January 11th, 2011
10:18 AM ET

Arizona lawmakers plan to block protesters within 300 feet of funerals

The Arizona State Legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday that will bar protesters at funerals from getting within 300 feet of services, a spokesman for the state Senate said.

The action, according to Senate spokesman Daniel Scarpinato, is in direct response to a controversial church's announcement that it will picket the funeral of Christina Green, the 9-year-old who was one of six people killed Saturday during the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, has made its name by staging protests at funerals of people who died of AIDS, gay people, soldiers and even Coretta Scott King.

Tucson just isn't that kind of town, says Christin Gilmer.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • United States • Violence • Westboro Bapitst Church

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Mike, not me

    Praise the Lord, they called off the protest to get air time on a radio station.

    January 13, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  2. Anonymous

    Everyone knows that these people don't believe in God our Father. Instead they worship in depths of Hell with their leader a close friend of Hitler and the Devil. Sadly this so called Devil worshiping they do is in the public eye. These demons should all be...............................

    January 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Know What


      Ay ay ay! I can only hope that there are some caring people in your life who are aware of your difficulties and who can take some helpful actions.

      Is this another one ready to blow up?

      January 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  3. Carol McGonigal

    I guess since "prez" and his wife are going to be at the services, the government decided to take on more security measures by keeping the protesters away. It's all about politics, not morals.

    January 12, 2011 at 7:01 am |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      Right, because Arizona is such an Obama-loving state. Nice display of logic, Carol.

      January 12, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  4. Carol McGonigal

    They even came to Virginia to protest. No one stopped them.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:34 am |
  5. Carol McGonigal

    Why wasn't these "protesters" kept from all the military funerals? I guess it's policitics

    January 12, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  6. Maynard G. Krebs

    The reasons you think Westboro is nuts is the same reasons why atheists think your religion is wrong too.

    January 12, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • Mike, not me

      Neither of them believe the Bible is the Word of God given to us to make Him known to us, to show we are all sinners and the glorious plan of reconciliation to God?

      January 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  7. Gary

    really hope I do not meet any of these "funeral protesters" in person one day. I really do not

    January 11, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hey Gary...

      They have been in my city a few times, spreading their very special brand of ignorance and hatred. I, unknowingly happened to drive up to a major intersection one day where they (WBC) were all protesting... and they walked right by my car in the intersection looking at me with their ... 'God hates the U.S.' signs, will also screaming and chanting.

      Not a pleasant lot... these nutters. I hope that you, and the rest of my fellow cronies here on the belief blog, along with others will never have to experience them too.


      January 12, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  8. HotAirAce

    I'm an atheist and as appalled about WBC as the other folks in here. But!

    WBC are christians until some how, some way they are publicly and widely declared not to be. As long as they are christians, I think it's up to the other believers, especially the other christians, to position them as "not christians" or to somehow, some way, take their christian status away. In other words, they're "yours" – take care of them (legally, morally, ethically and non-violently). You need to protect your "brand" – publicy and widely.

    Whenever there is a terrorist act by muslims, many many want mainstream muslim's to denounce the terrorists. Here's a chance for mainstream christians to act as they want muslims to.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  9. Amalia Sheran Sharm

    How come no one ever opens fire on those guys?

    January 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  10. Reality

    Fire department high pressure, water-hose practice in the area of these crazy demon-strators would prevent this and any future demon-strations.

    January 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  11. Nonimus

    But, what if they're right?

    January 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  12. Ykcyc

    Just goes to show how sick and twisted some believes / religions are by distorting reality and making whatever stuff up to support, protect, and feed their delusion. It is not freedom of speech. It is hate, lies, and lack of consideration for greeving families. It is sickening insanity hiding under, what free speech stands for, but has nothing o do with it.

