Published January 13, 2015
A radical Baptist church in Kansas known for picketing the funerals of soldiers who perished in Iraq said it intends to protest Heath Ledger's memorial service with signs claiming the actor died and is in Hell because he played a gay character in “Brokeback Mountain.”
Shirley Phelps-Roper of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka said that she and other members will picket Ledger’s United States memorial services, not those held in his native Australia.
“You cannot live in defiance of God,” she said. “He got on that big screen with a big, fat message: God is a liar and it’s OK to be gay.”
A press release circulated by the church references Leviticus 18:22 in the Bible, which states that “thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
“Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there,” the Westboro Baptist announcement says.
Started 1955, the Topeka, Kan.-based church has conducted over 34,000 peaceful demonstrations opposing the homosexual lifestyle, according to their Web site, GodHatesFags.com.
The organization runs various Web sites, including GodHatesAmerica.com and others that condemn lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Muslims, Roman Catholics and Jews as well as certain nationalities, according to Wikipedia.
The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the church as a hate group and the organization is monitored by the Anti-Defamation League, according to its Wikipedia entry.
Phelps-Roper said the church group will also be picketing the Academy Awards this year.
Both the printed release and Phelps-Roper’s verbal diatribe about Ledger were rife with homophobic slurs. She said that those who call her and other members of Westboro Baptist Church bigots must also think God is a bigot.
“God hates fags,” she said. “The wrath of God has been revealed before the eyes of this nation with the death of Heath Ledger. … This nation worships the dead almost as much as they worship their filthy sex acts. America is doomed.”