Monday, August 22, 2011

A Cornucopia of Crazy: The Westboro Baptist Church's FBI File

Recently, in response to a FOIA request submitted on my behalf, the FBI released to me its 191 page dossier on the Westboro Baptist Church, a rather vile organization known for its staunch anti- LGBT stance. As a survey of the file conducted by me reveals, the Westboro Baptist Church has experienced some degree of blowback due to their “God Hates Fags,” crusades. The file also reveals past incidents of anti-Semitic belief that drove the WBC to support a Nazi war criminal.

In response to the possibility of harm against Phelps and his clan, the FBI conducted investigations into threats against the organization. In 1996, the FBI intervened redacted after she sent threats to the Westboro Baptist Church after becoming enraged over his attitudes towards the LGBT community. They intervened the self-confessed guilty party, the served at least one subpoena (to her ISP), and fully documented the threat. Even after deciding the case was not worth federal investigative resources, the AUSA, in light of [redacted]'s possession of firearms, even tried to keep the case open in the event that Phelps traveled to the West Coast again. In 1998, the FBI investigated bomb threats against the Westboro Baptist Church. Twice in January 1999 and thrice in March 1999, bomb threats were received by the Westboro Baptist Church and each time the FBI looked into it.

Other interesting factoids gleaned from the FBI dossier on the Westboro Baptist Church:

The militia network (1) types believed that Phelps was an ally due to his and his church's anti- LGBT biogtry,and its membership occasionally became agitated to the point of threatening violence when this was discovered not to be the case.

The FBI provided information on the group to the Canadian (and possibly the Finnish) government(s). 

Westboro Baptist Church is staunchly anti-Semitic.

In one press release they described Harriet Lerner as “THE JOLLY ANTICHRIST JEW” In another press release, the Westboro Baptist Church calls Ruth Bader Ginsburg a “Jewish Dwarf,” and asks in a photo caption: Why was she chosen over 3 gentile women?” A January 1997, press release described the Office of Special Investigations' attempt to deport to Kolnhofer as “Jew vengeance” and claimed that these efforts amounted to “SHYLOCK JEWS WANT ANOTHER POUND OF FLESH. POOR OLD MAN, 79, ON LIFE SUPPORT.” It also railed against “tyrant Jew Judges” and :Bloody Nazi Jews” in Kansas who supposedly attacked members of the church and suppressed their free speech and freedom of religion rights. The press release concluded with a announcement that the WBC would be protesting the Holocaust Museum (alternatively described as the “Holocaust Memorial Sodomite Museum and the Holocaust Fag Museum,” in Washington DC in January 1998.

The reason for the Westboro Baptist Church's litigious nature is their refusal “to solicit or accept financial contributions, being of the Old School Baptist persuasion, whose churches never pass the plate, lest the Gospel be deemed for sale.”

His family has criminal behavior and the FBI recommended that “caution should be used when addressing [redacted] and his followers. Some of the family members, including [redacted] have criminal records to include battery, extortion, witness intimidation, harassment, and other miscellaneous charges.

They view their signs as “huge, colorful, state of the art productions”. In a Twitter message, Zacharias Phelps Roper confirmed that this still their view, stating: "Absolutely! (^ー^)ノ".
The FBI informed on WBC to [redacted] of [redacted Canadian law enforcement or intelligence agency]. It also appears that the FBI did a “threat assessment” regarding the Westboro Baptist Church and the risk they they posed to then-Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

When contacted by the author for comment and follow up questions, Timothy Phelps replied:
That's great news!  If there's anything in there that might remind you of your duty to serve your Creator, focus on that part. The rest can be used as you see fit (toilet paper, bird cages, kindling, or what not) 
 The Westboro Baptist Church's FBI File                                                           

(1) That was a poor choice of words. Thanks to Jesse Walker for pointing out my error.


  1. Have you seen the couple of documentaries Louis Theroux has done with them? There's often a slightly uncomfortable feel of gratuitous horror/unconscious exploitation with Theroux but his response doesn't stop you getting a bit of a feel for his subjects. There's a difference between disagreeing with someone and having the feeling that they don't really share the same basic thought mechanisms. The core Westboro Baptists are quite alien people. I can understand the FBI thinking they need to be monitored. They don't seem to be physically as opposed to verbally violent but they have an intensity of conviction that might be moved in that direction in certain circumstances.

  2. Don't use scrib, link to the actual file.