They claim that the local churches are going to hell because they have allowed an atmosphere that accepts homosexuality. They were met with the passive-resistance sorts of hand-holding graying and balding sorts, who had been trained in non-confrontational techniques. It was a good day for the upper middle class residents to feel political and righteous.
The catalyst for this visit was mad dad David Parker's control-freak sit-in at a local elementary school. Amusingly, Parker framed even this in terms of himself. He told the Boston Herald that the Kansas protestors should move their demonstrations to his front lawn. "Do they have the courage to face me instead of small children or will they take the coward's way out and ignore me," he said.
We can wonder whether he has a separate garage to house his ego.
Back in Topeka, the locals have long tired of the WBC and its demented leader, Pastor Fred Phelps. There is a great collection of newspaper articles on the church and its founder here, including the locals' opinions of him.
Oddly enough, Phelps was not a general hater. After moving from Mississippi to Kansas, he became a noted and very successful civil rights lawyer. He was a stalwart fighter for the black community. A plaque he received from the NAACP in recognition of his efforts reads in part:
Even though members of the establishment have attacked from every side, you have remained undaunted and never lost your spark and steely determination for justice.He noted, however, that there is no conflict between his attitude toward black and gay Americans. "God Almighty never said that it's an abomination to be black," he said.
In Lexington, one of his group called out to St. Brigid Catholics as they left, "You're going to hell. Have a nice day."
Today, WBC should wrap up its roadshow with a protest at the elementary school where Mr. Parker has made himself infamous.