“Father Wages Court Battle Against Funeral Protests.” Asbury Park Press. 13 April 2010: A13. Print.
This article is about a man named Albert Snyder who is suing the Westboro Baptist Church. Snyder’s son, Marine Lance CPL. Matthew A. Snyder, was killed four years ago in a Humvee accident in Iraq. Pastor Fred Phelps oversees the Westboro Baptist Church which consists of seventy to eighty members, most of which are his children or grandchildren. Members of the church consider themselves prophets and believe that the deaths of military soldiers are God’s way of punishing the United States for tolerating homosexuality. The church protests outside of military funerals with signs that read, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”, or “You’re Going to Hell”. Hundreds of families, including the Snyder’s, have been affected by the protests; however, Snyder is the first person to sue the church in hopes to stop future protests. Snyder is arguing that the protesting at funerals is unconstitutional because it disrupts private assemblies and basically “attacks” people at their most vulnerable state. Snyder’s lawsuit accuses the church or invading his privacy and intentionally inflicting emotional distress. In October of 2007, the federal court in Baltimore awarded Snyder $10.9 million dollars in damages; however, later on a judge lowered the award to 5 million. In September of 2009 the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the verdict because it was believed that Westboro’s protests were protected by the Constitution. Not only was Snyder’s verdict reversed, he was ordered to pay $16,510 for Westboro’s court costs. Last month, the Supreme Court decided to review the case, and a new case is being argued in the fall.
I was absolutely disgusted after I read this article. I can’t believe that the members of the church think that it is ok to protest outside of military funerals. These soldiers are risking their lives fighting for our country and our freedom (the same freedom that gives these people the right to protest) and this is the thanks that they get. It is hard to lose a loved one, especially in war, and these people should have no right to interfere with the families while they are mourning their loss. The church is doing this because they believe that it is punishment from God for tolerating homosexuality. Matthew Snyder wasn’t even gay and they protested at his funeral. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but to voice your opinion in this manner is immoral. It is incidents like these that give Christians a bad name. What they are doing is so disrespectful and inappropriate and I cannot believe that they are getting away with it. If these people are loving and devoted Christians, why are they targeting people at funerals? Many members of the church are children and young adults and I feel bad that they are following in the footsteps of the idiotic elders. I just can’t believe that this is happening and I hope that I never see anything like this in the paper again.