Flames damage Phelps garage
Members of the Phelps family awoke to flames early Saturday.
Topeka firefighters were dispatched to Westboro Baptist Church, 3701 S.W. 12th St., at 1:05 a.m. A fence and garage were engulfed in flames.
Lucas Mark and his girlfriend, Monique Webster, were in the drive-through of McDonald’s at S.W. Huntoon and Gage when they noticed flames in the east. They drove toward the flames and ended up at the church.
Fire crews reporting heavy fire on the exterior of the detached garage called for an additional engine and truck company.
Topeka fire marshal Greg Bailey said Saturday afternoon the cause of the fire hadn’t been determined. Bailey said it didn’t appear that accelerants were used to ignite the fire, but that the blaze remained under investigation.
Firefighters removed several of the Phelpses’ anti-homosexual picketing signs from the garage as family members and neighbors watched.
Shortly afterward, family members began filming footage of the fire, taking photographs and documenting what occurred. Several carried signs as they watched.
Shirley L. Phelps-Roper said she thought the fire was intentionally set.
“None of what they do is going to stop us from delivering our message,” Phelps-Roper said as she watched firefighters spray water on the garage.
Insisting the fire was arson, she also said this was the most aggressive act toward her family to date.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Phelps Sr. requested an investigation regarding “Civil Rights Hate Crime Complaint vs. Unknown Criminal Arsonist(s).”
“Our church was set afire as two elderly people were asleep therein,” the letter stated. “There is evidence that hatred of our religion was the motivation, in part at least.”
The Westboro cult is largely known for its despicable practice of picketing funerals.
Any group of people can call itself a ‘Baptist church’ even if, as is the case with this hate group, the vast majority of Baptists reject that group’s claims.
Theologically, the hate group’s extremist views and despicable behavior mark it as a cult of Christianity
Sociologically the group has cult-like elements as well.
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