Central to the controversy surrounding Fred Phelps is his notion that God hates. The ability of God to hate is a very rational belief in Phelps' mind. "Hate in the Deity is not a passion like it is with humans, you know," Phelps explained. "It is a purpose that is a part of his Nature and His essential attributes."
"From all eternal ages past, God has loved some of Adam's race and purposed to do them good, and he's hated the rest and purposed to punish them for their sins."
The Bible is full of hate, Phelps says.
Attributes of God linked to hate, anger, wrath and punishment are used two thirds more often in the Bible than attributes linked to love, mercy, pity, long-suffering, gentleness, and goodness, he claims.
"You can't be a Bible preacher without preaching the hatred of God, the wrath of God. It is a fabrication, this modern Christianity, that says good old God loves everybody, like some grandfather or Santa Claus figure (and) is gonna wink at sin. Nobody believes that God willy-nilly forgives people, except heretics. There is no such thing as divine forgiveness without repentance," Phelps said.
"Right there is the crux of the matter. These fags pretend God loves them like they are and will take them to heaven like they are. There is no forgiveness, there is no heaven except for those who repent and forsake their sins," Phelps said. "These fags don't have no intention of not sinning any more. They love their lifestyle more than they love life itself and are willing to risk AIDS, more than they care for heaven. And if any of them had any hope, it is that the truth be preached to them.
Phelps dismisses anyone who says God doesn't hate people.
"Do you believe in hell or not? Millions and billions of people there now and more going, or not? Does God love those people living in hell? If he does, he's got a very peculiar way of showing it. I'd kind of like it if everybody in the world would be in heaven, but I got this Bible telling me that ain't gonna happen!"
Phelps says his message, ultimately, is one of love.
"If you don't believe the Bible and bow to its injunctions, I got nothing for you," he says, throwing up his hands. "You can't understand the love of God properly without setting it over, juxtaposing it over with the hatred of God, the wrath of God, the certainty of hell, and that's the highest form of love, to tell people the truth."