Respond With Pledges: Westboro Baptist Church Visits Los Angeles

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71 Responses

  1. David Veatch says:

    A friend of mine nailed it, I think, with the following take on WBC:

    "The most important thing to understand is that those people have nothing to do with God or morality or even free speech. They're a family of lawyers who protest at the edge of the law in the most inflammatory way in order to provoke an illegal response which they then sue for money.

    They're trolling the world for money.

    If they don't provoke a response; if they don't get the air time to incense people then they don't get attacked, and they can't sue. Their source of income is lost and they are diminished. So treat them like any other troll: ignore them and walk away."

    Though your charity donations are quite nice as well. :)

  2. JRM says:

    I'm with David. Westboro's best forgotten, but to the extent that they do anything, they're advertisements for gay rights.

    Ignoring the trolls is always best. But helping others is a good thing. I'll donate some money, but not as anti-Westboro. $5 a minute for every minute the Oscars go over the allotted time.

    Oh, and studying other positions more closely is assisted by a seriously open mind. Studies are clear that confirmation bias causes people to take almost any new information on politics and use it to think that this is more information that they are right.

    "Just as a I expected. Everyone has confirmation bias." – Zach Weinersmith.

  3. John Kindley says:

    "For every hour the WBC protest at the school or the churches, I'm going to For every hour the WBC protest at the school or the churches, I'm going to spend an hour reading and considering the viewpoints of people with whom I vehemently disagree on political and social and moral topics."

    Several years ago I spent a fair amount of time reading on the WBC website their apologetics. There is a logic to it. Which I suppose proves the insufficiency of logic. I was glad to see the recent defections of two prominent members who saw the Light.

  4. Scott says:

    Donated money to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center – I've stood honor guard at soldier's funerals because of the WBC, they're scum who give christianity a bad name.

  5. Reader says:

    While I agree with your actions, and even some of the listed charities, I would NOT donate to "It Gets Better." Dan Savage, he head of the group, is supposed to be anti-bullying. Except that he's not:
    'As many as 100 high school students walked out of a national journalism conference after an anti-bullying speaker began cursing, attacked the Bible and reportedly called those who refused to listen to his rant “pansy assed.” ' http://tinyurl.com/7nelz9a
    His tweets are also something to see. I think that he personifies bullying, and donations are better sent to other groups.

  6. Ken says:

    Reader:

    I deliberately listed multiple charities to avoid disputes over any particular one.

    For a forum about what is or isn't bullying that's more appropriate than this thread, I respectfully refer you to the comments to this post, which discusses the use of the term "bullying."

  7. MEP says:

    "I don't know if the WBC people are sincere, or money-seeking trolls."

    The really sad thing is that they're both.

  8. John Kindley says:

    Most Christians, myself included, give Christianity a bad name. I wonder how Christ would have responded to the WBC. Perhaps as he did to the Pharisees, perhaps otherwise.

    Basically the WBC subscribes to a determinism that could be compared to Darrow's. The withholding of God's grace, manifested by sin, shows, and is, God's hatred, according to WBC. I suppose then by that logic God hates everybody other than Himself, but the WBC apparently must regard themselves as saints from whom God has withheld nothing. Those defections of the initiated must be troubling to them I would think.

  9. Ashley says:

    I believe that anything that starts with "God hates…" ignores the purpose of Christ. Thanks for the challenge.

    I generally agree that WBC is best ignored, but I realize that ignoring them is only an option as long as it's someone ELSE's high school or funeral. If they ever were to show up at school, work, funeral, or whatever, I'd hope someone would stand up for me.

    So, I'm with you. I pledge $50 to It Gets Better.

  10. David but not that David says:

    Done. $20 to the Trevor Project.

  11. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    I have been tempted, over the years, to the view that the Westboro twits are an extended street-theatre satire of the behavior of far-left protest hobbyists like PETA. Sadly, nothing I've ever read about the WBC indicates anybody remotely clever enough for that to be true.

  12. Kat says:

    @Reader: I don't want to derail this thread, so I went ahead and responded to you on the post Ken linked. It's just a food for thought kind of thing.

  13. Kat says:

    As for the pledge drive, I can't afford it right now–I'm pregnant with hyperemesis gravidarum (remember me posting about having the flu? yeah it wasn't the flu ;D) and the majority of our money is going towards medical care for me and preparing for our second child. But I'm happy to donate one hour of my time for every hour of their time, to read things I violently disagree with.

