Westboro Baptists to ‘picket’ funerals

The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, known for their protests at the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq, has threatened to picket the burials of victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Norway.

Fred Phelps, the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church that is threatening to "picket" the funerals of the victims of the Oslo and Utøya attacks. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

A press release from the church, titled “Norway must repent or perish,” announces protests at the funerals “to warn the living: they died for your sins.” The message goes on to describe the perpetrator of the attacks, Anders Behring Breivik, as “formed” and “appointed” by God and “sent… to punish Norway,” adding that “Norway made being a fag legal in 1972, and passed laws for fags to marry and adopt children in 2008. Did you think God would wink at that in-your-face sin forever?.”

‘National policy to ridicule God’
A spokesperson for the Westboro Baptists, Steve Drain, confirmed to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the church was planning to travel to Norway. “Yes, we are coming at some point,” he said, stating that they “are not completely sure when yet” but “have begun gathering information around the funerals.” Drain informed NRK that the community has no members in Norway, suggesting that “Norway has made it a national policy to ridicule God.” NRK reported that while Drain claimed to know about Utøya, he did ask the reporter in question whether they were talking about a kindergarten or small school. Drain himself chose to join the church 10 years ago after making a documentary about Christian fundamentalism.

Members of the small church community, described by many as a cult or hate group, have regularly protested at the funerals of American soldiers because they believe the US has shunned God by enabling homosexuality. They usually hold placards at such protests that read, “Thank God for 9/11,” “God Hates Fags” and “Fag Troops.” They have also been known to burn the American flag at pickets, and have been further criticized for anti-Semitic and Islamophobic protests and statements. The church is led by Fred Phelps and had an estimated 71 members in 2007, many of whom are members of the Phelps family. The group was banned from entering the UK in 2009 after threatening to protest at a youth production of the play The Laramie Project, which is about the murder of a gay student at an American university.

‘One of the worst ideas in the world’
A chief of staff with the Oslo police district, Johan Fredriksen, told NRK that “if they go through with what they are threatening, I can only certify that this is one of the worst ideas in the world at the moment.” Fredriksen went on to say that “normal thinking people do not think in such a way,” adding that he does not think “they deserve more attention.” While Fredriksen himself said he “had a problem with taking this seriously,” he nonetheless promised that the police would “manage to take care of it” if the threats were followed through. “These statements confirm that humans are the world’s most complicated construction, this is beyond any common sense and we have problems with relating to it,” Fredriksen concluded.

The Westboro Baptists received widespread attention in Europe after a BBC documentary, produced by famous documentary maker Louis Theroux, followed the church’s protests and interviewed a number of its members. The documentary, called “The Most Hated Family in America,” also aired on NRK in Norway. The interest in Norway around the church led one Norwegian, Laura Knarvik, to undertake a school project on the group, after which she has regularly received propaganda from the church. Knarvik told NRK that the group thinks “they are the world’s real Christians,” but she is not sure whether they have contacts in Norway that can help arrange the planned trip.

Views and News from Norway/Aled-Dilwyn Fisher
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  • Richard Johnson

    These are among the most despicable, malicious, inconsiderate, delusional, and stupid people on this deeply troubled planet. I’ve been aware of them for far longer than I want to remember, and I am getting frustrated by how they’re able to garner a lot of attention for their evil ideology. They’re so clearly hungry for attention, they always stick their noses in whenever a tragic event gets enough coverage.

    If the media knows for a fact that these vermin are going somewhere, then they should inform us so we can counter-protest to drown them out, but otherwise I think it’s better if we don’t hear about them. Please don’t give them what they want, there are plenty of intelligent ideas to read, debate and discuss, so let’s not give time to these degenerates.

  • Kelly

    As someone who’s had the misfortune to witness these morons in action, I can honestly say they are affective at making one want to vomit. I suggest Norway quickly do what the UK did and ban them from entry. They probably won’t show up anyway, but better safe than sorry.

