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Ronnie James Dio's widow asks for tolerance over planned memorial protest

May 24, 2010 | 12:48 pm

Ronnie James Dio-Christine Cotter

Wendy Dio, the widow of heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio, is asking her husband’s family members, friends and fans to “turn the other cheek” to members of the fringe Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas who have called for a protest at Sunday’s public memorial service for Dio at Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Dio died May 16 in Los Angeles at age 67 after a battle with stomach cancer.

“Ronnie hates prejudice and violence,” Wendy Dio has written in a response posted on her husband’s website. “We need to turn the other cheek on these people that only know how to hate someone they didn’t know.”

The Topeka, Kan.-based church called for the protest at the service for Dio, the singer who took over as frontman for Black Sabbath when Ozzy Osbourne left the group, because,  it says, “He had a platform from which to tell the masses the truth of God and instead he started the devil horn hand sign and glorified atheism.” The group has often picketed funeral services for U.S. military personnel killed in combat because the church believes it is God’s retribution for U.S. tolerance of gays and lesbians.

The Westboro's call to action at Dio’s memorial is one of nine protests scheduled by the church at different events over the Memorial Day weekend in California, Oregon, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The group also protested a staging of the musical "Rent" last year at Corona del Mar High School because of its sympathetic portrayals of gay characters. 

(via The Daily Swarm)

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Ronnie James Dio in concert at the Inglewood Forum in 2007. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times