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Raikes Foundation Documentary Project

From November 2010 through January 2011, I was hired by the Raikes Foundation to document a number of local youth programs funded by the foundation in Seattle and Bellevue, which include the Boys & Girls Clubs, Hamilton International Middle School and the Rotary Club of Seattle. It was nice to see the joy and energy in the youth across all the programs, as well as the tireless work of the adults who work for the organizations. Here are some of the photos I took. 

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America’s Four Gods book part 2

From 2007 through 2008, I was hired by Baylor University and Oxford University Press to provide coverage for the new book America’s Four Gods, which was published today and written by Christopher Bader and Paul Froese. Today the book is featured on the home page of USA Today and on ABC World News Tonight on October 7. My photos were published in the book. 

Below are photos from three locations around the United States. 

The authors of America’s Four Gods interviewed a number of religious groups to provide context and examples for the authors' portraits of how worshipers personify their Gods. The book, using extensive interviews and survey data, argues that, according to USA Today, “the way we [personify our] God reveals our attitudes on economics, justice, social morality, war, natural disasters, science, politics, love and more.”

Portraits include the Benevolent God, the Critical God, the Distant God and the Authoritative God. The latter portrait applies to the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka led by Fred Phelps. To see more about my day at WBC, see my blog post which includes updated information from 2013 regarding the church's young heir-apparent, Megan Phelps, and how she has left the church and expressed regret for her actions. 

I took photographs in three locations for the book America's Four Gods:

1. Directly below are photographs from my days at the historic Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia led by Herbert Lusk (pictured below in a portrait).

2. Down the page are photos from my time at the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas. Just scroll down a ways. 

3. See photos from my two days at the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka in a separate post. 

All photos are copyrighted by Nigel Euling and may not be reproduced or used elsewhere without express permission. Just ask.

1. GREATER EXODUS BAPTIST CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA

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Herbert Lusk. (© Nigel Euling)

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2. CREATION EVIDENCE MUSEUM, GLEN ROSE TEXAS

In 2008 I traveled with the author of America's Four Gods, Chris Bader, to photograph Carl Baugh's Creation Evidence Museum, which at the time was being rebuilt as a larger building. Baugh disputes modern evolutionary theory by displaying evidence he says demonstrates, among other things, that humans lived contemporaneously with dinosaurs. 

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Carl Baugh with what he says is a human footprint found among dinosaur footprints. (© Nigel Euling)

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Carl Baugh walking outside his museum which was under construction

3. WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH LED BY FRED PHELPS

See more photos from my separate post about my two days at the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka. 

America’s Four Gods, photos taken for the new book

(UPDATED: February 6, 2013. Three granddaughters of Fred Phelps made news today by leaving the Westboro Baptist Church. Grace Phelps, Libby Phelps Alvarez and Megan Phelps Roeper, pictured below, have gone public about their defections. Libby has given an interview to the Today Show, while Megan sat down with Jeff Chu of Fast Company on Medium, as well as posted her own statement today on Medium.)

In the fall of 2008 I was hired to document a day at the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) in Topeka, Kansas.  The book I shot for, America’s Four Gods by Christopher Bader and Paul Froese, was published today. Today the book is featured on the home page of USA Today and on ABC World News Tonight on October 7.  My photos were published in the book.

Led by Fred Phelps (pictured below), the Westboros are best known as God Hates Fags because they believe God punishes society for tolerating homosexuality, among other sins. They’re in the news today because Phelps’s daughter, Margie Phelps, argued yesterday in the U.S. Supreme Court as the defendant in Snyder v. Phelps. The case is well-summarized in Time magazine today.

All photos copyright Nigel J Euling and may not be reproduced or displayed elsewhere without express permission.

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Fred Phelps, leader of Westboro Baptist Church. (© Nigel Euling)

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After the morning service as part of a weekly ritual, many members, including children, participate in the picketing of a busy street corner in Topeka. (© Nigel Euling)

WBC picketed nearby but before the funeral of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder who was killed in Iraq. His father sued WBC for the mental and physical trauma he experienced when, after the funeral, he learned the specifics of the protest. Phelps argued yesterday that their protest, which included hateful signs with such slogans as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Thank God For IEDs,” are protected speech under the First Amendment and do not constitute harassment.

The authors of America’s Four Gods use WBC as an extreme example of those who believe in the Authoritative God, who metes out harsh punishment to those who do not follow him. The book, using extensive interviews and survey data, argues that, according to USA Today, “the way we [personify our] God reveals our attitudes on economics, justice, social morality, war, natural disasters, science, politics, love and more.” Other portraits are the Benevolent God, the Critical God and the Distant God.

I documented a WBC church service and activities afterwards, including a breakfast gathering and song, and a typical street protest they conduct in Topeka each week. You can see the photos below and some more at my website.

(To understand what WBC are about, watch Fred Phelps’s diatribe against Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.)

 See more photos below.

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Fred Phelps (© Nigel Euling)

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Megan Phelps Roeper, above left. The truck is loaded just before the day's protest begins. (© Nigel Euling)

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Libby Phelps Alvarez, above right. (© Nigel Euling)

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Fred Phelps delivering his sermon. (© Nigel Euling)

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Fred Phelps's daughter Shirley Phelps Roeper, above left, and her daughter Megan Phelps Roeper. (© Nigel Euling)

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Libby Phelps Alvarez, above left. (© Nigel Euling)

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Shirley Phelps Roeper, above left, with Margie Phelps. (© Nigel Euling)

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Libby Phelps Alvarez, above left, and Megan Phelps Roeper. (© Nigel Euling)

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(UPDATED: February 6, 2013. Three granddaughters of Fred Phelps made news today by leaving the Westboro Baptist Church. Grace Phelps, Libby Phelps Alvarez and Megan Phelps Roeper, pictured below, have gone public about their defections. Libby has given an interview to the Today Show, while Megan sat down with Jeff Chu of Fast Company on Medium, as well as posted her own statement today on Medium.)

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Annual Report Shoot

Here's a shot from a recent photo shoot for Communities in Schools of Washington for their 2009 Annual Report. For a location we chose an actual middle school in Federal Way during a photography class!

CIS is a great organization that connects community resources with schools to help young people successfully learn, stay in school and prepare for life.  (© CIS of Washington)

 

 

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BIG JOHN of Big John's PFI [UPDATED 2015]

Yesterday I visited where I used to work many years ago, at PFI in Seattle, a family-owned wholesaler and retailer of Mediterranean foods. They have a retail store on 6th Avenue S in the I-District, Big John's PFI.  It feels nothing like Trader Joe's and everything like you're in Europe at a small-town food store--all the right smells, a beat-up concrete floor, and authenticity oozing from every nook and cranny.

Pictured below is my old boss John Croce, aka Big John, the patriarch and entrepreneur who, with his wife Rose, founded Pacific Food Importers, the wholesaler parent to Big John's PFI retail store. Yesterday was Big John's PFI Appreciation Day where a crush of eager shoppers flooded the retail space.  I snapped this photo of the bigger-than-life John after chatting for a few minutes.

UPDATE August 24, 2015. John Croce passed away yesterday after a long life. Rest in peace. February 8, 1924 - August 23, 2015.

 John Croce, December 2009

John Croce, December 2009

 John with his daughter Cathy in the background.

John with his daughter Cathy in the background.

 "I'm poor and nobody loves me!" - a very young John Croce

"I'm poor and nobody loves me!" - a very young John Croce