The disgraceful tactics of right-wing religious zealot Fred Phelps and his flock of homophobes from Topeka, Kansas, have ruined the funeral of many a fallen soldier returning home from Iraq. Now the father of one slain soldier is fighting back.
On Friday, July 7, Army 1st Lieutenant Forrest P. Ewens was buried at a respectful ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery, which many consider to be the most hallowed ground in the United States.
But the peace was disrupted by protests from members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. In a cordoned-off area by the entrance to the cemetery, they carried signs with anti-gay and anti-American slogans and proclaimed that Ewens’ death in Afghanistan on June 16 was another sign of God’s impeding doom on the nation.
Westboro has taken what it calls "love crusades" to military funerals across the country. The church was not protesting at the funeral because Ewens was gay, but because he died, in their view, serving a country that has incurred the wrath of God by accepting and tolerating homosexuality.
Now the father of a slain serviceman whose funeral was disrupted is suing the church in an attempt to fight back against what he views as the abuse of military families with a message of hate.