Even though the plans for Robin Williams’s funeral haven’t be released, as the family wants a private service, the controversial Westboro Baptist Church has announced that the group will picket the beloved comedian’s funeral. This group is known for protesting funerals, including the funerals of Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, as well as a number of military service members.
The shocking news that Williams passed away came just over a week ago. An autopsy showed that the actor committed suicide by hanging himself with a belt. Williams had apparently battled depression for some time, and his wife revealed that he had been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. While many have used Williams’s death to promote awareness about depression and other mental illnesses, Westboro Baptist Church has decided to use his death to promote their message of hate. Williams has been targeted because of his portrayal of a gay man in the 1996 film The Birdcage.
In a message posted to the church’s Twitter account, the church says that they plan to preach outside his funeral:
God hates Robin Williams. Westboro Baptist Church hopes to preach outside his funeral — to his… http://t.co/hNG4fDT0BV
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSays) August 14, 2014
The message appears to be an excerpt of a longer message posted to Instagram, but that particular account doesn’t appear to be active any longer. Telegraph has the rest of the post, which reads, “Westboro Baptist Church hopes to preach in lawful proximity to Robin Williams’ funeral — to warn the living: repent or likewise perish.”
The church also made other posts about Williams’s death, including the following warning. “HEED: You spend your life mocking God and promoting sin, you get no peace.”
In addition to the protest, Westboro Baptist Church plans to put up a billboard and included a picture of Robin Williams within the text “Robin Williams in Hell” as one of the options:
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSays) August 19, 2014
Even though the news that Westboro Baptist Church is planning this picket may be upsetting, the group Planting Peace has put together something of a counter-protest in the form of a fundraiser to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Williams was well known for his support for St. Jude’s and spent a lot of time cheering up the young patients there.
In an interview with Huffington Post, Planting Peace co-founder Aaron Jackson discussed the counter-protest.
“Robin Williams played many different roles in so many people’s lives, and giving back to others was at the top of that list,” said Jackson. “When the WBC announced they were protesting Robin’s funeral, we felt like launching a fundraiser for a charity Robin loved would be the perfect way to honor him and counteract the message of hate and intolerance that the WBC continues to convey.”
Planting Peace is using CrowdRise to raise funds for St. Jude’s in Williams’s honor. You can donate here. The group has raised close to $60,000 for the children’s hospital so far.