Tag Archives: Phelps

White House: Westboro Baptist protests ‘reprehensible”

The White House says it can’t fulfill a request to deem a group that protests at soldiers’ funerals a hate group. But it says President Barack Obama believes such actions are reprehensible.

The Obama administration is responding to petitions through the White House website to label theWestboro Baptist Church a hate group and revoke its tax-exempt status.

Almost 700,000 people signed five related petitions.

The group claims when American troops die, it’s God’s punishment for America tolerating homosexuality and abortion.

The White House says the federal government doesn’t maintain a list of hate groups. But it’s releasing a map showing where the petition-signers come from. The map shows high density in Kansas, where the Westboro group is based, and Connecticut, where church members threatened to picket Newtown victims’ funerals.

Westboro, founded by the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. in Topeka,  responded to the news from the White House with a tweet exclaiming “glee” and an image of Obama as the “antichrist.”

The church operates a website called “GodHatesFags.com.”

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Web security firm vows to donate money received from Westboro Church to charity

Shortly after the gay-obsessed Westboro Baptist Church announced that its members would picket the funerals of victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., the hackers collective Anonymous went to work. The group claimed to have successfully filed a death certificate for Shirley Phelps-Roper, the church’s spokesperson and to have updated Phelps-Roper’s desktop to gay porn.

Anonymous also posted the personal contact information and the location of the church’s primary organizers via Twitter.  As a result, Twitter suspended one of the primary accounts associated with Anonymous, @YourAnonNews, as well as Phelps-Roper’s Twitter account, which had been taken over by Anonymous.

In a video released on Dec. 18, Anonymous warns Westboro of its impending downfall and vows to “dismantle the church.”

“Your downfall is underway,” says a voice in the video. “Since your one-dimensional thought protocol will conform not to any modern logic, we will not debate, argue, or attempt to reason with you.” 

But Black Lotus, a Web security firm, went to the aid of the infamous “God Hates Fags” church, providing the group with attack protection. The firm, however, has vowed to donate all money received for its services from Westboro to charity.

“It is important to avoid setting a precedent that information should be suppressed merely because of its content,” said Black Lotus CEO Jeffrey Lyon in a statement that was published by  www.globalpost.com. “Regardless, Black Lotus is a human organization with our own set of standards and principles and in support of such we will donate all WBC revenue, and then some, to ensure that our relationship with WBC is on a zero revenue basis.”

Westboro Baptist Church, which is led by the fiery hell-and-damnation preacher Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kan., blames gays for the shootings at the elementary school, along with every other atrocity experienced by the United States and its citizens.

Westboro Church members disinvited to FBI trainings

The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which is famous for organizing pickets of military funerals, was invited – until recently – to address training sessions for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to National Public Radio.

Westboro members addressed trainings in 2008 and again this year before the arrangement was abruptly canceled after four sessions in the spring.

According to Timothy Phelps, the youngest son of gay-obsessed church founder Fred Phelps, Westboro members were asked to help law enforcement professionals learn how to calmly address a witness or suspect with whom they strongly disagreed.

But people who attended the sessions said the Phelps clan was used to give trainees an up-close look at extremists as part of domestic terrorism training.

The younger Phelps told NPR that his group quit attending the sessions after realizing they’d been hoodwinked about their role in the training. The FBI countered that it was upfront with Westboro. The FBI has used members of other extremist groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, for similar reasons.

NPR reported that many who attended the sessions with Westboro church members filed complaints with the FBI. Officials of the bureau said church members would not be invited back again.

Supreme Court upholds anti-gay church’s right to protest funerals

The Supreme Court ruled March 2 that a grieving father’s pain over mocking protests at his Marine son’s funeral must yield to First Amendment protections for
free speech. All but one justice sided with a fundamentalist church that has stirred outrage with raucous demonstrations contending God is punishing the military for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

The 8-1 decision in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., was the latest in a line of court rulings that, as Chief Justice John Roberts said in his opinion for the court, protects “even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”

The decision ended a lawsuit by Albert Snyder, who sued church members for the emotional pain they caused by showing up at his son Matthew’s funeral. As they have at hundreds of other funerals, the followers of the Rev. Fred Phelps held signs with provocative messages, including “Thank God for dead soldiers,” “You’re Going to Hell,” “God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11,” and one that combined the U.S. Marine Corps motto, Semper Fi, with a slur against gay men.

