Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

General • Commentary: Supreme’s Decision Must Not be as Flawed as Phelps Family

Picketing a funeral for a young man who served our country with signs that seemingly rejoice over the family’s loss is not a case of Free Speech, but a case of crass harassment, and unwarranted public insults coupled with a cruel hazing of a grieving family during the worst time of their lives…burying one of their children.

First of all, that so-called Westboro Baptist Church is in no way affiliated with the Baptist Convention. That “church,” which The Left delightfully uses as a stereotype for all Christians, is not a church at all. It consists only of the Phelps family members, but still is enough to grant them tax exempion status as a church.  The Supreme Court must not err by ruling that the Phelps Family had the RIGHT to add to the grief of suffering families by picketing that funeral under the law of Freedom of Speech.

Let’s get this straight once and for all. The First Amendment was implemented by our Founding Fathers to be certain that any citizen could criticize and speak disapproval of the government of The United States without fear of reprisal.. PERIOD. Something that could NOT be done in other countries where any stated disapproval of the government could result in beating and a prison sentence.The First Amendment assures that nobody in America will be punished for criticizing the government. Yes, that is repeated, but a point MUST be made. THIS is what the First Amendment Free Speech Rights means and nothing else.

Freedom of Speech does not mean displaying the Crucifix dipped in urine, public vulgarity or obscene works passed off as “art,.”  nor any abhorrent lifestyle. To carry picket signs at a funeral for a son or daughter while rejoicing at their deaths is unconscionable. That is harrassment, distrubing of the peace and….disrupting a religious service which is a felony.

Dr. Gary Cass and Dr. Richard Land, two Christians I hold in high esteem are way off the mark by writing that the Supreme Court decision should favor the Phelps family since that would assure the rights of all churches. They go further in stating in their newsletters that,“just because a message is offensive it cannot be censored.” RUBBISH! That is NOT what the First Amendent provides. AGAIN, that amendment was to assure all citizens that they will not be beaten or imprisoned for criticizing the government. What is it going to take to hammer home that point?  Politicians, Judges, Courts, lawyers, please wake up!

Vulgarity, insults, harassment and publicly promoting unhealthy and repulsive lifestyles is not acceptable and should in no way be pushed in the faces of those who hold higher values and want to see decency, civility and respect among people. The First Amendment never promised the unshackling of all restraints to live without discipline, manners or consideration of others. Freedom of Speech means you can disapprove of the government without consequences.

I have good reason to believe that Fred Phelps who calls himself, “reverend,” and his family, is being funded by someone who pays them for every negative news items about Christianity that they can get published or mentioned on television. And I have a good reason to believe that they are paid $10,000 for every such stunt they pull in the name of Christianity.

Again, this comes strictly from a very strong gut-suspician. Nobody could continually conduct themselves with behavior that brings them such hatred and disapproval unless there is serious financial gain somewhere. It’s worth looking into.

Let me repeat, it is illegal, a felony to disrupt a religious service. If that family ever attempts to disrupt a funeral that I do, even if it is a funeral for a homosexual, I will charge them with a violation of that law. Plus, I will exercise my own free-speech rights to escort each one of them by the nap of their necks out to the highway running by the cemetery.

The subject of blasphemy is something these people and their so-called Westboro Baptist Church should take into serious consideration.. I say blasphemy becasue they falsely attribute ideas to God that they carry on their picket signs, one famous one being, “God Hates Fags.”  God does NOT hate homosexuals. He loves them and wants them to give up their sin and come to Him so He can bless them.
 
The Phelps family should not be given a legal right to commit evil. What is more, there is no law that encourages or protects their kind of behavior. That is not what the First Amendment was created to provide. It was established to protect a citizen’s right to criticize our government. We urge The Supreme Court to think carefully about the Founder’s intent of The First Amendment and Freedom of Speech, to rule properly and to never let this Amendment be perverted again.


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