Westboro to protest at Elizabeth Edwards funeral

Shirley Phelps Roper - of Westboro Baptist Church
December 9, 2010 9:04:10 PM PST
A Kansas religious group known nationally for its loud anti-homosexual protests at the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers says it plans to be in Raleigh Saturday to protest at the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards.

According to the "Picket Schedule" on the Westboro Baptist Church website, church members will protest at a "respectful distance" from the Edenton Street United Methodist Church.

Edwards' funeral is set for 1 p.m. Saturday. The wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards died Tuesday following a six-year battle with breast cancer.

The post on the Westboro website says Elizabeth is in Hell for a life spent "in defiance and disobedience to God."

Pastor Fred Phelps and his family lead Wesboro. They've made headlines for years by showing up at soldier's funerals with large signs proclaiming things like "God hates fags" and other anti-gay messages.

Phelps asserts that the soldiers' deaths are God's punishment for America's "sin of homosexuality."

Organizations like the Anti-Defamation league and the Southern Poverty Law Center have labeled Westboro as a hate group.

The protest announcement drew swift condemnation from many in the Raleigh area.

One viewer who emailed, ABC11 called on Triangle television stations not to cover the protest saying it would only give the group a platform to promote its hate agenda.

"I understand that as a news organization, you have a responsibility to report that they are there and protesting, but you don't have to provide them a public platform to degrade Mrs. Edwards memorial," wrote Suzanne Witzen.

Another viewer called for a "Line of Love" around the church to protect the Edwards family from the protestors.

"It’s just downright rude to bring a protest of this sort to disrupt the mourning process," wrote Susan Burcham.

In an interview Thursday morning with NewsRadio 680 WPTF, Westboro Baptist Church member Shirley Phelps Roper said the protest was justified and that Edwards taught against the commandments of God.

"She used her money and her standing in this country to defy her creator," said Roper.

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