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Man to protest at soldier's funeral


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Man to protest at soldier's funeral

Mitch Sneed

Staff Writer

Thursday, July 28, 2005

At a time when his loved ones are making funeral arrangements for a dedicated family man killed defending his country, a Kansas minister is making plans to use the funeral of Sgt. Christopher Taylor as a platform to push his anti-gay agenda.

Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan sent out press releases Wednesday announcing that his group would picket and preach at the Opelika funeral. The release is filled with anti-gay language and is headed by the line “Thank God for Improvised Explosive Devices Killing Americans in Strange Lands.”

Phelps grabbed national attention with his disruptive messages at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, the who was murdered in 1998 in an anti-gay hate crime in Laramie, Wyo. Since then, he has taken every opportunity to spread his message.

What do homosexuals and a tragic war death have in common? Phelps has a theory.

Using words not suitable for this newspaper, Phelps said that the government has allowed gays to take over America. He claims that the government allowed his church to be bombed by gays. As a result, Phelps claims that “God is punishing the government by killing soldiers with bombs and sending them home in body bags.”

“We will be at the funeral to picket and and preach and let everyone know that these soldiers are dying because God is retaliating, picking off the soldiers one by one, the soldiers that are fighting for an America that is allowing homosexuals and sodomites to take over,” Phelps said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “We’ve been to seven funerals this week and we’ll be in Opelika to spread God’s word.”

Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller was not aware of the planned protest before receiving a call from the Opelika-Auburn News, but made it clear that he will not allow a hero’s funeral to become a circus.

“This is America and Mr. Phelps has a right to protest, we would never deny him that right,” Fuller said. “But we aren’t about to allow him to disrupt a funeral. We have the right to tell him where to go and to make sure that the protest won’t be in a position to upset this family.”

Fuller said he would have discussions with Opelika police Chief Tommy Mangham to have a plan to handle the possible protest.

This story can be found at: http://www.oanow.com/servlet/Satellite?pag...d=1031784110949

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