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Violating Funerals of Fallen Soldiers

Funeral, war protest, anti-gay rally, anti-Catholic Church, profane and disorganized confusion! What is going on here?


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

By: Mike Westfall


Funeral, war protest, anti-gay rally, anti-Catholic Church, profane and disorganized confusion! What is going on here?


Fred Phelps and his small group have been in the news garnering disrepute as they cross America and stage vulgar demonstrations at funerals of American soldiers killed in the Iraq war.  Phelps, a disbarred attorney, calls himself the reverend of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka Kansas.  While they call themselves Baptists, there are no other recognized Baptist churches associated with them.


These zealots have now staged well over 100 of these funeral protests in the name of God. They are delusional because their methods are not projecting God’s love, but rather their own hatred.  During the protests, Phelps’ zealots hold up offensive and profane placards protesting the war in Iraq, abortion, homosexuality and even the Catholic Church.


As mourners arrive at the funerals of their loved one, they are faced with scripture quotes, vulgar slurs and offensive signs stating that the death of their loved one is God’s wrath on America because of our sins.


Some of their offensive signs read “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”,   “The Pope is in Hell”, “God Hates America”, “God Hates You” ”You Are Going to Hell” and “God is America’s terror”. They have other props and descriptive devices depicting obscene homosexual acts


This little group uses these funerals to denounce the Catholic Church as an international pedophile organization. Their website describes Catholic Churches as “dog kennels” where “dogs” worship.


To the tune of “God Bless America” these protestors sing out “God hates America”.  Some of their chants even thank God for booby traps and dead soldiers as they deliberately desecrate and walk on American flags.

Anything that would cause these mourning families any more grief than they already have is wrong. Decent people are both angry at the presence of these dreadful morons while they are saddened for the deceased soldiers’ families. The cruel way they dishonor our fallen soldiers by tormenting their hurting families says much more about their group then it does about the issues they pretend to fight for. To garner attention for themselves by refusing America’s fallen heroes a respectable and quiet funeral is revolting and outrageous.


Phelps and his followers’ methods are far from being representative of pro-life, pro-family, Christian or any other American group or organization which is sincerely working to clean up our culture in a spirit of love and compassion.  No legitimate group should ever be judged by the radical actions of an embarrassing group such as theirs.


Even Americans diametrically opposed to the war in Iraq have the utmost compassion for our soldiers who have been ordered to war and for these soldiers’ families who are suffering the life altering loss of a loved one.


There is presently legislation to be introduced in Michigan and other states that will force protesters to stay 500 feet away from funerals and ban protests from occurring within one hour before a funeral and two hours after the funeral. Under this legislation the violation of this infraction would be a misdemeanor In the cases of fallen soldiers this penalty is deficient. Protesters should not be allowed within 500 miles, and the offense should be a federal offense, since such activities actually aid and abet our enemies. Simply put, this activity is un-American and given the fact that we are in a war it makes them traitors.


America has seen before how misfit zealots have selected themselves as the self-righteous militia of God. Many times they have tended to redefine the laws of God to match their actions. Such people actually betray the cause they claim to champion. Phelps claims the deaths of servicemen are part of God’s wrath on America because of our sin, especially the sin of homosexuality and abortion.

Some pro-life zealots have even indulged in violence, which always undermines the entire pro-life movement. Violent behavior turns zealots into common terrorists.


His people degrade the Catholic Church.  Obviously the Catholic Church had a serious problem with some priests who were pedophiles. These priests were guilty of unconscionable crimes and their actions were scandalous.  On the other hand, to paint the entire Catholic Church with a dark brush or to suggest that the majority of priests and the world’s Catholic parishioners felt anything but shock, anger, betrayal and hurt when they learned of this abuse is ridiculous and absolutely false.


There has been no religious organization that has fought harder on the moral issues than the Catholic Church and for these hateful zealots to suggest otherwise is to ignore reality.  The Pope is taking a firm stand on homosexuality and Gay priests, while the Catholic Church has been the leader in the fight against abortion.


