The Westboro Baptist Church will picket Aretha Franklin’s funeral in Detroit on August 31 at the Greater Grace Temple. The church made the announcement via their official Twitter account. According to the legendary singer’s family, the funeral will only be open to family members and close friends. Franklin will then be buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit. Franklin passed away on August 16 at the age of 76 following a battle with advanced pancreatic cancer.
The Westboro Baptist Church is based in Topeka, Kansas. During the early 2000s, they attracted massive media coverage for their pickets at the funerals of U.S. military service members who were killed in combat. In more recent years, the group has been hit by a series of high profile defections and the death of spiritual leader, Pastor Fred Phelps. That has led to the group becoming more localized in their infamous pickets.
Westboro Says Franklin Was an ‘Adulterous Whore’
In a statement that was published on the church’s website, the group said in part, “The death of the famous fornicating, adulterous whore, Aretha Franklin, and the worshipping of her dead body and celebration of her God-defying life, provides another platform for the servants of God at WBC to bring the words of life to their neighbors, which is the highest form of love.”
That statement goes on to say that despite Franklin publicly crediting God for her singing gifts, the “Respect” singer, “honors [God] with her lips, but her heart is far from him. (Matthew 15:8 & Mark 7:6.) She used her talents to teach rebellion against God and his Word.” The church points to Franklin becoming the mother of two children by the time she was 14 years old as a reason for their picket. The church says Franklin was “taught to be a whore” by her Baptist minister father. Another sentence says, “The evidence is good that Aretha is in hell. We implore you not to follow her example, lest you follow her to hell.”
The Group Added that Aretha Franklin ‘Led Her Loved Ones to Hell’
When the sad news broke that Franklin was extremely ill just prior to her death, the official Westboro account tweeted, “The ONLY proper prayer for @ArethaFranklin is that she will repent, mourn for sin, & be reconciled to God. We all must do this while we still have breath. It is absolutely the only hope in this earth. Don’t hate her or offend God with any other words words!” Almost immediately after Franklin’s death, a tweet said, “Aretha Franklin dies without clear evidence that she served, loved, and was loved by God. Most likely singing the sad, sorrowful ballad of The Rich Man In Hell now.” Then, this video appeared:
That clip was followed by this message, “Aretha Franklin had NO
?R E S P E C T? for God so God has no ?R E S P E C T? for her! She led her loved ones to hell, chasing the “American dream.” But this life is not about success or money—flesh is grass!—it’s about loving and serving God. #KissTheSon.”
Westboro Has Made Reference to Franklin in the Past
In midst of the 2012 U.S. presidential election campaign, the group made their first reference to Franklin in a tweet that decried both President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The tweet said, “Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are Christian like @WBCSteve is Aretha Franklin.” The @WBCSteve is likely a reference to the church’s de-facto leader, Steve Drain.
The church was last in the news when they announced that their congregation would picket an appearance by comedian Joe Rogan in Kansas City. Rogan said on his podcast that he was “excited” by their plans. In 2017, Rogan interviewed church defector Megan Phelps-Roper on his show. During her appearance, Phelps-Roper spoke openly about how she escaped from the church.