Patriot Guard Riders – Our Protection Against Westboro Baptist Church

OK, before I write this, I know I’m going against everything I tell everyone to do when it comes to Fred Phelps and his band of crazies. But I have to say it. For all of the Americans out there lucky enough to not know about Fred, Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), or the evil they inflict upon this world, and mostly the next generation of their family, you’re lucky. Because when you come across them, you will hate them. Probably with a hate stronger than any hate you’ve ever felt. And yes, I know hate’s a strong word. But I’ve lived it and felt it. This is EXACTLY what they (they being WBC) want. And our hatred of them is how they’re so successful. There’s the rub.

These people, who don’t even deserve to carry the word “people” because they’re so awful, protest at funerals across the country. Mostly military funerals. And at these funerals they hold signs saying derogatory things about gay people, and the military. Somehow they claim war is caused by Americans accepting gays. Or something like that. Who knows. I don’t even think Fred believes what he says. I believe he does it to make a profit, to feel powerful, to get a rise out of people. All of the bat-crazy stuff crazy people do. But I worry the children don’t know any better. And seeing those children holding the signs. There aren’t words. Awful. But that’s not the point. Well, that sort of is a point. But I can’t fix that.

The point is everything they do is a profit-based business. And the profits are what they use to continue to protest. They protest under the guise of religion (well, sort of. They’re idiots, so it’s not really religion by anyone’s standards but their own). Using the freedom of speech as a shield. Not only to protect them from being shut down, but when someone acts out of emotion, that same freedom wins them lawsuits. And lots of money. Money, essentially, that the rest of America bands together to pay for. And money that is then used to bankroll the next protest. Yep, you read that right. WE are the ones who are making this display of audacity possible (either directly by attacking them and losing cases, or indirectly by helping the family who did attack and lose the case pay what they owe). Many members of the church/of the family (because they’re one in the same) are lawyers. In facts, it’s said Fred would beat any child of his who would not agree to become a lawyer. Several work for the State of Kansas. They know their rights, the ins and outs of the laws, and how to lawfully wreak havoc without doing so illegally. They are very specific in the things they put on their signs and the things they say. They’ve been legally protesting in Kansas for years and years. Many lawsuits have been brought against them, they always win. They file lawsuits against people. I repeat: They. Always. Win.

No one said life’s fair.

So what’s the answer?

Like a naughty child begging for attention, ignore them. Don’t show your emotion to them. Don’t approach them. Don’t acknowledge them.I can’t imagine how hard this would be, especially for the funeral of a fallen soldier. And I’ve never had to try to do it. So I can’t even empathize. This person gave his or her life to defend our country. And here is this small group of small-minded, awful, hateful people not respecting the solider, his or her family, or what the death really stands for. I have only had the displeasure of witnessing the WBC one time when I was in Topeka. It was awful. And I wasn’t attending a funeral or any other event with heightened emotions.

If the funeral is high profile, it’s possible to get boundaries established well before the funeral to keep them even farther away than what’s standard by law. If it’s possible, set specific boundaries. I guarantee you WBC will NOT break the law. These boundaries were set for Dr. Tiller in Wichita. In my eyes he’s no more special than your relative.

Finally, enlist in the help of the Patriot Guard Riders. Many don’t realize this group was established in Kansas, because of WBC. They’ve always been crazy. And this amazing organization, now nationwide, volunteers (at the request of the family) to attend these funerals to protect the family from the protests WBC puts on. They love what they do, and do it well. Regardless of the weather. They ride in unyielding heat, the harshest cold, down-pouring rain. They shield the family by physically building a wall with their motorcycles and flag, and audibly by revving their engines. They stand at attention as if they’re part of the military. And many may be, but it’s not required. When I see pictures of them, I get goosebumps. They are by and far one of the most professional, respectful, selfless groups. There aren’t words.

