Westboro Baptist Coming To Town

November 23rd, 2010

The Westboro Baptist Church is coming to my town for a protest this coming Monday morning and I am attempting to organize a counter protest.  The response has been a bit discouraging so far with only one person saying that he will be there, but a few hours ago I got a phone call from another man in my town who also wanted to organize a counter protest.  The local chief of police had given him my number because I had already registered my protest and he thought that maybe the two of us could work together and that is exactly what we decided to do!  So now we have two counter protests rolled into one counter protest and that amounts to three whole people protesting Fred!  But I think we will get a few more before I have to turn in my final number on Sunday.  I also hope that some highschool students will be able to join us.


Some of you might remember when I went to hear Nate Phelps speak in Topeka about his brutal childhood growing up in the home of Fred Phelps.  I know that what the Phelps family believes is heinous and deluded, but ever since I learned about the lives of the children of Fred Phelps, I can’t help but regard them as victims.  A few of his children have managed to break away from the family.  The above video is a phone conversation with Nate (who is now an outspoken atheist) and Dortha the youngest daughter of Fred and Margie Phelps.  They explain in the video a little bit about the process they went through to break free of their family.  Leaving this family isn’t easy as the abuse was coupled with the added fear of an all seeing/all knowing tyrannical deity who would punish them eternally if they didn’t follow him according to the interpretation of their vicious, violent father, making the kids feel that if they left, they were condemning themselves to hell.

A few of those kids decided to take that chance and eventually realized how wrong their father was about everything.  So far one granddaughter that I know about who was actually kicked out of the church and cut off from the family for asking one too many questions about the beliefs of her family has also managed to discover life outside the compound.  So when I see the Phelps family again on Monday – I will be thinking not only about the hideous message they preach, but also the hideous childhoods that they endured and I will wish I had a magic wand…

Comments

  • Janessa:

    See if you can get ahold of the Patriot Guard – they attend all the soldier’s funerals to make sure that the family isn’t disturbed by the Phelps family nonsense.

    • Rechelle:

      They are not protesting a funeral this time. According to their website the people in my town are guilty of ‘raising their children to follow the devil.” among a few other things – so that is why they are coming. They are also protesting Kathleen Sebelius’s speech at K-State later that same morning. So I really just think that we are a stop along the way.

  • Hope you get a better response Rechelle. Bring your camera and get some video for us! Best of luck!

  • Evelyn:

    I applaud you, Rechelle. If I lived in Kansas, I’d be right there with you.
    Best of luck!

    Evelyn in Mich.

  • Meanie:

    Are you going to hold up a sign that says something like, “I was told there would be donuts” or “Zeus hates Hades” or similar like some WBC protests? I heart those counter protest signs.

    • Rechelle:

      When I sent out my email about the protest, I included links to some of those funny signs. I love the donut one.

    • Rechelle:

      Maybe I should write a sign that says ‘What about David and Jonathan?’

  • Nancy:

    What a bunch of whackos!! I lived in Topeka but moved away before Fred Phelps!! It’s kind of sad that people think of him when they hear the name Topeka. I am so surprised that they are still around and someone hasn’t taken them out one by one! My niece used to ride by them in a convertible and slide way over next to her girlfriend who was driving and just wave at them with her arm around her as they stood out protesting in front of Gage Park!

    • Martha in Kansas:

      Even sadder is that people think of him when they think of Kansas.

  • Jennine:

    Now there’s a counter-protest I’d love to join. I’d call your local media… they will cover a counter-protest like ants cover a picnic.

    • Jennine:

      orrrrrr… like Pie Near woman covers MM’s rear end.

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    Hmmmm. I’ve become kind of mixed on WBC counter-protests, but my first instinct is still to counter-protest.

    On one hand I want to see people show up in large numbers to out-do the nutjobs. On the other hand, they are just out there to stir things up, and any attention is good attention to them. That’s what they want. They are so messed up, they would probably feel superior if there was a smaller counter-protest, and they would probably feel validated by a large counter-protest. And if the media covers any of it, more press for them and they are happy. I don’t want to encourage them or make them happy. But I REALLY want to be on the side of reason.

    More thoughts on this anyone? Because I can be there Monday.

    • Mo:

      These nutballs held a protest at my sister’s high school (she’s a teacher) a couple weeks ago … just a regular old run of the mill uncontroversial public school in the suburbs of DC. Apparently that’s enough to inspire their ire. There were about 8 crazypants protesters, and about 200 counter-protesters from the community, and a lot of students found a way to express “up yours Westboro” through their clothing, signs and hand gestures.

      But yes, these crazies are counting on “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” But ignoring them, the way you would not reward a child for misbehaving, doesn’t seem right either. One of the counter-protesters quoted in a follow-up article on the high school protest said “When hate comes to my back door, I have to respond.” That’s probably what I would do too.

      • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

        “When hate comes to my door, I have to respond.”
        Now that hits the nail on the head! Like you said, Mo, ignoring them doesn’t seem right, either, as much as I don’t want to encourage them in a “Don’t feed the trolls” kind of way.

