Ruling in a case that pressed the outer limits of free speech, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said that even anti-gay protesters who picketed the funerals of U.S. troops with signs reading, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," cannot be sued.
In an 8-1 decision, the justices upheld an appellate court's decision to strike down a jury verdict against Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. Phelps and his family gained national attention — and stirred deep anger — for using military funerals as a backdrop to proclaim an anti-gay and anti-military message.
The church believes that the United States is too tolerant of sin and that the death of American soldiers is God's punishment.
This is a difficult one for me in so many ways. I am a steadfast supporter of the US Constitution, so on that basis I begrudgingly agree with the Supreme Court's decision. I am also a civilized and compassionate human being, which means I have utmost sympathy for any family which loses a loved one. As such, I wouldn't dream of exacerbating the emotional pain of a grieving family. And most of all, as a Christian, I'm abhorred how the Lord's name is besmirched by maniacal extremists. The mere suggestion that our Heavenly Father could "hate" a group of people goes against everything that has been documented biblically.
Since I too have First Amendment rights (free speech as well as freedom of religion), I can cite Exodus 20:7, which says "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."
I'm not sure how that got lost in translation with Fred Phelps & Co.