.
From my earliest memories I can recall questions in my mind. How could we be the chosen ones if we treated people with such disrespect? How does an all-consuming god manage to remain invisible from world affairs? What of the people born in other parts of the world who never heard of him, or those born before Calvin or Christ? What about me and my actions gives me value above all others?
In an environment that violently quelled any defiance, I found myself uniquely at odds with my father and on the receiving end of brutal violence for much of my childhood. At one point the police became involved, but my father preached his way out of that and assured us that God had protected him, validating his violent behavior toward his wife and children.
As a third or fourth generation atheist, reading stories like this force me to imagine what life could be like with religion. The only religious ceremony I’ve ever attended was the wife’s friend’s wedding (it was creepy) so I consider myself lucky. Granted, growing up in Westboro isn’t a typical religious upbringing but every so often we need a reminder of the things we’re fighting for.