Westboro Baptist Church
|Westboro Baptist Church|
|Theology||Primitive Baptist & Calvinist|
The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is an American unaffiliated Baptist church known for its extreme ideologies, especially those against gay people. The church is widely described as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. It is headed by Fred Phelps and consists primarily of members of his large family; in 2011, the church stated that it had about 40 members. The church is headquartered in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Topeka about three miles (5 km) west of the Kansas State Capitol. Its first public service was held on the afternoon of November 27, 1955.
The church has been involved in actions against gay people since at least 1991, when it sought a crackdown on homosexual activity at Gage Park six blocks northwest of the church. In addition to conducting anti-gay protests at military funerals, the organization pickets other celebrity funerals and public events that are likely to get it media attention. Protests have also been held against Jews and some protests have included WBC members stomping on the American flag.
The WBC is not affiliated with any Baptist denomination. The Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention (the two largest Baptist denominations) have each denounced the WBC over the years. The church describes itself as following Primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles.
- 1 History
- 2 Protest activities
- 3 Church views
- 4 Responses
- 5 Documentary media coverage
- 6 Funding
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Westboro Baptist Church originated as a branch of the East Side Baptist Church in Topeka, established in 1931. In 1954, East Side hired Phelps as an associate pastor, and then promoted him to be the pastor of their new church, Westboro Baptist, which opened in 1955. Soon after Westboro was established, Phelps broke all ties with East Side Baptist.
Protest activities begin
Westboro Baptist began picketing Gage Park, Topeka in 1991, alleging it was a den of anonymous homosexual activity. Soon their protests had spread throughout the city, and within three years the church was traveling across the country. Phelps explained in 1994 that he considered the negative reaction to the picketing to be proof of his righteousness.
In 2011 the BBC's Louis Theroux reported that Westboro was in a state of "crisis" and documented the departure of several young members. Since then, two more prominent members have left the church.
Phelps and his family picket approximately six locations every day, including many in Topeka and some events farther afield. On Sundays, up to 15 churches may receive pickets. By their own count, WBC has picketed in all 50 U.S. states.
The group carries out daily picketing in Topeka and travels nationally to picket the funerals of gay victims of murder, gay-bashing or people who have died from complications relating to AIDS; other events related or peripherally related to homosexuality; Kansas City Chiefs football games; and live pop concerts. As of March 2009 the church claims to have participated in over 41,000 protests in over 650 cities since 1991. One of Westboro's followers estimated that the church spends $250,000 a year on picketing.
The pickets have resulted in several lawsuits. In 1995, Phelps Sr.'s eldest grandson, Benjamin Phelps, was convicted of assault and disorderly conduct after spitting upon the face of a passerby during a picket. In the 1990s the church won a series of lawsuits against the City of Topeka and Shawnee County for efforts taken to prevent or hinder WBC picketing, and was awarded approximately $200,000 in attorney's fees and costs associated with the litigation. In 2004, Margie Phelps and her son Jacob were arrested for trespassing, disorderly conduct and failure to obey after disregarding a police officer's order during an attempted protest. In response to pickets at funerals, Kansas passed a law prohibiting picketing at such events. In the autumn of 2007, the father of a Marine whose funeral was picketed by the WBC was awarded $5 million in damages. The award was later overturned on appeal by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in Snyder v. Phelps. In June 2007 Shirley Phelps-Roper was arrested in Nebraska and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The arrest resulted from her allowing her eight-year-old son to step on the American flag during the demonstration, which is illegal under Nebraska law. The defense contends 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.
While being filmed by documentary maker Louis Theroux, they picketed a local appliance store because it sold Swedish vacuum cleaners, which the church viewed as being supportive of gay people because of Swedish prosecution of Åke Green, a pastor critical of homosexuality.
On January 25, 2004, Phelps picketed five churches (three Catholic and two Episcopalian) and the Federal Courthouse for what he said was their part in legitimizing same-sex marriages in Iowa. A community response was to hold counter-protests and a multifaith service in the municipal auditorium. On January 15, 2006, Westboro members protested a memorial for 2006 Sago Mine disaster victims, claiming that the mining accident was God's revenge against America for its tolerance of homosexuality.
The group came into the national spotlight in 1998, when it was featured on CNN for picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a young man from Laramie, Wyoming who was beaten to death by two men allegedly because of his homosexuality. Since then, the church has attracted attention for many more actual and planned funeral pickets.
In July 2005, the Westboro Baptist Church declared its intention to picket the memorial service of Carrie French in Boise, Idaho. French, 19, was killed on June 5 in Kirkuk, Iraq, where she served as an ammunition specialist with the 116th Brigade Combat Team's 145th Support Battalion. Phelps Sr. said, "Our attitude toward what's happening with the war is the Lord is punishing this evil nation for abandoning all moral imperatives that are worth a dime."
In 2006, Westboro picketed with banners saying "God hates fags" and "Thank God for dead soldiers" at the Westminster, Maryland, funeral of Matthew Snyder, a U.S. Marine who was also killed in Iraq. Ruling on a subsequent lawsuit filed by Snyder's father, Albert Snyder, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, 8–1 in Snyder v. Phelps, that Westboro's actions constituted protected free speech.
On February 2, 2008, the group picketed during the funeral of former LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley in Salt Lake City, Utah, displaying picket signs accusing him of being a "lying false prophet" and "leading millions of people astray". The organization also criticized Hinckley for being too accepting of gay people, accusing him of having an ambiguous voice about homosexuality rather than taking a firm stand against it. Police had difficulty determining whether the demonstration met the guidelines of protected free speech.
Westboro picketed the funeral of recording artist Michael Jackson after his death on June 25, 2009. Members of Westboro have also recorded a song titled "God Hates the World", an adaptation of Jackson's charity single "We Are the World".
In May 2010, Westboro picketed the funeral of heavy metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio in Los Angeles, saying that they believed the singer worshipped Satan. Dio's widow urged attendees to ignore the protest, saying "Ronnie hates prejudice and violence. 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 2011, Westboro announced that they would picket the funeral of Christina Green, a 9-year-old victim of the 2011 Tucson shooting in which Representative Gabrielle Giffords was also (non-fatally) shot. In response, the Arizona legislature passed an emergency bill to ban protests within 300 feet (91 m) of a funeral service, and Tucson residents made plans to shield the funeral from protesters. The church canceled plans to hold a protest during the memorial at the University of Arizona in exchange for air time on radio talk shows. According to university officials, between 700 and 1,200 students amassed to counter four WBC picketers who appeared at the campus after the event. Jael Phelps explained to Louis Theroux in her America's Most Hated Family in Crisis interview that she and the other members of the WBC picketed at the funeral of a Muslim man's wife simply because the man had witnessed and scolded them for intentionally burning a copy of the Quran in public a week earlier.
On October 5, 2011, Fred Phelps' daughter, Margie, announced via her Twitter account that the church would be picketing Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs' funeral. CBS News and The Washington Post noted the irony in the fact that Margie used an iPhone to create the tweet.
On April 15, 2013, the church posted a press release to its Twitter account in which it thanked God for that day's Boston Marathon bombings, and announced its plan to "picket the funeral of those killed". Pointing out that the federal government is classifying the bombings as a terrorist attack, yet is being unclear about whether it is of a "domestic or foreign nature", the release went on to claim to answer the question with, "Here's a hint — GOD SENT THE BOMBS! 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?!" By early the next morning, nearly 4,000 people had signed a We the People petition on the White House website asking for the banning of such demonstrations by the church at victims' funerals. Additionally, a posting that same day on a Twitter account affiliated with the hacker group Anonymous warned that Church leaders would be targeted if they made good on their threat to picket the funerals.
