Westboro Baptist Church's Plans to Picket Cory Monteith's Funeral Foiled By Canada?

Cory Monteith, known for playing Finn Hudson on the Fox television show Glee, was found dead in a hotel room in Vancouver as a result of a heroin and alcohol overdose at the age of 31 on July 13, 2013. As millions mourn his passing, the Westboro Baptist Church — a tiny extremist Christian hate group comprised of 40 people from Topeka, Kansas — believes his death was a "righteous act of God." One member went so far as to say that the church "was GLEE-ful over God's righteous judgment." The Church plans to picket his funeral, using his death as a platform to express their homophobia, claiming that Monteith had to pay the price for being part of a show with homosexual-friendly themes.

To those in the know, this response was inevitable. However, it turns out that the location of the funeral is relevant as to whether or not the organization will be able to carry out their plans. If Monteith will be buried in his homeland, Canada, the group will have a hard (if not impossible) time picketing his funeral. While the group had previously picketed the death of a 22-year-old Canadian Greyhound Bus passenger, preaching that the murder was actually a manifestation of God's anger towards Canada's tolerance of homosexuality, remarriage, abortion and divorce, the Canadian government will not tolerate their protests in the future. If the Canadian Border Patrol does its job, there will be no protests, thankfully for millions of fans and colleagues already torn up about his passing. Can these homophobic protests be prevented at home in the United States by choosing a key location for the funerals?

Although Monteith did not play a gay character on Glee, the Westboro Baptist Church views him as a symbol of pro-homosexual policy and a threat to their imagined status quo. But, imagine if a true gay celebrity or activist wanted their funeral to be held right next to the Westboro Baptist Church's headquarters. Would this prevent their protesting, or at least nullify the symbolism involved? This gesture would surely agitate and shock the group beyond belief, and it wouldn't be the first time the location for a burial was used to communicate political or ideological themes.

Moreover, this would seriously undermine the very little power the organization already has, because they would be unable to stop the procession from happening in their own neighborhood. Normally their protests are aggressive because their hateful slogans disturb what is supposed to be a sacred ritual; if the funeral of a gay activist, celebrity, etc., was carried out near their church, their picketing would become a defensive act. Furthermore, the protest would be seen as self-deprecating since they would defile their place of worship by creating such a ruckus. If this situation obtained, the group's picketing would lose its significance and they might be forced to let the funeral proceed peacefully. It is time to bring the fight to their home turf; funerals can be used to picket the Westboro Baptist Church.

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Arthur Stern

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy and a certificate in Women's Studies. I love language, culture, and the capacity people have for growth and progress.

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