Church free to abuse army families
A federal appeals court has thrown out a US$5 million (AUS $7 million) verdict against fundamentalist Christian protesters who carried signs with inflammatory messages like “Thank God for dead soldiers” outside the Maryland funeral of a US Marine killed in Iraq.
A jury in Baltimore had awarded Albert Snyder damages for emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The 2006 funeral of Snyder’s son, Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Maryland, was among many military funerals that have been picketed by members of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas.
But the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the signs contained “imaginative and hyperbolic rhetoric” protected by the First Amendment. Such messages are intended to spark debate and cannot be reasonably read as factual assertions about an individual.
Members of the Topeka, Kansas-based church have used protests at military funerals to spread their belief that US deaths in Iraq are punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. One of the signs at Snyder’s funeral combined the US Marine Corps motto with a slur against gay men.
Other signs included “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 US troops.
“As utterly distasteful as these signs are, they involve matters of public concern, including the issue of homosexuals in the military, the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, and the political and moral conduct of the United States,” Judge Robert King wrote in the appeals court’s opinion.
The publishers of Religion News Blog consider the Westboro Baptist Church to be first and foremost a hate group. Second, from a Christian theological perspective the group is a cult of Christianity. Sociologically the group also exhibits various cult-like characteristics.
We also believe that no person in his or her right mind takes the members of the Westboro hate group seriously — and we would be surprised if anybody outside their klan considers them to be in any way representative of the values espoused by normal Christians. In fact, in our opinion as followers of a cult of Christianity the members of the Westboro Baptist Church are not Christians at all.
Incidentally, anybody can call his or her group ‘Baptist.’ But that does not mean much, for the same reason that a $20 ‘Rolex’ watch on sale in Tijuana is pretty much worthless.
The Westboro Baptist Church is a hate group masquerading as a Christian church.
The Westboro cult is largely known for its despicable practice of picketing funerals.
Any group of people can call itself a ‘Baptist church’ even if, as is the case with this hate group, the vast majority of Baptists reject that group’s claims.
Theologically, the hate group’s extremist views and despicable behavior mark it as a cult of Christianity
Sociologically the group has cult-like elements as well
More articles about the Westboro Baptist Church
The deplorable speech of Westboro Baptist Church
Note: For obvious reasons we often file articles about this hate group under the heading of ‘Religious Insanity.’