Fred Phelps | Jerry Falwell | News | Shirley Phelps-Roper | Virginia

Foiled Falwell Bomber was Targeting Westboro Baptist Protestors


Mark David Uhl, a Liberty University student, was arrested after a family member's tip led authorities to homemade bombs in the trunk of his car. Uhl had apparently told the family member that he planned to target protestors from Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church who were planning a demonstration at Reverend Jerry Falwell's funeral. The soda can-sized bombs were described by police as "sort of like napalm".

FalwellwestboroThe Associated Press reports: "The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church sent about a dozen members to protest across the street from the funeral, claiming Falwell was a friend to gays. The group also has picketed soldiers' burials, claiming the deaths are God's punishment for a nation that supports homosexuality. Falwell frequently spoke against homosexuality, and gay rights advocates have consistently opposed him. A group of Liberty University students staged a counterprotest; it wasn't clear whether Uhl was involved.

...Jesse Benson, 19, of Zanesville, Ohio, said he lived with Uhl this year and that both shared the view that the Westboro group is a 'sorry, disgraceful bunch of people,' but that he was certain Uhl would never have done anything to harm them. 'He had a very, very deep respect for Jerry Falwell, as do I,' Benson said in a telephone interview. 'Jerry Falwell would not have approved him harming anybody for any reason. Out of respect for Jerry Falwell, he never would have done anything.'"

Just one more incident that goes to show how full this country is of really screwed-up, religious people.

The Associated Press reports that 33,000 people viewed Falwell's body over a period of four days.

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Westboro Baptist to Picket Jerry Falwell Funeral [tr]
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  1. "Just one more incident that goes to show how full this country is of really screwed-up, religious people."

    I really take issue with this line. I agree that there are extremist on both sides of this issue. But this line reads as if all religious people are wingnuts. I have plenty of friends who are religious who are very accepting and supportive of me and I have a church that I attend that welcomes me openly with no judgements. If you want to have a comment like that, it should read that this country seems full of extremist people. There are plenty of screwed-up people in this country who are agnostic or atheist. I love this blog but that comment seemed pretty bigotted.

    Posted by: Matt | May 23, 2007 9:12:17 AM

  2. Matt, I seriously doubt Andy is trying to say all religious people are screwed-up. I'd have to agree with the statement. There are plenty of people who happen to be really screwed-up and religious. Some times they aren't even extremist, just hateful or angry or violent...

    Posted by: Rob (lrdarystar) | May 23, 2007 9:31:53 AM

  3. Matt, I certainly didn't intend the comment to read that way. I understand very well that there are plenty of well-adjusted religious people that have no interest in using their faith as a social weapon.

    And although they're not usually the ones getting the press, I do regularly publish material on this site highlighting inclusive religous organizations.

    Posted by: andy | May 23, 2007 9:31:54 AM

  4. I agree with Matt's comments. It is a slippery slope when you begin to categorize all people based their group, etc.

    However, I am so happy that Phelps clan is at the funeral! I posted before that this will absolutely alienate him from "normal" Christians across the country as he has really crossed the wrong line! People that would have otherwise NEVER spoken out againts Phelps hate preaching against gays will now turn on with a vengence. No, they may not be on our side, but they will clearly NOT be sympathetic to his cause in any way going forward. Thanks Phelps! I appreciate you taking the right steps to self implode!

    Posted by: RB | May 23, 2007 9:35:59 AM

  5. But Matt, Andy didn't say that ALL religious people are screwed up.

    Well, I must be one "screwed up" evil, bitter bitch...'cause I kinda' wish the bombs had gone off--killing two right-wing birds with one stone.
    I take that back! I don't want to go to hell--all these damn preachers may be there.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | May 23, 2007 9:37:12 AM

  6. That would be "vengeance". I really can spell...sometimes!

    Posted by: RB | May 23, 2007 9:38:21 AM

  7. Even Phelps' pals aren't extreme compared to Jerry's followers. That's saying something.

    Posted by: Marco | May 23, 2007 9:40:46 AM

  8. Andy,

    Thank you for the clarification. I am well aware of the coverage you give to pro-gay religious groups, athetist, agnostic, etc. It is the main reason why I read your blog daily even though I still don't get Banksy. I definitely wish you continued success.

    Posted by: Matt | May 23, 2007 9:41:56 AM

  9. I'm a spiritual (some would say religious) person and I didn't take any offense from the comment.

    It seems pretty accurate to me.

    I understand Matt's concern but I think he misread the statement, or at least misinterpreted the intention.

    Andy has never shown a general anti-religious bias. He points out bigotry, discrimination, hate and prejudice coming from religious people/organizations but no more than he does with secular and non-religious people/organizations that do the same.

    Beyond that, I have to wonder where all of these “God is Love” and “God Loves America” counter-protestors have been for the last twenty years when these assholes were picketing at the funerals of gay men and AIDS victims.

    Posted by: Zeke | May 23, 2007 9:52:40 AM

  10. Sorry Matt, I was typing while you were posting. I didn't mean to step on your post with redundancy.

    Posted by: Zeke | May 23, 2007 9:56:22 AM

  11. "Out of respect for Jerry Falwell."


    Posted by: Jake | May 23, 2007 10:04:11 AM

  12. Wow, those Westboro people really will picket anything. They came to my college when we did The Laramie Project. It was such good publicity, it was the first play to ever sell out its whole run in the history of our college.

