Film | Fred Phelps | Military | News | Shirley Phelps-Roper

Documentary on Westboro Baptist Church Airing on Showtime

K. Ryan Jones' film Fall from Grace about Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church is currently airing on Showtime and will be through the holiday season.

FallfromgraceThe AP writes: "Pastor Fred Phelps and his Topeka, Kan., congregation — most of them members of his immediate family — think any publicity is good publicity. They cooperated fully with Jones, who allows them plenty of time to explain their ideology. Some viewers might think they get just enough rope to hang themselves...Jones told The Associated Press that he worried it might be irresponsible to give Phelps yet another forum. But he believes the documentary will do more good than harm. 'This is not a problem that's going to go away simply by ignoring it,' Jones said. 'The goal of the film is to educate people about this group — the way they think, the way that they act and why they do these things, so we can be better equipped to handle it.' Jones gathered footage for 'Fall from Grace' between October 2005 and October 2006, spending time with church members and interviewing those affected by their protests, including Topeka's mayor and police chief and the widow of a young soldier. It's not a polished documentary. (Jones had scant financial resources — he estimates his budget at $10,000 — and he relies too heavily on footage of Westboro members protesting and montages of their picket signs.) But the film accomplishes Jones' goal of explaining the origins of Phelps' vitriol toward fallen soldiers."

Air dates are available on Showtime's website.

Fall from Grace [official site]

Westboro Baptist's Hot New Single: God Hates the World [tr]
Court Unseals Financial Records of Westboro Baptist Church [tr]
Westboro Baptist Church Thumbs Nose at $11 Million Judgment [tr]

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  1. I can just imagine this documentary... as told from the MILITARY perspective... Believe me, this documentary will be NO FRIEND to gay people. I've seen all the CNN, FOX, ABC, PBS, etc. specials on the Westboro Baptist Church and Fred Phelps, and they all sing the same tune: "Isn't it HORRIBLE how these accolytes of Fred Phelps protest at the funerals of OUR HEROIC SOLDIERS?!" I'd be surprised if the documentary even mentions for more than five seconds the fact that Phelps has been doing this same kind of "protesting" at the funerals of gay men for the last 20 years. This documentarist is only NOW making his documentary because it never really bothered him when Phelps was spewing his venom at gay men.... somehow that just didn't seem so bad, huh, Mr. Jones?... But God forbid they should picket the funeral of a person who helped cause the deaths of 1,000,000 innocent Iraqis ALL FOR THE PURPOSE OF STEALING THEIR OIL.... I know the type of person Mr. Jones is... profoundly homophobic.

    Posted by: Dan Cobb | Dec 6, 2007 11:35:23 AM

  2. Mr. Jones is quoted that "this is a problem that is not going to go away"... nice of him to say that after Phelps has been brutally picketing the funerals of gay men for 20 years+. I guess once the picketing started at the funerals of soldiers, THEN, and ONLY THEN, did it become a problem. Mr. Jones is a sensation-seeker. All the phony pathos and hand-wringing about how these evil protesters could disrupt a soldier's funeral with such sordid comments... WHERE WERE THESE PEOPLE WHEN PHELPS WAS PICKETING THE FUNERALS OF GAY MEN... THEIR SILENCE BACK THEN, THEIR SILENCE OF 20 YEARS SAYS SO MUCH. WHAT THEIR SILENCE SAYS IS THIS: "Fred Phelps picketing gay funerals is not such a bad thing... at least it's not so bad as to make me to say anything about it." Now that Fred has turned his protest against American soldiers... now suddenly it's a national outrage.... F-You Mr. Jones.

    Posted by: Dan Cobb | Dec 6, 2007 11:42:41 AM

  3. Another documentary is cool, but there's already this one that I like a lot:

    It's probably not a through as this one is, but whatever.

    Posted by: Noexes | Dec 6, 2007 12:13:33 PM

  4. @ Dan Cobb:

    Do you K. Ryan Jones? I've never heard of him before. It appears he's a recent graduate from Kansas University. Not that he couldn't also be homophobic, as you've suggested -- however, nothing I've read about him seems to suggest he is.

    Also -- gay people can make documentaries, too. And it's not like there's been a wealth of queer filmmakers exposing Phelps's congregation.

    And as for where Jones was 20 years ago? He was 3.

    Posted by: Mike B. | Dec 6, 2007 12:33:38 PM

  5. "Do you *know*" -- that's supposed to be "Do you know K. Ryan Jones."

    Posted by: Mike B. | Dec 6, 2007 12:34:48 PM

  6. Being a Kansas native and University of Kansas alumni, I'll all too familiar with the Phelps. Trust me, any chance for the world to see them bust out their particular brand of crazy helps us all. I'm setting my TIVO to catch it tonight.

    Posted by: David in KC | Dec 6, 2007 1:27:18 PM

  7. I won't be watching the documentary or anything else associated with the Phelps. I would consider sending them a documentary about gay folks and how we aren't going to be going away anytime soon, and how we are in the churches and in government, and how we are working toward marriage and how we do have the influence and financial resources to run them out of town on a flat car.

    I'm thinking Nike.

    Just do it.

    Posted by: Mark | Dec 6, 2007 10:55:45 PM

  8. So many stories on Phelps focus on his "theological" motivations, but they completely skip over the much more significant financial motives for his "protests". Phelps is just running a scam -- getting people to attack him or other church members by being as obnoxious and confrontational as possible and then suing for financial damages. If the only people in the church are his family and they spend all of their time on church activities, how do you think they make a living? Looking at the promotional materials for this film, it looks like the director has been suckered into believing in Phelps's "morality".

    Posted by: daveb | Dec 7, 2007 6:54:56 AM

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