Church extremists should be fined and dismissed

“Thank God for dead soldiers,” and “You’re going to Hell” are just a few of the repugnant statements found on the posters belonging to a church group’s members at soldiers’ funerals around America.

The people holding the posters belong to Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church. Its nearly 100 members, most of whom are blood related, believe that soldiers are dying in the war because America has become tolerant of homosexuality. They praise the deaths of people who gave their lives for their country.

In reaction to the protests of many soldiers’ funerals around the country, Florida and many other states passed a law to attempt to end it.

The law states: “Whoever willfully interrupts or disturbs any assembly of people met for the purpose of acknowledging the death of an individual with a military funeral honors … commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.”

The penalty for disturbing a military funeral is a fine of up to $1,000 and possible jail time.

Today, the law will be tested locally. Members of Westboro Baptist plan to protest the funeral of soldier Joseph Fuerst at Christ The King Catholic Church in Tampa.

“We’ll come discreetly; we’ll leave discreetly,” protest organizer Shirley Phelps-Roper told

They plan to stand in the “public right-of-way,” but they will still be there.

Many news programs have covered the group, all unanimously condemning its members while showing footage of its protests. From the videos, it can be clearly seen that nothing the church has done is discreet.

Protesting and disturbing anyone’s funeral is appalling. It is already hard for the family and friends of the deceased. Shouting blasphemies and waving posters applauding the soldier’s death is too much for anyone grieving.

Hopefully there will be no protesters today, as in late June, when they told the media they would be at a funeral in Brownsville, Texas, but never showed up.

However, if they do, the Tampa Police Department said it would keep an eye on the situation.

To aid in this, members of the media should discontinue to dignify members of this church by publishing their hate-filled speech and giving them much sought after airtime.

The family and friends of the deceased have enough pain and anguish to live with – they don’t need any more from radicals without a real cause.