SLAYER has commented on Westboro Baptist Church's plan to picket the public memorial celebration for the band's late guitarist Jeff Hanneman, which will be held May 23 at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles.
The event — which will run from from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m — will be free and open to the public on a first-come, first-in basis (subject to venue capacity, which is listed at around 4,000 people). All ages are welcome, and paid parking will be available around the venue.
A new message on SLAYER's official Facebook page states: "Message to fans: Want to really piss off the Westboro Baptist Church at Jeff's memorial celebration? Do exactly what SLAYER members and family are going to do — totally ignore them. They don't exist. And then come inside and celebrate Jeff's life with us."
In a "news release" announcing its plans to picket Hanneman's memorial celebration, Westboro Baptist Church said: "Jeff Hanneman received his 'talent' from God. Indeed, his very breath of life was from God… Instead of being thankful and using his talents to glorify God, and warn the generation into which he was born to fear and obey God, Hanneman used this resource to encourage sin.
"In last week's Kerrang! magazine, Westboro Baptist Church explained why we will picket this memorial: to warn the living!
"Jeff made a mock of sin through SLAYER's music. No wonder God struck him down early in life.
"In the Kerrang! article, we also speak to the many threats from SLAYER fans.
"Hanneman had been out since 2011, recovering from necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease), but was finally slain May 2, 2013 from alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver. He was literally pickled in sin.
"God hates and casts down all your idols.
"Repent and obey God Almghty — otherwise HELL AWAITS!"
Westboro Baptist Church previously said that it would sing its "parody" of OZZY OSBOURNE's "Crazy Train" "at full voice" at Hanneman's funeral.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church — the fringe group which continues to make headlines for its anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. soldiers regardless of their sexuality — first used lyrics from "Crazy Train" at events surrounding the October 2011 Snyder v. Phelps Supreme Court hearing. An attorney — a daughter of the church's founder, along with her sister — paraphrased lyrics from the song at a post-Supreme Court hearing press conference in Washington D.C.
The Westboro Baptist Church is described by the Wall Street Journal as a "tiny Kansas church… [that] … preaches that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are punishment for American's tolerance of homosexuality and abortion." As Examiner.com noted of the church, "their flamboyant demonstrations at the funerals of non-gay service members, using the events to highlight their belief that military deaths overseas are justified punishment for U.S. tolerance of homosexuality. ('You're Going to Hell,' 'Thank God for Dead Soldiers,' and 'God Hates You' are popular Westboro slogans.)."
Members of SLAYER released a statement on May 9 saying that Hanneman died of alcohol-related cirrhosis.
The guitarist had actually not been playing with SLAYER for more than two years since he contracted necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, from a spider bite in his backyard in January 2011. The infection ravaged the flesh and tissues of Hanneman's arm, leading to numerous surgeries, skin grafts and intense periods of rehab that forced him into semi-retirement and left him near death at several points.
Hanneman's last appearance with SLAYER was in April 2011, when he played an encore with the band at the "Big Four" concert in Indio, California.
Hanneman recalled in a 2011 interview with Classic Rock magazine that he initially didn't even feel the spider bite, adding, "But an hour later, I knew that I was ill. I could see the flesh corrupting. The arm was real hot. I got to the emergency room, and thank god the nurse knew straight away what it was . . . At that point, I was an hour away from death."