Outside the funeral for Sgt. Rick Herrema of Hudsonville, MI

I took an early lunch and stopped by the hoopla outside the funeral for Sgt. Rick Herrema of Hudsonville, MI. The folks from Westboro Baptist Church were there across the street, and supporters of the family, the military, and the United States in general were there to show their support. (click each for a bigger version)

This is what we need:

Not this:


Not this:


Not this:


Not this:


Not this:


Not this:

While this was all going on, a semi truck coincidentally happened to drive past:

The Westboro folks cut out (though they screamed stuff out the windows of their cars as they drove past on their way out of town) and the flag-bearers lined both sides of the street:

It’s hard to imagine anyone in America more misguided than the Westboro bunch. Thankfully, plain old citizens like the folks in Hudsonville and groups like the Patriot Guard Riders are willing to show up and make sure that deranged outliers like the Westboro representatives don’t call the shots.

UPDATE: Sgt Meengs looks at the Westboro pack and writes:

The sign to people ratio seems off. Is recruiting down?


  1. These idiots need to be identified … and protestors sent to the sidewalks in front of their homes and places of work. Their neighbors and employers need to know how they behave at military funerals.

  2. First, I don’t get the correlation to the Biker Chicks sign with the doggy style picture and the cause these idiots are picketing for. Second, why aren’t the kids in school? There should be a law against instilling prejudice and hate in young children, especially during school hours. Also, I would think that an adult should be the one holding the doggystyle biker chicks sign, not the kid. I don’t get it, do you think the kids does? At least the true Americans in this country appreciate the sacrifice given by Sgt. Rick Herrema. I’m with Sgt. Meengs, unload the clip.

  3. These people suck but please, no burning down of churches. There’s a certain group of people who go around doing stuff like that and we tend to look down on them when they do. These people are oxygen thieves and should be thoroughly ashamed of thsmselves, but the correct way to let them know that you disagree with them is not arson. Hell, I’d be sorely tempted to thump them if I saw them in person, but I don’t recommend that either. Remember folks, these soldiers die in a fight which is all about making some changes so that we can resolve our differences peacefully. That’s what enlightened people do.

  4. And yes, it may sound contradictory, to go to war in order to allow us in future to settle our differences peacefully. However, as the cliche goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking any eggs.

  5. I am a resident in the great Salad Bowl City of Hudsonville. Last night I had the opportunity to go for an extended run. While on my run I happened to notice the local funeral home was packed with cars. So packed in fact that they had police officer directing traffic to the church down the road for additional parking. While running past the funeral home I noticed a couple of things: 1. The long line of people expressing their well wishes to the family. The line was out the door and out to the parking lot. This is a true sign of the local community rallying around the family in this time of loss and ultimate sacrifice. 2. There were Military Men posted at the door to the Funeral home, again a true sign of support and unity in this difficult time. Seeing the pictures of from Murdoch I do get a bit angry that our great country allows bitter people to protest at a families ultimate loss. This is all part of the grieving cycle and a part of the time to honor the life that was lived. Thank you Murdoc for highlighting this to all of us!! BDR

  6. It’s hard to imagine anyone in America more misguided than the Westboro bunch. Thankfully, plain old citizens like the folks in Hudsonville and groups like the Patriot Guard Riders are willing to show up and make sure that deranged outliers like the Westboro representatives don’t call the shots.

    They are not ‘misguided’, they are perverts. I’ve stood across from them many times at AIDS memorials and gay pride parades. I’ve seen their faces up close and personal. What I have seen in those sweaty little florid faces is a sick satisfaction with the amount of anger and hatred their presence engenders. They get off on it. For them its as good as sex. It validates their existence and affirms their image of themselves as martyrs and saints in their own eyes. They have no agenda or cause, they are just addicted to the masochistic behavior. They just can’t get enough of the hatred. Thats why the way the biker and other community groups have responded to the challenge is so important. Rather than confront them directly, they just stand between them and the families, and then ignore them. It’s drives Phelps and the rest of his inbred clan nuts. Its what the gay community for the most part has learned to do over the years. ‘Don’t feed the fundies’, was a slogan we would say to each other.

