Westboro Baptist threatens Anderson funeral protest: Group also scheduled to be in NE

Brent Finnegan -- June 21st, 2010

Nationally renown protesters of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) have released a statement on their website, indicating that the group may protest at the funeral of Spc. Brian “Bucky” Anderson, to be held Tuesday afternoon in Broadway.

Anderson was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month, when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle. Westboro Baptist is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

Westboro Protesters photo by Flickr user k763

Westboro Protesters photo by Flickr user k763 (Creative Commons)

According to the group’s press release, their message that “God hates America and is killing our troops in his wrath . . . is to be preached in respectful, lawful proximity to the memorial of Spc. Brian M. Anderson Tues., June 22, at 1:15 p.m. Broadway High School.”

However, it’s unclear whether members of WBC will actually be in Virginia this week.

The Topeka, Kansas-based group released an identical statement for Spc. Blaine Redding, whose funeral is scheduled to be held Tuesday morning in Nebraska. According to the schedule posted on their website, the group will be in Plattsmouth, Nebraska Tuesday.

According to the Plattsmouth police, their department has been contacted by WBC’s attorney to make arrangements for the group’s protection during the protest.

Broadway Police Chief Jay Lantz and Sgt. Felicia Glick of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office said their departments are aware of the statement on WBC’s website, but said they had not been contacted by WBC to make arrangements for the protection of the protesters.

Regardless of whether the protesters show up, Lantz said he expects a strong multi-jurisdictional law enforcement presence at BHS tomorrow afternoon.

(H/T Adam)

UPDATE: The Daily News-Record has reported that WBC members are indeed planning to be present outside the Anderson service at BHS Tuesday.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, 52, a lawyer for Westboro and one of [Fred] Phelps’ 13 children, said [she] did not know how many demonstrators would be in Broadway today but said no more than seven could attend because the church will protest in two other places . . .

Phelps-Roper will not be at today’s demonstration in Rockingham County. She plans to attend another in Nebraska, where she faces criminal charges related to a picketing she participated in three years ago.

UPDATE 2: The DNR now reporting that WBC was a no-show.

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61 Responses to “Westboro Baptist threatens Anderson funeral protest: Group also scheduled to be in NE”

  1. City Dweller says:

    The thought of this group coming to the Valley makes me deeply saddened and angry.

    I will be praying for the Anderson family during this difficult time and I hope others will join me in praying this group does not show up tomorrow.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Harrisonburg Daily News Record (DNR) never ceases to disappoint me. I found it very disturbing when I took a look at the paper today and noticed that the DNR devoted more space and a longer article to the hatemongers of Westboro Baptist Church than they did to our fallen hero—Army Spc. Bucky Anderson. With Christlike sacrifice for his country and all of its citizens, Anderson was killed by a band of cowards who couldn’t fight face to face but, instead, set off a roadside bomb. And, Anderson died protecting the rights of all American citizens, including the rights of the sub-human evildoers with the Westboro Baptist Church, the very rights that they are using to disparage Anderson and his family. It is a tragedy that the DNR would waste its space devoting any time or energy to this group. God bless our American soldiers, every one. Although I did not know Anderson, I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone who would give up his life for the citizens of this country, some of whom are certainly not worthy of such an honor.

    • Unchosen One says:

      Honestly even if they do show, what happens happens. I think they need to show up. Not that i am for them but, maybe they will actually get a taste of what true family and friendship as well as an amazing community we have here in the valley. These people have nothing better to do than to harass a man who served and died for his country. I served, i may not have liked the reasons but i did it. This is God’s country not theirs..

  2. Anne Lorimer says:

    With all due respect to the SPLC, it may be more useful to consider the WBC not as a hate group, but rather as a group of litigious agent-provocateurs. The WBC’s goal is to provoke us into violating their rights (e.g. by punching them or restricting their protest) so that they can sue property owners, municipalities, etc. Unfortunately, to achieve this goal, they will sometimes split up to attend multiple funerals on the same day. Detailed description of their methods here.

    • Interesting link, Anne. Thanks for sharing.

      • jeannie says:

        i agree that was interesting, its just messed up that family’s lose their loved ones and already in pain and these prople want to make a profit from them. Wish there was something to stop them ,but they know what they are doing.

    • Renee says:

      Is a group of counter-protesters standing in front of them holding up a large curtain with poles to block the funeral procession’s view of them considered a violation of their rights in any way?

      • nicklaus combs says:

        not sure if it’s a violation however i would imagine the police will have the two groups seperated and far apart from each other so this scenario wouldn’t even be possible to pull off.

