Protesting at Funerals: A Look at the Deranged and Demented

I normally like to write about funny things. (At least they are things that I find funny.) They are usually attempts to be funny in a ha-ha kind of way, although sometimes I will throw in something that's funny in a weird way, just to shake things up. But what I want to write about now isn't funny at all. It is shocking and horrific.

There was a girl from my home town who was murdered at Auburn University last week. Her name was Lauren Burk and she was 18. She went to our local high school and although I didn't know her many of my friends children did. She's being buried today. Her family is, naturally, heartbroken. It was a random, tragic and violent attack. That's really bad enough.

My husband drove by the funeral home yesterday and noticed that there was a small army of Harley Davidson riders holding American flags. They appeared to be guarding the memorial service. It turns out that they were asked to be there to protect the family because a group called the Westboro Baptist Church decided that they were going to PROTEST this little girls funeral. What, you might ask, were they protesting? Well, I was curious about that myself and I went onto their website to figure it out. Here is what I found (you may have to click on the jpeg to view it):

After reading this I literally felt sick. Then I wondered about the guys on the Harleys (why they were there, where were they from, etc.). So I looked them up. Apparently these WBC freaks protest regularly at the funerals of American Soldiers so the patriot guard goes and stands - holding American Flags - to keep out the unwanted, aforementioned loonies. I inferred (based on the WBC press release) that they have lashed out at Lauren's family because some of them are Jewish. Gee. I wonder what Hitler would say. I know that we live in a country that celebrates free speech. But I think, frankly, that this is TOO MUCH. Why this poor family had to deal with this kind of BS on their darkest days is really beyond me. It demonstrates an egregious lack of respect that is just revolting.

To my atheist/agnostic/non religious friends: Please keep the Burk family in your thoughts.

To my religious/spiritual friends: Please pray for this family.

To the members of the Westboro Baptist Church: My only hope for you is that you are incapable of breeding. Because the LAST thing the world needs is more people like YOU.

And to all: Please join me in honoring the Patriot Guard. Their website is www.PatriotGuard.org if you're interested in learning more about them. As for the WBC, I refuse to link them to my website. But if you want to read about some hate-filled assholes, just google it and I'm sure you'll have plenty to read.

Although he totally supports their mission I doubt that my husband will join the Patriot Guard. The reason is simple. The Patriot Guard keeps the peace using peaceful, nonviolent methods. That is so admirable but, unfortunately, my husband is a little too hot tempered. He would not be able to stop himself from physically removing any unwelcome and disruptive people from a funeral.

Ugh. Enough talk about the crazies.

Here is a picture of Lauren. She was smart and beautiful. My deepest sympathies go to her parents, family and legions of friends.




(I am linking this to humor-blogs even though it's not funny at all.)

Comments

leigh said…
do we not have enough idiots on this planet? hatred disguised as religion makes me SICK.
Beck said…
This post rocks and I am forwarding it to everyone I know.

The protesting church must only read the parts of the bible that intice their self-righteousness. We are "saved by GRACE, thru faith, so no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9).
Daniel said…
Those WBC people (mostly just one family of uber-crazy a-holes) are a sickening bunch.

I am appalled that they protest military funerals but I didn't know they had branched out the funerals of college students.

Sure, there is freedom of speech but there is also a right to privacy. This family and the military familes are not public figures - they deserve peace in their time of grief.
Natalie said…
I have heard a lot about this WBC lately, and they make me sick. That they claim to do it in Christ's name is blasphemy in the worst way. That poor grieving family...to have to deal with hate mongers at such a time. What is wrong with people?
Cara said…
This makes me absolutely ill. Thanks for enlightening me about the Patriot Guards, They will get some money from me.
Sadly, they do breed. Last winter, an area high school staged a play that had a very thin homosexual theme within the dialogue. Members of this church came to our town and protested several churches and the school during the run of the show.

The sickest, saddest thing is seeing a preschool age child standing amidst yelling adults, holding a sign condeming homosexuals - with language far more vulgar.

Prayers to this family for their tragic, tragic loss.
Shieldmaiden96 said…
I am not a violent person by nature. But I would gladly be arrested and charged with assault for a chance to punch Fred Phelps directly in the face.

They threatened to come to a military funeral in my small mountain town. Since the service was held at our firehouse annex we decided that if they showed up we'd just park two engines at the top of the driveway and charge a couple of lines.
Bee said…
What is the matter with that "organization"??? It must be made up of complete lunatics!
Amy Cates said…
I'm a Marietta native and an Auburn alum. Don't know the Burk family, but I might as well. They're like so many families we all know. This could have happened to anyone's daughter, even to one belonging to any of the WBC members. This story broke my heart, and the way the WBC approaches these events breaks it even more.

The Patriot Guards rock...

Amy
amycates.blogspot.com
Steph said…
And they call themselves a church? That is sick! I am glad people stood up for the family and protected them from these wackos!
Bex said…
Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I was really upset about it and writing it down helped me feel better. And, I actually joined the Patriot Guards so the next time something like this happens I'll be able to go and help shield the family.

