The Lawyers of Westboro Baptist Church

They carry signs with vile inscriptions: “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” as they protest at funerals around the United States. They are members of the Westboro Baptist Church, a community that is decidedly not Baptist.

Reverend Fred Phelps and his congregation of 100, including his children and his 45 grandchildren, rely on a team of lawyers who happen to be Fred Phelps’ adult children. He has thirteen children and eleven of them have law degrees.

Their high-profile law firm in Topeka, Kansas is the source of Westboro’s legal confidence as they exercise their free speech rights and also provides the church with funds to travel around the country to mount their vicious protests. Daughter and lawyer Margie Phelps confirms her family spends $250,000.00 every year to travel by van to protest locations.

Westboro captured the national media spotlight in 1998 when they picketed the funeral of Wyoming’s Matthew Sheppard who was murdered because he was homosexual. Since 1991 the church has conducted 41,000 protests in 650 towns and cities across America, focusing their attention on the funerals of fallen soldiers and gay men.

Westboro’s message is that America’s acceptance of homosexuality has created an angry God who is punishing the nation by allowing the death of many young men and women in the armed forces.

Reverend Phelps is himself a disbarred lawyer. He was disbarred many years ago for his oppressive, abusive treatment of a court witness and for committing perjury by filing false affidavits in a bid to defend himself in a bar disciplinary hearing relating to the abuse.

Residents of Topeka agree that when they are in trouble the Phelps law firm is where they go, despite their dislike of the firm’s repugnant activities.

Back in the media this week, the Phelps firm emerged the victors in a freedom of expression case heard by the United States Supreme Court last year. In an 8-1 decision, Margie Phelps convinced the high court that the Westboro Church were permitted by the Constitution to express their views, despite the public’s abhorrence of their message.

Westboro Church has vowed to redouble their protest efforts in light of this week’s Supreme Court ruling sanctioning their conduct.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

22 thoughts on “The Lawyers of Westboro Baptist Church

  1. How dare those legal and social commentators, who never miss an opportunity to praise the Jehovah’s Witnesses for stretching the boundaries of the First Amendment, now condemn the Westboro Baptists, whose actions in our time are no more outrageous than were the actions of the Jehovah’s Witnesses during World War 2.

    During WW2, Jehovah’s Witnesses specifically targeted the homes of parents and spouses of wounded and killed soldiers — knocked on those doors — and told wives, mothers, and fathers that their husbands and sons had died not only needlessly and pointlessly, but in support of a government which GOD considered His enemy and would soon destroy.

    During WW2, Jehovah’s Witnesses would show up at War Bond Rallies and spew the same garbage.

    1940s Jehovah’s Witnesses would park sound trucks across the street from public schools and during recess and blast the school campus with pre-recorded sermons decrying the Pledge of Allegiance. There were also instances of JWs going inside school buildings and passing out anti-Pledge literature to children in the hallways.

    JWs also parked sound trucks outside of churches during ongoing services and blasted churches with pre-recorded sermons decrying church teachings.

    JWs carried phonographs with pre-recorded sermons door-to-door decrying patriotism, Christianity, etc. During WW2, a WW1 veteran and then Deputy Sheriff ran two JWs out of his gasoline station after they started playing such a recording. One of the JW “pioneers” pulled a pistol and murdered the Deputy.

    Post WW2, the WatchTower Society made a point of renting for conventions those facilities which had been named or renamed in honor of the WW2 veterans (Memorial Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, etc. etc.) so as to poke their fingers in the eyes of returning veterans and the cause for which they had fought, been wounded, or died.

    1940s Jehovah’s Witnesses would specifically target urban Catholic neighborhoods with door-to-door sermons and literature which defamed the Pope and other Catholic hierarchy, Catholic theology, etc.

    The JWs of WW2 were the Westboro Baptists of today.

    Make up your minds, commentators.


