Bennett stated that the First Amendment protection of free speech has limits, including vulgar, offensive and shocking statements, and that the jury must decide "whether the defendant's actions would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, whether they were extreme and outrageous and whether these actions were so offensive and shocking as to not be entitled to First Amendment protection". Archived from the original on December 29, In an appeal, Phelps prepared affidavits swearing to the court that he had eight witnesses whose testimony would convince the court to rule in his favor. Archived from the original on But attorneys for the service member's family appealed the decision on the grounds that such speech should not be allowed to inflict emotional distress on private parties exercising their freedom of religion during a funeral service. They believed that you must hate yourself and make others hate you, in order to get God to love you. Retrieved November 11,
Although the new church was ostensibly nondenominational, Phelps preached a doctrine very similar to that of the Primitive Baptistswho believe in scriptural literalism.
InPhelps and his family, along with several other local congregations, held a signature drive to bring about a vote to repeal two city ordinances that added sexual orientation to a definition of hate crimes and banned the city itself from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Phelps viewed Arminianism particularly the views of the Methodist theologian William Elbert Munsey as a "worse blasphemy and heresy than that heard in all filthy Saturday night fag bars in the aggregate in the world". His examination was replete with repetition, badgering, innuendo, belligerence, irrelevant and immaterial matter, evidencing only a desire to hurt and destroy the defendant. This is a church, this is a real church! Enough signatures were collected to bring the measure to a vote. Archived from the original on January 10, Retrieved 20 March
In the fierce storm of emotion that rolled across this country, one realization rose to the surface of my mind with blinding clarity: Referring to the church having a defined leader, he said that "for a very long time, we haven't been organized in the way you think". Archived from the original on March 30, Archived from the original on February 13, Archived from the original on January 1, Retrieved 21 March