      • Anne Lorimer says:

        Dunno. Beautiful idea, though.

  3. Mom3 says:

    There needs to be local folks who will silently witness for this family; and show the jerks from KS that the Valley will not be intimidated or used for their PR purposes. Show up if you can out of respect, and don’t let them dominate a solemn ceremony.

    • Tom Moffett says:

      There is a national group who witness for all fallen soldiers when requested by the family. It is called The Patriot Guard. This group of motorcycle riders (mostly veterens) was founded specifically to “stand for those who stood for us”. See the details of their history at patriotguard.org

    • Nichole says:

      There will be a group of people standing hoping for form a baricade between these protesters and the family. We will be doing it in silence and peacefully! Also, the Patriot Gaurd is planning to attend as well!

      • angie says:

        Yes… I’m so glad to hear that the Patriot Guard will be there.. it absolutely breaks my heart that there are people like this WBC in our nation, but it so does my heart good to hear that the Patriot Guard is here to protect the families! I love it!

  4. nicklaus combs says:

    annie is correct above.
    the knee jerk reaction is to protest their presence. unfortunately this only confirms in their minds the work they are doing is what is right.

    the best counter to groups like this is to not show up, to not protest, and to not even recognize their efforts.

    • Anne Lorimer says:

      Uh, my point above was that we should deny the WBC their chance at a lawsuit. Not that people should ‘not show up’ at a funeral, if only to provide a quiet, human, insulating barrier between the WBC and the funeral party. (This may confirm all kinds of things in the unfortunate minds of the WBC; but surely we should be more concerned with the minds of Spc. Anderson’s family & friends, since they’re the ones to whom the rest of us are indebted.)

      • Robin says:

        This is exactly what we are trying to do. WBC have their 1st amendment rights and so do we. We are using ours to make sure the family isn’t upset any more than they are now. We are not confronting WBC or encouraging any violence of any type. We are simply protecting the rights of the family to a respectful funeral.

        • nicklaus combs says:

          i completely agree with wanting to offer support and respect to the family. i think sarah rose-silva has a wonderful idea below to offer that same support and respect and not give into to what the group wants you to do (in fact you could donate the money to a group of the family’s choosing). in my opinion because they do not actively recruit and are mainly made up of members of a family the normal hate group tactics do not work and are not effective in combating them. you will not show them they are wrong and as i said earlier you are only confirming in their minds that the work they are doing is what is right. once people stop giving them attention they will fade out of existence.

          • Robin says:

            Quite honestly I’m not concerned at all with what WBC thinks of me. They will continue to think their hateful, hideous, thoughts no matter what I do. As I said. We are doing this for the sole benefit of the family and out of respect for them.

        • Nichole says:

          Right Robin. We will not be violent. We are not going to engage with the other group. We are standing in solidarity with the Anderson family.

    • Except that they plan to co-locate where the people who want to show respect for the Anderson family will be.

      Perhaps the Andersons could use the Virginia Patriot Guard

  5. Sarah Rose-Silva says:

    There have been some really great ideas about how to silently protest these guys. I read about one community where people pledged money and for every minute they protested they gave that amount of money in dollars to a gay rights group.

  6. If they show up at all, I would be surprised if there are more than a few of them, or if they are there for more than 30 minutes.

    I had previously watched a BBC documentary about WBC, but I don’t recall the doc touching on the scam artist angle. The film made it appear that they actually believe what they’re proclaiming. But the link Anne provided makes sense.

    I do know that Phelps was an attorney who helped defeat the racist Jim Crow laws during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Apparently people change.

    • Anne Lorimer says:

      The BBC film is probably correct to depict WBC as sincere. The link above usefully details the WBC’s methods, but less convincingly argues that if the WBC were sincere, they wouldn’t have protested Coretta Scott King’s funeral, since their church doesn’t condemn “black people who tried to promote Christianity”. This is a rather bland way to describe Coretta Scott King, who would have earned the wrath of the WBC’s alleged God for her support of same-sex marriage, among other things. Phelps’ estranged son reckons his religious claims are hollow, but his craving to hate is genuine.

  7. Delataire says:

    I do hope that someone video tapes the WBC.

    • Brooke says:


      • Delataire says:

        These people along with most followers of the abrahamic religions are enemies. It is always good to have a visual file of them on hand.

        • Brooke says:

          So, if I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying that any one who is an adherent to the “Abrahamic Religions”, namely Christianity, Judaism and Islam, is an enemy of [you? America? the State?] and should be watched?

