Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest Dunn's funeral
"Jackass" star Ryan Dunn, 34, famous for his pranks and dangerous stunts, died in a car wreck in Pennsylvania on Monday.
June 22nd, 2011
05:40 PM ET

Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest Dunn's funeral

A controversial church in Topeka, Kansas, plans to send parishioners to Pennsylvania to protest the funeral of “Jackass” star Ryan Dunn, the congregation announced in a press release.

Westboro Baptist Church "will picket any public memorial/funeral held for Dunn, warning all not to make a mock of sin, & to fear and obey God!” the release said.

Westboro was started by the Rev. Fred Phelps in 1955. The church's parishioners, made up mostly of Phelps relatives, stage protests with signs that say such things as "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for dead soldiers."

The funeral director for DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home in West Chester said Wednesday afternoon that a family-only private memorial for Dunn was in progress - and there was no problem.

Because it was a private memorial, Joseph DellaVecchia said, he didn't expect any disturbances, although he'd heard of Westboro's plans.

“We can’t stop someone from coming to a public funeral, but this is private, and the police have everything under control,” DellaVecchia said.

A public funeral is planned for later in the week.

“Our department recognizes that we have an ethical and legal imperative to uphold civil rights of those who choose to lawfully assemble to protest but also of family members mourning at a funeral," West Chester Police Chief Scott Bohn said Wednesday.

Dunn was drunk and driving up to 140 mph when his 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 crashed and caught fire on a Pennsylvania highway Monday, police said Wednesday.

The red-bearded Dunn, 34, was famous for his pranks and dangerous stunts on the MTV show, which evolved into a successful film franchise.

Westboro protesters, known for picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers, have recently been met with counter-protesters at funerals across the nation.

At Arlington National Cemetery in Washington last month, counter-protesters, some claiming to be from the Ku Klux Klan, squared off against Westboro Baptist members.

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Filed under: Pennsylvania • Protest • U.S.
soundoff (798 Responses)
  1. Bob

    The best thing would be for the news people to stay away, but we know this won't happen.

    June 22, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • goatsandgreens

      Exactly. The Westboro "church" should have their own special page in the DSM IV. (Directory of mental disorders). They want to be noticed. The press co-operates.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • PreyTel

      Like maggots to road kill – the press to a Westboro Church protest.

      If the press stopped showing up and giving these hypocrites a stage (they don't really do this because of serious religious beliefs, they just want some reason to sue someone that hits them, insults them, does something to them as they have numerous times and laughed all the way tot their bank with the settlement) – there is a reasonable chance they would eventually stop this hideous activity.

      June 22, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank ( R-Ohio )

    Oh another "pro-active" church protesting the dead....they're kinda late aren't they? 🙂

    June 22, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • OfraHaza

      Exactly! "Protesting" a funeral?!

      June 22, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. That Guy

    And here I thought I'd never agree with the Westboro Church.

    One dbag down, billions to go.

    June 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ned

      Ooo such a message board tough guy. Why don't you pick on someone alive and in person?

      June 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darly314

      The WBCult isn't actually RELIGIOUS. Phelps claims he knows the judgments of God. Sounds more like a group that could benefit from anti psychotics.

      June 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • linsbohogan

      Very well said!!!

      June 27, 2011 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Dude your a dbag. He obviously made a bad decision but the man is still gone. Just because he did stupid stunts on a show doesn't make him a bad person, he had a family, imagine how they feel. you DBAG.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Murdering other people in a drunk driving wreck does make him a bad person and it also makes the D-bag appear in your mirror moron.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • kane

      Makes him pretty cool...what are you talking about?

      June 23, 2011 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy Cracorn

      Yea I'm sure you have never done something stupid right? If so you had better hope nobody talks about you like that when you die.

      June 23, 2011 at 5:39 am | Report abuse |
    • fretless bass

      For reals!

      June 23, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      No, driving 140mph with a toxic blood alcohol percentage and subsequently killing himself and his passenger makes him a bad person.

