The decision regarding free speech in the Snyder v. Phelps case, better known as the Westboro Baptist Church case, was expected by constitutional scholars. Political speech, regardless of how hurtful, has the most protections of any form of speech. But it is for this reason that there are responses to what Westboro does that are appropriate.
Westboro Baptist Church claims to be expressing religious beliefs, yet their speech is protected as political speech. With members of Westboro under the illusion that God looks favorably on their protests at military funerals, there should be a public response from the major religions. While many people of faith agree with the general public about the offensiveness of the protests, the members of Westboro should hear loud and clear from people of faith that they are on their own with this bigotry.
The United Conference of Catholic Bishops should openly express its distaste for this type of hate. Muslims in America might want to use this as an opportunity to lend a like-minded voice on this matter. Perhaps a public letter in major newspapers joined by the major faiths and the Anti-Defamation League (which has already voiced its opinion on this) would at least tell the members of this “church” that other people of faith are outraged.
Members of Westboro have their speech understandably protected, but it is also well within the rights of other faiths in America to express their opinions. Religious orders do not have fewer First Amendment rights than lay citizens. Westboro should know that they have no allies that are simply keeping quiet. They are alone in their harmful mission.