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Westboro Baptist Church to picket Paterno funeral

Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who died last Sunday, will be buried in a private funeral today.

A crowd gathers to pay respects to longtime football coach Joe Paterno at his statue outside Beaver Stadium.
A crowd gathers to pay respects to longtime football coach Joe Paterno at his statue outside Beaver Stadium.
Image: Kristen Mullen/AP/Press Association Images

AN AMERICAN CHURCH best known for picketing the funerals of homosexuals is planning a demonstration at memorial services for former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

The Westboro Baptist Church, notorious for their use of the slogan “God Hates Fags”, encouraged supporters to join them in Pennsylvania where Paterno will be buried in a private ceremony later today.

Paterno, the most successful coach in college football history, died on Sunday morning at 85 after a battle with lung cancer.

In November, his 45-year career as Penn State’s head coach came to an abrupt end when he was fired for not doing enough to deal with a child sex abuse scandal involving his assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Paterno reported allegations concerning Sandusky to his superiors as required by law, but did not inform the police.

Margie Phelps, daughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, tweeted on Sunday about plans to picket Paterno’s funeral as well as a public memorial service which is planned for tomorrow.

“Joe Paterno is dead. WBC will picket his funeral. He’s in hell.Don’t partake of your neighbor’s sin!,” Phelps tweeted. “‘Penn State Penn Rape’ rings in Joe Paterno’s ears in hell. He partook of sin for fame & fortune. Worth NOTHING to him now.”

Mourners had an opportunity to pay their respects to Paterno at a public viewing on Monday and Tuesday. More than 10,000 free tickets for tomorrow’s memorial service “sold out” within seven minutes yesterday.

Nearly 6,000 people have signed up to Facebook to line the route from today’s family ceremony to the cemetery, the Washington Post reports.

Sombre farewell begins for Joe Paterno at Penn State

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Niall Kelly

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