The N.C. Council of Churches has issued a statement speaking out against the planned protest at Saturday's funeral for Elizabeth Edwards by the fervently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church:
The protesters from Kansas have come many miles to spread their hatred at Elizabeth Edwards’ memorial service. Let us be clear: the Bible calls us to kindness and respect for one another, and Jesus Christ preached throughout his life that we should love one another. The protesters' appalling and repeated violation of the sacred services by which we honor our dead, along with their representation of themselves as messengers of Christ, are offensive and misrepresent Christian faith.
The council is a statewide organization representing 17 Christian denominations and is "committed to the twin goals of ecumenism and social justice." More than 1.5 million North Carolinians are members of congregations under the council’s umbrella, according to the group's website.
The statement was distributed by e-mail Thursday afternoon and was also posted on the Council’s website. By noon Friday, hundreds of people had added their names in support of the statement.
“We have been overwhelmed at the response to our brief statement regarding the protest planned for tomorrow's service for Elizabeth Edwards," said George Reed, the council's executive director, according to a media release. "Already, as of midday on Friday, we've heard from almost 400 people who are standing with us against hate. Most are from North Carolina, but some are from former North Carolinians now living as far away as California and Switzerland.
“The responses have been accompanied by meaningful comments. Let me share just two. One person quoted Dr. King: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ Another reminded us that we should also be praying for the protesters.”