Issue Date: November 16, 2007
$10.9 million verdict won't stop Phelps' anti-gay crusade
Its going to take more than a $10.9 million jury award to stop Pastor Fred Phelps and his Kansas church from picketing military funerals with anti-gay signs.
In fact, his daughter said Nov. 1 the award will only push them forward.
We are the No. 1 story on Google around the world, said Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of the Westboro Baptist Churchs pastor. You cant buy that kind of advertising, even with $10.9 million.
The Topeka, Kan., church was sued by Albert Snyder, whose son was killed in Iraq, after members picketed at his sons funeral in March 2006. On Oct. 31, a federal jury awarded Snyder $10.9 million in damages.
Members of Phelps church, who believe God is punishing the United States for its acceptance of homosexuality with the military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, routinely picket military funerals. They hold signs with slogans like Thank God for dead soldiers and God hates fags.
Phelps-Roper, just returned from Baltimore where the case was decided, expressed joy at the huge door of utterance that has been opened to her churchs cause.
We have told this nation faithfully that there is a God ... who expects obedience, and if you wont obey you get the curses, Phelps-Roper said.
Snyder told The New York Times that he was not motivated by money. He filed the suit, he said, because I want to shut this church down, if you can call it a church. I call it a cult or a hate group. I sat in that courtroom for a week and a half and never once heard them say a good thing about God.
The Rev. Mel White, president of Soulforce, a gay rights organization based in Lynchburg, Va., said his organization receives frequent visits from the picketers, but their presence doesnt discourage him.
White predicted that Phelps and his church will try to capitalize on the jurys verdict, making waves in the national media and turning their situation into a public relations coup.
Theres no chance of slowing him down, White said.
And it seems Westboro Baptist isnt deterred one bit. It says plainly in the scripture, No going back, Phelps-Roper said. Were not going to run.
-- Religion News Service
National Catholic Reporter, November 16, 2007
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