Westboro Baptist Church to speak on local radio

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010 1:15 PM
Last updated 6:49 PM
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AIKEN --- Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church will trade an hour of talk with radio host Austin Rhodes in exchange for not attending Thursday's funeral services of Staff Sgt. Willie J. Harley Jr.

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SSG Willie J. Hartley was killed in Afghanistan when the truck in which he was a passenger was damaged by an improvised explosive device.  Special
Special
SSG Willie J. Hartley was killed in Afghanistan when the truck in which he was a passenger was damaged by an improvised explosive device.

Rhodes e-mailed a request to the church to stay away from services in exchange for an unedited hour to broadcast their message. The church announced picket plans Monday by press release.

Harley, 48, was killed Oct. 1 in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device. The church said they would also protest the funeral of fellow guardsman, Spc. Luther Rabon, 32, of Lexington County. S.C., was also killed during the attack. The two men were the first from the National Guard's 1221st Engineering Clearance Company, based in Graniteville and Batesburg, to be killed.

Member Shirley Phelps-Roper said she would speak with Rhodes by phone from 5-6 p.m. on Wednesday on Newstalk 580 WGAC. Rhodes said the church also wanted to save the expense of driving to South Carolina.

In an e-mail to The Augusta Chronicle, Phelps-Roper said, "We do this from time to time, and probably over the years, I can think of at least a dozen times we have done this.  We are not interested in getting in people's grills for the sake of getting in their grills.  We are interested in saying the words that are necessary at this hour with plain speech and boldness.  This nation is facing her imminent destruction from the hand of the God that she flips off on a daily basis with her rebellious disobedience and filthy manner of life and that matter of teaching their children that God is a big fat liar."

Rhodes said by phone on Tuesday afternoon that he's "190 percent opposed to what they do," and it would be one of the most difficult subjects he's ever discussed on air.

The church -- which has become known for its protests of military funerals, claiming soldiers' deaths are a sign from God because gays can serve in the military if they don't reveal their sexual orientation --  also attempted to protest the funeral of Cpl. Matt Dillon, of Aiken, who was killed by an IED in Iraq on Dec. 11, 2007.

Dillon's parents, Neal and Lucy, told The Augusta Chronicle earlier this year that they didn't learn of the group's attempt to crash the funeral until after their son was buried.

According to the Dillons, a member of the Patriot Guard, veteran bikers who provide security for families during services, noticed three vans with Kansas license plates headed toward the area the day of Matt's funeral. The biker called officials in Aiken suggesting a time they might be able to intercept the group. As the van crossed the Savannah River into South Carolina, they were pulled over by law enforcement at the rest stop for a "safety check," which took three hours to complete.

Patriot Guard posted on its Web site today that it would be present at both Harley and Rabon's funerals.

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Hatfield0278
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Hatfield0278 10/12/10 - 01:24 pm
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The Patriot Guard is awesome.

The Patriot Guard is awesome. I hope another "safety check" is in the works for this group of nut-jobs from Kansas.

PoorEnough
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PoorEnough 10/12/10 - 01:27 pm
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I'm very glad to see the

I'm very glad to see the Patriot Guard will be present at the funerals of these two servicemen. While Westboro Baptist may have the right to freedom of speech, that right ends where the rights of others is infringed upon, herein, the families of the servicemen.

If Westboro wasn't invited they should be forced to stay a minimum of a half mile away from the grave-sites and out of ear shot of everyone there in mouring.

They may be against the war, but EVERY service member knows whe he or she is getting in to when they sign on the dotted line. I sure did some 35 years ago.

jojo6500jojo
0
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jojo6500jojo 10/12/10 - 01:35 pm
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It's funny, they are

It's funny, they are protesting the very people who insure they have freedom of speech and religion. I wonder if they would shoot off their mouth as much if there were no SOLDIERS to protect their rights and no laws to hide behind. I know the constitution says freedom of religion and speech but isn't that supposed to be with responsibility?

Farmboy
902
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Farmboy 10/12/10 - 01:41 pm
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THE PATRIOT GUARD IS

THE PATRIOT GUARD IS AWESOME!!! You can say that again. Thank you so much guys for looking out for us. :):):)

andrew412
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andrew412 10/12/10 - 01:50 pm
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Westboro Baptist Church on

Westboro Baptist Church on Thursday and the Ku Klux Klan on the 24th at ASU. Enough is enough. God Bless Sgt. Harley, The Patriot Guard, and all those who actually use their right to free speech for good rather than bad.

gijoe7898
0
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gijoe7898 10/12/10 - 01:53 pm
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to heck with the Democrats

to heck with the Democrats wanting to know about the Chamber of Commerce's funding. I'd like to know who is funding this 2 bit church. Its followers do get around alot. If we found out who has the deep pocket, we can do some protesting of our own.

