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Anti-Gay Phelps Clan Targets Military Funerals


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Anti-Gay Phelps Clan Targets Military Funerals

by Doreen Brandt 365Gay.com Washington Bureau

Posted: August 5, 2005 12:01 am ET

(Washington) Members of homophobic preacher Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas have rarely been seen protesting against gays this summer.

Instead they are targeting the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq.

Phelps' members are mostly relatives. The "church" is labeled a cult by civil rights organizations that monitor hate groups.

The clan gained national notoriety when it demonstrated at the funeral of Matthew Shepard.

Shepard, a gay 21 year old University of Wyoming student was kidnapped by two men he met in a bar in October 1998. He was pistol-whipped, robbed and left tied to a fence on a rural snow swept country road outside Laramie. He died five days later in hospital from massive head injuries.

Fred Phelps and members of his group stood outside the funeral holding posters denouncing homosexuality. He also runs the God Hates Fags web site.

The clan has demonstrated at gay friendly churches, schools, and events across the country since then.

But, this summer Phelps found a new target. Almost weekly clan members have demonstrated at the funerals of members of the military who died in Iraq.

Thursday in Princeton, Minnesota a handful of demonstrators stood in front of Immanuel Lutheran Church, where about 400 people turned out for a memorial service for Sgt. Bryan Opskar.

He was killed July 23 when a roadside bomb exploded.

The Phelps supporters held signs saying "God blew up the troops," "Thank God for IEDs," "America is doomed" and "God hates America."

The protestors said that American troops are dying in Iraq because God is punishing the United States for an unsolved bombing of the Phelps church in 1995 that left a child seriously injured.

©365Gay.com 2005


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