By Casey Nolen -
They call themselves the Westboro Baptist Church and they are comprised of mostly one family, the Phelps, with one message that they try to spread above all others - that God is punishing America for its tolerance of homosexuality. The group regularly protests military funerals holding signs with anti-gay slogans.
So it might seem like an odd fit for the Gay Straight Alliance Club of Clayton High School to extend an invitation to speak, to a member of the Phelps family.
Except that Nate Phelps is himself at odds with his family. He walked away from what he says was his abusive father and his brand of religion at the age of 18.
"I found him on Facebook, you know," says Cooper Minnis the co-president of the Gay Straight Alliance at Clayton High School.
Thanks to Minnis and other students with the GSA, Thursday night Phelps spoke to a nearly standing room only crowd at Clayton High School.
"To try and inject a certain amount of insight, knowledge and tolerance in to our community because that's certainly something we could always use," says Minnis.
Phelps told the crowd his family's protests at funerals and the signs they hold up are not just for show.
"My father definitely believes it. He's believed it for years. This whole ideology has been there from the beginning," says Phelps.
He encouraged the students to exercise a tolerance he says he never learned at home.
"Sometimes I feel like it's not fair. Why should my voice matter more than anyone else's?" wonders Phelps. "I think ultimately it's about how you treat humans in general. And what my family is doing is mistreating humans in general in many ways.
"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," says Phelps.
Phelps did not charge for his appearance at Clayton High School. He says he's happy to speak when he is asked. The students are raising money to cover his travel expense from his home in Canada.
video interview below the fold.