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However, 17 members from Westboro picketed, kept at a foot m distance by police. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the city's largest synagogue. The protest was apparently part of a series of upcoming protests which the WBC has planned at Jewish institutions in Omaha , St. Louis , South Florida and Providence. The group reportedly posted a list of the upcoming protests' locations and dates, along with the statement "Jews Killed the Lord Jesus.

Westboro picketed the funeral of the singer Michael Jackson after his death on June 25, We need to turn the other cheek on these people that only know how to hate someone they didn't know. We only know how to love someone we know.

In January , the WBC announced they would picket the funeral of Christina Green, a 9-year-old victim of the Tucson shooting in which Representative Gabrielle Giffords was also non-fatally shot. On May 29, , the WBC intended to protest in Joplin, Missouri , at the memorial service for the victims of the May 22, , tornado that leveled large portions of the town. The WBC then left the area without engaging in any protests. On April 15, , the WBC posted a press release to its Twitter account in which it thanked God for that day's Boston Marathon bombing , and announced its plan to "picket the funeral of those killed".

How many more terrifying ways will you have the LORD injure and kill your fellow countrymen because you insist on nation-dooming filthy fag marriage?! Additionally, a posting that same day on a Twitter account affiliated with the hacktivist group Anonymous hinted that WBC leaders would be targeted if they made good on their threat to picket the funerals.

On May 20, , the WBC tweeted praising God for the Moore tornado and that they would protest the funerals of the victims. A counter protest included members of the Ku Klux Klan. Westboro announced its intent to picket the funeral of Nelson Mandela , the pivotal figure of the anti-apartheid movement , claiming he was going to hell for committing adultery by remarrying after his divorce.

The WBC celebrated the shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub that left 49 people dead and 53 others injured. The WBC has occasionally issued press releases threatening to picket sensitive events such as funerals and memorials without following through. However, Star-Ledger reporters later stated that no WBC protestors had been present, [] leading to allegations of photo manipulation. Members of the group intended to picket the March funeral of actor Leonard Nimoy but were unable to find the location. Counter protests are often organized to be held at sites that Westboro Baptist pickets and, in some cases, counter protesters have lined up and turned their backs on the Westboro Baptist pickets.

Armed Forces at the invitation of the deceased's family. The group was initially formed to shelter and protect the funerals from protesters from the WBC. In , inspired by the murder of Matthew Shepard the previous year, Michael Moore organized a protest against homophobia for his television show The Awful Truth. He toured states with anti-sodomy laws in the "Sodomobile", a pink bus filled with gay men and women. Two days after the September 11 attacks in , a year-old man named Jared Dailey stood on the street corner facing the WBC holding up a plywood sign that said "Not today, Fred".

Within two days, 86 people joined him, waving American flags and anti-hate signs. During a picket in Seaford, Delaware on May 21, , one person broke through police lines and assaulted WBC members who fled into a police van. Five people faced criminal charges. Local activists held a Phelps-A-Thon in response. Supporters pledged online to donate for every minute WBC protested. The funds approx. Guns and ammunition were found in the back of the SUV, and Newell was charged with weapons violations and felony conspiracy to commit aggravated battery.

On June 23, , Newell pleaded guilty to impersonating a law enforcement officer and was sentenced to two years of probation. Newell received public support for his actions, and fundraisers and websites were created by the public to help in his defense. On December 11, , the day of the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards , a group called Line of Love planned to have about protesters on the north side of West Edenton Street in Raleigh, North Carolina , while 10 Westboro members picketed on the south side of the street, two blocks away from the funeral.

Westboro members who disagreed with Edwards' tolerance for gays were "promoting awareness of the dangers of homosexuality", Line of Love gave its goal as "promoting proper respect for funerals".

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On February 24, , hacktivists successfully took the WBC's websites down. The WBC claims this was the work of Anonymous, but the group denied responsibility, instead identifying The Jester as the culprit. In response, Topiary and an accomplice seized control of one of Westboro's subdomains during the confrontation. On September 16, , when Westboro members picketed a Foo Fighters concert in Kansas City, Missouri , the band appeared on a truck float in front of the protesters.

Dressed in homoerotic outfits, they performed their country-parody song "Keep It Clean" — which contained many homosexual references and overtones — from their "Hot Buns" viral video; midway though the song, lead singer Dave Grohl made a speech calling for equality and tolerance.


The band uploaded a video of the impromptu performance the next day on their YouTube channel. In March , the house was nicknamed the " Equality House " as it was painted the colors of the gay pride flag. On July 14, , members of The Satanic Temple performed a "pink mass" ritual over the grave of Fred Phelps's mother.

