The following associated press article is posted as an update on the situation with the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas who have been protesting soldiers funerals in the US claiming that the war is a punishment from God because the US tolerates (they don’t really accept yet) homosexuality.
The Westboro Baptist church as I have pointed out before may call themselves Christian, but as we all know many that make that claim aren’t. Reverend Phelps and his, family run, and attended church, are as far as I can tell NOT CHRISTIAN in any way. I also have many Baptist friends and not one considers them to be Baptists.
This case is also important because it takes on the misguided notion that Free speech has no limits. If Free speech endangers individuals in any way (as does the vile rantings of Rev Phelps and the WBC) then it has to be within limits. We all know yelling fire in a theatre is only appropriate if the theatre is burning. Phelps can say all he wants from his “church” pulpit but not at a funeral where it would cause pain to those that are mourning.
I ask those of Faith Pray that this case goes against the so called Reverend Phelps. I ask that those who do not believe to raise your voice against the so called Reverend Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church.
Court to rule in military funeral protest case
The Associated Press
The Supreme Court will take up a free speech case involving anti-gay protesters who show up at military funerals with inflammatory messages like “Thank God for dead soldiers.”
The court agreed Monday to consider whether the protesters’ message, no matter how provocative and upsetting, is protected by the First Amendment. Members of a Kansas-based church have picketed military funerals to spread their belief that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.
The justices will hear an appeal from the father of a Marine killed in Iraq to reinstate a $5 million verdict against the protesters, after they picketed outside his son’s funeral in Maryland.
A jury in Baltimore awarded Albert Snyder damages for emotional distress and invasion of privacy, but a federal appeals court threw out the verdict. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the signs contained “imaginative and hyperbolic rhetoric” protected by the First Amendment.
The funeral for Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Md., was among many that have been picketed by members of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. Westboro pastor Fred Phelps and other members have used the funeral protests to spread their belief that U.S. deaths in the Iraq war are punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. One of the signs at Snyder’s funeral combined the U.S. Marine Corps motto with a slur against gay men.
Other signs carred by members of the Topeka, Kan.-based church said, “America is Doomed,” “God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11,” “Priests Rape Boys” and “Thank God for IEDs,” a reference to the roadside bombs that have killed many U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The case will be argued in the fall.
The case is Snyder v. Phelps, 09-751.
This article was published March 8, 2010 at 9:43 a.m.