‘Non-event’: Anti-gay church leader says National Socialists’ visit isn’t worth his attention
The Topeka Capital-Journal, Aug. 5, 2002
The anti-gay minister of the Westboro Baptist Church said Monday he had better things to do than protest a rally by the pro-white National Socialist Movement planned for Aug. 24 on the south steps of the Kansas Statehouse.
“Lord, no. There won’t be anything there except Scroggins and those CCT types,” he said, chiding local civil rights activist Sonny Scroggins and the anti-hate group Concerned Citizens for Topeka.
Phelps’ name came up last week as community groups prepared for rallies to combat the pro-white, anti-gay and anti-Jewish message of the National Socialist Movement.
Topeka’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is planning a rally — to be attended by CCT members — near the Statehouse during the demonstration. Scroggins is organizing a counter-protest of his own.
“I see this as a consequence of the Westboro Baptist Church identifying Topeka as the epicenter of hate,” said CCT chairman Roy Menninger about Topeka being selected for the site of the National Socialist Movement rally.
Menninger asked whether Phelps would attend the rally and, “Which side will he be on?”
Phelps said Monday he won’t be there but thanked Menninger for recognizing the national attention drawn to Westboro Baptist Church’s “humble efforts.”
“We got a picketing regimen that’s in its 12th year, and we take it very seriously,” he said. “We’re much too busy to meddle in non-events. That’s going to be a non-event — a boring, uninteresting non-event.”
Jeff Schoep, commander of the National Socialist Movement, countered that Monday by saying thousands of people attended the group’s August 2001 rally in St. Paul, Minn.
As for Phelps, Schoep said he knew little about him. Topeka certainly wasn’t chosen for the rally site because of him, Schoep said.
“All I know about the guy is that he goes around to different places and protests against homosexuals. That, of course, is a good thing,” he said.
Phelps said he detests the message of the National Socialist Movement — a group he said he had never heard of until they decided to come to Topeka.
On its Internet site, the Minnesota-based organization promotes “a greater America,” seeking to exclude non-whites, homosexuals and Jews.
But its anti-gay talk means little to Phelps.
“A blind hog finds an acorn once in a while,” he said.
The organization’s pro-white message is what bothers the preacher. The Bible, Phelps said, indicates that all people come from “one common ancestor.”
“It is just as big a sin to discriminate against somebody because of innocent conditions of their being — like skin color — as it is to support this homosexual movement,” he said. “They’re both monstrous sins against God, and I’ve been preaching against both of them for 55 years.”