Nearly 300,000 people have signed onto
a White House petition in support of designating the Westboro Baptist
Church as a hate group, making it the most popular “We the People”
petition to date.
The petition was submitted on Friday,
December 14, the same day 26 people, including 20 children, died in a
shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,
Connecticut. Westboro responded by announcing it would picket the
funerals of the victims.
The Topeka, Kansas-based ministry is
known for its extreme ideologies and for coining the phrase “God
hates fags.” In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the church has
the legal right to picket military funerals. Among the reasons the
group says it protests the funerals of fallen soldiers is that their
deaths are the price America pays for its acceptance of “the sin of
In August, President Barack Obama
signed the Honoring America's Veterans Act, which prohibits protests
from taking place within 300 feet of military funerals and states
that they cannot take place during the funeral themselves.
(On the Net: Petition
to legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.)