PHOENIX -- Members of the Westboro Baptist Church won't picket the funerals of the victims of Saturday's shooting in Tucson that left six dead.
Church spokeswoman Shirley Phelps Roper told Capitol Media Services she has accepted offers from hosts of various radio shows for air time in exchange for giving up the right to have their protests and carry their signs proclaiming "God Hates Fags.''
"What we're doing is trying to be as smart as possible,'' she said. Roper said her congregation believes it can reach more people with the air time than it could with picketing a single funeral.
Phoenix talk show host Steve Sanchez, who is providing a half-hour on Saturday morning, acknowledged he is giving Roper a wider audience than she might reach directly with the protests. But he said that is preferable to having church members try to interfere with the grieving of the family 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green.
"I can take a bullet for 30 minutes,'' he said. "It's a moral thing.''
While Sanchez' offer took the Green funeral off the table, it took a promise of an hour on a nationally syndicated radio show to get Roper to give up the other planned protests. That includes the funeral of John Roll, the presiding judge of federal courts in Arizona, as well as a planned picket at Tucson Magnet High School.
Roper said she will be able to reach 10 million listeners Monday on the Mike Gallagher Show. She said that is far broader publicity than church members would generate by picketing in Tucson.
"It's a way larger audience,'' she said.
"It's not better,'' Roper continued. "It's just different. And it's more.''
This isn't Sanchez' first encounter with Roper. He had her on his show on KFNX last October.
"She's a real nut case,'' he said. "We know she's a hate-monger.''
But Sanchez said he knows the Scripture as well as anyone else. And he said he's prepared to debate her on her own terms.