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← Nate Phelps on growing up in 'the most hated family in America'

Nate Phelps on growing up in 'the most hated family in America' - Comments

mattyohe's Avatar Comment 1 by mattyohe

The BBC doc that this article referred to is the one by Louis Theroux.

It's up on Google video: http://tinyurl.com/yjd2s48

Worth a watch.

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 18:22:00 UTC | #450877

KKBundy's Avatar Comment 2 by KKBundy

Damn, I thought i had it rough just growing up in a conservative fundamentally Christian household. That poor guy... Damn. It's amazing he came out of it at all. Buried that deep in superstitious hate can't have been easy to escape from.


The Blessed Atheist Bible Study @ http://blessedatheist.com/

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 20:10:00 UTC | #450912

Minium Jones's Avatar Comment 3 by Minium Jones

Great, some of the kids did get out.... always wondered.
Though when i was watching the doco years ago, i was hoping for grander mutiny and rebellion from within the family's ranks.

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 22:27:00 UTC | #450948

kaiserkriss's Avatar Comment 4 by kaiserkriss

Darn.. I wish I had known about this earlier, I would have made a point in attending Mr Phelps meeting at the UofC. jcw

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 23:21:00 UTC | #450963

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 6 by InYourFaceNewYorker

I really do wonder why some people decide, "This doesn't add up" while others believe it without question-- all living in the same household.

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 23:26:00 UTC | #450965

Kmita's Avatar Comment 5 by Kmita

It seems obvious to me that the more hate they gather towards themselves as a result of their "preaching" and the more ostracized their children become as a result of it, the harder it will be for those children to grow up out of those hateful beliefs because of their fear of being ostracized by their last sanctuary. When I hear that 21 year old speak about her fear of god, all I see his her fear of being ousted from the family.

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 23:26:00 UTC | #450964

Corylus's Avatar Comment 7 by Corylus

InYourFaceNewYorker

I really do wonder why some people decide, "This doesn't add up" while others believe it without question-- all living in the same household.

Some people are smarter than others.
Some people are kinder than others.
Some people are both.

Maybe, when it is really bad, only the third group break free.

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 23:39:00 UTC | #450967

Redron's Avatar Comment 8 by Redron

That family is a cult, makes me so sad to see kids growing up like that.

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 23:41:00 UTC | #450968

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 9 by nancynancy

It is amazing that Mr. Phelps was able to leave. I wish him well.

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 00:42:00 UTC | #450978

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 10 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Yeah, but the parents can't be charged with child abuse, because it's their religion!

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 00:42:00 UTC | #450979

William T. Dawkins's Avatar Comment 11 by William T. Dawkins

Being from Kansas, It might be an interesting experience for me to drive to Topeka and attend one of Pastor Phelps services.

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 01:32:00 UTC | #450994

PsyPro's Avatar Comment 12 by PsyPro

Having not grown up in any way religious, I really can't relate to this poor man's problems. He, did, indeed, suffer a stupid, ridiculous upbringing.

That said, though:
"He is uneasy with the anti-religious antagonism of Hitchens and Harris; there are too many, he knows, some in desperate circumstances, who find solace and strength in their faith. "I'm going to denounce that?" he says. "I have some serious trouble with the idea of just saying ‘let's discard it all,' because there's value. I see value."

Ridiculous. What value? What solace? What strength? Lies he now admits are lies bring value, solace, strength? How, exactly? And, as compared to what? Truth, or just other lies?

He is a troubled man and I really wish him well, but he needs to move a lot further than he has to be free of religion.

As in Dennett's Freedom Evolves, this poor man needs to lose Dumbo's feather and not still think that there is value in yelling "Stop that crow" (Hitchens and Harris).

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 06:02:00 UTC | #451030

evolutionman's Avatar Comment 13 by evolutionman

His father seemed mentally ill with some kind of obsessive behaviour. As has been said above, he still reserves some deference to faith, citing the "strength" it imparts to some people. Can atheism offer an alternative to this aspect of religious belief, or is it dooomed to play second fiddle.

For me, religious faith is a mechanism we aware humans use to mitigate against the knowledge of our own mortality, a burden that is unique in the animal kingdom.

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 07:52:00 UTC | #451044

latsot's Avatar Comment 14 by latsot

Some people are smarter than others.
Some people are kinder than others.
Some people are both.


