Nate Phelps' father founded one of the most infamous hate groups in modern America, Westboro Baptist Church. But unlike Fred Phelps, Nate is working on the side of tolerance and acceptance.
In a newly published interview with Salon.com, Nate speaks about how he ran away from his family on the night of his 18th birthday some 35 years ago. Today he lives in Canada, where he speaks out about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and the role religion can play in child abuse.
In the interview, Nate Phelps speaks openly about the physical and mental abuse he and his siblings suffered at the hands of their father. "I mean there were some things that you just knew if he found out about it there was gonna be trouble," Phelps said. "There was also this tendency to explode without any warning and that actually was far more destructive in the long run because you just never knew, and that's more terrifying than cause-and-effect."
Nate was working as a cab driver in Canada when, by chance, he picked up a journalism student. The two got to talking and Phelps ended up giving an interview that became a widely read post on the BBC. People began emailing him and he realized that he could use his past experiences to, as he puts it, "have a positive impact on their lives and the lives of others who were suffering from this message and this behavior that my family was engaged in."
Nate hasn't spoken to his father in years, but he does remark that at some point he hopes to reconnect with his mother. "That's one of my long-shot hopes, that he passes before her and depending on where she is in her ideology, there is a possibility that she and I can reconcile and talk again."
Nate Phelps is currently working on a book about his life. He is also the subject of an upcoming documentary.