Protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church have protested at the Ticket City Bowl, featuring Penn State vs. Houston, to protest Penn State’s sex scandal.
About 25 protesters stood outside Fair Park, holding signs comparing former Penn State head coach, Joe Paterno with the Pope. One of the signs read, “God Hates Your Idols.”
The demonstrators stood behind police barricade waving their signs as fans packed into the stadium.
The Kansas based organization is well-known for its extreme campaigns centered around a hate message. An organizer of the group claimed that idolatry of college football led to the sex scandal at Penn State.
Penn State football team became engulfed in a child sex scandal when their former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was charged with the sexual assault of nearly one dozen young boys towards the end of 2011. Critics had wanted Penn State to sit out of their bowl game in respect for the victims.
However, the Nittany Lions declined to sit-out their bowl game and played the University of Houston in the Ticket City Bowl. Those who defended their decision say it is about the student athletes who have done no wrong. Houston went on to beat Penn State 30-14.
Another group of protesters called Occupy Dallas also attended the game to counter the protests of the Westboro group. They had bullhorns, signs and chants against Westboro’s hate message. The protests were an attempt to mock the group.
The counter protesters brandished a sign that said, “Thank God for Atheists.”
Whytney Blythe, 22, of the Occupy Now group said they were there to protest hate in all its forms, according to the Dallas Observer.
“Which is part of what’s perpetuating the issues we’re facing today,” Blythe said. “Living in a fear-based system is unhealthy for everyone…it’s important to be at the protests against Westboro to show support for the victims that they may target.”
According to an anonymous protester from Occupy Now, the group plans to follow WBC around the country to stage counter-protests featuring loud music, gay make-outs and “recitations of graphic homoerotic novels.”
“The focus should be on the team, the schools that are represented by the two teams,” Joe Fleming, a Penn State fan, said to FoxDFW. “Why talk to 25 people who have nothing to do with the game?”