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Churches Brace for Westboro Baptist Protest

The controversial anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church says it plans to protest at four Lehigh Valley churches Jan. 20.

Threats of protests by Westboro Baptist Church have a Lehigh Valley congregation uneasy and police planning extra patrols on Sunday.

Folk are "a little ill at ease" said First Baptist Church secretary Kim Nemeth, who learned of the planned protest from police on Tuesday. Officials don't want people to feel inhibited when they come to worship at the South Whitehall church, she said.

Westboro says it is planning to stage protests at four Lehigh Valley churches including the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, according to a press release posted on the group's website.

Diocesan spokesman Matthew Kerr told Patch on Wednesday that he's aware of the protest but offered no further comment.

"Often they don't show. We're hoping that occurs," said South Whitehall Police Lt. John Christman. He and township Manager Jon Hammer met with the pastors at the targeted churches in South Whitehall about the matter on Tuesday.

Do you support the online petition to designate Westboro Baptist a hate group?

If Westboro does picket, authorities will "let them do what they do," Christman said. "Let them have their protest." However police would need to take appropriate action if they block roadways, he said.

Christman said the police department will likely have extra patrol cars and undercover officers on duty. He said he heard counter protests may be planned.

The press release says the protests will target "whorehouses masquerading as churches" and lists the following times and locations:

  • 8:30 to 9 a.m.: St Paul's Anglican, 2510 Livingston St.
  • 9:05 to 9:30 a.m.: Asbury Church, 1533 Springhouse Rd.
  • 9:50 to 10 a.m.: Cathedral of St. Catharine, 210 N. 18th St.
  • 10:30 to 11 a.m.: First Baptist Church, 1808 N. 19th St.

When asked why First Baptist may have been targeted, Pastor Chuck Reed said, "We're an old Baptist church and I think they assume we're a liberal church." 

But, he said, "We're conservative evangelical. We're not liberal at all."

He said Westboro seemed to hit four corners of theology in the churches they are targeting on Sunday—Baptist, Methodist, Catholic and Anglican.

He said First Baptist Church does not support Westboro's views but is not worried about their visit. "We've been praying for them," Reed said. 

"We're a Biblically driven, local evangelical church ... and we just love people. We worship God as a community."

Kansas-based Westboro is an independent Baptist church known for its extreme opposition to homosexuality and its protests at military funerals.

An online petition to classify Westboro as a hate group and revoke its federal tax-exempt status has gained close to 74,000 signatures.

