Marquette Wire

Westboro, students picket campus

Joseph Cahill

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






A Westboro Baptist Church picketer is met by two counter-picketing students. Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

A Westboro Baptist Church picketer is met by two counter-picketing students. Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. picketed Marquette on Monday in response to a widely-publicized disagreement between a student and instructor.

Five members of the Westboro Baptist Church lined Wisconsin Avenue holding signs including the statements “Priests rape boys,” “Shame” and “USA is doomed.” They were met by over 100 students who gathered in front of Cudahy Hall to counter-picket the church.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, a WBC picketer, criticized Marquette and its values as a religious university.

“This is a religious institution, which means you have evoked the word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ,” Phelps-Roper said. “And yet you have a teacher, teaching rebellion against the plain, never-changing standards of God.”

Counter-picket signs from students contained messages promoting inclusion and equality, and included the phrases “Queer and proud,” “Hugs not hate” and  “God loves all.” The crowd sang Christmas carols, acted out Shakespeare and chanted “We are Marquette.”

A Westboro Baptist Church picketer talks to bystanders on Wisconsin Ave. Photo by Matt Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

A Westboro Baptist Church picketer talks to bystanders on Wisconsin Ave. Photo by Matt Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

Phelps-Roper said teaching against same-sex marriage should be Marquette’s primary concern as a religious institution.

“You have a woman in here, teaching ethics for God’s sake, that told a student if he doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage he can get out,” Phelps-Roper said.

The teacher Phelps-Roper is referring to is philosophy doctoral student Cheryl Abbate, who spoke with an unidentified student who wanted to discuss homosexual marriage in her class. Abbate responded saying the topic didn’t fit with the day’s lesson plan, according to an article by Inside Higher Education.

The student reported the incident to political science professor John McAdams, who first reported it on his blog, Marquette Warrior.

Abbate said McAdams mis-attributed the quote “everyone agrees with gay rights and there is no need to discuss this” to her in his blog post. The quote is not on the student’s recording of his talk with Abbate, according to Inside Higher Education.

Over 100 students lined up to counter-picket Westboro Baptist Church on Monday. Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

Over 100 students lined up to counter-picket Westboro Baptist Church on Monday. Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

Haley Wilson, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, organized one group of counter-picketers. She said she wanted the campus to give off a message of love and support to counter the messages displayed by the Westboro Baptist Church.

“After seeing that (WBC) were supposed to come, it lit a fire inside of me,” Wilson said. “Their actions are bringing attention to how we need to make sure there is love where there is hate.”

In terms of planning for the counter-picket, Wilson said she ran into minimal challenges because finals week interfered with some of the sign making.

Wilson’s Facebook event page for her group of counter-picketers gained support from over 400 students. She said it broke the “Marquette Bubble” and made an impact on the Milwaukee community, with a partnership to raise money with the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center.

“(The Westboro Baptist Church) is working against themselves,” Wilson said. “Their presence has caused us to raise money for (the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center.) Even if they didn’t show up, we still have a reason to be here.”

Phelps-Roper said she enjoyed seeing the counter-picketing students because it means the church’s message spread. Her advice to students on campus is to “fear God and keep his commandments.”

“We are preaching to the whole world, it is so much easier to say the words and show the signs if (students) come out,” Phelps-Roper said.

University President Michael Lovell addressed the protest via Twitter on Sunday night. He encouraged students to ignore the negative attention from WBC and refocus their energy on positive actions and the impact they can make on the community.

“Use your energy for positivity. Volunteer. Do something kind. Reconnect with a friend,” Lovell said in a tweet.

Lovell ended his remarks with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., telling students to drive out hate with love.

The WBC has participated in over 53,000 pickets to spread their teachings. The church describes itself on its website as strongly adhering to the Bible’s teachings. “(We) preach against all form of sin (e.g., fornication, adultery [including divorce and remarriage], sodomy), and insist that the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace be taught and expounded publicly to all men,” its website states.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Comment

One Response to “Westboro, students picket campus”

  1. The Old Roman Soldier on December 28th, 2014 8:05 am

    Leftists enjoy mean spirited remarks they make. The shoe deservedly seems now to be on the other foot. The Left has utterly destroyed Marquette

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
Navigate Right