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Kansas Church Says It Will Protest at Whitman High in MoCo

Montgomery County

A church based in Topeka, Kansas, is scheduled to demonstrate next month outside Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda because the school, which opened in 1962, is named for a man who may have been homosexual.

Westboro Baptist Church has been drawing national attention for staging anti-homosexuality demonstrations at military funerals, on the theory that fallen troops are God's punishment for a country tolerant of homosexuals.

The church Internet site says a picket is scheduled for the afternoon of April 24. A narrative on the event states that the school's name "certainly explains A LOT about Maryland."

Whitman Principal Alan Goodwin sent a letter to parents Thursday pledging to hold a normal school day, even if protesters show up.

"In his poetry, Whitman celebrates individual spirit, celebrates our nation as the center of democratic values, and celebrates nature," Goodwin wrote. "Unfortunately, there is a small group of persons who want to defile his name because Walt Whitman may have been homosexual."

Goodwin notes the group announces protests all over the nation but "has rarely shown up."

A church spokeswoman confirmed the planned protest in an e-mail, writing, "The children that attend that high school are taught Rebellion Against God 101 every day in every way."

-- Daniel de Vise

By Anne Bartlett  |  March 26, 2009; 6:29 PM ET
Categories:  Montgomery County  
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I suggest they consider a mass dive off the Walt Whitman bridge between Philadelphia and New Jersey.

Posted by: clarkw | March 26, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

None of them are capable of finding their way out of state so I don't think we have too much to worry about.

Posted by: RedBird27 | March 26, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

After Whitman High School, they can picket in front of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Headquarters Building.

Posted by: MatterLaw | March 26, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I am sendind the Ohio National Guard a message. They need to be invited.

"Ohio National Guard Defeats westboro church in Overtime, 300-0...."

Posted by: AAVp7a1 | March 26, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Time to protest Westboro Baptist Church for being just plain IGNORANT. See what happens when they are told they are going to Hades for playing God and passing judgement!!!!!

Posted by: Pumpkin31 | March 26, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I think these losers will regret when the students return fire with pranks.
Water balloons.
Air let out of tires.
Being pelted with condoms.

Posted by: edlharris | March 27, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

They must be getting desperate for attention now. Protesting someone who "may" have been a homosexual, don't they have any "real" homosexuals they can scream about?

This is a good sign. Let us now hear from the other Christians what they think about this. Are you on the side of the fanatics or are you on the side of liberty and freedom in your country?

How do you like it when someone else determines for you the scope of your choices?

Posted by: katavo | March 27, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

MatterLaw: Do you mean the J. Mary Hoover Building?

Posted by: Garak | March 27, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Don't give them any publicity and they won't be heard. Don't send the press to cover the protest and they won't be heard. Don't give them any credence and they won't be heard. And above all DO NOT engage them in any way during their protest - it's ALL they want: attention. Stop paying attention to them in any fashion and they will be utterly insignificant.

Posted by: freakymf | March 27, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Seems to me there are better ways to demonstrate the creator's work on this earth than by protesting a high school whose name sake may have been homosexual. Tolerance for this kind of protest has its limits.

Posted by: sbg1 | March 27, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

If by saying that "the school's name 'certainly explains A LOT about Maryland'," they are saying that Maryland is a community accepting of alternative lifestyles and the rights of others to live their lives in a way that makes them happy, well then I am all too happy to live in a place like that. I agree that these people are attention seekers. Did God descend to them alone and tell them they had the right to judge the lives of others? I though Christians believed that was God's job. If you don't agree with a lifestyle choice, fine, but do not persecute those who are trying to live their lives as they believe to be right. America is the country of free will and choice. If you want everyone to bow to your morals, move somewhere else.

Posted by: butterfly86 | March 27, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Baptists not speaking out against this abomination using their name is the same as Muslims not speaking out against acts of terror in the name of Allah. We can assume the silence of the Baptists reflects their agreement.

Posted by: coloradodog | March 27, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

By their same logic, their protest tour should include the FBI Building and the Lincoln Memorial.

Posted by: coloradodog | March 27, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

If Walt Whitman doesn't qualify as homosexual, then none of us do.

"For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover in
the cool night,
In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined toward me,
And his arm lay lightly around my breast—and that night I was happy."

Posted by: DaveMeyer | March 27, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"...and miles to go before we sleep." How absurd these good Christian people are.

Posted by: nanmccarthy | March 27, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Do they use the King James bible?

