Saturday, December 2, 2006

North Dakota Tribe Barring Church Protesters

North Dakota Tribe Barring Church Protesters
By James MacPherson
The Associated Press

Saturday 02 December 2006

Bismarck, North Dakota - A church group that protests at military funerals
around the country will be barred from services for an American Indian soldier
on a reservation, tribal officials say.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., planned to
demonstrate at National Guard Cpl. Nathan Goodiron's funeral on Saturday at
the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

Church members say the deaths of soldiers are punishment from God for the
country's tolerance of homosexuals.

Tribal leaders passed a resolution Friday that prohibits the group from
protesting on the reservation, said Marcus Wells Jr., chairman of the Three
Affiliated Tribes.

"We will not tolerate any harassment that is intended to provoke ill
feelings and violence," he said.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., pastor of
Westboro Baptist, said her group planned to protest outside the reservation
"on public rights of way."

"We don't get into anyone's private area," said Phelps-Roper, the church's
attorney and its spokeswoman. "We don't go on private land."

Goodiron, 25, of Mandaree, known on the reservation as Young Eagle, was
killed Thanksgiving Day in Afghanistan when a grenade struck his vehicle while
he was on patrol. He was a member of the 1st Battalion of the North Dakota
National Guard's 188th Air Defense Artillery.

Tribal officials said he was the first member of the Three Affiliated
Tribes to be killed in the war on terror.

American and tribal flags are being flown at half staff on the reservation
to honor Goodiron.

"We recognize and respect the right to free speech and the public's right
to assemble, but we want everyone to know that the Three Affiliated Tribes, as
a sovereign tribal government, has the right to regulate any person or persons
who harass and show disrespectful conduct towards our members, within our
boundaries," Wells said in a statement.

Wells said tribal police would prevent the protesters from coming on the

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