A film crew is following around a Cranbrook resident whose father founded a controversial US church.
Nate Phelps is the son of the late Fred Phelps who headed the Westboro Baptist Church from 1955 until his death in 2014.
Phelps, who first moved to Cranbrook 12 years ago, and two siblings are the subjects of an American documentary called “Not My Father’s Child“.
The film will focus on the child abuse the three children of Fred Phelps allegedly suffered while growing up under the Westboro Baptist creator.
Some have called the church a hate group that has used extreme and sometimes violent measures to protest other religions or minority groups such as the LGBTQ community.
He argues when it comes to this group, there is no negotiating.
It’s either you’re with them or you’re against them.
So, when Phelps decided he was leaving because of what he calls the “violent and destructive circumstances” at home he had to do it in a way no one knew about.
If not, he says there would be more violence and life would have become very dangerous for him.
Phelps, who drives a taxi in Cranbrook, has been a popular public speaker to American and Canadian audiences for eight years but he says initially it was a difficult process to begin reflecting on his family in such a public manner.
It was a chance meeting one night that would help start all of this though when he picked up a UBC journalism student.
The student learned of Phelps’ story after a couple kilometres and questions, and ended up doing a piece on him for school.
The piece would garner a lot of attention and people would start reaching out to Phelps to talk.
He explains it was because his family cut him off and ostransized him that he ultimately decided to share his story.
Phelps reveals it wasn’t a matter of getting revenge but more so a realization of how destructive their message and practices are to other humans.
He says he wants to help people who have also suffered child abuse growing up or may gone through similar experiences.
In a quote from the documentary Phelps proclaims “What I want more than anything is for things to be better in the world. I want us to stop being so cruel…and start recognizing that we’re not really that different from each other, and to stop looking for reasons to hate people.”
The documentary has been filming for the past five years and is expected to premiere next year.
Watch a trailer for the film here.
– Cranbrook resident Nate Phelps
– Full interview with Nate
(Main photo courtesy of Not My Father’s Child film//Facebook)