Westboro Baptist Church members have announced plans to protest the funeral of film critic Roger Ebert, who battled with the church during his life.
The anti-gay church released a statement saying that members will protest Ebert’s funeral “in lawful proximity” to Holy Name Cathedral, which will hold a mass of remembrance. Ebert died last week at age 70 after a long battle with cancer.
Roger Ebert took on the Westboro Baptist Church in the days before his death. On March 25, he tweeted tweet a link to a Salon post that included an excerpt from a gay man who spent a day at the church. Ebert sent the link out twice, with the message “Just another day at Westboro Baptist” and a second time with a similar message: “One more day at the Westboro Baptist church.”
Ebert had spoken out against the group in the past, calling them “odious” in a previous tweet.
In a rambling statement announced the Ebert funeral protest, the Westboro Baptist Church noted this controversy on Twitter.
“American entertainment industry publicity leech Roger Ebert took to Twitterverse to mock the faithful servants of God at Westboro Baptist Church, just days before he received the horrifying summons,” the announcement read.
The funeral for Roger Ebert, a Pultizer Prize-winning film critic, is expected to draw thousands of mourners to Chicago.
The Westboro Baptist Church has made a name for itself with anti-gay protests at a number of high-profile events, usually funerals. The group has picketed services for dead soldiers and threatened to protest at memorials for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School and Aurora shootings.
But the group often fails to deliver on its threats, aiming instead to rustle up controversy and fear of a possible protest. It has not been seen yet if the Ebert funeral protest will fall in this same category.