Anonymous January 17, 2013 at 12:41 PM
This is So confusing to me. There are ACTUAL strip clubs and adult book stores that they could "protest" but they are wasting their gas and time to be at churches on a weekday morning for a half hour when nobody attends at this time? Wow, looks like the only person winning out on this one is the gasoline industry. First I would look at the teachings of Jesus and how he handled sinners....he loved them, had compassion and yet did say to "sin no more". He did not spew hatred from his lips. You are not going to change anyones views with your anger...it is only with love and respect that you can get someones attention long enough to have someone re-examine themselves and possibly change their view on something. To me, Westboro should NEVER be allowed to be called Baptist. They are NOT baptist, they are a misguided cult who obviously does not see Jesus as the "friend of sinners" that he is, but rather they use the Bible as their weapon to cut others. This shows they are not guided by God. They should listen to the song "Jesus, Friend of Sinners." Yes, homosexuality is a sin, BUT SO is gluttony, idolizing money, lustful thinking, etc etc and the list goes on. So, since this large family are misnamed, I will always refer to them as Westboro Uninspired Cult of Angry People or WUCAP for short. Along with others, I will also be praying for them to turn from their ways and live. May WUCAP repent for their terrible sin of false righteousness.
Rachel Thompson January 17, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Conservative baptist church? Don't they read the bible? Jesus was a flaming liberal. He never said one thing about gays and he did embrace the dregs of society. He surely would not support the conservative churches of today with their support and votes for money-grubbing-for-the-rich politicians whom fight against the freedoms and public support of the poor. Conservative church connection to the founder is an oxymoron like asking what kind of gun would Jesus pack.
David Hollenshead January 17, 2013 at 02:03 PM
The reason for the wbc's offensive "picketing" is that they want the U.S. to make being homosexual a Capital Crime. Help stop the wbc's "apparent" Child Abuse, as children are not a "human shield", for their extreme hate campaign. Young children should not be taught: that "god hates", that it is okay to celebrate the death of children at Sandy Hook, how Fred believes gay men have sex, or that everyone who does not join the wbc will go to hell. Please visit: http://www.facebook.com/WestboroBaptistChurchsApparentChildAbuse, to learn more about this issue. use [ Menu / Site Map ] to view articles in the media about their "apparent" abuse. use [ Sign the Petition ] to go straight to the petition, Don't read "Addicted To Hate" unless you have a strong stomach, the best copy is at: http://www.skeptictank.org/hs/atohate.htm Thanks for your time.
Keith Facchiano January 17, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Westboro - You are not in Kansas anymore. PLEASE GO BACK!!
Sam Hain January 17, 2013 at 02:21 PM
I don't understand why they are protesting these churches. I mean, they agree on more stuff than they disagree.
Tony January 17, 2013 at 04:45 PM
they take one part of their bible (http://bible.cc/leviticus/18-22.htm) and that's the part they want to demand to follow. yet in the same book of leviticus they tend to leave out ""Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD." making them 100% hypocrites but are fine with the part in leviticus "If a man has sex with a slave girl whose freedom has never been purchased but who is committed to become another man's wife, he must pay full compensation to her master. But since she is not a free woman, neither the man nor the woman will be put to death." i think they have ALOT of explaining of their hypocrisies
joan January 17, 2013 at 05:39 PM
How very sad. I am sure they actually beleive what they are doing is helpful So did the Saducees & Pharasee's . However... If they truely understood scripture & what GRACE is...they would behave differently. Let's welcome them w/ open arms & demonstrate what real love( Agape), mercy & grace are. It occured to me that perhaps they have never really experienced any of the forementioned. Yes sin is sin & if we believe we should make the attempt to refrain from it. Doing it on your own is not the answer. Not by our own hands, it is a gift of God, lest any man/woman should boast. " "I can do all things, through Christ Jesus who strengthens me." All scripture is given to us to help us. Come on Westboro read between the lines. In return we will read the scriptures too. ALL of us who claim to be believers.
Elyssia Mathias January 17, 2013 at 06:18 PM
You mention the WBC is anti-gay, but if you've ever seen the things they protest, they're clearly anti-everything. Mock them if you like, then ignore them.
Carl W January 17, 2013 at 07:18 PM
This is just fear, turned in to prejudice. HOWEVER, nake no mistake, 80% of gays & lesbians, said by intelligent health & mental health officials are really a response to some form ao Post Traumatic Distress Disease. Being physical or emotionally abuse by an adult as a child, particularly a very close relative, subconciously makes them more comfortable with their own gender, than with the other. That's a very strong theory, however, due to 1996 protest in Washington, M. H. professionals can't say that. (A person has to ask THEM for help). Thus, thinking we're helping them, we're really helping them stay ill by not caringly encouraging to go get professional examination(s). Not downing them, however, by supporting & respecting. 20% ARE considered medically (gentically) predisposed to homosexuality. Certainly respect them, to.
