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Counter-protest at Marine’s funeral draws thousands to Nashville church


Amid a sea of American flags, bikers, military personnel and others crowd the grounds of the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ in opposition to a protest by members of Westboro Baptist Church. (Photo by Ted Parks)

The Westboro Baptist Church sent three of its members to Nashville, Tenn., to protest at the funeral of Marine Sgt. Kevin Balduf.
Arriving at the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ, bearing signs that read “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God is your enemy,” the three protesters were met by a sea of U.S. flags, waved by crowd of nearly 2,000 counter-protesters.
Bikers, military personnel and families with children crowded the lawn of the Woodmont Hills church, declaring their opposition to the controversial message of the Westboro church in Topeka, Kan., an independent group not associated with established Baptist organizations.
The Tennessean reports:

News of Westboro Baptist Church’s plans lit up social media sites, resulting in a counter-protest of about 2,000 people Monday outside Woodmont Hills Family of God church on Franklin Pike. In less than 10 minutes, two hours before the funeral’s start, the three Westboro protesters took their leave.

Since a March Supreme Court ruling in favor of Westboro Baptist, counter-protesters have stepped up their efforts to shout the group down at soldiers’ funerals. America must allow “even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion for the court.
All but one justice sided with the church, which has stirred outrage with raucous demonstrations contending that God is punishing the military for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. The church was started in 1955 and regularly protests the funerals of soldiers nationwide.
The Topeka church didn’t respond to calls and emails requesting comment Monday, and the protesters left the funeral area without speaking to media.

Read the full story.
Balduf, a 2002 graduate of David Lipscomb High School, was killed in action on May 12 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Read more in our earlier post about his life.

  • Feedback
    I strongly believe that our soilders and family lay their lives on the line each and every day so that these anti-Americans can protest. The protesters should get down on their knees and thank God that someone died, besides Jesus, so that they could have the freedom to have their speach not taken away from them. If they truly believed in God and truly understood what it means to be an American with all of our freedoms then they would keep their mouths shut and honor our dead heros, men and women, each and every day. These freedoms were not handed to them on a silver platter, someone died for that freedom! And it sure wasn’t them!!
    Jan Kalonick
    June, 14 2011

    The Tenneseean article cited the Woodmont church as the “Family of God church”, while the Christian Chronicle cited it as a church of Christ…?
    Akeisha
    June, 15 2011

    Akeisha:
    The actual wording on the church’s sign is “Woodmont Hills Family of God: A church of Christ.”
    Erik Tryggestad
    June, 15 2011

    These people are very sick, God would never ever do what they say He is doing. Someone needs to send them to a war, they don’t believe in God or they wouldn’t enflict all the pain that they do. The day will come when they will be punished for what they did. Jan really said it all, it breaks my heart to think there are hateful mean people like that out there and then they say they are doing it for God~not on your life, the are twisted and mean and hateful. That is NOT being a christian.
    Sue Dulian
    June, 15 2011

    I live about 25 miles southeast of Washington, D.C.. We were notified that the Westboro folks would be showing up for a military funeral here in Waldorf, Md.. By the time the funeral was held, Westboro couldn’t get within a mile of the church or the family. County sheriff’s and state of Maryland police had to be called, for parking enforcement and safety of those acting as a barrier.
    Well done, Charles County Maryland. The fallen and their famalies deserve much better then the likes of Westboro.
    Pat Wolcott
    June, 15 2011

    Rom 16:16 witch reads: The “churches of Christ salute you”, the word “churches” is in a lower case denoting that it is a defination of the body of Christ and not a proper name.
    David F. Shaner
    June, 16 2011

    God said through the prophet Micah, 6;8; “What doth the Lord require of
    you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with you
    God”..
    How much we need to observe this as Christians.
    Jack Kline
    Jack Kline
    June, 16 2011

    Thank the Lord that good people are opposing that church! THe picture of all the flags is beautiful! That Baptist church must be full of hatred filled people
    Sharon Crozier
    June, 16 2011

    Let us feel sorry for their ignorance and Pray God will give them insight into His domain!
    John Jansen
    June, 16 2011

