As America mourned, the Westboro Baptist Church picketed.
Protesting at funerals and other profound events has been the church's modus operandi since the cult-like sect's late founder, Fred Phelps — who died March 19 at age 84 — protested at a local park in 1991 after a city refused to stop "gay activities" there.
The Topeka, Kan.-based church has spread its gospel — primarily, that the nation is doomed because of its acceptance of homosexuality — by showing up to protest during some of America's darkest hours,
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Their signs have included "God sent the killer" and "God hates f---," and their beliefs garnered a "hate group" label from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The church, founded in 1955, claims to have picketed 53,000 events.
Here's a look at some of the recent high-profile funerals that the church protested, or threatened to picket:
Boston Marathon bombing victim (2013): Members attended the funeral of Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant worker killed in the April 15, 2013, terror attack. Local union members and motorcycle clubs showed up at the funeral to stop the group from disrupting the somber procession.
Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims (2012): A day after 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 Newtown, Conn., first-graders, six school workers, his mother and himself on Dec. 14, 2012, church members took to social media claiming that they would picket the vigil for victims of the mass killing. After a monumental public backlash — which included hacker group Anonymous releasing the addresses of church members — they did not attend.
Tuscon, Ariz., young shooting victim (2011): The church announced it would picket the funeral of Christina Green, a 9-year-old victim of the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting that killed five others and also harmed then-U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. As a result of the threat, Arizona passed an emergency bill that banned protests within 300 feet of funerals.
Elizabeth Edwards (2010): When the wife of John Edwards died at 61 of breast cancer on Dec. 10, 2010, church members protested because she admitted to doubting her faith after her son died in 1996. Members were outnumbered at the funeral by advocates, who sang Christmas carols and held signs of support for the Edwards family.
U.S. Marine Matthew Snyder (2006): When Westboro members, including Phelps, picketed the March, 2006, funeral of Matthew Snyder, a Marine killed in Iraq, it sparked a case that went to the Supreme Court in 2010. The high court decided in an 8-1 decision that the church's actions were protected under free speech. Westboro has picketed numerous military funerals dating before and after Snyder's.
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