The Westboro Baptist Church’s website is called God Hates Fags. This group does not represent Christianity nor what God’s Word teaches concerning homosexuality. God condemns the sin of homosexuality along with many other sins. God, however, loves the homosexual and Jesus died on the cross for homosexuals as well as every other sinner. The church should denounce the ungodly attitude of the Westboro Baptist Church and welcome homosexuals to the services to hear the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
While we reject the bigotry of the Westboro Baptist Church we also repudiate the reactions of homosexual activists to Chick-fil-A’s belief in traditional marriage. Just go on You Tube and view same-sex couples kissing under Chick-fil-A’s signs to celebrate “National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A” at over 1,600 stores. One of the protestors said to a man reading his Bible outside of Chick-fil-A: “I am tired of the hypocrisy coming out of these books…I do hate God, because the God that you want, the God that you worship stones rape victims.” The Westboro Baptist Church hates fags and this Chick-fil-A protestor hates God. Both are extreme.
After the Kiss In at 1,600 Chick-fil-A stores, a pastor friend asked me, “What would you do if there was a ‘kiss in’ at your church or a ‘kiss in’ was threatened?” This is a new issue that churches will have to think through. I contacted Christian Law Association with these questions and they granted me permission to post their answer:
GIBBS LAW FIRM, P.A.
Attorneys and Counselors at Law
Thank you for contacting the Christian Law Association and our law firm with your question about what churches may do if they are faced with a homosexual “kiss in” during a church service—or at any time on church property. There is a lot of concern in the Christian community about this type of protest by activist homosexuals. This group is extremely intolerant of views that do not agree with theirs and they are not reluctant to express themselves in inappropriate ways. So this is something that churches should be concerned about.
There is a standard way to handle this sort of thing—-whether a “kiss in” or any other type of behavior that might take place on church property which is not consistent with the church’s beliefs or morals. Occasionally even a disgruntled church member might attempt to disrupt a church service and would be handled in the same manner.
Church property is legally considered to be private property, even though it is open to the public. In that way, churches are like stores and restaurants. There are no constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech on any private property. Speech may only be exercised with the consent of the property owner. Therefore, if homosexuals were to come to the service to stage a “kiss in”, you should have church members (preferably law enforcement members or very big guys) who are tasked ahead of time with telling unwelcome intruders that they must leave immediately or the police will be called to arrest them for trespass. The church members assigned to this duty should never actually touch the protestors (or other disruptive individuals). Sometimes they might be able to shield protestors from the rest of the congregation by surrounding them and blocking the line of sight for other worshippers. Sometimes they might be able to walk the protestors outside without incident or any touching. Not touching or threatening physical harm in any way is very important. If the church members were to touch the protestors or threaten them with anything other than a trespass warning, they might be sued for assault and battery, so it is best to let the police handle any physical need to get the protestors out of the building. It is those church members who give the warning who would also be tasked with making the call to police should the trespassers refuse to leave. One warning should be given and if the protestors do not leave, the police should be called immediately.
These rules would apply not only in a church service, but anywhere on church property—including the parking lot or any other church buildings or church-owned property. Demonstrators would only have a constitutionally protected free speech right to engage in a “kiss in” or other protest activities on public sidewalks. If there are public sidewalks in front of the church, there would be nothing the church could do about a protest or “kiss in” there since protest activities are constitutionally protected on a public sidewalk. However, if protestors on the public sidewalk were loud enough to be heard inside the church service, the police could then also be called to issue a warrant for a noise violation or for disorderly conduct.
One other tip. If the church becomes aware that on a given Sunday a protest or “kiss in” is scheduled for the church, the pastor should contact the police ahead of time to give them a heads up that someone will be calling them if the protestors do not leave when asked to do so. Of course, the sooner the police can respond to such a call, the better.
Barbara J. Weller
Admitted in Florida