Ohio Wesleyan University


 I imagine God is sitting on his/her throne in heaven scratching his head and saying, “What on earth are my people doing?!” Through the ages atrocities have been committed in the name of religion but now the world seems to get crazier by the minute.                                 

Some of the happenings would be funny if they weren’t true. But, sadly, it has become the norm for people to run around grandstanding trying to grab headlines by doing stunts one would expect to see in a reality show—all in the name of religion. They are pushing the limits of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and tolerance to the breaking point. I am referring to the church in Topeka, Kansas that pickets military funerals and the one in Florida that burned the Quran. Their actions are merely publicity stunts.

I’m not sure what they hope to gain from these actions besides seeing their names and faces in the papers and on the news. For that reason I will not refer to these two fanatical groups by name. If they hope to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, these are not techniques he would use to gain followers.  Three members of the Kansas Church were in the Columbus, Ohio area yesterday after being invited to speak at an area high school. They then held a demonstration outside another area high school where they carried offensive signs and dressed in fake bloodied American flags and tied American flags around their ankles so the flags dragged on the ground as they walked.

Their actions are offensive and nauseating. What is even more aggravating is the gleeful smirk on their faces. They are getting exactly what they want—media attention—not for their cause but for themselves. That is why I congratulate NBC4i for their refusal to provide video of the demonstrations. Just because our constitution guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press, does not mean the press has to cover their actions.

The Quran burning church in Florida attracted only thirty people to their demonstration. If they had attracted huge crowds I think it is safe to assume they would be conducting burnings every weekend. Again, they have the freedom to perform such an act but do they have the right to put our military and service people in harm’s way—the very people who are willing to sacrifice their lives for a few crazies who are out to make a point.

Interestingly, the people from the Kansas church saw that a no-show has its merits. Last month Ohio Wesleyan University scheduled a demonstration and showing of the documentary The Anatomy of Hate about the workings of the Kansas church best known for picketing military funerals under the assertion that God kills soldiers because America tolerates homosexuality.

Expecting members of the church to attend and create a disturbance, the college young people made signs that read “One Love” and “All you need is love.” They were joined by civil-rights groups and members of churches from throughout the state who had heard about the plans.

However, there was no demonstration because the Kansas people did not show up thus giving the media nothing to cover and therefore negating coverage of the day.

According to the church’s web site, the group blames America’s sins for its tragedies. They contend that the dead miners in West Virginia are in hell, Catholic and Jewish schools are run by perverts, and God is to be thanked for dead soldiers.

The group won a victory in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that its protests are free speech. A man who sued after they picketed his Marine son’s funeral in Maryland was ordered to pay their court costs.

It is now up to the Supreme Court to decide this case. Some of our most precious freedoms are the right to free speech, the right for public assembly, and freedom of the press and we must guard these at any cost—even if it means putting up with crazies such as these. But, we also have the freedom of choice to turn off the TV and the press has the freedom not to give them coverage.

It appears the best way to shut up these people  is to do what our mothers told us to do to the bullies in grade school—just ignore them.