    It’s bad enough that we Americans have to deal with them… You Norwegians shouldn’t have to as well, especially right now.

  • John Palmer (USA)

    I agree with Kelly (above comment). Don’t let them in your country. You should not have to be exposed to such vitriolic diatribe. Let us keep our crazies here in the US; we certainly have no shortage of them.

  • YankInOz

    I doubt very seriously if any member of this “church” has a passport. I also doubt that most of them would know how to apply for one. It’s hard enough being a Yank out here in the real world without that mob giving us an even worse reputation than we already have.

  • Kansan

    I live near this group. They’ve been at this for decades and thrive on publicity. They rarely actually show up, particularly if the location is distant. Instead they release a press release to the local media and hope for as much coverage from them as possible. Do yourself a favor and ignore them like one might ignore a petulant child.

  • Eric

    The article and the comments do not demonstrate understanding of the church and the protesters. The church is a business. Specifically, a law firm disguised as a church. This is their business model: design a message that offends everyone, protest in the most offensive way possible to provoke people and local governments into forcibly silencing the church, then sue for damages under US laws that protect religious speech. They are only interested in making money. They do not actually believe their own message, it is just designed to be as offensive as possible. If they cannot make any money from protesting in Norway, they won’t go. The media enables their business strategy by providing them with free marketing. They enable the media to make money from their on-click advertisers by giving the media something provocative to write about. Just ignore them all.

    • Richard Johnson

      That’s basically what Kansan and I said, they’re hungry for attention and they’re unscrupulous, so just ignore them.

      I really couldn’t care less why they’re doing it, whether it’s just for the money or if they really believe in the hateful message they’re peddling. They’re among the lowest kind of scum either way. I also pleaded for the media not to play into their attention grabbing game, although I guess we’re all guilty of that here.

  • http://hotmail MBC

    What disgusting people.

    But there is a message here. Norway must learn to say ‘No’to all-comers and refuse to let these people into the country. Is there not some legal way of preventing this, like ‘intention to disturb the peace’ or ‘threat to security’ that would allow them to be refused?

    Geert Wilders was refused entry into the UK.

  • Jessica

    What is wrong with this group? A guy can go and murder innocent children but he was sent from God? What kind of God is that? The leader of this group needs to have his head examined, the man that attacked Norway was not sent from God. He was insane. Give it a rest and let them have peace.

  • Jane Doe

    *ahem* I believe the appropriate word is homosexual, not fag.

    • Lee Roberts

      It’s direct quotes from their signs and propaganda. I’m pretty sure that otherwise, more appropriate words would be used. If nothing else it shows them for what they really are.

  • Turquoise Dragon

    I’m not afraid of the Westboros. I saw them at the Ronnie James Dio funeral last year. They are pathetic at best.
    One thing we can be happy about: they don’t have the Constitution to hide behind, like they do here, while they’re in Norway. The state department can revoke their visas at any time if they cause unrest.

    • John

      One day these people will have to stand before their Creator and give an account of their lives. Lets be quite clear about this Jesus doesn’t hate anyone! No not even Gays. He hates sin but loves all people. Always ready to forgive with unending mercy. I would not like to be in there shoes on that judgement day!

  • Rebekah

    All I can say that, God is probably shaking his head and saying “What an idiot”

  • Tualha

    The WBC is 100% American and they should stay there with all the other crazy Americans. Europe does not need American crazies coming and trying to spread their insanity. Keep the loonies in the asylum.

    • DelMarVa

      Tualha…..crazies huh? Equating all of us Americans as being crazy is crazier than the Noble Peace Prize going to Obama when he had not done one thing in the year prior to the award being made, let alone since. THAT IS CRAZY! Or better yet, equating all Americans as crazy is as crazt as steroetyping all Norwegians as blonde and fair skinned……..for the next hthought out of your mind…YES, I’ve been to Nroway and spent many a day there over the past ten years….truly you do not represent the majority of the Norwegians I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with.

