April 15, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

Sargent In Arms: Dick Sargent, better known as the second Darrin Stevens on the ’60s series Bewitched, announced last month that he is dying of cancer. Now he’s being harassed by a Baptist preacher in Topeka, Kan., who is threatening to picket the actor’s funeral simply because he’s gay. ”It’s a very vicious and hateful letter,” says Sargent, ”but it’s the only hate mail I ever received in the two years I’ve been openly gay.” The Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church-who protested the San Francisco memorial service for author Randy Shilts in February-defends his homophobic attacks. ”You’ve heard of tough love?” says Phelps. ”This is tough religion. Two thirds of the Bible is attributed to punishing the wicked. You can’t preach the true meaning of the Bible without preaching hate.” Sargent replies: ”It makes me sad there is so little understanding and compassion, but I’m not going to avoid having a funeral because of these protesters, it’s silly.”

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