School Stands Defiant Against Anti-Gay Church Protests

Students of Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas, turned out in force yesterday to counter the protests of the infamous Westboro Baptist church congregation who, in typical fashion, turned up sporting placards with such slogans as “God Hates Fags” and “9/11 Was God’s Punishment” protesting the school’s acceptance of LGBT people.

Shawnee Mission East High School elected an openly gay student as their homecoming king in 2007. This move is believed to be what prompted the protests by the infamous church, headed by Rebekha Phelps-Davis, who had this to say on why the group was protesting:

“Specifically, last year’s homecoming queen was actually a homecoming king that they elected. And they’re proud of it.”

Whilst Fred Phelp’s daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper, in place of her father because he has been too ill to attend recent protests, further emphasized their reasons for the protest when she declared, “Those children elected a prom king, queen, thing.”

The “prom king, queen, thing,” who usually goes by the name of Matthew Pope, drove back from Oklahoma college, where he is currently studying, to be at the counter-protest yesterday, and was rather up-beat about it all, saying:

“I’ve been out since 14 and being really, really active in school, in the community, I’ve definitely been targeted a lot, but I’m just taking it with a grain of salt, and they’re going to think what they’re going to think, do what they want to do, and we’re just going to do our thing and keep our spirits high.”(kctv5.com; 2009-02-05)
 
The student body protest, as organized by Jake Davidson, a pupil and representative, was a peaceful affair with the Phelps clan confined mainly to the north side of the street and the student body counter-protest to the south with a slew of over a dozen police officers between them.

Shawnee students carried banners with messages of support for the gay community and even held collections for AIDS awareness and treatment charities, ignoring the Westboro Baptists’ derisive chants and vocal taunts.

Shawnee Mission East High is one stop in a very busy start to the year for the Westboro Batpist Church who announced in January that they would be attending many a school across America to voice their anger at the growing acceptance of LGBT people.

During March in particular, The Westboro Church will be picketing extensively in the surrounding area with their prime focus on Cambridge Ringe and Latin High School, but they will also visit Lexington High School and Hanscom Air Force base. This will coincide with Cambridge Ringe performing a play called “The Laramie Project” that was written to commemorate the tragic death of Matthew Shepard, a young man who was murdered in 1998 in Wyoming, and who’s attackers attempted to use the “gay panic-defense” as a way to escape the full charges for their crime.

The Westboro Church picketed Matthew Shepard’s funeral, with unsavory banners that read “Matthew Shepard Will Burn In Hell”, and they regularly travel to protest productions of “The Laramie Project”, but will likely find equal opposition at Cambridge Ringe and Lexington and all their other targets during March, as all the schools have a firmly established straight and gay alliance program.

Photo used under the creative commons attribution 2.0 license with thanks to K763.

42 comments

Veronica C.
Veronica C.8 years ago

If they beleive in God they should know that God loves all his children and forgives them no matter what if they beleive in god they will leave the subject and debate about Religious subjects in a proper manner.
Dear God,
Please forgive your sinning children'
for they do not know better'
and do not remember that you love everyone the same way no matter who they are if they're straight or otherwise.
Amen

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Shirley Mclaughlin

GOD GOD GOD>>>> Please people see the bigger picture. The world is usually at war because of all our so called GODS! IF there was a god... what kind of GOD would allow the suffering we witness every day. God is an excuse for one group of people to bully another. Just because we do not comply with what THEY believe. Is that how we should have an understanding of one another. WE are all individuals. Can we not leave our belief systems out of politics and live as one race the human race. Sex, creed, colour or religion should be personal and not a cause for war and violence. We evolved millions of years ago. No Adam and Eve fairy tales. I'm sorry but Church going is declining rapidly. I think people are waking up and smelling the roses finally!! Will obsessive religion still be around in the next millennium?? You really have to wonder....

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Shirley Mclaughlin

Attention Dale Masters.. Thank you for your comments...

I am not into the Bible,Religion, etc..Think it was a wonderful novel.. I truly believe in the only possible thing that makes any sense in this world. EVOLUTION!!! Charles Darwin got it correct! So GLBT is part of it ... The higher power of the universe controls all that has evolved and all that will be after I am long gone! I believe the human race MUST take care of our planet for all to survive!

