By Dr. David Gardner
Assistant Professor of Music, Director of Choirs, Voice, Conducting

Despite their insistence to the contrary, Westboro Baptist Church is a hate group masquerading as a Christian church. Their beliefs and actions are not in line with historic orthodox Christianity, and, as an evangelical Christian, I’m appalled that they try to justify their actions as being somehow representative of Christian belief.

When the first amendment was ratified in 1791, I doubt anyone could have envisioned the situation the court found itself in when discussing the WBC’s right to picket funerals of our soldiers and other public servants killed in action. The first amendment grants both the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech. Because of that, I must reluctantly agree that the constitution gives them the legal right to perpetrate their hateful protests. What’s more important to remember is that legal right is not the same as moral right, and that the members of that “church” will one day answer to a far higher court. Also, the same constitution that gives them the legal right to protest gives the rest of the citizenry the right to counter those reprehensible protests, as has been done so admirably by the Patriot Guard Riders.