The controversial Westboro Baptist Church rolled through town Tuesday afternoon, but Las Vegas wasn’t listening.
Known for its radical anti-gay stance and “God hates fags” slogan, the Kansas-based church holds pickets in cities across the country, protests the funerals of gays and lesbians and generally spreads hate. And its picketing is not exclusive to the LGBT community. WBC has appeared at the funerals of American soldiers, and even planned to picket the funerals of actor Heath Ledger and Christina Green, a 9-year-old victim of the January shooting in Tucson, Arizona. The church believes that these deaths (and countless others) are punishment bestowed upon America for its declination to join the hate parade.
While in Las Vegas, WBC supporters made two stops, first at UNLV and then at Clark High School. The three WBC picketers who showed at UNLV clutched signs that read “Soldiers die 4 fag marriage” and “You’re going to hell.” An iPod blasted WBC renditions of popular songs with hateful lyrics, but the small WBC faction was hardly the only group making a statement at the campus. A group of more than 100, mostly university students, staged a counter-protest on the opposite side of the street, holding signs bearing messages of acceptance—“Bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry” and “Love is greater than judgment.”
The hour-long demonstration was peaceful, with the two sides only interacting when a WBC supporter sang her hate-ridden lyrics too loud, to which the crowd replied in unison, “We can’t hear you.”
Hear that, Westboro? You’re not welcome here.