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Hogs and Hope

By Roland Lara on Apr 17, 2006 3:23PM

The Westboro Baptist Church, with the charmingly named website of, is coming to Chicago Wednesday.

Chicagoist is going to dub this the Evil Jackass Monsters of Hate Tour.

The “Church” is based in Topeka, Kansas (that’s good publicity for the city), and it’s been protesting the funerals of Iraq war vets. The “Church” feels that our casualties in Iraq are part of God’s punishment for the United States tolerating the gays.

It's monitored as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

It’s headed by minister Fred Weldon Phleps. Sr., who you may remember from such nausea-inducing episodes as protesting the funeral of Matthew Shepard.

The Church’s members are going to protest the funeral of Lance Cpl. Philip Martini, who was killed in Fallujah. They’re also going to picket the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in the western ‘burbs. The Church has issued a press-release, in which, shockingly, all words are spelled correctly, announcing its plans, and it’s filled with such unbelievably evil shit that we’re not even going to quote from it to snark on it.

But fear not, loyal readers, because the bikers are to the rescue.LR_IMG_0032.jpg

The Patriot Guard Riders is a group of motorcyclists, vets, and others, which formed to shield families, if invited, from Felps and friends and to drown out the Church’s chants with chants of their own.

Felps and the Church have been protesting these funerals since June, and Illinois and 24 other states have drafted laws to restrict protests near funerals. There are some obvious free-speech constitutional concerns with these laws (remember the Illinois Nazis marching through Skokie?), and Illinois’s law is still pending in the House, but we have the Riders in the meantime, and God bless ‘em for it.

***Photo from the Patriot Guard Riders at