Protestors and counter-protestors stood on each side of the asphalt drive in front of St. Lawrence Catholic Church from around 4:00 to 5:00 P.M on Sunday, March 6th. Those protesting the church itself were part of Westboro Baptist, or WBC, a congregation based in Topeka, Kansas, known for protesting at various locations across the United States and picketing funerals of military members and openly gay people, among others.
Sunday, the members of WBC planned a 30-minute protest for St. Lawrence, based on their belief that Catholicism is a corrupt religion. Members held picket signs that contained message against the Pope and homosexuality.
Many protestors were also on the scene in opposition to the WBC. These counter-protestors held their own signs that quoted bible verses or phrases that targeted the WBC.
“God doesn’t hate anyone,” said Zack Rhoades (11), a counter-protestor. “I’m just here to get my point across. Westboro Baptist is abusing its First Amendment rights. People like them are why people hate Christians,” he said.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that Westboro Baptist has the right to protest funerals under the First Amendment. “It sucks, but it’s constitutionally correct,” said Markita Helton (12), another counter-protestor. “But the conduct [on the part of the counter-protesters] at this rally is awful. Everyone missed the point. The point is to be peaceful and loving in the face of WBC’s hate, but we’re just throwing hate back,” she said.
News crews and police cars lined the street in front of St. Lawrence as counter-protestors on motorcycles rode up and down, exciting the crowd. Policemen stood near the caution tape to ensure that the protestors and counter-protestors didn’t mix.
The protesting ended when the members of Westboro Baptist began to depart at around 5:00 P.M. Most of the counter-protestors attempted to follow them, stepping over the caution tape, but no further action ensued.
Zoe Schaver, Reporter