They preached this message via picketing the funerals of the miners in WV a while back with signs reading "Miners in Hell."
They have recently taken up the cause of picketing soldiers' funerals with signs like "Thank God for Roadside Bombs" and "Thank God for 9/11."
A recent survey of this group's site has a copy of an announcement for picketing yet another soldier's funeral out in Dodge City yesterday, and another one in Kokomo, IN, tomorrow--with such patriotica as "Thank God for IEDs" (the soldiers were both killed by IEDs) and "God has become America's Terrorist."
The group? None other than Westboro Baptist Church, of "God Hates Fags" fame. It seems their message has extended itself to "God Hates Soldiers, Too."
Now, I can understand a Christian's standing against war. Alvin York was a conscientious objector at one time, and the Quakers and Mennonites were pacifists. This attitude towards war stems from what they understand about the sanctity of life...man is made in God's image, and wanton violence amounts to killing God in effigy.
However, WBC's ire against soldiers has little to do with preventing further violence against God's image as it does damage to their church building back in 1995. You see, their very outspoken stance against sodomy made them a target, and someone decided to try to silence their voice with a bomb on August 20. As best as I can tell, the bomber was never identified.
Now, while this is tragic, WBC's reaction to the whole matter really shows their character. I know of Mennonites who reacted to their injustices with longsuffering and forgiveness. WBC reacted with blame, jeremiads, and hate.
Now, I fundamentally agree with their stance on homosexuality. It is unnatural, disgusting, and from a Christian perspective, unholy (there is much in the Old and New Testaments that address it as such). When I first heard of their activity in the mid '90s, I thought, "They're bold, if not rather overdone."
They crossed the line from overdone to thoroughly charbroiled when they ran faxes illustrating Matthew Shepard's arrival in Hell after his lynching in the late '90s. Sure, the queer-loving left and their media lapdogs jumped on the incident to garner sympathy for rump-ranging, but WBC went way too far in the other direction.
You see, it's one thing to denounce sin. It's another to delight in the rewards of the wayward, and celebrate that others get to burn in hell. They titter with glee in counting the 2000+ days in Hell Matthew Shepard is suffering.
Now, how does this reflect 2 Peter 3:9? I'll let the reader look it up to see what I mean. I think the folk over at WBC must gloss this one over or have it crossed out of their Bibles.
And I'm seeing them do that with these soldiers, who, more than likely, have no personal stake in the "gay rights" movement, are not fighting to specifically further the cause of sodomy, and are probably as much against it as Phelps & Co. are.
This connection between their bombing and the IEDs seems just a little far-fetched:
August 20, 1995 - The Night America Bombed Westboro Baptist Church With An IED (Improvised Explosive Device) In A Cowardly Move To Stop WBC's Anti-Gay Gospel Preaching - Thereby Bringing Down The Unmitigated And Irreversible Wrath Of God Upon This Evil Nation, Manifesting Itself In The Daily Bloody IED-Deaths Of American Soldiers In Iraq And Other Places.
But hold on here a minute...if everything is under God's hand, just like Freddy so boldly proclaimed, then isn't he discounting the possibility that maybe this bombing was indicative of God's displeasure with him? I mean, holding favor with God isn't automatic just because your name is Fred Phelps.
There is the law of sowing and reaping (Gal 6:7-8, with the understanding that works of religious zeal can be wrought out of the flesh instead of the Spirit), and it is in effect, even for the people of God. I don't think they've read Hosea 8:7 with the understanding that He is addressing the people of God (matter of fact, most of the Bible is), that they can sow the wind and reap a hurricane.
Sounds like personal ego is more at work here than the wrath of God.