Still Human, Still have Worth
After that last post, I’m either expecting the death of my blog, or instant interwebz fame. This one should really get to you. I’d like to thank the Academy…
In a new TIME exclusive, Anthony Karen shares his photographic journey getting to know the people behind the most hated family in America, the Phelps Family, or as we all know them, Westboro Baptist Church.
While some of the photos will anger you (and me, I feel like I need to keep reiterating this) some of the photos show other positive traits, like love, commitment, and familial bonding; Phelps with a (presumably) great-grandbaby, a mother patting her son’s head, the Pastor holding a congregant inside the church. The story behind the pictures is even starker than that which we receive from the media regarding the Phelps family. Karen was given unprecedented access, he was not pressured to convert and he said he felt welcomed. The most amazing confession by Karen is that he rarely felt inconsumable rage from anyone, save a member who seemed to get into a religious debate with him.
As I get ready to begin developing the basis for my Master’s thesis, I am reminded by this story that it is important to always remember, for me at least, that there is humanity in each person. I, like Karen, am drawn to marginalized populations. I find extreme religious groups fascinating. As an aspiring sociologist, I have to try and remain objective, even in the face of repulsion.
We all know a lot about this family. Fred Phelps beat his own children mercilessly when they were young. His children now indoctrinate their children into beliefs that I find profoundly disturbing and encourage them to do things that cause others incredible pain.
There has been some question to whether or not the WBC is one big scam. Boy, that would sure make this all much easier. Now, I don’t know Karen and all I’m going on is this photographic story he’s selling, but his story and that speculation don’t jive. There’s a glimmer of reality in some of those pictures, a kinder reality. Maybe I’m just crazy and idealistic and want to believe in an Anne Frank version of life.
I think they are crazy. I also know they are still human. Let the firestorm begin.