The notorious Westboro Baptist Church is holding a protest at Stanford this Friday (see a good summary at Fiat Lux: why here, their identity, their beliefs, their legal history). In response, the Stanford community is planning a counter‐rally at the same time and place as Westboro’s protest.
A group of Christian ministries signed a joint statement opposing Westboro,
but the Stanford Daily has apparently declined to publish it (at least, I can’t find it in the online paper). Perhaps it will appear soon (UPDATE: it was published in the op‐ed section the day after I put this post up). But in case it does not, I would like to give my own personal response to them here. The official statement was designed to garner support from several different ministries, but what follows is language that no one else but me has signed off on. Consequently, it is considerably more direct.
I think Westboro Baptist Church is crazy. I also think it is unwise to hold a rally opposing a group which thrives on conflict. Attention is the drug they crave. They have become a recurring national news story merely because of their ability to draw crowds and media.
I refuse to protest them, and I also refuse to ignore them. I am in no way ambivalent about their presence on campus: what they are doing is wrong. It heaps shame upon Christ and it causes people made in God’s image to experience an alienating anguish. I believe that prayer is the most effective possible response to this situation. I, my ministry, and several other Christian groups at Stanford will hold a prayer meeting while the protest is going on at which we will ask God to convict Westboro members of their sin and lead them to repentance.
So yeah. That’s what one preacher thinks about their presence.