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Westboro Baptist Church to Defend Military Funeral Protests
October 6, 2010
9:09 am
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greeney2
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Westboro Baptist Church to Defend Military Funeral Protests Before High Court
By Lee Ross

Published October 05, 2010
| FoxNews.com
Print Email Share Comments (135) Text Size For parishioners of the Westboro Baptist Church, Wednesday's case at the Supreme Court is more than an hour of legal debate over the constitutionality of military funeral protests; it will also mark the end of their "I-70 GodSmack Tour" of protests across the country.

The group's last picket before they arrive at the court is scheduled to happen earlier in the morning at Arlington National Cemetery.

For many, the idea of protesting at any funeral -- let alone one for a member of the military -- is abhorrent, yet members of the Westboro Church proudly boast of having held more than 44,000 pickets at funerals and other events. They also strongly defend their First Amendment right to protest.

"This case is about a little church in Topeka, Kansas, engaging in public speech on a public right-of-way, about issues of vital public interest and importance," lawyer Margie Phelps wrote to the court defending the protests. She is also the daughter of church founder Fred Phelps and will argue the case before the justices.

Westboro's website says the legal dispute is about the "sovereignty of the Living God" and that those who fail to live up to God's standards should be punished. Phelps explains that their decision to picket funerals "is to use an available public platform, when the living contemplate death, to deliver the message that there is a consequence for sin." That sin in their view is homosexuality and all government policies they think support homosexuals.

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"I want them to stop doing this to our military men and women," Synder said on Fox and Friends, Tuesday morning. "I want the judges to hear that this case is not about free speech, it's about targeted harassment."

In the days leading up to the funeral, Westboro parishioners, including Fred Phelps, notified local authorities of their intention to picket the service. They were kept 1,000 feet away from the church and because of the use of an alternative entrance for church-goers there was no disruption to the memorial. Seven protestors held numerous signs including some that read, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "God Hates Fags," and "You're Going to Hell." There were no arrests.

Snyder filed a lawsuit against Phelps based on the protest and a subsequent post on the Westboro website about his son Matthew.

"[Albert Snyder] became violently ill at the sight of the Phelpses' website and whose diabetes and depression worsened as a result of the Phelpses' intentionally harmful conduct," lawyer Sean Summers wrote to the court.

A jury awarded Snyder nearly $11 million in damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy. That award was later cut in half and last year the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal set aside the decision in its entirety ruling that the protests were absolutely protected by the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court is reticent to curtail free speech rights. Earlier this year, the court ruled 8-1 that a federal law cracking down on violent animal fighting videos was unconstitutional. Though in 2004, the court by a 5-4 margin ruled that cross burning is not a form of protected speech.

If the justices don't resolve the case on lesser technical matters, they will need to address the First Amendment conflict between the church-goers free speech rights and the free exercise and peaceful assembly protections for the father.

"The Phelpses' freedom of speech should have ended where it conflicted with Mr. Snyder's freedom to participate in his son's funeral, which was intended to be a solemn religious gathering," Summers told the court.

"The Constitution is imperiled if a subjective claim of outrage can be used to penalize into silence speech that does not make false statements of fact, uttered in public arenas on public issues," Rebecca Phelps wrote in her response that is also noteworthy for its personal attacks on Albert Snyder.

A group of 21 news organizations joined a brief defending Westboro's case. While calling their views "inexplicable and hateful," they express concern that a ruling against the church will chill the activities of anyone who wants to speak out on a controversial issue and "threatens to expand dramatically the risk of liability for news media coverage and commentary."

One of the media groups that joined the brief is Dow Jones whose parent company also owns Fox News.

A bipartisan group of senators including Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined in their own brief supporting Snyder. They argue that the church members are "free to convey their repugnant message in virtually any public manner they choose. But they were not free to hijack [Matthew Snyder's] private funeral as a vehicle for expression of their own hate."

All nine justices will hear Wednesday's case. Their opinion is not likely to come out before year's end.

