Christian extremists protesting at the funeral services of slain American military personnel is nothing new, but it has lost no power to enrage me. Now it is in the news again following a federal court's ruling to restrict the protests. Of course, the group doing the protesting claims that they have no intention of ending their protests.
In case you missed out on hearing about this travesty when it was making headlines previously, the short version is that members of Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church have been picketing the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq. Why? According to the Mansfield News Journal, members of this church actually believe that "the deaths are God's punishment for the country's tolerance of homosexuals."
The recent ruling, directed at Westboro Baptist, upheld a state law which restricts protesters from being within 300 feet of cemeteries around the burial service. Some view this as a free speech issue and argue that church members should have the right to protest wherever and whenever they want as long as they are not trespassing and do not harm anyone. Others suggest that some limits are appropriate, given the pain the family of the deceased is already likely to be experiencing.
Instead, I suppose I am more interested in focusing on these hate-filled Christians and attempting to understand how we can prevent more of them from being created by the various extremist groups. Protesting funerals, bombing abortion clinics, 9/11. When will we finally say enough is enough. Religious extremism must be recognized, opposed, and prevented. The first step is lifting the taboo around criticizing religion. I'll continue to do my part.
Tags: atheism, atheist, religion, Christian, Christianity, Christian extremism, intolerance, bigotry, homophobia, Westboro Baptist Church