Phelps' anti-gay ministry ordered to pay $10.9M

jeff's picture

A grieving father won a nearly $11 million verdict Wednesday against a fundamentalist Kansas church that pickets military funerals in the belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

A member of Westboro Baptist Church protests outside a veteran's hospital in Maywood, Illinois, in April 2006.

Albert Snyder of York, Pennsylvania, sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members demonstrated at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.

U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett noted the size of the award for compensating damages "far exceeds the net worth of the defendants," according to financial statements filed with the court.

Rest of the story here.

underdarkness's picture



I love how they're trying to pass it off as a gift from God on their website.

- One Nation, Under Darkness, with liberty and justice for white, heterosexual, rich, Christian men

Campfire's picture

I don't know a great deal

I don't know a great deal about the USA's legal system, but I've heard the decision is pretty likely to be thrown out by the appeals court?

That would be ashame. Financially crippling them is brilliant. The media coverage they've received is appalling and it's precisely what they want. I think it's sad though that America gets more riled up about the picketing of soldier's funerals than they do about the actual message they are sending. Nobody seems to bat an eyelid to the accusation that "God hates fags". I doubt such a high monetary punishment would have been inflicted if it was "just" the funeral of an AIDS victim.

"If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon."
- George Aiken

shadow fire's picture

You raise a good point.

They also picket homosexual funerals and tell the mothers they raised a hell spawn whom is going to hell etc. Yet I haven't heard anything done about that.

montesqueer's picture

Isn't the Westboro Church

Isn't the Westboro Church all of like, one fugly guy and his inbred family? The amount of publicity they've gotten is a little ridiculous.

Lol-taire's picture

They'll love this. It's not

They'll love this.

It's not like they need to run a media empire- they're not paying for their advertising and media coverage; everyone gives them that for free. All they need are a few marker pens and some carboard. Coca-cola would kill to be able to get their sort of publicity on that budget.

They'll file for bankrupcy and carry on even more convinced that America is wicked and corrupt and that in a few years Jesus will stride angrily back home, tutting and flailing flaming swords, twiddling the dile on the Lake of Fire up to 'eternally agonising' and usher all the Phelps clan to a very empty heaven.

Don't persecute people with a persecution complex. Just ignore them, just ignore them. Like you have to do when wasps land on you, stand still and ignore them, like your mum told you to do when your sister was being a brat; ignore them. Rise above it.

If they're at your loved ones funeral call the police, but honestly don't call the newspapers.

jeff's picture


The Phelps clan alerts the media in advance of anywhere they show up, not the people being protested.


"Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there." -- Josh Billings.

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Lol-taire's picture

OK, but the media comes

OK, but the media comes running along, salivating and being utterly
outraged and offended and hyperventaliting with how very bad and nasty the Phelps family all are.

They're the most infantile and crude little organisation and they've manipulated the media- and the consumers of media- so cleverly that a church of about 100 people, mostly related, lots of them children, with this nebulous and half reasoned agenda- and no actual plans for political or social change- are famous world wide.

1stTeeka's picture


lol, good for them
i saw this thing on tv where tyhis family believed that everyone who died in 911 were either homosexuals or supported homosexuals and that everything bad that happens in the world is to punish homosexuals and there suporters...crazy phycos

**Far from a saint, not quite a sinner**

Lyddie's picture

Yeah, about that crazy 911 thing 1st teeka's talking about ^

It's insane, what some people do.


I bleed audio's picture

Give it back?

One thing I'm not understanding about these protests, are the protests happening at the funerals of gay soldiers? Or is it just soldiers in general?

If its the first case that it's just happening to gay soldier's funerals wouldn't a better move for the family to just give the money back? I know this sounds outlandish but first off who really needs 10.9 million dollars? I mean thats more than anyone really needs during a lifetime and having extra money isn't going to bring your dead son back, it sounds harsh but thats the way things are. Now true it is damn disrespectful for people to protest at your sons funeral after he gave his life for our country but accepting the money and crippling the church isn't going to make things right. I think the correct thing for the family to do is give the money back to the church saying that there son wasn't a hateful person and wouldn't want to be remembered for ruining others lives. This doesn't fuel the gay- religious nut controversy and shows gays as sort of taking the high road, so to speak.

Now I'm not saying this is going to change any religious fanatic's mind but it would help the publics view of gay people. I mean really what we're going for here is equal rights and a better public image so wouldn't this help push in that direction just a bit?

Despite all the things you may have learned, if you play with fire then you're bound to get burned

montesqueer's picture

I have elaborate plans to

I have elaborate plans to acquire kajillions through lawsuit someday and use it to build hospitals in third world countries. I don't understand why people would want the money anyway, aside from greed. It doesn't compensate a life.

fox333's picture

Take the money and give it

Take the money and give it to a sane church. Or other charity organization.

Fox's picture

I'd take it and donate a

I'd take it and donate a large portion to a new beach house in Hawaii, and save the rest. I'm greedy >_<