Fred Phelps, known for his protests at the funerals of AIDS victims, and now extremely popular for his bizarre protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers, decided to grace Prairie Village, Kansas with the presence of his minions. The target for the picketers was Shawnee Mission East High School, a large suburban school in the Kansas City Metro area.This is what gives me hope that I'll grow old in a slightly less dysfunctional country. The generation coming after us seems to have a fairly large proportion of people with their heads screwed on straight.
Westboro Church is located in Topeka, Kansas, which is why Kansas City often gets blessed with their ministries. Shawnee Mission East's crime is an active gay/straight alliance group, and the nominating of an openly gay classmate for Homecoming King in 2007. I don't know why they waited until now to tell the students that God hates them and they are burning in hell, but they did. An impressive 12 of them. Wow. And at least two children, which is sweet.
But they were met with at least 300 counter-protesters, a large number of them Shawnee Mission East students. The kids organized and with the support of the school administration were able to shout down the Westboro orcs with signs calling out love, compassion and tolerance.
Perhaps we should take them on a field trip to explain law, civics, and basic reading comprehension to certain dunces:
Believe it or not, the situation only deteriorates from there. Click if you dare. Then click back to Reepicheep's photo diary to help ease the pain.
Let's briefly recap a story we've been following. Earlier this week, the American Center for Law and Justice, a right-wing legal group formed by TV preacher Pat Robertson, said the stimulus bill includes a provision that would prohibit "religious groups and organizations from using" buildings on college campuses. Soon after, religious right groups and right-wing blogs were up in arms, demanding that lawmakers fix the "anti-Christian" language of the bill. Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network helped get the word out to the far-right base about the nefarious measure.
But there was one small problem: there was no such measure. The ACLJ doesn't know how to read legislation, and didn't realize that the standard language in the bill simply blocks spending for on-campus buildings that are used primarily for religion (like a chapel, for example). This same language has been part of education spending bills for 46 years. It's just the law, and it's never been controversial.
And if it were just some random yahoos screaming about a non-existent threat, this would merely be annoying. But right-wing whining about the imaginary attack came to the attention of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who actually tried to remove the legal language from the bill. Consider just how truly ridiculous his remarks were on the Senate floor yesterday:
This is a provision "that would make sure students could never talk openly and honestly about their faith ... what this means is that students can't meet together in their dorms if that dorm has been repaired with federal money and have a prayer group or a Bible study. They can't get together in their student centers. They can't have a commencement service where a speaker talks about their personal faith." ... Student groups would be banned and "classes on world religions and religious history, academic studies of religious texts could be banned ... Someone is so hostile to religion that they are willing to stand in the schoolhouse door, like the infamous George Wallace, to deny people of faith from entering into any campus building renovated by this bill. This cannot stand!"
Please remember, every sentence -- literally, every single sentence -- in that paragraph is wrong. Indeed, everything DeMint said was the polar opposite of reality, driven entirely by a reading-comprehension mistake made by someone at Pat Robertson's legal group.