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 offspring 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.
It’s either you’re with them or you’re against them he says.
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 have been more violence and life would have become very dangerous for him.
Now driving a tax in Cranbrook, Phelps has been a popular public speaker to American and Canadian audiences for eight years.
However, he admits it was initially a difficult process to reflect on his family in such a public manner.
It was a chance meeting one night that would help start all of it though, when Phelps picked up a UBC journalism student in his taxi.
The student learned of Phelps’ story after a couple kilometres and questions, and ended up doing a school project on the son of the infamous leader.
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)