Westboro Church Radicals' Protests Spark Outrage In Alachua County
The Westboro Baptist Church has made national headlines because of their fallen-soldier funeral protests, and on Sunday they went to three Alachua County churches as well as the UF Hillel.
One of their main reasons for coming was that Gainesville recently elected an openly gay mayor, who actually did some protesting of his own.
Westboro Baptist Church protestors showed up at Trinity United Methodist Church in northwest Gainesville around noon and so did protesters protesting the protest.
WBC members, who were joined by a contingency from the Dove World Outreach Center, also located in northwest Gainesville, say their mission is to warn people about what's coming to them.
"If you go the way of sodom, you are going to suffer her fate," Westboro Baptist Church Member Shirley Phelps-Koper.
Phelps said Trinity United has been too supportive of homosexuality and that one of the WBC's main reasons for coming is the recent election of Craig Lowe - an openly gay man - as mayor of Gainesville.
Lowe's opponent in the race though, Don Marsh was in the group protesting against the WBC members.
"I don't hate my opponent," Marsh said. "I don't hate him. I don't hate people who are gay. I don't hate any of the people I disagree with."
Marsh's opponent - now mayor-elect Craig Lowe - did some rallying of his own Sunday as well.
"I know that this group (WBC) is not representative of the city of Gainesville at all," Lowe said. "I think that we can take comfort in that."
Lowe spoke at another Gainesville rally called Love Conquers Hate, which had a clear-cut message, "God hates nobody!"
Organizers said it wasn't in direct response to the WBC protests, but it was planned with them in mind.
"We as a community do need to come together to make sure that everyone is treated equally and fairly and move beyond divisions of the past," Lowe said.
Westboro Baptist Church came to Gainesville in 2007 protesting a soldier's funeral at Trinity United.
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