The Most Hated Family In America

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Published on 26th February 2016 by

A 2007 Louis Theroux documentary about the family at the core of the Westboro Baptist Church, an affiliated church organisation with extreme views. The organisation was led by former lawyer Fred Phelps, most of the church members were members of his family. The church believes that the whole of the United States is immoral due to its tolerance of homosexuality and they protest the funerals of U.S. military members killed in action with offensive signs. The documentary was aired in numerous countries including the UK, Ireland and Australia.

Theroux follows members as they protest the funeral of soldier Kevin Zeigler who died whilst trying to disable a bomb in Iraq, he meets people who are holding a counter-protest against the presence of the church at the funeral. In the documentary he interviews various members of the church including the leader Fred Phelps, now deceased, and his daughter-in-law Shirley Phelps-Roper.

A few years later Theroux returned to the US to film a follow up to investigate the reported departure of several members of the church, the resulting documentary The Most Hated Family in Crisis (2011) was prompted by an email he had received from a young person who had left the church.

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