- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Obama administration this week turned down the request of 367,000 petitioners and refused to label Westboro Baptist Church a hate group.

The reason? It’s not the government’s role to designate the church — a 50-member unit that pickets funerals with signs that denounce homosexuality — as a hate group, CNN reported.

The White House was responding to a petition drive on its “We The People” website that stood at the most-read, highest-priority spot for months, garnering much more than 100,000 signatures needed to generate a federal response, CNN said.

Another similar petition at the site, calling on the Internal Revenue Service to revoke Westboro Baptist’s nonprofit exemption, collected 300,000 signatures, CNN reported.

The White House’s official response to the hate group designation request was “no comment,” CNN said. “As a matter of practice, the federal government doesn’t maintain a list of hate groups,” one spokesman said.

But unofficially, the White House said Westboro’s funeral pickets were “reprehensible” and that the administration agreed “protesting at the funerals of men and women who died in service to this country and preventing their families from mourning peacefully are reprehensible — a point that President Obama has made for years,” CNN reported.

Westboro members regularly claim that soldiers’ deaths are due to God’s punishment to the United States for homosexuality, and they picket funerals with signs that read, “Thank God for dead soldiers.”

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