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Oct-31-2007 20:33printcommentsVideo

Military Funeral Protesting Church Will Pay Almost $11 Million in Lawsuit (VIDEO)

The case should bankrupt the church as it far exceeds their assets.

The Westboro Baptist Church at a protest in Hood River, Oregon
The Westboro Baptist Church at a protest in Hood River, Oregon
Photo by: Tim King

(SALEM, Ore.) - It couldn't happen to a more deserving group of people. The Westboro Baptist Church was nailed in court on Halloween day to the tune of $10.9 Million. That is how much a jury believes these Kansas creeps owe a Pennsylvania father who had to put up with their harassment as he laid his son who was killed in the Iraq War to rest.

Most people have heard of the Westboro Church by now. They picket military funerals in this country with signs that read, "That God for Dead Soldiers." Their point, allegedly, is that soldiers are dying overseas because the United States condones homosexuality.

Most people who have experience around them contend that the only reason they bother families is because they know the odds are good that someone will violate their civil rights, and they will be able to sue. Several members of their congregation are attorneys.

The grief families endure over this basket case operation of hatred is hard to describe. My television camera and I clashed with them a little over a year ago when they tried to crash the service for the first Oregon Navy SEAL killed in Iraq. I watched them tie American flags to their ankles and jog around grinding them into the dirt. Every tactic possible to upset people is employed by the Westboro Baptist Church.

Albert Snyder's case began after the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed fighting in Iraq. The York, Pennsylvania man sued the church for unspecified damages after they demonstrated at his son's funeral.

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At first the jury awarded Snyder $2.9 million in compensatory damages. But then they returned later in the day with a decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy along with $2 million for causing emotional distress.

The U.S. District Judge overseeing the case, Richard Bennett, made a point that the size of the award for compensating damages "far exceeds the net worth of the defendants," according to financial statements filed with the court, CNN reported.

That's good news to Americans who have been hoping that somebody could find a way to reduce the suffering these practices subject families to. The judge stated that the protests intruded upon what should have been a private ceremony for the family of the fallen Marine. He said their activity sullied memories of the event.

The Westboro Church members who testified said they believed they were following their religious beliefs with their message that the deaths of soldiers are due to the nation's tolerance of homosexuality. Attorneys for the accused argued in closing statements that the funeral was a public event and that, "even abhorrent points of view are protected by the First Amendment."

As these church members have angered a nation, a motorcycle group called the Patriot Guard Riders was formed specifically to block the families from these protests. Now several states have passed laws about funeral protests, and Congress has passed banned them at federal cemeteries.

But this federal lawsuit Maryland lawsuit which was heard in Baltimore, Maryland, is said to be the first filed by the family of a fallen American serviceman.

I have included the video report that I filed after the church came to Oregon.


This story was originally published on August 27th, 2006 at 10:49 AM

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AL Ret GI November 2, 2007 11:44 pm (Pacific time)

These sickos have finally got what they deserve. But...will the courts follow through? I for one, having seen their gross practices will do what I can to make sure my comrades are not disgraced when they are being placed to rest!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Utter BS November 2, 2007 8:31 pm (Pacific time)

It appears more as if the father cashed out on the church with a group of money hungry leeches. But whoever gives a s&#t.. everyone is a thug top to bottom..

Editor: Hey, you can't use words like that. Please just do what I did up there if you can't find another way to say it, OK?

Eric November 2, 2007 3:11 am (Pacific time)

I'm not following their mentality. How do they make the connection between a soldier dying and homosexuality? If someone shot one of them, could I picket that funeral claiming that the reason that person died is because a Chinaman ate 3 bananas? I think freedom of speech doesn't give anyone the right to do "whatever" because they have that right to exercise his or her free speech. For example, they cannot invade my home to exercise that free speech. If they did and I kicked them out of my house, would they claim that I was violating their free speech? There has to be limits on all of our freedoms and invading and protesting a funeral needs to be one of those limits. It is tactless, hurtfull and non-Christian.

melih November 2, 2007 1:27 am (Pacific time)

amerikalılar çok iyi ama müslümanlara olan nefretleri onları sonsuz cehennem azabından nası kurtaracak...

Editor: This appears to be a real comment, probably in the Turkish language. The best translation I found was "American exquisite but the Religion of Islam possibility nefretleri them endless hell azabından how kurtaracak."

If anyone can help fill in the non-translated words I will add them, thank you.

Bill November 1, 2007 1:11 pm (Pacific time)

These particular "christians" are nothing more than theological thugs and anarchist – they are evil incarnate. The only difference between them and Islamic Fascists is the type of bomb they’re throwing. The intent is the same, to murder freedom of thought and more importantly freedom from religion. All they want is attention for their sick form of bigotry and hate. And why shouldn’t they be criminally prosecuted for “hate” crimes against humanity??? Here are a couple of quotes that say it precisely: "People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought, which they avoid." Søren Aabye Kierkegaard and "...When compared with the suppression of anarchy every other question sinks into insignificance. The anarchist is the enemy of humanity, the enemy of all mankind, and his is a deeper degree of criminality than any other." Theodore Roosevelt, 1908. When it really comes down to it all these theological anarchists want is attention and media time for their sick and hideous beliefs. There is no biblical basis for their hateful ways – Christ and the bible say over and over throughout the scriptures to hate the sin not the sinner. Christ life was an example of UNCONDITIONAL tolerance, love and compassion for all of mankind, friend and foe. What of these aspects of Christianity do they not get? Two major forms of non-atheism exist in the world: theism and deism. Neither of these basis for true spiritual belief suggest, infer or dictate hateful, uncompassionate interaction between humans. The two greatest gifts from God are “Free Will” and “Eternal Life.” These clowns would remove your free will at the point of a gun and set themselves up as the judges of who will have eternal life. Enough Say???

Mark November 1, 2007 12:48 pm (Pacific time)

I am a civil libertarian and a fierce defender of absolute free speech. The Westboro Baptist Church has every right to worship the way they please, and to publish their hateful words. This does not give them the right to intrude on families' grief. A funeral is not a public forum. One of the defendants reported her assets as barely more than $300. How do these people travel to funerals all over the country? I suppose they walk?

Sue November 1, 2007 7:17 am (Pacific time)

These people make me sick...they claim to be christians. They are just horrible people. I hope this helps the family and anyone else affected by these creeps.

Bob November 1, 2007 6:20 am (Pacific time)

As a former military office I am glad to see that these criminals got what they deserved-at times like these I wish that we would return to the days of old where public floggins are the norm-Laying to rest a fallen comrade, one who has died in battle or one who has seved-is the final tribute the nation can bestow up members of the armed forces-politics does not have a play in this-they were called to serve. Since this group is supposedly religious-where would their stance be with respect to Saint Michael who is considered the field commander for the army of God. the bottom line is that I am glad they got what they deserved.

Neal Feldman October 31, 2007 9:51 pm (Pacific time)

Glad to see it. First Amendment does not protect incitatory speech nor speech that goes so outside the realms of propriety and into the realm of hurtfulness that it truly qualifies as hate speech. These clowns will just do what the antiabortion group in Oregon did tho... go to a completely cash basis lifestyle... but monitoring these cretins should show contempt of court (if they keep traveling around the country for example) and that could at least lok them up for 2 years at a time. Like you said, it couldn't happen to anyone more deserving. Ah well...

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