FBI Invited Westboro Church to Base

    Fred Phelps, Jr., son of pastor Fred Phelps and a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, demonstrates outside the Supreme Court while justices hear oral arguments in Snyder v. Phelps, which tests the limits of the First Amendment, October 6, 2010 in Washington, DC. Albert Snyder sued the Westboro Baptist Church after his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, was killed in Iraq in 2006 and members of the church held signs and demonstrated outside his funeral. The church and its members preach that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are punishment for Americans' immorality, including tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

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    There aren’t many places the Westboro Baptist Church—the fringe group that pickets soldiers’ funerals with hate speech—can get a warm welcome. But the FBI asked Pastor Fred Phelps and his gang to Quantico Marine Base in Virginia for training agents on how to stay calm when dealing with a witness or suspect with whom they would “have a strong, visceral disagreement.” Westboro wasn’t paid for the sessions, but the bureau quickly deep-sixed the arrangement anyway. Westboro’s visit was controversial within the FBI, with some 200 agents and officers sending a memo asking why the church had been brought in.

    Read it at NPR