Protests against Jewish institutions
In 1996 Phelps led a protest at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., proclaiming:
Whatever righteous cause the Jewish victims of the 1930s–40s Nazi Holocaust had (probably minuscule, compared to the Jewish Holocausts against Middle Passage Blacks, African Americans and Christians—including the bloody persecution of Westboro Baptist Church by Topeka Jews in the 1990s), has been drowned in sodomite semen. American taxpayers are financing this unholy monument to Jewish mendacity and greed and to filthy fag lust. Homosexuals and Jews dominated Nazi Germany ... The Jews now wander the earth despised, smitten with moral and spiritual blindness by a divine judicial stroke ... And God has smitten Jews with a certain unique madness ... Jews, thus perverted, out of all proportion to their numbers energize the militant sodomite agenda... Jews are the real Nazis.
On May 8, 2009, members of the church protested at three Jewish sites in Washington, D.C., including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) offices, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the city's largest synagogue. Margie Phelps, daughter of Pastor Fred Phelps, led the protest, holding signs stating that "God Hates Israel", "Jews Killed Jesus", "America Is Doomed", "Israel Is Doomed", and "ADL Jew Bullies". The protest was apparently part of a series of upcoming protests which the church 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."
In an interview, Margie Phelps said that her church was targeting the American Jewish community because church members had "testified" to Gentiles for 19 years that "America is doomed" and that "Now it's too late. We're done with them." She also claimed that Jews were "one of the loudest voices" in favor of homosexuality and abortion, and that "[Jews] claim to be God's chosen people. Do you think that God is going to wink at that forever?" Phelps concluded by stating, in an apparent reference to the Book of Revelation, that all the nations of the world would soon march on Israel, and that they would be led by President Barack Obama, whom she called the "Antichrist".
Other protest activities
On January 26, 2008, WBC traveled to Jacksonville, North Carolina, home of Camp Lejeune, to protest the United States Marine Corps in the wake of the murder of Maria Lauterbach. Five women protested, stomping on the American flag and shouting slogans such as "1,2,3,4, God Hates the Marine Corps". A group of over 40 counter-protesters arrived and one spat in Shirley Phelps-Roper's face. Another counter-protest was held across town, which attracted over 150 counterprotesters.
On May 14, 2008, two days after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake which claimed the lives of at least 70,000 people, WBC issued a press release thanking God for the heavy loss of life in China, and praying "for many more earthquakes to kill many more thousands of impudent and ungrateful Chinese".
On May 29, 2011, the WBC intended to protest in Joplin, Missouri, at the memorial service for the victims of the May 22, 2011, tornado that leveled large portions of that town. Those intending to protest the memorial service or President Obama's speech given there, or both, were refused entry into the venue by hundreds of local and regional residents, including a large group of bikers from the Patriot Guard Riders.
On May 30, 2011, the WBC was present at Arlington National Cemetery's Memorial Day services as part of their "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" campaign. A counter protest included members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Eleven-year-old brain tumor victim Harry Moseley raised £500,000 for charity but Marge Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church criticized his family for not teaching him to "obey God". This comment within a few hours of the boy's death caused great distress to the bereaved.
The WBC announced its intent to protest December 19, 2012, at funerals of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The online hactivist group Anonymous and several other groups responded by organizing a human wall to shield the victims' families. The WBC then left the area without engaging in any protests.
The church has occasionally issued press releases threatening to picket sensitive events such as funerals and memorials without following through. Examples include the funerals of Joe Paterno, Roy Tisdale, Charlie and Braden Powell, Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston, and victims of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse. Margie Phelps later claimed over Twitter to have protested Houston's funeral and uploaded an image showing WBC protestors there. However, Star-Ledger reporters later stated that no WBC protestors had been present, leading to allegations of photo manipulation.
The Westboro Baptist Church considers membership in most religious groups, such as the Roman Catholic Church or Islam, as akin to devil worship, and states these other churches to be "Satanic frauds preaching Arminian lies". All non-Christian entities, non-Protestant Christian churches, and all Protestant Christian churches that do not strongly condemn homosexuality or align their beliefs and practices exactly with that of the WBC are said to be sending their members to Hell.
Purpose of protests and church actions
In the BBC documentary The Most Hated Family in America, filmmaker Louis Theroux questioned Shirley Phelps-Roper as to whether she had considered that Westboro's technique of protests were more likely to "put people off the Word of Jesus Christ and the Bible". In response, Phelps-Roper said, "You think our job is to win souls to Christ. All we do, by getting in their face and putting these signs in front of them and these plain words, is make what's already in their heart come out of their mouth." Later in the documentary, Phelps-Roper agrees that the $200,000 the church annually spends to fly to funerals to protest was money spent to spread "God's hate".
Views on homosexuality
The group bases its work on the belief expressed by its best known slogan and the address of its primary web site, God Hates Fags, asserting that every tragedy in the world is linked to homosexuality—specifically society's increasing tolerance and acceptance of the so-called homosexual agenda. The group maintains that God hates those who engage in homosexual activity above all other kinds of "sinners" and that homosexuality should be a capital crime.
Their views on homosexuality are partially based on teachings found in the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, which they interpret to mean that homosexual behavior is detestable, and that homosexuals should be put to death.
Views on religions
Westboro Baptist refers to Catholic priests as "vampires" and "Draculas" and talks of Catholic priests sucking semen out of male children's genitals like vampires suck blood from their victims. In addition, WBC called Pope Benedict XVI such epithets as "The Godfather of Pedophiles" and "Pervert Pope". In April 2008 the WBC protested Pope Benedict XVI during a papal visit in New York City.
The WBC launched a website called Priests Rape Boys in which they criticize the Roman Catholic Church because of the Catholic sex abuse scandal, saying, "Every time any person gives any amount of money to the Catholic Church, that person is paying the salary of pedophile rapists."
The WBC describes the Roman Catholic Church as "the largest, most well-funded and organized pedophile group in the history of man" and goes on to say that, "There are over 1 billion Catholics in the world—that's one out of every six people alive today—and every single one of them will split Hell wide open when they die—period. And there is nothing they can do about it." The WBC also criticizes Catholicism, as it does Eastern Orthodoxy, for venerating the Virgin Mary, the Saints, relics, and icons; they accuse the Catholic Church of committing idolatry.
Though the main purpose of the Priests Rape Boys website is to criticize Catholicism, the WBC also criticizes several mainline Protestant churches on the website, including Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Baptists. The WBC states that
...their preachers have shirked their responsibility to tell people the truth about sin, and instead lie to them about what the Lord their God doth require of them. If these lying, false prophets told people the truth about what God says regarding those who suffer sin upon their neighbor (Lev. 19:17–18), there wouldn't be any butts in the seats when the plate got passed. These preachers are not preachers of righteousness, they are teachers having itching ears (2Tim 4:3), and they absolutely count on the abysmal bible illiteracy of their parishioners ... "Priests rape boys" is indeed an air-tight, three word case against all of the mainline "christian" churches – their preachers and members, without exception. They are all going to Hell!
The WBC claims that Orthodox Christians are indistinguishable from Roman Catholics. The WBC criticizes the Eastern Orthodox Church's use of icons, claiming that they constitute idolatry. The WBC also criticizes veneration of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, saying, "There is no scripture that supports bowing down to kiss images ... or praying to Mary! She was a human being, who God predestinated to bring forth the Lord Jesus Christ, and to raise him."