Posted by: WmarkW | March 27, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

in case you missed how some university of chicago students greeted the folks from westboro:

(don't miss the dancing frat boys)

Posted by: tonebobb | March 27, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Kids at a high school in Kansas planned a counter-protest that made me proud:

Posted by: SwingState | March 27, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Whitman may have been homosexual? No, he most definitely was (didn't we know that) and to say so according to the principal of this school is to defile his name. That's really taking a brave stand against homophobia. At least this crazy hate filled church has the courage of its convictions unlike the principal of this school.

Posted by: Dieterman | March 27, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I'm a Baptist woman, and I most certainly do not agree with what these people are doing. This is ridiculous and hateful. How can they afford to take a trip to Maryland to protest during these tough economic times anyway? And how were they able to operate a computer well enough to Google Walt Whitman High School with the limited brain functions they clearly possess?

Posted by: rhymeswithtexas | March 27, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

If some residents of Kansas object to the use of Walt Witman's name for a public school, why don't they build a school of their own and control not only the name but the curriculum as well. The citizens of this country don't object to peculiar befiefs of others provided they don't attempt to force them on the vast majority of normal people.

Posted by: kaycwagner | March 27, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"A church spokeswoman confirmed the planned protest in an e-mail, writing, 'The children that attend that high school are taught Rebellion Against God 101 every day in every way.'"

Sooo... A high school is now a college?? Because 101 is an introductory college level course, not high school. These people are so stupid. I'm sure their parents are all related.

I want to go protest their protest with a sign that says, "GOD HATES WBBC MORONS!" But, I have better things to waste my time on than a group of idiots protesting a public school.

Posted by: TrishisSoooAwesome | March 27, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Why don't ordinary Kansans just humiliate these idiots out of existence?

It makes Kansans look like a bunch of rank idiots without shoes.

First the school board rejects science - several times - and then this.

Typical Kansans?

If you're from Kansas and are not an idiot please stand up!

Posted by: onestring | March 27, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The Westboro Baptist "Church" makes most Christians cringe. Even denominations that are strongly anti-homosexual have strongly and publicly condemned the actions of this group.

Of course, Mr. Phelps' group considers most Christian denominations to be "fag churches".

But perhaps part of the blame for Mr. Phelps's success belongs to all of us that make a big deal of it when his little group of hate-filled followers shows up.

Would he and his group have actually spent money to go to Maryland and be ridiculed by the students, while the teachers used their protests as an study in what we must be prepared to accept as a price for our freedom of speech and religion?

If not for the news coverage, probably not. Still, perhaps that's the price we pay for freedom of the press.

So, teachers at Walt Whitman High, you have a wonderful teaching opportunity coming to your front door.

And to the students. Don't get angry. Remember the words of another famous author, and act accordingly.

"The devil...the prowde spirite...cannot endure to be mocked."
— Thomas Moore

Posted by: jbarelli | March 27, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Mr de Vise:

I find your use of the word "Kansas" in the headline objectionable.

First off, these people (of the Westboro Baptist Church) are not defined by their geography and/or home state. It feels like newspapers are always quick to slap "kansas" on a group as a subtle shorthand for "backwards" A mindless generalization that several mindless WaPo commenters (who probably have never been to KS) are too happy to promulgate.

I would like to remind everyone that the Prop-8 issue was passed in oh-so progressive California. That is to say, homophobes reside everywhere in this country of ours. Small minded meanness has no geographic limitations.

Thank you.

Posted by: cpjc | March 27, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm a devout, pretty conservative politically Christian. Please stop giving these nutjobs the time of day. They don't speak for Christians. They are a joke and will, barring God's mercy, be punished for their depravity.

Posted by: enaughton27 | March 27, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

If those of us who live in the DC area got excited every time some silly people came to town, we wouldn't have time for anything else. Ignore them and maybe they'll leave, after putting some money into our local economy so we can go play slots...

Posted by: andy_PE | March 27, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse Vise, You are correct that homophobes can be found everywhere but there's no denying that the southern plains region in particular has undergone a real surge in mindless Christian fundamentalism.

Posted by: Dieterman | March 27, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

My mother belongs to another Baptist church in Topeka. This group has always been a bit of a local laughing stock and doesn't exactly get invited to many inter-church potlucks. It's mostly the Westboro pastor's family that belongs there and organizes these protests.

