‘The wrath of God on children of disobedience’
COVID-19 in the theology and ideology of the Westboro Baptist Church
Keywords:Westboro Baptist Church , Theology, Ideology, Sermons -- Themes, Covid-19
The arrival of pandemic diseases (of which COVID-19 is the latest, but not likely to be the last) could be understood, along with impending ecological disaster and global warming, to be the major existential threats envisioned by, and facing, our contemporary culture. This article focuses on the use made of the theme of COVID-19 in the theology and ideology of the Westboro Baptist Church – a Calvinist and Primitive Baptist church founded in Topeka, Kansas in the 1950s by Fred Phelps Sr (1929–2014). While numerically small, the church has become infamous through its practice of picketing funerals, and has been characterized as a hate group espousing antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ positions. Through a reading and analysis of sermons and other published materials from the Westboro Baptist Church, the article maps the motif of COVID-19 as it is used by a church whose members perceive themselves as the heralds of an angry God.