After celebrating the ghastly Orlando shooting that left 49 people dead and 53 people injured, the Westboro Baptist Church has now declared that its members would be protesting at the funeral sites of two of the victims on Saturday.
The move has understandably drawn widespread criticism from several quarters, but even the fierce backlash has done little to dissuade the fundamentalist church members from carrying on with their plan. Westboro Baptist Church spokesman, Steve Drain, told USA Today that the church’s planned protest is not against the victims in particular, but the “societal phenomenon” that they were a part of.
“It’s not about that person, it’s about that whole societal phenomenon, It’s never been OK to be gay and it’s never going to be OK to be gay, no matter how much the spirit of the times calls for the popularity of that sin.”
The Westboro Baptist Church is a fundamentalist church based out of Kansas, which has been infamous in the past for its vitriolic speech, particularly against members of the LGBT community and the religious minorities, including Muslims and Jews.
As reported by Inquisitr earlier this week, the Westboro Baptist Church members celebrated the shooting in the Pulse gay bar in Orlando by lone gunman Omar Mateen, who, according to later reports, was struggling with his sexual identity and had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic fundamentalist outfit ISIL hours before being killed on Sunday.
But while celebrating the worst shooting in U.S. history was considered the depths to which members of the fundamentalist church could go to in their hatred of the LGBT community members, their latest announcement that they would protest at the funerals of two of the victims of the shooting on Saturday has ruffled many feathers, especially among Orlando residents who are still suffering from the traumatic aftereffects of the shooting.
Speaking to the Orlando Sentinel, Terry DeCarlo, executive director of GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, expressed his disgust at the idea of people protesting at victims’ funerals, but nonetheless made an appeal to fellow counter-protesters to block the “haters” from desecrating the emotional atmosphere that is likely to prevail at the funerals.
“I’m not surprised evil reared its ugly head. We’ll make sure they are not heard.”
According to DeCarlo, counter-protesters will hold supportive signs and homemade angel wings in order to create a visual barrier between the victims’ families and members of the Westboro Baptist Church who are likely to assemble at the funeral sites.
Westboro update: OPD received a letter from WBC today saying they intend to be here 6/18 to demonstrate. Not clear how many plan to come— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 16, 2016
This is not the first time that members of the Westboro Baptist Church are planning to disrupt the funerals of people belonging to the LGBT community. In fact, the church has a long history of picketing funerals throughout the U.S. in protest of what they consider America’s increasing tolerance of homosexuality.
In 2006, members of the Westboro Baptist Church, including its then-leader, Fred W. Phelps, were sued by the Snyder family after church members picketed the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder in Westminister, Maryland.
“They [Westboro Baptist Church members] turned this funeral into a media circus and they wanted to hurt my family. They wanted their message heard and they didn’t care who they stepped over. My son should have been buried with dignity, not with a bunch of clowns outside,” Albert Snyder had testified at the trial.
Westboro Baptist Church members are certainly going to turn up at the funerals of the Orlando shooting victims to register their protest on Saturday, but there are also equally certain to meet many more counter-protesters who will not allow the church members to bring more hatred into their community.
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