Soldier Funeral Protesters Speak To CMU Class 11-01-2010 - WNEM TV 5

Soldier Funeral Protesters Speak To CMU Class 11-01-2010

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church were at Central Michigan University on Monday to speak to several journalism classes on the topic of free speech, even if its speech you don't agree with.
The courses are taught by Timothy Boudreau, associate professor of journalism.
"Love them or hate them, they illustrate a lot of things about the First Amendment," said Boudreau. "The limits of the First Amendment, how far it does go, how far it should go."
Three members of the church, including Shirley Phelps-Roper, spoke in front of packed classrooms, and extra security was evident.
Members from the church ditched their signs for the classroom, but they still brought along their beliefs. "I would not dare apologize," said Phelps-Roper."If you believe God, and we recommend you do, you know that the fearful and unbelieving, the apologists, they're going to Hell with the rest of the people. If this is right words that we're telling you, we better not dare apologize."
Several dozen protesters stood in a hall where the Westboro members were to speak to students.
Boudreau said he asked the radical soldier funeral protesters to visit his classrooms to help students better understand the First Amendment's protection of free speech.
The professor said few groups test of outer limits of free speech like Westboro Baptist Church.
Members of a family-dominated church in Topeka, Kan., are known for picketing soldiers' funerals, expressing their view that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.
Boudreau has said he personally doesn't agree with the group's stance, but said he thinks they are protected under First Amendment boundaries of absolute limits.

Margie Phelps, arguing the case for her family's Westboro Baptist Church, said the message of the protests at military funerals and elsewhere is, "Nation, hear this little church. If you want them to stop dying, stop sinning."
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently handling a case involving a dead Marine's father's fight against the church.
Albert Snyder's son died in Iraq in 2006, and members of the fundamentalist church protested at the funeral. The constitutional issue at hand is whether the father's emotional pain trumps the protesters' free speech rights.
Slideshow: Protestors Greet Westboro Baptist Church Members
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