Westboro Baptist Church claims the boys' deaths are payback from God over the Washington state Legislature's support of gay marriage.
Margie J. Phelps, daughter of Westboro founder Fred Phelps said on her Twitter feed Wednesday, “Westboro will picket the funerals of the Powell boys, Sat.,2/11, 12:15p, to remind @GovGregoire they died because of her rebellion, and this is why God's cursed you with Josh Powells blowing up kids.”
Washington state lawmakers passed legislation that will make Washington the seventh state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
Immediately after Phelps’ tweets, an online campaign started to counterprotest Westboro. The Facebook page is titled “Keep Westboro Church away from Powell Memorial”. “We will be out in full force to help create a buffer so this memorial can take place peacefully,” the page read.
Josh Powell's sister Alina responded,” I have just received confirmation that the Westboro Baptist Church is planning to protest my nephews' funeral. This is a horrible, disdainful act that serves no purpose other than to continue the years-long objectification of those little boys. Charlie and Braden were not trophies to be won and paraded around; they were not bait to ferret out guilt in a man; they were not evidence in a crime; and they most certainly are not political pawns to be used by a church to spread yet more messages of hate! They are only little boys and they deserve better! I am livid that my nephews continue to be used as a tactical maneuver, and I am livid that their service will be besmirched by an event a loving God would never approve! Please let my nephews rest in peace!! Hate has taken far too great a toll on us all already! Please, STOP THE HATE!"