Westboro Baptist Church to protest Franklin County soldier's funeral today

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - The Westboro Baptist Church, a controversial church known for picketing soldier's funerals and holding offense signs, will be picketing the funeral of Youngsville soldier Sgt. Dillon Baldridge today, according to a statement on their website.

RELATED: Flags to fly at half-staff in honor of Franklin County soldier killed in Afghanistan

Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge, 22, was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Company D, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky, according to a Department of Defense release.

Baldridge was posthumously promoted to a sergeant.

Three U.S. soldiers, including Baldridge, were killed on June 10 when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them. Another soldier was wounded and the attacker was killed.

A spokesman for the provincial governor in Nangarhar province, Attahullah Khogyani, says the attack took place in the Peka Valley in the Nangarhar Province.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

RELATED: Soldier from Franklin County 1 of 3 killed in attack in Afghanistan Saturday

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says in a statement that a Taliban loyalist had infiltrated the Afghan army "just to attack foreign forces."

The DOD identified the other two soldiers as Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland and Sgt. William M. Bays, 29 of Barstow, California. Both men were assigned to the same headquarters as Baldridge.

Funeral services will be held for the soldier today at 3 p.m. at the Ashe County High School auditorium, according to an obituary for Baldridge. A burial with military honors will follow at Ashelawn Memorial Gardens.

According to the news release from the church titled "God hates America & is killing our troops in his wrath," the group believes that "Dillon Baldridge gave his life for the Constitutional right of WBC to warn America. To deny us our First Amendment rights to warn our neighbours is to declare to the world that Dillon died in vain, and that America is a nation of proud, sodomite hypocrites."

RELATED: Click here to access a GoFundMe page for Baldridge's family

The release continued, saying, "The Lord no longer builds the American house; nor does the Lord watch over and protect America. These soldiers are dying for the homosexual and other sins of America. God is now America's enemy, and God Himself is fighting against America."

The church will "peacefully" preach "in lawful proximity to the memorial of [Sgt.] Dillon C. Baldridge" at Ashe County High School's auditorium, the release said.

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