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Petition to Call Church a Hate Group Gains Momentum

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Westboro Baptist Church, Courtesy Flickr user Avi Loud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – More than 280,000 people have signed a petition on the White House Website’s “We The People” section which includes hundreds of other petitions, to designate the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.  One member of the church says she’s surprised more people haven’t signed it.

Mark Ballard now works at the School of Rock, but in the mid-90’s he worked in radio, and one day he encountered the Westboro Baptist Church outside his office; it was the first he’d heard of them.

“The things they were saying and the message that they were putting across angered me,” Ballard said.

Related: America Has Spoken: Westboro Should be Considered a Hate Group

Since then, he says the church has continued to offend him through protesting military and law enforcement funerals and their out-spoken disapproval of homosexuality.

“It’s a mixture of sadness, anger, disgust,” he explained.

He’s one of 280,000 people and counting who signed a petition to change the designation of Westboro from a church to a hate group.

“They’re in the business of hate and so they should be classified as such in my humble opinion,” Ballard said.

Rebekah Phelps-Davis from Westboro Baptist Church says they’re not spreading hate, just a message people don’t want to hear.

“That’s how you love your neighbor as yourself, you tell them the truth of God, but they turn it on its head, and turn it as hate,” Phelps-Davis said.

Phelps-Davis says she’s not surprised about the petition, she’s surprised more people haven’t signed it.

“There’s over 330 million citizens of the United States of America, and they all, everyone, hate the word of God,” she said.

Mark Ballard believes the church should have its “tax exempt” status taken away, so do thousands of others.

On the same White House website, tens of thousands of people have signed other petitions to take away Westboro’s tax-exempt status.

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