The WBC claims that Ethiopian Orthodoxy is "grounded in a big, fat lie" and is "a strange co-mingling of Jewish and pagan rituals". WBC also claims that because the Orthodox churches are in full communion with one another, they are not "true New Testament churches", since WBC claims that a true church must be "independent, local, autonomous, and without any formal affiliation with other churches". The WBC also condemns the teaching of theosis or glorification in Orthodox Christianity, saying "Stop glorifying the creature!" 
So what if our guys flushed copies of the Quran down the toilet? We hope they did. They probably did; We hope they flush more. Mohammed was a demon-possessed whoremonger and pedophile who contrived a 300-page work of Satanic fiction: The Quran! Like America's own whoremonger and pedophile wangled his own hokey Book of Mormon!
In relation to the Iraq War, a WBC flyer says "America bombed our church with an IED made by fag students... In His retaliatory rage God is killing Americans with Muslim IEDs: 'Saying, Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm.' 1 Chron 16:22."
In the 2011 documentary America's Most Hated Family in Crisis by Louis Theroux, Jael Phelps said in an interview that she and the other members of the WBC tauntingly and publicly burned a copy of the Quran while being scolded by a Muslim man, calling it an "idolatrous piece of trash" and that they were giving it the "proper respect that it deserves" by doing so. They picketed the funeral of the Muslim man's wife the following week. Jael Phelps said that the wife's death was partly due to her Muslim husband having spoken out against the WBC, and therefore rejecting God and bringing his "righteous judgement" down upon him. She also commented that "all those angry little Muslims can just shut their mouths."
The WBC maintains a God Hates India webpage where they state "80% of India's population claim to practice Hinduism. Nuff said. A country full of idolatry inevitably results in a nation full of fags and fag-enablers, because that's what happens when you depart from the Living God!"
The WBC then admonishes Hindus to convert to Christianity saying: "If you would STOP worshipping false gods, being a fag would not be a complex matter. Stop going a whoring after other gods and start serving the Living God in truth!"
In the section about Jews, the WBC FAQ states:
The only true Jews are Christians. The rest of the people who claim to be Jews aren't, and they are nothing more than typical, impenitent sinners ... the vast majority of Jews support fags. In fact, it is the official policy of Reformed Jews to support same-sex marriage. Of course, there are Jews who still believe God's law, but most of them have even departed from that. It doesn't matter if you're a Jew or a Gentile...as long as you believe in Christ.
In 1996, Phelps began a campaign called "Topeka's Baptist Holocaust", whereby he attempted to draw attention to attacks perpetrated against WBC picketers, saying that they were not random but organized attacks orchestrated by Jews and homosexuals. Phelps announced, "Jews killed Christ", and "Fag Jew Nazis are worse than ordinary Nazis. They've had more experience. The First Holocaust was a Jewish Holocaust against Christians. The latest Holocaust is by Topeka Jews against Westboro Baptist Church."
In another statement, he said "Topeka Jews today stir up Kansas tyrants in persecuting Westboro Baptists. They whine about the Nazi Holocaust, while they perpetrate the Topeka Holocaust."
A March 25, 2006 flier regarding a Jewish adversary of Phelps uses the phrase "bloody Jew" four times and the phrase "evil Jew" more than once every 12 sentences. The Anti-Defamation League has criticized the church and Phelps, and keeps a sampling of WBC's fliers regarding Judaism on their website.
Views on race and nationality
Founder Fred Phelps is a veteran of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. The Church's disapproval of racism and the use of physical violence by groups such as neo-Nazis and the KKK is stated on its website. According to the site's FAQ page, "we don't believe in physical violence of any kind, and the Scripture doesn't support racism. ... The only true Nazis in this world are fags."
The Church has previously condemned particular nations, such as Italy, which it described as a nation of "mobster-breeding perverts" and Australia, which it describes as the "land of the sodomite damned".
Westboro announced its intent to picket the funeral of Nelson Mandela, the hero of the anti-apartheid movement, claiming that he was going to hell for committing adultery. They have, however, also condemned the Dutch Reformed Church for having promoted apartheid.
Views on Barack Obama
Margie Phelps, daughter of pastor Fred Phelps and attorney for WBC, said in an interview with Fox News that Obama is "absolutely" going to Hell and that he is "most likely the Beast spoken of in the Revelation". She also said Obama's presidency is a sign of the Apocalypse.
Laws limiting funeral protests
In response to the protests conducted by Westboro members at Indiana funerals, a bill was introduced in the Indiana General Assembly that would make it a felony to protest within 500 feet (150 m) of a funeral. The bill provides penalties of up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine for those found to be in violation of the law. 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, 2006, 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 23, 2006, the state of Michigan banned any intentional disruption of funerals within 500 feet (150 m) of the ceremony. Violating the statute would be a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine for the first offense and up to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine for a subsequent offense.
On May 17, 2006, the state of Illinois enacted Senate Bill 1144, the "Let Them Rest In Peace Act", to shield grieving military families from protests during funerals and memorial services of fallen military service members. A first-time violation of the Act is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine and a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense, which is punishable by one to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
On May 29, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act (Pub.L. 109–228), prohibiting protests within 300 feet (91 m) of the entrance of any cemetery under control of the National Cemetery Administration from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral. Penalties for violating the act are up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year imprisonment. The bill garnered overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress with a 408–3 vote in the House, with 21 not voting, and a unanimous vote in the Senate.
On January 11, 2011, the state of Arizona held an emergency legislative session to pass a bill barring protests within 300 feet (91 m) of a funeral and within an hour from its beginning or end. The bill was swiftly signed into law ahead of the January 12 funeral of those killed in the 2011 Tucson shooting.
On August 2, 2012, Congress passed a bill that included restrictions on demonstrators at military funerals, which became law four days later when signed by President Obama. The bill says that for 2 hours before until 2 hours after the funeral service demonstrators must stay at least 300 feet (91 m) away from the boundary of the funeral location and away from the residence of grieving family members.
Supreme Court case
On March 10, 2006, WBC picketed the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder in Westminister, Maryland. The picket was held in a location cordoned off by the police, approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) from the Church, for about 30 minutes before the funeral began. On June 5, 2006, the Snyder family sued for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit named Albert Snyder, Matthew Snyder's father, as plaintiff and Fred W. Phelps, Sr.; Westboro Baptist Church, Inc.; Rebekah Phelps-Davis; and Shirley Phelps-Roper as defendants, alleging that they were responsible for publishing defamatory information about the Snyder family on the Internet, including statements that Albert and his wife had "raised [Matthew] for the devil" and taught him "to defy his Creator, to divorce, and to commit adultery". 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 claims of invasion of privacy and defamation arising from comments posted about Snyder on the Westboro website were dismissed on First Amendment grounds, but the case proceeded to trial on the remaining three counts. At the trial, Albert Snyder testified:
They turned this funeral into a media circus and they wanted to hurt my family. 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.
In his instructions to the jury, U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett stated that the First Amendment protection of free speech has limits, including vulgar, offensive and shocking statements, and that the jury must 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". See also Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, a case where certain personal slurs and obscene utterances by an individual were found unworthy of First Amendment protection, due to the potential for violence resulting from their utterance.
On October 31, 2007, WBC, Fred Phelps and his two daughters, Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebecca Phelps-Davis, were found liable for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. A federal jury awarded Snyder $2.9 million in compensatory damages, then later added a decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and an additional $2 million for causing emotional distress (a total of $10,900,000). The organization said it would not change its message because of the verdict. WBC said that it was thankful for the verdict, but also unsuccessfully sought a mistrial (based on alleged prejudicial statements made by the judge and violations of the gag order by the plaintiff's attorney) and also filed an appeal.
