Let me first start off this article by saying I’m a very simple guy. Not in terms of intelligence, but in terms of how I live my life. It’s the simple things in life that please me – watching a movie under a blanket on a cold Sunday afternoon, receiving a postcard from a loved one and the thrill of a Kinder Egg toy. I’m a simple guy. It’s this simplicity in life, my romanticised outlook on the world, that means sometimes there are a lot of things on Earth that my brain tries to ignore happens. However like I said, I’m not stupid. I know these things happen and I know these things exist – but if I were to dwell on them too much then their darkness and their realism would overshadow my cotton-wool life. An example of said dark things to happen on Earth happened in 2013, in London – “the day Baghdad style violence came to South London” [Paul Davis, ITV News, 2013]. I watched in horror, along with countless others, the unfolding story that an off-duty soldier named Lee Rigby had been beheaded in public on a busy London street in the middle of the afternoon by two men who said the attack was to avenge the killing of Muslims by British soldiers. This is, by memory, the first time I remember completely removing myself from the situation and vigorously trying to remove the image of what I had seen on the news from my brain. I stood up and left the room, whereas in previous years I had actually found myself glued to the television screen when similar dark events occurred. September 11th 2001, I came home from school at 3:30pm and watched a continuous news loop until 10pm that night. I perhaps saw the footage of the plane striking the second tower one hundred times that evening. So what made the news of Lee Rigby different? Was it because it was happening on British soil, a lot closer to home than the attacks on September 11th? Was it the brutality of the attack (not to in any way demean then brutality of September 11th)? I could not tell you. In primary school we had a Religious Teacher called Ms. Nicol who always wore turtle necks and a blazer with very tight trousers. She would play the piano at every school assembly and I can distinctly remember her putting her all into those performances, to the point I think I can remember seeing her almost bounce off the piano stool a few times during heated renditions of “Give Me Oil In My Lamp”. But anyway, I have always staunchly remembered one of her classes in which she was telling us about good thoughts and bad thoughts. Her view was to keep the good thoughts at hand on a bookshelf in our brain, but with any bad thoughts we had we were to put them into black bags in our head and throw them out of our earholes. This imagery has stuck with me all of my life and to this day I still have a good clear out of my brain. The news of the slaughter of Major Lee Rigby was a bad thought in my head that was almost instantly put into a black bag and thrown out of my earhole. But that’s not what I want to talk about here. A few years ago I watched a film called “Red State” on the recommendation of a friend. I’d heard of the film and to my knowledge it was a horror film. The film is about a group of teenagers who are terrorised by a family of fundamentalists in Southern America who call themselves The Five Points Trinity Church. This family picket the funerals of soldiers, they used the word “fag” far too much and ultimately end up sacrificially killing the teenagers as part of their religious views. After watching the film I didn’t take much away from it, asides from the safety of my simple brain telling me that surely no one like that actually existed on Earth. There couldn’t be a cult family living on Earth who do such horrific things… Last week I watched a documentary about The Most Hated Family In America. It introduced me to the Westboro Baptist Church, who are “A fire and brimstone Christian group made up almost entirely of a single family” [Louis Theroux, 2007]. The fifty minute long film really opened up my eyes to what can actually take place in this world and to what Religion does to people. Religion is a prevalent part of life. Growing up in the UK I was taught Christianity at school, I realised shops were closed on a Sunday because of the bible, I celebrated Christmas and all because of one book that was written by some anonymous person or persons over 3000 years ago. Three thousand. It blows my mind that humanity as a whole has developed through time to structure their lives and their existence on stories about an all seeing being who can cause floods, burn bushes and turn water into wine.

“It blows my mind that humanity as a whole has developed through time to structure their lives and their existence over stories about an all seeing being who can cause floods, burn bushes and turn water into wine.”

In my mind that is the equivalent of making a world (not just a country, but an entire world/planet) where everyone believes in Fairy Tales. Where no one eats on a Tuesday because Tuesday is the day the tooth fairy said everyone must rest their teeth. It’s exactly the same principle. And the world is run on Religion and by people who believe vehemently on Religion. People such as the Westboro Baptist Church, who are an extreme case of religious fanatics but who show what religion can do to a people. Indeed, the beginning of the documentary begins with the family singing a lovely little song; “I’m ashamed to be an American, where the fags can freely roam. They spread their filth around this land, and every pervert calls it home.” [Westboro Baptist Church Jingle, “Louis Theroux: The Most Hated Family In America, 2007]. westboro-church This is a group of extremist Christians who believe America as a country is doomed because they allow homosexuals to exist. They base their entire lives on spreading the gospel that homosexuality is wrong, and by America saying its OK to be Gay then America and all Americans who live there are going to face Armageddon any day now. This is why they chose to picket the funerals of American soldiers. Because these men fought valiantly for a country who allow homosexuality. The frequent use of the words “fag” and “fornication” by the members of Church show how backward they really are. It is truly terrifying to watch this entire family, from ten year old Gabriel to eighty-eight year old Fred, smile and laugh as they declare that everyone is going straight to Hell. But wait! “Just don’t think of fags as just those guys who are taking it up the tailpipe…” [Shirley Phelps-Roper, “Louis Theroux: The Most Hated Family In America”, 2007]. Oh no, because when they say fags they mean anyone who has partook in sexual activity outside of the boundaries of their legal marriage bed. It gets tiring for me to explain or fathom all the things that the Westboro Baptist Church deem to be immorally wrong. They have brainwashed themselves into believing this, and are passing it onto a generation of children who don’t know any better and who will grow up just as worse. It’s a vicious cycle. As Louis Theroux, the documentarian behind this film, says himself: “…they preach a hatred that is reflected back at them. Confirming them in their beliefs, and ultimately denying the right to a normal life to their youngest members.” [Louis Theroux, “Louis Theroux: The Most Hated Family In America”, 2007]. Westboro-Baptist-Church It’s easy for me to designate this family as an extremist hate group, and to put them into a black bag in my mind and throw them away, but it is very important for people to realise that this type of human is a simple human. And not in terms of how I like to live simply. They are simple, in that they are stupid. They are stupid because they cannot and will not accept anyone else’s opinion, they will not look at science and discovery to learn about evolution… And the mere fact this family stands outside funerals (where families mourn the death of their beloved ones) with brightly coloured signs that read “PRAY FOR MORE DEAD SOLDIERS” because they believe that this will prove themselves worthy spokespeople for an almighty God who created Earth based on what is written in a three thousand year old book found in Turkey proves that they are just plain idiotic humans. There are certain things in life I know exist that I wish I didn’t know existed. There are things in life I accept happen, even though I wish they didn’t. The creation and continuing endeavours of the Westboro Baptist Church is one such thing, but also something I’m glad I know about. Because it has reconfirmed in me my own intelligence and my own beliefs. “Burn anything you’re afraid of, burn anything you can’t control. This woman uses your fear to control you… Your faith brings death, you are alone in this limbo and God is not here.”  [The character of Rose DaSilva, “Silent Hill”, 2006]