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April 8, 2014

Western Australian school performance undisrupted by WBC

Western Australian school performance undisrupted by WBC

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) failed to follow through last week on its threats to picket a Western Australian high school’s performance of The Laramie Project.

Margaret River Senior High School was able to perform the play based on the 1998 beating and death of gay student Matthew Shepard to a sold-out audience undisrupted on last Tuesday night, April 1. The closest WBC came to picketing the school was a tweeted screenshot of a published photograph of the performance which featured a performing student carrying a sign which read “God hates fags” — the anti-gay catchphrase of the Kansas based extremist group. The school’s principle, Andrew Host, who was sceptical of the WBC’s threats to picket the school, confirmed to Wikinews the photograph was indeed a student and added “The WBC did not attend the school at anytime during the play production.”

On Thursday, the Church renewed its threats to picket the school, saying again via it’s twitter account “Is tomorrow when Westboro Baptist will picket Margaret River Senior High School? I think so!” For a second time, WBC failed to appear.

Westboro Baptist Church did not respond to Wikinews requests for comment.

The previous Wednesday, March 26, WBC announced its plans to picket the performance via Twitter, saying “WBC to preach God H8s Fags @ the Margaret River Senior High School — the land of the damned down under.” This was followed on Thursday March 27 by another tweet stating the protest would take place on April 2.



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  • “Australian school in Westboro’s sights” — Wikinews, March 29, 2014

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March 29, 2014

Australian school in Westboro\’s sights

Australian school in Westboro’s sights – Wikinews, the free news source

Australian school in Westboro’s sights

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

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Members of the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrate at the Virginia Holocaust Museum on March 2, 2010
Image: JCWilmore.

Margaret River Senior High School, in Western Australia, has become the latest target for the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). The Kansas-based extremist group announced their plans to picket the school’s upcoming play via its Twitter account on Wednesday.

The school captured the attention of WBC when the group discovered students will be performing The Laramie Project — a play about Matthew Shepard, a young gay man killed in a homophobic attack in 1998.

On Wednesday, WBC — well-known for their anti-gay stance — tweeted “WBC to preach God H8s Fags @ the Margaret River Senior High School — the land of the damned down under”. Another appeared on Thursday reading: “Westboro pickets Margaret River HS on 4/2/2014 [April 2, 2014]”.

According to the school’s arts teacher Mem McCormack, the students are excited to have attracted a response from WBC, saying, “They have had an emotional response but they feel quite empowered by it — they feel they are doing something right.”

Principal Andrew Host remained sceptical of WBC’s plan to picket the school, telling Fairfax radio, “I believe it’s highly unlikely that people would travel from the United States to disrupt a play in Margaret River, therefore I don’t think the threat is credible.”

Graeme Watson, editor of Out in Perth, a gay and lesbian magazine, also believes the group will be unsuccessful, saying that WBC’s protest “are as unwelcome here as they are anywhere else”.

WBC has previously traded their announced plan to picket an event — a memorial service for victims of the shooting that injured Congresswoman Gabby Giffords — for radio talk show airtime.

The Laramie Project is a set text in the school’s drama program chosen because it presents a challenge to the students, according to Mr Host.



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  • “Kansas anti-gay church leader Fred Phelps dies at 84” — Wikinews, March 20, 2014

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March 20, 2014

Kansas anti-gay church leader Fred Phelps dies at 84

Kansas anti-gay church leader Fred Phelps dies at 84

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fred Phelps preaching from his pulpit in 2002.
Image: Westboro Baptist Church.

Fred Phelps, the founder of the vehemently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, died yesterday aged 84. The church he founded in 1955 became infamous for leading pickets at the funerals of US soldiers, as well as the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man killed in a homophobic attack in 1998.

At funeral pickets and other protests, Phelps and other members of his church held brightly coloured signs with messages including ‘God Hates Fags’, ‘Thank God for 9/11‘ and ‘Thank God for Dead Soldiers’. The picketing of military funerals stems from the postion that God is punishing the United States for its acceptance of homosexuality. Military funerals have not been the only sites of Westboro’s protests: the funeral of film critic Roger Ebert and concerts by pop acts Lady Gaga and One Direction — who the church described as “crotch-grabbing little perverts” — have also been targets of Westboro’s protests. The Church has sued a great number of local authorities in the United States who attempted to block their demonstrations and the settlements from their First Amendment cases helped fund their activities. In 2011, the Church won a case at the US Supreme Court which upheld their right to demonstrate at funerals.

