More than 260,000 people have signed a petition to the White House asking for it to label the notorious Westboro Baptist Church a hate group.
The petition aimed at the church best known for picketing military funerals and other events with signs declaring "GOD HATES FAGS," is believed to be the most popular cause ever on the White House's "We the People" petition site. Four other petitions targeting the church's tax-exempt status have attracted nearly 200,000 additional signatures. All five petitions have passed the number required for a response from President Barack Obama's administration.
The tiny Kansas-based church, mostly made up of members of founder Fred Phelps' family, has picketed the funeral of military members killed in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq and funerals of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Phelps preaches that the deaths are God's retribution for the United States' acceptance of homosexuality (or in some cases, failure to condemn homosexuality strongly).
"This group has been recognized as a hate group by organizations, such as The Southern Poverty Law Center, and has repeatedly displayed the actions typical of hate groups," the petition reads. "Their actions have been directed at many groups, including homosexuals, military, Jewish people and even other Christians. They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation."
The petitions on the We the People site attracted a lot of attention in November after Obama's re-election. Several people started petitions for their state to secede from the Union.
For more on how the White House addresses the petitions, check out this article from POLITICO: About those White House petitions...