MTYT: Using freedom of speech to pour salt in a wound

By Gary McNair - bio|email

Reprehensible.  In a word, that's what I think of the actions of those who are members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.  I lived in that town in the late '90s and saw first-hand the work they are doing, allegedly in the name of the Lord.

These Christian extremists have an ugly way about them - protesting homosexuality with crude and insulting signs outside other churches and at public gatherings.  But the most despicable protests are held where friends and family are grieving at funerals for gays and soldiers who have been killed while serving.

There is no other reason for what they do than to create a stir and pick a fight, and now they have one.   A Maryland man sued them for invasion of privacy after they picketed his son's funeral and turned it into a media circus.  The case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.

This creates one of those hand-wringing moments for many of us.  This country was founded on free speech. The same free speech that allowed our forefathers the right to stand up to King George is unfortunately the same free speech that allows zealots like this to pour salt in the wounds of the grieving.

That's why the Supreme Court has to uphold their disgraceful actions as free speech.  But, it shouldn't stop them from allowing local governments to regulate protests at funerals.  I was taught in civics class that your rights stop where mine begin.  And I think the right to have a family funeral without outside protesters is valid.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

Emailed comments from viewers:

I find it interesting how some churches want to use government/state as armor when it suits their fancy. Where does it state to be mean, cruel and ignorant in the bible I wonder? Look you can't have it both ways – no taxes, no government – and then use the government as a cloak of protection or excuse for ignorance. I just want to know how we have let this happen? As a society we have allowed churches to become more and more political, and yet they pay no taxes. I say if they want to speak, disrupt, demean, preach in public forums not protected by their standing church, or they want to make political statements PAY TAXES – that will shut em up.

Most these televangelists are millionaires – I think they should have to keep their mean spirits in their building or pay taxes! It's just getting so ugly out there.


Jesus left this world and left us an example to live by. I do not recall Jesus ever protesting anything. He said that he left us to do bigger and better things in his name! If they were true Christians they would be there to help the family in any way that they could! I feel so sorry for these families that have to deal with these "Christians". I am a Christian myself and when someone in our church passes away, we as a church come together to help them. Our church family has several soldiers or a soldiers family within our congregation and I could not even imagine someone coming against one of them! How are we going to lead this dieing sinful world to our Lord with actions like this? For anyone that is reading this and may be with that church, please show me where God has said in his word to do this! I feel sorry for everyone of you that has protested these deaths! For God said vengeance is mine! There is no way around that!

Copyright 2010 WECT. All rights reserved.