Other countries were not so keen: Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper were banned from entering the United Kingdom in order to take part in a planned protest against The Laramie Project, a play about the death of Matthew Shephard. The UK Border Agency stated the Phelpses were not welcome because of their actions “inciting hatred against a number of communities”. The Church has seen a number of widely-reported defections including Megan Phelps-Roper, who used to run Westboro’s social media operation before publicly leaving the congregation and publishing an apology on the Internet.

At Oberlin College in Ohio in 2000, Westboro Baptist Church’s protests caused gay students to respond with a “kiss-in”.
Image: Paul M. Walsh.

Before Phelps’s death, he was excommunicated from the Church — whose members are primarily drawn from his family. Nathan Phelps, Fred Phelps’s son, posted on Facebook last week announcing his father’s hospitalisation and illness: “I’ve learned that my father, Fred Phelps, Sr., pastor of the ‘God Hates Fags’ Westboro Baptist Church, was ex-communicated from the ‘church’ back in August of 2013. He is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.”

Nathan Phelps continued: “I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.”



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December 20, 2012

Internet security firm to donate revenue to charity after Anonymous protest of Westboro Baptist Church

Internet security firm to donate revenue to charity after Anonymous protest of Westboro Baptist Church

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

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Black Lotus Communications, which “prevents malicious traffic from reaching” websites, such as a Denial-of-service attack (DDoS), has announced their decision to donate revenue made from the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) to charity. The company has confirmed their intentions in a statement to Wikinews.

“We have received overwhelming support for donations to be given to various groups supporting the Newtown community, veterans groups like the Wounded Warrior Project, and LGBT groups like The Trevor Project“, said Jeffrey Lyon, Certified Information Systems Security Professional with the Black Lotus team, to Wikinews. Lyon also says The United Way may be the first charity to receive their donation. “We’ve not [yet] made a formal decision,” Lyon noted, but the company “supports all of these groups and will give very serious consideration in ensuring that our donations have a strong impact.”

The announcement comes after the internet activist group known as Anonymous called on the companies that host and protect the Church’s website to discontinue providing services to them after the Church announced their decision to protest funerals of those killed in the December 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. According to Lyon the company decided to donate revenue made from WBC to charity after, “‘Anonymous’ supporters began a full blown Twitter campaign boycotting any company who provides services to WBC.” Lyon also said the company, “reached out to Anonymous spokespersons and asked their opinions on how the matter should be handled.”

The attack on WBC has been dubbed ‘#OpWestBor’ on the social network site Twitter. As part of the operation, the Church’s website was defaced and taken offline for most of the day Monday. Twitter accounts belonging to Shirley Phelps-Roper, the Church’s spokeswoman, and leader Fred Phelps, were hacked and taken over by Anonymous. At the time of this report, both accounts were still under control of the group. Roper’s account has been under the control of Anonymous since early Monday morning.

On Sunday, in a video posted on YouTube, Anonymous announced their intentions saying, “From the time you have received this message, our attack protocol has past been executed and your downfall is underway. Do not attempt to delude yourselves into thinking you can escape our reach, for we are everywhere, and all-seeing, in the same sense as God. … We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.” As a result of the breach, Anonymous claims to have gained access to and leaked alleged personal information such as names, home addresses and telephone numbers belonging to Church members. On Wednesday, following the leak, Twitter suspended one of Anonymous’ most followed accounts ‘@YourAnonNews’, claiming, according to Anonymous, that the profile posted “private and confidential information” regarding the lawyer for WBC and Roper. The account was reinstated a short time later and that is when Black Lotus contacted Anonymous.

“As a security service, we value freedom of expression … and have mandate to guarantee passage of data across the internet, which ultimately means that companies like Black Lotus should not interrupt services based solely on public opinion. By terminating their service, we would not actually take their sites offline. Instead, they would be without DDoS protection for a short period of time until they found another service that would harbor them. This logic did not add up for us”, Lyon added. He would not elaborate on how long WBC has sought the services of Black Lotus, but stated, “they did not come to us because of any one specific attack.”

