Monday, September 21, 2009

Westboro Baptist Church protests Rosh Hashanah services

Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, the group that demonstrates against gay pride events with "God Hates Fags" signs, has branched out in recent years to protest at the funerals of those killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. There, they wield signs to the effect that God is punishing those who fight for the U.S. because -- you guessed it -- the U.S. has too many gays. As nuts as that is, it's even more malicious. Some bereaved families who have lost loved ones have been forced to run a gauntlet of these homophobic sign-wielding lunatics.

Now they've found a new target. Jews. They chose a Rosh Hashanah service at Oklahoma University at Norman, Oklahoma to try out their new act.

Jacob Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church protests at the Oklahoma University Hillel Rosh Hashahah service.

from the
Daily Oklahoman (the O.U. paper):

Members of Westboro Baptist Church forcefully protested the Rosh Hashanah holiday in front of Hillel today, while another crowd protested and shouted across the street in opposition.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, leader of the Westboro protest, said the church stopped at OU as part of a love campaign across the country to protest Jews killing Christ over 2,000 years ago. She said despite the common belief that Christ’s death brings salvation, members of the Jewish community should not have killed Christ.

“These people killed our Lord, and they know it,” Phelps-Roper said. “The hour of judgment is near and everything bad happening in the world is in part their fault for killing Christ.”

Westboro protestors held up signs reading “God hates fags,” “God hates Jews,”America is Doomed” and “God hates Israel,” among other derogatory statements.

“I’m Catholic,” said Scott Jech, music performance senior, who stood on the opposition side. “I came out here to show that I and a majority of America and the world disagrees.”

Hillel, a campus Jewish organization, did not stage a counter protest, and none of the protestors were part of the organization.

“We did not protest the Westboro Baptist Church visit, as this is exactly what they try to provoke, and we encouraged people not to protest,” the organization wrote in an online statement. “We are very proud that Hillel students understood the importance of not engaging with these people, and instead have been inspired to think about tolerance programming. We will keep the OU community informed of our future plans.”

Phelps-Roper said the major focus was on the Jewish community because Friday marks Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish new year. She said the Westboro has been protesting the gay and lesbian community along with Mormonism, and now it is time for the Jewish community to “learn the truth.”

Westboro is a church in Topeka, Kan., owned and operated by the Fred Phelps, Phelps-Roper’s father, and the grandfather of the young men who accompanied Phelps-Roper to the protest.

“We are living in our last days and these Jews need to hear the truth,” Jacob Phelps said. “We are here to send a message to them that they are responsible for killing our Lord.”

Phelps said he felt the protest was a way to send a message of salvation and warning to the Jewish community because judgment for killing Jesus is coming soon.

Jacob Phelps, the member of the Westboro Baptist Church, protests at OU Hillel, a Jewish student organzation, Friday afternoon. Luke Atkinson/The Daily

“I know we were asked to not come out today, but I wanted them to see that we really do care about our Jewish community,” said Kara Joy McKee, OU alumnus. “We love our Jews. We love our everybodys.”

More here from KFSM, Ft. Smith/Fayetteville, Arkansas: Military funeral demonstrators protest Jewish holiday

A group known for its demonstrations at military funerals and anti-gay stance protested Rosh Hashanah outside a University of Oklahoma Jewish student organization.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church shouted slogans, held signs that said "God Hates Jews" and sang a rendition of "Hey Jude" as "Hey Jew" outside the Hillel Foundation on Friday.

Counter-demonstrators, not affiliated with Hillel, gathered across the street with signs and chants of their own. The protest ended without confrontation.

Westboro leader Shirley Phelps-Roper says the church stopped at the school as part of a "love campaign" to criticize Jews for "killing Christ."

A trio of motorcyclists who show up when Westboro members picket a military funeral revved their engines to drown out the Topeka, Kan.-based group.

Read more at the Norman Transcript here: Protesters, counter protesters square off near Hillel

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