There is one group that advocates quite vocally for their side in today’s society that I cannot stand, and they are the Westboro Baptist Church. I myself am not a Baptist, but I am a Christian and the mere thought that I am in some way connected to these backward people is unsettling. To almost any other Christian, God is seen as a loving, caring, and forgiving deity. These people attempt to depict God as a vindictive and easily angered vengeance seeking deity. While they are not the only religious group who protests homosexuals, they are the group who calls them slurs and wishes them an eternity in Hell, a total contradiction to what Jesus taught. The most disturbing thing, however, is that they have the tastelessness and audacity to protest the funerals of soldiers. They cheer the deaths of the very men and women who fought to give them the right to protest, and they have the indecency to protest at their funeral and say to the faces of their grieving parents and loved ones that God wanted them dead. Is it possible to be a greater antithesis to what God’s love is about?
On their website, which in itself is a rhetorical appeal with its heinous name (which I would rather not include so as to prevent anyone from clicking on it and giving Westboro the satisfaction of having another viewer of their website) that invites anger and curiosity. Furthermore, once one is on their website, they attempt to justify their hate and spite by including a link to quotes in the Bible that are taken way out of context in order to shape an image of God that lends credit to their position. This is a classic use of clickbait and information manipulation to rhetorically appeal to anyone who may be on the fence about their position. This rhetorical appeal provides them with ethos and credibility to the highest moral power, God.
By using the clickbait to appeal to the highest moral authority, they established credibility with the church. Taking their credibility a step further,they included an article of when the Supreme Court ruled in their favor that they are allowed to protest at the funerals of soldiers. With this, they now have credibility from the highest moral and civil authorities in the country. They cleverly manipulate these facts and use semantics to make it appear as if since both the Church and state agree with them, how could you not? They even take it a step further talk in a way that muddies the actual decree of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that they had the right to protest under free speech, not that they agreed with or even condoned the action. The Westboro Baptists took the ruling and made it appear as if the courts had given them a mandate for their actions and validation for their actions.
These people are in direct contrast to what the Bible teaches and what the moral conscience of the country believes in. And yet, their website is able to attract and even convert people to their perverse side. How is that possible? It is possible simply because they are able to persuade viewers by using the rhetorical appeal of establishing ethos. By manipulating quotes from the Bible and from the Supreme Court ruling, they are able to make it appear as if they are receiving a mandate from both the highest moral and civil authorities in the country to continue to do their work.