Petition To Label Westboro A Hate Group Is WH’s Most Popular Ever


As conservatives try to deport British CNN host Piers Morgan for using his first amendment rights to criticize the second amendment, a more bipartisan, reasonable group of Americans have signed onto a voter-created White House "We The People" petition calling on the Obama administration to label Westboro Baptist Church a hate group.

As of this writing, almost 250,000 Americans have signed the hypothetical petition, making it the most popular request at 1600's webpage.

The petition, in case you don't know, was started after Westboro announced it would be picketing the funerals of children killed during the Sandy Hook massacre. After all the "God Hates Fags" screeds and protests at soliders' funerals, it appears that Westboro finally crossed a line; now, if only they would keep walking into the horizon, never to be heard from again…


  1. Steve Bergstrom says

    I’m sure the folks at WBC do the happy dance every time things like this petition come up. This bunch of unholy narcissists love the publicity, any kind of publicity. I guess we’re doing their job for them. Unlike so many others, they don’t have political clout, so I’m not sure why our community keeps giving them free publicity.

  2. JT says

    What a waste of time. The government doesn’t designate anyone a hate group, specifically because they shouldn’t. That’s the SPLC.

  3. Chadd says

    The government does not designate hate groups, but it does grant tax exempt status. WBC should not continue to be allowed to operate as a tax exempt “church” when its message is not based in any religion.

  4. Eric says

    “Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.”

    — Salman Rushdie

    This petition, and the reaction, is nothing to cheer about.

  5. Neil says

    If the media, Towleroad included, stopped writing about this tiny group of insignificant people, they would disappear instantly.

  6. Alex Parrish says

    WBC thrives and derives its energy from free publicity like this. That is what they are all about. The Government doesn’t designate hate-groups and shouldn’t; it truly is a free-speech issue, but SPLC does and should (if they haven’t already,) designate WBC as a hate-group. What the government — specifically the IRS — CAN and should do is investigate whether the group truly fits the requirements of a tax-exhempt organization. This petition-drive is a mis-directed vehicle of public outrage directed a folks who spend all their time thinking-up ways to outrage people. They will only go away when they can’t make us mad anymore.

  7. Joey says

    With all due respect, no one is talking about taking away anyone’s free speech, no matter how disgusting it might be. It should first be addressed that free speech DOES have limits. You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, call in threats, etc. No one is trying to take away their free speech rights, they are challenging the group’s designation, nothing more.
    Do we grant anyone and everyone tax exempt status because they say “I am a church”? WBC is not really a church. They are a hate group. They claim to BE a church to take advantage of government tax loopholes and it deserves to be investigated. At BEST, they are a cult.
    (This is without opening the can of worms that is religious tax exemption which is an entirely other debate that must be had and never will because the “holy” will be up in arms.)

  8. AJ says

    The only way to “do away with” them is to ignore them. Seriously. They get huge WBC b0ners whenever they appear in the paper or on the news. They will cease to be if you ignore them. STOP POSTING EVERY D@MN THING THEY DO!!

  9. Oliver says

    @NEIL, with all due respect, no news outlet is going to stop reporting the news. And yes, unfortunately when WBC shows up and protests it IS news. News sells and that is how newspapers, tv stations and even this blog stay in business.
    Your idea is quaint but unrealistic.

  10. Neil says

    @OLIVER Quaint? Please explain the why Towleroad covers them. Would we stop coming here if WBC were never again mentioned here? The reality is that this “Hate Group” is made up of one small family with no recognition or standing in any larger organization. They have no power or money. But the ink spilled makes us think their existence puts us in danger somehow. It’s not true that news organizations could choose not to cover them. Look up the 9/11 conspiracy websites which are enormous by comparison with thousands of followers, but how often do you hear about them? I agree with AJ. The more we ignore them, the less power and visibility they have. We need to save our outrage for real dangers and not focus on some kooks with access to a computer.

  11. anon says

    I think the petition is confusing “hate group” with “terrorist group”, which is what the state department creates lists of, along with the justice department.

