The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is an American unaffiliated Baptist church known for its extreme ideologies, especially those against gay people.The church is widely described as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. It is headed by Fred Phelps and consists primarily of members of his large family;in 2011, the church stated that it had about 40 members.The church is headquartered in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Topeka about three miles (5 km) west of the Kansas State Capitol. Its first public service was held on the afternoon of November 27, 1955.
The church has been involved in actions against gay people since at least 1991, when it sought a crackdown on homosexual activity at Gage Park six blocks northwest of the church.In addition to conducting anti-gay protests at military funerals, the organization pickets other celebrity funerals and public events that are likely to get it media attention.Protests have also been held against Jews and some protests have included WBC members stomping on the American flag.
The WBC is not affiliated with any Baptist denomination. The Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention (the two largest Baptist denominations) have each denounced the WBC over the years.The church describes itself as following Primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles.
The group came into the national spotlight in 1998, when it was featured on CNN for picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a young man from Laramie, Wyoming who was beaten to death by two men allegedly because of his homosexuality.Since then, the church has attracted attention for many more actual and planned funeral pickets.
In July 2005, the Westboro Baptist Church declared its intention to picket the memorial service of Carrie French in Boise, Idaho. French, 19, was killed on June 5 in Kirkuk, Iraq, where she served as an ammunition specialist with the 116th Brigade Combat Team's 145th Support Battalion. Phelps Sr. said, "Our attitude toward what's happening with the war is the Lord is punishing this evil nation for abandoning all moral imperatives that are worth a dime."
In 2006, Westboro picketed with banners saying "God hates fags" and "Thank God for dead soldiers" at the Westminster, Maryland, funeral of Matthew Snyder, a U.S. Marine who was also killed in Iraq. Ruling on a subsequent lawsuit filed by Snyder's father, Albert Snyder, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, 8–1 in Snyder v. Phelps, that Westboro's actions constituted protected free speech.
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), informally known as the Klan or the "Hooded Order", is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically expressed through terrorism. Since the mid-20th century, the KKK has also been anti-communist.The current manifestation is splintered into several chapters with no connection to each other; it is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.It is estimated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members as of 2012.
The first Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, and then died out by the early 1870s. Members adopted white costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities.The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, and adopted the same costumes and code words as the first Klan, while introducing cross burnings.The third KKK emerged after World War II and was associated with opposing the Civil Rights Movement and progress among minorities. The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent reference to the USA's "Anglo-Saxon" blood, harking back to 19th-century nativism and claiming descent from the original 18th-century British colonial revolutionaries.
Founded in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican Party's Reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for blacks. Its members waged an underground campaign of intimidation and violence directed at white and black Republican leaders. Though Congress passed legislation designed to curb Klan terrorism, the organization saw its primary goal–the reestablishment of white supremacy–fulfilled through Democratic victories in state legislatures across the South in the 1870s. After a period of decline, white Protestant nativist groups revived the Klan in the early 20th century, burning crosses and staging rallies, parades and marches denouncing immigrants, Catholics, Jews, blacks and organized labor. The civil rights movement of the 1960s also saw a surge of Ku Klux Klan activity, including bombings of black schools and churches and violence against black and white activists in the South.
The Great Depression in the 1930s depleted the Klan's membership ranks, and the organization temporarily disbanded in 1944. The civil rights movement of the 1960s saw a surge of local Klan activity across the South, including the bombings, beatings and shootings of black and white activists. These actions, carried out in secret but apparently the work of local Klansmen, outraged the nation and helped win support for the civil rights cause. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson delivered a speech publicly condemning the Klan and announcing the arrest of four Klansmen in connection with the murder of a white female civil rights worker in Alabama. The cases of Klan-related violence became more isolated in the decades to come, though fragmented groups became aligned with neo-Nazi or other right-wing extremist organizations from the 1970s onward. In the early 1990s, the Klan was estimated to have between 6,000 and 10,000 active members, mostly in the Deep South.