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Arizona Seeks to Stop Westboro Baptist From Picketing Funerals

Arizona Seeks to Stop Westboro Baptist From Picketing Funerals

After the infamous Westboro Baptist Church picketed Elizabeth Edwards’ funeral and has threatened to picket the services of “however many are dead” following the devastating shooting in Tucson, the Arizona state legislature’s plan to limit Westboro’s ability to appear at funerals is gathering bipartistan support.  The bill will be modeled after similar legislation in Ohio, which was upheld by a federal court.

In a horrifying press release, Fred Phelps said that Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition, was “an avid supporter of sin and baby killing,” and said she was shot for that “mischief.”  The group even wrote against the 9-year-old girl who was killed in the shooting, saying that she was “not innocent.”  Phelps continued, “This is a nation of depraved perverts who pass their children through the fire of their rage against God & all-consuming lust. From the womb, she was taught to hate God & mock His servants. That child is better off dead, so the cup of her iniquity will not overflow!”

“We’re going to try to protect the families from undue harassment,” Representative Daniel Patterson (D) told Talking Points Memo.  Other representatives have called Westboro’s picketing plans “disgusting” and have articulated their desire to get the bill passed as quickly as possible. 

Ohio has had anti-protest laws at funerals since 1957, but broadened its legislation in 2006 to prevent “protests for one hour before and one hour after a funeral procession within a 300-foot buffer zone.”  Arizona legislators are reportedly working behind the scenes to get the bill, which would go into effect immediately, passed sometime this week.  A spokesperson for Governor Jan Brewer has confirmed that she will sign the bill if it ends up on her desk.

Either way, both Democrats and Republicans are working hard to make sure that protesters from Westboro Baptist will not disrupt mourners during the funerals.  This is an extraordinary show of bipartisan support in the face of a group that has already proved itself to be capable of truly hateful actions.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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136 comments

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9:36PM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

Thank you.

9:35PM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

Thank you.

10:07AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

I detest the "reverend", but other places have done clever things to stop his harassment, such as opposing groups holding up large white sheets to block his view of the funeral. He is despicable, but I will defend free speech to my death. Arizona, of all places, should not be making any more "laws." They've done enough damage with their gun laws! We have ways of keeping hateful people, like the "reverend" and KKK, in line.

If I believed in a hell, I would wish that the "reverend" would burn there for all eternity.

10:59PM PST on Jan 29, 2011

Lord, protect us from our insensitive and psychotic brothers and sisters whose protests damage one another in your name.

9:18PM PST on Jan 21, 2011

it seems that passing a law is the only way to stop these insensitive asses.....how dare they decide to picket any funeral just to get their media photo op....had they shown up at my late husband's funeral to picket...i might have done something far more tragic than just bury my husband...funerals are a time of mourning and grief...a time to say good-bye and be supportive of each other...to throw picketers into this explosive mix is as thoughtless and uncaring as throwing a hand grenade at a wedding....when did people become so selfish and stupid???

5:41PM PST on Jan 17, 2011

A movement should start to take the right to vote away from anyone in the usa who takes part in any organized religion. They are all hate groups.

6:25PM PST on Jan 16, 2011

Arizona's House and Senate unanimously passed the bill and Governor Jan Brewer signed it into legislation to take effect immediately on January 11, 2011. All the states should make sure they have or will strengthen their laws to cover all funerals.

Why can't they arrest these religious fanatics for disturbing the peace? How can they call themselves Christians and spout their hate? And why do people follow this type of "religious leader?"

5:18PM PST on Jan 14, 2011

Religion=stupidity, fear, hate, weakness, lack of empathy/compassion for others (particularly those who are not of the same mind)....shall I go on?!!!

12:30PM PST on Jan 14, 2011

Again with these people! At least they are trying to do something about them. I feel for these families that have to endure their nonsense.

11:17PM PST on Jan 13, 2011

Gerald, I'm absolutely NOT "a believer" but I know many people who are and who hate these PHELPS thugs! Quite simply, they follow the belief in Jesus and his "love everyone as you would be loved" doctrine.

Westboro Baptist is hypocritical and dishonest in representing themselves. RESCIND THEIR TAX-EXEMPT STATUS!

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