Westboro Baptist Church is an independent Baptist church found to the west of Topeka approximately three miles from Kansas State Capitol in the United States of America. It is led by Fred Phelps and its membership is mainly derived from his family. This essay seeks to discuss the problems that are caused by the church.
It will discuss by giving examples why everyone hates them, what makes it controversial, why having them continue what they are doing is a problem, their activities in relation to 1st amendment and how offensive it is within the setup of the society.
Activities of the Westboro Baptist Church
The church is known for its disorderly conducts and taking an extreme position against gay marriage. It is particularly hated for its persistent habit of carrying out protests in public places such as churches, schools, and funerals for prominent people and American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The group has also conducted protests outside the United States, including Sweden and an unsuccessful attempt to enter into Britain. However, they managed to enter Canada in August 2008 against the authority’s wishes and protested at the funeral of a young man who was a victim of a cruel murder on a passenger bus.
The group’s extremist activities are a threat to the society. Their unfair targeting of some churches such Catholic, Lutheran and schools that they believe to be lenient towards homosexuality only continues to draw condemnation directed at them. This Church does not respect the rights of other religious groups such as the Jewish and Muslim community.
In fact, they have recently begun mailing a powerful anti-Semitic DVD to Jewish organizations and their leaders. They also attacked President Obama in the DVD depicting him as an anti-Christ. Such moves are not only disrespectful but are also misguided as they have created tension between its members and those of other churches.
The church is also known for its abnormally strong stance against homosexuality. They often hold anti-gay protests and picket the funerals of gay victims of murder or deaths resulting from AIDS related complications. They once picketed a local appliance store selling Swedish vacuum cleaners which they accused of being sympathetic of gays. They also threatened to picket the production of a play based on the murder of young man known as Mathew Shepherd who was killed by two men because of his sexual orientation.
These activities are a disruption of people’s private businesses and lives and are not acceptable in any civilized society. Their protests towards fallen heroes such as soldiers killed in Iraq and celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Ronnie James Dio, among others, make them a public enemy. They are also an enemy of the state because they occasionally picket federal courthouses that they deem to be partisan in legitimizing gay marriages.
This amounts to interference with the state judicial system. The group is never sympathetic or sensitive and their careless utterances to bereaved families shows that they do not value human lives and are not keen in promoting a sense of unity in the society (Fitzgerald, par. 2). For instance, their criticism of the family members of an 11- year boy who died of brain tumor that they did not teach him to “obey God” caused great distress to the family within a few hours of the boy’s death.
The group’s activities are controversial since their intentions cannot be clearly visualized and comprehended. While they claim to be Christians, their actions do not concur with the Christian teachings of preaching peace and forgiveness. For example, the harsh words they utter aimed at grieved families and their violent demonstrations are not Christian.
Controversy in relation to the 1st Amendment
The activities of Westboro Baptist Church contravene the constitution of the United States of America under the bill of rights as contained in the First Amendment.
This law guarantees freedom of religion and right to peaceful assembly. The perennial action by the Westboro church members of attacking other Christian churches and religious organizations such as Muslim and Jews is a breach of other citizens’ right to exercise their freedom. The operation of picketing public gatherings such as funerals is also a violation of people’s right to peaceful assembly.
This law therefore gives the government an open opportunity to take action against any mischievous activities of the church against members of the public without fear or favor. It also guarantees citizens protection against organizations with wrong motives, such as those that purport to be the official government religion, that is, it separates state from religion.
The group’s belief that they are the perfect church and their constant criticism of other religious faiths is seriously offensive to other people and is likely to cause disharmony amongst citizens from different religious background.
Furthermore, their interference in other people’s private lives is equally offensive and therefore it is important that this group be monitored closely. It is also imperative that the government respects the constitution and treat all religions equally and in doing so protect the public from dangers imposed by the Westboro Baptist Church among other churches or organizations with similar motives.
Fitzgerald, Walter. “Interview with Westboro Baptist Church: Hate in the Name of God.” Digital Journal, June 16, 2010. Web. April 11, 2012.