Kansas-Based Church Group Expected to Picket Funeral Visitation of Pocahontas Soldier

AUGUST 19, 2005 - Posted at 4:13 p.m. CDT

POCAHONTAS, AR - A Kansas-based Baptist church has plans to picket the funeral visitation of a Region 8 Army soldier who died last Friday in Iraq.

According to a news release from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, the church plans to picket the Sunday evening visitation for Army Specialist Rusty Bell, who spent part of his youth in the Pocahontas and Ravenden areas.  According to the release, Bell "was killed by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device), like the IED America used to bomb Westboro Baptist Church in a terroristic move to stop WBC's anti-gay gospel preaching."  However, the military refuses to release any information about Bell's death, other than to say that it was non combat-related.

The news release goes into further detail.  "America bombed our church, using an IED made by fag students at Washburn University in Topeka.  In his retaliatory wrath, God is killing Americans with Muslim IEDs.  'As it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.'"

The release also states: "God Has Become America's Terrorist, Killing Americans in Strange Lands."

Arrangements for Specialist Bell are being handled by the McNabb Funeral Home of Pocahontas.  Funeral Director Hank McNabb told K8 News by phone this afternoon that he has been in contact with area law enforcement personnel about how to handle any expected problems that may arise as a result of the picketers.  He was also expected to meet with Pocahontas Police Chief Chad Mulligan and Mayor Gary Croker this evening.  K8 News has also learned that McNabb's funeral home has been in contact with other funeral homes where the Westboro Baptist Church picketed previously.

A church spokesman told K8 News by phone that it expects to send 15 to 20 picketers to Pocahontas.