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September 11, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
Multiple Grammy Award-winning country singer Vince Gill went eye to eye and nose to nose, stopping short of tooth for a tooth with members of the provocative Westboro Baptist Church, who protested his concert Sunday in Kansas City, Mo., taunting him because he had divorced and remarried. In a confrontation captured on a 55-second video that's gone viral on YouTube, Gill tells the protesters, “I came to see what hate looked like.” One woman asked Gill, “What are you doing with another man's wife?
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NATIONAL
March 20, 2014 | By Matt Pearce
As the founder of the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps made plenty of enemies over the last two decades for protesting at the funerals of gay people and soldiers to spread his church's fire-and-brimstone message. Phelps, 84, died Wednesday night after a stint in hospice care. Many observers wondered whether anyone would protest at his funeral.  Church members said no public funeral was planned and blasted the media's attention to Phelps' death. Here's a roundup of some of Thursday's reactions.
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NATIONAL
March 20, 2013 | By Matt Pearce
Aaron Jackson got his colorful idea while stalking the Westboro Baptist Church on Google. The 31-year-old activist wanted to see what the notorious church looked like. For years, Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro protesters have been picketing soldiers' funerals with anti-gay messages. Jackson, who runs a global orphanage and antipoverty nonprofit, was seized by curiosity. He panned the camera around on Google Earth to get a ground-level view of the neighborhood and saw a house for sale across the street.
NATIONAL
March 17, 2014 | By Matt Pearce
Fred Phelps, Sr. -- the 84-year-old founder of one of the most-hated churches in America and possibly the world -- has been placed in hospice and could be at " the edge of death ," according to an estranged son. The lack of public sorrow over this news has been frequent and unapologetic, for reasons obvious to anyone who has been forced to pay attention to Phelps and the legacy he is expected to leave behind. Since 1991, under Phelps' direction, the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church has picketed the funerals of soldiers and prayed for the death of more , and has held up signs saying "God Hates Fags.
OPINION
February 21, 2013 | Meghan Daum
The Westboro Baptist Church, best known for picketing military funerals because God hates a country that tolerates gay people (or something like that), is picketing my alma mater next week. Vassar College, a small liberal arts school in New York's Hudson Valley, is hardly the first school that Westboro's "congregation" (which is really just one large family in Topeka, Kan., led by 83-year-old pastor Fred Phelps) has visited with signs bearing its signature motto, "God Hates Fags. " But Vassar may be the first to pull the jujitsu move of using the demonstration to raise money in support of the very thing being demonstrated against.
NATIONAL
January 11, 2011 | By Seema Mehta and Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
Arizona lawmakers moved quickly Tuesday to try to block protesters from the funeral of 9-year-old shooting victim Christina Green, passing an emergency measure prohibiting protests within 300 feet of any funeral services. In addition to the new law, hundreds of Tucson residents were making contingency plans to try to protect the family of the girl who was slain in Saturday's rampage. The actions were prompted by the Westboro Baptist Church, a publicity-seeking Kansas congregation known for demonstrating at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, arguing that their deaths are retribution by God for America's acceptance of homosexuality.
OPINION
October 6, 2010
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case that sorely tests the principle, articulated by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. nearly a century ago, that "we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe. " The case involves the Westboro Baptist Church, a deranged anti-gay religious group that routinely shows up at the funerals of American soldiers to express its bizarre belief that U.S. combat deaths are divine retribution for America's tolerance of homosexuality.
NATIONAL
January 13, 2011 | By Nicole Santa Cruz and Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times
An extremist church has agreed not to protest outside the funerals of Christina Taylor Green and Judge John M. Roll in exchange for airtime on two radio stations. Margie Phelps, a lawyer for the Westboro Baptist Church, said the decision was not based on outside pressure but rather on how much publicity the church could receive. "It's how many ears we can reach," she said. "That is our job, that is our goal. " The Kansas congregation is known for demonstrating at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, arguing that their deaths are retribution by God for America's acceptance of homosexuality.
NATIONAL
March 3, 2011 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
Ruling in a case that pressed the outer limits of free speech, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said that even anti-gay protesters who picketed the funerals of U.S. troops with signs reading, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," cannot be sued. In an 8-1 decision, the justices upheld an appellate court's decision to strike down a jury verdict against Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. Phelps and his family gained national attention ? and stirred deep anger ? for using military funerals as a backdrop to proclaim an anti-gay and anti-military message.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 19, 2009 | Seema Mehta
A Kansas-based church known for celebrating at the funerals of American soldiers killed in combat plans to protest today at Fairfax Senior High School because the student body elected a gay male teen as its prom queen. Westboro Baptist Church, which has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, says it plans to picket at the school between 12:15 and 1 p.m. Church members also will demonstrate outside a Jewish temple, community center and the Anti-Defamation League's headquarters in Los Angeles.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 11, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
Multiple Grammy Award-winning country singer Vince Gill went eye to eye and nose to nose, stopping short of tooth for a tooth with members of the provocative Westboro Baptist Church, who protested his concert Sunday in Kansas City, Mo., taunting him because he had divorced and remarried. In a confrontation captured on a 55-second video that's gone viral on YouTube, Gill tells the protesters, “I came to see what hate looked like.” One woman asked Gill, “What are you doing with another man's wife?
