Belief Beat

The Westboro Baptist Church, a small hate group predominantly comprised of the Phelps family of Kansas, still has the right to picket at military funerals with signs like “Thank God for Dead Gay Soldiers” and “God Hates Fags,” asserting its claim that troop deaths are divine punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality and other “sins.” A federal judge just struck down two 2006 Missouri laws that had banned such protests, though the laws were never strictly enforced, the Kansas City Star reports.

Well, now we have a timely example of America’s freedom of speech (and perhaps religion, though this group is really more a “so-called” than actual church) trumping a “hallowed ground” situation. I’d certainly agree that a cemetery, especially one where a military funeral is taking place, falls into that category, if not the five-block radius around Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

CNN reports that the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an appeal this October from the father of Matthew Snyder, a soldier killed in Iraq, after members of the Westboro Church conducted an angry demonstration at his burial service in Maryland. The family of the Marine had won a $5 million judgment from the protesters, which was overturned by lower federal courts. For more on this,check out this recent Boston Globe story.

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