White House Tells Petitioners It Won't Classifiy Westboro Baptist as Hate Group
Responding to several petitions asking that the federal government recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group, the White House said it could not issue an official comment on the group known for standing outside the funerals of soldiers and others with derogatory signs.
"The We the People Terms of Participation explain that 'the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government,'" the White House said in its official response.
"To the extent that these petitions request a particular law enforcement or adjudicatory action, we cannot issue a comment. In addition, as a matter of practice, the federal government doesn't maintain a list of hate groups. That's the prerogative of private organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center."
Three of the petitions urge the administration to investigate the tax-exempt status of the group. Together the five petitions have amassed hundreds of thousands of signatures.
"The Westboro Baptist Church is better-known for homophobic displays, suing people and picketing funerals than for providing Christian care to a community. Due to their harassment and politicking, their IRS tax-exempt status should be immediately investigated," reads one of the petitions, which garnered more than 101,000 signatures.
"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-- a point that President Obama has made for years. That's why he signed a law to ensure that protesters keep an appropriate distance at military funerals. As the President has said, 'The graves of our veterans are hallowed ground, and when men and women die in the service of their country and are laid to rest, it should be done with the utmost honor and respect,'" the White House continued.
"Moreover, one of the remarkable things about this set of petitions is that it shows just how strong the bonds that unite us can be. Together, we’re more resilient than those who would try to drive us apart."