The Westboro Baptist Church praised the wildfire that killed 19 firefighters in Yarnel, Ariz., last week and vowed to picket the funerals.
“Praise God,” the 50-member church tweeted. “A consuming fire!”
Thursday, the church issued a news release titled “Thank God for the Arizona Wildfire!” that members would protest a memorial service Tuesday in Prescott Valley.
"They died because after many years of refusing to hear the faithful warnings of Westboro Baptist Church, Arizona is full of fornicators, adulterers, baby-killers & f*gs stem to stern," the WBC release said. “The 19 died because of the proliferation of abominable sodomy & same-sex marriage in america [sic].”
Despite a petition filed on WhiteHouse.gov, the White House said this week it won't classify WBC as a “hate group.”
“As a matter of practice, the federal government doesn’t maintain a list of hate groups,” said an official White House response. “That all said, we agree that practices such as protesting at the funerals of men and women who died in service to this country and preventing their families from mourning peacefully are reprehensible.”
"GOD ALMIGHTY created the wildfire, made it spread & finally caused that fire to suddenly consume those 19,” WBC said. The church is using the hashtag #ToeTags to count the number of people they believe have died because they believe God hates homosexuality, including the 20 children who died in Newtown, Conn., in December.
“For our God is a consuming fire,” the WBC release quotes the book of Hebrews 12:29.