They are the incestual cult of Topeka, Kansas, who continually make headlines with their message of hate. The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), run by pastor Fred Phelps since 1955, preaches against America’s so-called tolerance of homosexuality. They believe that the US is a nation of “fags” and “fag enablers” (ie. allies) whose sin has condemned the land of the free to burn in hades, once Christ returns to exact his vengeance on the queer and fabulous.
Nearly seven hundred thousand Americans petitioned for the WBC to be designated as a hate group and removed from the list of IRS tax-exempt religious organisations. Last December, they drew wide censure after threatening to picket the funerals of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Most recently, on 1 July, WBC released a press statement condemning boy band One Direction as a group of “crotch-grabbing perverts”. Their wrath towards Harry Styles even outstrips NME.
But their deep and continued unpopularity lies in their tendency to picket the high profile funerals of American servicemen and women. Here is WBC’s reasoning:
America enables fags. America must seek repentance or risk hellfire. Since America does not seek repentance, the death of every American can be seen as the act of a vengeful God. Therefore, every casualty in Iraq/Afghanistan is the manifestation of God’s wrath. Therefore, it is their mandate as the messengers of the Lord to attend military funerals (now at a safe distance of 90m, thanks to an Arizona law designed to protect the dignity and respect of the bereaved families) and share the word of the Lord.
Love or loathe the WBC, you must admit that they do this in spectacular fashion. They wear inverted American flags, holler about the-Lord-your-God and bring their children along as human shields. But they are best known for their signs, which advertise messages of the tolerance, love and respect that our favourite Messiah/naughty boy died for. They choose a heinous yellow, green and orange gradient background and a show-stopping font; TS Koblenz Heavy Typeface.
But this font had humble beginnings before it became the signature typeface for The Most Hated Family in America. It is part of the TypeShop collection, designed and released by Walter Florenz Bendel in Germany in 1972. In 1986, Elsner+Flake Consulting GmbH took up the Koblenz mantle from Bendel, bankrupt and embroiled in a forgery scandal. Now the font’s copyright lies with Dr Peter Karow, of Ikarus typology software. Karow’s business name comes from the myth of Icarus, who famously flew too close to the sun and fell to Earth. This myth is a stunning symbol of hubris and failed ambition, appropriate for the WBC, a Calvinist religious sect that believes in the ultimate downfall of man in his sinful pride.
So for your next protest, garage sale or athletics carnival, think big, bold and bigoted with the TS Koblenz.