On February 4, 2008, U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett upheld the ruling, but reduced the punitive damages from $8 million to $2.1 million, bringing the total judgment to $5 million. Liens were ordered on church buildings and Phelps' law office in an attempt to ensure that the damages would be paid.
On September 24, 2009, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Westboro Baptist Church and reversed the lower court's award. It found their picket near the funeral is protected speech because it involves "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 30, 2010, the appeals court ordered Albert Snyder to pay the church's court costs of over $16,000, a move that Snyder's attorney's referred to as "adding insult to injury". The decision led to nationwide support for Snyder, with over 3,000 promises for donations to help offset the cost; political commentator Bill O'Reilly offered to pay the entire amount of the costs on March 30. The American Legion has also raised $17,000 to help pay Snyder's court costs.
On March 8, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Snyder v. Phelps, (Docket No. 09-751, March 8, 2010). On May 28, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, joined by 42 other Senators, filed an amicus brief in support of Snyder with the Supreme Court. On June 1, Kansas Attorney General Stephen Six filed a separate brief supporting Snyder. 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. Several news and civil rights organizations filed amicus briefs in support of Phelps, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and twenty one other media organizations.
In an 8–1 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phelps on March 2, 2011. 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." 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.
Other legal responses
On July 14, 2006, Mundy Township, Michigan billed the WBC for $5,000. The Westboro church had informed township authorities on June 28 that a protest was planned at the Swartz Funeral Home. The bill to the church ensued, according to the local police chief, because the congregation 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 township has now stated that it will not pursue the matter.
Canadian entry ban
In August 2008, Canadian officials learned of the WBC's intent to stage a protest at the funeral of a Winnipeg man killed on a bus. 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 church's members from entering the country.
UK entry ban
In February 2009, British news sources discovered that WBC had announced on their website that they intended to picket a youth production of The Laramie Project to be held at Central Studio, Queen Mary's College in the town of Basingstoke, Hampshire, on February 20, 2009. This would have been their first ever picket in the United Kingdom.
On the lead-up to the picket, a number of MPs, lobby groups and LGBT groups appealed to the British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, requesting these individuals be blocked from entering the UK, on the basis that WBC would be inciting hatred towards LGBT people. On February 18, 2009, two days before the intended picket date, the Home Office announced that Fred Phelps and Shirley Phelps-Roper would be specifically excluded from entering the UK for having "engaged in unacceptable behaviour by inciting hatred against a number of communities", and that "other church members could also be flagged and stopped if they tried to enter Britain".
An alliance of six British religious groups (the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Evangelical Alliance UK, Faithworks, Methodist Church of Great Britain, United Reformed Church and Bible Society-funded thinktank Theos) made a joint statement on February 19, 2009 in support of the government's decision and condemning the activities of the Westboro Baptist Church saying, "We do not share [Westboro's] 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."
Counter protests are often organized to be held at sites that Westboro Baptist pickets. In some cases counter protesters have lined up and turned their backs on the Westboro Baptist pickets.
In 1999, 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. At one point, they visited the Westboro Church compound and got out to meet Fred Phelps, at which time Moore introduced the Sodomobile to him.
Two days after the September 11 attacks in 2001, a 19-year old man named Jared Dailey stood on the street corner facing the church holding up a plywood sign that said "Not today, Fred". Within two days, 86 people joined him, waving American flags and anti-hate signs.
On December 12, 2008, the group picketed a production of The Laramie Project at the Boston Center for the Arts. Local activists held a Phelps-A-Thon in response. Supporters pledged online to donate for every minute WBC protested. The event raised over $4,600 for an LGBT-rights project, Driving Equality.
In March 2010, a Richmond, Virginia, ad-hoc group formed to create a counter protest to an planned Westboro Baptist Church visit protesting against Jewish and LGBT organizations. Pennies In Protest took pledges for each minute of the WBC protest. The funds (approx. $14,000) were then donated to those same Jewish and LGBT organizations that WBC was protesting.
On December 11, 2010, the day of the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards, a group called Line of Love planned to have about 200 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".
On February 24, 2011, hacktivists successfully took Westboro Baptist Church's websites down. The church claims this was the work of Anonymous, but the group denied responsibility, instead identifying The Jester as the culprit. During a live TV confrontation on The David Pakman Show between Shirley Phelps-Roper and Topiary of LulzSec, Phelps-Roper stated that Anonymous could not "stop God's message". In response, Topiary and an accomplice seized control of one of Westboro's subdomains during the confrontation.
On September 16, 2011, 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.
After Westboro announced plans to picket funerals of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting on December 14, 2012, hacktivists from Anonymous executed a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) on the Westboro's website, GodHatesFags.com, stating: "We will continuously DDOS until they are forced to put their inbred church tithes to use to pay for bandwidth." Anonymous also simultaneously released a Westboro membership list, with the personal contact information for most Westboro members.
On July 14, 2013, members of a Satanic sect called the "Satanic Temple" performed "pink mass" rituals over Catherine Idalette Johnson's grave, located in Meridian, Mississippi. Johnson is the mother of Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) founder Pastor Fred Phelps. According to Lucien Graves, the church member who performed the rituals, the ordinances posthumously transformed the sexual orientation of Johnson from that of heterosexual to homosexual. The ritual was performed two times - once with a lesbian and once with a gay male couple. Graves commented that the church was also trying to raise awareness for an Indiegogo fund raising campaign to adopt a highway, but Graves also notes that protest could also be an effective counter-protest against anyone propagating anti-gay hysteria in the future. Graves has directed threats of action toward the WBC to discourage them from continuing to conduct anti-gay protests such as picketing. The "Satanic Temple" will target the tombs of Phelps's ancestors such as his father and great-aunt with "pink mass" rituals.
Actions by opponents
On November 30, 2010, disabled Army veteran Ryan Newell was arrested in his parked SUV outside the Wichita, Kansas, city hall while members of WBC were in a meeting inside. 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, 2011, Newell pled 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.
Patriot Guard Riders
The Patriot Guard Riders is a motorcyclist group composed mostly of veterans who attend the funerals of members of the U.S. 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.
A slogan commonly invoked at the counter protests is "God hates figs". Parodying the WBC all-capitals "God hates fags" signs, the counter-protest signs often invoke a passage in the Biblical book of Matthew to justify the claim about God and his feelings about figs. The signs have been noted at counter-protests at the University of Chicago; in Spartanburg, South Carolina; and in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as well as at the non-WBC-themed Rally to Restore Sanity. The use of the signs has been invoked as a sign of sanity by the ACLU and others.
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 11:12–14), in which Jesus causes a fig tree to wither (Matthew 21:18–20), and in which God promises, as a punishment, to make someone like bad figs (Jeremiah 29:17). These are genuine citations, but are not the sole mentions of figs in the Bible.
Other sites and organizations have parodied the slogans of the Westboro Baptist Church, including God Hates Fred Phelps, God Hates Bags, and God Hates Shrimp. The Cooper family in Kevin Smith's 2011 film Red State was reportedly inspired by the Westboro Baptist Church.
Protestors holding WBC-like picket signs are seen in the film God Bless America.
A number of Phelps' critics have suggested that the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church are merely a ploy to receive attention and publicity above all else, though the Phelpses themselves deny this claim. Counter-protesting against the group, they suggest, gives them attention and incentive that they do not deserve; and a more effective response against Phelps would be to ignore his family and congregation completely. WBC, through the closely related Phelps Chartered law firm, has collected fees under the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act of 1976 when their protests have been unlawfully disrupted.