Justice Samuel Alito, the lone dissenter, said Snyder wanted only to “bury his son in peace.” Instead, Alito said, the protesters “brutally attacked” Matthew Snyder to attract public attention. “Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case,” he said.

The ruling, though, was in line with many earlier court decisions that said the First Amendment exists to protect robust debate on public issues and free expression, no matter how distasteful. A year ago, the justices struck down a federal ban on videos that show graphic violence against animals. In 1988, the court unanimously overturned a verdict for the Rev. Jerry Falwell in his libel lawsuit against Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt over a raunchy parody ad.

What might have made this case different was that the Snyders are not celebrities or public officials but private citizens. Both Roberts and Alito agreed that the Snyders were the innocent victims of the long-running campaign by Phelps and his family members who make up most of the Westboro Baptist Church. Roberts said there was no doubt the protesters added to Albert Snyder’s “already incalculable grief.”

But Roberts said the frequency of the protests – and the church’s practice of demonstrating against Catholics, Jews and many other groups – is an indication that Phelps and his flock were not mounting a personal attack against Snyder but expressing deeply held views on public topics.

Indeed, Matthew Snyder was not gay. But “Westboro believes that God is killing American soldiers as punishment for the nation’s sinful policies,” Roberts said.

“Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and – as it did here – inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker,” Roberts said.

Snyder’s reaction, at a news conference in York, Pa.: “My first thought was, eight justices don’t have the common sense God gave a goat.” He added, “We found out today we can no longer bury our dead in this country with dignity.”

He said it was possible he would have to pay the Phelpses around $100,000 they are seeking in legal fees, since he lost the lawsuit. The money would, in effect, finance more of the same activity he fought against, Snyder said.

Margie Phelps, a daughter of the minister and a lawyer who argued the case at the Supreme Court, said she expected the outcome. “The only surprise is that Justice Alito did not feel compelled to follow his oath,” Phelps said. “We read the law. We follow the law. The only way for a different ruling is to shred the First Amendment.”

She also offered her church’s view of the decision. “I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but here’s the core point: the wrath of God is pouring onto this land. Rather than trying to shut us up, use your platforms to tell this nation to mourn for your sins.”

Veterans groups reacted to the ruling with dismay. Veterans of Foreign Wars national commander Richard L. Eubank said, “The Westboro Baptist Church may think they have won, but the VFW will continue to support community efforts to ensure no one hears their voice, because the right to free speech does not trump a family’s right to mourn in private.”

The picketers obeyed police instructions and stood about 1,000 feet from the Catholic church in Westminster, Md., where the funeral took place in March of 2006.

The protesters drew counter-demonstrators, as well as media coverage and a heavy police presence to maintain order. The result was a spectacle that led to altering the route of the funeral procession.

Several weeks later, Albert Snyder was surfing the Internet for tributes to his son from other soldiers and strangers when he came upon a poem on the church’s website that assailed Matthew’s parents for the way they brought up their son.

Soon after, Snyder filed a lawsuit accusing the Phelpses of intentionally inflicting emotional distress. He won $11 million at trial, later reduced by a judge to $5 million.

The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., threw out the verdict and said the Constitution shielded the church members from liability. The Supreme Court agreed.

Forty-eight states, 42 U.S. senators and veterans groups had sided with Snyder, asking the court to shield funerals from the Phelps family’s “psychological terrorism.”

While distancing themselves from the church’s message, media organizations, including The Associated Press, urged the court to side with the Phelps family because of concerns that a victory for Snyder could erode speech rights.

Roberts described the court’s holding as narrow, and in a separate opinion Justice Stephen Breyer suggested that in other circumstances governments would not be “powerless to provide private individuals with necessary protection.”

But in this case, Breyer said, it would be wrong to “punish Westboro for seeking to communicate its views on matters of public concern.”