Also, there are inevitable differences in the way families treat their kids, which might be a factor. One of my sisters was undoubdtedly the favourite (other people from outside the family used to comment on it quite often) and she - perhaps not coincidentally - was the only one of us to have caught life-long religion from our parents.

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 09:41:00 UTC | #451057

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 15 by Roger Stanyard

evolutionman says



His father seemed mentally ill with some kind of obsessive behaviour.


The term uneducated sociopath comes to mind.

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 10:47:00 UTC | #451064

annabanana's Avatar Comment 16 by annabanana

Every time I read about Mr. Phelps' childhood it hurts my heart. I just can't imagine. How terrible that people suffer like this at the hands of people who are clearly mentally disturbed, but are allowed to go on that way because of religion. No wonder he is confused and hasn't decided on anything. I can't imagine that he'd have an easy time deciding to do something that he feels might be the other end of extremism on the matter.

Psypro, I feel like your comments are a bit out of line. I think he and everyone is lucky that he made it this far. Some of the children still believe. It seems to me that he's come leaps and bounds from where he was and you're demanding more after all he's been through?

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 15:42:00 UTC | #451135

Irat's Avatar Comment 17 by Irat

Though perhaps Psypro's comments were not the most diplomatic, he was just pointing out some areas that he disagreed with (and I agree with Psypro about that comment). Yes, it's important to acknowledge that Nate has been through a lot, and it's been a difficult journey; but it would also be unfair to him to say, "Alright, you've been through enough, good job," and not help him develop his ideas further with rational and constructive criticism.

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 18:47:00 UTC | #451176

annabanana's Avatar Comment 18 by annabanana

Irat,

I hardly think calling his ideas "ridiculous" and telling him he "needs to lose Dumbo's feather" counts as constructive criticism. I'm not saying that Mr. Phelps shouldn't be encouraged, but that was definitely NOT the appropriate way to do it.

Tue, 23 Mar 2010 19:18:00 UTC | #451550

Nate Phelps's Avatar Comment 19 by Nate Phelps

If I might weigh in on this issue raised by PsyPro. evolutionman comes closest to explaining where I am on this topic. First, I DO NOT believe in the existence of any god proposed by the religions of this world. I accept the feebly slight possibility that there is something out there that we might, were we made aware of it/him/her, call god.

But as I take this journey away from the ideology of Christianity, I still struggle with the practical question of replacing the positive effects that religious beliefs have on society. In my interview with Kevin I told him about watching an Opera show with Elizabeth Smart on it. For those who don't recall, Elizabeth is the young girl who was kidnapped at the age of 14 and forced to live with a couple of nut cases for nearly a year before she was rescued.

When she was asked how she survived in the midst of that madness, she referenced her certainty that if she died she would be with her parents in their Mormon heaven. I turned to my fiance and asked her "how can I speak against that?" In my mind that's a fair question. It is in no way an acceptance of the notion of god, but rather an acknowledgment that my position doesn't yet offer a valid alternative.

Of course I think that her parents could have taught her something different that would have worked just as effectively in keeping hope alive during her trial. I also think that "something" could be rational and myth free.

It's like Hamas in the middle east. They advocate violence and destruction but manage to garner acceptance from the masses by ALSO providing much needed support for the poor. Looking into the future, if we are to defeat organized religion, we must offer genuine alternatives to the mythology of religion.

It's a long road. Efforts like "Non-Believers Giving Aid" are a step in that direction.

Tue, 23 Mar 2010 22:18:00 UTC | #451632

annabanana's Avatar Comment 20 by annabanana

Nate Phelps,

Humans as a species are genetically coded to be at least somewhat altruistic towards one another. Do you think that if organized religion fell, we'd just stop helping one another? After all, being gregarious and altruistic organisms (aside from being toolmakers/users) are probably the biggest traits that have allowed all of the technological advances that we've made. Morals and altruistic behavior don't disappear along with religion. There are plenty of atheists who were formerly religious who are proof of that.

Additionally, do you really think that if organized religion were no more that people would lose all hope? Does religion have a monopoly on hope? I think that the mind is such a pliable thing that people like Elizabeth Smart could have come up with plenty of things to divert their minds that weren't religious.