Growing up my parents used to encourage us to donate to a church. But as a Catholic who hasn’t been particularly pleased with how those donations are allocated and spent, I didn’t get a lot of pleasure donating there. Now, my parents have started encouraging me to “find a cause you do respect and donate to it.” Each year I take time to choose where I’ll donate. In past years it’s been private schools, cancer, heart disease or other medical charities, and I’ve even had years where I’ve really liked a priest my church and donated there. This year, though, I will proudly donate to the Patriot Guard Riders. Although no amount of money can express the respect I have for them, I hope in time everyone will see the way to finally rid this world of people like Fred Phelps isn’t to physically or verbally attack them, but rather to ignore them.

I stole several images (off of Google Images so I’m not sure it’s stealing) that capture what I think of when I think of the Patriot Guard Riders.

This image was taken from the East Texas Patriot Guard page.

This image came from The Democratic Daily (back in 2006). And talks a little bit about history and what they were doing even four years ago.

I love this image. Captures exactly what I think of when I think of the PGR. It was taken from an mlive.com article in 2009.

Another 2009 article. This one from the Green Valley News and Sun. It has more in-depth PGR history. Each state has captains who organize rides as the PGR is invited to ride at a funeral. It’s a nationwide organization, but the efforts are broken down by state to make it most efficient.

I wavered on whether to do this because I don’t want to promote anyone giving them more attention than they already get. But finally decided information is power. Understanding your enemy gives you strength to defeat. This image is pulled from Wikipedia’s Fred Phelps page. You can read about the history of the “church,” family members who have denounced him and his actions.

And, finally, you may or may not be interested in viewing Nate Phelps’ site (one son who denounced Fred). His is a story of abuse, brainwashing, fear, intimidation, hypocrisy, and everything awful you could imagine. How these children stayed in his home is beyond me. I almost couldn’t finish his “speech” (a section of  his site) because it reminded me of the book, A Child Called “It.”

Update: I haven’t watched this whole thing, but just found it. May or may not be interesting? What I’ve seen. It takes my breath away to see the brainwashed children. The angry adults. Horrible. I need to stop reading and watching this crap.

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14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kim on August 11, 2010 at 1:37 am

    1st. I had NO idea they were all a bunch of lawyers, but it totally makes sense now! And I 100% agree with your ignoring them comment, but I just don’t know if I could EVER handle this if it were to happen at a family members funeral!

    2nd. I LOVE the Patriot Guards! LOVE them! I’m not sure why we having donated to their organization list in the past, but you better believe they will be added to our list. Seriously, I have so much respect for these people that do this for people they don’t even know and do it so professionally and with such dignity as if it is a family member at each funeral!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Mary Pierson on October 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    WE NEED GOOD CARING PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD.THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO FOR THE SOILDERS & THERE FAMILYS. I WILL BE ATTENDING A SOILDERS FUNERAL THIS SATURDAY IN LAMAR MISSOURI. THEY WILL BE HERE TO PROTECT THE FAMILY FROM THOSE AWFULL PEOPLE. GODS WORK IS AWESOME WORK.GOD IS GOOD & SO ARE YOU.
    GOD BLESS

    Reply

  3. Posted by Mellody Hutchinson on November 3, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    i have 3 grandsons i service 2 in marines & 1 in army Thanks for what you do for our fallen service men & wemon.

    Reply

  4. Posted by TheLostBostonian on December 4, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    regarding: Patriot Guard Riders, our protection against westboro baptist church.
    It’s a sad statement on our society when a group of twisted, uncaring, psychotically ignorant, brainwashed morons like the followers of the westboro baptist church are allowed to insult and cause anguish to people whose loved ones have given their life for the nation that allows the followers of the westboro baptist church to carry out their bitter attacks.
    We need to get back to reality and enforce common decency. The law has been so manipulated by Politically Correct lawyer maggots that good decent people saying farewell to loved ones now have to tolerate a protest on their day of grief. Where are the rights of the fallen heroes and their families?
    The westboro baptist church should be shut down and banned from further spreading the crap and brainwashing their young.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Linda on December 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Hope you guys will be going down when the Westboro jerks picket Elizabeth Edwards funeral.. They are less then human..

