It's not often that I agree with the Republican controlled Congress. But, I want to salute their vote on Wednesday prohibiting demonstrations at military funerals.
The act specifically targets Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church which has been bringing his hate campaign against gays and lesbians to military funerals. You may remember Phelps -- he and members of his family held signs saying things like "God hates fags" at Matthew Shepard's funeral and the funerals of people who died of AIDS. He has recently turned to bringing his hateful placards to areas surrounding the funerals of those who have died serving in the War in Iraq. He has gone so far as to say that the War in Iraq is punishment for tolerance to GLBT people.
In response, a group of motorcycle riders formed to protect mourners from"interruptions caused by any protestors or group of protestors." Called the Patriot Guard Riders, these men ask the family of the fallen service member if they can be present to offer protection. At their web site they list dozens of funerals where their members have protected families from Phelps and his minions. The governor of Indiana has just honored them by asking them to accompany him on their bikes at the Indy 500 this Sunday.
It seems appropriate this Memorial Day weekend to also honor those who respond to hate with love and respect for those who have died serving our country. Surely the Patriot Guard Riders know that on those bikes they are serving God who commands us to love our neighbor.
Let's pray that with the US Congress against him, Fred Phelps will get the message and stay home. If he doesn't, it could cost him $100,000 and a year in prison.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend. Back on Tuesday.