A frequent critic of the WBC is political commentator Bill O'Reilly, who regularly calls the church "evil and despicable". Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has also criticized the church.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes the Westboro Baptist Church as "virulently homophobic", whose anti-homosexual rhetoric they say is often a cover for anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, racism, and anti-Catholicism. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has added the Westboro Baptist Church to its list of hate groups.[why?] Jerry Falwell referred to Phelps as "a first-class nut". WBC picketed Falwell's funeral service on May 22, 2007.
In response to WBC's announcement that they would picket the vigil for victims of the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, several petitions to the White House (using the We the People system) have been submitted, calling on the President to legally recognize WBC as a hate group, revoke its tax exemption for religious organizations, and to ban protests at funerals and memorial services. One petition, backed by the hacktivist group Anonymous, was submitted the day of the shootings, and reached more than 75,000 signatures within two days.
Rapper Mac Lethal uploaded a video titled "Beatbox + iPhone + Guitar + Fast Rap = Win By Mac Lethal" on December 18, 2012 that took inspiration from the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church and the media after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Some of the lyrics include:
- And I might suck at guitar
- but at least I've never protested a dead soldier's funeral,
- and I might be losing my hair, but at least I've never judged a woman for thinking another woman is beautiful,
- and sometimes, I mean sometimes,
- I might even text message while I drive,
- but I've never thanked God when a precious 5 year old child was shot, and died....
Lauren Drain, a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, released an autobiography titled Banished in March 2013. She characterizes children, like herself, as being brainwashed into their belief system and describes consequences of questioning their belief system, such as her banishment.
Documentary media coverage
In 2001, Sundance Channel aired the film A Union in Wait, a documentary about same-sex marriage directed by Ryan Butler. Phelps and members of Westboro Baptist Church appeared in the film after Phelps picketed Wake Forest Baptist Church at Wake Forest University over a proposed same-sex union ceremony.
In 2005, the British satellite company British Sky Broadcasting produced an investigative piece using hidden cameras, which included footage of two of Phelps' granddaughters, Libby and Jael. In the testimonial, Libby and Jael explain that they hope and pray that no one outside of Westboro becomes "elect", because they want everyone else in the world to die horribly and burn in Hell, and that even if they did not believe their actions were dictated by God, they would still do and enjoy them anyway. The interview was not part of the hidden camera segment, and although much of the footage was taken without the knowledge or permission of Westboro, the church maintains a link to the entire report on its website.
On April 1, 2007, the British television channel BBC Two broadcast Louis Theroux' The Most Hated Family in America. Theroux has presented a number of documentaries about unusual or unconventional people and groups in the UK, the US and elsewhere. A follow-up documentary by Theroux, America's Most Hated Family in Crisis, broadcast in the UK on April 3, 2011.
The website godhatesfags.com was prominently featured in The Jeremy Kyle Show, a talk show aired on the ITV network in the United Kingdom on June 5, 2007. Shirley Phelps-Roper and her daughters had been invited to express their beliefs live via satellite. On the show, Kyle criticized the Phelps for their beliefs and referred to the Phelps' children as "completely and utterly brainwashed", and to Phelps-Roper herself as "deranged".
In the June 21, 2007, Channel 4 documentary Keith Allen Will Burn in Hell, starring Keith Allen, on which Phelps-Roper and some of her children agreed to appear, Phelps-Roper admitted on camera that her oldest son, Samuel, was born out of wedlock. Allen declared Phelps-Roper's vocal condemnation of strangers having sexual congress outside of marriage to be hypocritical as she was guilty of the same thing.
WBC's travel expenses exceed $200,000 annually. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Westboro is funded entirely by its congregation and accepts no outside donations. The church has received money from lawsuits and legal fees. For example, they sued the city of Topeka several times in the 1990s. WBC received $16,500, and is pursuing another $100,000, in legal fees for a case won in court. The WBC is considered a nonprofit organization by the federal government, and is therefore exempt from paying taxes.
- Dove World Outreach Center
- List of organizations designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-gay hate groups
- Societal attitudes toward homosexuality
- Biblical literalism
- "You Are Still Alive: NOW Is The Time To Repent". Westboro Baptist Church. October 27, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
- "God Hates Fags". Westboro Baptist Church. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
- Weiner, Rachel (March 18, 2010). "Westboro Baptist Church Protests Outside Obama Girls' School". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
- Mikulan, Steven (February 25, 2009). "H8ters L.A. Vacation: Fred Phelps' Antigay Baptists Come Out on Oscar Night". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
- Melloy, Kilian (March 12, 2009). "Phelps Clan Met with Revelry and Frat Boys in Chicago". EDGE Boston. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
- Crowe, Kenneth C., II (November 14, 2009). "School Plans 'Safe' Show". Times Union (Albany, NY). Retrieved July 1, 2011.
- "Westboro Baptist Church". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
- "Hate Map KS". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
- Westcott, Kathryn (May 25, 2006). "Hate Group Targeted by Lawmakers". Barre, Vermont: BBC News. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
- DeLong, Katie (May 21, 2009). "Hate Group Protests at Hamilton H.S.". Milwaukee: WTMJ-TV. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
- Lane, Ray (June 14, 2009). "Anti-Gay Hate Group Targets Seattle Churches". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved June 20, 2010
- McLaughlin, Mike & Einhorn, Erin (September 27, 2009). "Kansas Hate Group Westboro Baptist Church Protest Brooklyn Synagogues". Daily News (New York). Retrieved June 20, 2010
- Williams, Reed & Young, Chris I. (March 3, 2010). "Opponents Rally against Westboro Baptist Hate Group". Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia). Retrieved June 20, 2010.[dead link]
- "Hate group protests this week". The Temple News (Philadelphia: Temple University). March 30, 2010. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
- Fitzgerald, W.V. (June 16, 2010). "Interview with Westboro Baptist Church: Hate in the Name of God". DigitalJournal.com. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
- John Blake (March 14, 2010). "'Most-hated', anti-gay preacher once fought for civil rights". CNN. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
- "Sermon preached by Fred Phelps". 1987. Archived from the original on December 8, 2006. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- Jones, K. Ryan (2008), Fall from Grace (documentary)
- Wing, Nick (2010-12-09). "Elizabeth Edwards Funeral To Be Picketed By Westboro Baptist Church". The Huffington Post.
- "Baptists Denounce Latest Westboro Stunt". Christianity Today. Archived from the original on 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "About Westboro Baptist Church". God Hates Fags. Westboro Baptist Church. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
- Taschler, Joe; Fry, Steve (August 3, 1994). "Fate, timing kept Phelps in Topeka". Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
- Plummer, Darlene (2010). "Church History". East Side Baptist Church. Topeka, Kansas. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
- Hively, Robert J. (1994-08-03). "InDepth". CJOnline. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- Taschler, Joe (1994-08-03). "InDepth". CJOnline. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- Theroux, Louis (2011-03-31). "BBC News - Louis Theroux: Westboro Baptist Church revisited". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- Name (required) (2010-10-24). "Megan Phelps-Roper leaves Westboro Baptist Church, apologizes for inflicting pain". fox4kc.com. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- Mann, Fred (April 2, 2006), "Road to Westboro: What led Fred Phelps to his beliefs and actions?[dead link]", Wichita Eagle, Retrieved August 24, 2006.
- "The Westboro Baptist Church Home Page". Westboro Baptist Church. Archived from the original on 2007-01-02. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "animation". Archived from the original on February 29, 2008.
- "Picket Locations". Retrieved March 22, 2009.
- Borger, Julian (April 18, 2006). "Anti-gay church hounds military funerals". The Guardian (London).