NEWS
May 25, 2013
By Kari Howard This week, I came across a website called Six Word Stories . The website, its creators say, was inspired by a bet from Ernest Hemingway's pals that he couldn't write a story in six words. So I thought I'd do six-word versions of this week's five Great Reads. (No, I'm not giving Hemingway's story until afterward. It would be like having the Beatles as your opening band.) “She was done with hate. Freedom.” “Papa. Mama. Why did they leave?” “The big break, with $10 water.” “Pi are squared?
NEWS
May 10, 2013 | By Michael McGough
In the post-9/11 culture wars over Islamic fundamentalism, American conservatives - properly - have condemned attempts in Muslim countries to punish blasphemy or insults to the prophet Muhammad. It will be interesting to see if they are similarly outraged over what has happened to an art student at Carnegie Mellon University who insulted the pope. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that CMU filed criminal charges against Katherine B. O'Connor, 19, and Robb S. Godshaw, 22. The university acted after the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh asked it to investigate a parade and carnival at CMU at which a female student was photographed “dressed from the waist up in an ensemble that resembles the clothing worn by the pope.
NEWS
March 27, 2013 | By Brian Bennett and Wes Venteicher
WASHINGTON - Television crews flipped on spotlights and pro-gay marriage activists erected a speaker's podium in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning as the nine justices prepared to hear a second day of arguments about whether same-sex couples have a legal right to marry. A line of lawyers, spectators and activists several hundred long stretched down the block to get into the courtroom. After the festival atmosphere during Tuesday's session on California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, the crowd of a few hundred people was smaller and the mood was more muted on Wednesday.
NATIONAL
March 20, 2013 | By Matt Pearce
Aaron Jackson got his colorful idea while stalking the Westboro Baptist Church on Google. The 31-year-old activist wanted to see what the notorious church looked like. For years, Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro protesters have been picketing soldiers' funerals with anti-gay messages. Jackson, who runs a global orphanage and antipoverty nonprofit, was seized by curiosity. He panned the camera around on Google Earth to get a ground-level view of the neighborhood and saw a house for sale across the street.
OPINION
February 21, 2013 | Meghan Daum
The Westboro Baptist Church, best known for picketing military funerals because God hates a country that tolerates gay people (or something like that), is picketing my alma mater next week. Vassar College, a small liberal arts school in New York's Hudson Valley, is hardly the first school that Westboro's "congregation" (which is really just one large family in Topeka, Kan., led by 83-year-old pastor Fred Phelps) has visited with signs bearing its signature motto, "God Hates Fags. " But Vassar may be the first to pull the jujitsu move of using the demonstration to raise money in support of the very thing being demonstrated against.
NATIONAL
March 12, 2008 | From Times Wire Reports
The state Supreme Court effectively ended a law banning picketing at funerals, ruling in Topeka that it was unconstitutional for legislators to require a court to uphold the law before it could be enforced. That "judicial trigger" was intended to prevent the Westboro Baptist Church from collecting damages from the state should it successfully appeal the law. The measure was passed in response to the sect's picketing of military funerals. The Rev. Fred Phelps and his followers claim U.S. combat deaths are God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.
NATIONAL
September 25, 2009 | Times Wire Reports
A federal appeals court has tossed out a $5-million verdict against protesters who carried signs with inflammatory messages such as "Thank God for dead soldiers" outside the Maryland funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the signs contained "imaginative and hyperbolic rhetoric" protected by the 1st Amendment. A jury in Baltimore had awarded Albert Snyder damages for emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The 2006 funeral of Snyder's son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, in Westminster, Md., was among many military funerals that have been picketed by members of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 17, 2012 | By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday to bar protests near funerals, prevent future accounting scandals and provide some legal amnesty to people seeking medical help for drug overdoses. The measure protecting funerals says protesters on public property must be at least 300 feet from the burial site. Violators could be fined $1,000 or jailed for six months. The restrictions are a response to protests by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, whose members have picketed military funerals to say the death of soldiers is punishment for the country's tolerance of homosexuality.
NATIONAL
May 29, 2011 | By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
Thousands of tornado survivors lined Joplin's main thoroughfares Sunday in anticipation of President Obama's tour of the storm-ravaged city, holding American flags and banners declaring the city would come back from its devastation. Obama flew over the worst-hit area of the city, viewing it from above, before landing in Joplin just after 12:20 p.m. CDT. "This town is beat, but we're not broke," said Catherine Maples, who wore a T-shirt scrawled with the words, "A country town can survive.
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