What would you say to the Westboro Baptist Church if you had the chance to speak to one of its leaders?
YouTube vlogger Andrew Demeter, 17, recently had the opportunity to sit down with the Shirley Phelps and talk one-on-one about her beliefs surrounding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Shirley Phelps is the daughter of the late Fred Phelps, the Westboro Baptist Church founder who passed away in March 2014.
Maintaining a calm demeanor throughout the entire interview, Demeter doesn't shy away from an open dialogue about questions we all have about Westboro, even telling Phelps at one point, "Well Shirley, if you're going to Heaven, I am more than happy to go to Hell."
The Huffington Post chatted with Demeter about his interview with Phelps this week.
The Huffington Post: Why did you decide to interview Shirley?
Andrew Demeter: In the past few months, I've brainstormed a list of some 25 newsmakers and other influencers who I want to interview at some point in the near future. Having already interviewed diverse characters like Fran Drescher, John McAfee and Nancy Pelosi, among others, Shirley was simply next on the list. My goal for the interview was simple: to attempt to understand the "rationale" of a hate-monger. This, however, soon proved futile as I was seeking out logic and reason where it wasn't meant to be found. Another motivation for interviewing Shirley was to uncover from where her hatred [stemmed].
How did you get Shirley to agree to the interview?
Surprisingly, Shirley agreed to the interview with relative haste. I had contacted her via Twitter weeks beforehand to no avail, but after following up we scheduled a convenient date and time. I began surfing the web for additional research, binge-watching documentaries and other interviews, and immersing myself (from afar) into the Westboro Baptist Church's culture.
What do you want viewers to take away from your interview?
The underlying message of this interview is the paradox that religion may incur violence. It is abysmal to justify hateful actions with mere words once inscribed on ancient tablets and parchment paper.
At the end of the interview, Demeter tells Phelps that he "respects her on a human level" and would have given her a hug if they weren't conducting the interview through Skype.
Head here to see more from Demeter, including interviews with Fran Drescher, John McAfee, and Nancy Pelosi.
Parts of this interview have been modified and/or condensed.