High School Students Respond to Westboro Baptist Church April 3, 2010

High School Students Respond to Westboro Baptist Church

High school students can really make you proud some days.

Look at how these California students came together when they heard Fred Phelps‘ Westboro Baptist Church was going to be protesting at their school:

There’s hope for the future.

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  • That is beautiful 🙂 Who knows, maybe if more and more people keep counterprotesting the WBC with messages of love, they’ll stop trying to spread their hatred.

  • Thing is, the ‘message of love’ is just a watered-down form of Jehovah. At the very least, Fred Phelps actually believes what his book says. Maybe these people don’t believe in the biblical God (who definitely isn’t a big fan of tolerance and acceptance), but then they shouldn’t really call themselves Christians, since… you know… that’s the god that inspired Christianity.

    I honestly don’t get it. Fundamentalists I won’t call hypocrites because they actually believe what they claim to believe. But anyone who believes in a ‘god of love’ that is so radically different from what’s described in the book they claim as their holy book… I can’t figure that out. It seems like they should either give up the label or give up the book.

    When the WBC said they were coming to protest at a local school, I was part of a group of people who organized a counter-protest. We were originally calling it “Not in Our Town.” Myself and at least two other atheists were part of the steering committee.

    Two days before the protest, they renamed it “God is Love Albany.” We were completely cut out of it. They decided to rewrite history and claim it was started by a group of local churches, when in fact it was started by an LGBT/Ally group at the high school.

    So forgive me if I sound a bit harsh about anti-Phelps protests where religion plays a strong role. We were apparently not welcome in ours.

  • Pareidolius

    The best reply to Phelp’s mental illness that I’ve yet seen. They now seem to be generating community, tolerance and love wherever they go. That’s gotta sting . . .

  • The WBC looks so sad and pitiful as compared to the big joyous group of students.

  • Canadiannalberta

    Beautiful! This is so encouraging. I hope more and more people protest this way.

  • Salmon of Doubt

    @Mike the Infidel: However shocking your account may be, it’s not at all surprising. The fabled “Moderate Christians” go to great lengths to distance themselves from the all too pervasive “fundamentalists”.

    The interesting thing being that there is NO such thing as a moderate Christian/Jew/Muslim/Etc. as your encounter may suggest. It’s a movement soley driven by a religious organizations desire to save face and maintain a “positive” reputation in order that they may be hailed as the moderates or “go-to” churches of today. More over, it’s about being right, and they will claw, fight and steal causes, such as what happened to you and your organization, in order to provide such benificial efficacies for themselves.

    Your situation is not unique, but it is nonetheless unfortunate.

  • Jim [different Jim]

    @Mike the Infidel: Xians did to your group what they have done for almost 2000 years. Wasn’t Xmas originally a PAGAN celebration?

  • muggle

    Yeah, right, Gunn is love unless you happen to disbeleive then we don’t want ot hear your voice and will drown it out with our own.

    While I’m glad Phelps and Co. didn’t win here, neither did we. The bigots were excluded or certain ones were but so apparently were the Atheists. This is one thing I truly freaking hate about protests and counter protests. I’m all psyched and then they go and turn it into a godfest. I wouldn’t feel safe to be me with either group in this town that was preaching love and tolerance. It would have been beautiful if they weren’t so exclusive themself. Therefore, no, it wasn’t a success.

    Mike, that was you that started that! Good on you, dude. I didn’t hear about it until after and then, yeah, I’m sorry. I believed the stinking reports that said churches were behind it. I was pissed that yet once again everything had to have the church dragged into the public school. Well, since they kicked out those who had the good idea, I guess that anger wasn’t misplaced.

  • Just to be clear, I wasn’t part of the high school group that started it; they put out a call to the community to get people involved, and that’s when I got on board. My involvement was in putting together some original advertising copy (which was discarded), helping craft the message we wanted to send (God was never mentioned), and helping coordinate the event with law enforcement, school officials, etc.

    But still, it wasn’t a church thing until they decided to usurp the original leaders.

  • Ted

    The acceptance would be better if it was void of any god stuff, but otherwise good job. 🙂

  • Erp

    Gunn is in the same town as me, Palo Alto. First the reason Gunn was chosen by WBC is because several students over the past year had killed themselves by stepping in front of a train (and one recent student just the week before the protest) and WBC hoped to exploit this. Second Gunn is religiously diverse and not just different Christian denominations; many of the parents of the students are Stanford faculty members (and faculty members of elite universities tend to be more atheistic than the general population) and Palo Alto has an active Humanist community (as well as active Jewish communities both secular and religious). Third I think it was very clear from the video that the Gay/Straight Alliance were the prime pushers behind the counter protest.

