The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is an American, Independent Baptist church known for its extreme ideologies, especially those against homosexuality. The church is widely described as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. It is headed by Fred Phelps and consists primarily of members of his large family; in 2011, the church stated that it had about 40 members. The church is headquartered in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Topeka about three miles west of the Kansas State Capitol. Its first public service was held on the afternoon of November 27, 1955.
The church has been actively involved in the anti-gay movement since at least 1991, when it sought a crackdown on homosexual activity at Gage Park six blocks northwest of the church. In addition to anti-gay protests at military funerals, the organization pickets other celebrity funerals and public events that are likely to get it media attention. Protests have also been held demonstrating against Jews and some protests included stomping on the flag of the United States.
The WBC is not affiliated with the two largest Baptist denominations, the Baptist World Alliance or the Southern Baptist Convention, both of which have denounced the WBC over the years. The church describes itself as following Primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles.