Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Westboro Baptist Church to protest in our backyard

Well folks. There here, or at least they will be on Thursday, November 15. Here in our backyard. Yes, the hate-spewing, God-fearing opportunists are going to picket at a local decorated war hero's funeral.
From the Lebanon Daily News:
Members of the radical Kansas-based organization will protest at the funeral of Nelson Long Jr., which is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Grose Funeral Home in Myerstown, according to a news release from the group.
The funeral home is located at 358 W. Washington Ave.
Long, who graduated from Elco High School in 1990, was killed early Thursday morning when his sport utility vehicle failed to negotiate a curve in the road and struck two trees along Route 501 just south of Rosebud Road. He was 36.
A sergeant first class in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Long was awarded a Bronze Star for valor for pulling two wounded soldiers out of a vehicle that was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq in October 2006.
The Westboro Baptist Church believes God’s wrath is killing U.S. service members because of America’s tolerance of homosexuality. Its members travel around the country protesting at funerals of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs that say things like “Thank God for IEDs” and “God Hates Fags.”
Long’s mother, Shirley Long, said yesterday she is not happy that the organization plans to protest.
“It’s sad enough as his mother. I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to get through Thursday?’ Now, this,” she said yesterday.
Although she acknowledges the group’s members have a right to protest, Long said, she’s hoping that somehow they’ll be held back or just won’t show up.
“I’m just so distraught,” she said. “To lose my son at that age, and he had only been back for a month, and I didn’t get to spend quality time with him, then to have somebody make a circus out of his memorial service. Maybe God will intervene.”
Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, said in a phone interview yesterday there wouldn’t be more than eight protesters at Long’s funeral, because church members are scattered around the country protesting at other funerals.
Phelps-Roper said it doesn’t matter that Long was not killed in action.
“He is the face of the doomed American military,” she said. “God is executing his judgment on the nation, and he’s focusing in on the military, so we’re focusing in on the military.”
Phelps-Roper said the organization doesn’t just protest service members killed in Iraq. This week, its members are also protesting funerals of soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Italy and others killed in Afghanistan.
Kathy Grose, owner of Grose Funeral Home, said she has notified the Myerstown police department and the National Guard about the planned protest.
“I’m taking all the precautions I can,” Grose said. “There’s not a whole lot we can do.”
Members of the Patriot Guard — a group of motorcyclists that attends funerals of service members to shield the mourning family and friends from interruptions created by protesters — will attend Thursday’s funeral, state captain Bud Roberts said.
Cpl. George Peach of the Jonestown barracks said the state police are aware of the situation.
“The state police have assigned a number of troopers to be in attendance, if necessary,” Peach said. “If there is a protest, if this group does indeed show up, there will be a state-police presence there.”
Another reason the group decided to protest Long’s funeral, Phelps-Roper said, is its proximity to last month’s court case in Baltimore that made national headlines. Jurors in a case in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore found that Westboro members intentionally harmed the grieving family of a Marine killed in Iraq by holding a demonstration at his funeral in March 2006 and by a subsequent Internet posting about his family background.
The fallen Marine’s family was awarded nearly $10.9 million in damages.
“You guys need to understand that it changes nothing,” Phelps-Roper said, adding that the organization plans to appeal the ruling. “Soldiers are still dying, and America is still doomed.”
In addition to slogans used in the past, Phelps-Roper said group members will also carry signs Thursday that read “Thank God for $10.9 million.”
Meanwhile, Shirley Long said she was aware of the Baltimore ruling but added that she doesn’t believe in filing a lawsuit. She said she did not know whether or not her son’s wife, Daphne, would consider it.
Regardless, Long said, her faith is helping her get through these trying times.
“We’re a very Christian family,” she said. “I believe that my only son is in heaven with God’s only son. That can give me some peace, because he knew the Lord.”
This will be the third time Westboro Baptist Church members have visited Lebanon County. They protested following the 2003 screening of a documentary film about a gay Cornwall teenager who killed himself in 1997, and returned in 2004 when they protested in front of Cedar Crest High School because students had formed a gay-straight alliance.

11 comments:

steve said...

The issue of the Westboro Baptist Church raises the question of people's right to privacy. These protesters have the right to protest but what about the rights of the family of the dead soldiers? Why is it the only thing people can do about this hate spreading group is to denounce them? I believe in the right to free speech even for those who spread hateful language, but I also know that if this was a funeral of my relative, I wouldn't want it turned into a political protest. The Westboro Baptist Church doesn't care about the dead soldiers who served their country, they only care about their message of prejudice.

Lukovica said...

I am always eager to discuss problems with people, have a debate and reach a consensus, but when people believe that “Soldiers are still dying, and America is still doomed” and this is because the soldiers are guilty in some way, you know that you are not dealing with rational people.
CBW is a group of people who perverted Christian teaching and made it into a message of hate. Most the Christians realize how distorted their views are, however, whenever I have debates over religion and society with some of my Muslim friends they point to WBC as an example of what Christianity looks like sometimes. I know they are wrong. I also know that thinking about radical Wahhabi teachings, when thinking about Islam is wrong.