Phelps and his zealots rant about their disgust for the Iraq war at their funeral protests.   Responsible and decent Americans who are against the war still respect the soldiers who fight and sacrifice for us. They have compassion for the families of our fallen soldiers and don’t desecrate the funerals of our countries’ fallen heroes. Decent Americans also respect and appreciate the sacrifices of the families of these soldiers. Because of these dedicated soldiers, we don’t have to put our families or ourselves in harms way, but our soldiers do, and sometimes they and their families pay the ultimate cost.


Because of these fallen heroes, we are able to live in freedom, speak our minds, and have dignity and a sense of security unheard of anywhere else in the world. Our soldiers are willing to put their lives on the line for us all.


Phelps’ extremists also use these funerals to protest the practice of homosexuality.   There should never be hate-speech of any kind but, like abortion, there should also never be compromise on the issue of homosexuality.


Homosexuality is called a sin and an abomination in the Bible. God created each of us and loves those who practice homosexuality but does not approve of the sin of homosexuality. Christ is the Lord of love, not hate, and there is forgiveness for everyone who will go to the foot of the cross.


Phelps’ zealots proclaim at their funeral protests that God hates America. This is ridiculous. To suggest that the wrath of God is on America is lunacy. What is their justification? What do they think they will accomplish?


Yes, America has moral issues that it is dealing with, and God must surely be saddened on how we are letting our culture and values slip, but, no, God hasn’t cursed America. When viewing America from a big-picture perspective relative to the rest of the world, how can any thinking person come to such an assumption?  It is just the opposite. What other nation would these people trade for ours?


There is no other country on the face of the globe and in the history of mankind that has ever been so blessed. Decent hard-pressed people from other nations are illegally jumping our borders daily, if not hourly, just to get in to take our menial jobs. They are leaving everything just to be part of America, and they desire what our nation offers. They are willing to leave their own homelands to live here, just as the immigrants did a hundred years ago. This is the same America that Phelps and his zealots demean, criticize and condemn.


Phelps and his extremists also protest against abortion at these funerals.  All life belongs to God including the unborn. Scripture describes fetuses in the womb as persons. Anyone contemplating this gruesome procedure should first check out for depictions of abortion. Abortion is America’s holocaust, but the funeral of fallen American soldiers is not the place to politicize abortion or any other issue.


America is involved in a cultural war that is changing the fabric of our nation; certainly everyone is aware of that. Moral issues that not long ago in America would have been unthinkable are now reality. Just consider that only a few decades ago abortion, homosexual rights, pornography and attacks on organized religion would never have been considered as commonplace as they are today. Now abortion is the law of the land, those who practice homosexuality are fighting for the right to be married, pornography is poring into all of our homes through cable and satellite, and Christian values are discounted and ridiculed.


Yes, some of the issues that Phelps raises are issues that America struggles with. The problem arises with this group because of their self-righteous methods, lack of compassion, and hate speech, which sets them apart from responsible voices.


Rather then show contempt for America and our fallen soldiers, Phelps and his self-delusional extremists should be on their knees thanking God for this nation, its many blessings and the soldiers brave enough to protect us. There are correct ways to fight for your beliefs, and there are also incorrect ways. These zealots are neither choosing the right time or the right place.  It is mean, and it is an un-American travesty for anyone to protest in such a tasteless way. No one attending a loved one’s funeral should ever have to be exposed to a three-ring circus.


These people are hiding behind the very American flag that they stomp on. They protest at the funeral of the very soldiers who gave them the right to protest, but they just don’t get it. To desecrate the funeral of a fallen American hero, who just died to give them the right to protest, is lunacy.


So in answer to their self-delusional, hateful and cruel demonstrations, God does not hate America or Americans.  But America as a whole is good and America is just and America is decent.  God’s grace has shown on America.


May God bless our fallen soldiers who have paid the ultimate cost! May God comfort and bless their families that are faced with such a horrific loss! May God continue to bless our families and our culture! May God continue to grace our land so it may remain the land of the free!


Mike Westfall writes at The American Conservative Worker, and is a former auto union representative, having worked in the General Motors factories of Flint Michigan for over thirty years. Although currently retired, he continues to be active not only in labour-related matters, but also social issues of interest to Christians. A frequent critic of automakers such as General Motors, Westfall nonetheless has run afoul of labour leadership because of his anti-abortion stance. He was condemned in 2005 leaders of the AFL-CIO labour union for his opposition to that union’s policy in favour of so-called gay marriage.