meets protest in
Anti-gay church group, picketing high school play about gay man, finds itself outnumbered.
By Patricia Poist, Staff Writer
Published: Feb 11, 2007 12:01 AM EST
As promised, with inflammatory signs, songs and chants, 13 members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., showed up at
They met a counter-protest from a crowd with more than 10 times as many people who told them that neither they nor their message are welcome here.
"The Laramie Project," also an award winning HBO film, depicts the reactions from
"They are so vulgar," said 17-year-old Linda Wolfe, a junior at
So Linda, along with more than 150 others from York and the surrounding area, who knew from the media, the Internet and word-of-mouth the Westboro folks were coming, braved bitter temperatures outside the school Saturday night with their own message
"Go back to Kansas," some shouted.
"You are double-minded and unstable," two men and woman shouted over and over to the group who were picketing on a corner sidewalk off school grounds.
Linda, accompanied by five other teens from
Members of Westboro Baptist, which is listed as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, had earlier announced on the church's Web site that they were coming to
The church has picketed numerous funerals of
Phelps wasn't picketing last night, but his daughter, Margie Phelps, was. She said her group came to
"When you raise the kids in the high schools that it is OK to be gay, then you send them on the battlefield without a moral compass; that is why they are coming home in body bags," Margie Phelps said in an interview after her picket, which started at 6:30 p.m. and ended at 7:22 p.m., just eight minutes before the play opened.
"It would have been kinder to take them out in the woods when they were 1 year old and let them freeze to death then to teach them the soul-damning lie that it is OK to be gay."
Today her group plans to picket several
About a dozen people from the Silent Witnesses of Central PA of
Meanwhile, judging from the number of people streaming into the school, the audience was packed when the curtain went up for the second and last night of the performance.
York Suburban Superintendent William Hartman Jr. said in a Friday interview that he hopes the play serves as "a learning experience" for the students. And he said, the students could learn "possibly from the protest."
Contact Patricia Poist at email@example.com.