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Westboro Baptist Church to picket vigil of shooting victims

Westboro Baptist Church are back in the headlines for the wrong reasons yet again. The Daily Shift’s Shane Burke takes a look at why they continue to be so controversial…

Westboro Baptist Church Protesting

Westboro Baptist Church Protesting

Arch conservative group the Westboro baptist church have threatened to picket the vigil for those whom were tragically slain in America’s second worst school shooting in it’s history. The group is infamous for picketing the funerals of slain US military personnel, citing Gods wrath on America for such heartbreaking tragedies. Spokesperson for the group Shirley Phelps-Roper, a spokesperson for the group and like most members of the organization, a relative of the group’s founder, Fred Phelps, announced on social network site Twitter the group’s plan “to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment.”

Politics aside is unclear whether the group plans to protest but a tweet from Margie Phelps it is clear that if they do decide to picket at the Vigil, they will do so when president Barrack Obama is in attendance. The group has since unexpectedly faced criticism for

*In article image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fred Phelps – Founder of Westboro Baptist Church *In article image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

it’s intention to picket the vigil. A Change.org petition has been launched beseeching Connecticut officials, to stop the group. On Reddit talks of counter-protest are all over the site.The group’s politics aside they are known for Christian fundamentalism and extreme social conservatism blaming America’s problems on its acceptance of gays and lesbians.

The question that must be asked following this tragedy, and subsequent plans by this hate group is what could motivate people to act so spitefully? Is the decision of religious fundamentalists to protest a solemn event in the wake of a tragedy an indication America now suffers from a culture of hate?

A claim that must be immediately repudiated is that what happened at Newtown High school was Gods wrath ”that God sent the shooter”. The first gaping flaw in this claim is that the group claims to know what Gods actions are, if there is in fact a God. As of yet nobody religious, or atheist has conclusively proved there is a deity that can be identified as the creator of all life. All we have is a hypothesis that there must be a God, however this hypothesis alone does not mean that there is in fact a God.

To use the theory of  falsification of famed Austro-British Philosopher Karl Popper (London school of economics) we may just accept there is either a God or no God until proven otherwise. Moving away from discussing the origins of the world and whether God exists the second claim that must be investigated is whether the tragedy at Newtown can be blamed on America’s acceptance of gays and lesbians? Even before delving into answering this question it is clear that the answer will be an emphatic no. In case you are wondering why the reason is because the shooter Adam Lanza had no affiliations we know off to the LGBT community.

His own personal sexuality is assumed to be straight. Apart from this scapegoating, the LGBT community for this tragedy would be utterly wrong as no link can now or ever will be able to prove law abiding citizens practicing their sexuality in the privacy of their own bedrooms is responsible for such an unprovoked shooting. How could a link between the LGBT community ever exist that would have them guilty for the killings at Newtown? The law abiding members of the LGBT community for the most part probably never heard of Newtown High and were busy fighting against the economic recession like every other American.

The members of the LGBT community are just too removed from events of what happened at Newtown to have any link and are therefore not culpable of any crime. Therefore the only explanation for the Westboro baptist church picketing the vigil can be put down to self-righteousness. As they have yet to offer proof that they know God’s intentions. Finally this has sent the Conservative ideology into a cesspool of hate. This would make Conservative legend Ronald Reagan himself ashamed.

Reagan himself in 1978 was instrumental in helping defeat a California ballot amendment seeking to ban LGBT people from the teaching profession. David Mixner, a leading gay rights advocate who organized opposition to the initiative was unwavering in praise to Reagan on the victory:

”There is no doubt in my mind that the man who put us over the top was California Governor Ronald Reagan. His opposition to Proposition six killed it for sure”.

With this information it can be safely said the Westboro baptist church is not acting out of any discovery of God, logical hypothesis, or in line with any past actions of America’s leading Conservative figure. Knowing this, it can be safely said the Southern law and poverty centers claim that the Westboro baptist church is “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America,” is not without merit.

Whether it can be said America has a following from the massacre at Newtown, a culture of hate is a difficult question to answer. Firstly it is known from a previous Massacre at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado that three men out of sheer self-sacrifice shielded their loved ones from the killer. The end result was serious injury and death to the men. With examples such as this it cannot be said every American is hateful. In Aurora their was both examples of love/hate.

For this reason all that can be said is that the sympathy of the world goes out to the family and friends of those that died tragically at Newtown and we all wish that massacres like this will happen less and less in the future. To ensure tragedies like this happen less and less a sensible gun reform bill should be drawn up. For starters assault weapons should be banned nationwide, the number of rounds curtailed that a person can own should be limited (the shooter at Aurora had thousands of rounds). Finally comprehensive psychological testing should be considered before a person is allowed to own a weapon.

The rationale behind this proposal would be assault weapons because of their rapid fire capacity, hundreds of bullets can be fired a minute and most certainly would be unfit for civilian use. Secondly by curtailing the number of rounds the capacity of a person to kill or maim will be reduced. Finally by introducing psychological testing, psychotic tendencies of people can be identified and massacres like Newtown could be prevented before a person has a lethal fire arm.

Whether such reforms will work is another thing as Timothy MC McVeigh killed over a hundred people with a bomb made from fertilizer and racing fuel, everyday substances. Despite this it does not mean the US should not attempt to safeguard life. As was earlier stated in this article the only hope people want is massacres like Newtown will stop in future.

*Lead image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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