Topeka — Senators made another statement Tuesday that they find the activities of the Rev. Fred Phelps distasteful and not a reflection of the Sunflower State.
The chamber tentatively approved a nonbinding resolution declaring that the picketing of funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by Phelps and members of his Westboro Baptist Church is "extremely egregious and offensive."
"The Kansas Legislature condemns in the strongest manner possible the hateful activities of Mr. Phelps and his followers," the resolution states.
It also says legislators want the rest of the nation to know that Kansans "largely embrace the true religious message of love for one's neighbors."
Phelps and his church began picketing soldiers' funerals in 2005, saying the deaths are part of God's wrath on the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality.
The church issued a statement Tuesday saying recent storm-related deaths in Missouri were punishment for that state's new law restricting funeral picketing because it was "attempting to suppress God's truth."
The resolution, which is expected to be adopted on final action Wednesday, also honors members of the American Legion Riders and Patriot Guard of Kansas. The two motorcycle groups have begun the practice of attending funerals where Phelps and his followers are picketing and shielding the soldiers' families with the bikes and revving their engines.
Senators vocalized their disdain for Phelps during their short debate.
"I think many of us cringe when we hear Mr. Phelps interviewed on TV. We cringe because we know that's not what it means to be a Kansan," said Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe.
She said senators recognize Phelps' constitutional right to free speech, but they don't agree with his message.
The Senate unanimously approved the funeral picketing bill last month, and the House Federal and State Affairs Committee had a hearing on it Monday, but took no action.
Chairman John Edmonds said he doesn't know when his committee will vote on the measure, adding he wants to consider alternatives.
Restrictions on funeral picketing have become law in Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Besides Kansas, at least a dozen other states are considering such legislation.