Fred Phelps and the congregants of his hate-infested Westboro Baptist Church have been terrorizing their fellow Americans for more than 50 years. Through explicit exploitation of Christianity, the group has picketed against, exploited and demeaned any and all of the individuals and/or groups who stand in opposition to its ideological insanity. Phelps and his family distort the Bible and Christianity and use horrid tactics to force unwilling audiences to listen to their demagoguery. Before discussing the most recent Westboro drama, it’s important to understand what Westboro believes, how its members operate and what motivates their often off-kilter demoralization of those with whom they disagree. According to The Anti-Defamation League, “…WBC members say that “God’s hatred is one of His holy attributes” and that their picketing is a form of preaching to a “doomed” country unable to hear their message in any other way.” Not only is this notion theologically flawed, but it also assumes that people would rather hear their incessant rants than discuss differences calmly and rationally.
Phelps, a Democrat, has spent the majority of his life spewing disgusting and distasteful statements; he is the “spiritual” and political leader who both fuels and serves as the prime catalyst for the group’s work. His church, dominated by members of his own family, has no official connection with any viable Christian denomination. In fact, Westboro is more appropriately described as a cult of insanity. Despite the New Testament’s sole focus on individual forgiveness and love, Westboro claims that God hates homosexuals (who they affectionately refer to as “fags”), Jews, Lady Gaga, and, for its toleration of the aforementioned, the United States of America.
The Anti-Defamation League hit the nail on the head when they designated Westboro a hate group, writing that:
“the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is a small virulently homophobic, anti-Semitic hate group that regularly stages protests around the country, often several times a week.
Opposition to Westboro extends beyond America; the group is forbidden from visiting Great Britain, a country they tried to enter in protest of The Laramie Project, a play about Matthew Shepard’s death.
Here are a few examples of the slogans one may find at a Westboro picket: God Hates Your Tears, God Hates Fag Enablers, God is Your Enemy, Thank God for 9/11, Thank God for Katrina, Fag Soldier in Hell, Thank God for AIDS, Dyke Nuns and Fag Priests, and AIDS is God’s Gift.
Classy bunch, no?
Aside from boisterous protests, the Westboro clan has traditionally utilized the judicial system. Phelps, a former lawyer, has extensive experience in filing frivolous lawsuits. He once sued Sears for $50 million over a late television set and he filed suit against Ronald Reagan for allegedly violating the Constitution’s “freedom of religion” clause. In total, Phelps filed about 400 lawsuits by the time his legal career came to a close.
Westboro’s off-balance picketing and hate-mongering doesn’t seem to be subsiding. In fact, it has intensified in recent years, with the cult’s penchant for protesting the funerals of America’s fallen heroes. According to Robbie Whelan of The Baltimore Sun, “[Westboro] says military deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.”
Now, let’s move to the recent Westboro legal drama that has most Americans flustered, to say the least. In 2006, the group protested at Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder’s funeral. In response, the Marine’s father, Albert Snyder, sued Westboro. While the Snyder family won the court battle, in a bizarre turn, the family’s initial lawsuit award of $11 million was reduced, then thrown out on appeal. Even more outrageous, a judge recently ruled in the Phelps’ favor, forcing the Snyder family to pay out $16,510.80 to Westboro.
This legal ruling is unconscionable, considering that these monsters intruded upon a private ceremony to honor the life of a young man who literally gave his all for his nation. Michelle Malkin recently urged readers to support the Synder family, writing the following: “Regardless of how you feel about the merits of the Snyders’ suit, the Snyders deserve to know that Americans are forever grateful for their son’s heroism and for the family’s sacrifice. We shouldn’t stand by and watch them bankrupted.”
While the Phelps family has first amendment rights to present their perverted and morally-bankrupt belief system, they should not have the right to infringe on a private or religious ceremony. Picketing at soldiers’ funerals – or any funerals for that matter – doesn’t constitute free speech; it infringes on the freedom of those individuals who are grief-stricken and merely attempting to celebrate a cherished life lost. In America, we’re free to choose idiotic belief systems, but we aren’t free to destroy the opportunities of others to celebrate the lives of our fallen heroes.
Note: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case – a case many first amendment rights enthusiasts are closely watching. Please consider helping the Synder family and stay tuned for more on this important issue.