1 April 2010 Westboro Baptist Church non-profit hatred
The church that hates dead soldiers
By David Waters
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the family of a slain Marine to pay $16,510.80 in court costs to a congregation that organized an anti-gay protest during the Marine's funeral. The congregation, which claims God is using soldiers' deaths to punish America for "the sin of homosexuality," plans to use some of that money to fund more demonstrations at soldiers' funerals.
This group is among the most viciously hateful entities I have ever encountered.
The best way to explain this is simply to post their FAQ link and let anyone who doubts my opinion or that of David Waters explore on their own. This “church” is anti-gay, anti-Semitic, anti-black, anti-Moslem, anti-Asian, anti-Latino, and I’m certain I’ve left someone out of the list.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists them as a hate group:
The Southern Baptist Convention denies any affiliation of the WBC with the SBC. I have no evidence disputing that. While the SBC has plenty of skeletons in various closets, it would not condone the picketing behavior of the WBC.
Somehow this group of supposed Christians has obtained both tax-exempt status, as do most churches I the U.S., and has convinced a U.S. Court of Appeals that their loathsome behavior at the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers is protected under the 1st Amendment.
I’m quite willing to accept that not all political or other speech will be something I agree with, accept, or wish to hear. Some things that are frankly offensive to almost everyone still fall into protected status. What others may consider hate speech, I may not. What disturbs me in this particular case is the manner of the protest, and the concept that an incorporated entity, religious, private, or corporate, is somehow imbued with person status.
No soldier, sailor, marine, airman should be prevented a dignified and private funeral. Whether it is a simple, family only event, or a full military honors burial open to the community, that last leave taking should not be disrupted by anyone. It matters not the cause for protest, be it religious, political, or other; it is out of place and unconscionable. If hatred and bigotry are the driving reasons for protest, I can see no ethical or legal reason to allow such behavior. If the service member being buried was gay, no amount of hate speech will change that fact. It is simply unacceptable behavior by people hiding behind constitutionally – derived freedoms to prevent being arrested as common criminals, verbal and visual vandals. Some states have passed legislation enforcing a distance limit for protests at funerals. It shouldn’t be necessary.
There remains the question of how a “church,” Christian in no way that I can determine or recognize, is granted personhood for the purpose of preaching hatred and disrupting funerals. I’ve asked several acquaintances who are attorneys for help understanding this.
One friend suggested that the status comes with contributions, as in the recent decision regarding campaign financing and corporations. I tend to agree with this. This is rather like socialism: OK when corporations need to be saved financially but evil when people need to be saved.
I plan to write my Representative concerning tax-exempt status for churches. It will do absolutely no good; he is somewhat to the right of Dick Cheney in politics and ethics. The staff at the local VA hospital has absolutely nothing good to say about him. But it is time to annoy him again. So annoy him I will.
Dinner tonight is lamb shanks braised in red wine and tomato sauce over navy beans with fresh spinach salad.