UCF Knights take on Westboro
Veronica Brezina, Staff Writer
September 27, 2013
Filed under News
At 9:15 a.m. on Monday, July 15, the infamous Westboro Baptist Church held out their “God Hates Fags” signs on the Memory North Lawn of the University of Central Florida at the main campus in Orlando, Fla. Before Westboro made their appearance, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) students, along with allies, were already in groups waiting for the demonstrators.
As soon as it was announced that Westboro was at the lawn, the Knights came swarming in around them. Westboro stood there in silence while students shouted statements, making it known that controversial protestors do not enter Knight territory without a fight. Some students also held up opposing signs reading, “Love is Love” and “Gay sex is sin-sational!” The LGBT students and allies spoke out saying, “Jesus loves us. God doesn’t hate.” Even one student raised her voice, “My family is Christian and they accept me!”
The church has garnered attention all over the nation as being a hate group, and not just a hate group towards LGBT people. The church has targeted Jewish institutions, President Obama, Christians, Catholics, and funerals for American soldiers. According to the church’s official website, GodHatesFags.com, the WBC was established by Pastor Fred Phelps in 1955, with his family being the majority of the members. The church is located in Topeka, Kansas.
As soon as someone enters their website, on the left-hand side is a sidebar titled “Numbers”. According to Westboro, the numbers indicate the number of people who are being cast into Hell since someone has entered their site (which grows every second), the number of soldiers God has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan (6,735), the number of cities they have visited (currently 909), along with many other numbers, there is also a list of Sister Sites.
The church made it official they were coming to UCF on their website, “WBC will hold a public demonstration at the University of Central Florida to remind this generation that they have so enraged the Lord their God that their destruction is imminent!…They have been taught from the cradle the great lies that ‘God loves everyone’ and ‘It’s okay to be gay’—lies that will kill their bodies, destroy their nation and damn their souls to Hell forever.”
The university encourages diversity and open-mindedness, one of the well-known LGBT organizations is Equal.
Angelica Gonzalez, President of Equal, said “Well, to put it simply, Equal is just one organization in the myriad of groups at UCF that won’t stand for the hate. These people, like the Westboro supporters, exist, and sometimes even though people think we should ignore them and stop fueling the fire, it’s empowering to know that so many people are proud and brave enough to show what support in a community means. Relating that back to Equal, I personally believe that is what the organization is all about, albeit on a smaller scale, and it makes me happy to be part of such an amazing group of like-minded people.” The Pride Coalition also had “A Chance for Conversation—Moving Past the Hate Speech of Westboro Baptist Church” from 4:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m. to allow students to discuss the impact.