Anti-gay Church Set to Protest at Northwestern High School

Seven members of Westboro Baptist Church will protest outside of the high school on March 1.

By David Saleh Rauf and Alexandra Wilding, Capital News Service

A Kansas church known for its vehement anti-homosexual stance and for picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers is targeting for a protest next week.

A small cohort from the Westboro Baptist Church is planning to demonstrate outside Northwestern on Tuesday to voice objections over what it describes as a "pervert-run" school.

The church did not cite a specific issue with Northwestern but said teachers across the country have "broken the moral compass of this generation."

"These students are sitting in these high schools and actively together are rebelling against God and his commandments," said Shirley Phelps-Roper, a spokeswoman and daughter of the church's founder. "It's the same everywhere. You seen one, you seen them all."

Prince George's County Schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. defended the school, saying the district does not support the planned demonstration.

"Our school district ... is committed to supporting all of the students in our diverse population," Hite said in a statement.

Prince George's County School Board member Rosalind Johnson had stronger words for the church.

"I am appalled," she said. "I can't imagine someone claiming to be a member of a Christian church and truly perverting the word of God."

The planned picket in Hyattsville comes as the U.S. Supreme Court returns from its winter recess. The Topeka, Kan.-based church is at the center of a Supreme Court case that stems from a protest in which church members picketed the funeral of a slain Marine from Carroll County. The father of the Marine sued, but a federal appeals court ruled church members were protected by the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in October and will decide if the First Amendment protects protesters at funerals from liability for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the family of the deceased.

Church members frequently travel across the country to protest gay rights and the Jewish faith. The protests can ignite strong emotions, as church members generally scream slurs at passers-by and display signs with controversial slogans like "God Hates America" and "God Hates F--s."

About seven church members are expected to picket Tuesday across the street from the entrance of the school's main parking lot, Phelps-Roper said.

In anticipation of the protest next week, Hyattsville Police are planning to beef up security around the school and are developing a contingency plan "in case things go bad," said Sgt. Chris Purvis.

The church is planning a separate protest in Washington Tuesday morning. Phelps-Roper said the church chose Northwestern, a school of roughly 2,500 students that claims Muppets creator Jim Henson as an alumnus, because it is in the general area, which she said is densely populated with military families.

In a news release, however, the church described Northwestern as a "F-- infested, pervert-run" school.

The church was founded by Fred Phelps, who ran a street ministry in the 1950s that crusaded against people making out in public, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and has followed the church for years.

Phelps first drew national attention in 1998 when he picketed the funeral of slain University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was targeted because he was gay.

Since then, Phelps has used funerals as his "signature protest," Potok said.

"This is a guy who will do anything to get publicity," he said.

Roben February 25, 2011 at 04:17 AM
I say... How many sins have you committed today????? Clean your own house.... Worry about you making it to heaven... Don't you know being judgmental is a sin also... Do God really approve of you protesting in front of a High School? Is that showing love to our children... Is that the correct way that God would want you to present a point to our children?:?? I say Hate the Sin, But love the sinner....God wants you to love each other... Let us all pray for each other instead of judging each other...
Heather February 25, 2011 at 10:18 PM
In case anyone wants ideas for hilarious signs, the Huffington Post had a *great* series of pictures from the recent Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. If you're looking for awesome sign ideas, check out the collection of pictures: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/30/the-funniest-signs-at-the_n_776490.html These Westboro folks are completely crazy -- the only real way to take the wind out of their sails is to be far funnier than they are. A word of warning, though -- they survive by provoking folks into altercations, then sue...that's how they fund the "church." So let's keep it civil and non-violent!
Jay March 02, 2011 at 03:02 PM
Google angel escorts; it is an increasingly traditional way of dealing with these idiots. Everyone wears big angel wings and stands in front to hide their sign and their faces. Humor sounds good- just wanted to mention that their is this way also.
D.R. March 02, 2011 at 04:28 PM
These people are christians? I thought christians were not supposed to judge others. Did I miss something?
Mari Jackson February 01, 2014 at 06:48 PM
Get your scriptures straight first off before you post--no one will be im sure throwing any stones. So no judgements will be going on -- if they do then they will be arrested and i guess this would be what most want but dont count on it. This is freedom of speech --how come gay and lesbians can promote their beliefs all over the place with parades and all and many Christians just ignore it as much as we can. Do the same and then they will leave and stop crying about it. It is in the scriptures that i read that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination -- if some want to repeat this let them --it is their right. Many spread out down right secular lies and no one says anything. With all this I am not saying that i agree with these Baptist -- i dont know them personally just like i dont know gays in parades etc. so i just ignore it if i dont agree. No on is pefect and if you say judging is wrong why is everyone "judging these baptists???


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