Thought all on here would find this extremely interesting:
It's a terrifying first-hand account of religious brainwashing. Terrifying, but also somehow reassuring that Nate had the ingrown intelligence to escape, even after 18 years of indoctrination.
For some reason this particular quote stuck with me:
"In 1995, his second child, Tyler, then aged seven, asked him about hell, and how long people stayed there. “Forever, I told him, and he burst into tears. He was terrified.” Nate never took his children to church again, and eventually renounced Christianity altogether."
Good point, Matthew - the article has a brief section on Phelps' childhood, and it does seem tragic. Nonetheless, there are many people who also lost their mothers at a young age and did not turn into crazy, hateful cult leaders. It's my opinion that someone as hateful as Phelps naturally has a warped and deluded brain - almost primitive. He just got lucky, in a sense, that along with that, he had excellent persuasive powers and used that power to brainwash more easily led people into following his hate-filled "church".
It would be interesting to psychologically examine him, as Loren said below, and figure out if he really is mentally ill, delusional, etc.
As regards Fred Phelps, I'm reminded of a title for a segment of the old TV series: The Man From UNCLE, to wit:
"Freud Would Have a Picnic."
And indeed, any kind of psychotherapist or analyst with cojones big enough to tackle such a task would probably find in Mr. Phelps a nest of neuroses and psychoses enough to load several doctoral theses. Of course, Fred would never consent to such a think, for doubtless he's convinced that he's right and everyone else is wrong.
The best way to deal with him and his ilk would be to IGNORE HIM, both in person and in the media. No reaction, no column-inches, no segment on the evening news broadcast, and no public forum for him and his followers to beat their chests at.
Deny this deranged fucker attention ... then watch him shrivel and blow away in the wind ... while Nate and the others who have escaped Fred's clutches keep on keepin' on.
And the odd part is that religion is the one safe harbor for this type. They don't have to be rational, all they have to do is be devoted. They can commit their entire life to something that makes no sense to the rest of us because "So it is written so shall it be" (which comes from Ramses II).
The strength of their argument comes entirely from their willingness to demand they are right. I fear Mr Phelps cannot back away from his committment, as he's bet all he has on it, doubled down and borrowed from everyone he can get his claws into.
I think it speaks better of us, the people horrified at the idea of an eternal punishment, than of a god who might be powerful yet merciless.
For some reason that quote just grabs you by the brain. It shakes sense into a person as to just what this is all about.
Of course, there are differing versions of hell, whether it exists, or how long a person might spend there. Still, this version is of the most awful god that could ever exist.
We may be killed by power, but we should never submit for that reason alone.
... no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything — you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
That's a fantastic quote, and true as well.
I like that. I should read more Heinlein. Actually, maybe I should read "some" Heinlein
My brother has a couple of piles of them so maybe I could borrow a few.
Unfortunately, in the end a dead man is a controlled man. That alternative isn't pleasant so there's gotta be a way around that. Oh right...pre-emptive strikes.
The mention of Heinlein started me thinking about other science fiction writers. The title "Do androids dream of electric sheep" made me wonder if atheists make good martyrs.
Well ... this guy was no atheist, but I'm in complete agreement with his sentiments:
Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
-- Gen. George S. Patton
BTW, if you want some recommendations re: Heinlein reading, just give a shout. As you may have guessed, I'm fairly well traveled in his stuff.
Outstanding! Patton might have been an SOB but both he and Sherman knew how wars are won. Amazing how many people seem to think war and law enforcement should be fair fights.
Actually I would like a recommendation regarding Heinlein. My first thought was that I'd like it to be something that kind of sums up his ideas on the important philosophical ideas. I'll leave that to you though so...surprise me. (I know there's quite a few Heinlein fans here so what starts out as surprise could very well turn to traumatizing in short order)
Exactly. Although only 7, that child showed an understanding of the concept of "forever" and "eternity" that most religious people do not have. Sadly, the god described who burns humans in hell for the whole of eternity should they do something to his displeasure, is the version of god that most religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and so on) believe in. Religious people who advocate the idea of an "all-loving God" tend to conveniently downplay the horror of that.