    Posted by: Chris | May 23, 2007 10:14:26 AM

  13. THANK YOU TOWLEROAD FOR YOUR DAILY REPORT ON FRED PHELPS!!!! You ought to win a Pulitzer Prize for your almost daily and in-depth reporting on Fred Phelps. While the NYT reported on him once (and otherwise his family's only appearance was on Tyra Banks), Towleroad has dedicated itself to pandering to Fred Phelps by reporting almost everyone of his protests. If I run around Times Square with a sign on a post will you report on me every day?!?!

    Posted by: tony | May 23, 2007 10:30:28 AM

  14. Okay i normally don't wish any harm on anyone

    but in this case...i would've liked Mark David's plans to of come to light

    Posted by: stephen | May 23, 2007 10:34:34 AM

  15. Tony--don't be an ass.

    Posted by: Acolyte | May 23, 2007 10:37:24 AM

  16. There are batshit people, but when you're religious and batshit, it just gets a little more dramatic. A guy studying to be an army chaplain (see full article) decides to bring napalm to a funeral to roast ultra-christians? Wow.
    These guys are just so sure they know what God thinks that they can contemplate doing just about anything....picketing funerals, murder....really, almost nothing is off-limits.

    Even more bizarre is how little these people actually understand each other. Uhl's friend is absolutely certain that "he never would have done anything." Riiigght. Nothing except whip up some napalm in the sink. I'd venture to say that when you get obsessed with towing the party line you lose the ability to look a little more deeply into someone's character.

    Posted by: Zlexar | May 23, 2007 10:38:05 AM

  17. I really want one of those "Falwell in Hell" posters.

    Posted by: John T | May 23, 2007 10:48:35 AM

  18. As much as I detest Phelps and would rather he just go away, I think as long as he's around Andy is perfectly right to highlight any nutjobbery (is that a word??) that ole Fred is up to.

    After all, if there is a poisonous snake in the room and I can't get rid of it, I- at the very least- would like to know where it is!

    Posted by: Dean | May 23, 2007 10:53:09 AM

  19. Tony, Tony, Tony. WHAT is your point, other than to demonstrate your rather shaky grasp on the use of the word "pandering"? And, make up your what passes for a mind: are you indicting Andy for his "daily report on Fred Phelps" or his "almost daily....reporting on Fred Phelps." Of course, neither charge is factual, but, even if one were, Andy deserves applause for keeping people aware of this inbred cult's activities. The sacrosanct NY Times should report MORE on them, but, of course, despite the fact that you couldn't throw a Birkin bag in any direction at the Times without hitting a queen, they too often perpetuate the myth that homohatred is in scarce supply, something underserving of serious, ongoing coverage—or that when covered is to be trivialized by, e.g., illustrating it with a picture of "bull dykes" surrounding men in clown white makeup, lipstick, and 18th century fop drag.

    Note even the prejudiced choice of words in the AP story about the alleged bombing plot. It more often refers to us as an it—homosexuality—than people, thus, once again, posthumously defanging the deadly poisonous Fartwell. He never said, "AIDS is God's punishment on homosexuality" but "on gays." Ad nauseum.

    Perhaps you only come here for the beefcake ads, or the latest picture of Becks with his hand down his pants, or some other titillation of your tits. But some of us appreciate the collection of serious news items, gay-related and not.

    As for RB's optimism about a religious revelation among American Xtians, I reiterate that, for most of them, Phelps remains only a balm in Gideon to soothe their own homohating souls by way of giving them justification to say, "Well, I'm not like THEM." And to confuse appreciation for the differences in degrees of civility with failure to admit that they are the same as him in substance. Phelps is not an anomaly. He is but the logical extension, the honest face of what lies within the cowardly Holier Than Thou of all cloths who sit silently in their figurative and literal pews while gay youth are brutalized in schools, gays of all ages are brutalized or murdered on our streets, and "gay rights" are tossed about and torn apart like worthless toys.

    Posted by: Leland | May 23, 2007 11:07:55 AM

  20. Make that "balm in Gilead." That's what I get for tossing too many ingredients into my metaphorical salads. The drinks are over there.

    Posted by: Leland | May 23, 2007 11:19:53 AM

  21. For one thing, all you religious apologists. Moderate religious people create the environment for radicals like Osama, Phelps, and Falwell. Faith is dangerous, and treating blind faith as a virtue in our society has got to stop. This is how extremists are created.

    We need to move on guys and let go of our silly and imaginary religions.

    As Dawkins puts it: "Monotheism is doomed to subtract one more god."

    Posted by: JLS | May 23, 2007 11:21:45 AM

  22. Way to go Leland.

    PS: I still love you from afar.

    Posted by: Alec | May 23, 2007 12:07:10 PM

  23. "But this line reads as if all religious people are wingnuts."

    Jim Jones, David Koresh, Fred Phelps, abortion clinic bombers... Yeah, nothing wrong with Christianity in America. I mean, every Christian nation is like this, right?

    Posted by: John C | May 23, 2007 12:19:54 PM

  24. "Religious apologists", huh?? Well, I've been called worse... by better informed.

    You won't get rid of the fanatics by getting rid of religion. If the atheists were in charge, how long do you think it'd be before people were being killed for daring to suppose there *might* be a God?

    Religion is a tool. In my opinion, it's a personal tool. The probelms arise when people without a backbone try to force their beliefs on everyone- just so they don't have to stand alone.

    We need to stop blaming the gun and start blaming the shooter.

    Posted by: Dean | May 23, 2007 12:20:17 PM

  25. Dean, yeah, I always hear about Athiests killing religious people, firing them from their jobs, excluding them from Boy Scouts and other organizations. Yeah, Athiests are just so discriminatory against believers.

    Posted by: Daniel | May 23, 2007 12:31:24 PM

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