          • Delataire says:

            You missed the quantitative word “most”. As an example: many people here have identified themselves as being christian, however, they have also stated a dislike for the “christian” group the Valley Family Forum. That is a difference between you and them.

            I see most christains as being useless politically correct, multiCULTist, John Hague demogog, 700 club members, who would do anything for israel because “god told them to do so”.

            On the other hand there are christains who want to have a crusade to drive the muslims back to the middle east.

            There are jews who believe that israel should not exist. Then there are the others.

            There are muslims who say that muslims should stay in the Middle East, then there are those calling for jihad.

            Granted these are a minority, however, we recognize direct and indirect support.

            With regards to the WBC, I think we can agree that they should “spit” on you just as readily as they would “spit” on me. I do not know your preferences, but I like to know who is willing or might spit.

        • Brooke says:

          So most Jews, Muslims and Christians should be watched. Not sure that’s much better. I’ll admit there are whackos in EVERY ideology (not just “abrahamic faiths”), but I’m not sure you can go to saying “most.”

          So, I’m curious, in your opinion, who are the Christians, Muslims and Jews that *don’t* need to be “watched”? The ones who agree with your views? The ones who think we should all keep cultures separate?

          I get that you’re against anything you deem “multiculturalism.” In your opinion, what should American culture and population look like?

          Actually, they probably wouldn’t spit on either of us, seeing as they are WELL versed in the law and know that would negate their ability to sue anyone, because I’m fairly certain that would be assault in some fashion. They’re meticulous about what lines they’ll cross, and what lines they won’t, in order to preserve their ability to bring lawsuits to raise money.

          But *metaphorically* yes, they’d spit on as soon as look at us. But I don’t really feel the need to have surveillance on anyone that disagrees with my world view, just because they *might* do something. KWIM? That seems a little bit paranoid, and I’d hate to see where that might go, especially with your “most ____ are enemies.” philosophy.

          • Delataire says:


            Theodore Roosevelt on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN

            “In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile…We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

            Theodore Roosevelt 1919

            “A country is a place where the people speak the same language and read the same newspaper.”


          • Brooke says:

            Hmmm…I think there’s a bit of hypocrisy in that statement, though. Because those who already speak English have nothing to assimilate, to. In essence we’re setting ourselves, to the standard of assimilation although most of us were born here and have known little else but “American” culture (or what we think that is).

            And although I do see problems when people live in little isolated pockets of society and fail to achieve SOME measure if integration with the larger society, I don’t for a second buy into the notion that one most give up all sense of cultural heritage. We are not a melting pot. “American Culture” is a mixture of and has been influenced by every culture that has become part of it. My children are part European ancestry and part Chinese, and although they are 100% American, by nationality, their cultural heritage is a mixture of many things, and I will raise them to be proud of that. Not ashamed. They needn’t give up or forsake their Chinese heritage in order to be American.

    • Anne Lorimer says:

      You rooting for Chavez, or Duddy?

    • Nichole says:

      Best case scenario: WHSV and the Daily News Record and no other news outlets show up. Unfortunately that won’t happen.

      • I can’t speak for the other hburgnews writers, but I won’t be covering it, Nichole. IMO, funerals are private events, and to cover something like this would only give more publicity to WBC, which fuels their fire.

        The purpose of this particular story was to help shed some light on (or help diffuse) the rumors swirling on Facebook. It’s still unclear to me whether or not WBC will even show. As of late this morning, they hadn’t followed their own protocol of calling ahead to the local law enforcement to ask for protection.

        • Nichole says:

          I’m praying they don’t show up and the posting was just put on there to create hype.

  8. Gleamer says:

    This has been the most successful counter protest so far. It took all the attention away from the WBC and made them look simply silly.

  9. kuato says:

    Think I can book these guys for my own funeral? Their presence would be a clear sign to everyone that I had done something of value with my life.

    The main problem I see is advanced scheduling, since I have no earthly idea when I will need them.

  10. Jesse says:

    I do know it to be a fact that WHSV does not want to give them publicity, but at this point I don’t think they will show up. I am still considering attending just in case. The silent wall will work, I know that this group historically will stomp the stars and stripes. So you’ll know me, I’ll be the one proudly displaying my flag high in the sky.

  11. pawnee proud ndn says:

    I hope that all the bikers around including the MC’s will come out and stand for this brave warrior…the sound of the bikes thundering will drown out their lame words of hate…I thank the Great Spirit daily that I am not of the people who worship this God of hate

  12. Brooke says:

    God is not a “God of hate.” There are just people who twist His words and ideas for their own hateful agendas. People of any ideology can do that, unfortunately. Not just Christians.

