In a tweeting binge following the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, the Westboro Baptist Church celebrated the carnage and announced its intention to picket the funerals of victims.
The tiny Topeka, Kan., fundamentalist group urged the U.S. government to "reinstate" the death penalty for homosexuality and warned "violence will fully consume u [sic]" if that doesn't happen. Most of the church's tweets said same-sex marriage caused the bombing, but others mentioned abortion and supposed mistreatment of the church.
A news release dated April 15 announced the church's intention to picket the funerals of the three bombing victims. Massachusetts, the release says, "invited this special wrath from God Almighty when it was the FIRST STATE to pass same-sex marriage" in 2004. "Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals of those dead by Boston Bombs! GOD SENT THE BOMBS IN FURY OVER FAG MARRIAGE! #PraiseGod," said a tweet from the church's @WBCFliers account.
"THANK GOD FOR THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBS!! Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals of those killed. #PraiseGod," said another tweet from the @WBCSays account.
The church did not respond to an email from U.S. News seeking details about the picket plans. The church's phone line was consistently busy Tuesday. There are no Massachusetts events currently listed on the church's online protest schedule.
A similar plan by the church to picket the funeral of the elementary school principal who was murdered in the December Newtown, Conn., school shooting was unsuccessful, The Huffington Post reported, because volunteers blocked access to the funeral until church members changed their plans.
One tweet from @WBCSays Tuesday featured a photo of a man comforting a female victim with blood splattered along a Boston sidewalk. "LOOK at this image - sent directly fm God! He promised to cast ur bloody carcasses on ur flag idol! #WBCIsSoThankful," said the church.
Church pastor Fred Phelps - the aging patriarch who is related to most congregation members - said in a comment released on Twitter, "God is busy punishing those who've mistreated His people for preaching." Another tweet said, "Memo to Boston police: Is it time to re-think that mistreat and abuse WBC policy you implemented many years ago?!?!"
The church also said that the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard was God's punishment. "His blood is on YOUR hands. Died for #SSM," tweeted church member Margie Phelps.
The church is infamous for picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers with vulgar anti-gay signs and posters. They often picket for maximum exposure and are frequently greeted by irate locals.
A significant stream of income for the church comes from lawsuits, many arguing that state and local laws – or enforcement of the laws – violate members' First Amendment rights.
In reaction to Westboro's spiteful piety, a petition on the White House's "We the People" website urges authorities to "ban" the church members from entering Boston.