NEWS

Charita Goshay: You have the right to remain hateful

Charita Goshay

Forty-eight states, the District of Columbia and several senators have lined up in support of the family of the late Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to curb picketing tactics employed by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan.

A hate group cloaked in clerical garb, Westboro has become infamous for picketing the funerals of troops killed in combat, church members’ theology being that the deaths are God’s judgment on America for allowing homosexuals access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The Snyders sued Westboro after church members picketed during their son’s funeral in 2006, but the suit was overturned by an appeals court.

Walk the talk

Though former President George W. Bush signed a law in 2006 that severely limited such behavior at federal cemeteries, it’s doubtful the Supremes will side with the Snyders because no matter how incendiary, distasteful and just plain loony the Westboro members are, they are within their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly.

Upholding the rights of people who made a mockery of one who died to preserve them seems too cruel to be correct. But it challenges us, perhaps as nothing else does, to walk the talk.

To call Westboro a “church” is to stretch the definition from here to eternity. Its members traverse the country with a singularly twisted message: God hates America and virtually everyone in it.

It doesn’t seem to matter to them that their theology is blatantly, nakedly contrary to Christianity’s central tenet: that God loves us so much that he literally sacrificed himself to redeem us. There’s no room in the inn for what they see as feed-the-poor, pray-for-peace, turn-the-other-cheek hooey.

Then again, Jesus is Jewish, so he wouldn’t be welcome anyway.

They're in our faces

No one would even care what Westboro Church believes except for the fact that its members try to force-feed the rest of us. Last week, the church celebrated 20 years of picketing. Who says hatemongering and nostalgia are mutually exclusive?

By law and tradition, Westboro members have every right to practice their idiocy so long as they aren’t infringing upon the constitutional rights of others, which resurrects a perpetual debate: Is there a constitutional right to privacy?

Westboro’s latest tack is to the blame the BP oil spill on America’s refusal to repent of its gayness.

Please. Based on the ridiculously casual attire I’ve seen people wear to funerals and high school graduations lately, this country isn’t gay enough.

Charita Goshay writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact her at charita.goshay@cantonrep.com.