A petition filed on the White House website seeking that the Westboro Baptist Church be legally recognized as a hate group surpassed 275,000 signatures this afternoon.
The petition, part of an effort called “We the People: Your Voice in Our Government,” is the most popular ever on the site, with more than twice as many signatures as any other.
The petition, which can be viewed here, was created Dec. 14. That was the day 26 people, including 20 students 6 and 7 years old, were killed in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The Westboro group, which has gained infamy by carrying anti-gay pickets nearly anywhere a camera will see them, including military funerals, had planned to protest at the service for the murdered Sandy Hook principal. That plan was foiled by counter-protesters.
The White House petition says the group “has repeatedly displayed the actions typical of hate groups” and has already been recognized as such by organizations such as The Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Their actions have been directed at many groups, including homosexuals, military, Jewish people and even other Christians,” the petition says. “They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation.”