TOPEKA, Kan. (ABP) – Pastor Fred Phelps said today the infamous “God Hates Fags” signs associated with protests by his Westboro Baptist Church are the result of a typographical error.
Phelps said the signs, used thousands of times around the country since an initial protest at a Topeka park in 1991, were supposed to read “God Hates Flags.” They were meant to draw attention to the problem of overseas sweatshop operations used to mass produce flags flown by nations around the world.
Phelps said protestors didn’t notice the error, because they only see the back of the signs while they are holding them.
“I wish someone had told us,” said an embarrassed Margie Phelps, the attorney who recently argued successfully that the signs are constitutionally protected free speech before the U.S. Supreme Court. She said it should be apparent to everyone that the church has nothing against gays, because the events they picket seldom have anything to do with homosexuality.
She said that when the church started targeting funerals of fallen soldiers, she thought it would be evident that they were speaking about flags. She also expressed surprise that anyone would interpret their message as a protest of U.S. wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“We support any military action that removes a nation’s flag,” she said. She said her church dreams of a one-world government prophesied in the Bible, because there will then be no need for the continued manufacture of national banners they believe are an affront to God.
It is unclear how the apology will affect the public image of the small family church that has been labeled “the most hated family in America.”
A counter-protestor at the group’s most recent appearance said the new message didn’t change his feelings. “They can have my flag when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers,” he said in response to reprinted signs held April 1 outside the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.
Happy April Fools’ Day from your friends at Associated Baptist Press.