06 October 2006

God hates Westboro Baptist Church

As much as I dislike most of the causes the ACLU takes up, I understand their purpose - someone has to take the extreme position. I think they've gone too far this time, though. The ACLU is filing lawsuits on behalf of Westboro Baptist Church in three states to challenge laws designed to keep protesters like the ones affiliated with Westboro away from funerals, and is conducting an inquiry in Illinois as to whether the law to keep hate away from funerals is being properly upheld. Apparently the ACLU doesn't consider phrases like "God hates fags", "God hates your tears", "God hates America", and "Thank God for dead soldiers" fighting words.

Half of the Phelps family are ministers (if they can be called that) in Westboro Baptist Church, the other half are lawyers - does the ACLU really think they can't take care of themselves?

The Phelps family also recently threatened to picket the funerals of the Amish girls murdered in Lancaster, PA, claiming the Amish brought it upon themselves by practicing a false religion, unless someone agreed to give them air time to spew their hatred. In effect, they were holding those little girls hostage again. They picketed the Sago Mine funerals, and Coretta Scott King's funeral. Apparently no one but members of this cult are exempt from hate.

I remember years and years ago when the Phelpses would come down to Oklahoma City to protest at the funerals of people who had died of AIDS-related illnesses. Back then, a lot of people thought it was funny. Is it so funny now?

On a side note, if any of you are thinking about voting Democrat to keep people like Phelps down, please consider that Fred Phelps was a delegate at the '88 Democratic convention, for Al Gore, and has been very active in fundraising for Gore. Plus Gore invited Phelps to both of Clinton's inaugurations. The Republican Party may not be fighting for gay rights, but they're not pretending to be on your side while stabbing you in the back (yes, Clinton, that's directed at you and Don't Ask Don't Tell too).

(h/t: Discarded Lies)


R.Radna said...

I think Phelps and his group are entitled their opinion and beliefs, but I think they are overreaching and trying to impose their beliefs on others and that while they want the rest of society to respect their religious rights, they are unwilling to extend the same courtesy to people who do not subscribe to their particular beliefs. Specifically, if Fred Phelps has the constitutional right to believe what he does about homosexuality and even communicate that belief, I think that homosexuals also have the right to live in peace and be able to bury their dead without being harassed and victimized by Phelps and his group. I also find it interesting that Phelps and his group consider themselves to be among the "elect" few that will enter heaven among death, due to their anti-gay activities. I know religion is a touchy subject, and reasonable minds can disagree, but isn't it a sin to state or believe that you are in a state of grace, and isn't it also calvinist doctrine that good works cannot secure you a place among the elect? Food for thought.

As for Phelps and his group in the broader sense, by picketing at funerals and the Sago mine disaster they got a lot of attention, but I think most people despise them because of their lack of respect for for the dead. These people think they don't have to respect anyone who doesn't share their beliefs. They're just wrong, and this "movement" is guaranteed dead on arrival as a result.

R.Radna said...

Another significant point has occurred to me: in a case about ten years ago, misdemeanor charges were brought against people who barged into a mosque blaring the national anthem, as unlawful conduct on public property and disorderly conduct with unreasonable noise in a public place. Couldn't Phelp's groups' protest at funerals be considered to be a violation of the same laws? While Phelps and his followers claim they have freedom of speech rights to protest loudly and disruptively at funerals, the above case involving the national anthem and the mosque appears to strongly suggest that Phelps is as wrong on constitutional law as he is on his right to force everyone to interpret scripture the way he does.

Another thought occurs to me, which is that Christ taught that we should "turn the other cheek" if someone attacks us, I don't want my comments to be seen as an attack on Phelps or his group. They are entitled to believe what they believe. I don't think, however, that they are entitled to infringe other people's rights by disrupting funerals and other solemn or serious occasions and circumstances with their protests that, while communicating their beliefs, do so in a manner that is just as inappropriate as blasting the US national anthem is in a mosque during a service. I think this example makes the distinction between freedom of speech and creating a nuisance pretty clear cut. Nobody's free speech is being meaningfully infringed if I just want to be free of people screaming insults at me while a loved one is put to his or her final rest.