Lyon didn’t state how much revenue is made from WBC, but he added the amount they receive “from WBC is very small.” As a result, Lyon says the company will “actually make donations well in excess” of the fees WBC pays. “These donations will be in the thousands [of dollars], but we’ve not come to a final decision on the exact amounts”, he added. According to Lyon, WBC is aware of the company’s intentions.

“We made it clear that while they have a right to expression, we have a social responsibility [to] ensure our services benefit society and to aid those in need”, said Lyon. Wikinews has contacted the WBC for a statement, but as of this report, no response has been received.

For now, Lyon states only revenue received from the WBC will be considered for donation, but they hope the project can be expanded to include other customers. “While we’re attributing this specific decision to WBC, our long term plan is to expand our philanthropy program to substantially offset any harm that may have been caused by those serving content over our network”, said Lyon. The company hopes to formally announce their decisions in a press release at the end of the week.



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December 18, 2012

Hackers target Westboro Baptist Church website, Twitter account

Hackers target Westboro Baptist Church website, Twitter account

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

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Police outside the school shortly after arriving on scene of the shooting December 14.
Image: Voice of America.

Hackers claiming to be associated with the internet activist group Anonymous have attacked the website belonging to the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) and hacked into the Twitter account belonging to Shirley Phelps-Roper, the Church’s spokeswoman. The attacks are part of an operation dubbed ‘#OpWestBor’ on Twitter and is in response to the Church’s decision to picket funerals of victims of the December 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Westboro will picket Sandy Hook Elementary School to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment,” said Phelps in a post to her Twitter account on Saturday.

On Sunday, in a video posted on YouTube, Anonymous announced their intentions saying, “From the time you have received this message, our attack protocol has past been executed and your downfall is underway. Do not attempt to delude yourselves into thinking you can escape our reach, for we are everywhere, and all-seeing, in the same sense as God. … We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.” The Church’s website has been unreachable for most of the day. At the time of this report, the website was unreachable. As a result of the breach, Anonymous claims to have gained access to and leaked alleged personal information such as names, home addresses and telephone numbers belonging to Church members.

Also as part of the operation, early yesterday morning, a member of Anonymous called ‘CosmoTheGod’ hacked the Twitter account belonging to Phelps, posting a ‘tweet’ saying, “This account is now being ran by @CosmoTheGod #UGNazi #oops.” As of this report, Anonymous still has control of it.

This isn’t the first time hackers took control of the Church’s website. In 2011 the Church blamed Anonymous for circulating a letter claiming an attack on the Church’s website was imminent and blamed them for taking down their website in an earlier attack, something the group denied. Shortly after the incident, user “th3j3st3r” on Twitter claimed responsibility for circulating the letter and the initial attack. When Phelps and one of the group’s members were interviewed on live television shortly thereafter, she denied hackers could break into their website or take it offline. However; during the interview, Anonymous hacked into the Church’s website, defaced it and took it offline.

“I was just going to say in the time that Shirley was blabbing her religious preachings I actually did some business and I think if you check downloads.westborobaptistchurch right now you’ll see a nice message from Anonymous”, said Anonymous nine minutes into the interview.

On December 14, a gunman identified as 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother Nancy then went into Sandy Hook Elementary school carrying a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle and two other handguns, where he opened fire killing 26 people, 20 of them children between the ages of five and ten years old. Shortly after the incident, Lanza shot himself, committing suicide.



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March 4, 2011

US Supreme Court upholds right to picket military funerals

US Supreme Court upholds right to picket military funerals

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Friday, March 4, 2011

The United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the First Amendment protects the free speech rights of an anti-gay church that pickets the funerals of U.S. soldiers, even if they use hateful and offensive language.

Cquote1.svg As a nation we have chosen … to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. Cquote2.svg

Chief Justice John Roberts

In an 8 to 1 decision, the Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that struck down an award of US$5 million to a slain soldier’s father, Albert Snyder. Snyder had sued Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas for picketing the funeral of his son, 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder who was killed in Iraq in 2006. Snyder said the protest caused him emotional pain and turned his son’s funeral into a “circus.”

