Protesting against war at funerals wrong


As I See It….
By Billy McCord

I know you have heard the old saying, “I’ve seen it all now.” The older I get the more I utter these words, only to discover that there are things to come that I have not seen or heard.

Could you ever believe that you would live long enough to see protesters cheering when the body of an American soldier is returned home for burial? I can assure you that I never thought I would live long enough to see this, but now I have. The pastor and members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., have traveled to funerals of American soldiers and, according to press reports, have cheered the death by loud cheers and posters rejoicing over the death.

This pastor and church have been engaged in this activity for quite a while. Why? According to them, God is taking the lives of our soldiers to punish America for its acceptance of homosexuality.

Before any of my readers misinterpret my next statements, let me plainly state that I believe that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings. There is no doubt that it is a sin and God, I am sure, grieves over America as He does other countries of the world.

I do not understand why the Westboro Church does not talk about adultery since Jesus had much more to say about adultery than He did homosexuality. Why not talk about gossip or hatred? Take a look at what Jesus says about these subjects in the Gospels.

Is God pleased with these sins? Certainly not. Is He in the business of taking the lives of soldiers to punish America for these sins? Most definitely not. Even the slightest hint of God doing such a thing is inconsistent with the Christian gospel. A church that practices the gospel of Jesus Christ would never meet an American soldier who has lost his or her life in order to applaud the death.

Americans take great pride in the Bill of Rights in our Constitution including freedom of speech and expression. Freedom, however, surely must have limits, and I firmly believe to meet a dead soldier and hold a demonstration while the family is burying their loved one has crossed the limits of freedom.

Regardless of your or my opinion of the war in Iraq, the men and women of this country should have the respect of every American. These men and women in uniform are obeying the orders of their commander-in-chief, and as citizens of this country, they are due our support and respect. What these protests are doing to the families of the fallen soldiers is hard to imagine. Families of American soldiers do not deserve this kind of treatment.

The American Civil Liberties Union has now joined with the pastor of Westboro Church and has filed a lawsuit challenging laws that have been passed to protect the families of the dead soldiers. The ACLU takes the position that these demonstrations are protected under the Bill of Rights. I believe the ACLU is dead wrong in trying to protect those who would cheer a dead soldier returning home. Sometimes liberties have to have some restrictions, and, as I see it, this is such a time.

McCord is a retired public school administrator and an elder in the United Methodist Church. He is pastor of the Pittsboro and Shady Grove UM churches in Calhoun County. Contact him at