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Dale Masters
Dale Masters9 years ago

melissa m, I just read your comment and want to answer you.
Bless you for your ignorance of the matter, truth is, you can't be a "true" Christian and hate anyone or any group. I've been studying religions for a long time; very few believe in hate. I would love to be able to walk down the strret holding hands with my spouse (sorry, can't say "wife" here in PA). I'm disabled & can't defend either one of us (she's disabled also). I have learned, however, not to let them drag me down to their level. If we were protesting on opposite sides of the street and one of them was seriously hurt, I would cal 911 and, in the meantime, offer aid were I permitted to.

I try to practice unconditional love, so they are not exempt. I pray that they have no children; no one has the right to teach anyone to hate.

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Dale Masters
Dale Masters9 years ago

First of all, I came out when I was 15; at that point (1974), I was appointed to PA's-then-governor Shapp's Gay Rights Council(last word is wrong, but I can't think of the right word). That being said, I can only hope that they are (...without sin. QTD from KJV.Holy Bible). Remember,"[j]udge not, lest ye be judged."
The only thing I can do is hope that God Almighty is as loving and forgiving as some of Christ's followers are judgemental. I will pray for them--their lives must be truly awful.

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Alexandra S.
Alexandra S9 years ago

I am truely impressed, in a good way!!!

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Olivia A.
Past Member 9 years ago

When they reach NJ, we'll be waiting for them with a rainbow flag and a big hug. Christians were the ones who wrote the book on turning the other cheek, but we'll follow the Golden Rule in their place.

People who hate either hate due to ignorance or some deep, buried emotional trauma that leads them to pick on others so that they themselves won't be vulnerable. These people just need some love, so let's show them some love. Let's show them how silly it is that they're insulting people they don't even know. I've been told repeatedly that I am going to Hell for various aspects of my deviant personality, even by my own relatives to my face. I don't think that this hell thing can be so bad if so many cool people like those high schoolers, Rev. Robinson and the entire gay community are all going to be there. Um, are you putting-the-"Jesus Christ"- in- Christians sure that it's a good idea to keep us all together in one place- don't you think we'll just unite and cause more trouble? Hey, religion is not supposed to be logical. (shrugs)

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Hillary B.
Hillary G. B9 years ago

To Diana N. and those who read her comments about "Satan". First of all, I am a pagan. Our religion gets confused w/satanism quite a bit. Must be Satanists coopting of our pentacle. However, we don't believe in Satan at all. Or hell for that matter. We believe these are outmoded superstitious ideas. I have been a pagan for 20 years because I believe in this understanding of "God" wholeheartedly, and am grateful to it as a true alternative to Christianity. It is a true alternative as opposed to satanism, b/c satanism could not exist without a Christian god/religion to rebel against. I just want to say that there are real alternatives to this "Christian" religious bigotry, and it isn't satanism. Beside my own religious calling to paganism, a quick reminder that the Quakers, Unitarians, Jews, Buddists, Hindis, Protestants, are all alternatives to religious extremist organizations. Diana N. professes to know that God is a tyrant & dictator. In my lifetime I have never seen God act that way, only people.

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Hillary B.
Hillary G. B9 years ago

To Pat; I know you have the right to free speech, but your comments don't make logical sense. First, supporting gay rights do not make others gay. I'm straight, married and support gay rights; see, didn't make me gay! Secondly, we also have plenty of people reproducing in this country. Maybe to you, it's not the right race reproducing, b/c there are many adoptable non-caucasian children. Who incidentally are often adopted by gays. Lastly, your conjecture that we'll all turn gay, stop reproducing & muslims/poss. terrorist will win the day is paranoid. It has been found that only 10% of any given population is gay, and that applies to muslim populations as well. A real problem is we're kicking out some of our most talented military for being gay. You don't understand that your Christian religious fanaticism based on misinterpretation of the bible is no better for this world than muslim religious fanaticism based on misinterpretation of the Quoran. How should you know you're misinterpreting? You should examine what you put most emphasis on. You must decide: is God essentially loving or punitive? Slavery wasn't condemned in the bible, and in the past was used to justify it, but we condemn it now. I am tired of the bible being used to demonize random groups of people. BTW, Jesus put the most emphasis on loving one another; so muchso that he made it a commandment. Religions should unite us in our shared humanity and innate spirituality, not divide us through differences.

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Gary Karsikas
Gary Karsikas9 years ago

If these"religious" people are spewing HATE then we all need to pray for them for God to show them the errors of they're ways!The LORD loves all his children including satanist and wants all tobe saved,who"including lisbons homosapions"are lost sheep'tobe fouund and with LOVING kindness try eo lead them to the lord God! I will pray for all too come to the light of the Lord Jesus's ways AMEN.

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