Westboro Baptist Church to picket fallen Tyler soldier's funeral
POSTED: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 3:32pm
UPDATED: Saturday, August 25, 2012 - 1:49pm
Kansas-based Westboro Baptist is known for it's extreme and disruptive protests at military funerals, because they believe the deaths are a punishment from God.
One of the organizers for Westboro Baptist's protests, Jonathan Phelps, tweeted "Thank God for killing Sgt. Russell Bell, Tyler, TX by IED. WBC 2 picket funeral as service 2 all. God is not mocked: U reap what U sow. Gal 6:7"
Fort Bragg's 4th Brigade soldier, 1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell from Tyler, Texas was killed by an IED last Thursday in Afghanistan.
KETK has learned that the funeral service will be held at Fort Bragg. The date and time of the service will not be released, per request by the family.
No word yet on whether there will be a local memorial.
Military support organization Patriot Guard Riders will occassionally attend soldiers' funerals where Westboro plans to picket, in a show of support for the family.
KETK spoke with a representative of the East Texas Patriot Guard Tuesday morning, who said that the organization has not yet heard confirmation that Westboro Baptist was planning to picket, and had no plans to attend Bell's memorial service.
It should be noted that the East Texas Patriot Guard will only attend a service at the request of the family.
In July, a large group of students and supporters turned out at Texas A&M to form a human wall to block Westboro Baptist protestors from the funeral of soldier Roy Tisdale.
If Westboro Baptist does show up to protest in Tyler, they will have some stiff restrictions.
On Monday, President Obama signed into law a veterans bill that included restrictions on demonstrations at servicemembers' funerals.
The Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, which Congress passed last week, states that protestors can not picket military funerals two hours before or after a service.
Demonstrators are also required to stay at least 300 feet away from family members during a memorial.
A release from The White House about the bill says "when men and women die in the service of their country and are laid to rest, it should be done with the utmost honor and respect."