Church group known for hate speech to picket in Louisville - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Church group known for hate speech to picket in Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB Fox 41) -- A church group known for hate speech plans to picket in Louisville this weekend.  Westboro Baptist Church says it will demonstrate outside Saint Lawrence Catholic Church Sunday before evening mass.  But it will also be met with a counter-protest.

The Kansas-based group travels around the country spewing what many call vile speech at military funerals and churches.

Alan Runyan has planned the counter-protest and says he's bringing 100 people, as he explains it, " position ourselves between the church and these folks so we can keep the churchgoers shielded from this kind of vitriol."

LMPD Maj. Kelley Jones explains, "We'll have several officers out at church property to make sure that things go smooth and hopefully there won't be any disturbances."

This week the Supreme Court ruled that Westboro can continue its protests because they are protected under the First Amendment right to free speech.

For more on the Supreme Court decision, click here.

The 8-1 decision in favor of the church was the latest in a line of court rulings that, as Chief Justice John Roberts said in his opinion for the court, protects "even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate."

The decision ended a lawsuit by Albert Snyder, who sued church members for the emotional pain they caused by showing up at his son Matthew's funeral. As they have at hundreds of other funerals, the Westboro members held signs with provocative messages, including "Thank God for dead soldiers," ''You're Going to Hell," ''God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11," and one that combined the U.S. Marine Corps motto, Semper Fi, with a slur against gay men.

Runyan says his group will simply wave signs with peaceful messages from the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, hoping his silence will speak volumes: "What we want to show these folks is that love and acceptance can take care of a lot of issues that can't be taken care of if you just spout hate."

Westboro Baptist also plans to protest at three Owensboro churches, including Blessed Mother Catholic Church where a young man committed suicide outside the parish last month.

The Archdiocese of Louisville released a statement from spokesperson Cecelia Hart Price, saying, "The record of Westboro Baptist Church speaks for itself.  The parish (Saint Lawrence) will continue its regularly scheduled Mass and will ignore the protesters...also urge all Catholics to pray for the members of this misguided group as well as for those who are the target of its protests."

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