Carl W January 17, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Jesus/God are unconditional love, no if's, ands, or buts. Please read my other comment.
Tony January 18, 2013 at 12:10 AM
soooo being gay is trauma based??? need proof from respectable sites stating that 80% of gays are due to trauma. i find that hard to believe. the bible states you cannot get divorced or have sex out of wedlock. what is the cause of those sins for those who believe in their religion? This WBC are hypocrites like most republicans in office. Most republicans preach 'bible says gays can't marry' well the bible also states no sex out of wedlock and no divorce (see hypocrite newt). pretty much nobody follows what the bible states, even churches
Bbbg January 18, 2013 at 12:14 AM
Are you kidding? Maybe you should look into some other studies because that sounds ridiculous.
Sue January 18, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Tony, when will you stop your constant bashing of Republicans? Every story I read I see you turn it into bashing ALL republicans. Get a grip! It is obvious you don't know anything about what Republicans stand for. As for Christianity, Jesus loved everyone and taught that we are sinners, but if we ask for forgiveness we will be forgiven...we are not to judge our neighbors sins...that doesn't mean there isn't sin. The church is full of sinners. We are all striving to be better people and get closer to God. Sin separates us from God. It is a daily struggle and we sometimes stumble and sin. God is there to forgive, we just need to ask. As for Rachel, Jesus was not a flaming liberal...are you kidding me? Can you say...right to life? Jesus also wouldn't enslave the black community in the welfare state. Beautiful children born into horrible situations with little hope of getting out. It benefits the democratic party to keep them there! Their situation is worse now with Obama as president..go figure! Where are all you libs when black children are being killed in the streets...oh but when 20 white children are killed it is a catastrophe that we can use to forward a political agenda...horrible!
Kaos8 January 18, 2013 at 01:16 AM
Let me make this clear before I start getting nasty-grams...I don't care if people want to be religious or whatever, but when they start forcing their beliefs on others, that's what I have a problem with.
Lori Lyter-Getz January 18, 2013 at 02:03 AM
Oh Carl, please do post your references. Otherwise you sound like you're making ridiculous inferences.
Tony January 18, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Sue, its because Republicans are a big problem to the direction of our country. They are biggest hypocrites. For example, some republicans, even ones that were running for VP of USA, were trying to define "rape" in order to push through their religious beliefs onto the rest of the nation on abortion. There was "magical rape" "legittmate rape" and "rape rape". It is sick to even have the discussion but that is what the republicans wanted to do. They wanted to force probes inside of woman to force them to receive a ultrasound picture. Big government at hand....always from the Republicans. Even our governor tried pushing such ridiculous laws through. So meanwhile, the republicans do not want any abortions, even in some instances of any type of rape. Then when the unwanted child is born, those same republicans want to provide absolutely ZERO services to provide for the unwanted child, no healthcare, no schooling, no welfare, no unemployment benefits, no social security....who is going to provide for the child? This is the republican hypocrisy. The same ones that preach the bible that are sooooo gung ho to go to war. Show me in the bible where it says it is okay to kill for any reason whatsoever. Show me where it says Jesus killed someone to protect himself. Show me where it says it is okay to do so. Oh and it has to be from the New Testament since you cant pick and choose what to believe in it, since it is ALL of God's word. Show me where Jesus gave to rich and showed sympathy to
Tony January 18, 2013 at 02:21 PM
that is absolutely correct and where the nation is heading...in the right direction
Jeffrey Weiner January 18, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Its Sunday. Thats the day they are protesting when everyone will be there. Please read the article again
Jody Jackson January 19, 2013 at 05:28 AM
GOD wants you to spread the word , not protest.... Show People that GOD brings PEACE and HOPE..... YOU are doing mans WILL , NOT GODS WILL...... I don't think GOD is behind you on this . Teach people to LOVE one another..... AMEN
Terri Black March 11, 2013 at 06:37 AM
You really REALLY got conservatives all wrong. You have been lied too, and believed every word. Go to Fox News and watch it for a month. Give it a month. Decide for yourself. Go to the website too. You have been HORRIBLY misled, by TERRIBLE, MADE UP LIES by left leaning "news" organizations, that have an agenda. These same "news" orgs have been caught, TIME AND AGAIN, bold faced LYING (AND editing videos) about Fox news AND conservatives. Conservatives HATE a huge government that overwhelms The People. A government that grows like a fat cancer and over taxes it's people. Is that wrong of us? How MUCH SHOULD the TAX PAYER spend on other people who DO NOT WANT TO HELP THEMSELVES? Half our paycheck? 3/4 of our paycheck? When is enough, ENOUGH? If this makes us "money grubbing" (even though it is OUR HARD EARNED MONEY) then, so be it. (Actually, it has been PROVEN, that conservatives FAR out rank liberals on charity giving, not that this is a competition,) As for the gun issue, what part of "If you OUTLAW guns, ONLY CRIMINALS will have them" do you not understand?

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