Plymouth Congregational Church

God for All

The Death of Matthew Snyder


You may have head the story about Al Snyder, the man who sued the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS.  This “Christian” group protested nearby, with shouting and signs, on the day that the Snyder’s son Matthew was laid to rest.

Matthew died from a non-combat related vehicle accident in Iraq
on March 3, 2006 at the age of 20. 

Matthew was a 2003 graduate of Westminster High School.  He then enlisted in the Marines on October 14, 2003, and was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C.  Matthew was then was assigned to Combat Logistics Batallion-7, Twenty-nine Palms, CA as a generator mechanic in August of 2004. 

Mr. Snyder sued the Westboro Church following his son’s funeral and was awarded $11 million in damages in 2007.  The federal jury stated that the group had intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the family.  The award was later reduced, and eventually overturned last week in a federal appeals court on the basis of “free speech.”  Now, Mr. Snyder has to pay Fred Phelps, the leader of the Westboro Church, $16,510 in legal fees. 

By the way, Fred Phelps says “military deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.” 

The news media director for the American Legion, Mark Seavey, posted a message on his Legion-affiliated blog, The Burn Pit, in hopes that readers will donate to Mr. Snyder’s fund.   A facebook page, “I Support Al Snyder in His Fight  Against Westboro Baptist Church and a site devoted to Matthew Snyder also give people an opportunity to donate to this cause.  And then comes the news that reportedly, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, had offered to pay the entire cost of Mr. Snyder’s legal fees.

Why do some “Christians” continually act in such a way to give “Christians” such a bad reputation?  I can hear people now saying, “this is exactly why I stay away from organized religion.”  Where are all the people / groups who usually have something to say about everything?  Should our Commander-in-Chief, President Obama be taking a stand on this issue?

I suppose the decision to overturn the ruling based on “free speech” was technically correct.  But why not go a little further and state that this church cannot practice their free speech right within a certain distance of a grieving family?  Surely grieving families have some rights of their own …

What do you think?

To read more about this story, go to:  Support for Al Snyder and facebook: Al Snyder





2 thoughts on “The Death of Matthew Snyder

  1. This is why we are friends … we think about the same stuff! 🙂 I agree, we all do and say things that are not always “christ-like.” I say let them protest if they want, just not within sight or hearing of the family. I recently heard on a radio talk show about another story like this. Someone owning a large construction company was a friend of the family and got together all of these large contstruction-type trucks, lined them up around the entrance to the cemetery … running. They effectively drowned out the protestors and pretty much blocked them from the family’s view.

  2. Well…I have wondered the same thing about how can Christians act or say some things which give “Christians” a bad name. Of course first and foremost none of us are perfect and of course we all say or do things that we shouldn’t as Christians. But, this particular instance I believe just was so absolutely inappropriate at that time and place. (no matter what “message” was trying to be given) I have to say I am on the side of the family who was grieving and did not need more stress at that horrible time. And, being an American, I of course am so glad we in this country are allowed “free speech” . . . but I do not believe that “free speech” gives us (as Christians, or non-believers for that matter) the right to do or say hurtful things…for any reason. Bottom line for me is WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? Think about that. What side of this issue do you think HE would have been on? I think I know.

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