The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church has issued a press release saying that they will picket the funerals of the Norway victims who lost their lives when Anders Breivik set off a bomb in Oslo and gunned down 69 at a youth camp in the island of Utoeya.
The Church, run by Fred Phelps, sees homosexuality as a deadly sin and routinely pickets funerals of dead soldiers. The Church terms their death as a message from God that the United States is "a sodomite nation of flag-worshipping idolaters.” It interprets the massacre in Norway in the same vain. Norway made homosexuality legal in 1972 and allows gay people to marry and adopt children.
According to their press release, “NORWAY MUST REPENT OR PERISH!... Did you think God would wink at that in-your-face sin forever? No! He sent the killer to slaughter 75+ of your children and citizens. It doesn’t matter what stripes Anders Breivik has or what you do to him now; God formed him and appointed him to punish Norway.”
In the U.S., the church is allowed to picket the funerals and synagogues if they keep at a legal distance but the laws in Norway are very different and strict about such things. Norway has laws banning hate speech.
Norway's General Civil Penal Code, comments in Section 135 a. on "hateful expression" related to religion and sexuality: "Section 135 a. Any person who willfully or through gross negligence publicly utters a discriminatory or hateful expression shall be liable to fines or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years. ... The use of symbols shall also be deemed to be an expression. Any person who aids and abets such an offense shall be liable to the same penalty."
The law further clarifies what hateful expression encompasses, “inciting hatred or persecution of or contempt for anyone because of his or her: a) skin color or national or ethnic origin, b) religion or life stance, or c) homosexuality, lifestyle or orientation."
Considering the clear wordings of the law the members of the church may not be able to get away with their picketing in Norway as they do in the U.S.
“If they implement what they threaten, I can only confirm that it is one of the most bad ideas at the moment,” said Johan Fredriksen , chief of staff of the Oslo police to the Norway Broadcasting Company (NRK). He added that he hoped they restrained themselves.
In an interview to NRK, Steve Drain, a spokesperson of the Church, clarified that they were not yet sure when they will picket the funerals as they were still gathering information. He also said that the Church had no supporters in Norway.
"We are not concerned about their hate speech laws - the fact that someone can't read out of the Bible in a public place, for fear of being imprisoned, is precisely (sic) why they need this preaching more than they need air to breathe or water to drink," Steve Drain, told The Christian Post Friday. "Norway is a doomed nation - as is America."
In Norway, funerals are already being held for the victims by the families and are expected to go on for weeks.