Phelps Clan Met with Revelry and Frat Boys in Chicago
The anti-gay congregation of the Fred Phelps-led Westboro Baptist Church has met with a variety of responses in the communities around America where it pickets the funerals of fallen U.S. war heroes and productions of the play "The Laramie Project," but the greeting that awaited the group’s picket at the University of Chicago surely stood out.
Where other communities have organized counter-protests, sought to isolate the group by avoiding and directing traffic away from the area where the congregation demonstrate, or simply done their best to go about their business as usual and ignore the group, the university’s students created a celebratory atmosphere complete with sweet treats (s’mores and hot chocolate), frat boys dancing in their underwear, and fundraising for a GLBT youth-oriented charity.
University publication The Chicago Maroon reported in a Mar. 10 article on the revelry that greeted the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, the congregation of which is composed mainly of Rev. Phelps’ extended family.
The anti-gay group, which preaches that God is punishing America and other Western nations through war casualties, AIDS, terrorist attacks, and disasters like the destruction of the space shuttle Columbia, for failure to persecute gays, targeted the university for its ties to President Barack Obama, whom the group claims is the Antichrist, the article said.
The group are known for their colorful signs which carry provocative claims such as "God Hates Fags." Since Obama’s election, new slogans have been added to the congregation’s collection of signs, including one that reads, "Bloody Obama" and another that depicts the president sporting ram’s horns.
The Chicago Maroon article noted that Shirley Phelps-Roper, the daughter of the Rev. Phelps, belted out a song that took as its theme "God Hates America."
The group was countered by a group of students with signs and pamphlets warning that "Figs Doom Nations," "God Promises Terrible Vengeance Upon Any Fig-Loving Nation," and "Jesus rebuked the fig as an evil abomination."
The claims were supported by a Biblical passage in which Jesus denounces fig trees.
The article quoted student Carmel Levy, who said, "If you need scanty biblical evidence for anything, we’ve got it."
Added fellow student Max Shron, "We just wanted the world to know that God’s vengeance doesn’t just fall on the gay, but also on the fruit" of the fig tree.
Another group of students also added their signs to the protest, demonstrating tech-savvy slogans like "God hates dial-up" and "God hates the new Facebook," the article noted.
But the rebuke mounted by a group of frat boys may have been the most stinging, both for the nature of the demonstration and the group--stereotyped as anti-gay--from which it came.
Members of Alpha Delta Phi braved winter temperatures in order to greet the group with an underwear-only dance party to tunes like "It’s Raining Men" and "I’m Coming Out."
The Westboro clan, unfazed, sent up a cheer when openly gay recording artist Elton John’s song, "Tiny Dancer," reached the line referring to "Jesus freaks in the streets," the article said.
The article quoted Phelps-Roper as professing exuberance at the greeting the anti-gay group drew from students.