TOPEKA, Kan., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- An independent U.S. church known for preaching a gospel of hate said Thursday it would picket the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards who, it claims, is now in hell.
The Westboro Baptist Church, not affiliated with any known Baptist convention or association and widely described as a hate group, accused Edwards, who died Tuesday at age 61 after a six-year battle with breast and bone cancer, of seeking to defy God throughout her life -- and of paying for her defiance with her son's death, "an unremitting disease raging in her body" and "a whorish husband" who brought "their family to open shame."
Edwards was an accomplished lawyer, the mother of four children and the wife of former U.S. Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. Their 16-year-old son, Wade, was killed when strong winds swept his Jeep off a North Carolina highway, cancer struck her at age 55 and her husband admitted to having had an extramarital affair with a campaign videographer.
The Westboro church, based in Topeka, Kan., headed by disbarred lawyer Fred Phelps and consisting mostly of members of his large family, plans to protest Edwards' funeral outside the Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Edenton, N.C., near Raleigh, from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. EST Saturday.
The Edenton church, where Edwards' funeral is to be held, said it was aware of the planned protest and was meeting to decide what to do about it.
The Westboro church, known for its extremist opposition to homosexuals, Jews and other groups, says it considers membership in most religious groups, including the Roman Catholic Church and Islam, akin to devil worship.
It is monitored by the Anti-Defamation League, which fights bigotry, and classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.