Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Saint Joseph, Missouri Being Protested

A December 28, 2005 St. Joseph News-Press Article, "Church to picket St. Joe over funeral protest ban" BY Joe Blumberg tells about a plan to picket Saint Joseph, Missouri's City Hall next week.

"Westboro Baptist Church now intends to picket the city of St. Joseph next week, having added the city to its list of those it believes are bound for hell for defending homosexuals.

The city last week approved an ordinance that would ban protests at or near, and within ah hour of funerals. The church came to St Joseph in August as part of its recent movement to protest military funerals with its brightly colored signs, which contain slogans that are widely considered indecent.

The church requested clarification of the city's intentions for enforcing the ordinance, but the city didn't respond. Now the church plans to picket City Hall at 11 a.m. next Tuesday, according to a church news release.

The city doesn't require permits for demonstrations at City Hall. The St. Joseph Police Department only plans to ensure that the picketers don't impede the public's access to the building and that the demonstration remains peaceful.

"We will keep it under observation. We want to maintain a low profile but be available," said Cmdr. Jim Connors, police spokesman. "The group themselves, aside from having a message that tends to upset people, are not necessarily a group that causes any more problems if people just leave them alone."

The church has consistently shown that it will increase its efforts either through protests or litigation when faced with resistance, said Dr. Rick Musser, a University of Kansas journalism professor who wrote about the church and its efforts in his 1999 book Culture Wars & Local Politics. He said St. Joseph is a potential foothold for the Topeka, Kan.-based church to disseminate its message.

"You're not to far away, and they've kind of taken the show on the road," he said.

Dr. Musser said the church's views are almost entirely unto itself. Nearly all of the church's members are relatives of its founder, the Rev. Fred Phelps.

"It is a very idiosyncratic religion. There are extremely few other churches, church people or pastors who have ascribed to their religious stance," Dr. Musser said."

When members of the church came to Saint Joseph in August to protest a military funeral I was working. Last week I saw some photos that the News-Press had taken of them. I couldn't help but notice one of the church members holding a sign which read "Your Going To Hell". The person held the sign above their head for all to see, but the person was looking at the ground, like they didn't want their face to show in the photo. Was this person ashamed of what they were doing? I've taken part in protest in the past, in fact I have protested at Saint Joseph's City Hall a few times. If the media was there to cover the protest I didn't try to hide my face, I'd look right into the camera and let the public see who I was. As a rule I would defend anyone's right to protest even if I didn't agree with them, but there are some things that I feel you just should not do. Carrying a picket sign at a funeral would be one of them. It has nothing to do with my views on the war or homosexuality, it's about respect for the friends families and loved ones of the deceased, a funeral is not the place to express your political views. This coming Tuesday will be my day off, I didn't have anything planned for that day. I think I spend a part of it down at City Hall. Maybe I'll take a camera along to help me remember the day. I hope the protesters don't mind having their photos taken.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.


Blogger Jake Porter said...

Thanks for the update. If I didn't have to work I would drive there and protest against them.

I don't know if I support banning them from protesting but I would make sure everyone knew how wrong they were. What they are doing does not help their cause.

Can you add the pictures to the blog?

4:52 PM  
Blogger David Schantz said...

Jake, I've never tried posting photos here but I had planned on doing that if I can.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

David: it's about respect for the friends families and loved ones of the deceased, a funeral is not the place to express your political views.
Having buried the entire preceding generation of my family, I am appalled to read that such a protest would be held during a funeral. The last thing a grieving family needs to deal with is a political protest.

5:39 PM  
Blogger maccusgermanis said...

good post, I fail to see how such protests are any emulation of Christ. After all, is that not what Christian means -in emulation of Christ-. Have they lost their WWJD bracelets? There can be no confusion, the model of Christ is not one of hurling accusations.

11:35 AM  

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