    I think I might make a post, thread, or blog where others can suggest reading material to me and I can maybe respond to it a little (although I'm hesitant to promise too much; hyperemesis, pregnant, etc. puts a crimp in time and coherence available for writing). Either way, it seems a fitting thing to do–one hour of tolerance for every hour of their intolerant actions. Great idea, Ken!

  14. John Kindley says:

    As a former Catholic who remains "Catholic-friendly," I could nevertheless honestly ask who does more harm in the world: the Roman Catholic Church or the WBC. The latter are universally regarded as pathetic and sick jokes, the former not so much. I'm thinking of today's news suggesting that the Pope's resignation had something to do with a gay faction within the Vatican being blackmailed. I'm also thinking of my one-time affiliation with the Legionaries of Christ, whose founder, the malignant and influential Fr. Marcial Maciel, was posthumously acknowledged to have molested seminarians and to have fathered children with two different women.

    But above all I'm thinking of the notion that anyone has any authority to tell us what God wills.

  15. Graphictruth says:

    Excellent choices, but please consider The Freedom From Religion Foundation!

  16. Dan says:

    I had to check in with a LGBT friend to get a local suggestion, so I'll go $5/hr to the LGBT Center of St. Louis (http://www.lgbtcenterstl.org/) with a minimum of $20. I can afford $5/hr unless WBC has some kind of marathon planned… Will someone be posting a tally of the total hours of nuttery WBC finally completes?

  17. JJB says:

    I was going to give $25 to the Trevor Project but I made it $50 for Kat's new baby. The world should be a better place for all children.

  18. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Graphictruth;

    Exactly how is proselytizing Atheism free of Religion? Atheist is the belief, unfounded upon proof, that there is no God. Is not belief, unfounded upon proof, not the very definition of Faith?

    The Westboro Bab-tist Twits, in their self-centered Pagan belief in a wrathful personification of their personal preferences, are more irreligious than most Atheists.

  19. Ken says:

    That's a fascinating and familiar question, suitable for another thread, perhaps.

  20. GDad says:

    Ken,

    No matter whether I agree with (often), disagree with (sometimes), or don't understand (occasionally) your position on any particular issue, I very much appreciate your thoughtful and sometimes hilarious commentary. This time, it spurred me to action. $20 to The Trevor Project about two minutes ago.

  21. princessartemis says:

    After a bit of research, I'll chip in $5 per hour to the Trevor Project, to a max of $50. Unlike Dan Savage, they appear supportive of asexuality as well.

  22. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Ken,

    Fair enough.

  23. Jesse says:

    Students at the University of Tulsa (I think it was Tulsa), instead of organizing a counter protest, decided to set up booths for donations to causes similar to those you set out above. They used the crowd drawn in by these clowns to get donations and then donated them in the WBC name.

    They had planned to protest a client of mine at a funeral for his daughter. I had planned on suing them under intentional infliction of emotional distress. My client's daughter was not a soldier, a politician, or anything else – she was a minor killed in an accident. The Supreme Court decision covers SOLDIERS funerals. A soldier's death is inherently political as all war is politics.

    The funeral of a minor child killed in an accident… not so much. At least a good faith argument that IIED outweighs the free speech issue of protesting the funeral of a minor.

    Fortunately for my client, and unfortunately for my associates, the fools did not show up.

  24. NM says:

    I'm happy you're giving money to organizations that are doing good work, but don't do it because of WBC.
    Ignore them, and they will go away.

  25. Ken says:

    I'm happy you're giving money to organizations that are doing good work, but don't do it because of WBC.
    Ignore them, and they will go away.

    WBC exists. WBC will continue to get much press whether I personally ignore them or not. Many people will have an understandable urge to do something to express how they feel about WBC's actions.

    One can harness that for good, nor not.

  26. dave marx says:

    what's the harm of little idi*ts?

    monstrous.com/forum/index.php?topic=13908.0

  27. Kevin says:

    @C.S.P. Schofield

    Exactly how is proselytizing Atheism free of Religion? Atheist is the belief, unfounded upon proof, that there is no God.

    This is not just incorrect, but is in fact precisely the opposite of correct. Atheism is the LACK of belief in any gods. Lack of belief does not require proof, or indeed evidence. You would seem to be confusing Atheism with Gnosticism.

