“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – Jesus
No one deserves more honor than those who have risked their lives, died in the line of duty, or given a loved one for the love of our country and freedom. A handful of opportunists, however, use the freedoms bought for them by blood and heartache to disrespect our military families.
Westboro Baptist Church (the family of preacher Fred Phelps–not associated with any other church in the world) turns military funerals into occasions to grab publicity and possibly another lawsuit. The hate group holds up signs that say things such as “Pray for more dead soldiers” and “God hates you.” It receives much of its funding from inciting people at their most vulnerable times, then suing them for reacting.
Patriot Guard Riders have had enough. Allowing for the hate group’s right to protest, they push back with nonviolence, using support and respect to drown out the voices of hate.
The mixed bag of bikers and non-bikers who support our troops, attends military funerals as invited guests, creating a living barrier that prevents protesters from being seen or heard by mourners. As guests, the Patriot Guard Riders can come in closer than the usually 300 ft. distance that protesters must keep. Their bodies and bikes block protesters. The American flags they hold block the protesters’ signs. Revving engines and patriotic music drown out the blather of hate speech.
“No family should have to face this kind of hatred on the day they’re putting their loved one to rest,” says Ken Van, a veteran and United Methodist pastor. Van participates in the Patriot Guard Riders, he says, “Because faith has to take action.”
See the Patriot Guard Riders in action: