The recent addition of the location of hate groups across the country on the walls of Lowry Pit this past week has shown the Wooster campus that as protected as it may seem in this small town, ignorance and racism still are clearly apparent in society. These hate groups range from Holocaust deniers to Ku Klux Klan hot spots, prompting the message: where have they all come from?
The most controversial hate group that is receiving media attention right now is the Westboro Baptist Church. This church, which is based out of Kansas, has recently taken its message on the road to college campuses around the country in order to instill their main belief to faculty, students and the community-the message that “God hates fags.”
This past week, the controversial group staged a protest at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The group, which strongly supports the anti-gay movement around the United States, was there in order to spread their belief that homosexuality is to blame for the deaths of American soldiers.
This event was met with distinct opposition from students who, in response to the visit from the church, created a protest that was given national media attention. Seniors Charlie Rybak, Jesse Rose, and Tyler Fishbone created the “Gay for Today” rally in order to amass a group of students to show their distaste for the visiting group. The students created an $8 dollar t-shirt proclaiming the message “I’m Gay for Today” in order to draw support from the community and raise awareness that this type of hateful message is not tolerated. “We wanted to send a message that when people came to our campus and tried to spread hateful, vile messages that tried to single people out for being who they are, they weren’t just attacking those people, they were attacking all of us,” said Rybak, who is also a Student Association senator.
The group also had the backing of the largest LGBT group on campus in order to help rally support for this cause. The proceeds collected from the costs of the shirt were split between the Transcend Hate fundraiser and the It Gets Better project, an organization that aims to educate LGBT youth that life gets better after coming out.
The Westboro Baptist Church was again met with protest from other college students around the country, this time at Hamilton College† in Clinton, NY,. According to the college’s student newspaper, The Spectator, the community and students rallied together to create signs and support the members of Rainbow Alliance, the campus’s LGBT group for the anticipated arrival of the WBC demonstrators this past week. Although the WBC never made an appearance at the campus that evening, precautions such as barriers were put in place to assure the safety of students and the demonstrators. Regardless of the fact that the group did not show up, the college said that their promotion of freedom of expression would have meant that they would have been peacefully allowed to protest, as long as no violence occurred.
Where does the future lie for this group? Given the recent increase in student opposition and organization of protests counteracting their messages, the WBC will most likely fade into the background as another hate group that spread its messages to the wrong types of people. Protesting at college campuses, where there is usually a LGBT-sponsored group, has led this organization to face many problems. Will these cease the efforts of the church? Certainly not.
According to the Westboro Baptist Church’s website, www.godhatesfags.com, the organization has plans to continuing protesting at college campuses, churches and funeral homes where gay soldiers killed in combat are having services. The website provides locations, times and reasons as to why people need to attend these protests to the public, along with a slew of other racial attacks on the Jewish population.
The silver lining to this incredibly unfortunate reality is that people are taking a stand against this group. Emulating people like the seniors at George Washington brings the campus and community together to oppose something that is only spreading the message of hate. As statistics have indicated of the board in Lowry, there is no more room for this kind of hatred in America.