Today I had the opportunity to witness a protest by one of the most hateful groups in the United States. I’m talking about the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). You probably know them for picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers and for signs such as “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”
Here’s a little bit of background on the WBC. The church is located in Topeka, Kansas and is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (and by most people around the country). Fred Phelps established the church in 1995 and members of the church primarily consist of the Phelps family. According to their website, they “adhere to the teachings of the Bible, preach against all forms of sin, and insist that the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace be taught and expounded publicly to all men.”
But let’s be honest. They preach hate.
The Westboro Baptist Church posted on their site a few weeks ago that they would be holding a protest at The University of Alabama on May 18th from 12-12:30pm. Their reason? To remind UA of the wrath of God that visited us two years ago…referring to the EF4 tornado that devastated Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011. Their website claims that the storm was God’s punishment for the growing acceptance of gay marriage in the nation.
So what was the protest like? Well, not what I expected. I expected a lot of yelling and hateful speech, but it wasn’t like that at all. On one side of the street you had 15 or so members of the Westboro Baptist Church holding their hateful signs and walking around in their little taped off area. On the other side were counter-protesters and members of the Tuscaloosa community holding signs that promoted love and acceptance while chanting phrases such as “Love Not Hate.” And up and down the streets, you had motorcyclists revving their engines drowning out any words that came out of the WBC members’ mouths.
Don’t get me wrong. The protest was still incredibly hateful, and being in their presence was absolutely sickening. The more I watched them and read their signs, the angrier I became. When I realized there wasn’t one child, but three or four children, protesting with them, I became disgusted. How could someone bring children out to protest and hold signs that say “Bloody Obama” and “God H8s Gay Marriage”?
I couldn't believe the amount of hate I was witnessing, but I truly believe the love from the counter protesters overshadowed most, if not all, of the hate.
But the more I stood out there, the more I realized that these people are bat shit crazy. They’ll protest anything and come up with some reason why it “makes sense.” The WBC is one of the most hateful groups in America…hands down.
In the battle between Tuscaloosa vs. the Westboro Baptist Church, I think it's pretty safe to say that the winner is....Tuscaloosa.
(For more pictures from the event, feel free to check out my Photobucket album here.)