      June 23, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • twolfhound

      Hm, interesting... Being judged for the worst thing you've done in your life. Even rapists and murderers get out of jail eventually. A person makes a bad choice, takes a wrong turn in life and that is who they are. I find your theory fascinating. I wonder how you would be judged if only by the worst thing you've ever done...

      June 24, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • AM

      Now, that's a little bit insensitive, don't you think? A man died in a way that was 100% preventable and now there are family and friends and even fans of his and the show grieving. Do you really think it's necessary to call a dead man a dbag?

      Kinda sad to hear a man put down a man that has died – are you going to be one of those insensitive, disgusting, "church-goers" from Westboro outside of his funeral as well?

      June 22, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • cornerman

      You are right.... we are all waiting for your turn you idiot.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      You're next...

      June 22, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandy

      Thank You!! No one on this board is judging him for his stunts or antics. But he is being judged for killing another human being by DRIVING DRUNK!!! That is it. DRUNK DRIVING, does this really need an explanation? At least the protest is not for the soldiers who gave their lives to protect the freedom of speech that the WBC enjoys.

      June 22, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin


      While Dunn's driving was responsible for the crash, the passenger did have a choice to enter the car. Most likely, both were extremely drunk. It may simply have been chance they took Dunn's car was there, not Hartwell's.

      Personally, I wouldn't want to judge *anyone's* actions. Drunk driving is stupid and reprehensible, and people did die because of it. But I cannot imagine ANY reason to protest at ANYONE's funeral.

      June 22, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terre08

      He didn't kill the other guy, The other guy knowingly went with him in the after they had been drinking together. If he had forced the other guy into the car then it might be different.

      June 22, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon


      I'm sick and tired of people spouting off the "murder" word, and attaching their own meanings to it. Here is the real definition of murder:

      Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with "malice aforethought".

      Before you idiots start passing your own laws, lookup what MALICE AFORETHOUGHT means.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
    • tgpannell

      That makes absolutely zero sense. So, because the passenger made the choice (probably while drunk) to get into the car, Dunn is completely absolved of any blame for the passenger's death? "OH, WELL THE GUY SHOULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN INTO THE CAR HURRR" is the most idiotic reasoning I've ever seen. I am positive that if the passenger had known he was going to die, he wouldn't have gotten into the car. Sure, it was a stupid mistake to do so, but you can't pass all of the blame onto him.

      Dunn IS responsible for his own death as well as anybody else he killed, even though it was an accident. This incident certainly isn't a reason to judge Dunn completely as a person. He was a chill guy and lived a great life without harming others, but you CAN judge him for his actions, such as this incident. He was stupid to drink and drive, especially when there was another person with him; that's entirely reckless. But as a whole, he did not deserve to die, nor does this incident make him an entirely terrible person. Things aren't always black and white, people.

      June 23, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Derek Prospero

      Yes, well, luckily they didn't happen to crash into a schoolbus or any other law-abiding commuter.

      June 23, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • yo

      the passenger chose to get into the car with him knowing he was intoxicated. they took the risk.

      June 23, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • scott

      They knew the risk and had no problem putting themselves and others in harms way. Thank God the only people to lose their life were these two morons. Today, the world is a safer place with their passing. I never wish bad on others but when they are clearly out of control and put others in harms way I say good riddance!

      June 23, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Clark Nova

      It's been a long, long, long time since anything that any American soldier did protected the freedom of speech.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
    • ADuty

      Go F yourself. There, one just did.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
    • ED2004

      And the last time you did anything to protect free speech was?

      June 23, 2011 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
    • RedTeam

      I think your mastery of grammar gives any man good pause to stand up for yours.

      June 23, 2011 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
    • CHARLEY60

      If he had not also killed himeself he would be a charged criminal now. That is true. I feel for the person whose death he caused also. But they were empty headeed enought to ride with a very drunk driver. But this story has nothing to do with either, so why so much time being spent on it all?

      June 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. andy

    I "pray to God" that some counter-protesters show up and give those poor excuses for human beings what they deserve

    June 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Man Who Doesnt Care

    Westboro Baptist Church "will picket any public memorial/funeral held for Dunn, warning all not to make a mock of sin, & to fear and obey God!” the release said.