Posted by: vegmom | March 27, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

There are rumors that the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, might have been homosexual:

So, I hope that the church from Kansas will live up to its beliefs and the members prove their conviction by picketing the United States Penny, Mount Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, everybody in Lincoln, Nebraska, and any Lincoln Continental automobile they may encounter.

And since Abraham Lincoln emancipated an entire race of people, the church members will picket and protest any members of that race.


Posted by: RWLA | March 27, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church is one of the biggest jerks in America:

Here's another of his fine moments:
Phelps is also anti-Catholic, claiming that the Roman Catholic Church is a "fag" church

Posted by: vigor | March 27, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

If these folks want to live in a theocracy, I'll be more than happy to buy them one-way airfare to Saudi Arabia or Iran, as long as they promise never to return.

Posted by: apn3206 | March 27, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

They threaten to protest but never show up because they're broke. No one is stupid enough to donate to their cause so they never have the gas money to get to the places they say they're going. When, oh when will the news media just ignore these lunatics?

Posted by: DCFem | March 27, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I went to Whitman and graduated earlier this decade. I had no idea I was being taught demon worship. Who knew?!?!

Posted by: AMD2 | March 27, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

WBBC protests are a lot like rubbernecking. You don't want to look. You know you shouldn't look. You can't help but look. And then -- WHAM! -- outrage and high blood pressure and vitriol spewing from your own mouth toward these whackos.

As others have stated, ignore them. They're not worth the time.

(As a WWHS alumnus, I'm dumbfounded that they're just getting around to figuring out that WW was gay. GO VIKINGS!)

Posted by: luv2bikva | March 27, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Crabcakes and football is what Maryland is about!

Posted by: sriracha | March 27, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

These wing-nuts have been doing this for some years now. Unfortunately they will continue to do so until somebody beats the be-jesus out of them.
It would be worth the jail time.

Posted by: strictly_liberal | March 27, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Smash theocratic nutjobs and Fred Phelps! He needs to be hit with a bong! Who is funding his trips? Follow the money!


Posted by: bs2004 | March 27, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Psssst! Fred Phelps is a fag! Pass it on...

Posted by: JKJ88 | March 27, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I forgot. Church members: No using the U.S. Five Dollar Bill - it has Abraham Lincoln's picture on it.

Posted by: RWLA | March 27, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

When people are reduced to absurd pointless acts to make a point that merely makes them look ridiculous, it signifies their point is moot.

Posted by: jhbyer | March 27, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Isn't HATE a sin? I never read anywhere in the Bible where Jesus hated anyone - even prostitutes (gays of the time). Understand Satan deprives people of a personal relationship with God using religion as a tool. The only thing I hate, is hate itself.

Posted by: waxtraxs | March 27, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I was born and raised in Kansas, and am embarrassed by this lunacy.

These "churches" are a menace.

Posted by: jgwlaw | March 27, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Why do BAPTISTS let this church call itself BAPTIST?

Posted by: coloradodog | March 27, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Why in the world does anyone pay attention to hatemongers?

You have anti-religious bigots on these blogs blasting God every chance they get. You have anti-Catholic bigots, anti-Baptist, anti-Evangelical bigots, anti-Jewish bigots, and all other hate filled folks spewing out on these blogs.

Now, this "church", which consists solely of the members of the Phelps family comes to town for some attention for their brand of anti-gay hate.

Never, ever give in to hate.

Posted by: MikeL4 | March 27, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Dear Westboro Baptist Church,

As a graduate of Whitman High School, I take deep offense at your protest. At Walt Whitman we were taught tolerance and intellectual integrity.

What on earth were you taught? I am a Presbyterian, and we specialize in the Spirit of Religion, not the Letter of the Law. Please do read Maccabees. I truly believe Jesus would disapprove of your hatefulness. And, may I ask, what gives you the right to try to boss everyone else around? As a Scot, I will fight you on your anti-democratic beliefs to the bitter end.

I read Scripture, and quite remember the Scripture that says "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Did Jesus not befriend prostitutes and eunuchs and "Gentiles" (Those not considered Christians at the time?

Please be aware that many of us deeply resent that you think your beliefs are "the only way."

Posted by: KathyTrout | March 27, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

This group has been around for quite a while.

Do what so many do when these guys show up..... for every minute they 'protest', pledge a certain amount to your favorite group that promotes acceptance and tolerance.

And make sure these losers know that's what you are doing.