    January 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  13. Abusing the Freedom of Speech

    My understanding was that the Freedom of Speech was put in place so that everyone could share their ideas, let it be right or left, but NOT to harass innocent people, especially a 9-year old girl. What WBC does should be considered harassment and should NOT be allowed. The First Amendment needs to be revamped to disallow this type of gathering. I dont care what WBC believes, but I do care when their actions begin to effect others. FIGHT ON ANGELS!!! GET THAT LEGISLATION PASSED AZ!!

    January 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Abusing the Freedom of Speech

      You said: "The First Amendment needs to be revamped to disallow this type of gathering."



      January 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Abusing the Freedom of Speech

      You Said: "The First Amendment needs to be revamped to disallow this type of gathering."

      I am in agreement with @David Johnson on this, as in-"NO"... It shouldn't be changed. He may have the same and/or different reasons than the ones I have, but here are just some of my thoughts on this:

      As much as I, along with virtually everyone else, absolutely 'abhor' and 'detest' the WBC Klan, and their beliefs, activities and actions,....... attempting to try and re-do the 1st amendment, would be an extremely dangerous and very 'slippery slope' to go down. Just because we hate what these people do, does not warrant stopping them. When you start to put restrictions on who can say what, we are in for big trouble. That's why there are (rules) for demonstrations concerning the 1st amendment and free speech.

      If we were to start changing these things, I could start saying that I am being 'harassed' by the Christians who continually are on street corners when I go by telling me that I am an evil sinner and I am going to burn in hell. To me– that is harassment, but I wouldn't consider changing the 1st amendment, just because they are 'harassing' me, and I hate what they do.

      Again, let me very clear.... I truly 'hate' the WBC Klan, and all they stand for and all they do. And... I think they are 'monsters' for picketing at funerals, whether it is soldiers, gays, people of the 'wrong' version of Christianity, children-such as this young girl, etc... doesn't matter.

      But, that does not warrant anyone trying to change our fundamental freedom of 'free speech'... which would be just a very, very 'bad' idea.

      Ultimately, it would cause more problems than it would solve, as once we start to go down the road of 'restrictions' you have opened up the door for more 'restrictions' of one of our 'fundamental' freedoms– that of... 'free speech.'


      January 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Let Us Prey

      @ David & Peace

      You two might want to read up on how the SCOTUS has interpreted the 1st Amend. and issued opinions restricting it's limits. It's not a matter of 'redoing' the Amendment. It's simply a case of interpreting how it's applied.

      Refer to the doctrines of 'Clear & Present Danger"; Mill's principle of Harm & Hate Speech; Feinberg's suggested application of an "Offense Principle" to act as a guide for public censure, and the "Fighting Words" doctrine (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire.) Libel, slander, and obscenity don't enjoy 1st Amendment protection, and judges can't issue gag orders without meeting specific criteria (Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart)

      In short, @Abusing the Freedom of Speech is correct. The actions of WBC need to be viewed in their proper context and interpreted according to our societal needs, just like other court opinions. Societies are not static.

      January 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Let Us Prey


      January 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Let Us Prey, how does "Right Wing" talk shows and "left wing" conspiracy theorist fit into Free Speech laws?

      January 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      @ David Johnson, Good thing I am sitting down as I type this but here we go...................

      I agree with you! I feel faint! LOL!

      January 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Let Us Prey

      @ JohnQuest

      Pretty well I guess. About as well as abstruse young internet bloggers... What's your point?

      January 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Let Us Prey

      Hey L.U.P...

      Can't speak on behalf of -David Johnson, and what his thoughts are on this, however, the point that jumped out at me, and 'assuming' from -DJ was -A.F.S's sentence within his posting:

      "The First Amendment needs to be ('revamped') to disallow this type of gathering."

      In -A.F.S's post he used the word 'revamped'.... as in we need to 'change' or 're-do' the First Amendment, which I disagree with and still do. That is what I was commenting on. I don't believe that the 1st Amendment needs to be changed for some of the reasons stated in my original post. I agree, interpreting how it's applied is another matter. However, I made no mention of the issue of 'interpretation of how it's applied', nor even being in disagreement with that.

