Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps, confirmed to The Signal Friday morning that “probably 15 to 20” persons affiliated with the congregation will be in Greensburg the afternoon of May 4 to picket the appearance of President George W Bush, who’s scheduled to address the school’s graduating seniors during a 3 p.m. commencement.


   Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps, confirmed to The Signal Friday morning that “probably 15 to 20” persons affiliated with the congregation will be in Greensburg the afternoon of May 4 to picket the appearance of President George W Bush, who’s scheduled to address the school’s graduating seniors during a 3 p.m. commencement.
    The group is best known for picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers in line with a belief that God has been using the war in Iraq to kill American military personnel to show contempt for a nation and military that has allegedly become overly accommodating to and sympathetic of gay/lesbian concerns.
   In addition, members of WBC protest public events they feel are representative of sham religious leaders, as when efforts were made by the group recently to protest the Pope’s appearance in Washington and New York.  Bush is a target of the church, according to Phelps-Roper, because of his leadership betraying biblical principles and “pretending he’s righteous when he’s given this country over to the fags.”
   Asked if the WBC’s appearance at Greensburg next weekend is directly more at Bush, or Greensburg itself, Phelps-Roper said, “It’s equal.”
   She went on to say Greensburg is “the face of the wrath of God upon this state (Kansas) and on this nation.”
   Typically cordoned off to an area set apart from a funeral or event site, the group is known for flying inverted American flags and holding signs thanking God for dead soldiers and his apparent wrath against particular institutions and/or cities.
    Phelps-Roper said a specific sign has already been prepared for the group’s visit to Kiowa County, headlined with the words “God’s Fury.”  Below is an illustration of a tornado—which she said illustrates God’s whirlwind of wrath against the community—lifting and dispersing such articles as a house, dead babies and at least one cross.  The infant corpses refer to the horror of abortion, while the cross is a symbol of idolatry, vis-à-vis “false religions (denominations/churches) that don’t follow the teachings of Christ.”
    A mother of 11 children and grandmother of four, Phelps-Roper said it’s “very possible” she herself will be in Greensburg as part of the protest.  If so, she said it’s likely nine of her children—aged six to 22—would be there as well.  Her youngest grandchild, aged three months, has already been present at pickets strapped to her back.
   Serving as the congregation’s attorney and picketing organizer—she prefers the term “enabler”—Phelps-Roper said she won’t be certain until the middle of next week exactly where in Greensburg the WBC will set up to picket the day’s events.
   “I haven’t looked at the overhead map or spoken to the police,” she said.  “But we’ll be within sight and sound of what’s going on…we’ll be able to deliver our message to those who suck up to Bush.”
   Saying it’s a distinct possibility her group will be within sight of the school gym where commencement is scheduled to take place, Phelps-Roper affirmed she’s definitely looking to be in a visible location within city limits.  “We’re not going to be out in a corn patch some place,” she said.
   While the Patriot Guard will be in town the same day, it won’t be to act as a buffer between the WBC and their target of protest.  According to Dodge City Guard Ride Captain Kenny Thomas, the group was invited by the senior class to honor them with an avenue of flags before the picketers’ announced plans.
   “We’ll be there to honor the class,” he said, “but not to act as a buffer against Phelps.  He’s not our main concern that day.  The kids are.”
   With the entire weekend set aside with numerous activities to commemorate the town’s experience since the May 4 tornado and its ongoing recovery, City Administrator Steve Hewitt said he finds WBC’s plans to protest “ridiculous” and describes the church’s press release reference to Greensburg as a “God-cursed town…(and) rebellious little demon-possessed hotbed of evil masquerading as a municipality” as a “personal attack” he finds “disrespectful to the efforts of this town.”
   The release also references the commencement event as the school’s “pitiful graduation”, prompting Hewitt to state nothing the WBC “does will damper the efforts or diminish the accomplishments of this town or this senior high class.”
   “We don’t need negative stuff coming to this town,” Hewitt said.  “What he (Phelps) represents is irresponsible.  Greensburg is having an inspiring effect on Kansas and the nation with our effort to come back and to do so as a green community.
   “After what these kids have been through I just hope their (WBC) presence here doesn’t put a damper on the day.  I don’t think it will.  I think we have too much positive energy here for that to happen.”