      • Jack

        No, I believe that Tualha is correct. I’m an American, and we have plenty of crazies here. Norway seems to be having a hard time with their own crazies.

        I don’t think the WBC even knows what a passport is. But Norway could always turn them away at the customs office.

  • Tualha

    Hmm, maybe we should ask Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen if they think the WBC should be allowed into Norway? Wonder what they would think of that?

  • John

    This will not be tolerated. The US might be used to their behavoiur, and have no way of stopping them with the first amendment, but this kind of behavoiur will not stand in Norway.

    There are a few possible ways it will play out.
    They might realise its a terrible idea and abort it, We might ban them from entering like the UK did, the police may contain them, or failing all of those the counter-rallies will, aheam… convince them to leave.

    I dislike all forms of violence, not for religious reasons but from being a decent kind of person, but i will gladly make an exeption for these scum.

    • AdAstra47

      I am from Kansas and I doubt they will follow through. The reason they have survived this long is because the leader’s daughter is a lawyer, and she knows the U.S. laws very well so all of their followers know *exactly* how far the law and the 1st Amendment will allow them to go. They may be psychotic fanatics, but they’re smart about it.

      However, when faced with the laws of a different country, I’m hoping that if they *do* decide to go, they’ll give y’all an excuse to lock them all up for the rest of their natural lives.

      I wouldn’t resort to violence, though. That’s what they want: to look like victims. They have this twisted theology that says that they are the Sacred Remnant, the only true followers of God, and the proof of this is how the rest of the world persecutes them. Which of course means that if they *are* attacked, that just validates their beliefs.

      Here in KS, we know how to deal with them. Whenever there’s an event where they might show up, we have a group of bikers called the Patriot Guard who make sure to show up first and form a human blockade. Both groups are exercising their 1st Amendment rights, and if the bikers just *happen* to be in between the WBC and the event, well, that’s too bad, isn’t it? ;-) Most of the time you don’t even notice the protesters, you just see a wall of leather-clad bikers and U.S. flags. :-) It makes them totally ineffective, which is why they’ve started traveling out of state in the first place.

  • Kansan

    Tualha – The group is *from* America and is made up of American citizens but they are not reflective of Americans. The vast majority of us are not crazy and do not support their message. Even conservatives within the United States dislike this group. At best they represent about 50 core members with maybe another 100 supporters. It is unfair of you to lump Americans in with them and state that America is an asylum full of crazy people. It’s as unfair as the assumptions people make about Norwegians.

    Eric – you are exactly right. The majority of the core members have law degrees and they rely upon winning lawsuits for income. Also, churches in America are not taxed – thus all their property and income is exempt. The news media around where they live simply do not cover them because they understand the group just wants publicity. It’s the local papers in places the intend to “picket” that are their lifeblood. If those media outlets ignored them, they’d go away.

  • Kendra

    Let’s get something clear the WBC in no way shape or form shows theviews or ideas of Americans. They are not Americans. They attack us too protesting at soldiers funerals and saying things that they know will make us angry. They are con artists though they find ways to sue you. That’s what gives them the money to protest. They are just a small church. Dont judge Americans by their protests.

  • Kendra

    God bless Norway. America stands by you. Most of us do.

  • Anders

    When they see how much a plane ticket costs from wherever they live, I think they’ll change their minds.

    Even if they do go to Norway and the authorities do let them into the country, they can expect different treatment than what they are used to in the United States.

    Example: Two seemingly-nutty Christians went to Oslo during the Nobel Prize ceremony and concert and were arrested. Link – http://youtu.be/qsEeDaT8aC4 – From what I could hear on the audio, they did not have a permit to be there. I can guarantee the authorities in Norway would never grant a permit for a protest during the funerals of any of the victims.

  • Dustin

    Their preacher reminds me of the Monstrous Preacher from the movie Poltergiest in the 1980s. He looks like him, even though the Poltergiest preacher was represented as being dead, and putrified, their faces and facial expressions look the same, evil incarnate.

