From the CNN website, December 11, 2010
The funeral of Elizabeth Edwards today could be marked by picketers from Westboro Baptist Church.
According to a press release from the church, members of the Kansas-based congregation are planning to rally against Edwards for issues relating to her personal life deemed offensive by the church.
The church is known for its extremist opposition against homosexuals, Jews and other groups. Westboro members often hold protests at funerals for fallen U.S. service members, saying the war's dead are God's punishment for the country tolerating gays and lesbians.
The father of a U.S. Marine has sued the church, alleging invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. The case, Snyder v. Phelps, has reached the Supreme Court and tests the privacy rights of grieving families with the free speech rights of demonstrators, however disturbing and provocative their message.
There are only a few words to describe the action, or proposed actions of the people from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, to desecrate the quiet, the sombre reflections, the mourning of those close, and the sheer privacy of those who will attend Elizabeth Edwards' funeral today in Raleigh, North Carolina. And those words are not pretty; they include such epithets as "disrespectful" and "invasive" and "rude" and "intolerant" and "political" and "abusive" and quite simply "failing the basic taste test of a spiritual person" of "agape love" and "tolerance" and compassion.
While there are others who will attempt to protect the reverence and the dignity of the occasion, in a spirit befitting Elizabeth Edwards herself, in the face of oppressive and insurmountable events, actions and disease that she confronted with dignity and with grace, throughout her life, they ought not to have to divert their attention and their thoughts and their bodies and their wills to such political action.
"Bring a camera and the kooks will come!" and since the funeral is a public event, with everyone welcome, as, once again, befits the openness with which Elizabeth Edwards lived her life, then even the protesters will deface the scene of deserved tranquility, and of warranted respect and honour.
These Westboro protesters do themselves and their faith a serious blow, through their insufferable, self-righteous and inappropriate rejection of "the other" in a world so needing bridges, tolerance, respect and dialogue especially with "the other" as Elizabeth Edwards demonstrated, even in her dying moments, with her estranged husband and the rest of her family at her side.
Update: (December 2, 2010)
The protest fizzled as only five individuals showed up and they had departed by the time the funeral service ended when the mourners emerged from the sanctuary.