- Myers, Roger (May 24, 1997). "Appeals court upholds Phelpses' convictions". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- Hrenchir, Tim; Purinton, Cait (May 17, 2004). "Two Phelpses arrested at Brown dedication". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- "Father of Marine Killed in Iraq Sues Church for Cheering Death". Fox News. Associated Press. October 26, 2007. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
- Hall, Mike (April 4, 2008). "Walls close in on Phelpses". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
- "Prosecutors drop charges against Phelps-Roper in funeral protest case". Kansas City, MO: KSHB-TV. August 23, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "'Insane' picketers cancel Amish funeral protest", The Age, Associated Press, October 5, 2006
- Lannon, Steve (February 7, 2007). "Group drops protest plan at fire victims' funeral". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- Theroux, Louis (March 31, 2007). "God's Squad". The Guardian (London). Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- Moore, Matthew (February 16, 2009). "Westboro Baptist Church announces first anti-homosexuality picket in Britain". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved March 31, 2010.
- "Controversial Church to picket Marine's funeral". Minneapolis: KARE. August 1, 2005. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
- "Gay marriage case looms over chief justice's speech"[dead link]. Sioux City Journal. January 16, 2008.
- "Controlling Funeral Protests?". Wichita, KS: KAKE. January 16, 2006. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "Murder charges planned in beating death of gay student". CNN. October 12, 1998. Archived from the original on June 7, 2000. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- Scott, Michelle (March 8, 2003). "Church group to protest Pitt". The Pitt News (University of Pittsburgh). Archived from the original on July 21, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- "Phelps' Group Protests At Soldier's Funeral". Kansas City, MO: KMBC-TV. August 5, 2005.
- Rasmussen, Sarah (April 10, 2008). "1,000 UW–Stout Students Drive Protesters Off Campus". Eau Claire, WI: WEAU-TV. Retrieved July 22, 2008.
- Pan, Joann (February 23, 2009). "Peace lines". The Spectrum (University at Buffalo). Archived from the original on June 2, 2009.
- "Church plans to picket rocker Dio's memorial service", CNN, May 30, 2010
- "Kansas Church Plans To Picket Child Funerals: Westboro Baptist Church Cheers Child Deaths", Oklahoma City, OK: KOCO
- Oxley, Chuck (June 14, 2005). "His church was bombed, and now he protests funerals of the war dead". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Associated Press. Retrieved October 5, 2006.
- "Slain Marine's father ordered to pay legal costs of anti-gay group"[dead link]. Sky News. April 14, 2010.
- Mears, Bill (March 2, 2011). "Anti-gay church's right to protest at military funerals is upheld". CNN. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- Page, Jared (January 31, 2008). "Church group plans protest at Pres. Hinckley's funeral". Deseret News (Salt Lake City).
- Kirby, Robert (February 26, 2008). "My surprise at finding that I belong to a gay church". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
- Jonsson, Patrik (December 11, 2010). "Why is the Westboro Baptist Church picketing Elizabeth Edwards' funeral?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- Raushenbush, Paul (October 12, 2011). "9 Worst Funeral Protests By Westboro Baptist Church... And One Awesome Protest Against Them". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- Xeni Jardin (June 28, 2009). "God Hates the World, by Westboro Baptist Church". Boing Boing. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
- "Ronnie James Dio memorial service: Heavy metal fans drown out Westboro Baptist Church picketers". Daily News (New York). Associated Press. May 31, 2010. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "RONNIE JAMES DIO's Public Memorial Service: First Photos, Video Footage". blabbermouth.net. May 30, 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- Mehta, Seema (January 11, 2011). "Tucson rallies to protect girl's family from protesters". Los Angeles Times.
- "Bill Would Ban Westboro Picketers at Christina Green's Tucson Funeral". Politics Daily. January 11, 2011.
- Medrano, Lourdes (January 14, 2011). "How Tucson kept Westboro Baptist Church protests out of town". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
- Zeman, William F. (January 15, 2011). "Westboro Baptist Church Fails to 'Save' American University Students". Washington City Paper. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
- America's Most Hated Family in Crisis
- Phelps, Margie (October 5, 2011). "Westboro will picket his funeral". Twitter.
- Tenety, Elizabeth (October 6, 2011). "Westboro Baptist Church uses iPhone to announce protest at Steve Jobs's funeral". The Washington Post.
- Martinez, Edecio (October 7, 2011). "Westboro Baptist Church uses iPhone to announce Steve Jobs' funeral protest". CBS News.
- "As Newtown Plans Burials For Shooting Victims, Westboro Baptist Church Prepares To Picket". CBS News. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
- Edwards, David (April 16, 2013). "Westboro to picket Boston funerals, blames 'fag marriage' for bombings". The Raw Story. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
- "Westboro Baptist Church Tweets About Moore Oklahoma Tornado". HEAVY. 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- "Extremism in America:Westboro Baptist Church In Their Own Words: On Jews". The Anti-Defamation League.
- Flier from God Hates Fags (PDF)[dead link]
- Militant anti-gay church turns its sights on Jews by Eric Fingerhut, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), May 12, 2009.
- Quillin, Martha (June 5, 2010). "N.C. backs suit against church that pickets military funerals". The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Retrieved September 7, 2013.
- Tan, Kenneth (May 16, 2008), "Westboro Baptist Church: 'Thank God for the Great Killer Earthquake'", Shanghaiist, retrieved June 14, 2011
- "Westboro Baptist Plans Joplin Protest", KARK-TV (Little Rock), May 26, 2011, retrieved June 14, 2011
- Easley, Jason (May 30, 2011), "300 Bikers Foil Westboro Baptist Church's Obama Joplin Protest", Politicus usa, retrieved June 14, 2011
- "Police Break Up Confrontation Between Protesters in Joplin", KOLR (Springfield, MO), May 29, 2011, retrieved June 14, 2011
- "KKK counter-protests extremist church group", Toronto Sun QMI, May 31, 2011, retrieved June 14, 2011
- McKinney, Emma (October 10, 2011). "Harry Moseley's mum hits out at 'vile' Christian group's Twitter tirade". Birmingham Mail (Birmingham, UK). Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- "Westboro Baptist Church Newtown Funeral Protest Thwarted By Good Samaritans". Huffingtonpost.com. 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- "Westboro Baptist Church says it will picket at funeral of Joe Paterno". nj.com. January 24, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
- "Family to remember fallen Aggie at service". The Eagle (Bryan, TX). July 4, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
- Glenn, Stacia (February 16, 2012). "Westboro Church threatens to picket Powell boys' funeral as anti-gay protest". The News Tribune (Tacome, WA). Retrieved March 13, 2013.
- Caroom, Eliot (February 18, 2012). "Westboro Baptist Church promises appearance at Whitney Houston funeral, taunts fans on Twitter". nj.com. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
- Black, Eric (August 7, 2007). "Fred Phelps Is Coming". Minnesota Independent.com. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
- Eliot Caroom/The Star-Ledger (February 18, 2012). "Staged photo? Westboro Baptist Church claims protest at Whitney Houston funeral when none is apparent". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
- Eric W. Dolan (February 19, 2012). "Westboro Baptists caught lying about appearance at Whitney Houston funeral". Raw Story. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- "Memo on the Church". Archived from the original on June 2, 2008. Retrieved March 21, 2009.
- Theroux, Louis (2007). The Most Hated Family in America (Television documentary). BBC.
- Travis, Scott (October 15, 2008). "Anti-gay church to participate in debate on gay marriage ban". South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale). Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- Brumley, Jeff (March 3, 2011). "U.S. Supreme Court: Anti-gay protests at soldier funerals are constitutional". The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville). Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- "Westboro Baptist Church FAQ".
