Kan. church to stop picketing funerals
TULSA, Okla. (AP) – A small Kansas church known for its anti-gay protests said Wednesday it has stopped picketing for now at soldiers’ funerals in states with new laws against the practice.
“We’re not going to get arrested. We obey the law,” said Shirley Phelps-Roper, an attorney and member of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, a fundamentalist congregation headed by her father, the Rev. Fred Phelps.
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Westboro Baptist has outraged mourning communities across the nation by showing up at soldiers’ funerals with signs that read “God Hates Fags” or “God Made IEDs,” a reference to roadside bombs. Members of the congregation contend soldiers are being struck down by God for defending a nation that tolerates homosexuality.
In response, several states have passed or considered legislation restricting when and where pickets may demonstrate at funerals. Violators can be fined or jailed.
Westboro Baptist canceled demonstrations at funerals this past week in Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin, which have new laws limiting such protests.
Phelps-Roper said the group will eventually protest in states with the new laws, but it will find a way to obey the new laws.
She also said the church is considering legal challenges to the laws. “We’re waiting until all the legislatures are over to see what tattered shreds they’ve left the Constitution in,” she said.
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