An updated version of the original post: please see italics below.
They picketed the funerals of those felled in Tucson, and now they are coming to New Jersey. But people are banding together to protest the protestors, the extremists from Kansas.
U.S. Army Spc Benjamin Moore, a Bordentown native, was killed in Afghanistan, and his funeral is this Saturday atTrinity United Methodist Church. The mayor of Bordentown has issued a proclamation honoring the fallen soldier. At least 150 people including VFW members, the soldier’s fellow firefighters, a group called Compassionate Friends, and retirees from the New Jersey State Police plan a counter demonstration. Like the citizens of Tucson, they have an action plan. They will offer a human fence to protect friends and family, and a group called Angels will dress up in outfits with large wings to hide the protesters. (Above, a picture of an Angel group in Tucson).
Reverend Tom Miller, the pastor at Trinity, says everyone who wants to be supportive is welcome. There are parking concerns, so a lot has been set up on Route 130 south at a former Acme Market, where there will be shuttles to take people into town. As of Wednesday evening, according to the Facebook page of “Angels for Ben,” supporters are invited to meet at this parking lot on Saturday, January 22, at 6 a.m. to be shuttled into town by 7:30 a.m. The viewing begins at 9 a.m. at the church. In contrast to the expected behavior of the Westboro contingent, the counter demonstration is to be peaceful and nonconfrontational.
Says Bordentown: Not in our town, will we allow hate to prevail.
Note: I updated this post to take out the name of the organization that calls itself a church, so as to diminish the publicity it craves. It is not affiliated with any denomination and Christians universally reject its beliefs.
Appropriately, the Times of Trenton ran one article about the soldier without mentioning the controversy. The family will be able to clip it for a hate-free entry in their scrapbook. However I object to the way the Times ran the headline with ‘hero’ in quotes, as if some people called him a hero but the editors couldn’t go out on a limb and say it was, indeed, true. This soldier had a chest full of medals. I believe it would have been safe and editorially correct to deem him a hero without quotes.
Bordentown has rallied, and is hoping that perhaps the Kansas people won’t show up after all. (Note as of Saturday afternoon: They did NOT show up.)
To follow what’s happening in real time, log onto Twitter.com and search on #BenMoore. The Trentonian also offers live coverage on its website.
Last week the pastor of my church, Princeton United Methodist, Jana Purkis-Brash, preached about the social justice views of Methodists and how — in all ways — Methodists reject the teachings of the Kansas-based supposed church. Her message is on the website.
Recalling the time when the Kansas-based group picked churches on Nassau Street — including ours — some 10 years ago, PUMC-er Mary Lib wrote to me about how the late Carl Fuchs, a longtime and beloved PUMC member, responded. “It was warm weather, and the choir was outside preparing to enter the church for the processional. From the demonstrators: ‘FAGGOTS ARE GOING TO HELL!’ Reply from brother Carl: ‘NO, YOU’RE GOING TO HELL. WE’RE OVER HERE AT CHURCH!’ ”