(Ottawa Sun, Sunday, June 27th, 1999)


Anti-gay roadshow en route to capital targets
Hogtown parade

By DONNA CASEY -- Ottawa Sun

In a dress rehearsal for tomorrow's flag-burning protest on the Supreme Court steps, Pastor Fred Phelps will take his anti-gay gospel to Toronto's Gay Pride parade today.

The 69-year-old bible-thumper from Topeka, Kan. is expected to unleash his self-professed hatred of homosexuals when he pickets and harangues gays and lesbians along the parade route this afternoon.

"That's what we do -- we preach to sinners and there's a whole puddle of them at a parade like that," said Shirley Phelps-Roper, Phelps' daughter and an attorney with her father's Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka.

She added that gays "have been taken captive by the Devil to do his business" and Phelps' followers attack gays "out of the kindness of our hearts for our fellow man."


Phelps plans to continue on to Ottawa tomorrow, where he will picket the Supreme Court for its recent decision giving equal rights to gay and lesbian couples.

Rev. Brent Hawkes, pastor of Toronto's gay- and lesbian-friendly Metropolitan Community Church, is fully prepared for Phelps and about a dozen of his disciples to crash his church's outdoor service.

"He's so despicable and unpredictable, we're not sure what he's going to do," Hawkes said.

Hawkes said Phelps, who has picketed other Metropolitan Community Churches in San Francisco and Minneapolis with a "God Hates Fags" message, has the power to "bring out the right-wing crazies."

"We've had too many churches in the past burned to the ground to want to encourage any kind of fanaticism," Hawkes said.

John Fisher, executive director of Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE), brushed off the impact the preacher would have on today's festivities, expected to attract more than a million people.


"The whole place is a carnival," Fisher said. "I can't see that one man trying to make a fuss and tell everyone we're sinners is going to be noticed particularly."

EGALE is organizing a vigil to counter Phelps' Supreme Court demonstration, where he vows to torch the Canadian flag to show Canada "is now burning with fag lust" and "will be turned into Hell, where the fire is never quenched."

Oddly, one prominent white-supremacist says Phelps' antics may too "radical" for Canadians.

"There's potentially a lot of middle-class or average Canadians who do agree but Canadians are not likely to line up behind someone whose message is as radical as his," said Wolfgang Droege, co-founder of the Heritage Front.

Regional Coun. Alex Munter said Phelps should not be taken lightly.

"I know what happens when we don't stand up in the face of hatred," he said.


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