White House GIF
The White House responded to petitions calling for Westboro Baptist Church to be classified as a hate group. Whitehouse.gov

The White House responded on July 3 to five petitions through their We the People platform that petitioned the United State Government to legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group. The five petitioned combined garnered over 674 thousand signatures.

The White House explains in its response, “as a matter of practice, the federal government doesn’t maintain a list of hate groups. That’s the prerogative of private organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law center.”

According to the Terms of Participation on the website, “the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government in its response to a petition.”

However in this case, the White House addressed the issue agreeing, “that practices such as protesting at the funerals of men and women who died in service to this country and preventing their families from mourning peacefully are reprehensible.”

The White House response also highlighted a law signed by President Obama that requires protesters to “keep an appropriate distance at military funerals.”

While the response isn’t necessarily as strong of a response that petitioners might have wanted, the White House did illustrate the support of the petitions through an animated GIF. The image shows the growth of support for the petition over 73 days. Dense support for the petition came from all over the country but was densely concentrated in certain areas, particularly from the controversial church’s home state, Kansas, and Newtown, Connecticut, where the Westboro Baptist Church threatened to protest after the Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Take a look at the animated GIF below.


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