Westboro Baptist speakers spark change in FBI policy

Kansas City Star/August 19, 2011

Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay Topeka congregation known for protesting military funerals, has sent guest speakers to FBI training sessions, the bureau said.

But church members won’t be welcome in the future.

The sessions were designed to teach younger FBI agents and law-enforcement officers around the country how to deal with groups they strongly disagree with, said church member Timothy Phelps, who spoke at some of the sessions.

According to National Public Radio, which first reported the story, the bureau won’t invite the congregation back.

The Associated Press quoted an unnamed FBI official who said the bureau underestimated how Westboro Baptist’s involvement would be viewed.

The church believes that God hates the United States because the country tolerates homosexuality. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the congregation’s right to protest outside funerals.

Phelps, son of pastor Fred Phelps, told The Star that he participated in four training sessions in 2010 and 2011 at FBI facilities in Quantico and Manassas, Va.

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