    David F. Shaner’s comment about the use of the lower case ‘c’ in churches of Christ is one the saints in the Skelmersdale church of Christ in the UK have discussed in the past. If anything is likely to advance the denominational view of the Lord’s church, it is the use of the upper case ‘C’ in Church of Christ.
    One this side of the pond we had not heard of the activities of the Westboro churches actions. How can they call themselves Christian and make the statements they do? It’s no wonder Christianity gets a bad press, when this is the kind of stuff those who claim to be Christian get up to.
    PeteHodge
    June, 16 2011

    Thankful for those who stood for the silent soldier and a grieving family. Praying that Sgt. Balduf and his family have found that peace that passes understanding!
    Marla Merriman
    June, 16 2011

    Here in the UK when the bodies of our fallen are returned home they are brought in at an air force base near the town of Wootten Bassett. As the courtege passes through the town the residents line the streets to silently pay their respect. They have done this consistently since the first soldier fell in Iraq.
    It makes no difference who the soldier is or where he is from. The people are there come rain or sun.
    Such is the respect that the town is held in, that recently thew Queen bestowed the prefix ‘Royal’ to the town. A seldom awarded honour.
    Some Muslims once came to protest. Such was the outcry nationally, that they have never returned. I just fine it so hard that some who call themselves ‘Christian’ would praise their death.
    PeteHodge
    June, 16 2011

    I am astounded that this article on the funeral of a solider prompted some to debate the use of the phrase “church of Christ” and inject negative comments about a body of believers. Will such ever end?
    Jimmy Edwards
    June, 16 2011

    There will always be those who call themselves “Christians”, or claim to be the voice of the Lord and are, at best, hateful servants of satan.
    One part of the article stated “Bikers, military personnel and families with children crowded the lawn of the Woodmont Hills church, declaring their opposition to the” (wbc). What I wanted to say about this comes as a member of the American Legion.
    The “Bikers” were members of the American Legion (American Legion Riders), the “Patriot Guard” (all veterans and family of veterans), and similar. The Preamble to the Constitution of the American Legion starts “For God and country”. I have just spent most of the last 8 years as the Chaplain for our Department, as well as serving locally with the American Legion. I was also an “Associate Member” of our local Legion Riders, until the “Associate” members were disbanded by the National organization.
    It does not surprise me that the “Counter protesters” did not speak with the press, as they are not there to make statements. Rather WE ALL attend the funerals because someone who served our nation was killed in that service. If the local press wants to talk to the local chapter, Post, District, or Department Commander of the American Legion, VFW, AmVets, Legion Riders, Patriot Guard, etc. They may also contact the Public Relations officer of the same organizations, and get information about why we attend these funerals.
    As I have said in various communications, if someone has served (in the armed services) they do not need to be told, and if they have never served, or been a close family member of someone that has served, it is extremely difficult to understand. We do not go out there to be seen of the public, and are not trying to make a statement for the media.
    We go to a comrades’ funeral to support the family and to say “goodbye” to another person who has put their live on the line for our nation. It is an honor to be part of a military funeral detail. While my health makes this very difficult now, it has been an honor to be part of well over a hundred such funerals.
    John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
    I will not get into the discussion of whether a person is a loyal Christian, that is up to our Lord to decide. Once a person has died, we cannot change what they did in life, but we can support the family. We can be good examples of Chirst by helping the family, and teaching by example and (hopefully) use that to be able to teach Christ.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I am not “officially” representing the American Legion or any other organization. Hopefully this helps clarify a little of what people saw at this brother’s funeral.
    God bless and protect all our troops and their families.
    Paul Johnson
    June, 20 2011

    I pray for this family whose loved one gave his life to preserve and protect the freedom we enjoy in this country, incluidng freedom of speech. I also pray for these people in the Westboro Baptist Church that the Spirit of Christ will somehow help them realize how un-christian they have shown themselves to be and that He will help to turn their hatred into love. How sad and mniserable they must be when their greatest mission in life is to condemn those who have sacrificed themselves for us and to torment the families of these heroes. Thank God for our young men and women who are willing to put themselves on the line to help us to be free.
    James Haney
    June, 22 2011

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