Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court ruled that Westboro Baptist Church members can legally protest military funerals, as they are wont to do.

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The Topeka, Kansas-based church, founded by Fred Phelps and encompassing the extended Phelps family, has been protesting military funerals and other public events for the past 20 years. They wave signs that read, "God Hates Fags," "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "Thank God for 9/11," and the like. They do so on the premise that homosexuality is wrong, and the U.S. government and military are wrong to tolerate it (including under the recently repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy).

It is safe to say that the Westboro Baptist Church is one of the most controversial and politically inciteful groups in America.

Below are four photos taken by LIFE photographer Anthony Karen, who spent a week with church members in June 2008:

See more of Karen's collection at