    Is not belief, unfounded upon proof, not the very definition of Faith?

    No, you mean "evidence", not "proof". And again, LACK of belief requires neither.

  28. Ken says:

    I am apparently an inadequate dropper of hints.

  29. Kevin says:

    For those who can't afford to pledge any money, perhaps they could pledge to have gay sex once per hour the WBC is out protesting.

  30. Kevin says:

    @Ken sorry

  31. Matthew Cline says:

    Did they just pick Santa Monica High School out of a hat, or did that high school do something in particular to raise their dander?

  32. Ken says:

    Santa Monica is quite liberal, and this school has a Gay-Straight Alliance. That could be it.

  33. John Kindley says:

    I actually thought you were reproving my dragging the Catholic Church into this. So your hints are more than adequate.

  34. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Random thought, based on a Fannish button of some antiquity;

    There must be a God, else how explain Westboro, on which God has so obviously turned his back?

  35. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Kevin,

    I look forward to going into this with you in some detail when and if Ken offers a "What exactly is Atheism" post.

    In the meanwhile, be well.

  36. Dave says:

    The students at SAMOHI organized a fundraiser to combat the WBC–they picked a charity and asked people to give to it on their behalf. From their site:
    "Students at Santa Monica High School and members of the community have decided to approach this day with a peaceful and positive response. Our mission is to use this real world situation to demonstrate our strong school unity while raising money for Gay-Straight Alliance Network. We also hope to make our on-campus resources such as Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and Project Safe Zone more visible. The money we earn from this fundraiser will be sent to GSA Network as a donation in the name of Westboro Baptist Church.

    Not all schools have the tools and support they need to bring awareness and educate their community members so we wish to recognize GSA Network and support their mission to increase the number of GSA's nationwide. Our fundraising goal is $6,000, which represents $100 for every minute we expect the WBC picketers to be near our SAMOHI campus."

  37. Aaron says:

    For those who can't afford to pledge any money, perhaps they could pledge to have gay sex once per hour the WBC is out protesting.

    Oh man, I would love to, but I'm not in a sexual rapport with anyone. Perhaps I'll just look at the appropriate porn and give a special salute once per hour they're out protesting.

  38. Lago says:

    Well now I'm interested in when Ken starts a "What Exactly is Atheism" post. :P

  39. James Pollock says:

    I always wonder a bit why people assume that the instructions that they got from God are exclusive… that is, they're so dang CERTAIN that God didn't give different instructions to anybody else. Maybe the reason people are ignoring you telling them what God wants them to do because God actually told them to do something else. I mean, it's not like there's any precedent for this in the Bible, or anything… oh, wait. Yes there is.

  40. AlphaCentauri says:

    Unfortunately, the reason we use the Greek word "hubris" is that we monotheists never felt the need to create our own word for the concept.

  41. Stephen says:

    "The most important thing to understand is that those people have nothing to do with God or morality or even free speech. They're a family of lawyers who protest at the edge of the law in the most inflammatory way in order to provoke an illegal response which they then sue for money.

    They're trolling the world for money.

    If they don't provoke a response; if they don't get the air time to incense people then they don't get attacked, and they can't sue. Their source of income is lost and they are diminished. So treat them like any other troll: ignore them and walk away."

    According to some of the members who have left, that is not true. The WBC truly believes what it is saying – which is definitely the scariest part of the whole thing. They will sue to protect their rights, but money isn't their main goal. Also, publicity so they can spread their message is said to be very important.

    Kevin Smith made a movie called Red State that is kind of based on them and then taken a step further. When he showed it in Kansas, he offered to give the Phelps family tickets so they could see it (normal cost was ~$75/ticket). They took him up on the offer for 15 tickets but ended up leaving about 15 minutes into it (Smith acknowledges that based on their beliefs he can understand it as that is loaded with sex and drugs, but he had hoped they'd stay for it all as he was interested on their take).

    Anywho, the screening was followed up by a Q&A during which two Phelps grandkids come up to the mike. They had left the family 2 and 6 years ago and had stayed for the whole movie. Smith invited them up to the stage and they spent the next 30-40 minutes questioning them about the movie and their family. It was pretty interesting. If you are interested in the interview, check out the Plus One #15 podcast around the 45 minute mark. I'm sure it's also in a Red State podcast, but I haven't gotten around to those yet.

  42. Stephen says:

    Drat! Forgot to close the italics.