    Reply

  6. Posted by chris on December 10, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Thanks for this very informative post. I found your blog because I wanted to learn more about PGR, having just found out that WBC will be at Elizabeth Edwards’ funeral. They claim her use of IVF to have children interfered with God’s will. They are disgusting.

    Whatever anyone’s political views, I’m offended that WBC is latching onto a family’s tragedy. I know PGR only appears at soldiers’ funerals, so I hope others will emulate them and not let WBC turn yet another funeral into a platform for their ego-glorifying hatred.

    Reply

    • One important note: Westboro will pick any detail they can find (no matter how absurd) to protest. They pick hot button topics (like soldiers, gay rights, IVF, etc.) because they know they’ll spurn reaction.

      In this case, any parent, sibling, grandparent, best friend, etc. who has ever had the joy of a child through IVF will be aghast at the thought of IVF being bad. It’s almost like they brainstorm topics that are emotional for someone and then protest them.

      Trying to explain to them the joys of IVF will be fruitless. Don’t waste your time. You can’t speak logic to an illogical person because their illogical is logical to them. Well, that and they’re bat-crazy.

      Reply

  7. A few things:

    1. I BELIEVE the PGR might be willing to do other non-soldier services. I know they only attend funerals of servicemen and women who INVITE them, so if you contact your local PGR (they’re broken down by geographical areas), they might be willing to come to non-service funerals. And even if it is a member of the military, they have to be invited. I’m not sure if other areas are more vocal, approaching the families, but here in Kansas they’re very respectful, and wait for the families to come to them. Please keep this in mind, and remember to request their presence.

    2. I believe Westboro has already lost their tax-exempt status as a church. I don’t know how to confirm this, this is coming from someone in Topeka. I’m sure there’s a way to check. But in my opinion whether they’ve secured the status or not, they’re just as awful.

    3. While I hate what Westboro does, and I HATE that local law enforcement in cities and towns take the time to protect them, give them escorts, block off roads, etc. I do not want to give up my rights and freedom of speech. There will always be a small percentage of crazy people. And you can’t let them taint your American rights. We live in a great country. And while this group is using the rights our soldiers fight to keep for us, I believe taking them away for this group will not only be insulting to the soldiers, but also hurt us. Any group who wants attention or acts out like this group will find a way to act around the law. We shouldn’t limit our rights only to have them find another way around it.

    4. My personal opinion is to NOT counter-protest this group. I’ve watched several documentaries on the group, and believe they get their feeling of power and righteousness from people giving them attention either through protesting, swearing at them out their car windows, etc. The people of Topkea have banned together to ignore them. They walk and drive past them without making eye contact. They don’t yell. They don’t counter-protest. They just pretend they’re air. I believe this is a big reason they don’t do many protests in Topeka any more. I want the rest of the country to adopt this attitude.

    5. I am so thankful for the PGR. There are no words.

    Reply

  8. […] They definitely protest less in Topeka because Topekans ignore them. Way to go, Topeka! And the Patriot Guard Riders don’t acknowledge them directly. Instead, they drown out their protests with their motorcycle […]

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  9. […] Patriot Guard Riders – Our Protection Against Westboro Baptist Church LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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  11. Posted by Kristopher on April 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    The first Sunday in June, we are launching our “Cake or Death” picket campaign across from Westboro while they hold their services. Cake or Death was born because WBC wants their cake and to eat it too, when it comes to the Bible, which they edit for their needs, yet claim the believe it all. The “or Death” is from an Eddie Izzard comedy routine about what it would be like if the Church of England conducted the Inquistion. So, we will shout that those who do not take cake are doomed to hell – fighting absurdity with absurdity. We’d love for the Topeka Patriot Guard to join us – as well as any other PG rider who wishes to come. We’ll proudly display our flag correctly, and considering in future pickets to have the faces of soldiers who lost their lives in combat with the banner “These men and women died for our nation and your rights!” We’d love the PG to join us, flags flying and pipes growling – beat these morons back under the rock from which they came.

    Reply

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