Wed, 24 Mar 2010 19:59:00 UTC | #451911

Nate Phelps's Avatar Comment 21 by Nate Phelps

annabanana:

I completely agree with you. I understand that the real reason we are altruistic and treat others well is because it is in our best interest. I also understand that there are plenty of other reasons to have hope in life. I get all this.

I have moved past that to the question of HOW? How do we make the transition? How do we defeat organized religion and become a world of rational thinkers. It is there that I run into the issues I raise. It is wholly impractical to think that we can simply point out the overwhelming evidence against the notion of god and suddenly everyone is going to let go of their mythology and move to our side.

Identifying some of the practical values that people gain from religion is a first step in identifying ways to effectively counter them. I said specifically in my first post that I had no doubt that Elizabeth would have been just as well off if she had clung to a reality based belief system during her tribulation. But how do we get the world to start teaching it to their kids?

Thu, 25 Mar 2010 17:06:00 UTC | #452166

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 22 by Bonzai

I am surprised that Nate's siblings didn't take off like he did.

Thu, 25 Mar 2010 17:41:00 UTC | #452183

annabanana's Avatar Comment 23 by annabanana

Nate,

I agree that the "how" is a big question that needs to be answered. I don't think anything could happen overnight or that there would be some sort of revolution and everyone would just let go of religion and still care for one another. I'm guessing we just have to try to convince as many people as possible and over the generations the religion will fade until there's no more. At least that's what I envision. I could be completely off base. And I don't imagine I'll ever know as I don't foresee this happening in our lifetimes.

Mon, 29 Mar 2010 11:11:00 UTC | #453623

ihopeudance's Avatar Comment 24 by ihopeudance

Mr Dawkins: If you are using the Phelps family as an example of a 'typical Christian household filled with vile misinterpretations of God's word' as proof that Christianity hurts people...

...well, that's a little like, I don't know, saying that Muslims are all terrorists, because of several high-profile stories of Muslims who by many accounts, misinterpret their own beliefs into a humanist "Kill them all!" kind of attitude.

Fred Phelps is obviously a malignant narcissist with a tendency towards psychopathology. Nobody is sure where that comes from, but I have a theory that it is formulated by over-development in one part of the brain (academic intellect) while simulataneously (causing?) under-development in the part of the brain where empathy and human attachment are developed.

The thing with abusive pri**s like Phelps (including abusive women) is that they often turn to religion to justify their actions (rather than changing their actions to align themselves with their stated beliefs).

Unfortunately, those same abusive personality types often twist their own filtered version of the Holy Bible into judgment of others, while simultaneously forcing a belief in others that the abuser is Above all others (shaking a fist, shouting...."believe it, or else!!"). I recommend, "Addicted to Hate." It is a heart-wrenching and eye-opening look into a very abusive personality, using and distorting religious doctrince to excuse his behaviors.

Phelps never even went to seminary. He is a self-professed pastor. He didn't hate 'fags' until his children grew old enough to stop taking his crap and started leaving the 'flock'. He had to find a new target for his abuse.

I recommend you read up on Cluster B Personality Disorders and Narcissistic Personality Disorder specifically. It's not religion that causes people to act like Phelps - it's his serious F'd up brain that causes him to abuse God's Word and make Christians look bad.

He is no Christian. He is doing the work of the devil; turning people away from God and destroying their spirits, for which the 9th circle of hell will be waiting.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 15:00:18 UTC | #877452

ihopeudance's Avatar Comment 25 by ihopeudance

. Some people are smarter than others.Some people are kinder than others. Some people are both.Maybe, when it is really bad, only the third group break free.

It's not about being 'smarter' or kinder.

One of the most heinous aspects of abuse is the way they torture your mind. Tell a lie enough times ("God hates you / you will die tomorrow if you leave, etc....") and people will believe it.

They didn't know any other way. Abusers isolate their victims (they weren't allowed to participate in Christmas, have friends over or visit friends. Fred was so hostile towards everyone, nobody wanted to even try to help the children. They were kept busy 5am - 10pm--until they began to rebel).

It was only when someone spoke up and said, "This is wrong; there is another way." That the cracks in Father Fred's dogma finally started to show light.