  43. flip says:

    @C S P Schofield

    Exactly how is proselytizing Atheism free of Religion? Atheist is the belief, unfounded upon proof, that there is no God. Is not belief, unfounded upon proof, not the very definition of Faith?

    The freedom from religion thing isn't about atheism, but rather secularism. The right not to have other people's faiths shoved down your throat, like prayer readings at public schools. You know, freedom for all people everywhere to practice their own beliefs, especially at schools?

    And it's a perfectly logical suggestion (send money to the foundation) for a post like this.

  44. TJIC says:

    > The right not to have other people's faiths shoved down your throat, like prayer readings at public schools.

    Agreed. School isn't for shoving other people's faiths down the throats of students; it's for educating students in proper cultural attitudes towards race, the environment, and the size and scope of the government.

  45. John Kindley says:

    One of my favorite movies of all time is Frailty, starring Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, and Matthew McConaughey. On the DVD there is an interview with the screenwriter, who explained that the concept of the movie was how scary would it be if the fundamentalists like the one portrayed by Paxton were right.

  46. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    TJIC

    School has always, Always, ALWAYS been about indoctrination. Which is why it amuses me when somebody complains that somebody else's indoctrination of school children is interfering with the indoctrination of school children HE wants to see happen.

  47. Laura K says:

    "The Westboro Bab-tist Twits, in their self-centered Pagan belief in a wrathful personification of their personal preferences, are more irreligious than most Atheists."

    –CSP–as a Pagan, I ask you to leave us the Hell out of this.

    –Ken, as a broke seminarian I will take your second example and read opposing views. Although, am I cheating if a percentage of them are in my assigned reading anyway? As a citizen, I thank you so much for the donation pledges; as someone who cannot do it just now, I think it is wonderful.

  48. John Kindley says:

    If I were to spend time reading and considering views with which I vehemently disagree, the most obvious two candidates would be arguments for atheism and arguments for the legitimacy of the State. Any recommendations of arguments that are relatively concise and to the point, and that don't merely slay strawmen?

  49. Ken says:

    It's beginning to irritate me on a serious level how bad at hinting I am.

  50. John Kindley says:

    Again I suspect you are lamenting your lack of hinting skills because of me, but again I'm not sure whether your lamentation was in reference to my or others' comments. As for mine, it was prompted simply by being intrigued at your proposal, a realization of what that would entail in my case, and a realization that I'm not familiar with sources that would allow me to carry out your laudable suggestion. But I can do my own research, and I can see in retrospect how my question although sincerely intended to carry out your suggestion could lead the comment thread far afield. It was an honest mistake, if mistake it was, and not grounds for serious irritation, at yourself or others.

  51. Jackie Griffin says:

    I will donate $10/hour to the "It Gets Better" Project. Nothing has ever done so much to directly try to connect gay adults with gay teens in a supportive way. And, I truly believe it shifted the world. As the mother of a gay teen, I can never thank Dan Savage enough for not giving up on finding ways to keep kids alive.
    I'll post this on Facebook.

  52. Bear says:

    Ken: "It's beginning to irritate me on a serious level how bad at hinting I am."

    Here; try this ONE.

  53. darius404 says:

    I'm pretty sure his hints are to this point: he doesn't think the topic most in discussion is entirely appropriate for this thread, and wishes those people talking about it would save it for a post on that topic. To wit:

    That's a fascinating and familiar question, suitable for another thread, perhaps.

    Is that suitably clear?

  54. Dan Weber says:

    I think Patrick has a post somewhere in the archives about how if you ignore imbeciles, they go away. I can't find it with Google because he avoids naming the imbeciles, on purpose.

    I tend to agree with that idea. But, next to ignoring them, making cash donations that depend on the length of the imbeciles' protest is also a great idea.

  55. John Kindley says:

    "I think Patrick has a post somewhere in the archives about how if you ignore imbeciles, they go away."

    I tried that. But Congress didn't go anywhere.

  56. Shay says:

    WBC picketed several churches here about six years ago.

    This is McLean County, Illinois. 1200 square miles, 89% of it cornfields. Full of Mennonites and people who work for State Farm Insurance. White-bread, pious and incredibly dull.

    How the hell did we take priority over Santa Monica, California???!!

  57. Dan Weber says:

    They go where they think they can provoke a fight. They are a family of lawyers, and they get funded when someone unwisely decides to "take one for the team" by infringing on their rights and ends up in a lawsuit.

