A man was arrested on Saturday after he tossed hot coffee at Westboro Baptist Church protesters outside of Beau Biden's funeral mass, according to the Delaware News Journal.
The infamous group based in Topeka, Kansas, is often referred to as a "family-based cult” and is well known for its flagrant hate speech and offensive protests. On Saturday, the group picketed during the funeral of the vice president's son in Wilmington, Delaware – spurring outrage and a counter-protest from more than 100 people who gathered on the street in silence during the event at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church.
Beau Biden, former Delaware Attorney General and the eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, died last week after a two-year battle with brain cancer. He was 46 years old and had his sights set on the governor’s race. In a heartfelt tribute, President Obama said Biden “lived a life for others."
In a flurry of tweets preceding Beau Biden’s funeral, users expressed their outrage toward Westboro Baptist Church and its history of hateful picketing practices. Following the funeral, one user expressed support of the unidentified man who threw his coffee on group members.
Widely described as a hate group, the church has no qualms when it comes to loudly touting its severe belief system – one notoriously characterized by its homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-American views. They even sought to protest the funerals for children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
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“WBC's message to yet-living Joe Biden and others present includes that both Biden men have been given many reminders of God's sovereignty yet have refused to obey His standards,” states the group on its website. “Man cannot continue in disobedience and defiance of God's standards without consequence. Biden has a life time of rebellion to seek repentance for before his soul is required of him. The time is short. Repent or likewise perish.”
The group haughtily proclaims itself a “unique picketing ministry” with the mission of delivering its “gospel message” to a nearly-doomed America. The church grew more active in 1991 – engaging in what it characterizes as "peaceful demonstrations." According to its website, Westboro Baptist Church has led over 55,000 demonstrations, including more than 400 protests at the funerals of veterans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beau Biden was an Iraq War veteran, serving on active duty in 2008 and 2009.
“WBC engages in daily peaceful sidewalk demonstrations opposing the homosexual lifestyle of soul-damning, nation-destroying filth. We display large, colorful signs containing Bible words and sentiments…” says the group on its website. “We adhere to the teachings of the Bible, preach against all form of sin (e.g., fornication, adultery [including divorce and remarriage], sodomy), and insist that the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace be taught and expounded publicly to all men.”
The group’s “large, colorful signs” typically contain offensive language aimed at the gay community, Jews, politicians and veterans: “Planes crash, god laughs,” “God sent the shooter” and “No tears for queers” are some of the group's less egregious slurs.
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Also listed on Westboro’s picket schedule for today is a demonstration at the high school commencement of St. Mary's Academy, a K-12 Catholic school in St. Mary’s, Kansas. “The Catholic Church is entirely dedicated to idolatry thus the Lord punishes them by sending pedophile priests,” states the group's website.
John Fluharty, the executive director of the Delaware Republican Party, told USA Today that he found the church's planned protest "horrifying." "Beau Biden served his country with honor and distinction and for anybody to question that or use it to serve their personal agenda in a negative fashion is absolutely despicable. They are entitled to their freedom of speech, I'm also entitled to be disgusted," he added.