During a time when there are churches shutting their doors because of financial hardships and congregants who could use some assistance, it appears as though there are still some leaders of the religious right who are willing to do anything to score a few political points. For instance, TPM is reporting that Fred Phelps and the other leaders of the Westboro Baptist Church have been protesting outside the school that the Obama children attend.
Westboro Baptist Church, the fringe-of-the-fringe anti-gay group famous for protesting at military funerals and claiming that God is punishing the country for its tolerance of homosexuality, was spotted this morning protesting outside Sidwell Friends, the school attended by Sasha and Malia Obama.Now the school is staying true to it's Quaker spirit and has handled the situation peacefully. The head of the school, Ellis Turner, even told TPM that "We support the First Amendment here, so there was nothing we wanted to do about it. There was nothing they did other than offend those who didn't agree with their bigoted viewpoints."
Protesters were carrying signs with anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-Obama slogans, slowing down traffic all along Wisconsin Avenue this morning.
I think Turner is on to something here. Although they were legal, the actions taken by the Westboro Baptist Church were so inappropriate that all they did was highlight how the protesters do nothing but promote bigotry. This is further highlighted by the fact that members of the church are also planning to protest the memorial service for the 12 soldiers who lost their lives during the shooting at Fort Hood.
What is truly unfortunate, however, is the plain and simple fact that it's people like Fred Phelps and his congregants at the Westboro Baptist Church who have a lot of influence over the Republican Party. As I highlighted this morning, for instance, Keith Fimian has even gone as far as putting his radical anti-choice agenda before the need to pass meaningful legislation that would provide all Americans with access to affordable health care. The extremism of people like Keith Fimian and Fred Phelps adds nothing productive to our political debate and their behavior does nothing but illustrate why they shouldn't be trusted with any position of leadership.