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Westboro Baptist plans to picket funerals of Sat. shooting victims

'God hates fags' preacher praises shooter who killed 6, wounded 13

Hate missionary Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church followers have issued a statement saying they “thank god for” alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner and will picket the funerals of those killed in the Saturday attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ constituent meeting in Northwest Tucson.

"Thank god for the violent shooter, one of your soldier heroes in Tucson," Phelps said in a video posted on Youtube (see sidebar).

"However many our dead, Westboro Baptist Church will picket their funerals," Phelps said.

The Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church and their leader Phelps are noted for inflammatory anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. military personnel around the country. 

The group is noted for its slogan, "God hates fags."

In the group 2005 threatened to picket a Rincon High School production of "The Laramie Project," a play about the murder of 21-year-old student Matthew Shepard, who was tortured and murdered in 1998, allegedly because of his homosexuality.

Phelps and his followers never turned up at Rincon High School, but in a posting on the group’s website shortly after Saturday’s attack on Giffords’ meeting, wrote “THANK GOD FOR THE SHOOTER-6 DEAD! WBC WILL PICKET THEIR FUNERALS.”

The statement added: "God appointed this rod for your sins God sent the shooter!" and “WBC prays for your destruction … Your doom is upon you!”

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The group issued a second press release Sunday with an attack on the youngest victim, 9-year-old Christina Taylor Greene.

It references Greene's birthdate, Sept. 11, 2001, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, saying "God mercifully gave this nation a fair warning on 9/11 - but you despise His mercies, so you get no more mercy - man, woman or child. That how God the Avenger rolls!"

In response to the group’s actions, a number of states have passed legislation forbidding protests within a certain distance of a funeral. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act, prohibiting protests within 300 feet of the entrance of any cemetery under control of the National Cemetery Administration.

Also in 2006, the family of slain Marine Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder sued the Westboro Baptist Church and Phelps for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress after the group had picked Snyder’s funeral.

While a federal jury found Phelps and the WBC liable for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress and awarded the Snyders a total of $10.9 million, the award was later reduced, and the verdict itself later overturned by a federal appeals court.

In March 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and arguments were presented in October. A ruling is pending.

Roberto De Vido is a communications consultant, writer, cartoonist and jack of many trades. The former chief of Tucson Sentinel’s East Asia Bureau, he now lives in California (make of that what you will).

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3 comments on this story

3
88 comments
Jan 10, 2011, 1:52 pm
-0 +2

Why can the Westboro Church find a place to rent a car/van, or buy gas, or get served in a restaurant, or find a place to sleep or park their RV’s?

As far as I know there is nothing in the first amendment that compels anyone to support or enable ugly speech.

Why can’t these people be shunned.  Is their blood money that important to local businesses?

2
172 comments
Jan 10, 2011, 8:47 am
-0 +0

The members of this sect perpetrate hate crimes, in their maniacal bids for attention.

I had not heard about the human barricade, but applaud the demonstration by those who choose to show that acts of hatred are not acceptable, especially during funeral rites and internment of an innocent child.

1
1 comments
Jan 10, 2011, 3:43 am
-0 +1

i seriously dont understand how someone can be so hateful. it defies logic. i plan to join the movement of the human barricade to help keep away these people from causing the parents, of a dead nine year old girl, harm.

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© David Shankbone, with permission

Westboro Baptist Church protester outside the United Nations in New York City in 2008

“Congress passed three laws against WBC. So, God sent the shooter to shoot you!”

— Westboro Baptist Church statement

Youtube Video