TACOMA, Wash. – The head of the anti-gay church that threatened to protest Saturday's funeral of Charlie and Braden Powell now says the group will not come after all. The turn of events comes after more than 1,800 people vowed on Facebook to block the protest, along with Occupy Seattle.
Whether the Westboro Baptist Church showed up or not, the boys’ grandparents have a message for everyone: Come to honor Charlie and Braden or don’t come at all.
Fred Phelps, Jr., the founder of the hate group, posted on Twitter, “Just finished interview with @BobbyDshow. Bobby D. Was a real gentleman. Washington trip now cancelled.”
Phelps’ daughter tweeted Wednesday that church members, notorious for protesting at military funerals, would be there to spread their message of hate. Margie Phelps claimed the Powell boys died because God was not happy that Washington state is on the verge of passing a law to legalize gay marriage.
That led to more than 1,800 people on Facebook, as well as Occupy Seattle, pledging to show up to counter protest. Another Facebook page was launched asking people to counter protest by not showing up. The page creator claims Westboro just wants to incite people to violence, possibly to sue.
Regardless of whether Westboro shows up or not, the family is asking that anyone whose intent isn’t to celebrate the lives of Charlie and Braden to stay away from the Life Center Church in Tacoma Saturday morning.
The News Tribune reports that the Chuck and Judy Cox want anyone who is not there to celebrate the lives of the boys who were killed Sunday by their father are not welcome, even if they are there to counter protest Westboro. They are still welcome to respectfully attend the service, which is open to the public.
Police are also asking people not attending the service to stay home. A Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman tells MyNorthwest.com said they have experience dealing with Westboro members at police officer funerals. He said police were able to make the protesters virtually invisible.
Of course, there is no way to know if Westboro really will stay home, just as there’s no way to know if they were ever really planned to be there in the first place. They have threatened to make appearances in the past and failed to show.