A man who lost his son in Iraq is now told he must pay the legal costs of a church that picketed his son’s funeral.
Those legal costs were incurred when the church appealed a decision made by a district court in Baltimore that awarded Albert Snyder $5 million for invasion of privacy. The appellate court overturned the decision and also ordered Snyder to pay the church $16,000 in legal costs.
This story saddens me. That a man who was dealing with the loss of his 20-year-old son had to face picket signs that read “God hates you” and “Semper Fi Fags” is horrific. Other signs stated “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God hates America.”
I thought church was supposed to be about loving your fellow man, but apparently these people have not gotten that message.
The church, Westboro Baptist, a small congregation in Topeka, Kan., is headed by Rev. Fred Phelps. The congregation protested at the funeral, claiming that soldiers are evil because they defend a country that tolerates homosexuality. They protested 30 feet from the entrance of the church in Westminster, Md.
Snyder later brought the picketers to court, contending the protest was an invasion of the family’s privacy. The federal appeals court threw out the original judgment, stating the protest signs carried by the picketers weren’t aimed at Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder specifically and that statements expressed were protected by the Constitution because they contained imaginative and hyperbolic rhetoric meant to spark a debate.
When I heard about this on Thursday morning, I was angry. I am the wife, daughter and granddaughter of veterans. How dare they? Members of this church travelled 1,000 miles to harass a grieving family? That isn’t a church. That is a hate group.
The so-called church’s attorney, Margie Phelps, one of Phelps’ 13 children, made this comment: “They wanted to shut down the picketing, so now they are going to finance it.”
Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” offered to pay Snyder’s obligation and wants to see the case taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We are going to help out the Snyder family … We want the country to rally around them,” O’Reilly stated.
The court will hear oral arguments on the case in the fall and will rule as to whether the sick Rev. Phelps and his horrible congregation have the right to protest at soldiers’ funerals.
Snyder’s lawyer, Sean Summer, stated he believes everyone has a right to free speech, but the Phelps’ congregation impeded on the Snyder family’s rights.
“They had the whole country to protest that day, they chose to travel all the way to Westminster to intentionally harass Mr. Snyder,” he added.
Unfortunately, the attention brought about by the controversy is what the church seems to be after. Margie Phelps said the Su-preme Court’s decision to hear the case would provide “an excellent platform for the words we’ve faithfully delivered to the nation for 20 years.”
Doesn’t that just make you want to smack someone?
She said the church, consisting mostly of extended family members, has attended more than 600 random funerals of soldiers because members of the congregation are trying to get the message out that if the military stops accepting homosexuals, soldiers will stop dying.
The clan of hateful people travels the country, picketing disasters and saying all catastrophes are caused by the sins of a nation that supports homosexuals.
One of the other Phelps kids — 11 of the 13 are lawyers, including this one — was quoted once as saying, “Thank God for 9/11. Thank him, because we all deserve death in hell and he has mercifully spared us and it is time for repentance.”
The worst part about this is that I understand why the appellate court made the ruling they did. The appellate judges have to follow the letter of the law. They can’t pick and choose based on their own thoughts and feelings on the subject. While I don’t necessarily agree with their interpretation, I’ll bet they didn’t treat the case or their decision lightly.
I guess we will all have to wait and see what the Supreme Court thinks. There are, however, two things I know for sure. One, being constitutional doesn’t make something right.
And the other? I don’t know who or what the people from this wacked-out church worship, but I can’t see their actions ever being condoned by any deity who preaches about love.