Community reacts to controversial church protesting Wilmington soldier’s funeral


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Submitted: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:59am
Updated: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:56pm
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A controversial church group known for protesting military funerals says it will come to the Cape Fear to protest the funeral of a Wilmington soldier killed last week in Afghanistan.

“Our military fights for the freedom of ridiculous individuals to air their dirty laundry,” says Tom Russell, the founder of Step Up For Soldiers.

A news release on the website of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS, lists Sgt. T.J. Butler, 25, of Wilmington, on its latest “Roster of the Damned.” The release says “Thank God for 18 more dead troops.” Two other North Carolina soldiers killed with Butler in a suicide attack in a market in the eastern Afghanistan city of Khost Monday are also listed among the 18 fallen service members.

For years, Westboro Baptist Church has claimed America’s war dead are God’s punishment for the country embracing homosexuality. According to the release, church members say, “We will picket their funerals in their home towns (sic) in respectful and lawful proximity thereof.”

The small community of Hampstead, where Butler is from has stepped up in support of him and his family. Several businesses along Highway 17 have put up signs in support.

“Everywhere,” says Jeremy Sawyer, a close friend of Butler. “Putting up signs for the family and for him. Praying for him.”

“He was very well known here, very well loved,” says Candice Nettell, who works at the Wild Hawg Saloon in Hampstead. “A lot of people are very upset about it.”

“What I’d like to know is who’s going to give them lodging here and who’s going to rent them a car,” Russell says. “We all have to stay vigilent. That’s the only way we can defend ourselves and not sell ourselves to other people. We don’t want them here. Don’t lodge them here.In August, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that, among many other things, restricts protesters from gathering within 300 feet of a military funeral two hours before or two hours after a funeral service has taken place.”

According to a his obituary published Saturday in the StarNews, Sgt. Butler’s funeral arrangements are being handled by Andrews Mortuary in Wilmington. The funeral home’s website says arrangements cannot be made until Butler’s body returns to Wilmington from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. He arrived there earlier this week.

Friends of Butler say his family is still waiting to bring his body back home to North Carolina and believe his funeral will most likely take place Wednesday or Thursday.

Matt Wall, the president of Rolling Thunder Chapter 3 in Wilmington, says he has been in contact with the Butler family, who is requesting as much support and involvement from veteran/military groups as possible.

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51 Comments on "Community reacts to controversial church protesting Wilmington soldier’s funeral"


Guest
CB
2015 years 8 months ago

Westboro Baptist Church spreads its hate through picketing in our streets, provoking attacks, with abusive language and flag desecration, attempting to create a confrontation. This is not a church, this is a hate group. This is not about protesting, freedom, or God. They are in it for the money and the press; this is a family law firm. They are not a “church.” It is a scam. They go after anything that can get them in the news. This is a family of lawyers using this “god hates you” thing to make money. It is time for this scam and the hate to end.
The church has received money from lawsuits and legal fees. For example, they sued the city of Topeka several times in the 1990s(this show has been going on for years). WBC received $16,500, and is pursuing another $100,000, in legal fees for a case won in court. The WBC is considered a nonprofit organization by the federal government, and is therefore exempt from paying taxes!
Phelps-Roper of the Westboro Baptist Church is shown admitting on camera that her oldest son was born out of wedlock. Hypocritical Phelps-Roper’s vocal condemnation on strangers having sexual congress outside of marriage while she herself was guilty of the same. They are NOT what they say they are! THEY ARE NOT A CHURCH! THIS IS A HATE GROUP!!

Guest
John
2015 years 8 months ago

Tony,

You might have freedom of speech, and apparently you have the right to be a complete idiot. What wrath is “God” imposing? We don’t even have evidence of a God and all of a sudden he is sending down his wrath… How about pull your head out of you know where and think, but I’m under the impression that would be terribly hard for you. These men and women are going to war! In war people die! There has never been a war in which no one died… It’s not God’s wrath it’s common sense you idiot.

Guest
Guest1127
2015 years 8 months ago

come downtown and tell my own people from my ancestory to stay away from down here. I know what Kansas is about and appreciate all they have done but STAY OUT OF HERE and let the country move forward as it must. Each state is its own enitity. Until China takes it over, this country must stop other state’s morals and values from intruding on each state’s territory. We have to let each state stand for itself.

Yes I watched and am watching “How The States Got Their Shapes”.

Guest
Sam
2015 years 8 months ago

I agree with Troy. Back in the early Bible the REAL God loving, God fearing people had to go to battle every now and then for their beliefs. I say let us unleash the wrath of God on the protesters. After a good butt whooping, they might think about what they are doing.

Guest
Guester
2015 years 8 months ago

Last time I checked, I don’t worship “TONY” or even the Baptist Church in Kansas. I happen to worship God. God is love and is not a vengeful God. Only He has the power to sit in judgment. Even the verse you are quoting states that. Wake up and try loving and not hating.