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Punk rockers defend Fred Phelps' 'Good Riddance' T-shirts

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Mar 24, 2014 | 4:27pm EDT

Punk rockers Touche Amore have defended their decision to sell T-shirts celebrating the death of controversial Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps following his passing last week (ends21Mar14). The band had previously taken aim at the outspoken religious extremist in the 2008 song wehatefredphelps.com and the group released merchandise featuring a photo of Phelps alongside the message, "We'd love to see you in the ground". His demise last Wednesday (19Mar14) prompted fans to encourage Touche Amore to re-release the top, so the stars acted on the advice and updated the slogan with the words, "Good riddance". The T-shirts sold out online, but singer Jeremy Bolm reveals the group was criticised for appearing to cash in on Phelps' death, despite planning to donate net profits to the Human Rights Campaign organisation, where activists continue to fight for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people - the very people Phelps was opposed to. Addressing the issue in a post online, he writes, "Here we are years later, and the man has died. We got messages saying we should reprint the design, so we thought 'we'll do an updated version and have the proceeds go to benefit what the man lived the last years of his life trying to dismantle'. "We feel there is beautiful irony in selling an image of a bigot and using the profit towards achieving equality for exactly what they hated..." He adds, "Is it in poor taste? Depends on your taste buds. Poor taste to me is creating an evil cult to protest funerals, discriminate love... if you wanna (sic) just slightly scratch the surface." Meanwhile, Westboro Baptist Church members who staged a protest outside Royals star Lorde's concert in Kansas City, Missouri on Friday (21Mar14) were greeted with compassion by one group of pop devotees, who held up a sign that read, "Sorry for your loss".

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