Members of an extremist religious group from Topeka, Kansas, have announced they’ll attend Tuesday’s funeral of an Iowa soldier in Ogden. Twenty-two-year-old Iowa Army National Guard Sergeant Daniel Sesker died when a roadside bomb exploded near his truck 30 miles northwest of Tikrit a week and a half ago.

Relatives and members of the Reverend Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church have won notoriety for their noisy demonstrations claiming the death of soldiers in Iraq is God’s punishment for the U-S tolerating homosexuality. At least 25 states have proposed or passed laws barring the group.

Iowa’s among them, but Jennifer Mullins, a spokeswoman in Governor Vilsack’s office, says the governor, who’s visiting soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, didn’t sign the bill into law before he left. They phoned the governor in the middle of the night, 2 A.M. his time, to tell him about the planned protest in Ogden. His response was that the bill has to be signed to prevent undue suffering for the soldier’s family. The office hastily checked with the Attorney General’s office.

The AG’s office ruled that a verbal authorization from the governor would be sufficient to allow his policy director to put his name on the bill. The bill requires protestors to remain at least 500 feet away from any funeral service or ceremony and sets out punishments for violations.

The Department of Public Safety’s also been advised to have extra state troopers on hand to see there’s no disruption of the funeral and prevent any undue suffering for the family of the soldier. Sesker is the 36th Iowan to die in Afghanistan or Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Related web sites:
NOTE: Content may be offensive Westboro Baptist Church