October 6, 2010
12:24 pm
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at1with0
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For many, the idea of protesting at any funeral -- let alone one for a member of the military -- is abhorrent, yet members of the Westboro Church proudly boast of having held more than 44,000 pickets at funerals and other events. They also strongly defend their First Amendment right to protest.

I'm one of the many. Sure it's legal but abhorrent nonetheless.

Ironic...that they died in order for those people to protest.

"it is easy to grow crazy"

October 6, 2010
1:29 pm
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Halfabo
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Public Service Announcement.

The Westboro Baptist Church is not, I repeat, is not a Christian organization. Regardless of its fraudulent claims, The Westboro Baptist Church, does not follow the teachings of Christ.

This has been a public service announcement by the apostate church exposure association.

October 6, 2010
1:48 pm
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at1with0
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Which specific teachings of Christ are they have evidently not put into practice?

"it is easy to grow crazy"

October 6, 2010
1:52 pm
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Halfabo
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"at1with0" wrote: Which specific teachings of Christ are they have evidently not put into practice?

How much time do you have? It could take quite awhile to go over just the last ten years of what they have been doing in their apostasy.

October 6, 2010
2:00 pm
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at1with0
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Just name a few, please.

"it is easy to grow crazy"

October 6, 2010
2:16 pm
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Halfabo
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"at1with0" wrote: Just name a few, please.

Phelps and his hateful clan spent this weekend in West Virginia taunting innocent families whose fathers, brothers and sons were buried alive in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster. The last four of 29 miners were pronounced dead on Saturday. The Phelpses actually complained they didn't get adequate police protection during a picket at the state Capitol, where they carried signs that read: "Thank God for Dead Miners," "God Hates Your Tears" and "God Hates West Virginia."

It's a new low for The Most Hated Family In America, as they were dubbed in a 2007 BBC documentary about the Westboro Baptist Church, whose members routinely picket funerals of American soldiers. They claim God smites our military because America tolerates lesbian and gay people. The group is so obsessed with anti-homosexual theology it adopted the slogan "God hates fags" for the name of its website.

This from the son of the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church:

Phelps' Son Says "God Hates Fags" Church Could Turn Violent
Nate Phelps, who left the family more than 30 years ago and lives in Canada, says his father is a violent individual. He talks about rage and the physical abuse Fred Phelps inflicted for hours at a time on his wife and children. He speculates that his father is mentally ill and effectively calls the Westboro church a classic cult:

This is just a small part of the things they have done in the past.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-cutbi ... 33132.html

October 6, 2010
2:36 pm
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at1with0
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First of all, thanks.

Personally, I find labels like "Christian" to be next to useless.

"it is easy to grow crazy"

October 6, 2010
3:27 pm
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Halfabo
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"at1with0" wrote: First of all, thanks.

Personally, I find labels like "Christian" to be next to useless.

I do tend to agree with you on that. The label Christian has been freely applied to the apostate Church so regularly that it is no longer distinguishable from what a true Christian is. Here is a few teachings of Jesus of how a true Christian should act.

Mat 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Luk 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Luk 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

Luk 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
Luk 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Luk 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

So many religious people forget the teachings of Christ, and apply the teachings of the world to what they call the Church. But this is not the Church that Christ established during His brief stay with us. When He returns, it will all be set straight.

October 6, 2010
5:03 pm
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at1with0
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It's very hard to follow those teachings when it comes to loving enemies.

Here's what I think the definition of Christian is, the apostle's creed.

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But can one believe all that but act very non-Christian, ie not follow the teachings of Jesus, and yet rightly call themselves a Christian?
Thoughts are acts as well, of course.

Going on a little tangent here.
One of my facebook friends posted this:

They say when you talk to God it's prayer, but when God talks to you, it's schizophrenia.

God, as I understand it, has never talked back to me in words.
However, there are signs and a silent understanding can be induced. By signs I mean little pointers to something vastly more expansive than little ol' me. Ordinary things, really, yet taking on some greater significance.

When I ask for understanding through what it is that I need to know at this time, I doubt that response is coming from God but through my personal essence.

"it is easy to grow crazy"

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