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Fred Phelps's Hate Is Real, Son Says

Fred Phelps's Hate Is Real, Son Says

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While his outrageous displays may strain credulity, Fred Phelps sincerely believes the antigay creed he preaches, his estranged son told a suburban St. Louis audience Thursday night.

"My father definitely believes it," Nate Phelps (pictured) told a near-capacity crowd at Clayton High School, in an appearance sponsored by the school's Gay-Straight Alliance Club. "He's believed it for years. This whole ideology has been there from the beginning."

Nate Phelps, who says his father was abusive, walked away from his family and their antigay Westboro Baptist Church decades ago, as soon as he turned 18. He now speaks out for tolerance of gays and others, and he encouraged his audience to practice that.

"Any opportunity to beat this drum to be a counter voice to the message they are putting out there right now is important to me," he said, according to TV station KSDK.

The Phelps clan, based in Topeka, Kan., has long been notorious for spreading its "God Hates Fags" message with demonstrations at funerals of people with AIDS as well as hate-crimes victims such as Matthew Shepard. In recent years the family has been protesting at military funerals, claiming U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are God's punishment for America's acceptance of gays. The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the Phelpses' right to stage such protests.

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