Batman Shooting: Westboro Baptist Church Must Be Stopped From Picketing Funerals of Aurora Shooting Victims

Hate group Westboro Baptist Church, the Independent Baptist Church known for its extreme ideologies against homosexuality (and its bizarre protest activities, which include picketing the funerals of American servicemen and desecrating the American flag) announced on Twitter that it will have a “picket line” at the July 23 memorial service for victims of the July 20 shooting of the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater where Christian Nolan’s film The Dark Knight Rises was premiering.

The gruesome event, which happened at the Century movie theater of this Colorado suburb, has shaken the nation with both President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney offering condolences to the victims, and the president himself planning on personally visiting the victim’s families. 12 died and 71 others were wounded – some in critical condition – by 24-year-old suspect James Holmes (who is scheduled to be in court the same day the services will take place).

Westboro’s despicable protests should compel Colorado legislators to pass an emergency measure to prevent the hate group from desecrating the memories of the victims of this horrible tragedy. Similar measures have been taken in the past in several states -- including Indiana, Illinois and Arizona. Similarly, Westboro has been involved in numerous court cases where they have been fined for defamation, but also allowed to continue with its activities on First Amendment grounds. The church has also encountered counter-demonstrations and has been victim of threats and other actions such as assault on its members and arson attempts against its property. 

The church, which was founded by Fred Phelps and consists almost exclusively of extended members of his large family, is not affiliated with any Baptist associations and has been denounced over the years by The Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention – as well as monitored by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The church/hate group claims to follow Primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles.

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