Homophobic Church Ordered to Pay $10.9M for Picketing Funeral
Posted on Oct 31, 2007
A Maryland court has ordered leaders of Kansas’ fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church to pay almost $11 million in damages to Albert Snyder, the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq. Snyder sued the controversial church after members picketed his son’s funeral in March 2006.
Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates fags.”
A number of states have passed laws regarding funeral protests, and Congress has passed a law prohibiting such protests at federal cemeteries.
But the Maryland lawsuit is believed to be the first filed by the family of a fallen serviceman.
The church and three of its leaders—the Rev. Fred Phelps and his two daughters, Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebecca Phelps-Davis, 46—were found liable for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress.
Snyder claimed the protests intruded upon what should have been a private ceremony and sullied his memory of the event.
A member of the Westboro Baptist Church holds up signs bearing a couple of the church’s typical slogans.