Vets Want Apology For Anti-Gay Protest at Hero's Funeral

Tue. August 9, 2005 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

Family and Mourners Greeted by Angry Chants

Chicago, IL - As friends, family members and strangers gathered last week to pay their respects to Army Spc. Adam Harding, members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas, also gathered in what some are calling a disrespectful protest.

Approximately 10 members from the Kansas church disrupted the funeral of Harting, a 21-year-old Portage Indiana native, killed in Iraq July 25 when an improvised explosive device detonated outside his vehicle. The group isn’t demonstrating against the war, but rather against homosexuality.

The small church group shouted angry chants and carried signs that read, “Thank God for 9/11,” “God is U.S.A.’s Terrorist” and “American is Doomed” as mourners and the family of Harding passed.

The Westboro Baptist Church is headed by Fred Phelps Sr., the fiery anti-gay activist who became internationally known when he and his followers picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard.

On Monday, a group of military veterans demanded an apology for last week’s protest in northwest Indiana. Veterans groups throughout Chicago and northwest Indiana say a military funeral is no place to deliver such a message.

Wayne Williamson, the commander of the Portage Veterans of Foreign Wars post, was angered by the protesters, telling the Northwest Indiana Times, “They are no different to me than the religious zealots that are bombing our troops in Iraq.”

According to, the Pentagon has warned military officials across the country to temper their responses, cautioning them that the demonstrators want to be arrested so they can sue to fund future activities.

The group is reportedly planning to lead new protests this week at the funerals of the unit from Ohio that suffered double-digit deaths.