Local News

Controversial church plans to picket Edwards' funeral

Posted December 9, 2010

— A Kansas church famous for its anti-homosexual protests at funerals plans to protest at the Saturday funeral of Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

The Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest for 45 minutes before the funeral set for 1 p.m. at Edenton Street United Methodist Church in downtown Raleigh, according to the church's website.

The group provided the Raleigh Police Department late Thursday with a notice of intent to demonstrate, police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

The Topeka, Kan., church is well known for holding anti-homosexual protests at funerals, often at those of soldiers. The church, which is not affiliated with any larger Baptist group, is led by Fred Phelps and mostly attended by his family members.

News of the planned protest sparked a reaction on Facebook. A group called "Protect Elizabeth Edwards funeral from Westboro church" said they would create "a human buffer" between any protesters and the funeral-goers.

Edwards, 61, died Tuesday at her Chapel Hill home after a six-year battle with breast cancer. 

She was first diagnosed with cancer in the waning days of the 2004 presidential campaign, when John Edwards, who was then a U.S. senator from North Carolina, was the Democratic nominee for vice president. The couple didn't disclose her illness until after the election.

The cancer went into remission after surgery and months of treatment, but it resurfaced in early 2007, as John Edwards was mounting a second run at the White House. The Edwardses agreed at the time that they wouldn't allow the cancer to derail his candidacy.

Because the cancer had moved into her bones, her doctors said that it was no longer curable but could be treated. They recently informed her that the cancer had spread further and recommended that she stop treatment.

Edwards is survived by her husband, daughters Cate and Emma Claire and son Jack.

After the funeral, she will be buried in a private service at Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, next to her oldest child, Wade. He died at age 16 in 1996 when his Jeep overturned as he was driving from the family's home in Raleigh to their beach house on Figure Eight Island, near Wilmington.

The family has asked that people make donations to the Wade Edwards Foundation, which supports a computer lab for high school students in Raleigh.

339 Comments

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  • dws Dec 10, 3:54 p.m.

    Quoting the NC Council of Churces: "The protesters from Kansas have come many miles to spread their hatred at Elizabeth Edwards’ memorial service. Let us be clear: the Bible calls us to kindness and respect for one another, and Jesus Christ preached throughout his life that we should love one another. The protesters’ appalling and repeated violation of the sacred services by which we honor our dead, along with their representation of themselves as messengers of Christ, are offensive and misrepresent Christian faith."

    http://www.nccouncilofchurches.org/2010/12/our-response-to-protesters-at-elizabeth-edwards-service/

  • KSJ Dec 10, 2:34 p.m.

    Am I blind or does this article not even explain why these people want to protest? Can someone please enlighten me as to what they could possibly have to protest about?

  • tatmcc Dec 10, 12:43 p.m.

    "If this does not push for new laws to prevent these "people" from ambushing innocent people's funerals in NC, nothing will. I also hope that LE in Raleigh can find creative ways of using the laws on the book to help control this situation. I believe in free speech, and I also believe in the privacy of a funeral/memorial. If you cannot yell fire in a theater, then you should not be allow to invade the privacy of a funeral."

    artemis1964

    there is a city code in Raleigh that you are required by law to obtain a permit to protest anything within city limits. Don't worry, if they didn't get the permit, they will ALL go to jail.

  • AuntySocial Dec 10, 11:11 a.m.

    All we have to do is take up all the standing spaces around the church and then the protesters don't have anywhere to protest and will leave us in peace. GetRight, I read another article on Weston. They found out what corner the permit was for and then crowded it with people. The permit was for that space only, and with no space for them to protest, they couldn't and gave up.

  • rlee1117 Dec 10, 10:44 a.m.

    i say that we have to use a little common sense here. tell these people to show some respect for the dead and families here!! im glad its not my family they would try that with!! i would go to jail!! i say time to stop giving them the right to hurt others and start trouble somewhere else like at their home town not ours!!! god blessed mrs edwards and her kids

  • Elvisisdead Dec 10, 10:12 a.m.

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    So as I understand you folks, I have the right to protest, as do these folks from a respected church. The differance is that I only have that right when, and where you choose. I can protest, as long as it is within your "appropriate" boundries. Those at the Boston Tea Party might not agree with you. Actually, if those at the tea party did what you want me to do....you would not be here. Oh Well

    dwr1964

    December 9, 2010 7:56 p.m.

    Ignore Report abuse

    Give me a break. To equivocate what these people do to the Boston Tea Party is ridiculous. The BTP was a political protest against taxation, not some lunatic fringe religious group spouting a view so obscene that even the most conservative churches want no part of them.They are not part of any "respected church" outside their own hate filled congregation. I was at Arlington cemetery last Memorial day as these hate mongers stood on, and trampled the American

  • sayitoutloud Dec 10, 10:01 a.m.

    Im really hoping that none of the media outlets give these crazy people the time of day. They are there for attention, and we should not feed into their nonsense.

  • GetRight Dec 10, 9:20 a.m.

    See how the people of Weston, MO handled the Westboro folks at a soldiers funeral. completely effective, peaceful and first-class.

    http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/110954024_The_Heartland_shows_its_heart_.html

  • tommyaugustine84 Dec 10, 9:11 a.m.

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=146340218751492

    Here's the link to the planned assembly to respectfully protect the Edwards family/friends from view of this Westboro groups protest. You're encouraged to post this link in your facebook status and suggest others to re-post to spread the word. You'd be suprised who on your facebook doesn't know about this and will wish they had.

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=146340218751492

  • artemis1964 Dec 10, 8:57 a.m.

    If this does not push for new laws to prevent these "people" from ambushing innocent people's funerals in NC, nothing will. I also hope that LE in Raleigh can find creative ways of using the laws on the book to help control this situation. I believe in free speech, and I also believe in the privacy of a funeral/memorial. If you cannot yell fire in a theater, then you should not be allow to invade the privacy of a funeral.

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