King's Students Outnumber Protesters from Westboro Baptist Church on the Picket Line
Protesters from Westboro Baptist Church came out to The King’s College Monday morning. Their most attentive audience was a cluster of King’s vloggers and students who engaged in theological discussion, outnumbering the peaceful protesters.
Five people from the church showed up, including an eleven year-old. Their intentions were to change the opinions and behaviors of the students, protester Rachel Hockenbarger stated.
“Young people [are] going from these colleges straight to the killing fields of Afghanistan or Iraq,” Hockenbarger claimed. “These students have no moral compass. You deserve, for one time in your life, to see some truth.”
“We can't save you, we have no interest in saving you, though that's our hope for every human, that you would listen and God would have mercy upon you.”
Sophomores Jackson Fordyce and Josiah Simons spoke with Shirley Phelps-Roper, a singing woman with four posters, two hats, and flags around her waist, for their vlog.
“We thought we were gonna hear a crazy person from the church,” Fordyce stated. “But the more you talk to her, the more you grow empathetic.”
According to the initial press release, the protest was meant to address the Dinesh D'Souza marital scandal. Six years have passed since his resignation, and since then there have been three acting presidents.
"I'm sure some people know that, but I myself didn't," Phelps-Roper said.
Fordyce learned that the protesters believe King’s teaches a “watered-down version of the Bible.” They think that God doesn’t love everyone and use Bible quotes to validate what they were pre-conditioned to believe, Fordyce gathered.
Hockenbarger claimed that students of The King’s College have been taught too much about acceptance of sins like homosexuality and premarital sex, and expressed her desire to show them truth.
“We can't save you, we have no interest in saving you, though that's our hope for every human, that you would listen and God would have mercy upon you,” Hockenbarger stated.
Benaiah Phelps, a descendant of the WBC's founder Fred Phelps, described their duty of picketing as self-evident.
"It's clearly laid out in the Bible, and if people only took the time to read it themselves, they could see it,” Phelps claimed. “They don't, and it's kind of embarrassing."
Spencer Davis, a bystander smoking a cigarette, witnessed the protest. “It's weird for this to be a thing in public that goes on," Davis stated. "I don't know whether to feel a little upset or a bit of pity."
“What they say is hateful, but they’re humans too.”
"I think it's hysterical, to be honest with you," another bystander remarked.
Hockenbarger said that the Westboro Baptist Church selects a major event at cities like the Grammys or the Superbowl, and they select a few high schools and colleges to picket as secondary events because of their proximity to a young demographic.
“It was enlightening,” Simons said. While he believes they were wrong, it encouraged him to go look deeper into what it means for God to love people.
At 9 a.m., the five protesters gathered their signs, zipped them up in burgundy plastic cases, and left after fulfilling their mission to preach what they perceive to be the word of God.
“What they say is hateful, but they’re humans too,” Fordyce said.
A previous version of this article stated that two presidents have been installed since President D'Souza. One president, Gregory Thornbury, was formally installed. There have been three acting presidents since D'Souza's resignation.