Thought you knew all there was to know, or at least all you cared to know, about Fred Phelps? You know, the guy behind the infamous www.godhatesfags.com? The guy who protested at Matthew Sheppard’s funeral, and who recently started picketing the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq? Yeah, that Fred Phelps.
Well here’s something you didn’t know about Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, which is mostly made up of his extended family. They are not, or at least don’t consider themselves, christian, but another religion altogether.
In fact, it appears that Westboro has created not just an incredibly vulgar and non-Christlike approach to homosexuality, but that it’s working on a new religion altogether, complete with new scriptures.
Members of WBC generally avoid the name "Christian" when referring to themselves, preferring the mysterious term "Tachmonite." This apparently refers to a servant of King David’s, but I’m not sure of the derivation or the intention.
The Tachmonites believe Phelps is "the last prophet," with the power to determine who will be damned and who will be saved. They themselves, as followers of Phelps, also have the power to condemn souls to hell. Most people are destined for hell, but "Good Samaritans" who help the Tachmonites (for example, police officers who prevent counter-protesters from assaulting them) may be offered an indeterminate "reward" for their good conduct. Apparently "sola fide" is not part of the Tachmonites’ creed.
The new scriptures consist of the group’s own writings, which are divided into two categories: "delectable epics" and "letters to heretics."
The "delectable epics" (the term is the group’s) are based loosely on Acts in the New Testament. The epics detail the Tachmonites’ various protests against gays, President Bush, Elton John concerts, and the military and portray the Tachmonites alternately as invincible "super heroes" and defenseless victims of brutal rage. Some of the epics are in prose, and some in poetry.
"Letters to heretics" are meant to emulate St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. They are responses to people who have allegedly written to the web site, although these people are never identified by name, but rather by childish nicknames like "Mr. Goofy Pants" and "Suzy Vulgar." There are also "letters to heretics" addressed to politicians and celebrities like Goldie Hawn and Sam Waterston.
Some of the flavor of the writings can be found in this Wikipedia article:
The writings of the nutbags…er…Tachmonites are a wonder to behold. I cannot do them justice by merely describing them, they must simply be read. As difficult as it is to believe, these folks have actually managed to find a realm beyond wingnut. I always knew they were crazy, but geez.
Via Dappled Things