Westboro Baptist Church plans NIU funeral protests

By Melissa Silverberg

The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) protested Monday and Tuesday at funerals of those killed in Thursday’s shooting at Northern Illinois University, said the church on their Web site.

Founded in Topeka, Kansas, the WBC focuses on combatting what they perceive as sins, especially homosexuality and the war in Iraq. They have protested at funerals of Virginia Tech students, slain servicemen in Iraq, and AIDS victims.

“God sent the shooter and worse and more is coming,” said Shirley Phelps-Roper, member of and attorney for the church. “They don’t love Christ.”

Phelps-Roper is the daughter of WBC founder Fred Phelps.

The NIU Public Affairs office could not be reached for comment on the protests.

The WBC intended to protest at the funeral of 20-year-old victim Dan Paramenter Tuesday afternoon at Christ Church of Oak Brook, but those plans apparently fell through.

“They [were] not allowed on the property,” said David Melvin, executive director for ministry services at Christ Church. “There were some counter protesters here and we asked them to leave also.”

Melvin said he had heard rumors of a protest but was unsure if any WBC members even attended the funeral. The county sheriff and village police were on hand, but there were no incidents, Melvin said.

“We are just here to have a service,” he said.