Westboro Baptist to Protest at Paterno Funeral

Reviled church extends protest from slain Marines to venerable football coach

By Greg Wilson
|  Monday, Jan 23, 2012  |  Updated 1:51 PM CDT
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Joe Paterno's funeral arrangements were to be announced today.

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The infamous Westboro Baptist Church, known for its unwelcome appearances at the funerals of dead Marines, plans to picket the burial of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

Paterno died Sunday at age 85 after battling lung cancer. His final months were compounded by the unwinding child sex scandal involving his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. He was fired Nov. 9, and questions have swirled about whether he did enough to stop Sandusky.

Tributes have poured in for him, from such luminaries at Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, and Nittany Lions fans have closed ranks around their storied coach of more than 40 years. But the Kansas-based church, which has outraged families of fallen soldiers, in a bizarre effort to protest gays in the military, said it will be on hand at Paterno's funeral.

Westboro Pastor Fred Phelps' daughter, Margie, tweeted the church's intentions.

"'Penn State Penn Rape' rings in Joe Paterno's ears in hell. He partook of sin for fame & fortune. Worth NOTHING to him now. #PicketFuneral," she tweeted. "Stop pimping out your kids to raping coaches @CollegeFootball! WBC must picket Paterno funeral."

In a schedule released by a family spokesman, the first public viewing will be held Tuesday, a 10-hour session starting at 1 p.m. at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on the Penn State campus. Another viewing will take place for four hours Wednesday starting at 8 a.m. A private funeral service is scheduled for 2 p.m. that day.

Finally, a memorial service will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Jordan Center, the basketball arena next to Beaver Stadium.

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