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While several We The People petitions on the official White House website have garnered media attention, few of these have earned as many signatures as one created two weeks ago that hopes to see the Westboro Baptist Church legally labelled a hate group.
“Their actions have been directed at many groups, including homosexuals, military, Jewish people and even other Christians,” the petition reads. “They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation.”
It was posted on Dec. 14, the date of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It is currently up to 276,316 signatures, easily surpassing the 25,000 needed to get a response from President Obama.
The Westboro Baptist Church is based in Kansas and was founded by Fred Phelps’ family, notes Politico. Its members often picket at the funerals of service members and even attempted to protest at the funerals of the children who were killed at Newtown. However, The Huffington Post notes that they were met with a successful counter-protest, keeping them far from the funerals.
Phelps preaches against homosexuality and claimed that the deaths were due to the U.S.’ acceptance of homosexuality.
Another petition calls for the White House to remove the group’s tax exempt status.