Westboro Baptist Church Chickens Out Of Protesting Oklahoma Tornado Victims' Funerals

Nathan Francis

The Westboro Baptist Church threatened to picket funerals for victims of the Oklahoma tornado, but once again the members of the anti-gay church were nowhere to be seen.

The Topeka-based church has made a living out of turning tragic events into a chance to spread homophobic messages --- or at least threatening to. The church sends members to protest at funerals of soldiers and notable people, with signs decrying America and its acceptance of gay lifestyles.

The church gained fame for its protest of gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepherd, but in recent days it has been all bark and no bite.

Members threatened to protest at memorial services for victims of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, last July. The threatened again to protest at funerals for children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, for those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing, and most recently threatened to protest for victims of the tornado that struck on Monday in Moore, Oklahoma.

In all of those times, church members never showed up.

Had the Westboro Baptist Church not chickened out of going to Moore, they would have been met by a wall of counter-protesters. The Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcycle riders who arrive to block mourners from seeing the church's anti-gay messages, were in Moore in full force.

The riders lined the streets, creating a wall for the funeral procession of a young boy killed.

Another picture posted to the link-sharing site Reddit showed a long row of motorcycles, with riders ready to face the Westboro Baptist Church that would never show.

Westboro Baptist Church members did try to take advantage of the tragedy behind the safety of a computer screen.

Fred Phelps Jr., the son of Westboro Baptist Church minister Fred Phelps, blamed the destructive tornado on Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. Ignoring the meteorological reasons explaining the tornado, and the fact that Moore sits in the midst of "Tornado Alley," Phelps insisted that the tornado really struck was because God was mad that Durant supported gay player Jason Collins.

He tweeted: "OK Thunder's Durant flips God by praising fag Collins. God smashes OK. You do the math."

Even though its members never showed up to Moore, the Westboro Baptist Church was still thwarted in its attempt to take advantage of the tragedy. A hacker took over the church's site "God Hates Oklahoma," showing a picture mocking the church before redirecting to a Red Cross site accepting donations for tornado victims.