    It’s no more fair to lump all Christians (and our God) into one category and judge them as all the same than it is for people to do that to Muslims, the vast majority of whom have nothing whatsoever to do with Islamic extremism and terrorism.

    And honestly, looking at Scripture and what it says about the evidence that’s supposed to be there of saving faith, I’m not sure I’d really use the term “Christian” to describe these people. They may claim to follow Christ, but the way they go out of their way to wound others during what is likely their most painful time, contradicts so many of the teachings on how we are to conduct ourselves as followers of Christ. And to actually do it in the name of God and Christ? I think they are in for a very rude awakening come Judgment Day.

  13. Apparently WBC will indeed be in Broadway today. Updated the original story to reflect that.

    I looked for contact info for WBC yesterday, but couldn’t find it to confirm.

  14. Brooke says:


    Prayers go out to the family today as they endure this atrocity. Hopefully everyone can find a way to ignore these people so they don’t get what they want, which is more attention.

  15. Kevin Edwards says:


    When I watched the WBC/Fred Phelps documentary, mostly I was amazed at his sense of himself. To believe that he is as important as he was and that God, of all things, was sending out its wrath on the whims and ideology of a failed lawyer and perverse preacher.

    I hold no higher power, but I sure would love to see some sort of diving retribution for this kind evil.

  16. karen says:

    I live in Broadway and didn’t see anyone protesting.Did anyone see anyone from WBC?

  17. amy says:

    READ THIS article people…I think it’s highly probable that the entirety of Westboro is a SCAM.


    • nicklaus combs says:

      highly probable? how about it is exactly what they do. they run a business, they’ve always run a business and they will continue to make money as long as people pay attention to them.

  18. WBC was a no-show. This comes as no surprise to me.

  19. The Westboro Baptist Church is serving as an exquisite distraction from the real issue at hand, which is that Obama and his class-brethren are sending Appalachian youth, along with the youth of other US internal colonies, to die in misery for genocidal wars of imperialism.

    Our thoughts and prayers are for Mr. Anderson’s family and for vengeance against those who insult his memory, be they the Westboro Baptist Church, or the global capitalists who build their empires of oil on the sweat and blood of dead Appalachians as well as working people everywhere.

  20. Can you jackass ideologues just give it a rest for a few days. Quit using Specialist Anderson’s sacrifice for your own pompous ends. Show some respect.

    • The fact of the matter is that this young man’s tragic death was not at all natural but totally dependent upon the political circumstances which govern our lives. To not point out this obvious reality would be the greater disrespect.

  21. Christa says:

    WBC set out to terrorize the family of Bucky Anderson.(and countless other grieving families) They accomplished their goal and didn’t even need to show up. And we enabled them. Sad.

    • Robin says:

      Christa, I have never seen such a wonderful thing in my life. What the WBC did was pull together a diverse group of people whose sole concern was the safety and emotions of the Anderson family. We did not enable them. We won by being what we should be. The human family which supports those who need us.

  22. Andy Perrine says:

    I have a sign.

  23. Lowell Fulk says:

    No Christa, what they assisted in doing was galvanizing people of the Valley and beyond. There was not one person in Broadway yesterday who was in terror…
    There was however a multitude of good and solid folk, from far and wide, who shared a resolve to protect and support a grieving family.

  24. republitarian says:

    Are you all going to do a story on the 3-2 vote by Hburg city council to pay the 5% to VRS for employees when many localities are not anymore? DO you have any interest in Mark Obenshain and Matt Lohr’s legislation which benefitted The Cooch and a large donor?

    Just asking. If I was still blogging I would consider those noteworthy.

  25. Teresa says:

    These wack O’s from the Westboro baptist church are not christians and when they show up a funeral with their hateful signs and hateful speeches they should all be ashamed of them selves. Something needs to be done about this sick and twisted people..

  26. amberq22186 says:

    It was Bucky’s funeral. It was the right of Bucky and his family to have a peaceful and respectful ceremony like the one that he deserved.

    It absolutely does not matter if you agree with the reason our country is at war. You can have an opinion or a problem with a president, or a decision a president has made… but Bucky is a soldier. He fought for our country. If you can’t support him, and at the VERY least respect him, then you shouldn’t be living in this country. Without soldiers like Bucky, we would not have the liberties that we are blessed with today as Americans.

    Then again, it is a much easier to type your opinions online than it is to do something like join the army to fight in a war for your country, isn’t it?

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