This is all very sad, but why am I telling you this? Well, my mom said they’d made the news and, perplexed, I asked why. (If you knew how little this town is you’d understand why I was asking that.) Prepared to be further saddened…
There is a “religious” group out of Topeka, Kansas called Westboro Baptist Church who is lead by resident nutcase Fred Phelps. Members of this tiny church have been going around the country and picketing at the services of U.S. soldiers they say died as punishment for defending a country that harbors homosexuals. They hold up offensive signs at the funerals saying “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “America is Doomed.” Is there nothing sacred or respected in this world anymore, that people actually have the gall to protest at a funeral!? I mean how hateful, hurtful and insensitive could you possibly be? Word is they are planning to be at this boy’s funeral.
Well, here is the uplifting part of this story. There is another group that has formed, specifically to counter this movement called the Patriotic Guard. (Check out their website here.) They are a motorcycle riders group that volunteers to attend military funerals (when invited by the family) to “shield the mourning family and friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.” Thankfully, they have been invited and are planning on being there too.
My cousin runs the small hotel in the town, and he donated rooms to the Patriotic Guard, free of charge. The local farmer’s co-op also donated $500 in gas to the Patriotic Guard. When the news crews wanted to interview my cousin for the nightly news, and talk about what he did, he said, “This isn’t about me,” and refused to be filmed.
So, which group is truly exhibiting Christian love: my cousin and the community, or the protesting “church” out of Topeka? It’s an easy answer, right? I don’t remember any story from the Bible where Jesus protested at a funeral, saying that person died because Rome was evil.
It angers me to my core that completely irrational and misguided people like Fred Phelps and his follows do terrible things like this, all under the guise of Christianity. But thank God for the true Christians, who quietly step up and offer support and love in the face of hateful people such as this.
As an aside, a bill has been forwarded to President Bush called the “Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act”, which will prevent these types of protests. (Read more about it here.)