Why do conservative Christians like Rev. Fred Phelps hate the U.S. military?
Six followers of the Baptist preacher from Topeka, Kansas, traveled to Iowa on Wednesday, June 22, 2005, to picket the funeral of a soldier who was killed in the line of duty in Iraq.
While 600 people mourned the loss of Army Spc. Casey Byers at the Iowa National Guard Armory in Denison, [about] 50 yards away…six protesters held signs that said such things as “God blew up the troops.” All six were relatives of the Rev. Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. They contend that God is punishing the United States for bombing Phelps’ church a decade ago. The group has held similar protests at soldiers’ funerals in Idaho, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Illinois. It plans to go next to Kentucky.”
Rev. Phelps – who made national headlines when he picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepherd, a young man who was viciously murdered in Wyoming because he was gay – told a local paper in Iowa:
“We’re going to picket it… We’re picketing to preach the true nature of what’s going on here, that these IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) are specific methods of the Almighty… because he’s punishing them (the United States military) for bombing the WBC [Westboro Baptist Church].“
Phelps apparently sent a flyer to a local television station, KTIV, announcing his intention to picket at Byers’ funeral:
“When his body is returned from Iraq where he was killed … by an IED – like the IED fags used to bomb Westboro Baptist Church … attempting to stop WBC’s preaching.”
The local paper also said, “Westboro Baptist Church has gained a nationwide reputation for its stance on homosexuals, African-Americans and other religious groups.”
Phelps claims Byers’ death is directly linked to the bombing of their church 14 years ago.
“You can’t set a bomb off at the church of Jesus Christ and not expect any retaliation to happen. Each IED that kills a soldier is a direct intervention from God,” Phelps said.
“In other words, each (soldier) has died for this nation’s sins…”
Soldiers will continue to die because of the WBC bombing, and because they live in a country that is supportive of the homosexual lifestyle, Phelps and his daughter said.
Bartnett said Byers wasn’t homosexual, and doesn’t understand what WBC’s stance on homosexuality has to do with the fallen soldier.
“He was related to this bombing (of the WBC church), because he’s a part of this evil nation (that supports homosexuality),” Phelps said. “Anybody who doesn’t understand that is deaf, dumb and blind.“
Compounding the tragedy for the Byers family, the Des Moines Register reports that Casey Byers’ brother, “Spc. Justin “Paul” Byers, 19, wrote a letter he was going to read at his older brother’s funeral. But he died before he could read the note. Officials say he committed suicide when he was hit and killed by a truck Monday night.”