Extremist Westboro Church foiled in Mississippi


BRANDON, Miss. - Members of the far-right Westboro Baptist Church showed up here April 16 to protest the funeral of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers, who was slain in Afghanistan on April 7. However, local residents caught wind of the incoming protesters, and banded together to protect the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Rogers as they mourned his loss.

The Westboro Baptist Church, led by its pastor Fred Phelps, has protested at military funerals, funerals of victims of gay-bashing, concerts and countless other events, for years. By their own count, they have participated in over 30,000 pickets. They say that God hates America for its tolerance of the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) community and that dead soldiers, terrorist attacks and natural disasters - among a myriad of other tragedies - are divine retribution for this tolerance. These protests often include signs such as "God hates fags," and "Thank God for dead soldiers," as well as flag desecration.

They are not affiliated with any Baptist organizations, and are extremely critical of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Hindus. Needless to say this group, consisting mostly of one large family, has faced much opposition in its self-proclaimed message of hate.

However, in Brandon, Mississippi, it appears as if they may have been outmaneuvered by members of the local community, and they did not show up at the funeral itself. Thankfully for the Rogers family, Staff Sgt. Rogers was buried in peace.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that these "protests" at military funerals, while tasteless and hurtful, fall under the First Amendment's free-speech protections. However, a West Virginia court acquitted a man of assault after he spit tobacco juice at Shirley Phelps-Roper (one of the leaders of the church) as the church protested the deaths of miners in West Virginia.

So, it may be legal for the Phelps group to protest at funerals, but it is also legal to spit in their faces.

Corrected 4/25/11: An earlier version of this article cited reports of incidents involving the Brandon police, but those reports could not be confirmed.

Photo: Westboro Baptist Church protests at a funeral in Chalco, Neb., in June 2008. anyofne CC 2.0


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  • This is the saddest representation of a loving God that I have ever seen. This group is not Godly, they are a hate group and should be viewed as such. Maybe they should try reading the bible?

    Posted by , 04/25/2011 9:45pm (5 years ago)

  • My hat goes off to the citizens of Brandon, Mississippi. I have never been more proud to be an American. Thank you for taking care of business!!! BRAVO.

    Posted by Julia Hughes, 04/25/2011 7:32pm (5 years ago)

  • "the details of this story are a bit too reminiscent of what happened to civil rights activists in Mississippi "

    Really? You are going to compare these nuts to people fighting for civil rights?
    Although I do not condone violence. I think these folks are real lucky someone has not snapped. If you were ever in the military, you would know that most families are very proud of their soldiers. Not to mention some idiot showing up to protest anything during a funeral.
    I really hope they don't show up to one of your loved ones funerals.

    Posted by Lon_in_thewoods@yahoo.com, 04/25/2011 6:24pm (5 years ago)

  • 'bout damn time someone stood up to these people. Would love to see it all over America.

    Posted by ScottP, 04/25/2011 4:33pm (5 years ago)

  • The "facts" posted on the Ole Miss message board are NOT true in any way. I contacted, and received a reply from, Dennis Smith, news director of station WLBT in Jackson, MS AND the uncle of Sgt. Rogers regarding the information posted. Here is his reply:
    Donna, all that stuff on the internet makes for good reading. But, it didn't happen. My chief photographer's son-in-law led the processions when Jason's body was returned to the visitation and finally to the funeral. He is a Brandon police officer. He said it didn't happen. I was also closely involved in all this since Jason is my nephew. Two of the veteran PGR riders stayed at my home. Had the 'church' folks showed up, it most certainly could have happened. But it didn't. Many thanks for reaching out and searching for the truth!
    WLBT N.D.
    Lt. Col., USA, ret.
    I am a Patriot Guard Rider of 4 years. As much as I dislike Westboro and what they do, posting false information and encouraging physical violence toward them only serves to bring a person down to their level. I've had 4 encounters with them, including one only 2 miles from my house, and the best thing is to completely ignore them....as hard as that may be.

    "An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it." ~Mohandas Gandhi~

    Posted by Donna Ghost Bear, 04/25/2011 2:54pm (5 years ago)

  • They may be repulsive but beating people up and police repression isn't something that Bill of Rights socialists should approve.

    Posted by Thomas Riggins, 04/25/2011 2:21pm (5 years ago)

  • Though on the surface, it's refreshing to learn of the Westboro jerks being thwarted, the details of this story are a bit too reminiscent of what happened to civil rights activists in Mississippi in the past. A collusion of police and private citizens to commit crimes against a minority.

    Though I do not support these religious nuts in any way, I disagree that we should be happy about what happened in this case.

    Posted by Todd Tollefson, 04/25/2011 2:16pm (5 years ago)

  • Brilliant!

    Posted by Gumpy, 04/25/2011 1:08pm (5 years ago)

  • Awesome!!

    Posted by Lance, 04/25/2011 1:06pm (5 years ago)

  • This article makes me happy. The article that reads that one of them has been shot in the face will make me more happy though. Way to go Mississippi, there are 300 million Americans who have your back.

    Posted by martin westfield, 04/25/2011 11:58am (5 years ago)

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