Quack Quack Quack
0
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Quack Quack Quack 10/12/10 - 02:03 pm
0
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The Supreme Court is hearing

The Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to these nuts. It seems to me that their actions of "free speech" should be classified the same as falsely yelling FIRE in a crowded building. I also hope these idiots get stopped for a long safety check. Thanks to the Patriot Guard, keep it up!!! My thanks to these soldiers for their extreme sacrifice for all our freedoms.

Ushouldnthave
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Ushouldnthave 10/12/10 - 02:06 pm
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God bless our troops and

God bless our troops and their families. I hope every patriotic American uses their first ammendment rights to speak out against the Westboro Cult.

Newsreader
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Newsreader 10/12/10 - 02:06 pm
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Thank You SSG Harley and

Thank You SSG Harley and Spec. Rabon, for your sacrifice that will allow freedom to reign in the world. Thank you to your family and love ones, they have given a part of themselves in your death as well. Thank you to the members of the Patriot Guard as they show support to the familys that lose a service member. We as individuals and as a country should stand and salute the above people.
As for the "church" that is willing to protest at a funeral, I hope that God speaks to your hearts and makes you realize that your motives may be good, but your actions are far from what Jesus would do. The grief that Jesus felt when Lazarus died is very well articulated in the Gospel of John. A funeral is not the place for a protest. The government does not attend the funerals. People that love and/or grief the fallen heros will attend. Making the sorrow seem worse or belittling the Nation's loss, will not get the gays out of the military! Westboro stay away. I will personally do everything morally possible to keep this group from appearing at any part of the services for SSG Harley. Because that is what my God is telling me to do. I stand proud of the efforts of our servicemen and women, as they are fighting for freedom. They are risking everything, so that I may enjoy anything. God bless them every one.

WorriedAboutOurFuture
16
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WorriedAboutOurFuture 10/12/10 - 02:11 pm
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I don't think the WBC people

I don't think the WBC people are simply stupid--after all at least one has made it though law school and passed the bar exam.

I wish I could just label them as complete morons, because then I wouldn't be forced to conclude that these people, who call themselves Christians, are simply evil.

follower
59
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follower 10/12/10 - 02:16 pm
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Two very honorable men: SSG

Two very honorable men: SSG Harley and Spec. Rabon. Thank You and your families for service and sacrifice.

To the members of Westboro: You are not true Baptist. You are not true Christians. You are not true Americans. What you truly are cannot be printed. [Readers, feel free to use your imagination]

EMAGUY
6
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EMAGUY 10/12/10 - 02:22 pm
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I'm sorry for the family's

I'm sorry for the family's loss. I hope the family is able to grieve in peace with one another.

If the Westboro "religious wannabes" are coming to Aiken to protest this funeral, is there a counter protest area for people like me willing and able to let the Westboro folks know their presence isn't desired in our area? I'll show up, fly my US flag, my SC flag, and carry a sign reminding Westboro they aren't welcome in my neighborhood.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/12/10 - 02:22 pm
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I have just sent a note to

I have just sent a note to Westboro, offering them one hour, unedited, of my broadcast airtime, if they agree to skip the protest of Sgt. Harley's funeral. Mike Gallager kept them away from Ryan Clark's funeral with the same kind of offer, and Westboro took it.

WorriedAboutOurFuture
16
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WorriedAboutOurFuture 10/12/10 - 02:25 pm
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Follower, they are the same

Follower, they are the same kind of abomination as other people who rationalize acting in ways that they know full well will hurt their fellow citizens.

The word you're loving for is 'traitor'.

WorriedAboutOurFuture
16
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WorriedAboutOurFuture 10/12/10 - 02:29 pm
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I think the best way to deal

I think the best way to deal with the horrible people is to line the roads with people holding flags, and then to follow the procession to the cemetery and stand facing them with very large sheets of plain cardboard or poster board that totally block their view of the burial ceremony, and blocks those who are grieving from seeing anything at all of these horrible people.

jojo6500jojo
0
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jojo6500jojo 10/12/10 - 02:32 pm
0
0
I think if enough local

I think if enough local citizens are willing to get together and stand between WBC and the grave site the family may not even know they are there but instead would have a shining example of all of the people who are truly grateful for the unselfish sacrifice these soldiers and so many others make for our freedom.

follower
59
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follower 10/12/10 - 02:34 pm
1
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Austin, Thanks for that

Austin, Thanks for that offer. Using an hour of showtime for these nuts to skip their protest is admirable. I hope they'll take you up on it. Of course, it'll probably be a ratings hit. I know I would listen.

The toughest thing about that show will be holding your temptation to pummel one of those clowns.

gaspringwater
3
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gaspringwater 10/12/10 - 02:35 pm
0
1
A good ol' boy saw Kansas

A good ol' boy saw Kansas license plates and tipped off the Aiken law. The law stopped the vehicles for a " safety check " which took three hours.

