Hatred and prejudice shown by protesters

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 28, 2002

The irony of the scene was incredible.

On Palm Sunday, one of the holiest days of the year for Christians, a group of six religious fundamentalists from a Topeka, Kan., church came to Montgomery to preach hatred and prejudice.

As they stood outside the two churches, the members of the Westboro Baptist Church railed against a lesbian mother who was granted joint custody of her child and the judge who ruled in her case. Led by the church’s controversial founder, Fred Phelps, even the youngest children in the group carried signs saying such things as "God Hates America" and "God Hates Yates."

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On Monday, they took their bigoted protest to the State Judicial Building, where still bearing signs of hatred their picketed in support of Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has called homosexuality "inherently evil."

But even Moore, who never shies away from stating his views on controversial issues, steered clear of the Kansas group, releasing a statement reiterating that the judge had no connection to this group.

Nor would he, or anyone else in Alabama, want to be connected to these protesters. Our state is fiercely protective of its image and its issues, and history is filled with stories of resistance to "outsiders."

But we think Alabamians would be right to resist the influence, and to ignore the comments, of these most recent "outsiders."

While we fully recognize, and cherish, the freedom of speech granted by the U.S. Constitution, that doesn’t mean we have to like it, particularly when the speech is laced with prejudice and hatred.

Yes, the members of the Westboro Baptist Church have a right to picket, and to protest, and to espouse their opinions with strong words and language.

But we certainly wish they’d keep those opinions in Kansas.  

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