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Friday, November 19, 2010

"God Hates South Dakota"? Westboro Whackos Coming Sunday and Monday

Worse than wingnuts: A Facebook friend alerts me that the Westboro Baptist Church is coming to South Dakota Sunday and Monday scream and holler and make Christians look bad.

I'll direct you to their website, even though their URL demeans homosexuals and God, and even though their icon desecrates the American flag by flying it upside down. You can find there the following picketing schedule for these angry, deluded, inbred Christian fakers:
  1. First Congregational Church, Sioux Falls, November 21, 2010, 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM. "WBC to picket this dog kennel where the big lies are taught." What, is First Congregational doing the blessing of the animals this weekend?
  2. St. Joseph Cathedral, Sioux Falls, November 21, 2010, 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM.
    WBC will faithfully remind their fellow man in Sioux Falls that priests rape children! Giving your children over to those pedophile rapists is equivilent—" wait. At the point where the Phelps family points at St. Joseph's and squeals "these rapists," that's slander, right? Bring your camcorders and your lawyers.
  3. Calvary Cathedral, Sioux Falls, November 21, 2010, 11:30 AM - 12:00 PM... because Bishop Gene Robinson is the greatest threat to humanity in the world.
  4. Washington High School, Sioux Falls, November 22, 2010, 7:40 AM - 8:10 AM. Great, even more congestion in the Warrior parking lot.
  5. University of South Dakota, Vermillion, November 22, 2010, 9:30 AM - 10:00 AM. "These institutions of so-called higher learning are pathetic substitutes for reading the Bible and BELIEVING GOD!" Right—try substituting "Read Bible" and "Believe in God" for "Graduated summa cum laude, USD Law" or "MBA" on your next job application. Really.
I am at a loss as to recommend the proper response. An angrier atheist than I—or heck, even a good Christian disgusted with such grandstanders puffing themselves up with sensational hate—might get some friends together to organize counter-protests. But some people, like Fred Phelps, are so mentally unbalanced, so incapable of rational discourse, so dedicated to making themselves feel important by drawing attention to their madness through any means available, that it's not worth good people's time to give them any attention. I'm probably helping them "win" here by even mentioning their little protests.

I have an easy out: the Phelps shouters aren't coming to my school or my town. They aren't laying picket lines anywhere that I must cross. But parishioners at three Sioux Falls churches and students at Washington and USD will face a brief test of character Sunday and Monday. How will they respond to crude, aggressive insults offered in a spirit of sheer, selfish hatred? How will parents explain to their children the deception and malevolence that drives these "Christians"? And how will they stop the Westboro infection of hatred from spreading?

Update 2010.11.20 06:06 CST: Looks like the coming South Dakota appearances of the Phelps fakers may end up going about as well as this Thursday demonstration in front of a mosque in Dearborn, Kansas, where counter-protesters outnumbered Westboro "Baptists" about 10 to 1. Two Sioux Falls copunter-protests have popped up on my Facebook invite list:
  1. Love Is Bigger Than Hate: Tove Bormes started this event. Attendees plan to bring signs and music to all three church events. Says Bormes, "[R]ather than addressing our protest at the idiots, address it to those watching, with positive messages about a) God's love, and/or (for you atheist and agnostic pals o' mine!) about your acceptance of ALL people." Thanks for including us secularists, Tove!) People who've clicked "Attending": 379.
  2. Protesting the Anti-American Westboro Baptist Church: Fellow DSU denizen Scott Richardson has put up this event. They're bringing American flags. Four attendees so far.


  1. Cory, I got two words for these freaks....

    I should share this on fb, maybe Mom can get hold of the guys and they'll just "happen" to show up. These twits LOVE the PGR. lol

  2. Cory, maybe get creative.

    Have someone handing out "Thank You" slips that inform each of the protesters that for every 15 minutes they stand there, someone is going to donate $5 to a cause they're protesting.

    i.e. each of them, by their actions, is working for $20 an hour and basically donating their "earnings" to the cause they're protesting.

    The "street approach" is to get their name first and write it down, then produce the "Pledge/Thank you card, with THEIR NAME on it, promising to stay there for at least an hour more.

    The whole thing should be pleasant and calm, never confrontational or angry. Bring flowers maybe.

    This works especially well if you have actually lined up the pledgers in advance and have them there to help deliver the Thank Yous.

    As in: "Hi, would you mind telling me your name?"

    Protester: "Bite me."

    Pledger : "Do you spell that with one "e" or two, Mr. Mee?

    etc... (it doesn't matter what they say their name is.)

    Then the pledger explains the deal, hands the protester the slip with whatever s/he said on it and walks off. Have several "donors" approach each protestor if possible. Pretty soon the guy is "earning" 100 bucks an hour for a cause he hates.

    If this is done right, you can actually raise a few bucks for a worthy cause. Worse case scenario, you dispell the crowd and everybody goes home smiling, (except of course those who don't remember how.)

  3. For some real "street theatre" set up a little both where people can take a copy of their sign up slip, and file it with people with cash boxes collecting the money and watching the protesters, cheering them on.

    You might want do do this with monopoly money or something. The key is to have your "theatre" more interesting than theirs so the cameras come to you not them, and you give the media something else cool to talk about. Something fun.

    Then the mons and dads can tell the kids how those nice people are helping them raise money cor their college education or their church, or whatever.

  4. Tough call on this one. Obviously, ignoring this cult is attractive as it feeds on attention.

    But then there are clear Biblical instructions for clergy to rebuke, refute and warn in the face of falsehood and evil - and secular versions of that same such as "Evil wins when good people do nothing."

    I've sent messages to folks at Calvary to see if there's any kind of support they need on Sunday. I think I am more likely to blog about good reactions/resistance after the fact in this case.

    This Sunday is called "Christ the King" on many church calendars - it is meant to be a confident, serene close out to the church year, a celebration of the ultimate claims of faith amid the uncertainties of life - which is just the opposite of the fearful protestations of adequacy with which my fair city is about to be flashed.

  5. Officer thinking, Bill! Your suggestion is already making the rounds on Facebook. And Father Tim, I know you'll find the right words and Christian response for the day. Good perspective on "Christ the King" and the need to respond to evil. These evil guys count on our response to fuel their movement... but we still must respond somehow.

    A ntoe from Facebook: Someone mentions that Fred Phelps studied law and helps fund his group by waging frivolous lawsuits. So whatever your response, keep it legal, keep it loving!

  6. Sarah Serenity11/21/2010 12:33 AM

    an FYI / Heads up in case you weren't aware. There is another event
    that was organized "Love is Bigger than Hate" We have over 500+ people
    who have said they are attending. We have a permit to protest on
    sidewalks across from the event. If you plan to show up and do your own
    ...thing, please do not engage with the WBC group in any way. They could ask the police to arrest you or sue the city if the policy refuse to arrest you. You will also be jeopardize the other counter-protest that is going on. If you picket anywhere other than our designated area, WBC could get us arrested for violating our permit to protest. Please do consider coming to join in the fun of our event. We will be carrying signs with amusing slogans like "God Hates Squash" and "I thought you said Michael Phelps" and dancing to some rocking good dance music.

    If you need any further info, please message me before tomorrow. Thanks!

  7. For the record: I, for one, do not believe that any lawsuit is "frivolous;" and support your rights to participate in actions that resist Phelps Phamily actions.


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