The Westboro Baptist Church is against most of the world we know today. The church is openly homophobic, anti-Semitic, and against war. From their main base in Kansas to many other States, they spread the message that they believe everyone needs to hear. The way they go about doing that is through protests of mostly funerals, and other events connected with people who, the church beliefs, goes against the teachings of God.
Early Actions of the Church
In 1998, the Westboro Church protested at the funeral of a gay college student, Matthew Shepard, who was beaten to death for being a homosexual. They stood there at the funeral, and held up signs saying "God hates f*gs" and "God hates f*g enablers" as the friends and family of Matthew Shepard stood mourning his death. This was the first protest that put the Westboro Church on the map, angered, and alerted the world about the heinous nature of the Church.
In 2006, Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder lost his life fighting in Iraq. After giving up his life for his country, Matthew Snyder at least deserved to have a respectable funeral to honor him. However, the Westboro Baptist Church had other plans. They, instead, showed up to the funeral and protested with different signs this time saying, "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates the USA". After becoming enraged by the actions of the church, Albert Snyder, Matthew's father, sued the church for Intentional Affliction of Emotional Distress. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, known as Snyder v. Phelps, and the court ruled in favor of the Church. The ruling established that although the Church was spreading hate speech, it also had the Freedom of Speech, provided to all citizens by the First Amendment, defending it from any wrong doing in the eyes of the law. Therefore, although the court did not approve of what they were saying, the Justices did not have the power to overrule the Constitution. This ruling gave the Church more publicity and therefore, more attention from people that they later learned to exploit.
The Church Today
The Westboro Baptist Church is now bigger than ever. It is believed to still hold all of its beliefs and strongly hate against homosexuality, Judaism, the military, and African Americans. One of the more recent encounters was after a shooting at a grocery store where a Congresswoman was holding a political event. Among the six murdered in the shooting was a 9-year old girl. While to any decent human being, this shooting would be an atrocious event, but the Church saw it as a way to share its opinion. While they never got the chance to protest at the funeral, the Church came out and claimed that the little girl's death was justifiable because the shooter was trying to the government from disobeying God. They truly believed that killing an innocent 9-year old girl, who was just passing through a grocery store, is justifiable.
My Honest Opinion
Disclaimer: The following contains my honest opinion based on the facts listed above.
I am a Christian. I believe in God as well. However, the God that the Westboro Church believes in, I can never understand. The Church believes in a vengeful God. They believe that the US by allowing people to love who they love, or practice what they believe should be condemned. My problem with this is that it contradicts the God they say they believe in. From my knowledge of Christianity, I have always learned that God is forgiving and loving. Since the start of the new testament in the Bible, we get a new perspective on God, through Jesus, that shows the love that he holds onto for us. From the writings in the bible, neither God nor Jesus would ever claim to protest at someone's funeral because they knew they were wrong. In my branch of Christianity, we do believe that homosexuality is a sin. However, my religion believes that we shall never implement our beliefs on other people, no matter how wrong we think they might be. God created free will for humans to have a choice whether to choose Him or other things. I am responsible for getting myself to choose Him, however, in terms of other people, they have the right to choose and since I am nothing compared to God, who am I to come and take away other's free will.
From a non-religious perspective, let's talk about the mourning of those who passed. The three stories listed above included a gay man, a soldier, and a nine-year old girl. Can you give me one reason as to why any of these people do not deserve to have a respectable funeral? A man with enough courage to be honest with himself in a time when that honesty can get him killed, gets killed from that honesty. How then can we allow others to stand at his funeral and dishonor his name? A man who fought for out country and committed the ultimate sacrifice for his country, dishonored by people that believe that he deserved to die for the sins of the country itself. How can the bravery and honor of any person willing to do that be all in vain? Finally, a little girl who goes to the grocery store with her family one day, never makes it back home. How can we live in a world, in a country, where this stuff can happen in out backyards? How can we expect to make the world a better place if there are people like the Westboro Baptist Church within us trying to destroy us from the inside out?
The Westboro Baptist Church has been a part of society that most people have avoided for a long time. It has been prominent, but not many have tried to challenge it and most of those who did failed in the process. Therefore, I am begging you to spread the message about this Church and what they have done. I understand that it is their right to believe what they want to believe and practice their religion how they see fit, however, not at the expense of the memory of those who died honorable or innocent.
© 2021 Cornelius Hardcastle