  7. I am firmly convinced that Westboro Baptist Church is not a Christian organization … it is a group of wackos feeding on the paranoia of its leader. How can these people force such pain onto widows who are filled with anguish over the loss of their loved ones? If I had died in ‘Nam and these jerks had shouted at my wife and children, I would hope that any male attending my funeral would have done the right thing – put some knots on these bastards’ heads. I hope that they do not show up at any funeral I attend. I’m old, but I’m not dead yet!

  8. Murdoc, The photo on the semi with the USMC poster on the side is the one that Made My Day. God works in mysterious ways. He sent the rig to show those who have no clue what Christian charity means that they are on the wrong side of the road and picking up speed downhill. God bless the good American people in Hudsonville and beyond. God bless SGT Herrema and his family.We are proud of him. Subsunk

  9. You cannot picket at these peoples’ places of work — this IS their work: they entice people to engage them, videotape the entire thing, and sue anyone who assualts them (verbally threatening behavior) or batters them (physical threatening or actual contact). Then they sue the people. They make money doing this. It’s how they finance running from funeral to funeral… and how they support themselves. You can forget going to their ‘church’ — they’re never there. It’s a tax dodge. We need to send the IRS after these people… and social services to investigate child abuse: endangering the welfare of minors by exposing them to potentially dangerous situations.

  10. God bless the servicemembers who sacrifice to protect the rights of those punks. I always say, ‘if you want to be a turd, go lay on the lawn.’ Their group is a pile of crap. The best weapon is to ignore them, like the Nazi rally in Skokie, Ill. Our first response is to beat their a$$es, but if you think again, just ignore them.

  11. I agree with many of the opinions expressed here. You have to resist the impulse to thump them or picket them or burn their *church* down. the best course is to isolate them in public and keep them from accomplishing their mission. And this is advice from someone who has a terribly hard time resisting her impulses, lol!

  12. I belong to a religious organisation that has one member who is like this. Everything that is in any way touched by homosexuality is ‘of the devil’. This guy hates Disneyland(!) because they were forced to let gays dance at the park by the socialist lawyers. You would think the lawyers would be his target, but in his mind Disneyland, which tried vainly for decades to keep the park as G rated as possible, is the ‘big enemy’. We just ignore the guy and I personally cut him off whenever he speaks out.

  13. You know, i’m all for ‘turning the other cheek’ and such, but there have got to be limits on what kinds of behavior is tolerated in polite society. What these people need is a serious ‘spanking’. If they were to realise that showing up at funerals and behaving this badly would result in a good beating, they’d probably think twice the next time. Freedom of speech is fine and good, but when you remove all consequences from people’s actions, their actions will continue to get more and more obnoxious.

  14. >>‘What these people need is a serious ‘spanking’. If they were to realise that showing up at funerals and behaving this badly would result in a good beating, they’d probably think twice the next time.’ I’d like to think so, but likely it would just encourage them. Why? Just think of everybody they could sue. Not just the rightfully enraged folks who beat them up, but the law enforcement agencies and local governments that ‘allowed’ it to happen. That’s where the big money would be. That’s why there are so many cops there. They don’t want anything to happen. Not because they agree with the idiots, but because they know the trouble caused by an incident would not be worth it. For all we know, God put these creeps here to test all the reasonable people on the earth…

  15. What these people need is a serious ‘spanking’.’ Come on Mark – We’re trying to keep this discussion on an elevated plane. stop distracting me.

  16. Yeah, that’s another problem with our way-too-tolerant society. That people can antagonize and provoke like these scum, yet if i went over and starting pounding on a few of ’em, i’d be the one locked up! Something is very seriously wrong folks.

  17. I agree with some soldier’s mom, as well as many others. Tough to pass up that first response though. I am hoping that we can all go protest at one of the Westboro folks funerals when the time comes. Although I can’t for the life of me imagine it. Just a thought.

  18. As always, the military will continue to protect the right of these people to be total douchebags. I’m sure the good people of the armed forces will continue to rise above the pathetic displays of protesters, and will continue to perform their duties with the upmost professionalism. God bless the military for turning the other cheek to these people. That’s in the Bible, they should try reading it sometime.

