BY MIKE HENDRICKS, THE KANSAS CITY STAR
At 275,000 signatures and counting, the petition with the most signatures on the White House website as of Thursday seeks to have the federal government “legally recognize” the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.
The White House has promised to respond to any petition with 25,000 signatures, but it has not responded to this one yet.
Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center have long had the Westboro group on their lists of hate groups.
The problem is there is no such designation as a “hate group” in federal law.
The government compiles no official lists. Federal laws refer only to hate crimes, which the FBI characterizes as any “traditional offense like murder, arson or vandalism with an added element of bias” based on the victim’s race, gender, ethnicity or other such characteristic.