Open your ears and eyes to open your mind.

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the inaugural SASHA Conference on the University of Missouri campus this last weekend. SASHA stands for “Skeptics, Atheists, and Secular Humanist Association” and is the only Humanist student organization sponsored by the university.

It was not the reaction to my own speech but the person who spoke after me that I found most fascinating.

There are people and groups in this world that you either love or hate – there is no middle ground. One of those entities may very well be the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas. Fred Phelps and his family, really the only members of this church, are the people who protest at the funerals of those who gave their lives serving this country in the United States military.

Even the Ku Klux Klan has distances themselves from this organization. If Westboro is too radical and homophobic for the KKK, something is wrong.

So when the gentleman who followed me last name is Phelps and is the sixth child of Fred, the question “Who is this guy?” needed to be answered. I researched, sat and listened with amazement.

I had the opportunity to have lunch with Nate Phelps on Friday and dinner with him on Saturday. I found an intelligent and articulate person, with a big smile and easy to a laugh. I met a man whose transformation from a physically and emotionally abused child of a Christian cult to well balanced person who discovered atheism.

Read more: Open your ears and eyes to open your mind

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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