 

– From the Associated Press

Hackers shut down Fred Phelps’ websites

In the middle of a live interview with Shirley Phelps-Roper, the Internet hacking group known as “Anonymous” hacked a site operated by the Westboro Baptist Church. All of the church’s websites are now inaccessible.

Radio talk show host David Pakman was interviewing Phelps-Roper, the daughter of the Rev. Fred Phelps, along with an anonymous member of Anonymous on Feb. 25. After enduring a string of insults from Phelps-Roper, including the assertion that he was going to hell, the Anonymous representative said, “I have a surprise for you.”

He directed Phelps-Roper and the audience towards downloads.westborobaptistchurch.com, where a message appeared from Anonymous. The message describes the hacking as a “swift and emotionless bitchslap” and orders the gay-obsessed fringe group to “go away.” It accuses the Phelps clan of declaring war on Anonymous in an effort to gain media attention.

The message ends: “God hates fags: assumption. Anonymous hates leeches: fact.”

The anonymous representative said the group was not responsible for crashing all the Westboro sites but rather that it was the work of a single hacker connected with the group.

Hackers threaten to shut down Phelps’ cyber operations

A dreaded group of hackers who operate together under the name “Anonymous” warned the gay-obsessed Rev. Fred Phelps that they will inflict his Westboro Baptist Church website with irreparable damage if his clan continues its inflammatory protests.

In an open letter to the church posted on AnonNews, Anonymous warned Phelps that “neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover” from the cyber attack.

The Phelps clan’s response? “Bring it, cowards.”

The Phelps clan is notorious for its anti-gay protests at the funerals of military service personnel, Lady Gaga performances and other public events. The group, which operates a website at godhatesfags.com, praised Jared Loughner, the Tucson shooter, for killing six people.

Anonymous is a “hactivist” group with a successful track record. Its members successfully disabled sites backed by Egypt president Hosni Mubarak before he was swept from power. Anonymous also disrupted websites supporting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Anonymous’ open letter to WBC last week said:

“We, the collective super-consciousness known as ANONYMOUS – the Voice of Free Speech & the Advocate of the People – have long heard you issue your venomous statements of hatred, and we have witnessed your flagrant and absurd displays of inimitable bigotry and intolerant fanaticism. We have always regarded you and your ilk as an assembly of graceless sociopaths and maniacal chauvinists & religious zealots, however benign, who act out for the sake of attention & in the name of religion.

“Being such aggressive proponents for the Freedom of Speech & Freedom of Information as we are, we have hitherto allowed you to continue preaching your benighted gospel of hatred and your theatrical exhibitions of, not only your fascist views, but your utter lack of Christ-like attributes. You have condemned the men and women who serve, fight, and perish in the armed forces of your nation; you have prayed for and celebrated the deaths of young children, who are without fault; you have stood outside the United States National Holocaust Museum, condemning the men, women, and children who, despite their innocence, were annihilated by a tyrannical embodiment of fascism and unsubstantiated repugnance. Rather than allowing the deceased some degree of peace and respect, you instead choose to torment, harass, and assault those who grieve.

“Your demonstrations and your unrelenting cascade of disparaging slurs, unfounded judgments, and prejudicial innuendos, which apparently apply to every individual numbered amongst the race of Man – except for yourselves – has frequently crossed the line which separates Freedom of Speech from deliberately utilizing the same tactics and methods of intimidation and mental & emotional abuse that have been previously exploited and employed by tyrants and dictators, fascists and terrorist organizations throughout history.

“ANONYMOUS cannot abide this behavior any longer. The time for us to be idle spectators in your inhumane treatment of fellow Man has reached its apex, and we shall now be moved to action. Thus, we give you a warning: Cease & desist your protest campaign in the year 2011, return to your homes in Kansas, & close your public Web sites. Should you ignore this warning, you will meet with the vicious retaliatory arm of ANONYMOUS: We will target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover. It is in your best interest to comply now, while the option to do so is still being offered, because we will not relent until you cease the conduction & promotion of all your bigoted operations & doctrines. The warning has been given. What happens from here shall be determined by you.” 

In response, Westboro posted an open letter to Anonymous on its website titled “Open Letter from Westboro Baptist Servants of God to Anonymous Coward Crybaby ‘Hackers’ BRING IT!”

