Westminster, Md. A church whose members show up at military funerals claiming God is killing troops in Iraq to punish the nation for its tolerance of homosexuality is asking that a defamation lawsuit be dismissed on the grounds that they are merely expressing an opinion.
"There can be no falsehood when mere opinions are stated," attorneys for the Westboro Baptist Church said Monday in a motion filed in U.S. District Court.
Albert Snyder, of York, Pa., is suing the Rev. Fred Phelps and his Topeka, Kan.-based church after church members demonstrated at the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, and posted pictures of the protest on their Web site. Cpl. Snyder was killed in March. Snyder's lawsuit, filed June 5, alleges church members violated the family's right to privacy and defamed the Marine and his family at the funeral and on the church's Web site.
Sean Summers, an attorney for Snyder, says that unlike a rally in a park where First Amendment speech is protected, funeral attendants were a "captive audience," forced to listen and see the protest.