Wally Dawall of Gaithersburg, Md., right, and Ray Schlegel of College Park, Md., pay respect to Navy Lt. Brendan J. Looney near the main entrance of Arlington National Cemetery while members of Westboro Baptist Church protest the funeral in the background.
(Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)
Westboro Baptist Church, the tiny independent fundamentalist Christian church based in Topeka, Kan., announced on Twitter that, once again, they are planning to stomp over our nation’s heartache by protesting at the funerals of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and declaring “God sent the shooter.”
How do you solve a problem like Westboro Baptist Church? Here are a few options.
Westboro’s funeral protests are frequently met with inspired counter-protests that often result in a greater public support for the deceased’s families than they may have gotten had Westboro never gotten involved. One group, the Patriot Guard Riders, has organized motorcycle rides since 2005 to show of support for military families and to shield them from Westboro’s protests. In another recent example, hundreds of Texas A&M students formed a human chain last summer around the spot where Westboro was expected to protest the funeral of a soldier. According to media reports, church members never showed. In the case of Sandy Hook, one Reddit thread is attempting to organize against Westboro “by forming a silent blockade during the funeral processions.”
2. Engage — and try to explain to them that they’re wrong.
After Westboro protests, photos often emerge of other Christians trying to explain why they believe Westboro is wrong in its interpretation of the Bible and what it means to live according to Jesus’s teachings. Westboro claims that what others interpret as hate are acts of Christian love. “From a Bible standard, we love you,” one church member told the audience during an interview with Russell Brand.
The vast majority of American Christians disagree with their interpretation of Scripture. After Westboro threatened to protest Crosspoint Community Church in Tennessee, the church’s pastor, Pete Wilson, posted a video to their church’s Web site rejecting the group’s claims that they speak for Christ.
I want you to know they do not reflect in any way the heart and mind of Christ as revealed in the Bible. ... While Westboro Baptist Church group claims to have a biblical basis of their rhetoric is clearly adverse to the overwhelming number of passages in the Bible.