A Westboro Baptist Church petition to have the group labeled a "hate group" has received more than 250,000 signatures by Wednesday afternoon - making it the largest online White House petition in history.
The petition was started on Dec. 14 and in less than two weeks has received more than a quarter of a million signatures. The number of people needed to force White House administrators to officially review and respond is just 25,000 signatures, meaning the petition will definitely spark some kind of official review.
The Westboro group has been highly controversial in recent years, and has been rebuked for its methods by most mainstream Christian groups. The group has become famous for picketing military funerals, and protesting them with banners and posters celebrating those killed as God's judgment.
In the latest incident Westboro announced plans to protest a vigil being held for the 20 children and six adults killed in the recent Newtown, Connecticut shootings. In that incident a lone gunman forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and used multiple guns to kill a whole first grade class, as well as a number from a second class of six and seven year olds. He also shot dead the school's principal as well as five other teachers, in one of the worst mass school killings in U.S. history.
The recent petition was sparked when one member from the Westboro group, Shirley Phelps-Roper, tweeted plans to protest a vigil for the Sandy Hook victims to "sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgement."
The announcement disgusted hundreds of thousands who heard about it across the nation, and has sparked people to sign the petition to officially label Westboro a "hate group."
Westboro member Margie Phelps has commented in an interview that the group believes God sent 20 year old shooter, Adam Lanza, to shoot and kill the 20 children and six adults in Connecticut because the state had legalized gay marriage.
Phelps controversially connected the two events together by pointing out, "Connecticut was one of the first states to come out with same-sex marriage." She said that as she sat beside a sign in the interview saying, "God sent the shooter."
She added, "Many more shooters, many more dead are coming."
The group has had groups attempt to stop their protests before. However, the Supreme Court ruled in Westboro's favor in 2011 when it said the group had a right to protest and picket soldiers' funerals as it was protected by the First Amendment.
That decision sparked President Barack Obama to sign into law earlier this year new legislation that forced any such protests to take place at least 300 feet from military funerals.
However, the latest decision by the Westboro group to try and organize protests at the funerals of the six and seven year olds who died in the school shooting has reignited opposition to the group.
The official White House petition can be read below or by clicking here.
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.
This group has been recognized as a hate group by organizations, such as The Southern Poverty Law Center, and has repeatedly displayed the actions typical of hate groups.
Their actions have been directed at many groups, including homosexuals, military, Jewish people and even other Christians. They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation.
Here is a video of an interview with the Westboro group: