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Manual RedEye

Louisville community support for Manual students contrasts Westboro messaging

Counter-protestors+holding+a+sign+that+says+You+are+Loved+as+cars+pass+by.+Photo+by+Ava+Blair
Ava Blair
Counter-protestors holding a sign that says “You are Loved” as cars pass by. Photo by Ava Blair

Counter-protestors came out in a show of love and support for Manual students today in order to muffle the hateful chanting from members of Westboro Baptist Church who were protesting near Manual’s campus. The Rock-n-Roll Humanist Drag Queen Story Hour, and Buechel Park Baptist Church showed up in force as well as parents and students from Manual’s community. 

Westboro Baptist has been designated as a hate group by multiple organizations, including the Anti-defamation League (ADL) who describes them as “virulently homophobic, anti-Semitic hate group.” The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), also calls them “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.”

Traveling from Topeka, Kansas, a small group of Westboro protestors arrived shortly after 7 a.m., wielding American flags and signs reading “GOD SENDS DESTRUCTION IN FURY,” and “MOST PEOPLE GO TO HELL.” Westboro also visited Louisville in 2011, at St. Lawrence Catholic Church.

In a press release, Westboro said that Manual is “hyper-focused on so-called ‘diversity,’” and cited this as their reason for preaching outside of Manual’s campus. Diversity is a key aspect of Manual’s vision statement, which states that Manual is “proud of [its] continuing excellence, diversity, and tradition.”

While Westboro claims that what they do is a form of “preaching”, they are a church that differs greatly from modern Christianity. Members of the church do not preach with hope for change, but rather spread divisive vitriol. The church has spread their message of hate at funerals for both soldiers and school shooting victims

Cooper Walton, Abby Prather

Westboro’s preaching, however, was easily drowned out by the counter-protesters at the scene. Brimstone hymns were met with a cacophony of heavy metal, modern music, and car horns that greeted students as they made their way onto campus. Anti-Westboro protestors donning rainbow attire and playing popular songs congregated on the sidewalk near Manuals’ front entrance to spread messages of love and wish passing students and cars a good morning. 

“I’ve been an atheist activist for 25 years. I’ve been counter-protesting the Westboro Baptist Church for over 15, I’ve been a humanist minister for 10, a charity director for 8,” Aaron Reed, the minister of the Rock-n-Roll Humanist Church from Wadsworth, Ohio, said. 

Reed showed up with other members of his organization to counter-protest Westboro Baptist Church on both Thursday and Friday morning. Their goal, however, isn’t just to oppose the Westboro Baptist Church. 

“We’re not here to recruit your kids, we’re just here to keep gay kids alive,” said Reed. Other groups such as the Buechel Park Baptist Church expressed similar hopes to welcome students to school with positivity, holding signs that read “You Are Loved.” Students were able to get into school safely both mornings with support from staff members. 

“I am thankful for our extraordinary staff members who supported our students and made themselves available to discuss what was happening,” said Principal Michael Newman in a written statement to Manual families on Friday morning. Some Manual staff wore shirts reading “HUMAN, KINDNESS (be both)”.

“I was greeted with smiles and waves and signs that said ‘you are loved’, and rainbow flags and stuff, and it just felt very inclusive,” said Koryn Smith (12, J&C).

About the Contributors
Kaelin Gaydos, Editor in Chief
Kaelin Gaydos is the Editor In Chief of Manual RedEye. You can contact her at [email protected].
Leo Tobbe, Staffer
Leo Tobbe is a dignified pillar of workplace professionalism and an extremely undervalued opinion writer for Manual RedEye. He hates satire with a burning passion, feeling that it distracts from real issues and stories with real journalistic value. You can contact him at [email protected].
Cooper Walton, Multimedia Director
Cooper Walton is the Multimedia Director for Manual RedEye. You can contact him at [email protected].
Grace Fridy, Opinion Editor
Grace Fridy is the Opinion Editor for Manual RedEye this year. She enjoys reading, writing, discussing, debating, bowling, baking and many other activities there isn't room for. You can contact her at [email protected].
Caleb Singleton, Staffer
Caleb Singleton is a staffer for Manual RedEye.
Ava Blair, Sports Editor
Ava Blair is the sports editor for Manual RedEye this year. She enjoys sports photography, watching NFL football, listening to Taylor Swift and playing lacrosse. You can contact her at [email protected].
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