- "Outlaw Sodomy", December 3, 2002
- "All Parishioners of the Catholic Church are Pedophile Rape Enablers". Priests Rape Boys. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "Priests Rape Boys". Priests Rape Boys. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "Other Christian 'Churches' have gone awhoring after strange gods", PriestsRapeBoys.com
- "Russia's False Religious Systems", God Hates Russia, retrieved July 1, 2011
- "Ethiopia's False Religious Systems".
- "Armenia's False Religious Systems".
- "Statement from God Hates Fags" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2005-05-25. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "Flyer from God Hates Fags" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- America's Most Hated Family in Crisis
- "India's False Religious Systems", God Hates India, retrieved July 1, 2011
- "Westboro Baptist Church FAQ: What do you think of Jews?". Archived from the original on November 17, 2006. Retrieved December 2, 2006.
- "In Their Own Words: On Jews". Extremism in America: Westboro Baptist Church. Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
- "ADL Report says Homophobic 'Church' Espouses Anti-Semitism and Racism" (Press release). Anti-Defamation League. October 4, 2000. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
- "Sample WBC fliers from". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "God's Wrath Revealed Against Germany". God Hates Germany. Westboro Baptist Church. Retrieved August 17, 2011. "1933–1945 The Holocaust – In much the same way that the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and the Assyrian King Shalmaneser were used as God's instruments to punish the rebellious Israelites, God used the evil pervert Adolf Hitler to punish and destroy millions of Christ-rejecting Jews and fags, or simply stated, God-haters."
- Lauerman, Kerry (March/April 1999). "The Man Who Loves To Hate". Mother Jones.
- "Westboro Baptist Church FAQ: Are you associated with a militia, Aryan Nation, Nazi, KKK, or any other similar group?". Archived from the original on July 11, 2011. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
- "Picketing Schedule". Retrieved November 25, 2008.
- "God Hates Australia". godhatestheworld.com. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
- "God Hates South Africa".
- "Sickening: Westboro Baptist Church Plans To Protest Mandela’s Funeral".
- "Antichrist Beast Obama". Beastobama.com. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- Edwards, David (March 6, 2011), "Westboro attorney: Obama is the 'Beast' from Revelation", Raw Replay, retrieved April 13, 2011
- "Funeral protest bill passes out of committee, 11-0"[dead link]
- "Michigan adopts law restricting funeral protests". First Amendment Center. Associated Press. 2006-05-24. Archived from the original on 2006-07-23. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "Gov. Blagojevich signs 'Let Them rest in Peace Act' allowing families to peacefully grieve fallen soldiers: New law makes protesting within 200 feet (61 m) of a funeral or memorial service a crime". Illinois.gov. May 17, 2006. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "House OKs ban on funeral protests; Leaders hope to have measure to president by Memorial Day", Washington Times, May 10, 2006. Retrieved August 6, 2007.
- "Arizona enacts funeral protest legislation". CNN. January 27, 2011.
- Beard, Alia (January 11, 2011). "Arizona shootings: 'Funeral protection zone' bill signed by Brewer". Azcentral.com. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- 112th Congress (August 6, 2012). "The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, Public Law 112-154, Section 601 on page 1195".
- "Honor the fallen: Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder". Militarycity.com. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder". Matthewsnyder.org. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "WBC press release for Snyder funeral picket" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2007-02-21. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "09-751 Snyder v. Phelps (03-02-2011)". Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "Snyder family complaint against WBC". Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "Suit OK'd against anti-gay group"[dead link]. The Baltimore Sun. October 16, 2007.
- "Federal judge approves limited lawsuit against military funeral protesters". The Jurist, University of Pittsburgh School of Law. October 16, 2007.
- "Father: Funeral protest made him sick". EveningSun.com. October 25, 2007.
- "Father of Marine Killed in Iraq Sues Church for Cheering Death, Appeals to Public Online for Help", Fox News, October 26, 2007
- "Father wins millions from war funeral picketers", msnbc.com, October 31, 2007
- "Kansas church liable in Marine funeral protest", Reuters, October 31, 2007
- "Church ordered to pay $10.9 million for funeral protest"[dead link], CNN, October 31, 2007
- "Thank God for the $10.9 Million Verdict!", Westboro Baptist Church, October 31, 2007
- "$11M damage award for picketing funeral". The Seattle Times. McClatchy Newspapers; Associated Press. November 1, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
- "Judge halves amount of damages Westboro church must pay"[dead link], Baltimore Sun. February 4, 2008
- "Walls close in on Phelpses", The Topeka Capital-Journal, April 4, 2008
- "Court Says GI Funeral Protests Legal", The Baltimore Sun, September 25, 2009]
- "Marine's father ordered to pay Westboro's court costs". The Baltimore Sun. March 29, 2010. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
- Sommers, Adam (March 31, 2010). "Support grows for dad of slain Marine told to pay Westboro Baptist Church, which cheered son's death". Daily News (New York). Retrieved April 5, 2010.
- Lamothe, Dan (April 6, 2010). "Snyder-Phelps fight has many twists, turns". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
- Snyder donations exceed $17,000. American Legion. April 5, 2010. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
- Lyle Denniston (March 8, 2010). "Court to rule on funeral pickets". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
- Dwyer, Devin (May 31, 2010). "States Line Up Against Funeral Hecklers in Supreme Court Brief". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved June 4, 2010.
- "48 states: Funeral protests shouldn't be protected". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. June 1, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- "Brief for the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland in Support of Respondent". Retrieved October 9, 2010.
- "Brief for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Twenty-one News Media Organizations in Support of Respondent". Retrieved October 9, 2010.
- "High court rules for military funeral protesters". Google News. Associated Press. Retrieved March 2, 2011.[dead link]
- "Michigan town bills Phelps' church over protest no-show". Pridesource.com. July 20, 2006. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "Church members enter Canada, aiming to picket bus victim's funeral". CBC. 8 August 2008. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- "God Hates Fags church threatens to picket Basingstoke". Pink News. February 13, 2009. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
- "Westboro Baptist Church justifies UK picket". The Daily Telegraph (London). February 17, 2009. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
- "Home Secretary asked to ban God Hates Fags protesters". Pink News. February 17, 2009. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
- "UK Borders Agency, immigration law". Home Office. Retrieved February 18, 2009. – Part 9, 320.6 "Grounds on which entry clearance or leave to enter the United Kingdom is to be refused ... (6) where the Secretary of State has personally directed that the exclusion of a person from the United Kingdom is conducive to the public good."
- Wells, Tom (February 18, 2009). "Brit ban for hate preachers". The Sun (London). Retrieved February 18, 2009.
- Leach, Ben (February 19, 2009). "US Church which calls for homosexuals to be killed banned from UK". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved February 19, 2009.
- "Anti-gay preachers banned from UK". BBC News. February 19, 2009. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
- "Churches condemn Westboro hate speech, but challenge remains". Ekklesia. February 19, 2009. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
- "British Christians stand up to American bigots". The Daily Telegraph (London). February 19, 2009. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
- Keeling, Brock. "Lowell HS Students Counter-Protest". Retrieved February 3, 2010.
- "Lowell HS Students' Counter Protest Of Crazy Religious Attention Seekers 'Successful'". sfappeal. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
- "Westboro Church protest meets students' mocking". Chicago Maroon. March 9, 2009.
- "Super Heroes vs. the Westboro Baptist Church". Retrieved August 23, 2010.
- "Super Heroes vs. the Westboro Baptist Church". Retrieved August 23, 2010.
