Telling the Westboro Baptist Church to go to hell in La Plata (with update)

What do you do when the Westboro Baptist so-called “Church” shows up to demean a soldier during his funeral? When the hate group showed up at an Oklahoma soldier's funeral to celebrate God's punishment of America for its failure to — what, put homosexuals to death? It's hard to figure out from their website what would satisfy them — the locals responded by slashing their tires.

This morning in La Plata, Md., the hate group's parade of absurdity received quite a response: More than a thousand counter-demonstrators showed up early, established themselves on the rights-of-way around the church, and prevented the “God Hates Fags” crowd from getting anywhere near the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Terry Honeycutt.

A few minutes ago, I called Holly Smith, one of the organizers of the counter-demonstration. I was surprised to hear no shouting or noise in the background. “American flags as far as the eye can see,” she told me. And the Westboro crowd? “They are up at a gas station probably a mile up the road, because they couldn't get any closer,” she said. “We're in the shoulder for probably ten deep for at least 300 yards.”

Much better than destruction of property, and a template for helping the grieving families of deceased servicemen in the future.

Note: Since posting this, I've received a couple of complaints about the title. Just so you know, it is a reference to the Westboro Church's history. After the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, Rev. Fred Phelps erected a monument that stated: “Matthew Shepard entered Hell on October 12, 1998, at age 21 in defiance of God's warning”

I understand that people went out today to defend a young Marine's family from the church's disgraceful behavior — not to tell anyone to go to hell — but I believe the title is appropriate to the circumstances and that's why I used it.

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