Update: “Why the Westboro Baptist Church is a Scam” — interesting insight from a SomethingAwful Forums thread, surmising that the “Church” is actually a litigatory racket whose modus operandi is provocation aimed at collecting income from free speech settlements.
Most people assume that Fred Phelps (of Westboro Baptist Church/”God Hates Fags” infamy) is an over-zealous anti-gay Baptist, but it looks more like he and his kin are in the process of starting a homegrown cult. They’re not “Christians” or “Baptists”; apparently they refer to themselves as “Tachmonites.” So Phelps is the “last prophet” with power over his followers’ souls, and the members of his church believe that they are essentially God on Earth, with sole authority to condemn and forgive others. They seem to be developing their own invective-filled scriptural addenda derived from references to homosexuality in the Bible, complete with epistles soundly insulting any who write to them. (No wimpy gay sola fide or sola scriptura for these true chosen ones of God, eh?)
For more info, Wikipedia has an entry on Writings from Westboro, and of course on Westboro Baptist Church itself. Funny part is, the more that they show the standard trappings of a spinoff cult, the less inflammatory I find them, since it becomes much easier to dismiss them as kooks. (Not that it wasn’t already easy to begin with.)
(Links found via rhesagirl.)
Washingtonians can see the Phelps spectacle for themselves when he comes to DC on September 11th to protest the “America Supports You” Freedom Walk. (Not that there’s much to see — some old guy with his folks carrying “God hates fags” signs and acting weird.)
Translation Note: The word “Tachmonites” is derived from an alternate transliteration of the proper name “Hachmoni” or “Hachmonite” mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:11 and 27:32, also spelled “Tahchemonite” in 2 Sam 23:8.