December 10th, 2010
09:01 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Westboro Church Plans Protest at Edwards' Funeral

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Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on 360°, a look at the church preaching hate that plans to picket Elizabeth Edwards' funeral. Edwards, 61, died Tuesday of breast cancer. Her funeral tomorrow in Raleigh, North Carolina, is open to the public.

You'd expect words of comfort at a funeral, not words of hate. But tomorrow members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church plan to demonstrate at the Edwards' funeral. The Kansas church is known for its protests at funerals for troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it speaks out against homosexuality.

Now the church is taking aim at Elizabeth Edwards and her family.

The church explains why in a disturbing post on its website.

"This witch spent her life in defiance and disobedience to God, and blasphemed Him with her dying breath."

The church goes on and on, calling the cancer that killed her God's punishment.

Again, these are the words of Westboro Church.

Several groups plan counter-protests against the church tomorrow. Anderson will talk with two of those counter-protestors tonight.

We'll also have an update from Haiti where people have been taking to the streets protesting the disputed presidential election.

The violence began Tuesday night after Haitians learned a popular candidate did not qualify for January's runoff election. Many Haitians call the election a fraud.

We'll check in with actor and activist Sean Penn who is back in Port-au-Prince.

Plus, see who landed on our Ridiculist.

Join us for more on these stories and tonight's other headlines at 10 p.m. ET on CNN. See you then.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Jesus

    Creation vs. Evolution. I'm just sayin

    December 11, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  2. Judy McGuffey

    These people need to be stopped. What possible reason do they have to protest at Elizabeth Edwards funeral? She had absolutely no involvement in any war. And, Anderson, I like your attitude about their prayers for your demise. That "church" needs some serious mental health help.

    December 11, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  3. Twynette Putty

    I too agree with the human shield and people who will join the choir of people who will sing to drown out these hateful protestors. They should be censored some way. This is something I am going to ask the pastors of all the Baptist Pastors in my area. Maybe I should find a group to protest all the Baptists going to church! Maybe they could shut this creep up! They are the lowest of the low. If these nuts were protesting child molesters they wouldn't make the news.

    December 11, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  4. Zakiya

    These people are just as bad as any other terrorist. They are full of hate. God teaches us to love. Where do these idiots come off feeling like they have the answers to anything? Anderson I am countering this idiots prayers for your demise, I pray that God keeps you covered with His angels and I pray that those from Westboro really learn what Gods words are and stop preaching lies but they are letting their father Satan use them. Real Christians know that truth. God bless you Anderson keep up the good work and I will be praying that Mrs. Edwards can be laid to rest in peace.

    December 11, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  5. Saffy in NC

    I'll be in one of the groups of the counter protesters trying to keep the family from having to see & hear the vile filth that these people seem to carry with them. We're expecting thousands to show up. We will not engage these people, just a quiet shield. Heading out at 10:00 to get into place.

    December 11, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  6. margaret

    This is so heartbreaking that people can be so hateful. Elizabeth Edwards went through so much in her life and she was a strong and wonderful person and neither she or her family or anyone else deserve this.

    God does not 'hate' ANYONE, not even these hatemongers. If anything I am sure he weeps at seeing his name blasphemed in this way.

    I hope and pray that they will leave this woman and her family and friends alone tomorrow.

    December 11, 2010 at 4:12 am |
  7. Deb

    Anderson you do a wonderful job and I try to watch everynight. I am from Kansas and so embarrassed by what the Phelps are doing I don't understand them at all. I hope all your viewers don't think all of us from Kansas agree with this kind of behavior. This is a very small family group and I am sure if you ask the majority of people from Kansas they would agree with me. I applaud and Bless all who are trying to help make the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards be as it should be, grieving not protesting.

    December 11, 2010 at 3:14 am |
  8. Ashley D'Angelo

    This made me cry. This is not a church , this is damn near a cult( Peoples Templesque), True Christians do not spew hate .Those who live in creapy glass churches should not throw stones .
    Phelps needs to drink some kool-aid.

    God bless Anderson Cooper for being a media Prostitute!!

    December 11, 2010 at 2:41 am |
  9. Maureen Crook

    Shield them with songs of love and joy along with posters. God Bless our troops and the Edwards family

    December 11, 2010 at 1:19 am |
  10. jim

    We should listen to advice our parents gave us when one of our siblings was trying their hardest to provoke a fight; ignore them until they stop!

    December 11, 2010 at 1:18 am |
  11. Marki D.

    I am appalled at the actions of Westboro Baptist Church! Not only because they proclaim to be Christians, but because they ARE Americans! As Americans, we should all have the up most respect for all of our service men and women! How dare they have the nerve to show such disrespect to the people that help to keep America safe and free! I am a Christian and the God I serve has grace and mercy on His people! Not cruel punishments such as death and cancer! Open their eyes Jesus!!

    December 11, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  12. Sara Kemp

    These people do not deserve this plublicity!! We dealt with these people here in mcalester,oklahoma our community came together and ran them out of this town..I dnt understand why they do this I guess they have nothing better to do with their lives!!

    December 11, 2010 at 1:10 am |
  13. Dana

    To Elizabeth Edwards family, you are in many people's thoughts and prayers, and we are all sorry for your loss. To her children, be resilient just as your mother was. I have no doubt that you have been and will continue to be.

    December 11, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  14. Tommy B

    Last but not least, Elizabeth Edwards is smiling down from the gates of heaven. We are all so proud.