Pastor Fred Phelps

The protest was well publicized, a SWAT team was called, and the funeral procession was diverted away from the protesters, who carried signs such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “God Hates Fags” and “America Is Doomed.” The funeral itself was not disturbed and it was carried out on public land, following local laws. Snyder learned of the content of the slogans only later on television.

Snyder’s son was not a homosexual. The church pickets military soldiers’ funerals because they believe that the United States is too tolerant of homosexuality and that the death of U.S. soldiers is divine retribution. They have picketed more than 600 funerals.

The Court’s decision rested in part on the basis that the subject of the church’s speech related to controversial public issues and was not a private attack on Snyder. “[The church] conducted its picketing peacefully on matters of public concern at a public place adjacent to a public street,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in his opinion for the court. “Such space occupies a special position in terms of First Amendment protection.” Roberts said that large number of protests conducted by the church against many groups, including Catholics and Jews, is evidence that Phelps and his church were not personally attacking Snyder, but were “expressing deeply held views on public topics.” Roberts wrote, “As a nation we have chosen … to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”

Samuel Alito, the only Justice to rule against the Church wrote that, “Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case. In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims.”

Snyder was disappointed in the ruling: “My first thought was eight justices don’t have the common sense God gave a goat. We found out today we can no longer bury our dead in this country with dignity.”

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July 17, 2010

Lady Gaga warns fans of \’hateful\’ protests during concerts

Lady Gaga warns fans of ‘hateful’ protests during concerts

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

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Gaga performing on The Monster Ball Tour in Burswood Dome, Perth, Australia.
Image: Michael Spencer.

Singer and song writer Lady Gaga has warned her fans attending concerts about “hateful” protests that are set to take place during a concert she will be having tonight in St. Louis, Missouri. The Westboro Baptist Church will be protesting outside the venue during her concert. Gaga warned of these protests on her Twitter page.

“At the risk of drawing attention to a hateful organization, I would like to make my little monster fan [sic] aware of a protest being held outside the Monsterball in St.Louis tonight. Although we have had protesters before, as well as fundamentalists at the show this group of protesters are hate criminals and preach using lude [sic] and violent language and imagery that I wish I [could] protect you all from.”

The Church, based in Topeka, Kansas and not affiliated with any Baptist organization, had planned to protest at Gaga’s prior concerts held in St. Louis. The most recent protest was scheduled in January and was later canceled prior to the concert. According to Shirley Phelps-Roper, a spokesperson for the church, “[God] hates homosexuals and God hates fags [and] God hates whore Gaga,” which is why the group plans a protest at tonight’s concert.

“So when she gets up there and tries to hook God with that thing He calls an abomination; if you love what God hates, then God hates you,” said Phelps-Roper in January. According to the church’s website, the protest begins at 7:10 p.m. and lasts until 8:00 p.m.. “Now what type of wicked hypocrites would we be if we did not warn this little false prophetess and all of her over-indulged sycophants that they are each one, individually heading straight to hell in a gender-confused, self-loathing, tone-deaf hand basket and that a gift from the God they hate? So, we made a couple of songs just for this event,” said their website.

Gaga tells her fans to not listen to the group. “My request to all little monsters and public authority is to pay these hate criminals no mind. Do not interact with them, or try to fight. Do not respond to any of their provocation. Don’t waste your words, or feelings, no matter what you hear or see. You are more fortunate and blessed than they are, and in your heart just pray for them. Be inspired to ignore their ignorant message, and feel gratitude in your heart that you are not burdened or addicted to hate, as they are.”

The Church plans two other protests at her concerts in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on July 20 and Kansas City, Missouri on August 3.


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November 1, 2007

Westboro Baptist Church ordered to pay US$11 million to family of fallen US soldier

Westboro Baptist Church ordered to pay US$11 million to family of fallen US soldier

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Jael Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church picketing Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Image: Westboro Baptist Church.

The Westboro Baptist Church has lost a lawsuit and has been ordered by United States District Court: District of Maryland to pay US$11 million to the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, a fallen soldier, who was killed while serving in Iraq.

The lawsuit was filed by Snyder’s father, Albert, after the church held a protest across the street from the cemetery where funeral services were being held. The church was sued for, “defamation of character, invasion of privacy–intrusion upon seclusion, invasion of privacy–publicity given to private life, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy,” according to court documents obtained by Wikinews.

