I came across this document a couple of years ago, but I couldn't stomach reading it all the way through. Mainly because the lengthy accounts of physical and psychological abuse, reported by Fred Phelps' now-grown children, Mark and Nate, are so horrifying.
One brief example is this Chapter Two excerpt where Mark Phelps describes his father beating him and his brother using the handle of a mattock (a pick-hoe):
"After 40 strokes, I was weak and nauseous and very pale. My body hurt terribly. Then it was Nate's turn. He got 40 each time. I staggered to the bathtub where my mom was wetting a towel to swab my face. Behind me, I could hear the mattock and my brother was choking and moaning. He was crying and he wouldn't stop." The voice in the phone halts. After an awkward moment, clearing of throats, it continues: "Then I heard my father shouting my name. My mom was right there, but she wouldn't help me. It hurt so badly during the third beating that I kept wanting to drop so he would hit me in the head. I was hoping I'd be knocked out, or killed...anything to end the pain. After that...it was waiting that was terrible. You didn't know if, when he was done with Nate, he'd hurt you again. I was shaking in a cold panic. Twenty-five years since it happened, and the same sick feeling in my stomach comes back now..."
Of the 13 Phelps children four, including Mark and Nate, have left what is called "the family cult." In Mark Phelps' opinion,
"My father is a very unstable person who is determined to hurt people. And because he is so bound to be hateful and hurtful, and because he's so untrustworthy, I believe it's a good idea to respond to him with caution much like the caution used when dealing with a rattlesnake or a mad dog. You see, the causes that he crusades for, including the Bible, are not the issue here. He simply wants to hate and to have a forum for his hate . . . If it weren't the homosexuals, it would be something else."
I appreciate that Mark Phelps says neither the Bible nor the issue of homosexuality is what is really driving his mentally disturbed father. Still it's amazing to me that conservative Christians don't do more to expose and denounce this psychopath. Try reading any portion of that court document and tell me if you can walk away without feeling physically ill and heartbroken over what the Phelps children, and all the other victims of Fred Phelps' rage, have suffered.