The group said that the "mass" would turn the dead woman into a posthumous lesbian. On June 18, , around people blocked the view of picketing by members of the WBC that occurred after the Orlando nightclub shooting.

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Shortly before this bill was signed members of the church had threatened to protest in Kokomo, Indiana , at a funeral service that was being held for a soldier who was killed in Iraq. On January 11, , the bill unanimously 11—0 passed a committee vote, [] and while members of the church had traveled to Kokomo to protest, they were not seen during or after the funeral service.

On May 17, , the state of Illinois enacted Senate Bill , the "Let Them Rest In Peace Act", to shield grieving military families from protests during funerals and memorial services of fallen military service members. The bipartisan bill received a vote in the House, after 21 representatives chose not to vote.


The senate unanimously voted in approval of the law. On May 29, , President George W. Bush with great symbolic significance, signed the bill into law at a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The bill was swiftly signed into law ahead of the January 12 funeral of those killed in the Tucson shooting. On August 2, , Congress passed a bill that included restrictions on demonstrators at military funerals, which became law four days later when signed by President Obama , who condemned the WBC.

Snyder in Westminister, Maryland. Other statements denounced them for raising their son Catholic. Snyder further complained the defendants had intruded upon and staged protests at his son's funeral. The defamation count was dismissed on First Amendment grounds, but the case proceeded to trial on the remaining two counts.

They wanted their message heard and they didn't care who they stepped over. My son should have been buried with dignity, not with a bunch of clowns outside. District Judge Richard D. Bennett stated the First Amendment protection of free speech had limits, including vulgar, offensive and shocking statements, and instructed the jury to decide "whether the defendant's actions would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, whether they were extreme and outrageous and whether these actions were so offensive and shocking as to not be entitled to First Amendment protection".

The WBC said it would not change its message because of the verdict. On September 24, , a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the WBC and reversed the lower court's award.

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It found their picket near the funeral was protected speech because it involved "matters of public concern, including the issues of homosexuals in the military, the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, and the political and moral conduct of the United States and its citizens", and did not violate the privacy of the service member's family.

On March 8, , the U. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Snyder v. This brief was joined by the Attorneys General of 47 other states and the District of Columbia, with Maine and Virginia being the two exceptions. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion stating: "What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to 'special protection' under the First Amendment and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous.

Instead, Alito said, the protesters "brutally attacked" Matthew Snyder to attract public attention.

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Example of a response to legal action by Phelps Chartered []. In , Phelps Sr. In June Shirley Phelps-Roper was arrested in Nebraska and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The arrest resulted from her allowing her ten-year-old son to step on a U. The defense contended that the child's actions were protected speech , and that the state law is unconstitutional. The prosecution claimed the demonstration was not intended as political speech, but as an incitement to violence, and that Phelps-Roper's conduct might also constitute child abuse. Prosecutors later dropped charges against Phelps-Roper.

The bill to the WBC ensued, according to the local police chief, because the organization failed to keep a verbal contract for security. Fred Phelps' daughter claimed that the Holy Ghost had informed them not to fly to Michigan even though they had already purchased airline tickets. Security at the Webb funeral was high; 15 fire trucks were involved, as well as numerous police officers from nearby jurisdictions.

The protests intended to convey the message that the man's murder was God's response to Canadian laws permitting abortion, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage. In response, Canadian officials barred the organization's members from entering the country. A slogan commonly invoked at the counter protests is "God hates figs". Documentation given out at various counter-protests cite biblical verses [] in which Jesus says that none should eat the fruit of a fig tree Mark —14 , in which Jesus causes a fig tree to wither Matthew —20 , and in which God promises, as a punishment, to make someone like bad figs Jeremiah These are genuine citations, but are not the sole mentions of figs in the Bible.

Baptist churches, Baptist-affiliated seminaries , and Baptist conventions, including the Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention two of the largest Baptist groups , have denounced the WBC over the years. They condemned the activities of the WBC, stating:. We do not share their hatred of lesbian and gay people. We believe that God loves all, irrespective of sexual orientation, and we unreservedly stand against their message of hate toward those communities.

Neither the style nor substance of their preaching expresses the historic, orthodox Christian faith. And we ask that the members of Westboro Baptist Church refrain from stirring up any more homophobic hatred in the UK or elsewhere.

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Evangelist pastor Jerry Falwell Sr. In , Christian rock band Five Iron Frenzy recorded a song titled "God Hates Flags" condemning the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church and similar organizations, including such lyrics as "If God is love you got it wrong waving all your placards and flags".