(Photo: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)
Westboro Baptist Church, the controversial group that has protested at funerals and high schools, plans to protest the upcoming Reason Rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
According to a post on their Twitter Account, WBC stated "Dear @ReasonRally: How gracious of you! We accept your invitation & will picket your parade of fools 3/24. Love,WBC."
The Reason Rally, which is sponsored by secularist organizations like the American Atheists and the American Humanist Association, will take place on Saturday, March 24.
In response to the Reason Rally, many Christian groups like Reasons for God and the Christian Apologetics Alliance will be holding a counter event called "True Reason."
Carson Weitnauer, director of Telos Ministries, is part of the "True Reason" mission and holds a low opinion of WBC.
"The important thing to note about Westboro's protest is that they were deliberately invited to be there by the organizers of the Reason Rally," said Weitnauer in an interview with The Christian Post. "It is unclear to me why the organizers of the Reason Rally believe that having Westboro attend the Reason Rally will enhance the credibility of their event."
Weitnauer also believed that it was unlikely that Westboro's protest would in some way harm the witnessing efforts of the "True Reason" counter event.
"Only if the media pretends that Westboro somehow reflects mainstream religious practice in America or around the world," he noted.
"My hope is that journalists will report on the real story: the unreasonable attempt by the Reason Rally to caricature the 75-85 percent of Americans who consider themselves Christians or religious as being like the Westboro protesters."
Featured speakers at the March 24 event will include secular biologist Richard Dawkins, comedian Tim Minchin, Adam Savage of the Discovery Channel program "Mythbusters," and skeptic James Randi, creator of "The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge."
According to Weitnauer, the "True Reason" event being done in response will be nothing like the typical counter demonstration found at large scale National Mall rallies.
"We will not have obnoxious signs, attempt to disrupt the gathering, chant loudly, or otherwise protest. We don't think that protests are a good way to advance the cause of reason," he explained. "Therefore, what we are doing is daring to take the atheists at their word and offer respectful, reasonable dialogue, on a person to person basis, with those who are interested."
To advertise for the Reason Rally, groups like American Atheists posted billboards throughout the country, including in communities that were largely Jewish or Muslim. One billboard sign was set to be placed in an Orthodox Jewish community of New York but the billboard owner changed his mind and refused to post it.
Headed by Fred Phelps and comprised mostly of Phelps' family members, Westboro Baptist Church is unaffiliated with any Baptist denomination.