    • Dustin

      Even the coat he wears looks like it was made in the 1880′s!
      Google, Images “Poltergeist Preacher” and then tell me I’m lying!

  • Matt Eddy

    I saw on Fark that the Westboro Baptist Church plans to take their act on the road to Norway, and I wanted to find somewhere online to get a message to Norwegian people. On behalf of all Americans, I apologize for these clowns. The WBC are the sort of thing that is the worst about the USA, made possible because of things that are the best about the USA. In this country, we’re used to the most outrageous of us finding a pulpit from which to screech their blithering batshit, but I shudder to think of these people taking the message elsewhere. Please, please don’t think these folks are representative of Americans – in fact, they’re one of the few things that manage to unite this incomprehensibly diverse and politically divided country. Right-wing or left-wing…EVERYONE hates the Westboro Baptist Church.

    The only upside to them is that they illustrate brilliantly that we really do believe in free speech in this country, and that right extends even to speech that is as ignorant, irrational, inflammatory, and provoking as this.

    • Susan

      Matt – you said it very well.

      These people are not a church in any real sense of the word, they are a cult. Their mission is to profit off the tragedies of others, including soldiers killed in the line of duty and victims of hate-based murders. They create turmoil at funerals, find a basis to sue for damages, and try to turn the grief and sorrow of other families into profit for themselves. They are despicable.

      Norway, which has been through so much, does not deserve to have hate, personified by the members of this cult, show up on its doorstep again. Turn them away.

      Still, it would be wonderful if they DID all wind up in jail in Norway for three years, and give us a break. (Norway might be able to even get donations from here in the US to keep them locked up!)

  • CB

    This is not a church, this is a hate group. Westboro Baptist Church spreads its hate through picketing in our streets, provoking attacks, with abusive language and flag desecration, attempting to create a confrontation. This is not about protesting, freedom, or God. They are in it for the money and the press; this is a family law firm. They are not a “church.” It is a scam. They go after anything that can get them in the news. This is a family of lawyers using this “god hates you” thing to make money.

  • Max

    Don’t they realize Norway doesn’t have the same free speech laws America has? I can only imagine what the cops will be doing to them when they attempt to protest.

  • Fred, USA

    I would like to join my good colleague and fellow American, Matt Eddy, in apologizing to the world for the monkeys who call themselves ‘Americans’ running around yelling, screaming and exhibiting very, very bad behavior.

    Much of the behavior in the US is inexcusable and I spend many days taking long, deep breaths as I watch the animals run the zoo.

    Trust me, these monkeys are in the minority but they steal all of the news time. After a period of time, one begins to believe that insanity is prevailing.

  • kortine

    I agree with Max. I hope that they try to pull that kind of crap in a country that will do something about it. I think we should all sit back, grab a snack, and watch the fireworks.

  • el topo

    This sociopathic organisation, WBC, is incapable of empathy. We need more sensitivity, not less.
    Words can kill. We should be respectful of the feelings of others, especially in times of grief and sorrow.
    My condolences to the Norwegian people.
    You don’t deserve such a visit from hateful people.
    Norwegian border control should deny them entry.

  • Brooks R.

    Fred/USA,
    I do not believe you live in the USA.
    There are enormous amounts of people here who are doing the right thing in their lives. Saying that “much of the behavior in the US is inexcusable” is proof that you have no idea about this great country.
    In fact, I bet you can’t even get a Visa to come here. Thank God.

  • thankgodforwbc

    the westboro baptist church is doing the right thing

    • http://twitter.com/JohnnyKhayat Johnny Khayat

      The right thing to do is to leave those people alone. Their loved ones died because of religious crazies like wbc.

  • PrestonA

    These Westboro bigots do not want to go to Norway. But they do want the free publicity. All they have to do now is just saw they’re going somewhere and they are back in the news.