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Anti-gay fury mars funeral of a soldier


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Anti-gay fury mars funeral of a soldier in Anoka

Protesters from Kansas say God is killing our soldiers because the U.S. tolerates homosexuality.

Bob Von Sternberg, Star Tribune

On her way into the church where the funeral was to be held for her 23-year-old son Thursday morning, Deirdre Ostlund approached six men and women waving signs against gays and America and told them in a cold fury: "I'm Andrew's mother, and I want you to know you are truly hateful people."

As Ostlund turned away, Shirley Phelps-Roper taunted her: "Adulterer! You can't admit you sent your own child to hell! If she does not heed this warning, she will look up from hell with him."

Her small group continued to sing "God hates America."

But across barricades, crime-scene tape and police officers, 20 flag-waving men and women countered with the original, "God bless America, land that I love ... "

This ritual, unfolding across the nation outside military funerals, arrived in Anoka on Thursday an hour before the funeral for Cpl. Andrew Kemple, who died in Iraq Feb. 12.

The six are members of a church in Topeka, Kan., that espouses the belief that God is killing American soldiers because they fought for a country that tolerates homosexuality. The 20 on the other side are affiliated with the Patriot Guard Riders, a rapidly growing nationwide movement organized to counter that very message.

"We're just trying to show honor and respect for families," said John Lutsch, a St. Cloud resident who heads the Minnesota branch of the Patriot Guard. "I was appalled when I read about these protests, that they'd use a solemn occasion like this as a forum for their views."

He was interrupted by Steve Drain, who bellowed across the divide in front of Zion Lutheran Church that God hates gays, their enablers and "so therefore God hates the U.S. military." For nearly an hour, the Kansans chanted a steady stream of crude homophobic slurs.

Phelps-Roper, the coordinator of the Kansas protesters, is the daughter of Fred Phelps, the pastor of the nondenominational Westboro Baptist Church, He has railed against homosexuality for decades. By his own count, church members have conducted 22,000 picketing demonstrations.

During the 1990s, church members were known mostly for picketing funerals of AIDS victims, but since they have shifted to military funerals, they have raised the hackles of politicians. Minnesota is one of at least 14 states where laws are being considered that would make funeral protests illegal.

Phelps and his followers have long been tracked as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project in Montgomery, Ala.

The project's deputy director, Heidi Beirich, said other groups have tried to counter Phelps' message, but none has been as organized as the Patriot Guard.

"I'm not sure anybody has gone to this length to stand in solidarity," she said. "It's nice that these veterans and their supporters are trying to do something. I can't imagine anything worse -- your loved one is killed in Iraq and you've got to deal with Fred Phelps."

All you need is heart

The Patriot Guard got its start in Kansas in October, when motorcycle-riding veterans got fed up with the Westboro church's picketing and decided to show up and place themselves between the demonstrators and mourners.

The organization has grown quickly with chapters in nearly every state and more than 8,700 members, about 100 of them so far in Minnesota, Lutsch said.

"It's really branched out to where it's not just vets and not just bikers," he said. "You don't have to have a bike, but you've got to have a heart."

Nodding toward the Kansans, he said, "Family, friends and mourners shouldn't have to deal with that without us showing them something positive."

Kim Busch came to Anoka from her home in Shakopee to show support for Kemple's family. "Antiwar demonstrations are one thing, but I can't get my mind around those people. How can people who say they're possessed by God be filled with such hate?"

Bill Binger, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Isanti, turned away from Phelps' followers in disgust.

"Oh, go home," he told them. "You have no business being here."

Countered Phelps-Roper: "That old guy better watch out for the wrath of God."

The Rev. Tim Johnson watched the dueling protests from the sidewalk in front of his church as Gov. Tim Pawlenty entered Zion Lutheran, shaking his head at the spectacle.

"As a pastor, two things make me mad," Johnson said. "One, that he [Phelps] actually is a pastor, and two, that people would follow him. They pass themselves off as Christian, but all this talk about God hates -- it's just a contradiction in terms."

