The FBI Invited Westboro Baptist Church to Train its Police Officers and Agents

The FBI invited Westboro Baptist Church to two of its facilities to help train agents and police officers, NPR reports:

Wbc …the FBI recently invited leaders of the fundamentalist church to the Quantico Marine base in Virginia to talk to FBI agents as part of the bureau's counterterrorism training program. But after four sessions this spring, the FBI canceled the arrangement amid criticism from inside the bureau, while church leaders claimed that they had been misled.

Apparently officers needed training on the kind of hate  theWBC inspires:

He said the program was designed to teach agents "how to stay measured when they are speaking with a witness or a suspect with whom they have a strong, visceral disagreement."

[Timothy] Phelps conceded that strong, visceral disagreement is one of the emotions Westboro inspires. And that's what he found in the classrooms he visited. Officials say there were about 50 local law enforcement officials and agents in each session, and they say Westboro wasn't paid for its participation. Phelps confirmed that no money exchanged hands.

Phelps says he had no idea he was part of a "domestic terrorism curriculum":

Law enforcement officials who attended the session said it was focused on domestic terrorism. They were told that the FBI invited Westboro members to the class so police officers and agents could see extremists up close and understand what makes them tick.

Listen to the full report at NPR.


  1. candideinnc says

    The lead in this article isn’t quite accurate. Westboro didn’t “train” the officers. The crazies were used in the training, basically like guinea pigs, to exhibit how loonies can be managed by the officers. It is not like they were teaching the FBI the fine points of homophobia.

  2. mstrozfckslv says


    just noticed the “Don’t worship the dead” sign the old lady has


    what the hell is zombie jesus? if not worshiping the dead

  3. anon says

    Not one of the bureau’s prouder moments. Besides, WBC is non-violent, so all you would learn is that sticks-and-stones will brake your bones but names will never hurt you.

  4. Buster says

    I am so impressed by Westboro Baptist Church. A tiny group (under 100 members) of crazies has managed to get itself tens — if not hundreds — of millions of dollars of free publicity and attention, FOR YEARS!!! And it’s all been done without any substantial violence. For a long time I was annoyed by them, but lately the amount of attention they are given amuses me. Why do people keep reporting on this? It’s like doing a story every year on the 3 people who come down to picket every US gay pride parade. It’s not news.

    And as for WBC –why would they stop what they are doing? It’s either spend the week at home in Topeka or take a trip to some exciting big city where you’re likely to show up on the evening news. Road trip!! Now the FBI comes calling? Who wouldn’t choose the protesting? Fred Phelps’ message is wrong and ridiculous, but any good activist should be learning from his technique.

  5. bob says

    Somehow, despite never getting paid, Westboro members keep showing up all over the place, working.
    Now the FBI is engaging in this fiction. Are we really supposed to believe WBC just showed up, hung around, and worked for the FBI on a purely volunteer basis? And, if so, doesn’t that mean the FBI has to accept every single volunteer who approachs them?
    “Hi, I heard the WBC volunteered to train your agents. I’ve got my own strong visceral disagreement I’d like to share with y’all. I’ll bring my own rubbers. You’ll have to supply your own lube.”

  6. says

    Yeah, I don’t believe they weren’t compensated.

    Really, did they need to send out to Westboro to find assholes who can easily offend? I think Virginia may have a handful locally.

    As for the group ‘not hurting anyone,’ I think we must live on different planets. Hate speech may be ineffective on the strong and the secure, but it is debilitating to those who aren’t there yet.

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