Westboro Baptist Church: The Face of Evil

I recently read a very interesting book entitled, “The Rite,” written by an Italian journalist who accompanied a modern-day exorcist, Fr. Gary Thomas, during his training in Rome. (I haven’t seen the movie.)

In the book, one of the parishioners asks the priest not to discuss evil spirits and demonic possession during his sermon because it was “frightening the kids.”  I found that very odd because, when I was growing up in the Catholic Church, the subjects of good and evil, Heaven and Hell, sin and the like were essential elements and commonplace in my life.

There’s no doubt in my mind evil exists.  I’m also aware that some people don’t believe there’s such a thing.  But I’ve worked in the area of child abuse and neglect for over 20 years and there’s no other explanation.  I’ve seen things most people couldn’t imagine in their worst nightmares.  I seldom talk about my work because most people can’t believe the horrific things that have been done to children.  There’s definitely something evil about those who harm children and I never forget the words of Jesus, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” In other words, don’t mess with the children.

After all I’ve seen, I’m still shocked when I read something that can only be described as evil.  I haven’t become immune and that’s a good thing.

Just this week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the vile Westboro Baptist Church. I deliberately chose not to accompany this article with a photo of its founder, Fred Phelps, or a picture of the disgusting signs these people carry at military funerals.  You can google those yourself.  What these horrible people claim is that the deaths of our brave men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

The Supreme Court case resulted from a judgment obtained by the father of one of those courageous fallen heroes, Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq in 2006.  Matthew’s father sued these vile creatures for emotional distress when he attempted to bury his heroic son in peace but was disrupted by these “church-goers” bearing signs such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Thank God for 9/11.”  He won a substantial judgment at the state level which was overturned on the federal appellate level citing the Church’s First Amendment grounds.  He took it to the Supremes.

The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision (Justice Samuel Alito dissented), found that the First Amendment protects these “church members” despite the pain they cause grieving families.

Let me say that I haven’t read the court documents or the entire decisions from the appeals court or the Supreme Court, so I won’t comment on the legal arguments made or the Court’s decision.

I’m talking, instead, of the despicable behavior exhibited by these people.  It’s easy to dismiss the WBC members as nuts, whack-jobs and loons, but I, for one, think the problem is far worse than just being misguided or crazy.  I truly believe these people are evil.

What I will say is that I honestly believe our Founding Fathers could not have even imagined this kind of behavior or would have condoned this type of display at military funerals under any circumstances.

I don’t get how someone reaches a point in their life to become so warped in one’s thinking to behave in such a manner.  To deliberately cause the kind of pain and suffering to our military families – who have already made the ultimate sacrifice – is beyond my comprehension.  I’ll leave that to the theologians and psychologists but I must say I do take solace when I hear my husband say, “There’s a special place in Hell for people like this.”

Fortunately, the families of those massacred in Tucson were spared WBC’s unholy presence at their loved ones’ funerals.  Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed emergency legislation that barred protests within 300 feet of a funeral and within an hour from its beginning or end.

Without further legislation similar to that enacted in Arizona, and with the Supreme Court decision in hand, the WBC is now empowered to continue their disgusting displays of protest.  But just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right. And, in this case, the so-called “Church” and its members are just plain evil.

For the time being, I do have the perfect antidote.  I look into the innocent faces of my six grandnephews and nieces and all the evil in the world disappears.  And that is a blessing.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
  • Sixx

    Westboro church issue can be solved with 1 word: IGNORE.
    These people are not worth bothering, arguing or letting them occupy any spot in any media.
    Ignore them. Who cares about a bunch of lunatics? But if they get a bit too much then whoop their asses. Kick their asses when you get a good opportunity.
    Igore & Whoop.

  • Jim Gibson

    Last summer, these slugs announced their intention to disrupt the funeral of a fallen Marine at the National Cemetary in Montevallo, Al. They made it to Hoover Al. (about 20 miles from the cemetary), where mayor Tony Petelos held a press conference and stated that “these people aren’t welcome in our town!” As a proud Patriot Guard Rider, my local chapter planned to attend the service to lend any needed support. Word got out, and Riders from all over the southeast headed down here, perhaps 200 or so. To make a long story shorter, the Phelps group never appeared at the hero’s funeral as far as anyone knows. I don’t know, nor do I care what happened to them.The term “Evil” doesn’t begin to cover the souls(if any) of these vile people!!

  • J. D. Carlson

    Can anyone tell me where the illustration that accompanies this essay is from? It represents perfectly the barren spiritual wasteland that Fred Phelps has managed to create in the middle of Topeka and–by extension, via news coverage of his hateful antics–everywhere across the country that his hateful spawn demonstrate their demon possession.

  • http://www.dannyhaszard.com Danny Haszard

    Harassment by religious extremist

    Jehovah’s Witnesses instigated court decisions in 1942 which involved cursing a police officer calling him a fascist and to get in your face at the door steps,….this same JW 1942 court decision upheld infamous Phelps hate church in 2011
    Danny Haszard

  • MarioP

    I’m a liberal and all for the first amendment rights, but honestly, do we really need to have so much freedom of speech that we can cause the most severe mental anguisgh during one’s lowest time in life, at a funeral? Are we truly such a horrific culture that we value evil freedom over compassion? The freedoms of our nation are a great privilege that many around the world can not experience, but I would rather sacrafice some of that freedom to have a civil and compassionate society. There is absolutely no need for us to have the right to protest at anyone’s funeral, not even at a murderer’s.

    • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

      Sure, and the next logical step from there is to equate compassion with government entitlement programs, to officially declare conservatives non-compassionate on account of their self-reliance philosophy, and then to pass legislation to shut down Fox News for its aiding and abetting in bringing about a reduction of compassion in society. Once the seed is planted in our constitutional jurisprudence that speech can be infringed upon because a simple majority of the population or a group of judges deems it to fall short of conveying a message of compassion, we’re in trouble. Serious trouble.

    • JimmyJohn


      Freedom is a right given to us by God and ensured/secured by the Constitution.Compassion is a choice. I agree with you that I wish we lived in a country where more people chose to be compassionate, but please don’t get rights and choices confused.

      • MarioP

        Cyberquill and JimmyJohn,

        Since we have the freedom to cause anguish at a funeral, then why isn’t the Arizona law forbidding protests 300 feet from a funeral unconstitutional? How about we extend that 300 feet to 300 miles? Where do we draw the line to what’s unconstitutional and what’s not?

        About shutting down Fox News, unless they are directly calling for such uncompassionate acts as protests at a funeral, they have the right to operate. I’m surprised you don’t see the difference between the Conservatives’ self-reliance philosophy and a protest at a funeral, since only some would call self-reliance uncompassionate, while everyone would classify a protest at a funeral as uncompassionate, even the Westboro Baptist Church, because that is why they protest at funerals. (If WBC didn’t believe their funeral protests were a touchy issue, they would be holding their signs in front of their church.) The majority of Conservatives see this difference between what’s compassionate and what’s not and aren’t worried about a snowball effect you are describing.

        If freedom is given to us by god, which god? What if you don’t believe in god? You are now forcing your god onto everyone? Where is that freedom of religion?

        Finally, if we have the right to protest pretty much anywhere, anytime, what are the grounds for not being able to protest in the middle of the night, waking everyone up? No one is being directly hurt by such actions.

        • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

          It’s not about whether I, personally, see the difference between conservative philosophy and a bunch of nutty protesters at a funeral. It’s about the type of constitutional jurisprudence that may emerge over the years based on making an exception, i.e. setting a precedent, for restricting freedom of speech because its content was found to be hurtful and lack compassion.

          As far as drawing the line between 300 feet and 3,000 miles, these are time, place, and manner ordinances that are not supposed to be in any way related to the substance of the speech. I believe the WBC protesters were 1,000 feet away.

          And I don’t have a God, although the First Amendment comes close.

          • MarioP

            Well, I guess we are such a horrific culture that some of us value the most extended freedoms over one’s feelings. Or maybe it’s not the freedom of speech that these individuals value; maybe it’s the greed, since they make their living off of offensive political blogs and feel threatened by any attempted control over abuse of such freedoms to express ourselves.

            Please don’t blame the government for implementing laws that encroach onto our freedoms. We wouldn’t need the majority of the laws if everyone had morals. But there is a part in our society that always seeks for a loophole, a chance to take advantage of the system due to greed, or just plain lacks common sense and endangers oneself or others. We need laws to improve our society thanks to such troublemakers.

    • Teddi

      I appreciate your perspective, as it really is not about liberals or conservatives. It is about being compassionate people. There is just no need (according to someone who is reasonable) to do something like this protesting when it causes others such pain. The part that bothers me the most is that it is a religious group that is doing this. I don’t see how a Christian group can justify this type of behavior through their religion. I know it happens all throughout history, but I honestly don’t understand it. What about love and compassion for others? Isn’t that part of Christian beliefs?

  • Roger Ward

    I support our troops …. I support the right of the parents to privacy when burying their dead children …. and I support the recent decision by the Supreme Court. It bothers me greatly to be in this position and I wish I could say the Court’s decision was wrong …. but I can’t. JimmyJohn and Cyberquill (below) stated it well, so there’s no need for me to repeat it.

    I hate what the Westboro deviates espouse, I hate what they believe and if I met these morons, I’m sure I’d hate them personally, as well …. but no amount of hate (on either side) trumps the value of the First Amendment.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    The Supreme Court didn’t rule in favor of the vile Westboro Baptist Church. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the First Amendment. The First Amendment does not contain a pain exemption, and it has nothing to do with “condoning” the speech and conduct it protects. You don’t seem to regard the Founding Fathers as the brightest bulbs if you honestly believe they couldn’t have imagined a bunch of whackjobs protesting at a funeral.

  • JimmyJohn

    I share the opinion of Leona and Lyn on the folks described in this column. Enough said about them, let’s start ignoring that garbage ASAP.

    I not only agree with the Supreme Court’s decision, but I applaud it. This is a perfect example of what makes our country unique and exceptional. We are so committed to freedom that we extend it even to those that with whom we vehemently disagree. Let’s celebrate what makes this the best country in the world (current political leadership notwithstanding) and a model for the rest of the world.

  • Lyn Busselmaier

    I hate that these beings (I will not call them humans) hide behind the/or a church. There is nothing Godly about wishing others dead. There is nothing Godly about causing others more pain. Those demonstrating and holding those placards are the Devil and not even in Hell is there a special place for them. I was taught never to wish evil on others but some times that’s really hard to do so before I go to bed tonight I will say “Forgive those that trespass against us.” God bless our soldiers and their families.