Wikinews has also learned that the church filed a motion for a mistrial on October 29, but was ultimately denied.

The jury ordered that $2.9 million be awarded to the Snyder family for compensatory damages and $8 million in punitive damages, but reports say that the church cannot afford that amount, with their assets worth under $1 million. The defendants plan to appeal the judgment and have expressed confidence they can get it overturned.



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May 23, 2007

Student who planned to attend Rev. Jerry Falwell\’s funeral arrested after homemade bombs found in car

Student who planned to attend Rev. Jerry Falwell’s funeral arrested after homemade bombs found in car

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A 19-year-old male student, who is now identified as Mark David Uhl, of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, was arrested after authorities were notified from a family member that he had packed his car trunk with home made bombs, and was planning to attend funeral services of the late Reverend Jerry Falwell who passed away on Tuesday last week.

A family member called police at approximately 11:00 p.m. [local time] on Monday evening saying that Uhl “mentioned some explosive devices he had made.”

The funeral services for Falwell were held at the Thomas Road Baptist Church, the first church Falwell founded, at age 22. It was attended by mourners numbering 6,000 in a chapel that exceeded its capacity to host all who came to attend. More room was made for a people who attended the funeral at the university’s basketball arena and football stadium.

Police do not believe that Uhl was going to target the funeral directly. Instead they believe he was going to target protesters of Falwell who were going to attend the funeral. The group is known as the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church and believed that Falwell befriended homosexuals, despite the fact that Falwell was against homosexuality.

“I do not believe it was their intent to disrupt the funeral service. We do not believe the Falwells were ever in any danger,” said Terry Gaddy, the Sheriff for Campbell County, Virginia who also said the bombs looked like “napalm” and were about “the size of soda cans.” Gaddy also said there were at least five bombs. Maj. Steve Hutcherson, who is also affiliated with the Campbell County Sheriff said “what appeared to be about six explosive devices” were found and that the “canisters were filled with liquid.”

Several students from the high school Uhl attended, who are believed to have helped make the bombs, are also being questioned by authorities. They are all believed to have been in the same Reserve Officer Training Corps class at Liberty University.

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January 3, 2005

Radical Group declares Tsunami punishment from God

Radical Group declares Tsunami punishment from God

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Monday, January 3, 2005

Topeka, Kansas –

The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), known for its radical anti-homosexual statements, has founded a website following the Asian Tsunami disaster targeting Sweden. It is the most recent in a string of websites formed by his followers, including ones against Canada, United States, and their original website, godhatesfags.com, campaigning against homosexuals.

The anti-Swede website — godhatessweden.com — proclaims “thank God for 5,000 dead Swedes” and indicates that the church members “pray for all 20,000 Swedes missing in the Tsunami’s wake to be declared dead.” The website also links to a recording of a recent sermon by Reverend Phelps and a flyer containing the church’s official position. The flyer is a caricature of a devil with small signs declaring that Sweden is a “Homo-fascist state” and a “damned land of … Sodomites”.

The WBC’s outcries against Sweden seem to stem from the arrest of Pastor Ake Green by Swedish authorities for describing homosexuals as “a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society”.

The Westboro Baptist Church, founded in 1955 by Fred Phelps, is known for its continuous series of protests and for picketing the funerals of homosexuals, w:AIDS victims, and gay rights activists. Other than the Asian Tsunami disaster, the group has, in the past, declared the September 11th attacks on the United States and the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster are messages from God warning of His wrath to come against homosexuals, whom he refers to as ‘fags’ on account of the fact that, like a faggot of wood, they “fuel God’s wrath”.

In the FAQ of their main website, GodHatesFags.com, Rev. Phelps expresses his followers’ opinions of the Tsunami disaster:

“The tsunami was an adumbration of the wrath of God, a harbinger of things to come: that Great Day of Judgment… those Asian countries weren’t the only ones affected by the tsunami. Do you realize that among the dead and missing are 3,500 Swedes and over 3,000 Americans? Sweden, who recently jailed a Gospel preacher for a month because he preached Bible verses and sentiments about the abomination that is the homosexual lifestyle from his own pulpit to his own congregation. America, who is awash in diseased fag feces & semen, and is an apostate land of the sodomite damned. And you wonder if this is the wrath of God?”

References

See also

  • December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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