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Funeral Met With Hate Gay Campain By Extremist Baptist

 

 

POSTED: 6:37 pm CDT August 5, 2005

UPDATED: 7:26 pm CDT August 5, 2005

 

CHICAGO -- The final farewell for a young soldier in Northwest Indiana mixed a respectful funeral with a protest by a Baptist church group from Kansas.

 

 

Spc. Adam Harding was laid to rest in Portage, Ind.

 

His family and dozens of friends and neighbors attended the service, but they were interrupted by a Baptist group who traveled from Kansas to protest the ceremony.

 

NBC5's Phil Rogers said that he was, in fact, reporting two stories: one of a young American killed in the line of duty, and another of that man's memorial service colliding with a church.

 

To the dozens gathered to pay their last respects Friday, Adam Harding was hailed as the best America can offer.

 

"Spc. Harding was first, foremost, and always a soldier," a military spokesman said at the funeral.

 

He died July 25, when his convoy encountered a roadside bomb.

 

His friend Dustin Dunkle, also serving in Iraq, knows it could have been him.

 

I don't know what it's going to be like going back without him," Dunkle said, "with him not being there."

 

And across the street from the solemn service, a message of horror and hate unfolded as mourners gathered.

 

"If God loves this country, can he not curse this country?" shouted Jonathan Phelps, spokesman for the Westboro Baptist Church group, consisting Friday of about 10 picketers.

 

The group's Web site hails the London bombings and states that the group wishes that the explosions could have been worse. They specialize in crashing the funerals of American soldiers.

 

"God is their terrorist," Phelps said. "They've turned the country over to the fags. They're coming home in body bags."

 

The group contends that dead soldiers are God's revenge for America's tolerance of homosexuality.

 

"Hasn't this family suffered enough without you showing up at the funeral of their dead son?" Rogers asked Phelps.

 

"This is not about them grieving. This is about them beating their chest in pride about this filthy United States of America," Phelps replied.

 

All of Portage seemed to differ in their opinion of Friday's ceremony.

 

Harding was hailed as his hometown's hero and the town was festooned with American flags. He was presented on Friday with the Army's Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

 

As is tradition, the soldier's grieving parents were presented with the flag of a grateful nation as hundreds turned out to prove the protesters wrong.

 

"I don't agree with it," one woman said, holding up the top of a cooler on which she had written, "My God Loves Everyone."

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Hi Beach

I came across Phelps' website a few weeks ago and couldn't quite believe what I was reading.

I can to some extend understand (though not at all agree with) where a lot of homophobia comes from. But I can't seem to even start to understand such intense hatred, and not in the name in christianity. It even has stuff on that site relishing the number of days some people have been in hell.

Do you have any idea where they're coming from?

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Here in western Missouri, Fred Phelp's group is legendary for its local protests. In the past, these were limited almost entirely to activities related to what they saw as promoting homosexuality, such as protesting various speakers (as has happened at the university I teach at), or protesting the funerals of gay men and women. They also have done some picketing of abortion providers, but their main emphasis has always been anti-homosexuality.

 

They are a small, but vocal, group that is denounced by many mainstream Christians. The sad thing is that they continue to get media coverage for their increasingly bizarre protests, including the latest. When I saw them on local TV protesting this man's funeral, I was sickened, to say the least. I felt the various veterans who'd come out for the funeral showed remarkable restraint as they confronted the group. Unfortunately, there is no reasoning with such demented interpretations of God and scripture (as any perusal of their website will show). While those who are targeted by the protests cannot help but confront them and counter their hate-filled rhetoric in some way, I think the press should ignore them, depriving them of the public forum they so clearly seek.

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This is, of course, a malevalent thing to do at someone's funeral.

 

Having said that...

The sad thing is that they continue to get media coverage for their increasingly bizarre protests,

 

I was talking with someone who is part of a UCC church that supports gays and lesbians (maybe they were "open and affirming"). When Phelps came to town, they were upset when he didn't protest them. They were hoping that he would so they could get the publicity. After all, what better way to announce your support for LGBT civil and ecclesiological rights? (And the media coverage is free.)

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