Augustana Observer

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Augustana Observer

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February 24, 2024

Westboro protests in Quad Cities

A member of the Westboro Baptist Church protests outside of Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in Davenport on Sunday, Photo by Alex Cintado.

A member of the Westboro Baptist Church protests outside of Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in Davenport on Sunday, Photo by Alex Cintado.
A member of the Westboro Baptist Church protests outside of Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in Davenport on Sunday.
Photo by Alex Cintado.

Members of  the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) picketed Sunday outside of Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in Davenport, protesting the church’s allowance of female preachers while displaying signs of hate for priests and homosexuals.
The signs included messages such as: “USA’s Doom,” “Catholic Priests are liars,” “fags dominate the clergy,” “God hates proud sinners,” “Christians cause fag marriage” and “same sex marriage dooms nations.” The five picketers wore American flags around their waists, with some sporting red shirts publicizing their website,
In opposition, some of Scared Heart’s congregation and other members of the community held up signs of their own presenting a different set of messages.
Congregation member Jane Lopez watched the Westboro protesters from behind the church’s fence, holding up a peace sign with her fingers.
“I feel that everyone is entitled to his or her voice, and I look at this at this as an opportunity to realize that this is when we really need to get out the love,” said Lopez. “This is when it’s hard to love everyone, but I did want to stand out here for a moment and show those people that I love them too.”
Lopez was not the only individual that wanted to spread the idea of love. Other counter protesters held signs that read God loves everyone and God teaches us to love everyone.
Westboro, however, believes that God doesn’t love everyone, especially homosexuals. According to their website, “in 1991, WBC began conducting peaceful demonstrations opposing the fag lifestyle of soul-damning, nation-destroying filth.”
WBC members are not limited to protesting homosexuals. They also picket military funerals like the case of Synder v. Phelps argued before the Supreme Court in 2010.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Westboro, citing that speech on a public sidewalk, concerning a public issue, can’t be held liable for a tort of emotional distress. This decision has enabled them to continue protesting military funerals across the United States.
During the protest at Sacred Heart, Westboro members stood on the sidewalk across from church grounds. The street provided a buffer between the opposing sides; yet, Eric Swanon, Patriot Guard Riders affiliate, said that he acted as a barrier, too.
“I’m a basic private citizen, and I am here to create a buffer zone so the protestors and the counter protestors don’t do something stupid,” said Swanson. “We are not here as the Patriot Guard Riders; we are here as individuals because this does not fall anywhere in our mission statement.”
The Patriot Guard Riders is a non-profit organization that ensures dignity and respect at military funerals. They also shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions by protestors, according to their website
The Riders become the calming buffer during protests, but that doesn’t mean members don’t have views of their own regarding the Westboro Baptist Church.
“Me personally, I think they should just go to Kansas and stand out there and yell at cows,” said Swanson. “Their message is so skewed, so wrong, and so bad for anybody in this country.”

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Westboro protests in Quad Cities