Meeting Draino, The Future Of The Westboro Baptist Church

Steve Drain was Fred Phelps’s closest disciple inside the anti-gay hate group The Westboro Baptist. According to the Daily Beast, he is the Westboro Baptist Church’s future.

I have met Steve Drain. I spent several days with the Phelps family in Topeka, Kansas, writing about them for my book, The American Dream. Though he isn’t related to the Phelps family, Drain is a hundred times more insane. Here’s what happened when I spent a really uncomfortable van ride with him and Fred Phelps’s son as they dropped members of their church (including Steve Drain’s daughter) off at the airport so they could picket a funeral in Cincinnati. This is what makes him tick:   

“Those kids don’t have boring lives,” Steve Drain laughs, unfazed that his high school-age daughter will soon be facing hordes of angry bikers at the soldier’s funeral. “They don’t need summer camp!”

Meanwhile, Shirley’s brother Tim, who works for the Kansas Department of Corrections, drives in silence.

“I came out of curiosity. It turned into something more significant,” Steve explains about his first visit to Topeka in 2001 to film a documentary that focused on people’s ignorance of their own religion. Steve had a spiritual awaking. So impacted was he by meeting Fred Phelps, not only did Steve change the focus of his film, but also moved his entire family from Florida to live across the street from the Phelps compound. Steve then made his family join the Westboro Baptist Church — one of the rare few members not related to the Phelps family.

“Fred Phelps told me if I made Westboro Baptist Church look like buffoons, my film career would be over.” Unlike other documentaries that mock Phelps, Steve had a different vision: “You can’t make him look like a fool! You can’t make God’s servant look like a fool!” Originally, Steve had eighteen people helping with his documentary. As the film’s focus become clear, his crew ran for the hills. “When it came time to edit, I was on my own.” Steve recalls.

Once completed, the documentary didn’t get the warm reception he expected. It was banned in Canada. It was banned in Sweden. It violated both countries’ hate crime laws.

“I sent a copy to a childhood friend, and I never heard from him ever again.”

Same cold reaction from the Telluride Film Festival. Prior to his “awakening,” he worked on the festival crew, where he was known by his nickname, Draino. “Telluride takes care of their own. It’s a no-brainer for the crew to get projects into the festival. I submitted the film. Bam! Radio silence.” Other festivals had similar reaction. So did PBS. Easy explanation: “Gramps said, the whole entertainment industry and media are slaves to the fag agenda.” (Funny, I thought it was the evil Jews.) “If you question that lifestyle, you’re done!”

Draino’s film projects now center on Fred Phelps’s love crusades, primarily the Sign of the Times website. “It made jurors cry at the trial they were so angry,” he boasts.

The site contains feel-good video testimonials that ridicule the hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard, dead soldiers, victims of hurricane Katrina, and much, much more!

Clearly, Draino has lost the fucking plot.

As we pass Famous Dave’s Rib House he solemnly confesses, “The Lord has been kind and merciful in the long history of my folly. I’m ashamed of the sins I committed in the past. I’m not proud of it.” Draino’s American Dream defined: “To live in the reverent fear of God is a gift from God.”

Tim mocks with a laugh. “My American Dream is a nice house, white picket fence, golf pants . . .”

“I’m living one of the most fortunate lives in the history of man–completely by lottery. I didn’t even earn it,” Draino continues, looking damaged by deep, hidden secrets. “Any hobo can preach, “Do not steal!” We’re preaching the unvarnished word of God, cover to cover!”

My stomach begins to ache. I hope they don’t bury me in a shallow grave out by the shed because that’s how they interpret God’s word.

“Look at how small our group is. They’re mad at the word of God! They’re mad at the Bible!”

Like a biblical comedy team, Tim and Draino set each other up for Bible verses, occasionally finishing the other’s quote.

Tim’s floodgates have opened: “We’re at that time. How much further will we go before that switch is triggered?” With disgust: “I got some global warming for ya! You can say it’s a fairy tale or holy shit. It’s just a chair shift on the deck of the Titanic.” Clearly worked up: “The economy is collapsing, but the bars are filled with forceful people full of lust chasing each other!”

Am I soon going to receive Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box? ‘Cuz Tim is starting to sound a lot like Kevin Spacey in Seven. As we careen by farmland, Draino rants like a white-knuckled alcoholic telling of the evils of drink: “There’s a moral decay! It’s like a body so rotten, you push into and guts fall out–that’s our nation.” From the front seat he mimes pushing his finger into a rotted body.

Man! Are we there yet? Are they pissed off at fornicators ‘cuz they’re not getting any!? Is this part of the indoctrination? I need air . . . or heroin. Why is it that those who scream, “Sinner!” are, almost always, the people concealing the deepest, darkest sins?

The topic then changes to “fat chicks.”

“Some fat chick came into the jail, and she had a whole bag of drugs and five hundred dollars.”

“Did she have a Michelin flap?” Draino crudely snorts.

“That’s not where she was carrying it!”

Laughs.

God Hates Fred Phelps And Twitter

Only the good die young; Fred Phelps was a very old man. Fred’s origination/cult, the Westboro Baptist Church — and their subtly named picket group God Hates Fags — maintain that God hates homosexuals above all other kinds of “sinners.” (Sounds like someone has got some issues.)

In 1989, Gramps (as he’s affectionately called by his followers), on his angry-man Don Quixote quest, began screaming, “Fag!” into the midday Topeka sun. Gramp’s first picket was against “All the fags having sex in the park.” (Gays, as you know, can only have sex in parks.) With the same commitment he instilled in his children during the ‘70s (when they reportedly were the family’s main source of income, selling candy door to door,) Gramps felt it was time to stand up against the scum and the filth. The first signs Gramps constructed (one letter at a time), simply read Gay Park and God Hates Gays. Immediately, students from the University of Kansas held counter-protests. This only enraged Gramps. As a vendetta, he came back with even larger and more elaborate signs; such gems as the plain indignant: It’s the Fags, Stupid! Needless to say, Gramps was a little homophobic. If irony would serve its just due desserts, Fred Phelps’ last words would’ve been: “I LOVE COCK! BIG BLACK COCK!”

His lifetime was a long drive down gay-hating crazy town; with Fred orchestrating family pickets the funerals of soldier’s funerals, AIDs patients, slain schoolchildren, and even the funeral of Ronnie James Dio.

But did you know that Fred’s group once picketed the offices of Twitter in San Francisco? It’s true — I was there. Apparently, God hates Twitter. (Would it help matters if Jesus turned 140 characters into 280 characters?) The Westboro Baptist Church crew, comprised of four women and one large, clunky dude, marched in front of the offices of Twitter. But San Francisco’s finest and funniest, who launched a counter-protest, were ready for them.

It was great to see San Francisco turn something into a funny circus out of the Fred Phelps, a man who brought a lot of people pain and anger.

sign copy 

This man was stating the obvious. Perhaps the most controversial sign of the entire protest.

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God sure hates a lot of things these days. Does he hate ponies because gay people like to ride them? Or is it because tiny horses really tick him off?

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FRED

Google the word santorum and cringe. But in the case of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, I think it’s true.

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Now this protester is right on target with his sign. The big question is, does God hate Facebook? (We all know he hates MySpace.)

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“Twitter only gets a half-hour of hate!” a confused protester exclaimed at the WBC’s sudden departure. “I guess Twitter really isn’t that gay.”