      Bottom-line... I was responding to the statement by -A.F.S of 'revamping'(changing) the 1st Amendment-which you, actually, given your statement below, seem to agree with me here as well, where you said:

      "It's not a matter of 'redoing' the Amendment. It's simply a case of interpreting how it's applied."

      With that said... I believe we are in agreement.


      January 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Let Us Prey

      Done. Common sense prevails.


      January 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Peace2All

      Yes... common sense has prevailed.


      January 11, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  14. Another Person who is SICK of Westboro

    In regards to the angels who will be there, God Bless You Every One!!

    January 11, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  15. civiloutside

    What purpose does picketing the funeral of a 9-year-old girl killed for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time serve? Children of this age have no political agenda, no ideological stance against which to protest. No Catholic is going to see this and reconsider their religion. The sole an only reason for this would be that they know they can get national media attention for doing it. They get nothing but a platform from which to scream "We hate you all!" at the top of their lungs, and continue to lower the bar in terms of the depths of vileness to which they are willing to stoop to gain that platform.

    Sadly, they believe that this is what their god wants of them; that this sickening display represents the highest aspirations of human behavior.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • pete

      You're right, its all about media attention. Maybe the really believe the horrible things they spout but i find it weird that the media always knows where they are going to protest. If they had truly believed it was they were saying, wouldn't they just show up without letting anyone know?

      No one should have to endure the type of grief they cause when morning the loss of a loved one.

      January 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Nonimus

      My understanding is that the leader, Fred Phelps, and more than one of his children are lawyers. I think, they apply for permits to protest in most cases and follow the letter of the law, if not the spirit, in order to stay out of jail. Although, I'm guessing they would love to be arrested in order to file a huge law suit.
      They are reprehensible, but then again taken to extremes so are most religions.

      January 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  16. GSA

    That is sick! This group is pathetic and free speech or not this is wrong on so many levels.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • marie

      Boy, they are pathetic..
      They're all part of an extended family (most) probably because no one else will listen to them.
      Birds of a feathe...........

      January 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  17. Another Person who is SICK of Westboro

    I agree with the person aboove me 100%! These sick minds need to be stopped. A poor family is grieving thier hearts out over the loss of thier precious little girl, and these parasites are gonna add to the grief?? DISGUSTING! I cannot believe the idiotic so called "preacher" said that God sent the shooter to kill them....these people are possessed.
    I think this falls way out of the "right" to protest...they are harrasing and causing emotional grief and torment, at a time when it is certainly not needed.
    I hope we can all write our congressmen and whomever else can make a difference in this matter, and STOP these nuts once and for all. We need some new laws in place.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  18. One person who has ENOUGH of the Westboro HATE

    For once, will the foaming rampant malcontents at Westboro Baptist please take their unwanted selves and go somewhere else??!!! The funeral of a 9 year old girl is devastating enough for the family – they don't deserve to have to be subjected to this type of ridiculous abuse too. Thank God for the people who are willing to step up and keep these vermin out of sight. If I had the means to be there, I would... and to take a stand against all of these hypocritical self-righteous types who really have bent the Bible around to their own sick interpertation. God loves all of us – thankfully.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • CoxinIndy


      January 12, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  19. Mike, not me

    Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

    January 11, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Bob

      "I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life, as it has been, is over. From this time forward, you will service us." – Jean Luc Picard in "The Best of Both Worlds"

      See, I can quote fiction too.

      January 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Bob

      So, how am I supposed to rejoice with the Westboro members yet cry with the parents of the little girl?

      January 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      "See, I can quote fiction too."
      The problem with Bob's analogy is he quoted from a guy, Piccard, that doesn't exist to a species, the Borg, that doesn't exist.

      For Bob's comment to be relevant you have to either believe that Paul once called Saul did not exist and that he never wrote a correspondence that we have now t-itled Romans. If you want to argue the accuracy of the verse that is one thing. But to say that the epistle Romans is fiction and the verse itself is fiction is childish and intellectual cowardly.

      January 14, 2011 at 10:12 am |
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