Another point is freedom of speech.
Is this the ultimate test for free speech? That is what creators of the pro-CBW website claim http://www.therighttobewrong.net/
I don’t think that CBW protests are not just a form of self-actualization and expressing views in order to initiate debate. Rather, they are hate speech. Hate speech is not a form of expression, but a form of intimidation, especially if this “expression” is carried out at someone’s funeral. I don’t mind CBW marches across the city or protests outside of Town Hall – this would be a way to express views. However, targeting an individual, harassing him/her, causing emotional distress goes a bit beyond expressive conduct, protected by 1st Amendment.
Btw, they were banned from entering Canada for hate speech.

Tigist said...

The followers of Westboro Baptist Church are only doing this, so they could have attention towards their hateful message. Going to someone’s funeral is, however, going to far. I think this when the right to freedom of speech ends and the right to privacy begins. The government should step in when these individuals are harassing victim’s families.

A. Martin said...

I’m the creator of therighttobewrong.net, and I’m not pro-WBC; I’m pro free speech. I’ve gone into detail about how community decency standards are not sufficient grounds to stop funeral protests, here: www.therighttobewrong.net/august_21_2007.pdf

A. Martin said...

I’m the creator of therighttobewrong.net, and I’m not pro-WBC; I’m pro free speech. I’ve gone into detail about how community decency standards are not sufficient grounds to stop funeral protests, here: www.therighttobewrong.net/august_21_2007.pdf

A. Martin said...

I’m the creator of therighttobewrong.net, and I’m not pro-WBC; I’m pro free speech. I’ve gone into detail about how community decency standards are not sufficient grounds to stop funeral protests, here: www.therighttobewrong.net/august_21_2007.pdf

A. Martin said...

I’m the creator of therighttobewrong.net, and I’m not pro-WBC; I’m pro free speech. I’ve gone into detail about how community decency standards are not sufficient grounds to stop funeral protests, here: www.therighttobewrong.net/august_21_2007.pdf

A. Martin said...

I’m the creator of therighttobewrong.net, and I’m not pro-WBC; I’m pro free speech. I’ve gone into detail about how community decency standards are not sufficient grounds to stop funeral protests, here: www.therighttobewrong.net/august_21_2007.pdf

Mandy_17067 said...

Everyone should have the right to say what they want to say. But there's a time and place for it! If I were to walk into a school or a work or otherwise public place and hold up signs that use words like "Nigger," "Spic" or any other derogatory word, I'd get in trouble - sued, beat up, fired, suspended. Just because I had the right to say it, doesn't mean I wouldn't suffer consequences. If we let the WBC protest with signs and chants that are just as derogatory, why shouldn't they expect to have the same consequences without crying about freedom of speech? I don't care what they believeor what they take to Congress or other government group. They cheapen their own message when they protest at funerals for shock value - just another way to get free publicity. They denigrate their own message when they sue the family or friends of loved ones who've passed after getting pummled for protesting at their funerals in order to get money for their cause. They vilify themselves when they spread their message of hate to small children who've yet to have the opportunity to think for themselves. Isn't that what Nazi's do, even to today? If "... America is still doomed," it's only for harboring hateful people like the WBC. In any case, they'll continue to say what they want - but I hope they remember that their right to do so was provided and protected by the people whose funerals they protest, and by those who continue to serve in this nation's great Military. Our founding Father's left plenty of room for interpretation in the Constitution, perhaps acknowledging the probable GROWTH of America and it's people - not the REGRESSION. The WBC is nothing but a devolution of the human race, its rights, thoughts, motivations and success as a whole. I am SFC Nelson N. Long Jr.'s daughter, and to the WBC I say this: Thank God for loving you - no one else does.

danielle.ja said...

The actions of Wesboro Baptist Church are inconsiderate and ineffective. When they seek to draw attention and to critisize and condemn, they violate the respect that they should give other human beings.
From a human rights perspective Wesboro members continue to deny the rigths of others. They speak out about choices people make in serving their country, they condemn others for cultural, social, and reliogious practises, and they violate the ceremonial rights of others.
In a quest to "right the world" they have continually violated the rights of others.

The actions of this church also serves to demonstrate how thought patterns and meaning systems can be wrongly interpeted and how fluid human perception and intepretation is. The family and congreagtion truely believe in and stand for these rights and wrongs which they view as correct. Hence, thier hate and critisim stems for meaning systems that they have develped and will continue to pass on to their children.

ElizabethJane said...

This is an extremely difficult topic. The main issues here are clearly free speech and privacy.. but it approaches a really vague line. Where the WBC should be able to protest what they believe.. it infringes upon the family's right to privacy. i don't think there is at all a clear answer for what's right.. its more of what's morally right and wrong. this instance and the many others of the WBC show how the beliefs of the members of the WBC are irrational. also, they are actually working AGAINST the Christian religion. They're contradicting their own morals. If they're taking one part of the Bible so seriously and so literal then they should take all of it just as seriously.. maybe for example.. the 10 Commandments? just a thought..