After an hour, just as the funeral was starting, the six Kansans drove away in their van as the Patriot Guard mockingly serenaded them, "Hit the road, Jack, and don't you come back no more."

A few minutes later, Deirdre Ostlund stood before a packed church sanctuary near her son's flag-draped coffin.

"Nothing can separate us from the love of God, and Andrew knew that," she said. "No matter what he did, God loved him. And now, nothing will ever separate me, or any of us, from Andrew."

I support the right to protest, but I do not support the innapropriate nature of what this group does.

Discuss.

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:blink:

You've obviously never been to Kansas. Shit, man.

I have fun pretending to be one of them. Good learning.

The mere thought of Coop standing there screaming "GOD HATES FAGS" completes my entire life.

As for these people. I haven't met a single person who respects them.

Your life is deep, man, really deep. xD

But yeah, these types of things are surreal.

Especially when parents bring KIDS to watch them.

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I'm all for shooting thos protesters. One, don't disrespect soldiers, especially not dead ones. Two, don't protest at any funerals. Three, the two greatest commandments were about love, and this isn't love, don't call yourself Christian. Four, you do that at the funeral of one of my family members, there will be retribution. Five, God hates Ameica? WTF?

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I can safely say that I'd personally like to beat the fuck out of these people.

However... believe in free speech so...

aw hell, I can't even convince myself. I'd jut like to beat the fuck out of them.

I don't think free speech is the problem here. More or less the lack of respect at ANY funeral.

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Mith, they may have the freedom of speech but that doesn't mean they should use it.

True freedom is brought about by exercising right you don't have and it rounded out by having the tact to not exercise right you do have. Fuck the constitution and the bill of rights. The only right we don't have is the right to pin down freedom in a little list. They have the ability to say and do this shit but they better expect violent consequences and brutal justice at the hands of those they wrong.

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Let me get this straight…

If we round up all the guys and deport them to Canada, then our solders will stop dieing? Because it seems to me that this group’s message is that if we get rid of all the gay people then our solders will suddenly become unstoppable juggernaut killing machines!

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Let me get this straight…

If we round up all the guys and deport them to Canada, then our solders will stop dieing? Because it seems to me that this group’s message is that if we get rid of all the gay people then our solders will suddenly become unstoppable juggernaut killing machines!

Gay people, believe it or not, chose to be so ONLY to ruin my economy.

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This happened about 10 miles away from me to.

Its a wonder nobody waked up and beat the shit out of the protestors. I cant wait to see al the anti-gay protestors burning in hell for there hatred. Where is the love that christianity is supposed to teach. Yet again any religion taken to far is a very bad thing.

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You guys really want to be disturbed take a look at this .

That really disturbed me when I saw it a few months ago not only that it exsists but, that it is that organized as well.

:blink:

Gawd. That....is just disgusting. So hateful. D:

I truly find it funny that the hardcore anal Christians promote such things as: God loves everybody! He loves you and you and you....

And then just turn around and bite themselves on the ass by saying: God hates fags! God hates gays!

*shakes head* Seriously. I can't wait till they die and find out that...amagawd! God is GAY!

xD HA! Teach those damn homophobic bastards!

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Gawd. That....is just disgusting. So hateful. D:

I truly find it funny that the hardcore anal Christians promote such things as: God loves everybody! He loves you and you and you....

And then just turn around and bite themselves on the ass by saying: God hates fags! God hates gays!

*shakes head* Seriously. I can't wait till they die and find out that...amagawd! God is GAY!

xD HA! Teach those damn homophobic bastards!

Those aren't "hardcore anal Christians". Those are crazy ass religious fanatics that are bastardizing the Bible and twisting it to use it for their own disgusting purposes. If they actually knew the Bible they would know that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. So God doesn't hate fags.

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Those aren't "hardcore anal Christians". Those are crazy ass religious fanatics that are bastardizing the Bible and twisting it to use it for their own disgusting purposes. If they actually knew the Bible they would know that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. So God doesn't hate fags.

Maybe they read a Bible without the New Testament? Or a bad translation?

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