  58. Jess says:

    I like the contribution to charity idea. Regarding their "in person" appearances in disrupting funerals and other events, the most successful response seems to be a whole bunch of people showing up and just standing in a line between WBC and their target, not being physically confrontational, just singing "Yes Jesus Loves Me" or some other song sure to tick them off.

  59. Chris R. says:

    I want to get together a bunch of people to dress up like the village people and follow WBC protesters with boom boxes and start dance parties where ever they protest. Anyone interested?

  60. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Shay,

    Ok, you've got me curious. What, if anything, happened? The Mennonites I know would have done something like, oh, holding a prayer circle around the WBC clowns.

  61. Robert White says:

    Given that the same section of the same book also calls abomination on shellfish, cheeseburgers, shaving, and tying your shoes on the sabbath, each and every member of that group of fools will be be awaited in the hell of their own declaration.

    Their tormentors will be fabulously gay.

  62. Jess says:

    @Chris – sounds like a plan – I vote that the dance should be the Harlem Shake.

  63. Ollie says:

    They only went 45 minutes?

  64. K.M. says:

    I am a graduate of University of Kansas School of Law, and as such was treated to a yearly picketing by WBC at my law school graduation. I can honestly say, I was kind of happy about it – being protested by WBC seems a pretty good indication that you are doing something right in your life. But when my family saw those signs – including my 80-year-old grandmother who was more than a little horrified – they did not have the same "let's laugh at the crazies being crazies" approach. They were genuinely hurt. While I could laugh it off, they couldn't. So thank you for donating to charity. It is becoming a popular response and a good one.

    Some of us who have been subjected to WBC so much over the years (I've lost count of how many times I have been one of the targets by a group affiliation or even a workplace) that we just go numb and stop feeling outraged. But seeing others not only experience the outrage but also use it to do good, gives me faith in the world.

    Ignoring them doesn't work – trust me. They've been doing this a long, long time – long before the media got a hold of it and held it up as an example of just how awful people can be. They will keep doing it, whether or not the mainstream media pays attention. And your outrage and your charity serves to remind those of us becoming numb to the hate that it really is hate and we should be outraged as well as providing some comfort to those hurt by their protests.

    Thank you for your generosity.

  65. Shay says:

    CSP Schofield –

    Nothing. This is central Illinois. We are so courteous we make your teeth hurt (I'm an import from Detroit, btw).

    The only incident reported to me was by a colleague who was driving to church with her grandson. As they passed the protesters the little boy pointed and said "Look Gramma! A carwash!"

  66. princessartemis says:

    45 minutes eh? I thought it would be more. So I sent the Trevor Project a bit more than I said.

  67. Dreidl says:

    WBC protested my Conservative synagogue (presumably due to our female rabbi and large LGBTQ presence) on their Lord's Day…. Sunday. During the summer, so no Hebrew school either.

    Nice work, bigots – the ten of us in the building for morning services departed out the back door. Continued to Top Pot donuts down the street, with an excellent view of WBC milling around our main entrance, obviously puzzled at the lack of response. The city library branch across the road was closed as well, so the poor WBC really wasted their homophobic, Jew-hating, sexist, triumphalist time.

    And we had donuts!

  68. Dan says:

    45 minutes is some half-assed bigotry. Still, that's $20 to the LGBT Center of St. Louis with the note "Donated in defiance of the Westboro Baptist Church" along with a short link to this post.

    You're doing God's work, Ken… well, not the WBC's God, but somebody's…

  69. andrews says:

    At least a good faith argument that IIED outweighs the free speech issue of protesting the funeral of a minor.

    Not a very convincing good faith argument, however. I will even give you the element of intent to cause distress. That's pretty standard in protest, and I'm going to have a hard time saying that you get to ban protest based on age of decedent.

    Indeed, most protests try to pick their time so as to gain attention. Otherwise there is little point to it.

    You want to try for reasonable time/place/manner restrictions, OK. But that's going to fall within the realm of state regulation and has to be content neutral. Your IIED claim, not so neutral.

    BTW: bring it here, and you don't get past the motion to dismiss. [State] nominally recognizes outrage, but there is no set of facts that rises to the necessary level.

  70. James Pollock says:

    andrews, other than slippery slope, what's the argument that protesters must be allowed to protest at the same time and place that a funeral is being conducted?