Fred Phelps' "God Hates Fags" crusade comes to Santa Ana Saturday night for another demonstration of a play about the murder of Matthew Shepard, whose funeral was infamously picketed by the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.
The threat has prompted a downtown Santa Ana business leader to essentially warn merchants: steer clear of Bible-thumping nutbars.
"Please show great restraint and don't allow the media an opportunity to once again depict Santa Ana in the ignominious manner they have portrayed us in the past," Downtown, Inc. executive director Vicky Baxter writes in a letter to merchants.
The Phelps brigade travels around the country to protest The Laramie Project whenever the pastor finds out about a staging. When the play about the reaction of the people of Laramie, Wyoming, to the murder of a young gay man was made into an HBO movie, Phelps and his crew traveled to New York City to picket the HBO home offices with signs reading "United You'll Fall."
And so, they are now targeting Grand Central Theater in the Artist Village, where the play/community consciousness-raising project opens tonight and continues through Saturday night.
In Andrew Tonkovich's preview, Phelps is described as "that crazy-ass Baptist minister who shows up in the play--as in real life--to hold his evil signs spouting hatred." Here's Phelps' review of the play:
"The Laramie Project is a tawdry bit of banal fag melodrama--sordid, cheap, unaffecting, drearily predictable--without the least artistic or literary merit or redeeming social value. Indeed, its only purpose is to promote sinful, soul-damning sodomy by playing on the sick, maudlin emotions of doomed, godless America and thereby to recruit ill-bred teenagers to lives of sin, shame, disease, death and hell."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Speaking of hell, that's where Shepard was already burning, according to the sign Phelps carried at the man's funeral.
Speaking of no class, Phelps' godhatesfags.com website provides a daily counter of the number of days Shepard has been burning in hell.
Find out more about Phelps at rotten.com, a website name that certainly fits him.
Cal State Fullerton's Grand Central Theater is at 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana. Showtime Saturday is 8 p.m. The fireworks will likely begin before that.