OUR VIEWS: Civil rights vs. human decency

Aug 15, 2012

As if that wasn’t tragic enough, the fallen soldier’s friends and family learned of a potential protest that was planned for his funeral.

As the community learned about this, many wondered why someone would wish to protest at something as dignified as a funeral of a man who died fighting for our country.

Unfortunately, there is a radical church in Kansas that routinely demonstrates at military funerals across the nation. Westboro Baptist Church is widely condemned as an anti-homosexual hate group. Members of this church believe that God is punishing our country for "the sin of homosexuality" through events, including soldiers' deaths.

During these protests, church members cause hateful disruption by hollering and displaying signs such as "Thank God for dead soldiers," "AIDS cures fags,” and "God blew up the troops.”

The Westboro church is led by pastor Fred Phelps, who thrives in using the publicity of military funerals as an attempt to further spread the twisted views of his church. How ironic he and his congregation choose to disgrace the very people who have sacrificed their lives for our country’s freedoms, including the Westboro church’s civil right to publicly protest.

After the church congregation announced an intent to protest at Price’s funeral, a defensive plan was developed to protect the grieving family. The strategy to form a protective human shield against these self-indulgent protestors went viral immediately. The outcome on the day of the funeral was tremendous — thousands of people lined the streets of Holland to show support for the fallen soldier.

Thankfully, even though there were indications of some protesters in the area at the time of the funeral, there was no evidence of any protest. Perhaps it was due to the fact that President Obama recently signed a new law that restricts protesters at military funerals. Perhaps the silence was due to the church realizing their outnumbered irrational voices wouldn't be heard as they had originally intended.

We all have different views, and because of the sacrifice made by many military personnel throughout our nation’s history, we all have the right to share these views.

Sadly, we don’t all feel the moral obligation to share these views in respectful ways. What a shame that people threatened to disturb a service as sacred as a funeral, and what a triumph that our community banded together to protect the sanctity of this solemn event.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.
 

 

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