The WBC sucks. I hope, Shieldmaiden, that you get a clean first hit in!
Shieldmaiden96 said…
"I hope, Shieldmaiden, that you get a clean first hit in!"

Actually, I did something else. Since the Bible, the real one that these people don't apparently read, says "Be angry, but do not sin," I decided to put my money where my mouth is.

And I joined the Patriot Guard.
Hi, Bex-

Our mutual friend Cara directed me to your post.

Your tribute to Lauren is beautiful.

It's ludicrous that we even have to acknowledge those WBC freaks. But I'm glad you did.

It's so completely hard to comprehend the hate-filled logic these people ascribe to.

This tragedy happened in my hometown back in the fall:

http://cms.firehouse.com/web/online/News/Fire-Claims-7-College-Students-at-North-Carolina-Resort/46$56897

The Phelps family ran ads threatening to protest those funerals, too.

Go to these funerals and block them with American flags and angel wings. You can also visit: http://www.matthewsnyder.org/.

Again, thanks Bex, for keeping this issue alive.
Jacki said…
This group picketed a family funeral for 2 parents and their two children murdered by their own 15 year old son here in Maryland not long ago. These people are sick and obviously do not know what it truly means to be a Christian. The fact that the media allows them to get coverage is yet another sick and twisted way our society exploits those who should be honored and left in peace and exalts those who have no business being exalted.

God don't like ugly -- these people are going to have a rude awakening when they receive God's final judgement.
Grahammie said…
I just found your blog and I think it's great. A few comments on an old post.
The WBC is a bizarre organization. I did some extensive research on the church when I produced the play "The Laramie Project" (I'm a high school theatre teacher. They started protesting when they felt that their children were being threatened in a public park that was a gay hangout. They gained national attention when they protested at the funeral of Matthew Shepard. It seems they got a taste for the spotlight. They see these protests as preachable moments for their apocolyptic brand of Christianity. A few things worth knowing about Fred and his gang.
1) DON'T ATTACK THEM! It's what they want. They feel your violence proves their point. Plus they have a lot of lawyers in the family and will sue you and use their settlement to fund further protests.
2) DON'T ARGUE WITH THEM. It isn't worth it. While their view of Christianity is twisted and quite medieval, they know the Bible. Really, really well. You won't change their minds.
3) Don't judge Kansans by them. The Patriot Gaurd was also started in Kansas in order to counter Fred's craziness. It has been very effective. That's why it has spread. The best counter to the WBC is silent, legal, unbending counter-protest. Again, these folks know the law and will use it to their advantage.

Also, in the interest of not becoming that which you hate, I must say that Fred is a fascinating dude. He became a lawyer in the 50's because he abhorred the way that African Americans were being treated. He went to law school specifically to be able to speak for those who were being ignored by the courts and he worked passionately to change things like acceptance policies at universities. His vision is twisted, but he sincerely believes that he is doing the right thing by making the 'sins' of our country public.
Grahammie said…
I just found your blog and I think it's great. A few comments on an old post.
The WBC is a bizarre organization. I did some extensive research on the church when I produced the play "The Laramie Project" (I'm a high school theatre teacher. They started protesting when they felt that their children were being threatened in a public park that was a gay hangout. They gained national attention when they protested at the funeral of Matthew Shepard. It seems they got a taste for the spotlight. They see these protests as preachable moments for their apocolyptic brand of Christianity. A few things worth knowing about Fred and his gang.
1) DON'T ATTACK THEM! It's what they want. They feel your violence proves their point. Plus they have a lot of lawyers in the family and will sue you and use their settlement to fund further protests.
2) DON'T ARGUE WITH THEM. It isn't worth it. While their view of Christianity is twisted and quite medieval, they know the Bible. Really, really well. You won't change their minds.
3) Don't judge Kansans by them. The Patriot Gaurd was also started in Kansas in order to counter Fred's craziness. It has been very effective. That's why it has spread. The best counter to the WBC is silent, legal, unbending counter-protest. Again, these folks know the law and will use it to their advantage.

Also, in the interest of not becoming that which you hate, I must say that Fred is a fascinating dude. He became a lawyer in the 50's because he abhorred the way that African Americans were being treated. He went to law school specifically to be able to speak for those who were being ignored by the courts and he worked passionately to change things like acceptance policies at universities. His vision is twisted, but he sincerely believes that he is doing the right thing by making the 'sins' of our country public.
Bex said…
I wanted to thank everyone for their comments. It's such a sad story.

I'd especially like to thank Grahammie for the very enlightening information. I think that it is especially interesting about how they want you to physically attack them so that they can sue you to get money to further their cause. I suppose that's where the Patriot Guard finds its strength to resist attacking such a hateful group.

As for judging Kansans by them, no worries, my friend. I, like most people I know, judge Kansans by the Wizard of Oz. Fortunately I really, really love the movie. ;)

Thanks again, everyone, for the thoughtful (and thought provoking) comments.

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