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The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is an Independent Baptist church and hate group known for its hatred of homosexuals. It is headed by Fred Phelps and located in Topeka, Kansas, United States. Its first public service was held on the afternoon of Sunday, November 27, 1955.
The WBC is not affiliated with any known Baptist conventions or associations. The church describes itself as following Primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles, though mainstream Primitive Baptists reject the WBC and Phelps.
The group is best known for its protest activities, which include picketing funerals and desecration of the American flag.
The group came into the national spotlight in 1998, when they were featured on CNN for picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a young man from Wyoming who was beaten to death by two men because of his homosexuality. Westboro has protested at the funerals of people ranging from Fred Rogers to Coretta Scott King to Jerry Falwell.
In July 2005 the Westboro Baptist Church declared its intention to picket the memorial service of Carrie French in Boise, Idaho. French, 19, was killed on June 5 in Kirkuk, Iraq, where she served as an ammunition specialist with the 116th Brigade Combat Team's 145th Support Battalion. Phelps Sr. was quoted as saying, "Our attitude toward what's happening with the war is [that] the Lord is punishing this evil nation for abandoning all moral imperatives that are worth a dime."
In August 2005, a group from the church protested at the funeral of Edward Myers, a soldier from St. Joseph, Missouri, who died in Iraq. Shirley Phelps-Roper told a television reporter that Myers was "burning in Hell."
On February 2, 2008, the group picketed during the funeral of former LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley in Salt Lake City, Utah, displaying picket signs criticizing him for being a "lying false prophet" and "leading millions of people astray." The organization also criticized Hinckley for being too accepting of gay people, accusing him of having an ambiguous voice about homosexuality rather than taking a firm stand against it. Police had difficulty determining whether the demonstration met the guidelines of protected free speech."
On April 10, 2008, Westboro picketed the funerals of three students who were killed in a house fire at the University of Wisconsin–Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Around 1,000 students showed up and drove off the protesters after fifteen minutes.
In August 2008, Westboro announced plans to protest in Winnipeg, Canada at the funeral of Tim McLean, who had been murdered on a Greyhound Canada bus. While a small number of Church members succeeded in crossing the border despite orders to prevent them from entering Canada, they did not appear at the funeral.
In February 2009, the group protested at the funeral of a plane crash victim. Students from the nearby University at Buffalo and the Buffalo area held a peaceful counter protest, holding up white sheets to shield the victim's family from the Phelpses. A motorcycle brigade, known as the Patriot Guard Riders, is known for revving its engines to drown out the Phelpses.
Westboro picketed the funeral of recording artist Michael Jackson after his unexpected death on June 25, 2009. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church have also recorded a song titled "God Hates the World", an adaptation of Jackson's charity single "We Are the World."
Where does speech become hate?
Will it take an instance of mass violence for people to realize that this sort of behaviour is just wrong?
Originally posted by tothetenthpower
On February 2, 2008, the group picketed during the funeral of former LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley in Salt Lake City, Utah, displaying picket signs criticizing him for being a "lying false prophet" and "leading millions of people astray."