  12. rustytrawler says

    The truth is that WBC is the best thing that ever happened to us. The broadest group of people have been brought together over a hatred of their hate.

    And the WBC doesn’t care. The more you attack them, the happier they are. Their goal is lawsuits. That’s how they make money.

  13. Jack says

    This petition is shameful, and betrays a lack of appreciation for the extraordinary liberty we enjoy. The petition calls for “imposed regulation,” and if that isn’t taking away speech, I do not know what is.

    As others have pointed out, the government cannot be the arbiter of what speech is acceptable. And that really goes for tax exempt status too. Having the government decide which beliefs are acceptable or not is not any kind of approach we want to take.

    That said, doesn’t mean you can’t just end special treatment of religion in general, without discriminating between them…

  14. Bill says

    @Oliver: while news organizations aren’t going to stop reporting news, as Oliver stated, the WBC’s antics simply does not deserve to be called “news”. It’s the same old thing over and over. It’s gotten to the point where a significant fraction of the time, they’ll announce a protest and not bother to show up. They don’t have to – they get all that press coverage just for putting out a PR piece. Just reporting the incidents where they actually deign to show up would make their “enterprise” less attractive economically: airline tickets are a lot more expensive than a press release.

    Their “theology” makes use of something in the Bible – Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and 1 Peter 3:13-14, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.” They’ll use that to explain away all the outrage directed against them, and if anything it actually edges them on – the more criticism they get, the more they think they are among the chosen few who will be “saved” from some apocalyptic end of the word.

    They sort of serve as a history lesson: if you look at a group of Presbyterians going to church in their “Sunday best” and politely singing hymns for an hour as a break in their otherwise worldly schedule, it is very hard to understand why the Romans would bother to throw Christians to the lions. A few WBC types in ancient Rome would explain that all to well.

  15. ACe says

    I find it hard to believe that they weren’t designated a ‘hate group’ from the very beginning!

  16. Bill says

    @FuryOfFirestorm: The UK could ban them because they are not British citizens. We can’t. They are American citizens by birth and there is nothing we can do to change that. Plus there’s the First Amendment, which gives each of us the right to make a fool of himself, and everyone else the right to laugh at the fools. And of course, to ignore the fools, which in their case is probably the most productive way of silencing them. They can’t sue people for ignoring them and reducing their income from settlements will make it harder for them to travel.

    The most effective petition would be one directed towards the media, asking that these non-entities be ignored.

    discusses their income. A non-trivial amount, but not all of it, is from lawsuits for violating their rights. It seems that, when they sue, they hire the Phelps’ family as lawyers so the legal fees can go to the “church”, which means they don’t even lose the contingency fee. And a donation to a church is tax deductible.

  17. Diogenes Arktos says

    Just to consider when it comes to “just ignore them and they will go away”: The Republicans signed a pact with the Religious Right back around 1980. Trying to ignore them – especially by liberal Christianity – hasn’t worked.


    This is not the first time the WH website has left unconsitutional petitions up. For example, the petitions for states to secede from the US. I think it is a useful way to let off steam. OTOH – I do wonder why they took down the petition to have Scalia recuse himself from LGBT decisions.

  18. Bill says

    @Diogenes Arktos: Just because a specific tactic is not appropriate for dealing with the Republican Party’s pact with the Religious Right does not mean that tactic won’t be effective with the WBC.

    During the 2004 election, the Bush campaign touted an anti-gay constitutional amendment, and then dropped it as unnecessary once the election was over. It was just marketing geared towards the social conservatives, paid for by very wealthy people whose real issues were tax breaks for billionaires and the elimination of consumer protection. They needed the social-conservative vote to get their guy elected. After all, if you are going to sell people something that is not in their self interest, what better target than those daft enough to believe that the world was literally created in a week?

    By contrast, the WBC needs media attention to function, and the group’s income stream is partly the result of being able to sue anyone whose reaction to them makes a lawsuit possible.