That White House petition to have the Westboro Baptist Church declared a hate group, a designation that does not exist in the law, has now gathered about a quarter million signatures, making it the most popular petition ever done on the We the People website. And now there are two new ones:
But the quarter-million signature effort to recognize Westboro as a hate group is also getting a boost from two other petitions calling for the congregation’s tax-exempt status to be revoked. Both of those have also crossed the 25,000 signature threshold needed to prompt a response from the administration.
Just stop it. The Westboro Baptist Church is a vile, disgusting organization, but that doesn’t mean that every possible thing that could be done to them should be done. And in this case, neither of those things can be done. There is no legal “hate group” designation, nor should there be (the Southern Poverty Law Center has a list of hate groups, but that is their own categorization as a private group, and of course Westboro is on that list — and should be).
Nor can their tax exempt status be taken away because they advocate repulsive things. They have non-profit status on exactly the same grounds that every other church has that status, and they actually are less likely to violate IRS rules in this regard than a lot of other conservative churches. I know of no instance where they have engaged in anything like electioneering, as opposed to hundreds of other churches that have deliberately violated IRS rules to do so over the last few years.
The White House petition website has been mostly useless even when the petitions are for legitimate things that need to be done, but it’s even more useless when people demand things that the government couldn’t do even if it wanted to.
And while we’re at it, how about putting an end to that idiotic petition to deport Piers Morgan. I’d be more than happy to see that vapid twit gone from the planet, but it would be monumentally stupid to deport him because a few wingnuts don’t like what he said about gun control.