The involved Aiken law officials are guilty of harassment and the Kansas victims should file in federal court for abusing their civil rights. Where's the ACLU? This is the same kind of tactics that were used years ago against black civil rights protestors. No difference.

follower
59
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follower 10/12/10 - 02:40 pm
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Worried, you are right, but

Worried, you are right, but that is just one of the words.

Lonewuf
5
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Lonewuf 10/12/10 - 02:44 pm
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Thank you jojo for your 2:32

Thank you jojo for your 2:32 post.... As a member of the Patriot Guard, I'm sure we and others would welcome any citizens willing to attend and honor Sgt. Harleys ultimate sacrifice..... I agree with your assertion of a shining example..... But remember, we must keep it peaceful and stand in honor of this fallen hero......

Lonewuf
5
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Lonewuf 10/12/10 - 02:51 pm
1
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Gasspring.... You dont know

Gasspring.... You dont know that to be true.... You cant believe EVERYTHING you read. And even if it is...... Aiken County has every right to conduct a safety inspection. And as to your assertion of the civil rights protests VS.... THIS mess..... There is no comparison..... Do NOT bait me to come back to this subject... It's very obvious who you are and what you are, and I'll not waste any further time on you. You are officially ignored.........

crackerjack
143
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crackerjack 10/12/10 - 02:51 pm
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Maybe the KKK can do

Maybe the KKK can do something constructive for once and TALK to these wackos.

Farmboy
902
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Farmboy 10/12/10 - 02:57 pm
0
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I keep wondering how long

I keep wondering how long this "church" will keep going on with this.

ohreally
6
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ohreally 10/12/10 - 02:58 pm
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That's just wrong. You don't

That's just wrong. You don't do that to someone's family at a funeral of all places. There's a time and place for everything. I'm all for freedom of speech- although sometimes people just need to shut up. But let these's mens families bury them without this nonsense.

jojo6500jojo
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jojo6500jojo 10/12/10 - 03:02 pm
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God bless the riders from the

God bless the riders from the Patriot Guard. I hope the funerals of these soldiers go peacefully and uninterrupted. I hope God blesses their families with joyful memories and laughter amongst the heartache.

follower
59
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follower 10/12/10 - 03:06 pm
0
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Gaspring, you don't know what

Gaspring, you don't know what violations might have been present. You don't know if they had bald tires, a cracked windshield, taillight issues, headlight issues, expired tag, illegal window tint, loud exhaust, seat belts, too many occupants, improper emissions.........I'm in the car business, should I keep going? It might have taken a few hours to rectify the situation. You DON'T know.

If they were detained illegally, why has there not been a lawsuit? I don't care if they crossed the center line one time. And I hope they either take Austin up on his offer or 3000 people surround the church to keep them out. The fact that they use "Christianity" so improperly causes me to have little concern for their feelings or any inconvenience they may have suffered in Aiken County.

As much as you "hate" the religious, I would have thought you'd be laughing at their troubles.

ruach
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ruach 10/12/10 - 03:08 pm
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I had the honor of meeting

I had the honor of meeting some of the Patriot Guard in Douglasville at a send off ceremony for some National Guards deploying to Iraq a couple of years ago.....true heroes and patriots all. They do an honorable service standing guard at funerals for our fallen heroes. God bless them.

SSG Harley and SPC Rabon, R.I.P. American heroes, we thank you and your family for the noble sacrifice. May God's comfort and love surround these families.

ArmedandLegal
0
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ArmedandLegal 10/12/10 - 03:13 pm
0
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Someone should tell them to

Someone should tell them to upgrade their bibles from the old test to the new test

lol

gaspringwater
3
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gaspringwater 10/12/10 - 03:14 pm
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Lonewuf - I only know what I

Lonewuf - I only know what I read and it doesn't surprise me. It figures! Sounds like some rogue Aiken county law officers in conspiracy with an informer used their public positions to deny out-of-town people their civil rights, under the pretense of a safety inspection. I sincerely doubt a lawyer would have counseled or condoned the act.

The Kansas church should go to court and let Aiken county explain themselves. Also go after the informer for conspiring to deny people their civil rights.

Aiken law officials should at least conduct an internal investigation of the affair and disciplinary action may be warranted.

gaspringwater
3
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gaspringwater 10/12/10 - 03:37 pm
0
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InChristLove - The

InChristLove - The overwhelming majority is always opposed to the icky minority. And that's the purpose of the Bill of Rights. To protect the obnoxious few from the holy and self-righteous majority. I hope you're wise enough to understand that because most people are not. You don't have to agree with them, only support THEIR RIGHT to protest a wrong in their eyes.

And the Aiken county highway safety check was nothing but law officers abusing their public positions. They should be held accountable.

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