America’s Most Hated Family in Crisis
Louis Theroux returns to Topeka, Kansas, for a second visit to the Westboro Baptist Church.
A fire-and-brimstone Christian group, made up of 80 or so members of the Phelps family, the WBC have made themselves notorious in America – and worldwide – for their pickets of the funerals of soldiers killed in action, where they wield anti-gay placards.
The Phelps believe the soldiers were killed as part of God’s punishment of America for its toleration of homosexuality. But, four years on from Louis’s last visit, there are signs of disarray in the Phelps clan. A series of defections of family members has shaken up the church. They’ve been at the centre of a landmark Supreme Court case and, possibly because of the resulting attention, their beliefs have become increasingly bizarre.
In America’s Most Hated Family In Crisis, Louis is once again granted a behind-the-scenes look at America’s most controversial Christian group as it gears up for what it sees as the final showdown with doomed America. Louis explores the church’s strange new belief that Obama is The Beast spoken of in the Book Of Revelation, and their conviction that we are now in the run-up to the second coming of Christ.
But the church members have now seen his first documentary and, as a result, they revile Louis, who they see as one of the most evil men in all human history – alleging that he is on a par with Pontius Pilate for his supposed mockery of true Christianity. Yet the church members also see the spreading of their message as a necessary part of the church’s out-reach, even if it means spending time with a hopeless unbeliever.
Louis also tracks down two of the departed members – young women, both of whom he had interviewed in the first film when they were still inside the church. He probes the parents of the apostates, who have “cut off” their renegade daughters, and who now affect a strange and chilling indifference to the separation. Louis gets under the skin of the church members, showing the human cost of living as part of an extreme religious group: the secret pain of parents who’ve turned their back on their children and the forbidden yearnings of the younger female devotees.
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