A group that has made national headlines in the past for its protests of both homosexuals and the U.S. military has announced that it plans to hold a protest "in respectful, lawful proximity to the memorial of Pfc. Justin M. Whitmire," according to a flyer posted on the group's web site.
Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, led by its pastor Fred Phelps, has used its hyper-Calvinist brand of Christian philosophy to justify anti-gay protests and demonstrations during funerals for fallen soldiers for years now — with a sudden rise in notoriety coming during the high casualties of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Phelps, a former attorney, attended Bob Jones University in Greenville before dropping out in 1948.
Westboro Baptist members posted the attached flyer to make known their intentions of protesting near the funeral service of Whitmire, 20-year-old Hillcrest High School graduate who was killed earlier this week while on patrol in Afghanistan. He was killed by an improvised explosive device.
Pastor Terry Rogers of Faith Renewed Outreach Center in Mauldin, where Whitmire attended church, said that he had looked at the bulletin posted on the group's website and had also checked the group's picket schedule.
Rogers said at this time the funeral is not featured on the picket schedule, but did provide details of where and when services were being held.
Rogers said the wording for each of the bulletin's for fallen military personnel reads the same.
"The bulletin is very disrespectful," Rogers said. "They call Justin a fallen fool."
At the bottom of Westboro's flyer about their planned demonstration of Whitmire's funeral at First Baptist Church in Simpsonville, a common mantra of the group is repeated.
"Thank God for IEDs," it reads.