Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Monday, March 13, 2006

Westboro returns

Fred Phelps' infamous Westboro Baptist Church was in town over the weekend (and in Maryland and Michigan), picketing the funeral of a local Fort Carson soldier (Sgt. Gordon Misner) who was killed in Iraq. They've become a fixture at such funerals because they believe our casualties over there (and those from Hurricane Katrina and AIDS, among other things) are God's punishment on America for being too accepting of homosexuality.

I hesitate to even bring this up, because this group thrives on attention -- any attention. They are built to shock. Westboro has less than 100 members (most of them part of the Phelps clan), but apparently a hefty bankroll to travel around the country and picket funerals and "gay-friendly" organizations that includes, in Phelps' estimation, Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family.

Several states are mulling laws that could ban protests at funerals, but some experts wonder if such laws are constitutional. It's a difficult issue ... grief-stricken family members certainly don't want to hear protesters outside the church door, but what about that whole freedom of speech thing? What do you think?


Blogger The Mama of the House said...

I guess I don't understand why they are picketing a funeral at all. Was Misner gay or does the Westboro church dislike the American government? If the latter, then protesting at this man's funeral is a supreme waste of time and money. If the former, then it just shows how low people will stoop for their 15 minutes of fame.

It is never in good taste to picket a funeral. It's a disservice to the family and friends who love the individual. It's petty and lacks good judgement. And that includes the Hugh Heffners of the world. We may hate what they do in life, but when death darkens a man's door, it is time to allow sympathy and kindness for their grieving relations.

As for the law, we do have freedom of speech, even in such undignified forms. And that right is more important then deep emotion.

What a pity it is that there are people in this world so brazen and egotistical that they are willing to ruin a funeral with their own opinions, right or wrong.

1:56 PM  

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