The very forefront of Westboro Baptist Church's message is that gay people are going to hell – but an initiative by a high school gay activist group that raises money for every minute the Kansas church group protests means that, inadvertently, WBC is raising money for gay rights.
WBC, which protests all across the country, including schools, gathered in the early morning at Clayton High School in Missouri on Feb. 6 to preach about the sins of homosexuality and the repercussions of living or supporting such a lifestyle. However, the school's gay rights group, the Clayton High School Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), was already waiting with a counter-protest, where they brought their own T-shirts, tote bags, and other apparel bearing the slogan "Love Conquers Hate," shared Panorama, the school newspaper of the local Ladue Horton Watkins High School.
The counter-protest brought together not only students from the Clayton school, but also other members of the community and students from other schools who wanted to stand in protest against the WBC. What is more, an initiative created by the GSA, called a "Phelps-A-Thon" (named after Fred Phelps, the leader of WBC,) gathers money for gay rights for every minute the WBC protests at Clayton High School.
"The biggest thing we want to accomplish is raising awareness, so that people know that in the community in general, that there's support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students," explained Trevor Sangrey, a campaigner with Growing American Youth, a social support organization for gay people.
The Clayton High School Globe, a student newspaper, reached out to attorney Fred Phelps Jr., the son of the WBC founder, and asked him his thoughts on such counter-measures. Phelps, however, did not appear to be concerned with the "Phelps-A-Thon" initiative, and said that the WBC's mission will not be hindered by such counter-protests in any way.
"I love [the response from CHS]. It shows how far gone this country is. And it puts a spotlight on what we're saying," Phelps said.
Talking about why he believes people have been reluctant to warm up to the WBC's "message of hate" despite the thousands of protests the group has conducted, Phelps explained that the world is very far gone and that they are preaching the truth found in the Bible regardless of other's opinions.
"Christ said that in this world many people will hate you. They don't want truth. I graduated from high school in 1971 – those were the good old days. This was not even on the radar. I'm a civil rights lawyer, and I was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1988. I got up and gave a speech, because that was when this issue started surfacing. And somebody yelled out at me, you're a civil rights lawyer, why are you [doing this]. I said the Bible doesn't say it's an abomination to be black," he said.
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is abomination – what the Bible says is the filthiest, most depraved, most debauched… I can't think of enough adjectives to describe that behavior, that activity. It kills the body, and it destroys nations," Phelps concluded.
The protest at Clayton high school unfolded peacefully, according to the Panorama article, although it was not reported how much money was raised by the "Phelps-A-Thon."