- "Protest, Counter-Protest At Garfield High". KIRO-TV. June 15, 2009. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
- "Phelps, Westboro Baptist bringing hate message to Cedar Rapids". The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA). January 12, 2010. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
- "Laramie Project counter-protesters come in hundreds, Westboro Church a no show". The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA). January 15, 2010. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
- Schultz, Emily. "Michael Moore: A Biography"
- John Sweeney (February 28, 1999). "The capped crusader". The Guardian (London). Retrieved June 15, 2009.
- Savage, Todd (April 27, 1999). "Winnebago a-go-go". The Advocate. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- "Cool Things, Protest Sign". Kansas Historical Society. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- Melloy, Kilian (December 13, 2008). "Anti-gay group pickets Boston production of Laramie Project". Edgeboston.com. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "UPDATE: Protests and counter-protests planned". March 2, 2010. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
- "Turning Westboro Church's Hate Into Charity (VIDEO)". Mother Jones. August 18, 2010. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
- McDonald, Thomasi (December 11, 2010). "Westboro Baptist protest sparks its own protest". News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Retrieved December 11, 2010.
- "Anonymous denies Westboro attack". BBC News. February 22, 2011. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- McHugh, Molly (February 24, 2011). "Anonymous seizes Westboro Baptist's domain during live TV confrontation". Digital Trends. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- foofighters (September 17, 2011). "Foo Fighters – Keepin It Clean in KC". YouTube. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- , Anonymous Takes Down Westboro Baptist Church Website, BetaBeat, accessed January 17, 2013
-  static.geekbeat.tv, RETRIEVed January 17, 2013.
- Goldman, Russel.'Satanists perform 'gay ritual' at Westboro Gravesite'. July 18, 2013. ABC NEWS. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/07/satanists-perform-gay-ritual-at-westboro-gravesite/ Retrieved December 8, 2013
- Barnette,Candace.'MPD Expects to file charges in cemetery trespassing'.July 20, 2013.ABC WTOK.http://www.wtok.com/news/headlines/MPD-Expects-to-File-Charges-in-Cemetery-Trespassing--216302111.html. retrieved December 8, 2013/
- Didymus, John-Thomas. 'Satanic Temple performs 'gay ritual' at Westboro Baptist grave'. July 21, 2013. Digital Journal. http://digitaljournal.com/article/354838 retrieved 8,2013
- "5 Arrested for Attacks on Anti-Gay Protesters at Military Funeral". Fox News. Associated Press. May 22, 2006. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- Bush, Ann Marie (August 3, 2008). "Flames engulf Phelps garage". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- Anderson, Phil (August 27, 2008). "Westboro Baptist fire ruled arson". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- Potter, Tim (December 4, 2010). "Veteran now faces felony conspiracy charge". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
- Durden, Chris; Heap, Brian (June 23, 2011). "Veteran pleads guilty to lesser charges in stalking Westboro Baptist Church". Hutchison, KS: KWCH-DT. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
- Erin Gibson Allen (January 3, 2008). "Patriot Guard honors fallen soldiers at funerals". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 10, 2010.
- Christman, Zach (March 13, 2009). "God Hates Figs (and Shrimp)". NBC Chicago. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- "Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., a no-show at Converse". GoUpstate.com. February 15, 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Jeanné McCartin. "Hundreds speak out against hate in city". SeacoastOnline.com. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Kent Hayden (November 7, 2010). "The Religion of a Satirical Generation". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- "God Hates Figs". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Savage, Dan (March 12, 2009). "God Hates Figs". The Stranger (Seattle). Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- "God Hates Fred Phelps". God Hates Fred Phelps. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "God Hates Bags". God Hates Bags. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "God Hates Shrimp". God Hates Shrimp. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- Smith, Kevin. Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good (1592406890)
- "Responding to the Westboro Baptist Church". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
- Jones, Bart (September 21, 2009). "Authorities eye Kansas hate group's visit to LI". Newsday. Retrieved January 30, 2010. (subscription required for full article)
- "The High Weirdness Project: Westboro Baptist Church". November 3, 2006. Retrieved December 2, 2006.
- http://web.archive.org/web/20060118030042/http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/jan2006/20060114_pandering-demagogic-legislatures.pdf. Retrieved 2013-12-04. Missing or empty
- Rick Cohen. "Students Support Targets to Oppose Westboro Baptists". Nonprofitquarterly.org. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- Miller, Sara (November 8, 2010). "Out comes the sun, and the anti-Semites, in honor of the New Orleans GA". Haaretz. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- "Westboro Baptist Church". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- "Westboro Baptist Church". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- "The Year in Hate, 2005". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- "Active U.S. Hate Groups" (Kansas). Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- Lieblich, Julia (October 24, 1998), "Conservative Christians protest anti-gay protester", Lawrence Journal-World (Lawrence, KS), Associated Press, retrieved March 14, 2011.
- Vegh, Steven G. (May 23, 2007). "Thousands of faithful attend Jerry Falwell's funeral". The Virginian-Pilot. Norfolk, VA. Archived from the original on September 26, 2007. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- Clark, Sarah (December 17, 2012). "Westboro Meets Its Match: Thousands Sign Retaliatory Petitions". WDAF-TV. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
- Westboro Baptist Church hate group petition sent to White House, MSN, December 16, 2012
- "Rapper Mac Lethal takes on Westboro Baptist Church in new video". Charlotte Observer. December 22, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
- ""Beatbox + iPhone + Guitar + Fast Rap = Win" By Mac Lethal". December 18, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
- "Rapper Takes on Westboro Baptist Church, Media Coverage of Newtown Tragedy". Christian Post. December 22, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
- "Former Westboro Baptist Church member Lauren Drain speaks out: "They control what you believe, what you say, what you do" – Piers Morgan - CNN.com Blogs". Piersmorgan.blogs.cnn.com. 2013-03-11. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- "Inside The Church Of Hate"[dead link], Sky News, October 25, 2005
- Theroux, Louis. "Louis Theroux trailer" on YouTube. BBC Two.
- "America's most hated family" (interview with Louis Theroux). BBC News. March 30, 2007.
- "LGF on Jeremy Kyle". The Lesbian & Gay Foundation. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Jeremy Kyle". God Hates The Media. Westboro Baptist Church. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- Allen, Keith (Director, host); Phelps-Roper, Shirley (Guest); Phelps-Roper, Samuel (Guest) (2007). Keith Allen Will Burn In Hell (Television production). London: Channel 4. Event occurs at 33:29. "Is he [Samuel Phelps-Roper] the illegitimate son?"
Phelps-Roper: "He's my son."
Allen: "Is he the illegitimate son?"
Allen: "Are you going to hell?"
Phelps-Roper: "If the lord Jesus Christ did not die on that cross for me, for my sins, I am going to hell."
Allen: "Are you going to hell because you had a child out of wedlock?"
Phelps-Roper: "That would not be the reason.""
- O'Connor, Geoffrey; Theroux, Louis. The Most Hated Family in America. BBC.
- "Westboro Baptist Church". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
- Shaw, Andrew (March 3, 2011). "Marine's father responds to Supreme Court decision on Westboro Baptist". The York Dispatch.[dead link]
- Lowder, J. Bryan (March 4, 2011). "Subsidized Hate". Slate. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (July 2011)|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Westboro Baptist Church.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Most Hated Family in America|
- Westboro Baptist Church on the Open Directory Project
- Westboro Baptist Church (godhatesfags.com)
- "The Signs of the Times" – a collection of Westboro's signs
- "Inside the Westboro Baptist Church" at the Wayback Machine (archived January 14, 2011), Photographic essay from Life magazine
- Audio interview with Westboro Baptist Church spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper
- Bell, Jon Michael (1994), Addicted To Hate
- Funeral Protests: Selected Federal Laws and Constitutional Issues Congressional Research Service