Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) was founded in 1955 by Fred Phelps inKansas, USA.
It gained notoriety for its views on various social issues, particularly its views on homosexuality and why ‘God hates fags’.
The church’s membership primarily consists of Phelps’s extended family.
The church’s funding has been a subject of intrigue and speculation.
It is believed to be financed through a combination of member donations and aggressive litigation. Several members of the Phelps family are lawyers, and they have successfully sued various entities (and successfully defended various actions), earning settlements that fund the church’s activities.
In other words, WBC has been involved in numerous lawsuits, both as plaintiff and defendant.
They have sued municipalities for not providing protection during protests and have been sued for defamation and invasion of privacy. Their legal battles have often reached high courts, including the US Supreme Court.
The church is infamous for its protests at funerals, particularly those of military personnel and high-profile individuals. They believe that deaths are God’s punishment for societal acceptance of sinful behaviour.
The actions of WBC have led to counter-protests and the formation of groups dedicated to shielding mourners from WBC’s demonstrations.
Various laws have been enacted to limit the church’s ability to protest near funerals, though some have been challenged on First Amendment grounds.
The death of Fred Phelps in 2014 led to internal changes, but public opposition to the church’s tactics remains strong.
The church’s legacy is one of division, legal battles, and a complex debate over the limits of free speech.