  19. Were related to Rick and had attended the funeral. It was sad to see such hatred standing across the road from a funeral. But our compliments to yourselves, the Patriot Riders, the area people who showed up to support, and the school children that marched with flags as we headed for the cemetery, the police department, and the men in uniforms who left Iraq to attend their comrade’s funeral. All of you made it heart wrenching and brought tears to our eyes. Our feelings are if the media would quit showing the negative people (but that’s news and we all understand that), their reason to show up wouldn’t be as great. They fed their drive. But in turn the media also showed all of the good people and supporters in the GR Press and the nightly news, which was the real story on what was happening on the outside of the Church. Thank you all.

  20. Jesus Christ once said, ‘forgive them Father, for they know not what they do’. Christ was talking about people like Shirley Phelps-Roper and the members of her church. May God bless the U.S. military, for soldiers are men of honor and deserve a heroes welcome when they return home. May God bless the grieving family of heroe Rick Herrema. Know that Jesus Christ weeps with you over your loss. This Westboro group from Kansas curse Jesus Christ when they curse a fallen soldier. They will answer for the pain they cause on judgment day. They are not true Christians. To the Patriot Guard Riders: Keep riding and may God bless you! To the family of heroe Sgt. Herrema: You are in my prayers!

  21. The audacity and disrespect to protest at the funeral of a fallen American soldier, while family and friends are morning the loss of a loved one….. What these ‘people’ who are protesting at funerals need is for some of us to express our freedom of speech rights and kick their asses….that’s my opinion and I am a christian.

  22. These people are scum…I didn’t read all the comments but it seems like no one really knows much about them. I do. I’ll try and help you out a little bit. The Westboro Baptist Church consists of about 80 members, all related or that have married into the family. Fred Phelps, the minister, has 13 children, 26 (i believe) grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren. Two of Phelps’ 13 children left his crazy family for good, and eleven of them…get this…are lawyers. Phelps himself was a lawyer but was disbarred. In addition to protests every Sunday in their hometown of Topeka, they travel around the country–on the salaries of 10 or 11 lawyers–and protest at funerals and gay pride events. I went to a counter-protest in Bethesda, Maryland that was completely riveting. We were kept extremely far away from them however, and the police were out in extreme force (they were in front of the National Naval Medical Center). One man I swear was holding a sign that said ‘Thank God for Cripple Soldiers’ IN FRONT OF THE BUILDING WHERE THERE ARE INDEED CRIPPLED SOLDIERS. It’s absolutely disgusting. If you want to know more about this group, you can visit their homepage http://www.godhatesfags.com or go to http://www.godhatesamerica.com (these are obviously not really work safe). also, they make ‘commercials’ that can be found on http://www.youtube.com by typing in ‘Westboro’ or ‘Fred Phelps’ in the search box. This’ll show you their hatred in action. As for burning the church down (as discussed in the second comment), they claim that in 1997 ‘America bombed WBC with an IED (improvised explosive device)’. Whoever it was (obviously not America), they’re heroes. Sorry but that’s not an attack on religion, that’s an attack on scum.

  23. You are absoluthly feaking insane……You dobt preach gods work you make a mockery out of it…You will Rot in hell and our american Men and Women of the Armed forces will rise at heavens gates…You would be here on this earth without the freedom fighting of the american military…You should be ashamed of yourselves……

  24. We now have a new and very useful word added to the English language. Phelps (n.) to be an extreme —hole, to the extent to which those commenting about said person were, prior to the invention of this term, reduced to enraged, speechless sputtering, [ex. ‘That girl who left her newborn baby in a dumpster is a real phelps.’] Also, to phelps (v.), [ex. ‘Please shut up about your sexual attraction to Hitler, since we don’t allow people to phelps here.’]; phelpsed (v.) [‘He really phelpsed when he beat that dog.’]; phelpsing (v. & adj.) [ex. ‘Man, those idiots were really phelpsing at that KKK march!’, ‘I’m so glad those phelpsing child abusers were put in jail!’]; phelpsingly (adv.) similar to, or in the manner of, a phelps [ex. ‘She phelpsingly explained her Holocaust denial theory.’]. Also sometimes used as an expletive (coll.) [ex. ‘Go phelps yourself!’]