    December 10, 2010 at 11:39 pm |
  15. Tommy B

    Anderson, take a bow. God loves you and the compassion you spread. Also, on spot with today's ridiculist. Opportunists, need to be painted for the parasites they are. Lately, it seems they are rewarded. If they could focus that energy positively, we could solve all the world's problems. Thanks

    December 10, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  16. Claudette Wells`

    Just a good word for Clinton he hung in like a President would do

    December 10, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
  17. Lisa Werner

    It angers and saddens me to see a group of people who can only offer hatred instead of respect and love. I suppose in these cases, we need to pray for them, they are sick individuals.

    December 10, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
  18. Rhea

    I did not know Mrs. Edwards but, regardless she should at least have some rights during her funeral. I am a Christian and I am appalled that these people planning on doing this...claim they are Christians. Not very Christ like behaviour. They should not be allowed anywhere near that church. Have they no concern for her children she has left behind? Im so sorry for her family that this is happening. It puts a bad taste in non believers for True Christians. God Bless The Edwards family during this difficult time.

    December 10, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  19. Patt

    Wikipedia mentions that the "preacher" mother died of throat cancer..what was she being punished for..has he thought about that or just practising being disgusting and disrespectful..

    December 10, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  20. Chelsey C.

    Arresting people for stating their opinions would be unconstitutional and against our right to free speech. However, the beauty of our constitution is that we can see how many people want to rise against this hatred and block them. They have the freedom to express their opinions, but we have the right to be louder than them.

    Also, this reminds me of The Laramie Project. If you ever get a chance to see that play, the workings of Romaine Patterson are inspiring.

    December 10, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  21. Andrea Locklear

    I wish someone would challenge them calling themselves 'christian.' Its hard to believe how many of them there are. Its disturbing. I agree with others though – no news coverage.

    December 10, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  22. Gary Bolen

    I can't help but wonder if this group would be allowed to disrupt an event held by the president or other members of the US Government.

    Let us be honest with ourselves, what the Westboro church is doing is the equivalent of yelling fire in a theater. Hate speech is hate speech no matter what the forum.

    December 10, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  23. Joy

    The Westboro Baptist Church is a disgusting sham for Christianity. As someone who has grown up in the church and has been taught that God loves everyone, no matter what, and that He longs to lavish grace on all people, I struggle to figure out where Westboro could be finding scriptural support for their actions.

    December 10, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  24. Susie Holladay

    I think the human shield is a great idea. Bless all of you who are trying to help the family of Elizabeth Edwards.

    December 10, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  25. Joel 0'Connell

    These people have psychological problems. There is no other explanation
    for being so hateful.

    December 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
  26. Judith Rhea

    Several weeks ago about thousand people showed up for vet's funeral in Harrisonville, Mo to provide a human shield against the Phelp's group. The Phelps left after a few minutes after finding no good to set up their protest. It was great to see this happen.

    December 10, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  27. Ciara

    God Bless you Deborah! You are in my Prayers! I wish I could be with you tomorrow to honor Dear Elizabeth with the Angelic smile.

    December 10, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  28. AJ North, Potsdam, NY

    Yes, Mr. Cooper, the Phelps' condemnation IS a badge of honor. These people are obviously profoundly disturbed; indeed, what they have done by way of indoctrinating their children to these malignant beliefs is literally child abuse (something the state of Kansas no doubt hasn't the courage to address).

    The "free speech" question will, of course, come down to the decision rendered by the Wise Nine. However, this strikes me as a societal equivalence to, as Justice Holmes put it, falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater (on a different matter of contemporary interest, he also said, "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society," but I digress).

    No freedom exists of itself in a vacuum; its exercise requires responsibility. Only those as deranged as Phelps and his mentally ill family could possibly call these onscene mistakes of Nature "responsible."

    December 10, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  29. Marina

    There needs to be discussion on what constitutes a 'religion'. Much evil can be carried out under the vail of religion. I would be interested in what theologins use to measure a religion. What do orthodox Baptists think of this sect claiming to be Baptist?

    December 10, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  30. Deborah

    I will be there tomorrow standing in solidarity with my community to honor Elizabeth Edwards and protect the sanctity of what I'm sure will be an amazing tribute to her. I have an inoperable, malignant brain tumor. She was my inspiration in life and even more so in her dying.

    I implore you....please focus your cameras on good...the better story...the voices of love and peace!!! Do not give evil the attention they desperately crave.

    December 10, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  31. Nick

    Yes, it is a case of First Amendment rights, but it should also be a case against this carte blanche that we afford religion. Extremists like Phelps & Co. are the product of moderates who safeguard and respect irrationality and superstition. When it comes to reality and truth, no one would trust a flat-earther over a physicist, nor an alchemist over a chemist, nor an astrologer over an astronomer, so why do we treat as sacrosanct the multitudes of delusions that abound instead of listening to innate common sense and reason?

    December 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  32. Jackie

    No matter what your religion or belief, I find it hard to believe any religion would support this type of behavior. Shame, Shame on Westboro. This is not how we behave. Please allow this family time to mourn the loss of a mother to two small children.

    December 10, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  33. Cynthia

    You are right not to want to give this group any publicity but I fear that if we stay silent, then they will never know how wrong most of us think they are.How can any group behave w such hate & ignorance and yet still think of themselves as righteous.We, as a nation, are mourning the loss of this most wise & gracious woman who, in spite of her own challanges & pain, taught us about honor, integrity & grace. Now is the time when we should join together in thought & prayer to support this family. The only words they should hear right now are words of love, comfort & gratitude. Her family & her memory deserve our respect because Elizabeth's journery has earned it. These people should ask themselves: Don't they think that God is watching and judging them too? Groups like this always fail to recognize what the rest of always know: that while we, as true Americans, will let these lost souls spew their hateful rhetoric; and we, who are of true faith, will forgive them for their obvious lack of decency-we are also the ones who will stand up against them. We, who truly love this Country, must make sure that our combined voices of love and hope drown out their sad and pathetic behavior.

    December 10, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
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