The letter ends with the line “GOD HATES FAGS & LOUSY ‘HACKERS!'”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phelps clan a no-show in Neenah

An anti-gay group that threatened to protest a play at Neenah High School was a no-show, leading more than 100 counterprotesters to declare victory.

The Westboro Baptist Church had announced plans to protest the school’s production Saturday night of “The Laramie Project,” a play about the 1988 slaying of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming.

The Post-Crescent of Appleton reported the counterprotesters carried signs of love, shared hugs and spontaneously sang the chorus of “We Are the Champions” by Queen after nobody from  Fred Phelps Topeka, Kan.-based church showed up. The group gave no explanation but lists a geographically improbable schedule of protests on its website.

Neenah High School principal Colleen Doyle said she was encouraged by the outpouring of support for a play that teaches about tolerance and empowers students to speak out against hate crimes.

Film inspired by Fred Phelps sparks protests at Sundance

“Red State,” a controversial feature film inspired by the anti-gay antics of Kansas preacher Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church clan, sparked a protest and counter-demonstration at Sundance Film Festival.

“Red State” is a horror story about a gay-obsessed preacher who kidnaps and murders people he believes to be gay. Phelps and members of his church staged a protest at the premier screening at Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Jan. 23. They held signs with slogans such as “God hates America,” “You’re going to hell” and “God is not mocked.”

One church member told the Los Angeles Times the screening was “just a beautiful preaching opportunity.”

About 100 counter-protesters confronted the Phelps crew outside Eccles Theatre, holding satirical signs such as one that said “God hates signs” and another that said “Shut up and dance.” The counter-protesters condemned the church members for their hate speech.

“We think they are spewing nonsense so we’re spewing nonsense right back at them,” one demonstrator told the Times.

Shot on video, “Red State” stars Michael Parks, John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Stephen Root. Its Sundance outing drew mixed critical reaction.

Katey Rich of “Cinemablend” dismissed the film as “messy, overwritten, visually stylish, but kind of a bore.” But Todd McCarthy of the “Sundance Review” called the movie is “a potent cinematic hand grenade tossed to bigots everywhere.”

Kevin Smith, the film’s producer and director, succeeded in finding a distributor for the film at Sundance.

 

 

Anti-gay protesters to target Edwards’ funeral

Westboro Baptist Church, the anti-gay congregation known for staging demonstrations at military funerals, plans to protest Elizabeth Edwards’ funeral in Raleigh, N.C., this weekend.

In a statement released on www.godhatesfags.com, the Kansas-based church’s website, Edwards was accused of “spewing blasphemy” and mounting a “smash-mouthed assault on His deity.”

“Elizabeth Edwards & her faithless husband, John, lightly esteemed what they had. They coveted things that were not theirs – and presumptuously thought they could control God,” the statement says.

Edwards, who was an advocate for same-sex marriage, died Jan. 7 after a six-year battle with cancer. Westboro, which is headed by the Rev. Fred Phelps, promotes a theology that’s centered on the condemnation of same-sex attraction.

The Westboro congregation, comprised of several dozen of Phelps’ relatives, protests at military funerals because it believes the U.S. government is too tolerant of homosexuality. They also protest at theater events, concerts, Jewish synagogues and other venues.

The Washington Post reported that the Edenton Street United Methodist Church, where Edwards’ funeral is being held, had not decided how to respond to the planned protest.

Thousands line street for soldier’s funeral

Thousands of people, some from miles away, lined streets of a northwest Missouri town to serve as a buffer between the family of a soldier being laid to rest and an anti-gay group that protests at military funerals.

People were summoned to the funeral of Army Cpl. Jacob R. Carver Nov. 22 by a Facebook posting and word of mouth. Carver died Nov. 13 in Afghanistan.

The Kansas City Star reported that the 2,000 to 3,000 people who showed up in Harrisonville, Mo., included busloads of schoolchildren and senior citizens. They lined the streets for nearly a half-mile in front of the church.

When members of the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kan., arrived to promote their view that soldiers’ deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality, the only spot available was a third of a mile from the church.

From WiG and AP reports