Anti-Gay Church to Protest Ledger Funeral

An anti-gay church plans to picket the Oscars and Heath Ledger's funeral.

ByABC News
January 24, 2008, 12:37 PM

Jan. 24, 2008— -- A fundamentalist church whose members demonstrate at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and believe God hates gays will protest the Academy Awards and the funeral of Heath Ledger, because the actor played a gay cowboy in the 2005 film "Brokeback Mountain."

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., are trying to find out where the 28-year-old actor's funeral will be held and have already made signs to hold outside the Oscars that read "God Hates Fags and Fag Enablers," "Heath in Hell" and "Mourn for Your Sins," Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of the church's controversial founder Pastor Fred Phelps, told

Though Ledger was not gay, the church believes he "misused the giant megaphone given to him by God Almighty to speak the truth about fags," Phelps-Roper said, and instead "used his position of prominence to say God is a liar and that homosexuality is not an abomination."

The time and location of the Ledger's funeral remain unknown, but it is widely believed it will take place in the actor's native Australia.

George Amado, the general manager of New York City's Frank E. Campbell funeral home, told The Associated Press that funeral arrangements for the actor are complete and his relatives are expected to arrive in New York City Friday.

He refused to elaborate further, saying, "The family doesn't want us to give out any information."

"They are going to try and hide the body like a bunch of ghouls so we can't protest. The only thing in this country people worship more than filthy sex acts is the dead," Phelps-Roper said.

She said members of the church had already purchased plane tickets to picket outside the Oscars, scheduled for Feb. 24 in Hollywood.

A press release posted to the church's Web site,, reads: "Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there -- besides which, nothing else about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential."

According to the Web site, the church, founded in 1955, has held more than 34,000 protests. But Phelps-Roper said there are currently only 50 members.

The Southern Poverty Law Center considers the church a hate group because of its "platform, writings and statements by its leader, which are egregiously anti-gay," said Mark Potok, director of the center's Intelligence Project.