Council of Churches: Pray for peace while picketers in town
Article Last Updated: 02/06/2007 11:50:51 AM EST
congregations are being asked to pray for peace this weekend, when the
"I hope that each church
will pray that everyone will be safe and protected as a human, that there will be
The session was sponsored by the council, the York County Community Against Racism and the York City Human Relations Commission.
Close to 20 people attended the session to help them prepare for picketing activities by Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church, which announced plans to picket York Suburban High School on Saturday and six area churches Sunday to oppose the school's "The Laramie Project," a drama presentation focusing on a community's reaction to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student in Laramie, Wyo.
Pickets: The Topeka-based ministry pickets against the homosexual lifestyle.
The church has picketed at about
25 different locations in
"Do not interact when
they are physically on the street," she said. "Also, do
not ignore their presence or their message or the impact on your town."
The commission finds that churches are quicker to respond to hate group activities against ethnic groups than to similar activities targeting homosexuals, Van Dyke said.
"We're not asking anyone to take a stand for or against sexual orientation, but the stand for every human being to be safe and respected," she said.
The community can show its stand for tolerance by filling the auditorium for York Suburban's play, said Mary Galiardi, whose son, A.J., a York Suburban junior, is participating in the drama.
'Respond by showing up': "We don't want to be confrontational, but we don't want to be silent," she said. "Let's respond by showing up. Let's have the community show support for the school."
Galiardi said she talked with her son about the Westboro issue.
"I talk to my son about hate groups and I teach my kids tolerance," she said. "I'm really proud of him."
Alanna Berger, a member of
Harrisburg-based Silent Witness of Central Pennsylvania, said Westboro Baptist
has picketed their organization, which consists of members of
"We use great big umbrellas and we open them up and lean them against our shoulders," she said. "We'll be facing the school. We'll smile and welcome people who come for the play. We stand as a spiritual firewall."
Like Van Dyke, Berger said people should stay away from the Westboro group.
"They're really hard to ignore, but you can't argue with them," Berger said. "People try to reason with them and they get frustrated and then things escalate."
-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or email@example.com.
Places targeted for picketing
"The Laramie Project" drama presentation is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday at
Besides the school, Topeka,
--- St. Matthew Evangelical