The petition on “We the People” to recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group is the most popular petition on the digital petition platform. Supporters of classifying the Westboro Baptist Church as hate group are flooding the website. It was reported on Dec. 26 that the petition has over 250,000 electronic signatures.
The Huffington Post also reported on Dec. 26 the the petition to recogonize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group was submitted on Dec. 14. This was the same day as the Connecticut school shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
There are two other petitions that are calling for the Westboro Baptist Church’s tax-exempt status to be revoked. Many find it difficult to consider the Westboro Baptist Church to be an actual “church.” Membership consists mostly of members of the Phelps family. It is also common knowledge that the income the Westboro Baptist Church has coming in is mostly from lawsuits it has filed.
The Westboro Baptist Church is known for picketing funerals of military members, celebrities and those killed in tragedies and natural disasters. The most recent threat of picketing funerals was made against Newtown, Conn. The group threatened to picket the 26 funerals of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Despite the many threats the Westboro Baptist Church makes to picket funerals, only a very few are actually carried out. They are met with opposition and, despite traveling to the funerals, they often do not get out of their cars. In addition to “human shields” being in place to protect those attending the funerals, several states have passed laws that prevent the Westboro Baptist Church from getting close to the actual funerals. Barack Obama even signed the “Honoring America’s Veterans Act.” This act keeps the Westboro Baptist Church at 300 feet from military funerals. The protests are also prohibited from taking place two before and two hour after the military funerals.
At the time of publication, it was unknown if the petition will granted and the Westboro Baptist Church will be declared a hate group. It is also unknown if the Westboro Baptist Church will lose it’s tax-exempt status.
For those interested in signing the petition to recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group, the petition can be found at “We the People.” Simply click on “create an account” or “sign in,” if you are already have an account, and follow the directions. Your electronic signature will be added to the petition.