Westboro Baptist Church, known more for its theatrical, attention-getting demonstrations than for its spreading of the gospel, finally admitted what many have suspected all along – it’s all been a colossal prank.
“It started in the church basement,” said former member and amateur performer Keith Lindsay. “We were losing members and money, so I formed an improv group called Winging It. We dressed up as angels and did lighthearted skits based on good deeds.”
The improvised good deeds changed depending on the audience, as Lindsay explained. “Sometimes we’d be at the mall and some woman would walk by wearing the most disastrously put together, wretched outfit, so we’d re-style her! I’d reach into my big bag and give her a makeover right on the spot! I have a talent for that,” he added.
The small-scale improv wasn’t giving the church the exposure they wanted, so Lindsay decided to “take things up a notch” in in effort to recruit more members. The troupe began acting out the most dramatic scenes from the Bible.
“We were stoning this woman at the mall once,” said Lindsay, “when a mother with her little boy said we should stop because it was too violent for her son to see. Well I was exhausted from being up all night practicing my improv and making all those paper mache rocks, and I lost my temper, but I stayed in character which is an improv comedy rule.”
Lindsay’s ‘ah-ha’ moment came when he criticized the young mother for dressing her young son in a pink shirt. “I said, ‘God hates the pink shirts and your son looks like a ‘you-know-what.’ She clearly didn’t know what I meant, and because I was still ‘in the moment’ I suddenly blurted out, ‘GOD HATES FAGS!’ and that’s how the whole thing started! The moment was so electric! I was trembling!” said Lindsay.
From that point forward, the church found themselves flooded with new members, all volunteering to make signs, protest funerals, and picket every event they could possibly think of.
“So that’s the story,” said Lindsay. “It was all just an act. The idea started as an improv comedy bit that we thought could get us some attention and new members, and it just blew up from there! I’m so relieved to finally come out and tell the truth,” he said. “‘Pastor’ Fred Phelps was a genius, and he took my blow-up at that woman in the mall to new heights. Once he got his daughter Shirley in front of a crowd, with her empty gaze and haggard looks, the entire thing became more believable than ever. I credit Fred and Shirley in making these little bits we had into a work of comedic excellence.”
Lindsay left the church when founder Fred Phelps passed away in March 2014, and is now focusing on a solo performing career.
“It was time to move on,” said the actor, but right now I’m writing my own one-man show, so just move over Liza Minnelli! Step aside Lada Gaga! I’m getting my act together and taking it on the road!”