Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 23, No. 50, Ed. 1 Friday, April 27, 2007 Page: 34 of 68
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I if e+sty lesp i ritua I ity
Oh, puh-leeze .. 3
How I ended up phoning Shirley Phelps-Roper
trying to pick her brain over the question:
'What would Jesus say about intersexuals?'
By Daniel ft. Kusner Life+Style Editor
henever Shirley Phelps-Roper
appears on TV, I can't take my eyes
off her. She's as fierce as a pack of
killer drag queens. While spewing her hatred for
"fags" and "doomed America," Shirley practi-
cally vibrates — like a Hollywood producer who
has stopped taking her Lithium and just snorted
two fat rails of cocaine.
Shirley, of course, is the garrulous daughter
of Fred Phelps, pastor and leader of the
Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. While
the Phelps family name has made its way into
many news headlines, Fred will be immortalized
for picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard —
his followers held signs with slogans like
"Matthew Shepard Rots in Hell."
How Wyoming citizens peacefully thwarted
Phelps' protest became the dramatic epiphany
for "The Laramie Project."
Fred is now in his late 70s. And after viewing
"The Most Hated Family in America," Louis
Theroux's recent BBC documentary, which is
available on YouTube, it's safe to assume that
Fred is such a nasty, mean-tempered codger that
he now shies away from media requests. Shirley
currently serves as the lightning rod for
Westboro Baptist. Whenever Howard Stern
calls, she's more than happy to show up. And
Shirley can out-scream Sean Hannity or any one
else at FOX News.
Last week, Shirley made her second appear-
ance on "The Tyra Banks Show." And after a
heated exchange — with Shirley calling Tyra a
"fag enabler" — the talk-show host promised
viewers that the Phelps family would never
make another appearance on her show.
Overflowing with intense conviction, Shirley
possesses a fascinating charisma. So does
Charles Manson. While Shirley may be an
overzealous homophobe, she's not stupid. And
she's never at a loss for words.
Ever since I read Jeffrey Eugenides' Pulitzer
Prize-winning novel "Middlesex" — the com-
ing-of-age tale about a 14-year-old girl who dis-
covers she also has a penis and testicles — I've
had a question for Bible thumpers: What would
34 I dallasvoice.com I 04,27.07
Jesus say about
the way, the word
considered a dis-
have existed long
And evangelicals can
tirelessly preach against
same-sex love. But aren't
creatures supposedly cre-
ated by God? According to
the Bible, which gender are
they allowed to hook up
with? If the answer is: other
intersexuals, would that mean
that the same genitalia could
never touch? And what if they
did touch — and what if they
I've been dying to field these
questions to a scriptural know-it-all. And
at the top of my Evangelical Want List was
Shirley Phelps-Roper — who used to scare the
hell out of me.
A few weeks ago, after watching the BBC
documentary, I started looking for a publicity
contact for Westboro Baptist on
GodHatesFags.com. While conducting this
search, I also came across a tidbit of information
about the Phelps family: Before he was dis-
barred in 1977, Fred Phelps was a lawyer —
apparently Fred has a background as a civil
rights advocate. Out of the 13 Phelps children,
11 hold law degrees, including Shirley.
A press release contained a phone number for
Westboro Baptist. I dialed, and Shirley answered
the phone. I think she was standing in her
While listening to Shirley, one must exercise
extreme patience. She's quite a provocateur who
can talk — endlessly. If you manage to avoid
yelling at her, she's completely capable of hav-
ILLUSTRflTWt^BlTOKES/ Dallas Voice
ing a normal conversation. She's given birth to
11 children. And during our interview, which
lasted more than 90 minutes, Shirley's mother-
ing instinct would often kick in. I can't count
how many times she called me "hon" or correct-
ed me with tenderness. We even laughed togeth-
While speaking with Shirley, two fabulous
images crossed my mind: Piper Laurie's: Oscar-
nominated performance from "Carrie?' and
those manipulative and shrilly finger-pointing
girls from Arthur Miller 's "The Crucible,"
Also, Shirley's speech pattern is often punc-
tuated by yelling out a word or phrase in the
middle of a sentence. Sometimes the word being
highlighted is of no importance.
"This nation is on a fast TRACK! shortly to
its destruction. "
"The Pharisees and the Sadducees were
coming to the Lord Jesus Christ with the
ISSUE! that there is no resurrection. "
It's as if Shirley shouts just to jolt her listen-
er awake. And with her thick Kansas accent, she
resembles a nasally voiced character that Amy
Sedaris would have invented.
Lust-free eunuchs for Jesus
It was almost impossible to get Shirley to
offer a firm answer about Bible-sanctioned rela-
tionships for intersexuals. It was my first ques-
tion, but it took about 80 minutes until I finally
gave up. Shirley admitted that she's been asked
about instersexuals before. But she's quite
shrewd in the employing the interview methods
of "dodge" and "bridge:" She first dodged the
question with, "The answer is easy. You ask that
question like having sex is an axiomatic matter
of fact. That people need to be engaged in sexu-
Continued on Page 36
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 23, No. 50, Ed. 1 Friday, April 27, 2007, newspaper, April 27, 2007; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth238958/m1/34/?q=shirley%20phelps-roper%20kusner: accessed August 18, 2022), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.