  2. You know, they are nuts! I am personally against homosexuality, but these people are going about in the wrong way to fight it. Why must they protest at soldiers funerals and say that an innocent 9 year old girl is better off dead?

    1. “I am personally against homosexuality, but these people are going about the wrong way to fight it.”

      Why do you feel the need to “fight” homosexuality at all? It has nothing to do with you! Maybe the best way to go about it is to mind your own business and let other consenting adults mind theirs.

      1. Amen to that, BClydeBatty. Why is it that those who are different from us need to be “fought”? God made everyone in His image. Gay, straight, transgender, intersex, male, female, whatever the case may be…God didn’t make us to fight one another, he made us to understand one another’s differences. The sooner we figure that out, the sooner we become enlightened by the many diversities our God has made.

  3. How did this become about Jehovah’s Witnesses? James, if you have a problem with them, good luck with that. Your point could have been made in a sentence or two, but you turned this into a rant about something that happened 70 years ago? What relevance does this have? Grind your axe someplace else, please, and let’s stay on topic. This “church” has nothing to do with a moral message; they’re a bunch of lawyers spewing the most hateful things they can think up in order to cause a reaction that then becomes the basis for a lawsuit. This is a business, pure and simple.

  4. Some of us Witnesses actually remember those days, many Witnesses were assaulted, their children thrown out of school, don’t foget some Witnesses were severely injured, some even killed by mob action. It got so bad that the President’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, came on NBC Radio and pleaded for the violence to stop.

    While this was going on, the Witnesses were banned in both Canada and Australia and also tens of thousands thrown into Hitler’s concentration camp, where the refused to do forced labour making armaments and won begrudging respect of the SS. Young Witnesses would not enter the Wehrmacht were executed, initially by firing squad, but then Hitler personally changed that to beheading.

    Anti-semitism was rife, not just in Europe but also in America, separatism based on colour did not exist, look at South Africa’s history. Everything is out in the open for any fair minded person to make a decent judgment for themselves.

    1. You really have no idea about Germany and the NSDAP, do you? Care to provide sources for any of your statements? Particularly ridiculous is the thought that the SS-Totenkopfverbände (concentration camp guards) respected anyone, including themselves.

  5. Why do they think that God would want them to act like this? What happened to love thy neighbor? There is no God that would want them to behave in such a manner and be so disrespectful. I am ashamed to be a Baptist. May God forgive them for they know not what they do.

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  7. As a veteran of the US Army and the wife of a retired army veteran, I am glad that the WBC has had their day in court and that they won. I served in the old ASA during the cold war. I not only visited the USSR, but have friends who escaped the USSR. If we ban free speech under any pretense, we or our descendants will live to regret it. At first only truly repugnant things, like picketing a military funeral, will be branded “hate speech.” Next will come things like happens in Canada now: preachers who believe that homosexuality or living together without being married will not be allowed to preach against it. It will be considered “hate speech” . Do you remember that most of the media world blamed FOX NEWS for the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and others. CLEARLY Jared Loughner was deranged and had a history of violence and a vendetta long before Fox News ever made their comments. ANYTHING that is not a majority opinion could be branded “hate speech” and be censored. Just talk to anyone who lived in the USSR during those dark days. Check out NOT IN OUR TOWN. Those people come up with clever ways to counter the protests. Everyone has the right to his/her opinion and the right to free speech. BTW, those Phelps folks are absolutely brilliant lawyers.

    1. It wasn’t just “Faux Noise”, it was “She who shall not be named, S.P.” That made specific persons a crosshair.

  8. The central message is that there are people and their organizations who will pose as Christian, because they have an agenda, but are secretly the very opposite. Of course, where there is so much fake, that then affirms that there also is the real thing. If a “nut group” does provocative things, often the best approach is to ignore them and deny them the attention and publicity they so desperately seek. As long as they do not break the law, they should get the shunning silent treatment. They are attention-getting children that throw temper tantrums, and they certainly are not Christian in any sense.

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