Susan Jones | Senior Editor | Wednesday, October 4, 2006
The Westboro Baptist Church -- described as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League -- has made a name for itself by picketing the funerals of U.S. troops killed in Iraq. The troops are dying as punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality, the group says.
The Westboro group says the Amish school girls were "killed by a madman in punishment for Gov. Ed Rendell's blasphemous sins against Westboro Baptist Church.
"Gov. Ed Rendell -- speaking and acting in his official capacity to bind the State of Pennsylvania -- slandered and mocked and ridiculed and condemned Westboro Baptist Church on national Fox TV," the group says on its website.
"Rendell also revealed a conspiracy to employ the State's police powers to destroy WBC
in order to silence WBC's Gospel message. Co-conspirators identified by Rendell included state officials, citizens, lawyers, legislators and media," the website says.
Westboro Baptist Church said it is "continuing to pray for even worse punishment upon Pennsylvania."
A number of states have passed laws to keep groups like Westboro away from grieving families at funerals, but last month, a federal judge ruled that a Kentucky law barring protests within 300 feet of military funerals and memorial services is too broad and may not be enforced.
In other developments, the man who shot and killed five Amish schoolgirls apparently planned to sexually abuse them first, investigators said. But he apparently didn't get a chance: Charles Carl Roberts IV killed himself when police arrived on the scene.
Suicide notes left by Roberts indicate he was dreaming of molesting girls. He reportedly told his wife he had molested two young relatives 20 years ago - and wanted to do it again.
"It's very possible that he intended to victimize these children in many ways prior to executing them and killing himself," State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller said on Tuesday.
Roberts also indicated he was anguished over the death of a daughter who died shortly after birth nine years ago. In his notes, he said he was "filled with so much hate" and "unimaginable emptiness," but everyone who knew him said they never saw signs of his psychological distress.
See Earlier Story: Federal Judge Nixes Law Barring Funeral Protests (27 Sept. 2006)