A small, radical Kansas church that has made headlines for picketing Iraq War veterans' funerals plans to protest an America it believes has gone pro-gay and anti-God with demonstrations in South Florida beginning this weekend.
Its targets are Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale; St. Thomas Episcopal, University Baptist and Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables; Temple Israel in Miami; the University of Miami Law School graduation, and the consulates of Japan, Israel, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, according to the website of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan.
At least 15 protesters are making the trip, church member Shirley Phelps-Roper said in an interview.
Led by the Rev. Fred Phelps, Westboro is not affiliated with the mainstream Baptist church. Its 75 members, mostly Phelps' relatives, gained notoriety in 1998 when they picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was beaten to death in Wyoming.
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"They are bigots and anti-Semites," said Andrew Rosenkranz, Florida director of the Anti-Defamation League. "We have notified law enforcement and told religious leaders not to engage them."
"We're going to go about our normal business," said Pastor Bill White of University Baptist, where protesters plan to arrive Sunday morning. Several other church leaders said they also planned to ignore the demonstrations.
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