Posted by: HillMan | March 27, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

As a Jew I am glad that these folks are around. With all the negative attention Bernie Madoff has been giving us Jews, and Al Qaeda has been giving the Muslims, it's now the Christians' turn to confront the rats on their ship.

Posted by: gratefolks | March 27, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Just a comment in reply to Dieterman, the article paraphrased the principals comments. the line from the letter (not only a graduate of Whitman, but a parent of a student at Whitman)is as follows:

"In his poetry, Whitman celebrates individual spirit, celebrates
our nation as the center of democratic values, and celebrates nature.
Unfortunately, there is a small group of persons who want to
defile his name because Walt Whitman may have been homosexual."

Posted by: wwhs77 | March 27, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Mr. de Vise,

Could you, at some point, agree with us that that your reporting and attention given to this radical group of hateful, naywinded bigots does not deserve even the paper your article would be printed upon? NOW they will show up because you have validated their preponderance of doing so. I only hope that our children at WWHS will be safe, as will their parents and teachers on April 24th. Let's bring Chicago's wit to Walt Whitman on the 24th!( If the link does not display, just search "University of Chicago Westboro Baptist Church" and click on the link to the Chicago Maroon's article. Way to go U of C!

~ A conservative christian in MoCo

Posted by: MCPSParent | March 28, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

As a graduate of Walt Whitman High School, I was never taught "Rebellion Against God 101" and resent the fact that anyone could be so ignorant as to even consider that possibility. I was, however, taught tolerance of differences, and all I can say about this church and its beliefs is that I feel sorry for you. What a sad kind of life you must live to feel that you must pick on others who are different from yourselves. Please look again into your church and realize that this is not what God would have wanted. And if you cannot see that, please stay in your own little ignorant world and leave the rest of us alone. I am not, myself, homosexual, but some of my best friends are. And I can guarantee that they are better people than you.

Posted by: jlb0518 | March 28, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I go to Walt Whitman High in Bethesda and just letting you know, ALOT of students are planning on counter-protesting the Westboro Baptist Church on April 24, 2009. Some of my friends are organizing the counter-protest and the Principal Goodwin has allowed students to leave early on that day for us to protest the WBC. Like the article says, they probably won't show up, but just in case they do: we'll be ready to show them that just like they hate us, we hate them. (There's already 500+ members of the counter-protest so far). Plus, I don't understand what the spokeswoman is saying, I've not been taught "Rebellion Against God 101". Maybe that's taught in Junior or Senior year. :-)

Posted by: CapsHockeyFan | March 29, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

In concern with "jlb0518", I think the very first paragraph speaks volumes about the power of 'followers' in our society. Why would you join, let alond lead a protest based upon someone "who may have been..."? It seems it would be prudent to make sure you have a solid cause to protect (assuming this is your belief) before you potentially make yourself look like a fool. Now, even if he was homosexual... why would that matter? Clearly he was enough of a person to have a school named after him. Names of schools, especially high schools, aren't taken lightly. There was a nomination process, a committee to review such nominations along with their reasoning and a vote to make it official. If you want to protest "Walt Whitman", then you need to protest the board who made their decision and then ask yourself 'should the first question should really be "But is he gay" ' BEFORE reviewing his credentials. There are plenty of straight individuals out there who have done nothing but worsen society - sexual preference doesn't matter - its the person. And THAT is what the decision to name the school was based on.

Posted by: Dellibird99 | March 29, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm not religious and don't have anything against those that are. There are some exceptions to that rule and the Phelps Klan is one of those exceptions. I've faced that type of hatred for better than half my life. While they would gladly see me dead, I don't feel the same for them. They are so twisted in their religous belief that they give Christianity a very bad name.

My nearest and dearest friend is Christian. She accepts me for who I am with no reservations. Her's is a loving and forgiving God. Phelps' God is one of hatred. I don't think Jesus would be pleased with the Phelps Klan.

Posted by: kewlbuwl | March 29, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

From another site's comments section to article about WBC's protest at the University of Chicago:

"The best response I ever saw to Phelps (and I'm from Kansas) was a system where people pledged to give money for every 15 minutes WBC was protesting. All the proceeds were used for GLBT charities. Therefore, by protesting, WBC was raising money for GLBT issues."

GLBT is the historical group representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered.

Posted by: MCPSParent | March 30, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

i think phelps and westboro are secretly working FOR the lgbt community...

Posted by: tonebobb | March 31, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow the school was founded in 1962, those gay haters must have a serious picketing backlog!

Posted by: gui_lo | April 1, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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