    I say that you religious zealots, and God can blow my pinwheel!

    June 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elmeaux

      Seems to me that the ones makes a mockery of sin are the protesters. Everybody at the funeral is in solemn contemplation of the senseless deaths of these men...while the protesters are outside in funny suits, waving signs and acting like clowns. If the way the driver behaved was sinful, then Westboro's actions will be the mockery.

      They should be at home, spending time in prayer that god will calm the troubled families left in the wake of this event.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark Jensen

      Yeah..blame God for the acts of the baptist church people in westboro...well you've blamed him all your life for everything else anyway..cause you tried to understand Him with your feeble mind and never with your heart cause you thought people would think you're a sissy. Well..you ARE a sissy if you won't take responsibility for your own actions and repent.

      June 22, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Trixter

    WHEN will these people just ride into the sunset peacefully, already?

    June 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      They will not ever go quietly, I'm afraid. They love the publicity too much, as evidenced by the fact that they're protesting Ryan Dunn's funeral, and not the funerals of normal people who will not have media coverage present at their service.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • heliocracy

      Not usually a proponent of violence, but I wouldn't be sad if some biker counter-protesters showed up with baseball bats.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. wendy

    these people of this so called church our the devils themselves. they dont care about people. they are jerks and try to spread hate which is the work of the devil.

    June 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • CHARLEY60

      There agenda has to cost a lot of money. Where is it coming from someone tell me? I suggest they are using the Church and there actions to money launder tax free. My understanding is it just a related familey.

      June 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • kale

      @CHARLEY60- Fred Phelps, the founder of this group, and many of his children, are lawyers.They fund their compound by aggressively provoking the people/group they're protesting, and then suing when those people react or retaliate. The city officials and police department in Topeka, KS (where they are based) won't lift a finger toward these clowns anymore because they have been sued so many times. Anyone who stands up to them (judges, city officials, business leaders, etc) is subjected to intense picketing and harassment. They are a "church" for tax purposes only. I've heard (although I can't validate this) that they do hold religious services on Sundays that are open to the public, but if non-members attend, they are basically bullied, insulted, ridiculed, etc so that they don't come back.

      June 24, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. @That Guy

    Be careful what you wish for....you could be the next doosh bag....

    June 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Atheist Woman

      I am so with you on that

      June 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. stewie

    I guess we can all assume then that they'll be protesting their own funerals since incest(inbreeding) is a sin.

    June 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. FrustratedBeliever

    I really don't care who agrees or disagrees with Dunn's life and actions. The bottom line is a life has been snuffed out and lived ones are mourning. To not have a heart for any of these people makes a person a step before being a monster.
    Oh and WBC, maybe you should read that Bible you claim to believe in. No where in my was Jesus so cruel. Either act like a Christian or stop calling yourself one!

    June 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ben

    Thank God for dead Phelps'.

    June 22, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Alex

    Westboro church is going to get beat down.

    June 22, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • kane

      Don't think so, people are pu$$ies. America is pussified.

      June 22, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Kane you are the pu$$Y

      June 22, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kitty

    He taught he was a race car driver lol mayb he wanted to die ?

    June 22, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Annoyed

    I'm sure that's what Jesus would do, right? Ugh. It's stories like this that make me embarrassed to be a Christian sometimes.

    June 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Defcom

      Don't fall for the bait people......

      This "church" is a cult, it's a group of satanist that are out to ruin the image of Christianity, not that Christians have a good image as it is, but still....

      shame on the CNN for helping these degenerates get attention.

      June 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • kane

      Jesus who? You mean the guy that floats in the sky and plans everyone's life and watches everything that everybody does? Lol....quit believing in fairy tales, kid.

      June 22, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Kane it is you that is the foolish kid

      June 22, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. phil

    These dirtbags can protest all they want....but there will be trouble from the crew....just wait and see.

    June 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      The crew will do nothing moron.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
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