The Westboro Baptist Church has announced plans to picket the funeral of Christine Taylor Green, the nine year old girl killed on Saturday by Jarod Loughner in Tucson. In their statement they said “God hates Catholics and God hates fags.” These are the reasons they will be protesting somewhere near the funeral.
I’ve written about Westboro before concerning military funerals. (See “God’s Work Or The Devil’s” from December 10, 2010) I am appalled and disgusted by the actions of these people on a nearly daily basis but their hatred and vile agenda never ceases to amaze me at the same time. They claim to be doing God’s work yet everything they stand for screams hate, intolerance and goes against everything Jesus taught.
The church itself is not affiliated with any Baptist group in the nation; I’m sure because they are so radical and outspoken on matters that inflame the public. I’m not opposed to churches getting involved in moral issues. Churches should have opinions on moral issues. That’s why many people choose a church – because they believe the same things the church teaches. But Westboro goes into the community all around the country and literally preaches hate. The hold signs that say God hates certain groups or behavior. I’m not a religious person but I’ve always been taught God is love. Never, until this church became a public issue, have I heard that God hates anyone. The simple fact that this church is out there telling certain people that God hates them says enough about who they are.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has signed emergency legislation to prevent protests from taking place within 300 feet of any of the funerals planned for the victims of Saturday’s shootings. I applaud Governor Brewer for taking this stance and encourage her and other governors to pass even more legislation making protests illegal within 300 to 500 feet of any funeral. Westboro’s disgraceful presence at military funerals is equally disgusting and should be banned.
A ruling is pending by the Supreme Court concerning Westboro’s freedom of speech rights versus the rights of grieving families to be protected from willfully inflicted emotional pain and suffering during a funeral of their family member. While I am a staunch supporter of free speech, like yelling “Fire” in a theater, spreading hate speech at a funeral, while not inherently dangerous, causes severe emotional responses in those who are already suffering emotionally from their loss.
Westboro’s actions are reprehensible and vile. They need to be stopped. If we can’t stop them from publicizing their hatred at least governments can limit the places where they are able to publicize it. Everyone has the right to their own opinion and to voice that opinion as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. That is not the case with Westboro. They deliberately inflict pain and suffering on others, I believe to draw attention to themselves. This is my opinion and I truly hope the Supreme Court will agree.