Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Westboro Church Protests at Marquette

Members of Westboro Baptist Church have spent most of this century behaving despicably by staging protests at solemn occasions like the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq.

The head of the church, Fred Phelps, passed away earlier this year. His daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, is continuing his twisted mission.

From FOX6 News:

Westboro Baptist Church members traveled from Topeka, Kansas on Monday, December 8th to protest in Wisconsin.

One main stop for them was the Marquette University campus in downtown Milwaukee. They were protesting gay marriage. The university was ready for them though. Dozens of students banned together across the street from the small group of about five Westboro Church Members, with signs of their own and chants of school spirit.

...Westboro Baptist Church is known for traveling around the country, protesting issues they believe God is against, like same-sex marriage. The group has also picketed outside of military funerals.

...Westboro Baptist Church members say they went to Marquette’s campus because of what happened last month in an ethics class. A student accused a teacher of not allowing someone in class to voice his opinion against gay marriage. Another professor then got wind of the incident and blogged about it, capturing the church group’s attention.

“This is a religious institution which means they`ve invoked the name of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, yet you have a teacher teaching rebellion against God and his plain, plain never-changing standards,” said Shirley Phelps-Roper, a Westboro Baptist Church member.

“I was very surprised that something as small as a dispute in an ethics class would catch their attention, but I guess they`ll jump on anything to prove their point,” said Doug Floski, a Marquette senior.
Here's video, from FOX6 News:

It's unfortunate that the Westboro Baptist Church nuts decided to protest in support of the student who was told by the philosophy instructor, Cheryl Abbate, that questioning the morality of gay marriage would not be tolerated in her class. The student was effectively silenced. He dropped the class.

These hateful Westboro extremists shouldn't be allowed to distract from the seriousness of what happened at Marquette. Preventing a student in an ethics class from simply expressing a view that reflects the teaching of the Catholic Church is messed up. After all, Marquette University still markets itself as a Catholic institution. It's terribly troubling that the instructor was permitted to successfully silence a student for wanting to voice the Church's stance, something Abbate considers homophobic.

Staging a counterprotest to the Westboro group would be a good thing for the Marquette students to do, if their purpose was to speak out against the church members' inappropriate behavior and hateful activities. My concern, however, is that the students were also protesting to show support for Abbate's behavior. That's a problem.

We should not let the positively unacceptable manner in which Abbate conducted herself to be lost in this Westboro mess.

Bottom line: A student in an ethics class at a Jesuit university should be allowed to express the teaching of the Catholic Church. Failing to permit a discussion on gay marriage in the context of the phil class is the real issue, not the Westboro crazies.

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