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Outrage as Westboro Baptist plans praise gathering outside Sandy Hook Elementary school to celebrate God 'executing his judgement' in horrific shooting rampage that killed 20 children and 6 adults
10:46 GMT, 16 December 2012
The tight-knit community of Newtown, Connecticut is numb in the aftermath of the heart-wrenching massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary school on Friday when a gunman killed 20 young students, all aged six and seven, in addition to six adults.
As families mourn the lives that were cut short in this unspeakable horror, an extremist group has announced they plan to congregate at the scene of the tragedy and offer praise to God for 'executing his judgement' – an unthinkable act amidst the sorrow overwhelming the quiet town.
A member from the Westboro Baptist Church, an unaffiliated religious group that self-identifies as a church, said on Saturday the group will picket the school in a so-called praise service, while the rest of the nation struggles to move forward after the tragedy.
Horror: Terrified students are led away from the Sandy Hook Elementary school on Friday after the traumatizing shooting at the school in Newtown, Connecticut that left 20 children and 6 adults dead
Solidarity: The community of Newtown, Connecticut showed they stand in support with the families grieving the lives lost in the school tragedy on Friday, with
a makeshift memorial near the Sandy Hook Elementary school
Westboro, which has been
widely described as a hate group, has often courted controversy by
promoting an anti-homosexual agenda and picketing military funerals and
high profile events to gain publicity.
organization is led by Fred Phelps and is headquartered in
Topeka, Kansas but representatives travel around the U.S. picketing
Shirley Phelps-Roper, who describes
herself as a 'thankful member' of the group, wrote the words to Psalm
104:24 on her Twitter profile: 'O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in
wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.'
a message, hours after the tragedy in Newtown she tweeted, 'Westboro
will picket Sandy Hook Elementary School to sing praise to God for the
glory of his work in executing his judgment.'
On the group's website, GodHatesFags.com, the organization states their mission is to conduct peaceful demonstrations against 'soul-damning, nation-destroying filth.'
Plan: A representative from the Westboro Baptist Church tweeted the group plans to gather at the scene of the shocking crime in Newtown, Connecticut that claimed 26 lives
Protest: Megan Phelps-Roper, right, granddaughter of fundamentalist preacher Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, picketed outside the Shawnee County Courthouse in Topeka in June 2011
WBC is not affiliated with a
recognized Baptist denomination and the U.S. evangelical community has
denounced the actions of the group.
News that the organization was going to descend on the community in mourning sparked outrage.
away from those poor children's funerals. You are SICK, sad, &
desperate people,' one angry Twitter user wrote in response.
'Disgusting. Unfathomable. Lack of words at my anger,' another wrote, and more adding their disgust.
'The Westboro Baptist “church” makes me sick. I've never seen
such pure hatred and evil like that in my life.'
area residents decided to take matters into their own hands and started
a Facebook effort to mobilize volunteers to block the Westboro
representatives from gaining access to community
Loss: Mourners gather for a candlelight vigil in Newtown, Conn. to remember the shooting victims on Saturday
Tiny sorrow: Rhonda Eleish, right, talks to her six-year-old daughter Kari Ergmann, who know one of the victims from the school shooting, as they remember the victims at a candlelight vigil on Saturday in Newtown, Conn.
Taylor Starr and Kelly Shannon have proposed having supporters of the families don angel wings to block the unwelcome protests with the Angel Action – Sandy Hook movement.
The Angel Action movement was started by Romaine Patterson in response to Westboro Baptist protestors who gathered outside the funeral for Matthew Shepard in 1998, to mourn the gay teenager who was brutally tortured and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming.
The group organizes counter-demonstrators to dress in flowing white angel costumes with 10-foot wingspans rising seven feet high that aim to block the hateful messages written by the Westboro members.
'Westboro Baptist Church is planning another attack of hateful words, protesting the funerals of the 20 children and 7 adults who died yesterday at Sandy Hook elementary school. You can not fight hate with hate so continuing in Romaine Patterson's footsteps, if they do come here and try to protest we are going to put forth Angel Action,' the two young women wrote in a posting.
'Let's not let more hate and sadness attack the already devastated family and friends of those who were lost,' they added.
In support of the victims: Two area residents will try to block the Westboro Baptist protestors with a Angel Action event, where counter-protestors use angel wings to obstruct hate-filled messages