11 December 2010

Elizabeth Edwards Funeral to Take Place Amid Possible Protests, CNN

As mourners gather to commemorate the life of Elizabeth Edwards on Saturday afternoon, picketers from a Kansas-based church -- along with counter-protesters -- could change the mood outside the funeral.

Edwards, the estranged wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, died Tuesday after a lenghty battle with breast cancer. She was 61.

Representatives for the Edwards family confirmed that the service will be held at the Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, where the Edwards family worshiped. The 1 p.m. funeral, which will be open to the public, will include eulogies from daughter Cate Edwards and longtime friends Hargrave McElroy and Glenn Bergenfield.

Edwards will then be buried at Raleigh's Historic Oakwood Cemetery, according to office manager Sharon Freed. Earlier this week, Freed told CNN about the proximity of the burial to Edwards' son Wade, who was buried at the cemetery after dying in a 1996 car crash.

"He is already interred there in a space. And she will be interred there beside him," Freed said.

But the funeral could be marked by picketers from Westboro Baptist Church.

According to a press release from the church, members of the Kansas-based congregation are planning to rally against Edwards for issues relating to her personal life deemed offensive by the church.

The church is known for its extremist opposition against homosexuals, Jews and other groups. Westboro members often hold protests at funerals for fallen U.S. service members, saying the war's dead are God's punishment for the country tolerating gays and lesbians.

The father of a U.S. Marine has sued the church, alleging invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. The case, Snyder v. Phelps, has reached the Supreme Court and tests the privacy rights of grieving families with the free speech rights of demonstrators, however disturbing and provocative their message.

But some are organizing a counter-protest to Westboro Baptist's efforts at Edwards' funeral.

Full story here

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