Louis Theroux Meets British Postman Who Preaches 'God Hates Gays' In New Doc
Louis Theroux comes face-to-face with a British postman who fled the UK to join the Westboro Baptist Church in his latest series.
Thirteen years after his original documentary, the 49-year-old broadcaster will catch up with the controversial church known for its inflammatory hate messages towards everyone from LGBTQ+ people to Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and US soldiers.
In Louis Theroux: Surviving America's Most Hated Family which airs this weekend, he will interview Mathias Holroyd who joined the church in 2011 after becoming disillusioned with modern Britain.
Louis investigates their poisonous ideology, following their methods including picketing at military funerals and other high profile events with deliberately homophobic placards, and speaking to the people at the heart of the church, including founder Fred Phelps.
However, 2019 finds the Westboro Baptist Church in a very different place - one of upheaval and unrest.
Westboro's founding father Fred Phelps died in 2014, leaving a number of high pastors taking on the joint role of heading up the church, each stepping in to lead his sermons, which Louis notes don't contain the same viscerally hateful and provocative tones as before.
To add to this, Louis is told on good authority that Phelps was excommunicated by his church before his death for telling an LGBTQ+ group that they were "good people" - something his daughter and members of the church stringently deny.
Despite this, Westboro is still recruiting members, one of the most unlikely of which is Mathias Holroyd from Bradford in the UK.
Louis meets Mathias - previously a postman named Steven who was re-christened by the church - who joined Westboro in 2011 as his tonic to not fitting in with modern-day Britain.
Mathias explained he'd seen Louis's first documentary along with other coverage of the church and was "impressed" by their knowledge on bible verses. Soon after, he joined Westboro's online community, denouncing British culture and taking aim at gay celebrities such as Elton John, before eventually moving to Topeka after visiting the church.
Speaking about Britain, he tells Louis: "The society is waxing worse, when they forget God they wax worse. People hate each other. It's just a divided society between false religion, the Muslims and everybody else. It's just hatred between these factions. Things don't look good for the UK."
Mathias was raised by his father after losing his mother to cancer at age 13. Speaking to Louis about his last contact with his father, six years ago, he said: "Once he realised I wasn't going to be there drinking with him anymore, wasting my time anymore, he's done. He doesn't have a use for me anymore, he isn't leading me down that path to hell."
Mathias is now married to Jael Phelps, Pastor Phelps' granddaughter, and has three children.
While there's still new recruits, growing numbers are actually leaving the church, including Phelps' granddaughter Megan.
Megan - who now does talks regarding her time growing up in the church - was disowned by her mother, siblings and the rest of the church when she left. Megan left the church after communicating with opposers on Twitter, who she says she began to empathise with.
"We claimed to love people," she tells Louis in the documentary. "This was the biggest contradiction of all I think, and I was blind to it. How could we think we were loving our neighbour, and at the same time, praying for God to kill them in all sorts of terrible ways?"
One thing you'll get from the documentary is a sassier Louis Theroux.
The filmmaker's questions are far more provocative, he doesn't accept wishy-washy answers, and argues back with members of the church in the way you know everyone behind the screen is willing him to. "Dude, why are you still here?" is one brilliant line he shoots at a male pastor member who insisted on answering questions on behalf of his sister.
There's a true sense that Louis isn't taking sh*t this time around - and we love it.
Surviving America's Most Hated Family will air on BBC2 on Sunday 14th July at 9pm.
Featured Image Credit: BBC