Watch out, Justin Bieber, you're a target.
The 16-year-old Canadian pop star
, who teenagers either undyingly love or massively loathe, has been singled out for protest by the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, just like his top-charting rival Lady Gaga
When Bieber plays the Sprint Center on Wednesday night in Kansas City, fans can expect to see Westboro church
members holding signs and issuing taunts. The church is known for picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan with signs reading "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "God Hates Fags" -- because they believe that as long as America countenances sin, American soldiers deserve to die.
Earlier this month, they protested at Lady Gaga concerts in St. Louis and Oklahoma City. They plan to picket her again at her Kansas City concert on Aug. 3.
The group certainly gets around. A few days after their Gaga gig in St. Louis, they picketed Al Gore and the hugely popular Comic-Con convention, both in San Diego. At the latter, they were greeted by an array of unique protesters -- "robots," magical anime girls, Trekkies, Jedi and even kittens
. The comic book hero wannabes chanted at Westboro: "What do we want? Gay sex. When do we want it? Now!"
Neither Bieber nor his fans are a genuine threat to humanity -- not to anyone's knowledge, anyway. But Westboro strongly disagrees. Church members say they are picketing the pop star "to remind all of those in attendance that America's destruction is imminent!"
They add via their website, "There are no jobs, homes, money or hope, but you'll pay big bucks to attend rock concerts by the thousands."
The church group says that Bieber "has a platform given to him by God to speak to this world; he has a duty to teach obedience by his actions and words. He refuses to do that because he knows his concert halls would be empty! So, he teaches you to sin and rebel against God's commandments."
Bieber is also criticized for performing last Christmas
in Washington where "he got to pose with Anti-Christ Beast Obama." The group writes, "He and Obama are of one mind and they are leading this nation to hell! Justin will answer to God!"
Before Lady Gaga's St. Louis concert, she advised her "little monster" fans
via Facebook and Twitter to avoid the protesters:
"Although I respect and do not judge anyone for their personal views on any politics or religion, this group in particular to me is violent and dangerous. I wanted to make my fans aware of my views on how to approach, or rather not approach, these kinds of hate activists."
Westboro has targeted the pop singer because she supports gay and lesbian rights. The group has also recorded parodies of two of her songs, "Pokerface" and "Telephone." Bieber, who will appear on the season premiere of the CBS drama "CSI" in September, has thus far escaped any such parodies.
Westboro Baptist Church, which is based in Kansas, was founded by Fred Phelps, 80, in the 1950s. The church has protested a litany of events -- veterans' funerals, Jewish synagogues, football games, political events, and even Michael Jackson
Earlier this year, the father of a Marine killed in action in Iraq had to pay the legal costs
of Westboro after he sued them for carrying placards bearing anti-homosexual epithets at his son's funeral. A judge ruled that the First Amendment protected their right to do so.
The group is designated as a hate group by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Heidi Beirich, director of research at the latter, says that Westboro protests such mega-events for the attention it brings them.
"The more provocative they are, the more excited they are," she said. "They have gone after everything under the sun. They represent something terrible, but it's better to know they are there than not know."
So far, Bieber hasn't addressed his 8.2 million fans via Facebook
about Westboro. His latest status mentions what is on the minds of most 16-year-old boys -- girls.