        But I thought about it overnight – let’s show ‘em Rechelle! Count me in for Monday morning. Post or email me time and place.

        • Thanks Nikki! I will email the details. But in case I space it out due to Thanksgiving spasms – 7:40-8:10 in front of the highschool.

        • And I do understand the dilemma. It would be nice if when Fred comes to town we could shut down the audience. No traffic, no passersby – I am sure they would lose their interest in creating the spectacle if they were no longer a spectacle.

  • Sharon:

    Everytime I see the name “Westboro Baptist Church” the words “hate group” pop right up. It’s both scary and sad that people can be filled with so much hate.

  • Cherie:

    Here is an article about the counter protest that happened yesterday.

    http://showmeprogress.com/diary/5380/a-hate-group-the-first-amendment-and-a-funeral-in-a-small-town

  • Joel Wheeler:

    Wish I could join you.

  • Michelle:

    Have you posted about your counter protest on Craigslist? That’s what we did, and we got a good turnout.

  • Irma:

    I am far, far away in New Brunswick, Canada. You know, the country where gay marriage is legal and (WAIT FOR IT….) nothing bad happened to all us straight people.

    If I could be there, I would stand with you.

    This group of people CHOOSE to disrespect others, CHOOSE to hate (and their hatred isn’t only based on sexual identity, it’s also directed to people who don’t believe the exact same things they do). They are actually to be pitied, because they are closing their hearts and minds to all the beauty of DIVERISTY the universe can show them.

    You and I, Rechelle, have different theological views, but I know we cpuld have a cup of coffee and have a great time, because that wouldn’t be the ONLY thing we saw in each other. Sure, we might acknowledge that small difference, but then we would move on to other things, things that brought us closer together. Isn’t THAT what this journey is supposed to be about?

    I have no time for people who hate, no matter in whose name or for which cause they do it.

    End rant now.

  • Christine from Canada:

    How in the world is this sect still around? I mean, in order to keep a church going, don’t these whackos have to find, marry and mate with others of a like mind?

    Seriously: how does a Westboro Baptist Church member go about attracting a partner in this day and age? (I’m guessing even right-wing Bible-thumping Evangelicals find them despicable.)

  • Irma:

    Wow, really wish I would have checked for typos before I submitted my comment, ha ha! (File that under: How To Tell I Was Pissed Off…)

  • Make sure if you get a permit for a counter protest to read all the details in the permit and make sure the counter protesters stick to them. They are just waiting for you or the city or the police or anyone in a 100 mile radius to violate their civil rights. They will sue you and the sign you rode in with. Don’t make personal attacks and don’t prevent them from getting their message out.

  • Sel: Calgary, Alberta:

    Dont’ give up. The hatred that Phelps and his crew espouse is simply an exaggerated form of the racism and religious rightiousness growing in the religious right.. Strong voices of protest are required to stop this contagious growth of hatred.

    Fred’s son, Nate, lives here in Calgary and the more I learn from him about his father the more I realize compassionate and tolerant people must protest.

  • eclecticdeb:

    I’d really recommend no counter-protest. They want attention…plain and simple.

    These whack-jobs came to one of the local high schools, to picket hte students because they live in a “liberal” city. The principal asked for the parents and community to make it a NON-EVENT. And that’s what we did. No media, no hysteria. One of my best friend’s daughter goes to that school, and she reported that the students quietly went about their business. I was so proud.

    But I certainly understand the desire to show up and let them know that they are insane.

  • jalf:

    @eclecticdeb: and what did it achieve?
    It certainly didn’t make them cancel their next protests, did it?

    It didn’t make them go “oh well, no one cares about our signs and condemnations, guess we’ll go home”.

    Perhaps the counter-protest less more about making a statement *for yourselves*, that “I think these people are crazy, and I disagree with them”, rather than about trying to sway them with cunning arguments.

    • jalf:

      dammit. “Perhaps the counter-protest *is* more about…”
      Hope that makes more sense.

  • Brianv.:

    Once one makes the shivery dive into faith in the unseen yet omnipresent personal pizza in the sky, all bets are off, albeit Westboro Baptist Pizzeria is a peculiar and extreme development of the faith. They are true believers though, those Westboro folk and they promise quick delivery ( free, placarded damnation included) It’s the real deal…) If I could get down from the mountains of B.C., I’d be there with you, hot sauce at the ready… I’m a Baptist preacher’s son and just love personal pizza….best wishes…

  • Wished I lived closer, I’d call in sick to work and join you. Then I’d go and visit my in-laws in western Kansas :)

  • In rereading the comments, I think my newstory links are not linking to your protest.

  • Oops! After rereading the comments, it looks like my links aren’t about your counter-protest after all.

    • Rechelle:

      For some reason, your links didn’t post, but you are right – the protest to which you refer was not in my town. Fred comes to town on Monday.