We all hope people can wake up, walk out of the fog and get away from abusers...and we all know people who, for reasons unfathomable, choose to stay.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 15:07:24 UTC | #877454

ihopeudance's Avatar Comment 26 by ihopeudance

          [Comment 10](/articles/5294-nate-phelps-on-growing-up-in-39-the-most-hated-family-in-america-39/comments?page=1#comment_450979) by  [InYourFaceNewYorker](/profiles/21910)          :


                 Yeah, but the parents can't be charged with child abuse, because it's their religion!          

I think that is so sick. Religion, my Aunt Fanny! They did finally put that lowlife Warren Jeffs away, breaking up his compound of child molestation and abuse. There is hope.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 15:08:32 UTC | #877455

ihopeudance's Avatar Comment 27 by ihopeudance

          [Comment 21] How do we defeat organized religion and become a world of rational thinkers.  It is there that I run into the issues I raise.           

Nate: If that really is you. I very much empathize with your story and the hell on earth you were put through. It makes my life with an NPD mother seem like trip to the lollipop store, by comparison.

I just wanted to offer this; it was NOT religion that turned your father into a monster. It was a personality disorder (most likely), and probably combined with a few other mental illnesses that caused him to USE religious doctrine to justify inflicting abuse on everyone who crossed his path.

He blasphemed God and the Word of God over and over again. He used tools of the devil (power, coercion, fear, blame, guilt, etc) to supposedly support "God's way." All b.s.

Many, many abusive people use 'religion' to support their abuse, especially abusive spouses who love to say "For better or worse! You Promised me! For better or worse! (So get over here so I can beat it into you)," to keep their 'object' from leaving.

Organized religion will never be defeated. It is a hopeless and frankly, pointless cause. Everybody needs to believe in something, and let's face it 'organized atheism' and all that entails is also a belief system, similar to that of 'organized religion.'

We all believe in a god of some type. For some, it is nature. For others, it may be money and power. Yet others believe in themselves or their collective conscience. Either way, we all put faith into something.

Why not just let others believe what they want, and demand that they leave you to believe what you want?

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 15:19:15 UTC | #877458

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 28 by Tyler Durden

Comment 24 by ihopeudance :

He is no Christian. He is doing the work of the devil; turning people away from God and destroying their spirits, for which the 9th circle of hell will be waiting.

There is no "hell", and no such thing as "the devil". Merely silly fairy tales for the ignorant and gullible.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 15:21:53 UTC | #877460

9BearJeanie's Avatar Comment 29 by 9BearJeanie

Nate Phelps is my hero. His story and mine are similar. I find it interesting that people say people like the Phelps and my parents aren't "real Christians." I know these people. They are the quintessential Christian. Religion is the perfect way to control the masses. People, by our very nature, are herd animals, and there is always one who has some charm, charisma, or an ability (or in the case of Constantine, in 325 A.D. - the power of an Emperor) that draws the rest of the herd to him. When his rule is over, there are sycophants eager to step on to a stage already set for anyone with that "special something," to hypnotize us into thinking they see what we cannot. Our adoration and their power corrupts them and dooms us.

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 19:02:15 UTC | #930992

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 30 by xmaseveeve

Comment 12, psypro,

''Ridiculous. What value? What solace? What strength? Lies he now admits are lies bring value, solace, strength? How, exactly? And, as compared to what? Truth, or just other lies?''

I totally disagree with your post. Everyone has the right to religious belief. You say, ''Lies he now admits are lies'' but you can't decide for him which parts were lies.

''Having not grown up in any way religious, I really can't relate to this poor man's problems.''

You could try. The above quote is how your post started. Then you pissed over the amazing progress of a very brave man. How brave of you.

Comment 17, Irat,

''I agree with Psypro about that comment). Yes, it's important to acknowledge that Nate has been through a lot, and it's been a difficult journey; but it would also be unfair to him to say, "Alright, you've been through enough, good job," and not help him develop his ideas further with rational and constructive criticism.''

Absolutely not. Atheists must not be like religious vultures, preying on vulnerable flesh. He must ask his own questions, and we must accept his answers. Why on Earth should he not be allowed to believe in some sort of deity just because his dad was a bully? Maybe it makes his dad more angry that his son still has 'God'. What people believe is not the issue; their actions are.

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 21:13:55 UTC | #931017