AP, NPR Erroneously Tag Westboro Baptist as 'Fundamentalist' Church

Today's Supreme Court ruling in Snyder v. Phelps is proving to be yet another occasion for the media to falsely describe the homosexuality-fixated Westboro Baptist Church as a "fundamentalist" congregation.

The Associated Press, MSNBC and NPR.org have been among the news outlets using that tag for the Topeka, Kansas, organization that protests funerals of soliders, celebrating their deaths by claiming God killed them because he hates "fags."

But the AP's own style manual strongly cautions against the use of the term "fundamentalist," noting that the term "fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians."

"In general," the AP manual adds, "do not use [the term] fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself."

At time of publication, Westboro's website was unavailable, but a cached version of its FAQ page on Google yielded no description of WBC as "fundamentalist." Here's how the church describes itself:

The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) of Topeka, Kansas, is an Old School (or, Primitive) Baptist Church. We adhere to the teachings of the Bible, preach against all form of sin (e.g., fornication, adultery [including divorce and remarriage], sodomy), and insist that the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace be taught and expounded publicly to all men. These doctrines of grace were well summed up by John Calvin in his 5 points of Calvinism: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. Although these doctrines are almost universally hated today, they were once loved and believed. Even though the Arminian lies that "God loves everyone" and "Jesus died for everyone" are being taught from nearly every pulpit in this generation, this hasn't always been the case. If you are in a church that supposedly believes the Bible, and you are hearing these lies, then your church doesn't teach what the Bible teaches. If you care about your never-dying soul, you will carefully read every word of this web site, along with the entire Bible.

Of course, there are plenty of Christian churches that do favor "strict, literal interpretations of Scripture" that denounce Westboro Baptist, such as the Primitive Baptists, who insist they have nothing in common with WBC.

From PrimitiveBaptist.info (emphasis mine):

PB-Online and the Primitive Baptist Church do not recognize the ministry of "pastor" Fred Phelps, nor do we have fellowship with the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, which styles itself as an Old School (or Primitive) Baptist Church. We find the actions of these people to be deplorable and against the very Scriptures they claim to believe. Let it be firmly noted that the Primitive Baptists do not and will not endorse, condone or support the base actions of this group.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters