WASHINGTON (RNS) In response to five “We the People” petitions, the White House condemned the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church but said it is powerless to list the Kansas church as a hate group and remove its tax-exempt status.
Westboro Baptist Church members protest at a Presbyterian church in Madison, Wis.Photo courtesy cometstarmoon via Flickr
The White House response on Tuesday (July 1) said the federal government does not maintain a list of hate groups, instead leaving that task to private organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. Both have called Westboro a hate group.
Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, Kan., is best known for its graphic “God Hates Fags” signs and its continued picketing of military funerals.
The White House response mentioned that President Obama signed a 2012 law that restricts protesting within 300 feet of military funerals during the two hours before and after a service.
The response also said the White House cannot comment on petitions that request law enforcement or “adjudicatory action.”
“That all said, we agree that practices such as protesting at the funerals of men and women who died in service to this country and preventing their families from mourning peacefully are reprehensible,” the response stated.