    Immediately after the protest at Gunn the WBC went to the Stanford campus to protest outside the Hillel Center there. For obvious reasons Hillel guided the counter protest at Stanford but with strong support from other student groups including Stanford’s Atheist, Humanist and Agnostic group (AHA!). After Hillel the most obvious pushers were F.A.I.T.H. which is an interfaith group (currently led by a Muslim student and a Hindu student and has openly invited humanists to join in [I’m not sure if any have]).

  • Michael

    WOW, these comments are funny! Atheist hating on Christians for not being tolerant or accepting? Kinda hypocritical don’t you think? Seeing as how you want to remove God and religion from everything…

  • Fentex

    Thing is, the ‘message of love’ is just a watered-down form of Jehovah

    This opinion seems to ignore the Christ part of Christianity that posits in it’s theology that Christ struck a new covenant with people different from the intolerant demand of loyalty to the harsh rules of the Old Testament.

    Thus ‘Christians’ rather than ‘Judaists’.

    It’s how people reconcile the Old with the New Testaments which are clearly inconsistent with each other.

    The new supercedes the old as Christs sacrifice struck a new covenant.

    Although it doesn’t matter as people protesting the religiously intolerant may not care about the invisible fairy some people pretend to believe in and the ludicrous logical and mental gymnastics they perform to reconcile stone age nonsense with modern civil life.

  • Escobar


    As an atheist, you should (or will) realize that religion rationality and the rules are whatever the participant wants them to be AND whatever the rules are, any set is just as rational as any other. So if a person chooses to extract the old testament god of fire and brimstone from the bible, well, that’s a valid god. If one, on the other hand, wishes to extract the new testament jesus/god of love from the bible, well, that’s totally correct also. FSM? Valid also.

    The fact that what could have been a non-religious protest was co-opted into a ‘Xian thing’, different issue and certainly a valid and rational complaint on your part. Get used to it; their lobby is stronger than yours.

  • t0rex

    I am a guy who really hates your country,who thinks that when it comes to the “root of all evils” you rule. Yet it fills me up with joy when i see there is still hope. In the darkest our there still is a light and you will not be forgotten.

  • Matt


    You do realize how silly your generalization about atheists sound? I don’t mind religion at all, so long as it is not shoved down my throat or comes at the expense of my liberties as a citizen. If anything, you see more religious Americans advocating for decorating our streets with their imagery and such. I know a lot of you fundies want to paint atheists as some sinister people that want religion out of everything, but that’s simply a logical fallacy.

  • ZJ


    Nobody is obligated to accept intolerance. Allowing intolerance to persist unchallenged would end up not being very tolerant at all. That’s why portraying the opposition to intolerance as just another form of ‘intolerance’ is plainly inaccurate. An intolerant position, and opposition to that position, are obviously not the same thing, and can’t be treated as such. Trying to blend them together into the same shade of grey is simply dishonest. Likewise, there is a clear difference between requiring that everyone in the public sphere recognize a specific religion’s god, and ensuring that nobody will be required to do so. These are not comparable views — in fact, they’re exactly opposed. There is nothing ‘hypocritical’ about that.

  • Love this. Another great counter protest.

  • Jen

    I think it is fantastic. How awful that the WBC is now tormenting children who have lived through several suicides.

  • Spurs Fan

    Nice, clever post Michael. You have opened our eyes so much.

    Mike: I understand what you are saying and if the issue was that the “God is love” Christians were inconsistent, then that would be a good bone to pick. However, the issue here is that the WBC is a hate-mongering group of folks, usually direct their hate at gay folks, and they shouldn’t be able to steal this show. With this goal in mind, the collection of diverse people (including diversity in religious belief)did a great job in showing that (as the teacher said), the group can do more than coexist, but can actually accept each other. I think it says a lot when some people in the crowd can dispute Fred Phelps and Co on God and others can dispute him on humanity (I particularly liked the “love is love” sign). So, I know where you are coming from, but this here event was a win and a step in the right direction. We can fight the consistency battle in other places.

  • Fantastic counter-protest. Good on the Gunn folks.

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